Friday, January 22, 2010


I’m not sure if I should call this my first pheasant hunt or not. See, I went a couple of times… 28 years ago! … never since. I got a call from my buddy Ned that he was going out for his birthday and wanted to know if I wanted to join him. DUH, you had to ask? OK, now to make sure I have everything… field vest, orange hat, small game license, box of #5 pheasant loads (Winchester) for my Khan O/U 20 gage (don’t laugh, you’ll see why in a minute…) and my cameras. For this trip, I was going to try out the Epic clip on video camera and see how it works.

This was going to be a “paid” hunt. At BT Joe’s is not like hunting ground animals behind a fence, it’s more of a pay for a bird and hope it stays in the fields your allowed to hunt, type hunt. The owner drives out to the fields we’ll be hunting and while we’re in the club house, he places birds throughout the field. They are now free birds. They can stay, run or fly away…and some do. The benefit to us, as the hunters, is that anything in the field is fair game (birds, that is). Even if we only bought 20 birds, if we flush 40 and drop 30….we keep them all, no extra cost. Even if we flush quail or chukars.

So, after a round of introductions for the 5 hunters and the owner (Bruce Tobias) and a round of Happy Birthday’s to Ned, we gather the dogs and head to the fields. Needless to say, I’m just to darn happy for my own good! All the hunters are full of good advice and the walk out is spent listening and learning…every time you go out is an opportunity to learn.

The dogs are a little too excited and full of energy…I think they just about knocked me down half a dozen times! In fact, they’re so excited that when we get to the start of the field one of the dogs starts hunting and just plain refuses to turn back on command….yikes. It just happens that it’s Ned’s dog, Bentley….loves to hunt! So Ned loads up quick and jogs out to Bentley (while getting a little irritated…) who promptly flushes a nice hen, which Ned promptly drops to the ground. Happy Birthday Ned!

Now that the game is on, the rest of us get loaded up and spread out. I’m walking next to Mike V. and his camera, who just so happens to own a couple of the dogs working for us. While we’re walking he’s helping me to learn how to read the dogs as they work the field. When he say’s “get up there” cause the dog changes attitude….get up there! I no sooner got to the dog when she pushed the bird and BLAM! My first pheasant ever! Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have a big $$ gun to hunt birds with! Not only that but after knocking down 3 birds with 4 shots (missed the last one, changed to my left hand cause my right arm was getting tired…didn’t practice left handed enough) those guys were all over checking out my little $200 Khan O/U. Later in the afternoon, Sal (one of Mike V’s dogs) flushed a beautiful rooster right in front of me. It exploded flying to my right.
It just so happened that since I had switch to my left hand (ambidextrous) he was flying in a good line for a shot. Unfortunately, I haven’t been practicing left handed wing shooting and my shot was just a tad bit behind him….ever see a pheasant with no tail feathers? Seriously, just like a knife he had absolutely no feathers on his tail. I couldn’t follow up with my second barrel because he flew between me and the end hunter… who missed 2 shots at him. Got to watch the tailless bird fly high over the woods…and keep going. Good thing they grow back.

By the end of the day, everyone had dropped some birds. Out of 20 birds bought (a mix of hen and rooster pheasants), we’ve bagged 16, plus a nice little red quail who thought she could out fly the birthday boy. One of the birds I dropped was a real nice looking black pheasant. The neck colors that are normally a bronze/brown color were black with gold highlights. If the dogs didn’t decide to get all competitive about who got to carry it, it wouldn’t be missing a huge chuck of neck/breast feathers and I would have got it mounted…oh well, just means I have to get out there and try it again! Darn!

We headed back to the club house were Bruce had the grill going and was getting a round of potatoes and steaks ready for our plates! Yum! While he was working on the grill, Ned and Pete got going and breasted out all the birds. I tried to get in there but was told he was in the grove…just keep the birds coming. All in all an excellent way to spend a nice 30 degree day outside. The Epic cam lasted about 30 minutes on regular AAA batteries which created a 30 minute recording. I’ll be posting some of the video later…as soon as I figure out what is good and what just makes you dizzy watching me walk…

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A little Bull...

