RSS

Category Archives: gun hunting

Grouse Hunting at Wawang Lake

Join us in NW Ontario CANADA for some exciting and thrilling grouse hunting

P1130017
Grouse Season:  September 15th to Oct 31st

Grouse hunting is a relaxing pastime that is getting more and more popular every year.  In our area bird hunting can be an adventure in itself!  Driving down the back roads & trails in your truck or on your ATV can not only be thrilling but breathtaking as well as you wander down roads that are in full color deserving of natures fall foliage. Just taking in these magnificent fall colors, peaceful wilderness & the wildlife that you’ll encounter will make you feel like you are definitely “North of the Tension Zone”.

The bush trails with the rise of the birds, singing of the guns, the smell of the pines along with friendly comraderie back at the camp will not long be forgotten.

Surrounding Wawang Lake are hundreds of miles of ATV trails, old logging road, game animal trails and hiking trails. The bush is just stuffed with these upland game birds and on a sunny fall afternoon you will see hoards of them. Many of our guests choose a fishing / grouse hunting combination package and spend half the their time taking advantage of the awesome northern pike and walleye fishing and spend the rest of their time enjoying the clean fall area and exploring the many trails where birds are plentiful.

There are three species of grouse found in Ontario.

Ruffed Grouse  –  Spruce Grouse  –  Sharptail Grouse

Ruffed Grouse is the most common and comprises of 80% of what you will encounter during your hunt.

The limit for grouse in Ontario is 5 birds per day in any combination of species with a total of 15 in your possession and you will be surprised at the number of grouse we do have and how fast you’ll bag those limits.

Compared to other areas the grouse cycle in our area has remained consistently high over the years and we credit this because of less human population that other places are known for.  In a nutshell what you’ll experience at Wawang Lake is a vast area of complete privacy during your hunt.

The most popular guns for grouse hunting are .410 or 20 gauge shot gun and some hunters use a 12 as well.   Quickly becoming more popular is BOW HUNTING for birds.  To increase the thrill and excitement of your hunt give your bow a try and the challenge alone is sure to thrill you.

Blaze orange hat & vest is required and must be worn out in the field

Canadian Firearms Regulations
All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one-year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000.

Canadian Customs
You should be aware of special customs and immigration issues whenever traveling to another country. For people with prior legal issues (including DWI’s) you need to find out what restrictions may be placed on your travel. Visit the Border Crossing Link and/or the Canada Citizenship & Immigration.

DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS
A $150.00 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt. Balance to be paid in full upon arrival at the resort.  Hunting deposits and installments are non-refundable. Consideration may be given to date transfers if vacancy can be filled.

There are a limited number of spaces available for our hunts. Often there are more guests interested in hunting than there are available spaces, and hunts are often booked a year or more in advance. It is extremely difficult to fill spaces that become available due to cancellation. For these reasons we ask that our guests do not book hunts lightly

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

 WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
  BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pay Attention to Detail

Scent can be your biggest ally or your worst enemy

wawanglakebear
Black Bear are attracted to the aroma of a free meal, but if they catch a whiff of you, you can often kiss them good-bye for a day or two.   Keep your clothing and footwear as scent-free as possible. Be alert at all times while hunting your bait. You will most often see bear before you hear them. With padded feet they move with calculated precision. Remember, when they come into a bait station they know the treats were left by humans.

Shot Placement

Regardless of your choice of weapon, whether it is a gun or bow, learning when and where to shoot can mean the difference between an expedited kill, or, the outcome of tracking a wounded animal. We advise our hunters to wait until the bear is preoccupied with the bait and is facing away while standing broadside or quartering away. Bears are extremely tough, so a double lung or heart shot are always your best option therefore taking your time will be important.

wawangshotplacement

When archery hunting, bows must meet the following specifications.

Crossbows: Draw length must be at least (11.8 in.);

  • Draw weight must be at least (119 lbs.);
  • Bolt head must be at least (0.9 in.) at the widest point; and,
  • there must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.

