DINNER TIME!

Since hogs can have pigs virtually year round, new litters are not unusual at any time. Right now I have three sows with piglets on my small property.

Sort of feeding at a feeder.

Sort of feeding at a feeder.

Sadly, I found a dead dog – a pit bull – near one feeder last week. I did not recognize the dogs as one I’ve seen on game camera pictures before, don’t know where it came from. No readily apparent trauma,appeared to be in good health = except dead. After the skin was co,ing off the carcass due to critters and weather, I could see one front leg appeared to be broken. This reinforced my theory that the dog happened upon the group of hogs at the feeder, and the sows probably pinned him against a nearby dead tree and fatally injured him with head butting – as sows do not always have the tusks to cut deeply. Mamma hogs can be VERY protective of their young.

Note also in the picture that the sow is feeding on corn while her young are nursing, but one little pigs has already begun eating corn?

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TEXAS OUTDOORS JOURNAL

For those who still enjoy a paper publication (as I do), I have begun writing for Texas Outdoors Journal, a quality, glossy paper magazine published in Houston by owner Bill Olson. Bill is a fine gentleman and a fellow lover of classic Bertram sportfishing boats and the magazine is a regular winner in it’s category in the TOWA Excellence in Craft competition. My first article for TOJ was in April, dealing with hunting with suppressed firearms, and I have an article in the June issue about hog hunting with handguns. My articles should begin appearing there on a regular basis, if what Bill and I have been working on comes to pass. I am very proud to be associated with TOJ, and urge readers of this website to give it a look.

www.texasoutdoorsjournal.com

In another magazine subject, I will no longer be writing my monthly column for Southern Boating, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after many years.

Also, my friend John Jefferson of Austin edits the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.’s Hunting and Fishing Annual – the one that comes with your hunting and fishing license to explain regulations and also provide a bit of entertainment. John asked me to contribute a piece on new speckled trout regulations down the coast.

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PRETTY LITTLE DEER

I’m not a Bambi lover, but I do like to watch deer, especially the young ones.

Nice "yearlings". Hope they grow up safe!

Nice “yearlings”. Hope they grow up safe!

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AIRGUN HUNTING

An older, spring powered pellet gun above a more modern, gun with a nitrogen cylinder.

An older, spring powered pellet gun above a more modern, gun with a nitrogen cylinder.

Beginning September 1, 2014, it will be legal in Texas to hunt squirrels with an air gun for the first time. While this might seem to be a regulation tailored for children, modern air guns are powerful and accurate enough for adults to enjoy, also. To use your “pellet gun” for hunting, it will need to be capable of firing a pellet at velocity of 600 fps. I have used an imported air gun said to be used as a Korean army training rifle to shoot “pests” . This category would include grackles that pooped on our boats in the marina as well as possums and coons around the house. I have never killed a coon or possum with a single shot, but it does kill them, and is a bit quieter than even a .22 short. To make sure it would be legal, I shot it over my chronograph last week, and came up with 590 fps. This was with a lead, “hunting” pellet. Something you will soon notice if you shop for an air gun for hunting is that a common claim is 1200 fps, but usually this is with a lighter “target” pellet made of an aluminum alloy. With the heavier hunting pellets, that speed drops to 1000 fps, or less. Still, this is nearly twice the speed of my older gun.

This springer powered .177 air gun barely makes the required velocity of 600 fps, but has the power needed to eliminate pests like 'possums.

This springer powered .177 air gun barely makes the required velocity of 600 fps, but has the power needed to eliminate pests like ‘possums.

My old gun is also powered by a strong metal spring, while the newer and maybe pricier guns use a nitrogen filled cylinder, which is touted as being quieter, producing more power, and being easier to cock. It is also OK to leave the N2 powered gun “locked and loaded” by your back door where it will be handy for backyard pests – because the gas in the cylinder does not take a “set” like a metal spring might. To get a good sample for this write-up, I purchased a Benjamin Prowler air rifle with a nitrogen cocking cylinder rated to produce 1200 fps with the light pellets, 900 with heavier ones. The Benjamin has an adjustable, 2-stage trigger with a safety that is sort of a reverse Glock style. The safety lever is like a shorter trigger placed in front of the actual trigger that blocks the trigger from being pulled, because it cannot be moved reward to contact the trigger (as the Glock “safety” does). To fire it is pushed forward, making space between it and the trigger for your finger to get in and pull the trigger. It is a break barrel action, as opposed to the under lever type of my old gun, and has a plastic gripping section near the muzzle to “whack” with your hand to get the initial break of the action started. the cocking motion is then continued with the butt against the ground or the side or your foot. This gun has no open sights, so it pretty much must be used with a scope.