Recently I made a trip to Cabelas, it was a fight to make myself go but I just felt I needed to do a little shopping. Seriously, I headed down to Cabelas with my good buddy Mike (Adams) to look at some firearms. He was down looking at a new Bushmaster .223 and I was in the market for a new Conceal Carry Pistol. Earlier in the year (2009) Mike and I had picked up a couple of the Ruger LCP .380’s for a comfortable carry pistol for summer time when shorts and t-shirts are sometimes the most you have to hide your gun and my “compact” Sig .45 was just a bit too big to hook to my shorts (besides, it’s heavy enough to drag my drawers down and that’s another legal problem!). I carried the little LCP around quite a bit due just to its size and not because I was comfortable shooting it. Time to start listening to my own preaching… If it isn’t comfortable, you won’t use it… The reason I decided it wasn’t comfortable shooting it was due to its size/trigger. It’s just a tad bit too small for me and with the small size the long double action trigger pull was just a bit to long for my comfort. I felt like I was trying to touch the base of my hand with my trigger finger to put it into action. I carried it because it was small and I had no problems feeling proficient enough to utilize it if events required, but it just wasn’t a “good” fit for me. The LCP is a great gun so don’t get me wrong, it’s just not a great gun for “me” to use. So, with a little time on my hands and a phone call from Mike that he was heading to Cabelas and wanted to know if I wished to go….silly question… I decided it was time to look for something else.

Expecting huge crowds at the gun counter we only had to wait about 30 minutes to get waited on. Mike went first and was soon “evaluating” the AR of his dreams… A few minutes later and it was my turn. With the large selection of firearms I had been looking for something in the .380/ 9mm or 40 cal that would have a better fit in my hand without empting my wallet (figured the .45 compacts that fit the bill would be rare). Unfortunately, that meant the Kimber, Baer, and Wilson customs were not on my list. Nor were the new Sig’s or the custom S&W’s. What I was looking at were options from Taurus, Kel-Tec, Styer, CZ, Bersa, etc… My preference is for a semi auto which would keep the frame as narrow as possible. I was looking at the CZ and the Taurus Millennium Pro series when I noticed a Taurus PT709 Slim…. In the used guns. So I quickly asked for a look-see and knew as soon as it hit my hand that this was the one for me. I have owned and shot many different models of Taurus and have never been disappointed. While considering the Millennium models my only negative was that I was looking at a double stack which would keep the width a bit wider than I was looking for. The PT709 Slim was Taurus’s answer to that problem. The 709 also let me step back up to a 9mm from the .380 while keeping the size easily concealable. With its ergonomic grip with built in finger and thumb indents to help maintain proper form, the 709 felt like it was made for my hand. It’s a nice hammerless double action with the double strike capability. If the round fails to fire you can pull the trigger again without having to slide the action for a second attempt. It even has adjustable sights which is very rare in an ultra compact size pistol. The trigger pull, while long, no longer felt like I was trying to touch my wrist.

While talking to the gun assistant I discovered that while this was a used model, Cabelas normally sells them new. I asked about the new price versus the price on this used one and found that the prices were identical! Further checking discovered that there was one more in the stock room...some where. After a brief look it was found and my decision was finalized after a quick take down and inspection of the new one. Used versus a New in the box, 2 clips, lock key (built in lock) and cleaning rod…no brainer. PLUS, I had my coupon for employee pricing for the day! ….$350 was perfect and I had enough left over for a box of JHPs and a new 4-1 Waterfowl jacket (Mossy Oak Duck Blind of course) that was on sale as well. I blame Mike and Chico for the coat… they just had to take me duck hunting! LOL

One thing to note for new shooters (as well as some experienced shooters) is that with the weight design of the PT709 it is very important to maintain a solid grip. A weak grip, or limp wrist shot, can result in a failure to feed the next round. It is not a problem with the gun but the form/grip of the shooter. It is a common problem when shooting light weight pistols and just requires practice, practice, practice. Also, make sure to completely clean all the shipping/manufacturing grease from the PT709 before you fire it. A good cleaning and an application of a good gun oil will prevent a lot of problems down the line.

Range report soon!