Re-curve Bow:    Draw weight must be at least (48.5 lbs.) at draw length of (27.6 in.) or less;

  • Arrow length must be at least (23.6 in.);
  • Broad head must be at least (0.9 in. at the widest point; and,
  • There must be at least two cutting edges of straight, sharp, un-serrated, barbless steel.

For bow hunting Black Bear we recommend a compound bow with a draw weight of no less than 50 pounds and a 100 grain broad head

Recommended Knowledge base
www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/FW/Publications/MNR E001275P.html

For rifle hunting black bear we recommend using nothing less than a .270 caliber.
Other recommended calibers: 7mm magnum; .308; .30-06.  NO 30-30’s

Firearm Information www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index.htm

The bottom line – baiting is a proven strategy for attracting a wary game animal with a voracious appetite. It involves much more than just tossing out a few tasty morsels. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and our experienced guides take pride in their skills and knowledge. Keen attention to detail and listening to the guide is the key to your success.

In order to ensure the highest possible success to our hunters we take only an average 14 hunters a year. Should we have an increase in bear sighting throughout the spring and summer we may take a few more hunters but our first obligation is to ascertain a healthy black bear population together with satisfied hunters for years to come.

Most importantly, remember baiting is a ton of work and takes weeks on our part for each hunter. From collecting legal paper work to buying and picking up the ingredients, materials along with travelling for miles and then finally establishing and maintaining each site daily prior to your hunt. It requires foresight and commitment on our part and we do this because of our passion for the outdoors and careful management of our Black Bear.

Follow our FISHING BLOG

WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
  BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Grouse Hunting at Wawang Lake

Join us in NW Ontario CANADA for some exciting and thrilling grouse hunting

P1130017
Grouse Season:  September 15th to Oct 31st

Grouse hunting is a relaxing pastime that is getting more and more popular every year.  In our area bird hunting can be an adventure in itself!  Driving down the back roads & trails in your truck or on your ATV can not only be thrilling but breathtaking as well as you wander down roads that are in full color deserving of natures fall foliage. Just taking in these magnificent fall colors, peaceful wilderness & the wildlife that you’ll encounter will make you feel like you are definitely “North of the Tension Zone”.

The bush trails with the rise of the birds, singing of the guns, the smell of the pines along with friendly comraderie back at the camp will not long be forgotten.

Surrounding Wawang Lake are hundreds of miles of ATV trails, old logging road, game animal trails and hiking trails. The bush is just stuffed with these upland game birds and on a sunny fall afternoon you will see hoards of them. Many of our guests choose a fishing / grouse hunting combination package and spend half the their time taking advantage of the awesome northern pike and walleye fishing and spend the rest of their time enjoying the clean fall area and exploring the many trails where birds are plentiful.

There are three species of grouse found in Ontario.

Ruffed Grouse  –  Spruce Grouse  –  Sharptail Grouse

Ruffed Grouse is the most common and comprises of 80% of what you will encounter during your hunt.

The limit for grouse in Ontario is 5 birds per day in any combination of species with a total of 15 in your possession and you will be surprised at the number of grouse we do have and how fast you’ll bag those limits.

Compared to other areas the grouse cycle in our area has remained consistently high over the years and we credit this because of less human population that other places are known for.  In a nutshell what you’ll experience at Wawang Lake is a vast area of complete privacy during your hunt.

The most popular guns for grouse hunting are .410 or 20 gauge shot gun and some hunters use a 12 as well.   Quickly becoming more popular is BOW HUNTING for birds.  To increase the thrill and excitement of your hunt give your bow a try and the challenge alone is sure to thrill you.

Blaze orange hat & vest is required and must be worn out in the field

Canadian Firearms Regulations
All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one-year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000.

Canadian Customs
You should be aware of special customs and immigration issues whenever traveling to another country. For people with prior legal issues (including DWI’s) you need to find out what restrictions may be placed on your travel. Visit the Border Crossing Link and/or the Canada Citizenship & Immigration.

DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS
A $150.00 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt. Balance to be paid in full upon arrival at the resort.  Hunting deposits and installments are non-refundable. Consideration may be given to date transfers if vacancy can be filled.

There are a limited number of spaces available for our hunts. Often there are more guests interested in hunting than there are available spaces, and hunts are often booked a year or more in advance. It is extremely difficult to fill spaces that become available due to cancellation. For these reasons we ask that our guests do not book hunts lightly

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

 WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tips For More Grouse

trees3Learn to Recognize Good Cover
Some hunters seem to have a sixth sense about where the grouse are. This isn’t magic but rather the culmination of years of experience, observation, and a working knowledge of what the birds need. These guys are constantly reading about grouse habitat and lore; they take note of wherever they hear drumming in the spring. They know that good grouse cover holds food and provides protection from predators — if it is near an evergreen stand or gravel so much the better.

Take a page from these hunters. Every time you or your dog move a bird, have a good look around after the smoke has cleared — you’ll see a pattern soon enough. Study grouse biology at home; carry field guides when you hunt; learn to recognize common grouse foods in your area. After a while you’ll develop that sixth sense too.

Keep a Log
Every serious grouse hunter I know keeps a hunting log. Some maintain elaborate leather-bound journals in which they detail particulars of the hunt such as the date, cover, number of flushes, dog work, weather, harvest, and crop contents of the birds. Other keep it simple, by marking covers on their handheld GPS. Either way, the hunter is reminded of the places that produced grouse last season.gps

Do this consistently and it won’t take many seasons before you have a bevy of early, mid, and late season options. The more options you have, the better your chance of having a grouse dinner.

Break Some Clay
Over the course of a season, few of us get enough shots at grouse. So it only stands to reason that a hunter ought to make the most of each opportunity. I do this by honing my shotgunning skills in the off-season. Skeet, trap, or sporting clays keep a hunter sharp so that mounting and swinging his scattergun becomes second nature. You’ll still miss — grouse have a way of humbling everyone — but you’ll also make some shots that you might not have without the off-season practice. It just takes a few of these to turn a mediocre season into a great one.

Don’t Forget the Dog Days
Spring and summer are tailor-made for training your dog. Despite this, few of us take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, we expect our dogs to work flawlessly on opening day and we’re actually surprised when that doesn’t happen.

Does your flushing dog hunt too far ahead and blow cover before you get there? A little “hup training” (teaching your dog to sit on command, no matter how far away) in the off season goes a long way towards remedying this. You might also consider brushing up on retrieving drills or introducing your dog to pigeons or game farm forays prior to the season. Some advanced training, such as steadying to wing and shot (where a dog sits down automatically at each flush) might require the help of a professional dog trainer. If that’s what you want, the off-season is the time to do it.

P1040011

Pointing dogs have their own set of training needs, which might include bolstering staunchness, retrieving, hunting range and finding dead birds. Whatever your canine hunting partner’s flaw is, the off-season is the time to address it.

The idea is to learn to handle your dog so that you perform as a well-oiled team during the hunting season. There are plenty of great dog training books and videos — the off-season is when you should benefit from them most.

Follow the Food
Grouse eat hundreds of types of food and each provides a clue as to where the birds are hanging out. That’s why it’s a good idea to check the crop of every bird you shoot. Knowing what grouse are eating helps you understand their habits and tells you where you should focus your hunting efforts. If the last three birds you shot were full of blackberries, for instance, it’s definitely time to hunt any of your covers that hold these shrubs.

Against the Wind
A dog relies on his nose to find birds. So why would you hunt with the wind at its back? We all know that there isn’t any good reason for doing so, but it’s one of the first things excited dog handlers forget when approaching good cover.

If you hunt into the wind, your dog will work closer, scent more game and, hopefully, find more birds. It’s a simple but often overlooked strategy that can make the difference between a full and empty game bag. This is also an important consideration when looking for a lost bird. Take your dog downwind from where you think it fell and let it start hunting from there.