This Beeman-type pellet gun is cocked by and under-the-barrel lever.

This Beeman-type pellet gun is cocked by an under-the-barrel lever.

The loading port on the under lever gun is large, but enclosed, and it can be difficult to properly seat the pellets.

The loading port on the under lever gun is large, but enclosed, and it can be difficult to properly seat the pellets.

Benjamin N2 cylinder rifle is of break open design.

Benjamin N2 cylinder rifle is of break open design.

The chamber of the break barrel rifle is completely exposed, for much easier loading

The chamber of the break barrel rifle is completely exposed, for much easier loading

My Benjamin Prowler has a safety lever that, when in place, prevents the trigger from being pulled. Similar to the Glock pistol safety, except ...

My Benjamin Prowler has a safety lever that, when in place, prevents the trigger from being pulled. Similar to the Glock pistol safety, except …

To disengage the safety, push the lever forward to allow your finger access to the trigger.

To disengage the safety, push the lever forward to allow your finger access to the trigger.

To get an idea of the effective power of these air rifles, first, lets compare a .177 pellet to a .22 Short, which would probably be considered marginal for squirrel hunting. The muzzle velocity of .22 Shorts generally runs from 605 fps for a “sub sonic” cartridge to 1105 fps for a high velocity round. with a standard Short running about 1000, which is actually a sub-sonic velocity, so don’t waste money on the more expensive sub sonics if you need to shoot a .22 with a suppressor. A pellet of .177 caliber in the “hunting” type will be fired at an average velocity of 900 – 1000 fps, which seems to be a good match for the .22, huh? There is also a .22 caliber air rifle, and velocity on those is usually a bit less than a .177, due to heavier pellet weight.

What we need to look at now, is bullet/pellet weight. The .22 Short will weigh 27 -29gr, while a .22LR will go 36 – 40gr. A .177 pellet of the lead hunting type usually weighs around 8.4 to 8.9gr, while the .22 pellet weighs around 14.5gr.These low weights are partly why air rifle range is generally considered to be 40 yards or less, for hunting animals up to rabbits and squirrels – and the two calibers are considered about equal when we look at velocity and bullet weight.

To check “published” velocities, I shot some pellets through each gun over my Prochrony chronograph – although I am sure the companies involved had more extensive testing done with better equipment. I had only two types and brands of pellets on had to shoot, a Daisy flat-nosed pellet that weighted an average of 7.7gr, and a Benjamin hollow point weighing 8.0gr. The results of 3 shots of each pellet, through each gun are as follows:

Old rifle

Daisy 596 fps 603 fps 693 fps

Benjamin HP 585 fps 588 fps 592 fps

Benjamin Prowler
Daisy 1003 fps 1003 fps 1003 fps

Benjamin HP 986 fps 1003 fps 978 fps

Basically, I got close to 600 fps with the old spring powered gun, around 1000 fps with the new Nitrogen cylinder gun. I was using an old fiberglass panel garage door as a backstop, folded so one side was stable. The old gun punched a couple of holes through the facing panel, but most made a deep dent and bounced off. With the Benjamin, ALL pellets punched through the front AND back panels, showing quite a bit more power.

While the .177 and .22 caliber air rifles will both work for pests and small game at close ranges, Benjamin’s Marauder PCP (pre-charged) rifle in .25 caliber is another step up. Also made in .177 and .22, the heavier .25 pellets pack more punch on larger pests, up to the size of ‘coons and fox. The PCP guns have an air reservoir that is pre-charged to allow multiple shots. The Marauder also has pellet “magazines” holding 8 to 10 pellets, making it a bolt action repeater. The power of air released may be set with a built in gauge, so the shooter can choose fewer, more powerful shots, or less powerful shoots for more of them. They may be either “charged” a a supplied pump, or from a tank.

