RED SNAPPER “TAGS” IN THE FOR-HIRE FISHERY

This is a “plan” for red snapper management applied to the for-hire sector. It is a government plan, so of course difficult to impossible for most folks to understand. Basically, it is another scheme to divide up the Gulf snapper quota, using “Historical Catch Data” to give Florida by far the largest snapper allotment, with Texas near the bottom. This can sort of be justified because the catch data supplied by the state of Texas is never submitted in time to be included in the NOAA/NMFS calculations – so Texas has really zero historical catch data. Although this might seem unbelievable, the entire snapper management system has operated with false and fabricated catch data for as long as red snapper have been closely regulated.

Charter For-Hire Red Snapper Fishery Management Plan
INTENT:
The Charter For- Hire Red Snapper Fishery Management Plan (CFHRSFMP) promotes federally permitted charter boats to fish in a manner that provides increased flexibility for all permit holders in each historic region. By implementing this plan charter vessels will be less likely to exceed the Annual Catch Limit. This plan will increase flexibility for all “opted in” permit holders by allowing them to fish year-round for Red Snapper.
VALIDATION / ENFORCEMENT / MONITORING:
All eligible and qualified vessels participating in the CFHRSFMP will be distributed 2-part plastic carcass tags to be used to tag each harvested Red Snapper onboard the vessel. Part one will attach to the fish carcass, part two will be removed and documented by vessel operator. Part two of the tag must be sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) within 30 days and with proper documentation (length and harvest date). Carcass tags will be usable anytime throughout the calendar year. Charter boats in possession of Red Snapper without a tag will be considered in violation of federal law resulting in fines and possible sanctions against permits. Law enforcement will enforce Red Snapper monitoring by dockside sampling and vessel intercepts.
QUALIFICATIONS AND ELIGIBILITY:
Anyone holding a Gulf of Mexico Federal Charter For-Hire Permit will be eligible for participation.
To participate in the CFHRSFMP, all monitoring and reporting requirements must be met within the given timeline:
1. By October 1st, each permitted vessel must have completed and returned the letter of intent to participate in the CFHRSFMP for the upcoming calendar year. If letter of intent is not completed for the upcoming year, the vessel will not be able to participate in the recreational CFHRSFMP until the following year.
2. Permits wanting to qualify for class 2 or class 3 allocations must have a current Certificate of Inspection (COI). The COI passenger number must be equal to or higher than the class you are qualifying for (see example below). Vessels COI must accompany the letter of intent.
3. Example: A 6-pack boat with a 20 passenger Charter For-Hire permit would only qualify for class 1 allocation. The Charter For-Hire Allocation will be determined by NMFS no later than December 1st, and carcass tags will be mailed to participants by Dec.15th.
CARCASS TAGS:
Each “opted in” vessel will receive carcass tags marked for their specific region, and those tags must be landed within that region. Tags can be used at any time during the calendar year they are issued for. Carcass tags are non-transferable, and tags must stay with each permit.
STATEMENTS:
The CFHRSFMP is an alternative to the evenly distributed plans. The evenly distributed plan allocates every Charter For-Hire permit an even amount of allocation regardless of region. The CFHRSFMP will distribute a certain percentage of allocation to every permit holder and a larger percentage to permit holders in historic regions. This is beneficial because different regions of the Gulf catch different species of fish. For example, Red Grouper are historically more abundant in certain regions and less abundant in other regions. More allocation would be distributed to regions where historic catch of Red Grouper is greater if Red Grouper were added to this plan in the future.
ALLOCATION:
Due to historic records, NMFS has determined that recreational anglers harvested 58% of the Red Snapper Recreational Allocation whereas Charter For-Hire and Headboat permits harvested 42%. The Charter For-Hire Allocation is 67% of the Charter For-Hire and Head Boat Allocation after a 20% buffer has been removed. The CFHRSFMP is based on Charter For-Hire Allocation which is 1,593,248 lbs. and is calculated from a 14.3 million lb Total Allowable Catch. The following, Steps 1 and 2 must be added together for total allocation.
Step 1: All permits that have “opted in” to the CFHRSFMP will automatically receive 25% of the Charter For-Hire Allocation distributed evenly between all “opted in” Charter For-Hire permits. For example, 25% of 1,593,248 lbs is 398,312 lbs divided evenly by 1,204 Charter For- Hire permits equals 330 lbs per permit.
2014 active Charter For-Hire permits are used for example, assuming that all permits (approx. 1,204 permits) “opt into” the program. Each vessel would receive 330 lbs. If less Charter For-Hire permits “opt into” this plan, the allocation for each participating permit will increase.
Step 2: The remaining 75% of the allocation will be distributed between the “opted in” permits based on 2004-2012 historic landings of Red Snapper by regions as follows in the table below. Each “opted in” permit will be in one of the following three classes.
Class 1 = 6 pack Class 2 = 7-30 passengers Class 3 = 30+ passengers