Stop and Start
A good grouse hunting dog provides opportunities that you might not have otherwise had, but that’s not to say that a dog less hunter can’t do well. The key, for a dog less hunter, is to stop and start through likely cover and change direction often. These unpredictable patterns unnerve grouse and invariably pressure them into flushing. Another added bonus is that when you stop you can sometimes hear the put-put-put of a grouse moving just ahead of you. If that’s the case, get the gun up and rush it.

Don’t Hesitate
A good upland shot doesn’t hesitate. He takes the first available shot, even if it’s not a great one.

If you wait for a better chance you’ll rarely get it. Similarly, if you are leading a bird that disappears behind a screen of leaves, follow through, and shoot anyway. You’ll be surprised how often you connect. If not, shells are cheap.

While we’re on the subject of shooting, be ready for the second flush. Often, especially, early in the season when birds are still in their family groups, multiple flushes do occur. If you keep this in mind, they won’t catch you flat-footed — or with an empty gun.

Follow Up
Whenever you flush a bird and don’t fold it, mark where you last saw it. Most times they won’t fly much further than 150 yards. If you marked it well and follow up immediately, you have a good chance of forcing a second flush.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another advantage of following up on grouse is that they sometimes lead you to new covers. If that’s the case, don’t forget to mark it.

Lastly, never assume that you missed any grouse that you shot at. After the shot, keep quiet and listen. Sometimes you’ll hear a mortally wounded grouse doing its death dance against the ground — that’s the one that you thought you missed.

The Right Tools
A fast-handling 12, 16 or 20 gauge shotgun is ideal for birds. Most gunners like double guns. Some happen to prefer a pump because that’s what they shoot best with.  However, don’t discount the light weight, easy to carry .410 shotgun.  Nice little gun with ever growing in popularity in our neck of the woods.

Whatever, your preference, you can’t go wrong using 2 3/4-inch shells filled with 7.5 shot. Grouse aren’t tough birds and it doesn’t take much to bring them down. Since most shots are within 15 yards, the more open-choked your barrels are, the better.

Other essential grouse hunting tools include a quality blaze orange upland hunting vest with a lined game pouch; brush pants; comfortable, well-supported hunting boots; and a compass and/or GPS. If you are hunting with a dog, a whistle, water bottle, portable dog dish, dog first aid kit, and lead are important too. When working heavy, thorny cover, a pair of shooting glasses that protect your eyes are worth their weight in gold.

Conclusion
No one ever said grouse hunting was complicated. But it does take some planning, know-how and skill. Over the last few years, these strategies have made many a much better grouse hunter. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.

Follow our FISHING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Calling in Coyotes & Wolves

Thanks to the prevalence of electronic calling devices, anyone can become a decent coyote caller with the press of a few buttons. But if you really want to step up your game, you need to first understand what makes these animals tick.

coyote-hunting

Prey Distress
Coyotes are nature’s great omnivores. Studies of stomach contents have found that coyotes will swallow almost anything that they can get in their mouths, including rocks, plastic packaging, harness buckles, and even the occasional rabbit. Knowing this, it doesn’t matter much which sort of prey distress call you use—most modern electronic callers offer everything from a whitetail fawn to a house cat—as long as you set up within a coyote’s earshot.

The manner in which a coyote approaches a distress call depends on its security level, which is influenced by its latest experiences. An unpressured coyote will often come in quickly and boldly to almost any distress sound. A pressured coyote, however, will take much longer to approach a call. He’ll wait downwind of the sound before slowly slinking in, wary nose to the air.

Upon hearing the initial prey distress cries, the test coyotes would usually run to a downwind position without exposing themselves and remain there until we left. They would later approach our stand area to investigate. One wary old alpha pair (the male was 10 years old) waited 17 hours before approaching the calling location, and then spent 45 minutes at our stand site sniffing around.

The takeaway? One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a distress call is leaving a location too soon. Spend at least 30 to 45 minutes on stand.