Of course a gun of this quality is a bit pricey, running upwards of $400, and depending on options, it can cost close to $600 (list prices). This amount of money will purchase a pretty nice .22LR. So what would make an air gun worth so much? Besides being a bit unique and perhaps safer due to more limited range, they are much cheaper to operate. Even without the ammo scare that made .22LR both hard to get and expensive. A can of Benjamin .177 HP pellets cost me under $9.00 recently,and that was for 750 pellets! Considering the air that propels the pellet is “free”, that makes for very inexpensive shooting, and there has been no shortage of pellets. Since the Benjamin is sub sonic, it is quieter than a .22, and since it is not a firearm it might be legal to shoot in places a firearm is not. Not being regulated as a firearm, buying and selling air rifles does not require an FFL, nor does shipping.

Another option in air rifles is the really high-powered break action guns. Gamo has a gun that will fire a .177 pellet at 1450 fps, and the Umarex Octane is right behind at 1400 fps. These are higher velocities than all but the faster High Velocity .22 LR, and even the .22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum starts at 1530 fps (High-Vel cartridges can be had that shoot up to 2250 fps). Of course, these air rifles will be pretty loud, as they are super sonic, but they should pack a real whallop on small game. UPDATE: Gamo also makes a rifle that is rated to shoot light target pellets to 1650 FPS! Since air guns are not regulated like firearms, suppressors for them are legal, but with the super sonic guns you will have much the same problems as with a super sonic cartridge – but the air gun’s smaller “bullet” should still be more silent.

Some have told me they would not like to hunt with a single shot . Well, I did a lot of single shot hunting as a teenager – killed my first two deer with one shot each from a 20 gauge single shot with #3 buckshot – and I hunt a lot today with single shot Contenders an a .50 muzzle loader, so an air gun will not bother me much.

If someone really wanted to go to the ultimate is air gun power, Dennis Quackenbush builds custom PCP air rifles in .45 and .50 caliber that have had the power to shoot American Bison, Black Bears, large hogs, and some African game. His base model .50 caliber is priced starting at around $600, so it really isn’t much more than a Benjamin Marauder. In case you wonder how many people would have a need or desire for such a gun, Dennis is usually so booked up that he seldom even takes orders. These are custom quality, high tech rifles of ultimate power, but in Texas they could only be used for feral hogs, exotic deer, and other non-game species, and not for white-tailed or mule deer hunting. At least not for now.

At the TOWA Annual Conference in New Braunfels last February, when TPWD personnel announce of the coming rule on air gun hunting, I asked if, since I hunted in Brazoria County, where squirrels were not treated as game animals and there was no closed season for hunting them, could I start shooting them with my pellet gun immediately. That would seem to make sense, but I was told that because they are considered a regulated game animal by the state, I would still have to wait for September 1.

Most know that I am an advocate for suppressors on firearms, and I am very interested in air guns as well. I really hope not, but there could come a day when something of this nature might be all we are allowed to hunt with. I don’t know about you, but should this happen, I want to be ready for it.

www.Crosman.com/airguns/benjamin

www.gamousa.com

www,umarexusa.com

www.quackenbushairguns.com

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NEW SPECKLED TROUT LIMITS FOR PART OF THE COAST

In 2007, Special Regulations for speckled trout on the Lower Laguna Madre – below Marker 21 in the Land Cut area went into effect, setting a five fish per day bag limit and 10 fish possession limit. Some factors behind this move were reduced recruitment because of red tides, freeze kills, and an increased bay salinity caused by drought conditions. This measure seems to have helped with an increase in both numbers and size of trout being caught, so now the five fish limit is coming further north. Specifically, to the Highway 457 bridge near Sargent.

Speckled trout is one name for a fish also known as Spotted Sea Trout, or on the east coast as a Spotted weakfish. That name came from the fact that these fish have a “weak” mouth that hooks might easily pull through if the fisherman puts on too much pressure, – not because the fish fights “weak”, which is certainly not the case!

This limit takes effect September 1, 2014.

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DON’T BLINK, OR YOU MIGHT MISS THE 2014 RED SNAPPER SEASON!