Region 75% Region Allocation (LBS) Historic Catch % Class 1 LBS Class 2 LBS Class 3 LBS
ALABAMA 342,946 28.7% 1,689 3,378 5,067
FL KEYS 1,194 0.1% 10 20 30
FL PANHANDLE 630,926 52.8% 1,686 3,372 5,058
FL PENNINSULA 21,508 1.8% 54 108 162
LOUISIANA 167,291 14% 1,371 2,742 4,113
MISSISSIPPI 1,194 0.1% 23 46 69
TEXAS 29,873 2.5% 127 254 381
Total 1,194,932

COMBINE STEP 1 AND STEP 2 FOR TOTAL PERMIT ALLOCATION

Example: Alabama Class 2 permit allocation would be 330 + 3,378 = 3,708 lbs of Red Snapper Allocation for the year.

Call or email with any questions, comments, or suggestions about this plan.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | Comments Off on RED SNAPPER “TAGS” IN THE FOR-HIRE FISHERY

WINNING THE RED SNAPPER “WAR”? NEW MANAGEMENT BY GULF STATES OFFICIALLY PROPOSED!

The five Gulf States , through their Fisheries and Wildlife agencies, have formulated a plan to take control of red snapper management away from the Federal Government – through NOAA and NMFS – and give it to the new coalition of these states – AND this would be valid not just in waters within 9 miles already more-or-less controlled by the states, but out the the EEZ limit of 200 miles offshore! This move will allow for more sensible and response red snapper management by the people whom are effected by such actions the most – the residents and fishermen of the Gulf States. The announcement is below, although it did not convert perfectly to my website formatting. This is a definite “win” for fishermen of the Gulf, and all the agencies involved should be applauded and praised! Giving them a thank-you message would be entirely appropriate!

March 13, 2015
To Whom It May Concern:
Management of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be a major challenge with
increasing dissatisfaction among anglers and serious calls for restructuring the Gulf red snapper
management system.
As a result, a number of proposals
and v
arious drafts of legislation
for changing
this system have emerged. Recognizing that significant changes are being considered, the marine
fisheries directors from the five Gulf States have been engaged in an effort to develop and document
a
n alternative to
the current
management strategy that has mutual agreement and support.
Together, we have developed a framework for cooperative state

based management of Gulf red
snapper
;
the
enclosed document
outlines
the conceptual
elements
of that plan.
Under this al
ternative concept, the Gulf
States
would coordinate management of red snapper
throughout the Gulf of Mexico through a new, independent body called the Gulf States Red Snapper
Management Authority (GSRSMA). The GSRSMA would be comprised of the principle
mar
ine
fisheries managers
from each Gulf
States
, and the management
authority for
Gulf red snapper would
no longer reside within the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.
The GSRSMA framework outlines a
straightforward
process that would allow states to
use flexible
management approaches to manage red snapper to meet local
needs
as well as Gulf

wide
conservation goals
. Each state would be responsible for all management of red snapper in
their
respective
state and
adjacent
federal waters. The GSRSMA would
approve each
state’s
management
plan, coordinate
population
assessments, provide
consistent
accountability measures, and distribute
federal funding for research, assessment,
and
management.
Each state fisheries management agency places great value in
working together in pa
rtnership and
collaboration to e
nsure we have a robust, sustainable, and accessible red snapper fishery in the Gulf.
The
states recognize the importance of the red snapper fishery
to
the fabric and identity of
local
communities
throu
ghout the Gulf as well as the tremendous economic impact that it provides each
state.
Thank you for the opportunity to present to you the GSRSMA concept
agreed upon by each state
.
I
f
there are any questions or comments about the concept, please do not hes
itate to contact any of us
directly.
Sincerely,
Robin Riechers
Randy Pausina
Director of Coastal Fisheries
Assistant Secretary, Office of Fisheries
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries
Jamie Mil
ler
Chris Blankenship
Executive Director
Director, Marine Resources Division
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
Alabama Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources
Jessica McCawley
Director, Division of Marine Fisheries Management
Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Enclosure
Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA)
This document outlines elements of a plan in which the Gulf States would coordinate
management of red snapper throughout the Gulf of Mexico throu
gh the Gulf States Red
Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA).
Management
The governing body of GSRSMA would be comprised of the principal fisheries manager (or
his/her proxy) from each of the five Gulf States. There would be a rotating chair serving a
tw
o