Another important factor is the time of day you target coyotes. Only 10 percent of respondents in a recent poll of about 1,400 coyote callers said dawn was best. More than half the hunters chose 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then dusk, each of which got about 20 percent of the vote.

Whines & Yelps
These nonaggressive vocalizations—often made by pups—are probably the most effective sounds in a coyote caller’s repertoire because they trip so many behavioral triggers at once. With the press of a button you can target social interaction, territorial instincts, and protective maternal/paternal instincts. At certain times of the year, a case could probably be made that you’re appealing to their hunger, too, since several studies have documented coyotes cannibalizing pups.

Before switching to a different sound, we’ll increase the volume and intensity of the whines and yelps for three or four series in order to reach out to distant coyotes. This has proven extremely effective in all seasons and geographic locations, and at any time of day.

Challenge Howl
The challenge howl is a misnomer. A challenge is an invitation to fight, to do battle, such as a monarch bull elk bugling at a satellite bull. Coyotes don’t do that. Biologists call this vocalization the threat-bark howl because it more accurately describes the intent of the coyote: to threaten and demand that the intruder leave. Now. Field observations have shown that coyotes (unlike wolves) will avoid fights whenever possible. A wolf pack will run down an intruder and kill it. A pack of coyotes will run down an intruder, make him submit, and then let him leave the territory.

coyote_snarl

For these reasons, callers should use this vocalization only if they know they are set up in a pack’s core territory. If a caller sets up near a den during whelping or denning season, the results can be spectacular. Having resident coyotes charge in on a close, loud, aggressive call rivals any approach of a rutting buck or strut of a spring gobbler. However, if you set up in overlapping home ranges and demand that every coyote within hearing distance leave, they probably will.

The key to locating a pack’s core area is to home in on their group-yip howls. Listen for a pack’s group howl night after night. If you are able to pattern their howling with some regularity, you should be able to determine their core area. Once you’ve plotted that on a map or GPS, study the terrain. Coyotes will typically hide out in the thickest, most secluded cover in the area. Make an educated guess and move in close before threatening the pack.

Many callers will break off a stand when a coyote bark-threat howls in response to their distress calls because they believe that it means the coyote has busted them and will not approach. That’s not always the case. The coyote may simply be protesting the source of the sound even if it hasn’t identified it. You can often get a barking, threat-howling coyote to expose himself for a clear shot if you wait him out and weaken your return howls, keeping them less aggressive than the coyote’s. Another tactic is to retrace your steps and then circle around to a different location. If the coyote doesn’t see or scent you, you can call him in to the new setup with whines and whimpers.

130

Group and Solo Howls
Coyote calling is a numbers game. You want to offer sounds that appeal to the largest number of coyotes without alarming or intimidating them. The most effective howl to draw them in is a lone howl that is low frequency, high pitched, and long. It announces the presence of an unknown, young, small, nonaggressive coyote that any other dog within hearing distance will be willing to investigate.

Louder, long-range howls are more likely to get howls in return, but they are less likely to draw a coyote in to your stand.

 

 

Knowing that, here’s a simple formula for success: Locate coyotes with a group-yip howl (the collective yowling that you have undoubtedly heard on calm evenings) and call them in to gun range with a lone howl.

0cf5707bbfce2588fddf51ff630fbe1c

Most of those vocalizations are aggressive in nature. This is important to know because such vocalizations will alarm and/or intimidate most coyotes. Submissive coyotes will often retreat to their core areas after howls are broadcast and remain there until joined by another group member or until enough time has passed for them to call back or investigate. That’s the exact opposite of what you want your howls to do.

It is important to remember that coyotes will sometimes investigate the source of your group-yip howls, so don’t get caught unprepared.

Follow our FISHING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Dropping the Hammer

By: Al Voth

How Safe is Your Vintage Firearm?
If you’re a serious gun nut and you haven’t noticed the increased interest in shooting, reloading and hunting with old style guns in the last decade you’ve probably been in a coma. Rifles and shotguns that haven’t come out of the closet in eighty years are being brought into the daylight, getting cleaned off and carried out to ranges and hunting fields. This particularly includes classic old lever action and single shot rifles. I haven’t been immune from this old-gun bug myself, as an 1894 lever action in .38-55 is one of my current project guns.