Got an email from Bob Zales today telling me he talked to Dr. Roy Crabtree of NMFS on the phone and was told that although it has not yet been published in the Federal register, he expects the 2014 red snapper season will NOT be 11 days, as the rumors have had it. Instead, it will likely only be 9 days!

Just received word the emergency rule has been published, 2014 red snapper season in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will be 9 (count ’em, won’t even need all your fingers!) Days!

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Bucks are becoming Bucks again!

Bucks are starting to get "horny"

Bucks are starting to get “horny”


(Pay no attention to the dates on some of these photos. My camera man is too lazy to change the settings a lot of the time when installing new cameras or when faced with time changes)

Besides seeing a lot of does this spring, the bucks are coming around – and able now to be more easily identified as bucks – with antlers in velvet starting to be noticeable.

Possibly the same buck as above, but in full daylight.

Possibly the same buck as above, but in full daylight.

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BLIND DINNER DATE?

Sort of an "Odd Couple".

Sort of an “Odd Couple”.

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PARA EXPERT “CARRY” 1911 AS A DEFENSIVE HANDGUN CHOICE

The Para Expert Carry model 1911 has features that make it an attractive defensive handgun.

The Para Expert Carry model 1911 has features that make it an attractive defensive handgun.

I am not licensed to carry a concealed hand gun – yet – and hardly a defensive strategy expert, yet I am not real comfortable with a lot of things going on in our society lately and feel the need to be prepared to defend myself and/or my family should the need arise. A full-size 1911 style pistol is a bit large for a concealed carry gun, yet I prefer the operation of this pistol and the manual and grip safeties. The answer seemed to me to be simple – find a concealable 1911? The only problem was the price of such pistols. Most “Commander” models from name manufacturers are fairly expensive. Springfield Arms seems to have targeted this market with their EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol) offerings, but in price these smaller 1911’s cost more than the same company’s large, full-featured 1911’s.

I finally decided to give the Para Expert Carry model a try, and I’m glad I did. Like most compact 1911’s, the grip and magazine section are basically the same as on a full size 1911, but the barrel and slide are shorter – 3″ in this case – which greatly improves concealment qualities. Because the Para has a stainless steel barrel and slide mated to an aluminum frame, it is much lighter than a full-grown 1911 – without having to be built of plastic.

Para also makes an “Executive Carry”, which seems to be the same pistol with night sights and a rounded Ed Brown “bobtail” mainspring housing. It also carries a list price almost twice that of the Expert Carry. The company website lists “recoil reduction enhancements”, of which the stout recoil spring is one. The spring is also helpful to operation in a 1911 with such a short barrel and slide.

From the factory, it comes with a fiber optic front sight and a good 2 dot (white) rear sight, a “match” grade barrel, a beavertail grip safety, and the best trigger pull I have felt on a factory fresh semi-auto. The trigger is skeletonized as well as the hammer, and the grip backstrap is checkered. Since it will take any 1911 single stack magazine, I can use my Wilson Combat 10 round mag as a “reload” for more firepower.

I wondered about the recoil of a .45 ACP in a pistol so light with a 3″ barrel, but when I shot it the first time it did not seem any different from firing a full sized, all steel frame 1911. The factory sights are good ones, and were easy to pick up on a cloudy day. MY very first shot at around 15 yards hit the bullseye, and although the following shots meandered from that point, that might not have been the pistol’s doing.

As to concealment, I can put this pistol in the pocket of my favorite winter jacket without it “printing”, and it fits fairly well in a front pants pocket – or the back pocket of my blue jeans. In line with the Glock lovers’ mantra of keeping your backup or concealed pistol the same type as your main carry gun, this Para operates exactly like my full sized 1911 as far as safety and “controls” and will fire the same caliber from the same magazines. It also fits in my 1911 holsters, although a smaller IWB holster will likely prove easier to conceal. Speaking of safeties, it has the standard 1911 manual and grip safeties, which is a very important point for me.

So, what do I like about the Para Expect Carry model 1911? First, the trigger, then probably the sights. Recoil in .45ACP is mild, and the pistol “feels” good, like it should, since it is after all a 1911.