year term. All actions of GSRSMA would be by majority vote. The primary function of the
GSRSMA would be approval of each state’s or group of states’ Red Snapper Fisheries
Management Plan (hereafter referred to as the Plan) which would address all compone
nts
(commercial and recreational) of the Gulf States red snapper fishery. The Plan may extend to
multiple years with annual review of specific components to include, but not limited to:
assessment methodology, data collection, annual management measures an
d timelines.
The Plan would include an initial three

year prohibition on any actions that might affect
individual fishing quotas or management structure of the commercial fishery, effective from
date of adoption by GSRSMA.
During this period, NOAA Fisheri
es through the Gulf of
Mexico Fishery Management Council would continue to manage the commercial fishery
under existing regulations.
Each state would be responsible for the management of the fishery in their respective state
territorial sea and adjacent e
xclusive economic zone (EEZ) water using the best available
science and information. The states would be required to ensure overfishing will not occur
through the full range of management and assessment strategies available to each state or
group of states
acting in concert. These strategies would not be limited to those based on
total allowable catch. The GSRSMA, as a whole would annually review and approve the red
snapper management actions of an individual state or groups of states acting in concert. If
the status of the fishery in each state is in equilibrium or expanding, no change in
management actions may be required. If the status of the fishery is below equilibrium or
declining, the responsible state or states would be required to take appropriate
action to
revise existing management actions to establish equilibrium, and those actions would have to
be approved by the GSRSMA.
The GSRSMA or each state would be required to prepare an annual report on the status of
the fishery based on the individual
states (or states acting in concert) management strategies
and assessment methodologies.
The GSRSMA will conduct a periodic gulf

wide population
review of red snapper on a schedule not to exceed every 5 years.
Assessment
Each individual state or group of states would conduct an assessment of the status of red
snapper populations within their adjacent waters. The full range of assessment
methodologies would be available to each state or group of states using the best availa
ble
science to inform management actions.
Assessments would be conducted periodically
on a timeline determined by the GSRSMA.
Assessment methodologies and data collection strategies for both fisheries dependent and
independent data would be approved by t
he GSRSMA.
T
he GSRSMA would be required to
conduct a periodic and Gulf

wide population review of the health of the fishery and status of
red snapper on a schedule not to exceed five years between such assessments.
Accountability
Each Gulf state would for
mally agree to comply fully with management measures developed
through the GSRSMA

approved Plan under a memorandum of agreement. The GSRSMA
could request additional accountability actions through the Secretary of Commerce if a Gulf
state or group of Gulf
states adopted management measures or regulations significantly
inconsistent from the red snapper management framework identified in the Plan when such
inconsistent measures could negatively impact the interests of other Gulf states with regard
to red snap
per management.
The procedures established as part of the Striped Bass Act,
Sec. 5153

Monitoring of
Implementation and Enforcement by Coastal States would serve as a model for developing
procedures for action through the Secretary of Commerce specific t
o the red snapper fishery
in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal action to provide accountability and ensure consistency would
be limited to the federal waters adjacent to the state(s) that adopted inconsistent
management measures or actions. Under no circumstan
ces would federal authority or action
supersede that of an individual state within designated state waters. The following link
provides greater detail on the procedures used by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission in regards to management of st
riped bass:
http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/Striped_Bass_Act.pdf
State regulation of red snapper would extend seaward from a state’s shoreline to the 200
mile limit (Figure 1). Individual states would enforce regulations within their boundaries
under l
icensing to that state or with agreement and appropriate licensing in other adjacent
states.
State regulations related to red snapper
under the Plan would apply to all fishing
activities
associated with red snapper landed in a given state, not just state registered
vessels.
State waters for all Gulf States would extend to nine nautical miles for the purpose of uniform
enforcement and management actions related to red snapper.
Funding
Federal funding specific to red snapper now going to federal research, assessment and
management would be appropriated to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and
passed through to the states for use and distribution under the GSRSMA.
Federal
f
undi
ng of enforcement that is currently provided to the Gulf States for fisheries
enforcement shall not be reduced because of transfer of red snapper management to
GSRSMA. Federal agents will work in concert with deputized state agents to enforce state
regulat
ions approved by the GSRSMA.
The National Marine Fisheries Service will continue to provide access to all fisheries data
and services available before transfer of red snapper management under the same
arrangements and conditions
after the
transfer of mana
gement authority to GSRSMA.
Figure 1. Jurisdictional boundaries designated for enforcement purposes at a state level.
These boundaries may be adjusted based on state(s) exercising the option to work in concert
on regulations with each other.
Statutory Provisions
In order to establish the GSRSMA, the management of red snapper must be vacated from
the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan and
any provisions that have been established for red snapper with th
at plan or any amendments
to that plan.
Additionally, this Act and any provisions of this Act regarding management and enforcement
of any regulations and management provisions to the extent that there is any conflict will take
precedence over the MSA and
any portions of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
Council’s Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan.
Key Provisions
Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA)
This document provides a summary of the key elements of a plan in which the Gulf stat
es
would coordinate management of red snapper throughout the Gulf of Mexico through the
proposed Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority (GSRSMA).
Management & Assessment

The governing body for the GSRSMA would be comprised of the principal fisheries
manager (or his/her proxy) from each of the five Gulf States.
o
Primary function of the GSRSMA would be approval of each state’s Red
Snapper Fisheries Management Plan which woul
d address all components of
the fishery.
o
Within each Plan there would be an initial three year prohibition on actions
affecting individual fishing quotas.