1

Firearms with external hammers are common. At the top is a lever-action rifle, a pump-action shotgun occupies the middle spot and at the bottom, a bolt-action .22

The Winchester I’m working on is a great example because it’s been in production for well over one hundred years. But that old lever gun and all the other golden oldies hunting again aren’t the same guns Winchester and other manufacturers are producing today. Today’s guns might look similar but they are built of better materials, to tighter tolerances and have improved safety features. On the 94 in particular, the manufacturer has added a tang safety and a rebounding hammer. And while I often hear knowledgeable gun people bemoaning the addition of a safety as a cosmetic detraction, I never hear anyone complaining it makes the gun less safe. While those same Winchester experts will know every intricacy of the 94’s mechanism, including how to use it properly and safely, too many hunters don’t. A recent incident I’m familiar with serves as an illustration.

2

Hunting with older guns, like this lever-action, can be dangerous if you don’t understand the principles of handling an external hammer.

Ignorance Can Kill
Two friends went out after moose, one of them carrying an older Winchester 94. By today’s standards that is hardly a state of the art moose rifle and the hunter in question had more than one ultra-modern rifle at home. For whatever reason, he chose to use the older 94 that day. By all accounts, he was a skilled and capable hunter. However, he didn’t understand the manual of arms for the 94 and in this case, what he didn’t know killed him.

As a testimony to their skill and abilities, these two had a moose on the ground before noon. The available evidence then shows that when the shooting stopped, our hunter pointed the rifle in a safe direction and carefully and conscientiously lowered the cocked hammer.

In the process of moving his truck up to the kill, our man with the 94 had occasion to rest the butt of the rifle on the running board. Being safety conscious he pointed the muzzle upwards in a safe direction as he fiddled with something else, confident in the knowledge that although the rifle chamber was loaded, the hammer was safely down. But like many hunting days it was wet and snowy and the running board was slippery. Somehow, in all the activity, the Winchester slipped off the running board and the rifle fell butt first toward the ground; his grip was still on the barrel, but it was insufficient to slow its fall.

From the heel of the butt to the spur of the hammer is about fourteen inches and the rifle weighs six and one quarter pounds. When the rifle fell, it dropped all of those fourteen inches and the spur of the hammer struck the running board with what was probably most of the rifle’s weight. The rifle discharged and the bullet struck the owner, killing him.

Was this a bizarre accident resulting from freak circumstances; or maybe a failure of the firearm’s safety devices? What about operator error? Do you know why the gun discharged? If you or a friend has a hammer gun sitting in the closet, then you better read on.

How Do You Hunt?
There isn’t a hunter in the country that would walk the woods with a round in the chamber of a lever-gun and the hammer at full cock. It’s too dangerous and it’s obvious that it’s dangerous. At the same time, I’ll bet you a steak dinner there are a significant number of hunters in the woods carrying old hammer guns with the chamber loaded and the hammer fully down; a condition which could be argued as being at least as, or even more dangerous, than carrying it with the hammer fully cocked. It’s a safe bet for me, because since encountering the fatal incident mentioned above, I’ve been asking every shooter I encounter with a hammer gun to show me how they make such a loaded gun safe. Too many ease the hammer to a full down position on a loaded cartridge.

Why is this dangerous? Simple, with the hammer fully down, it rests on the firing pin, which is in direct contact with the primer. A sharp blow on the spur of the hammer and the rifle will fire.

The generation for which older external hammer guns were originally made was comfortable with the idea of manually operated, exposed hammers. Having the hammer visible and easily manipulated by the operator was considered a safety feature. That generation of gun-handlers was comfortable with the concept that a firearm with the hammer fully down wasn’t necessarily safe, especially if it was loaded. Somehow, that principle has been lost to this generation. With the resurgence of interest in those old rifles, we need to relearn some of the lessons of our grandparents.