What do I not especially like? The grip safety is VERY light. This does help in that there is no need to “climb” the grip with your hand until the safety disengages – just touch it anywhere and it is “off”. On the other hand, this makes it a bit less of a safety, in my opinion. It is so “loose”, in fact, that simply moving the pistol around makes the grip safety rattle in and out. It does work, and the pistol will not fire unless the grip safety is depressed, however I will likely have a stronger spring installed eventually, but with the 1911 manual thumb safety, the grip safety is sort of redundant. Many 1911 users in the military and law enforcement tied their grip safeties down, and even Jeff Cooper thought it was unnecessary.

So far, I have had one jam both times I have shot this pistol, once with FMJ ammo, once with a hollow point. I suspect this problem might go away just by shooting it more, but if it does not, I’ll try a Wilson Combat magazine before I try to polish the feed ramp. To update the test firing, I fed a magazine of FMJ rounds from the Wilson 10 round mag through the Para, and there were no jams or problems of any kind. It seems that as I have often read, better magazines are the easiest fix to jamming in a 1911.

UPDATE: feeding this pistol from a Wilson Combat 10 round mag was flawless, also from a Taurus 8 round mag, so I purchased two new Wilson 8 rounders and will put the Para mags in storage.

Although I have said I liked the sights, for a defensive pistol I wanted night sights, so I ordered a set from Meprolight that were supposed to be cut for this pistol. When they arrived, they did say they would fit several Para models – just not the Expert. Hoping all Para models would have the dovetails cut the same was a mistake. I have changed and installed sights on 2 other 1911’s and a Glock in recent months, with no problems, but this one was a project. I had to do a whole lot more filing than would seem reasonably necessary, and I ended up using both my sight pusher tool and a punch. Also, I do not really feel Para needed to attach the sights to the slide with Red Locktite. Now that the new night sights are finally mounted, however, I admit I like them so far. Test firing with the new sights saw the pistol shooting a bit low at 10 yards – but putting 10 rounds into one ragged hole of 2″ or so. Experimenting with sight picture will probably have all the shots going where I want them.

Many years ago I bought a lightly used Z28 Camero as a sort of “mid-life crisis” vehicle. A friend who was more of a car nut than I was recommended I take a day off to wash and wax it, get floor mats I liked, and generally “make it mine”. I tend to do that with firearms, so I ordered a set of RAASCO grips to replace the black plastic grips Para supplied. Under those grips will be a set of Pearce rubber grips with front finger grooves. I have been using these of my other 1911’s for some time, and really like them.

My new Para Expert Carry fitted with Rassco custom grips on top of Pierce rubber grip enhancements and Metprolite night sights

My new Para Expert Carry fitted with Rassco custom grips on top of Pierce rubber grip enhancements and Metprolite night sights

I was not aware this pistol had no barrel bushing, as the manual that came with it says it does – yet there is no bushing at the end of the belled barrel. Probably not a problem, I just was not expecting it, and am more accustomed to the bushing with a 1911.

The black nitride finish is not very thickly applied, and scratches easily, leading me to speculate on how the stainless slide would look with the finish removed? Maybe bead blasted or Ceracoated?

Summary – a good pistol for the money, in a good caliber and size for a self defense selection. Speaking of the price, when I bought mine Para had a $100 rebate offer, which helps a lot on the initial purchase.

The Para fits perfectly in a Kydex “slide” holster that originally came with my Springfield Mil Spec 1911, which is a good carry combo under a draping shirt or jacket.

My Para Expert Carry 1911 fits perfect in the belt slide holster that came with my Springfield 1911, and "likes" Wilson Combat magazines much better than the factory Para mags it came with.

My Para Expert Carry 1911 fits perfect in the belt slide holster that came with my Springfield 1911, and “likes” Wilson Combat magazines much better than the factory Para mags it came with.

Posted in Rifles and Other Things That Go Bang! | 13 Comments

WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR!

The most recent deer season was a real bust on my property, but suddenly I have does all over the place, eating corn broadcast for the hogs! Seldom see deer eating corn here, but they are a bit skinny, must have had a hard winter.

Deer are eating corn broadcast for hogs - a sort of turnaround from normal.

Deer are eating corn broadcast for hogs – a sort of turnaround from normal.

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