Using the best available science, each state would be responsible for the
management of the fishery i
n their respective state territorial sea and adjacent
exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters to ensure that overfishing would not occur.

Reporting requirements will include an annual report on the status of the fishery from
each state(s) and a gulf

wide popu
lation review will be conducted at least every 5
years.
Accountability

Each state would formally agree to comply fully with management measures
developed through the GSRSMA

approved Plan.

The GSRSMA could request additional accountability actions through the Secretary
of Commerce if a Gulf state or group of Gulf states adopted management measures
or regulations significantly inconsistent with the Plan.

Any accountability action based on a r
equest to the Secretary of Commerce would be
limited to federal waters adjacent to the state or states that adopted measures
inconsistent with the Plan.

State regulations and enforcement of those regulations for red snapper would extend
seaward from a stat
es shoreline to the 200 mile limit.

State waters for all Gulf States would extend to nine nautical miles for the purpose of
uniform enforcement and management actions related to red snapper.
Funding

Federal funding for research, assessment and management
of red snapper would be
appropriated to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and passed to the
states.

Federal
f
unding for fisheries enforcement shall continue at current levels and NMFS
will continue to share fisheries data and other data necessary
for management after
transfer of authority.
Statutory Provisions

Provisions of this Act will take precedence over the MSA and any portions of the Gulf
of Mexico Fishery Management Council Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan.

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | 1 Comment

RED SNAPPER QUOTAS FOR 2015 ANNOUNCED

This just released by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries management Council:

For Immediate Release
March 3, 2015

Gulf Council Votes to Increase the Red Snapper Quotas
for 2015 and Beyond

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met today via webinar to review recommendations made by its scientific advisors regarding the red snapper quotas for 2015 and beyond. The Council moved to set the red snapper quota equal to the acceptable biological as show below:

Year ABC Total Quota Commercial Quota Recreational Quota Recreational
ACT
2015 14.30 mp 14.30 mp 7.26 mp 7.04 mp 5.632 mp

2016 13.96 mp 13.96 mp 7.12 mp 6.84 mp 5.472 mp

2017+ 13.74 mp 13.74 mp 7.01 mp 6.73 mp 5.384 mp

The 2017 quota will remain in effect until changed by the Council.

If approved by the Department of Commerce, this action increases the 2015 total quota by 3.3 million pounds, resulting in a commercial quota of 7.26 million pounds, and a recreational quota of 7.04 million pounds. The total recreational annual catch target will be 5.632 million pounds. The length of the recreational season has yet to be determined. NOAA Fisheries Service will determine and announce the 2015 season in the coming weeks.

For more information about the Framework Action, please visit the Council website

About Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans, which are designed to manage fishery resources within the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
Charlene Ponce
Public Information Officer
888-833-1844 ext. 229

Posted in Regulations & Rules - Saltwater Fishing | 1 Comment

GUN BILLS CLEARING STATE SENATE?

Alice Tripp of the Texas State Rifle Association has just announced that both the Campus Carry and some form of Open Carry legislation appear to have passed or will pass the Texas Senate.

I’m not really sure how much I support either bill, but most who do see them as big wins for the rights of gun owners in our state.

Posted in General Hunting, Trends and Regulations | Comments Off on GUN BILLS CLEARING STATE SENATE?

CAST BULLET USE AND PERFORMANCE – IT’S HARD, BUT NOT DIFFICULT!

Bullet casting is perhaps more popular today than it was when there was almost no other way to get bullets! Partly this is because, eventually, some money may be saved by casting your own projectiles. Mostly, it gives the shooter a chance to have almost absolute control over the material in the bullets, the shape, and weight. Molds can be had for almost any shape or size bullet imaginable, and various metals can be “alloyed” in with pure lead – such as tin and antimony – to make the bullets as hard as you might want. If you can get them, discarded wheel weights have a good mix for bullet casting. A “hard cast” bullet can be made to give better penetration than all but full metal jacketed bullets. They will punch through bone and push a wide path through tissue,causing more damage than a FMJ bullet, making them an excellent choice for big, tough critters – like feral hogs!