Hammer Down is Dangerous
We’ve already discussed lever action rifles, but there are other firearms we can add to the list as well; including a number of bolt action rimfires, pump-action .22’s and lots of exposed hammer shotguns. Some of these models are no longer manufactured but others are, in modernized versions. It can be difficult to tell from serial number ranges or a visual examination when a firearm’s internals have been changed. And how do you know some previous owner hasn’t deactivated a safety feature?

3

This double-barrel shotgun demonstrates graphically how the hammer contacts the firing pin, which in turn contacts the primer, even when the hammer is at rest.

But let’s not limit our discussion to old guns. Have you ever seen someone load the chamber of a modern bolt-action rifle, and then while holding back the trigger, ease the bolt handle down? Their theory is that in this condition the rifle can’t fire because it isn’t cocked. And all that’s needed to ready it for shooting is to lift up and press down on the bolt handle, thus cocking the rifle. They think they’re being extra safe. Wrong! Depending on the design, their method is quite likely putting the firing pin in direct contact with the primer and even a light tap on the back of the bolt will fire the rifle.

4

In rifle design, it doesn’t get any more modern than stainless steel and plastic. But like an old fashioned hammer gun, if you lower the striker on a live cartridge and hit the rear of the bolt, this rifle will fire.

To answer the question as to whether or not your particular firearm is dangerous to carry with the hammer down, do the following test. First, you’ll need a primed cartridge case. That’s no bullet, no powder, just an empty cartridge case with a live primer in place. If you’re a reloader, it’s a simple matter to make one up. If not, you’ll have to pull the bullet from a factory round and dump the powder. This is easily done with an inertia bullet puller available from most gun shops. With a double and triple check to ensure your case is only primed, slip it into the chamber of your firearm. Carefully point it in a safe direction, close the action and gently lower the hammer to its full down position.

A kinetic bullet puller, like this RCBS model, will quickly and safely convert center-fire cartridges into primed-only cases.

A kinetic bullet puller, like this RCBS model, will quickly and safely
convert center-fire cartridges into primed-only cases.

Then with the smallest hammer in your tool box, give the rear of the hammer a tap. Use about as much force as you might in driving a small finishing nail with that same hammer. Odds are your little tap will generate a little bang. If it did, any questions you had about the characteristics of your firearm are settled. The only thing left to do is repeat that demonstration to everyone who uses that particular gun. Don’t just tell them about it. Telling is theoretical. Put a primed case in the rifle and repeat the test, showing them what happens. It’s a lesson they won’t forget.

Testing a pump-action .22 to determine if a blow to the hammer will discharge the rifle.

Testing a pump-action .22 to determine if a blow to the hammer will discharge the rifle.

If silence was the result of your tap, you need to extract the cartridge case and take a close look at the primer. You’re now down to two possibilities. Either your gun is safe for hammer down carry or you just didn’t tap hard enough. A close inspection will tell you which the most likely scenario is. If there is any denting in the primer at all, you had some energy transfer and the firearm is unsafe to carry with the hammer down. If there is no mark at all, you may want to try repeating the test with a slightly harder hit. If there is still nothing, odds are you’re okay for hammer down carry.

A Browning 92 demonstrates the three positions commonly found on guns with external hammers; full-cock, half-cock (or safety position) and fully down.

A Browning 92 demonstrates the three positions commonly found on guns
with external hammers; full-cock, half-cock (or safety position) and fully down.

What About Half-Cock?
Any discussion about hammer guns and in what condition they are safe to carry invariably turns to the half-cock or safety notch. This is an intermediate hammer position somewhere between fully down and fully cocked and is intended to keep the hammer away from direct contact with the firing pin. The most common question, once people understand its purpose is-is that intermediate notch safe?