For those who do not want to cast their own, many companies make and sell excellent hard cast bullets at prices well below that of jacketed bullets. Home-cast bullets need to be sized and lubed before use, but even the top commercially made bullets can benefit from extra sizing. What this does is make sure your bullets are not too big for the cylinders and/or barrel of your particular gun. I found that sizing and extra lubing helped a lot in getting some heavy hard cast to work through the cylinder chambers of my .480 Ruger Super Redhawk, for instance.

While most useful perhaps to those who cast their own bullets, even commercial hard cast bullets can benefit from being sized for your gun. The Lee Precision tools needed to make sure this bullet is sized for a .480 Ruger include a sizing die with ram and a plastic bullet hopper.

While most useful perhaps to those who cast their own bullets, even commercial hard cast bullets can benefit from being sized for your gun. The Lee Precision tools needed to make sure this bullet is sized for a .480 Ruger include a sizing die with ram and a plastic bullet hopper.

Lee Precision makes an excellent and economical sizing die that is used in a “regular” reloading press (single-stage). The die is screwed into the press, and a plunger is slid into the slot on the ram a case holder normally occupies. Bullets are fed through the die by the press’s ram from beneath by a plunger, and then exit the die into a supplied plastic hopper that slips over the top of the die and catches the sized bullets. Easy one step operation.

The die is placed in the loading press, as any other die, bullet pushed through from the bottom, collects in the hopper.

The die is placed in the loading press, as any other die, bullet pushed through from the bottom, collects in the hopper.

Although most commercially cast bullets will come with lube grooves cast into the bullet filled with a “crayola” type waxy lube material that is sufficient to help keep the lead from coating the barrel, it does not hurt to add more lube – some experienced cast bullet shooters even recommend it. Lee sells a liquid lube called Alox that is very good for this.

Most commercially cast bullets will be lubed, but "over-lubing" with Lee Liquid Alox lube is still a good idea

Most commercially cast bullets will be lubed, but “over-lubing” with Lee Liquid Alox lube is still a good idea

Bullets are placed in a bowl of some sort – plastic margarine tubs work well – and some Alox is dribbled over them.

First step - put bullets in a bowl and dribble some Alox on them.

First step – put bullets in a bowl and dribble some Alox on them.

Roll the bullets by swirling the bowl, until they are well coated.

Next, roll the bullets by swirling the bowl side-to-side until the bullets are well coated.

Next, roll the bullets by swirling the bowl side-to-side until the bullets are well coated.

Remove the bullets and place them on a piece of wax paper to dry at least overnight before loading them into your cases.

Let coated bullets dry on a sheet of wax paper overnight, and they are ready to load.

Let coated bullets dry on a sheet of wax paper overnight, and they are ready to load.

These are 375gr Hard Cast from Cast Performance Bullet Company loaded in .480 Ruger cases to be "Hog Whackers!"

These are 375gr Hard Cast from Cast Performance Bullet Company loaded in .480 Ruger cases to be “Hog Whackers!”

Hard cast bullets seem to work best when they are “heavy-for-caliber” and run at slower velocities. Actually, they can be pushed to more velocity, it just isn’t usually needed. When I first began shooting sub sonic .44’s for hogs with my suppressed Contender, I discovered that a 335gr .429″ bullet loaded to a muzzle velocity of 1050 – 1100 fps was sub sonic to insure more quiet operation, yet still gave great penetration on hogs at the distances I normally shoot them – 25 to 75 yards. Hollow point or soft nosed jacketed bullets usually do not expand reliably at such low velocities, but hard cast are not going to expand at any speed, so that is not a problem. When shooting a bullet that punches a near half-inch hole through both sides of the target animal, expansion is not really necessary. Most of the hogs I’ve shot with sub sonic hard cast bullets have been fully penetrated, and twice now I’ve killed two hogs with one shot – and still did not find the bullets because they went through both animals and kept going!

I am intending to shoot mostly big hard cast in my .44’s, .45 Colt and my .480 Ruger – all at roughly 1000 fps. The .44’s and .45 will use 300 – 310gr bullets, the .480 375 – 415gr. Recoil at these speeds is much more pleasant than pushing jacketed bullets at up to 1400 fps, and is easier on both the shooter and the handgun. It also usually aids accuracy. I may experiment with pushing them a bit faster from the .480. Factory Hornady 400gr XTP’s claim 1100 fps on the box, and that recoil is very manageable in my Super Redhawk, so the same speed or a teensy bit more – say 1200 fps – should be both shootable and deadly on any game I am likely to go after.

A note on cast bullet shape. The semi-wadcutters used for paper targets (hence the name) and popularized by the legend of that old rascal, Elmer Keith, are NOT what I would pick to hunt with. They were designed to make a clean, round hole in a paper target to make scoring in matches easier. They do not have enough frontal area to do what a cast bullet does best when used on game – no matter what their hardness is measured as. A hunting bullet to be used on hogs and other large, sturdy animals should have a wide, flat nose (“metplat”) – as wide as the cartridge itself is about right, or full caliber for the round. Tests in ballistic gelatin have shown that such a bullet actually penetrates better than a pointed one does, and causes more internal damage than an expanding bullet as it pushes through tissue. Of course, it also goes through bone and tough cartilage much better – although the hardness of the bullet also helps in that respect.

These two bullets are both .429 diameter for .44 magnum use, but are far from the same. The bullet on the left is a lead semi-wadcutter designed for shooting paper targets, the one on the right is a 305gr hard cast designed for shooting critters - BIG critters!

These two bullets are both .429 diameter for .44 magnum use, but are far from the same. Left bullet is 240gr lead semi-wadcutter, right is 305 grain hard cast.

I used to get my cast bullets from Montana Bullet Company, but Dave is about to – or already has – gone out of business, and was trying to sell the company the last time we had contact. I liked dealing with him because he would make bullets of the optimum diameter for my handguns,always insisting I measure the chambers and barrel. The other companies I am using now are Oregon Trail, True Shot, Cast Performance, and most recently Hunters Supply. The bullets are all pretty much alike – I would not be able to tell which ones came from which company if I just dumped them all out and mingled them together. The major choices to make are caliber, weight, and whether or not to have a gas check included. Gas checks are copper discs that are pressed onto the base of the bullet that are intended to keep hot gases from going around a softened lead bullet, causing loss of performance and increasing the chance of lead build-up in the barrel. Do they work? Maybe yes, maybe no, but they probably don’t hurt. They also add a little more weight to the total of the bullet.

Here are 3 brands of hard cast bullets for .44 mag and .480 Ruger, backed by 3 powders that work well with them.

Here are 3 brands of hard cast bullets for .44 mag and .480 Ruger, backed by 3 powders that work well with them.

Amazon “sells” Lee reloading equipment, although I have gotten damaged stuff from their supplier, and Lee advised me to order direct from Lee. Amazon offers the lube and sizing kits in several calibers, but NOT the .475/.480 – I Had to get this one direct from Lee. Midway also markets Lee equipment.

Leeprecision.com

MidwayUSA.com

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MANAGING THE DEER HERD?

In REALLY managing the deer herd on and around my small piece of property, I once again managed to not only not kill THIS deer, but ANY deer. Oh well, we'll always have next year?

In REALLY managing the deer herd on and around my small piece of property, I once again managed to not only not kill THIS deer, but ANY deer. Oh well, we’ll always have next year?

Well, I didn’t manage to kill a deer on my place AGAIN this year. There were good deer around, although mostly at night, and I let three does walk – after promising my wife I’d try for a “meat” deer. Oh, well. My brother, the successful deer hunter, gave us venison – and maybe this critter will be bigger, and more cooperative next season?

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SEEMS THE DROUGHT IS OVER?

This picture was a couple of weeks ago, the day we had over 2 inches of rain – on top of everything already being soaked from almost daily rains the week before.

No drought here! The hogs have been rooting for crawfish, deer are trying to find floating pellets of corn, I guess.

No drought here! The hogs have been rooting for crawfish, deer are trying to find floating pellets of corn, I guess.

By the way, that isn’t a catfish feeder hanging over a pond! Normally, this is dry land!

Posted in Picture Of The Week | Comments Off on SEEMS THE DROUGHT IS OVER?

THE “NEW” RUGER SUPER BLACKHAWK, AND THE “IMPROVED” RUGER SUPER BLACKHAWK “HUNTER”

This is actually my older SBH .44 mag after it was Cerakoted and fitted for a custom grip.

This is actually my older SBH .44 mag after it was Cerakoted and fitted for a custom grip.

This picture is of an older Ruger Super Blackhawk single action revolver, with the 7 1/2″ barrel, chambered in .44 magnum – as many feel a single action revolver SHOULD be. When I bought this gun recently, it was in rather rough shape, cosmetically, but mechanically functioned like brand new. The first thing I did after a few test rounds were fired was take it to Texas Custom Guns, in Alvin, Texas, to have it redone with a Cerakote finish. Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating that has excellent wearing and corrosion resistant properties. It can be had in an amazing number of colors – even some that have no business being found on a hunting revolver – but I chose what they call their “Stainless Steel” finish. It actually resembles the Ruger Target Grey of my .480 Redhawk more than SS, but I think it is very attractive, and certainly an immense improvement over the old, weathered finish.

Texas Custom Guns offers full gunsmithing services as well as custom rifles and Cerakoting. Contact them at info@texascustomguns.net, or call at 832/971-7140. The location is 208 E. Dumble, Alvin, TX 77511

To set off the “make-over” of this gun, I ordered a set of walnut finger groove grips from Badger Custom Grips. These grips not only make the gun much more attractive, and give it a close to custom appearance, but they guard the shooters hand against being “dinged” by the square back trigger guard used on the SBH’s with the 7 1/2 or 10 inch barrels.

David at Badgers has made other fine grips for me, and is currently working on a set for my Bisley. contact him at badgercustomgrips.com, 1409 Old Pendleton Rd., Easley, SC, 29642 – or call 864/608-0032.

This is a newer model Super Blackhawk in the "Hunter" configuration, with "Bisley" grip, hammer, and trigger.

This is a newer model Super Blackhawk in the “Hunter” configuration, with “Bisley” grip, hammer, and trigger.

The next Ruger I also bought used, but this one needed no work from me to improve it’s looks – or performance. A “Hunter” model, it has the heavy, full length barrel top rail that incorporates the same Ruger scope mounting system as is used on the Redhawks – except on the barrel, and not the top of the frame. An often overlooked advantage to the Ruger scope mounting system on the Super Redhawks and Super Blackhawk Hunters is that if open sights were ever needed – like in case of a scope malfunction – the scope and rings can be fairly quickly removed by loosening the two screws holding the rings to the barrel (or frame, if a Redhawk). As long as the gun is “sighted in” with the open sights, you can quickly be back in business. If you just wanted to take the scope off, and decide to replace it, simply re-attaching should be sufficient. Since none of the mounting parameters will have changed, it will be sighted in with the scope as it was before removal. I have seen custom Ruger Hunter models where the front sight was removed and an insert pushed into its slot to make the rib appear unbroken. While this does look very good – at least to me – it takes away the open sight option. This gun is also a Bisley model, which means it has the Bisley grip, hammer, and trigger. The Ruger Bisley is heavily influenced by the original Colt Bisley target model, which in turn was modeled after the English Bisley target revolvers, but the grip is favored by most shooters using heavy recoiling revolvers. Custom revolver smith Hamilton Bowen maintains that without the Bisley grip, guns in calibers like the .475 and .500 Linebough could not be fired by a human. It is much straighter than the standard Blackhawk, “Plough Handle” grip, resulting in a straighter “push” during recoil, instead of the gun “rolling up” in your hand as it is designed to do with the standard Ruger grip frame. Although I haven’t yet shot a Bisley grip enough to have a firm opinion on its effect on recoil, it certainly does not make it “worse”! The Bisley hammer is lower than standard Ruger hammers, which is handy when using a scope on your gun. The Bisley trigger has a bit more slender profile, and the trigger guard is rounded instead of squared off.

This Bisley Hunter is heavier than a standard Super Blackhawk, weighing almost exactly the same as my .480 Redhawk – just under 4 1/2 pounds, with both guns having scopes mounted but no ammo loaded. Weight helps mitigate recoil, of course, and with the Bisley grip this gun is probably more pleasant to shoot than a standard .44 magnum SBH.

I think my Bisley really "shines" with these new Lacewood grips by Badger Custom Grips!

I think my Bisley really “shines” with these new Lacewood grips by Badger Custom Grips!

Received my new Lacewood grips for this revolver from Badger Custom Grips (badgercustomgrips.com) just in time to finish my shooting trials with them in place. With just a bit of tweaking, these grips fit much better than the factory grips, and look immensely better! Knowing that not all grips frames will be exactly the same, yet not wanting to remove mine and send them in for a really proper fitting, I have been amazed at how the grip makers I’ve dealt with so far can do a better fitting job than the factory. Of course, the factory does’t “fit” grips, they just screw on a set out of a box. For a truly custom fit without doing it yourself, you have to have the grip frame or the complete revolver in the hands of a custom shop. Lacewood has become my favorite wood for really attractive and distinctive revolver grips, although Spalted Maple is very nice, also.

OK, now we need to shoot these beauties, as I had never fired the Bisley, and only fired a few rounds through the SBH before having it Cerakoted. I loaded both revolvers with my hand loads using “310gr” True Shot hard cast bullets from Oregon Trail. The quotes around the bullet weights are because on my scale, the weight ran more to 305 – 307gr – even with gas checks. I used a nominal charge of Titegroup powder that multiple loading manuals said should give me 1071fps. Time only allowed 2 shots from each revolver that morning, and the velocities from my chronograph showed a 1088 and 1074 from the Bisley, against shots yielding 1085 and 1077 from the SBH. Pretty darn close, even considering both had the same barrel length – 7 1/2″ – and also considering my actual charge weights varied by plus or minus .4gr. Since I was looking for a load with this bullet producing 1000 – 1100 fps for hog hunting, I think I have found it. Also encouraging to me was that though I bore – sighted both scopes at home, no scope adjustments were made when shooting – yet the 2 shots from the Bisley were both in the bullseye at 25 yards, while the shots from the SBH were just a tad high and left – all 4 would have been kill shots on a hog. No further adjustment will be necessary to the 2X Weaver on the Bisley, and only a little adjustment to the T/C 2.5X x 7X on the SBH. In what I term my “Pig Stand”, the feeder is about 25 yards from the stand, so I sight in for that range, then check my POI at 50 and 75. Normally, no further adjustment is needed. I might run the velocities up in future loadings, but if shooting a few swine with basically sub-sonic velocities gives me good results, I may not – especially since I have the .480 Ruger if I want more power.

The 2 holes in the center ring were successive shots at 25 yards from the .44 mag Bisley, after only bore sighting at home!  The two just above were the same conditions with the revamped SBH .44. All 4 were 310gr hard cast at 1070 - 1088 fps.

The 2 holes in the center ring were successive shots at 25 yards from the .44 mag Bisley, after only bore sighting at home! The two just above were the same conditions with the revamped SBH .44. All 4 were 310gr hard cast at 1070 – 1088 fps.

The shots in and just above the center ring were from the two .44 mags, the other three low and left – scattered – were from the .480 Ruger, also a first effort with only a quick bore sight session, before further alignment. My scope sighted Ruger revolvers have been the easiest guns of any kind to initially “get on paper” I’ve ever fired!

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | 10 Comments

LONGER RED SNAPPER SEASON POSSIBLE?

This is from a NOAA representative on the SSC, in regards to a longer red snapper season being possible, IF the bag limit is reduced from 2 fish per day to 1.

“We predicted ~30+ days in A40. If catch rates are similar this year compared to last year than you could be looking at 45+ days with a 1 fish bag limit. If fishermen compensate for the lower bag limit by harvesting larger fish then the season lengthen will obviously not be as long. I expect that would be the case for many trips.”

If the limit stays at 2 fish, the season could run 25 days – which is still a lot longer than last year’s 9 day season, but remember, this is for a fish that just about everyone admits is fully recovered, and more.

Since red snapper are primarily a “food fish”, and the survival rate for released snapper is dismal – how many of us will be spending the money in this economy to either charter a boat or put fuel in our private boat to catch 1 snapper per person per trip? Unless you consider a couple of snapper just a bonus catch while primarily after king mackerel or some other species (not triggerfish, since they will be off limits). Many years ago NOAA/NMFS had the bright idea to impose an 18″ MINIMUM size limit on red snapper, which resulted in dead 14 – 17″ snapper floating all over the Gulf! Fortunately, the fact that this policy killed many more snapper than having a 14″ limit was seen, but a one fish limit could have much the same result, as anglers cull their catch to keep only the largest snapper of the day.

Hey, why don’t we just have a zero snapper per day limit? Or, if we just use computers to do our figuring, maybe even a minus fish limit? If all red snapper anglers were required to take a set number of live snapper with them on each trip to be released, I bet there would soon be a computer model that calculated a huge increase in red snapper in the Gulf?

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LATEST NEWS ABOUT TRIGGERFISH

BAD news for those who might actually like to catch them!

SOUTHEAST FISHERY BULLETIN
(Gulf of Mexico)

FB15-007
Rich Malinowski
727-824-5305

January 26, 2015

Gulf of Mexico Recreational Gray Triggerfish Federal Fishing Season to Close

NOAA Fisheries is closing federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish at 12:01 a.m., local time, February 7, 2015.

Currently, the annual catch limit is 241,200 pounds whole weight (pounds) and the annual catch target is 217,100 pounds. The federal fishing season is closed when the annual catch target is met or projected to be met. However, if the harvest exceeds the annual catch limit during a given year, the amount of the overage is subtracted from the catch limit and catch target the following year.

In 2013, there was a substantial harvest overrun that resulted in the 2014 annual catch target being reduced to 1,658 pounds. NOAA Fisheries closed recreational harvest in federal waters on May 1, 2014. However, several states continued to allow harvest in state waters throughout the remainder of the year. The total recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in 2014 far exceeded the 25,758-pound annual catch limit.

To account for the overage, the 2014 excess catch has been subtracted from the 241,200-pound annual catch limit and 217,000-pound annual catch target, leaving a 2015 catch target of 30,107 pounds.

Gulf of Mexico states may not have regulations allowing simultaneous closures in state waters. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries expects additional harvest to occur in state waters after the federal season closure. This additional catch counts against the catch target. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries is closing gray triggerfish recreational harvest in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:01 a.m. (local time), February 7, 2015.

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