I think the answer is the same in every case. It’s far safer than hammer down-presuming the notch and sear are in good condition. Whether it’s safe enough for carrying in that position is dependant on the firearm’s individual design. Probably the best known example of one that isn’t safe is the Colt Single Action Army revolver. That’s why the universal recommendation to handle it with only five of its six chambers loaded, and the hammer down on the empty one. Lever action rifles, however, are generally far more durable and trustworthy. Each design has its own characteristics.

Short of taking your particular hammer gun apart and inspecting the parts, there are a couple of simple tests that will give you some indication of the gun’s condition. First, with the hammer in the safety notch position and the gun empty, pull the trigger firmly. Apply approximately three times the amount of force normally required to fire the gun. If the hammer drops, your gun needs attention. A second test is to reposition the hammer in its half-cock or safety notch position and then using your thumbs, try pushing the hammer forward. This is called a push-off test. Obviously, the hammer shouldn’t move. Never strike the hammer with another object to test the safety notch, use only a firm pushing motion. If your hammer gun passes both of these tests, the intermediate notch is probably in good condition.

In the half-cock or safety position the firearm's sear usually rests in a deeply undercut hammer notch. On the right hand hammer this notch is intact; on the left one the notch has broken out, making the gun unsafe.

In the half-cock or safety position the firearm’s sear usually rests in a
deeply undercut hammer notch. On the right hand hammer this notch is intact;
on the left one the notch has broken out, making the gun unsafe.

Your gun checks out okay. Does that mean its safe to carry hammer down? It’s still possible for the safety notch to break away completely and thus allow the gun to discharge. Certainly, you’re not going to allow that to happen deliberately, but if sufficient force were to strike your hammer, it could shear and the result would be unstoppable.

You’ve come to the point where you have to find your own comfort level with the mechanism. The job I recently retired from required occasional attendance at autopsies and maybe it’s a result of seeing too many gunshot wounds, but my comfort level with all safety mechanisms (not just safety-notches) is pitifully low.

Hunting Choices
Perhaps an example will serve to illustrate. I sometimes use a lever action model 92 in .357 Magnum when I’m calling predators. When I leave my vehicle, I typically load five cartridges in the magazine and leave the chamber empty while walking in to my stand. Sure, I can blunder into a coyote while moving in, but a flick of the wrist is all that’s necessary to go from safe to fire. When I reach my destination and set up to call, I lever a cartridge into the chamber and set the hammer at the intermediate notch. I judge that to be a safe condition considering the activity I’m engaging in.

Notice the difference. One situation is dynamic and active and for it I keep the chamber empty. The other is sedentary and in those circumstances I’m comfortable with a loaded chamber and a half cocked rifle. When I start to move again, I go back to chamber empty. That flexibility, in my opinion, is the key; adjust to the circumstances and you’re as ready as you need to be and still safe.

Follow our FISHING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Training Your Retriever

Attach a 6-foot lead or cord to a scent-infused training dummy or the wing of a bird. (Freeze wings during hunting season and thaw them out when ready for training.) Use this to create “drags” of scent the dog will follow.

66

Start with 10-yard straight-line retrieves on short grass. Gradually increase the challenge: curved drag lines, taller grasses, abrupt turns, short gaps in the scent trail by lifting the dummy off the ground for a foot or two.

88

To stay on track, some dogs need reinforcement in the form of small bits of dog treats dropped along the trail. Use treats if you need to keep your dog excited, but sparingly. The point is to find the big payoff at the end of the trail, not the little goodies along the way.

55

Once your dog is trailing enthusiastically, dial up the difficulty. Run the scent trail over a log, make a sharp turn, and drag it along the log as if the wounded bird ran down the log. Run the scent trail in and out of the water along a creek or pond edge. Run it across a creek and continuing on the other side. Create longer and longer gaps.

777

To really hone a dog’s tracking skills, make a dragging pole. This is a particularly good drill for dogs that will hunt in the heavy cover of beaver ponds and thick timber. Cut a piece of PVC pipe about 5 feet long. (The diameter doesn’t matter—use whatever is cluttering up your basement.) Run a 10-foot section of parachute cord or other cordage through the pipe, and tie a slip loop to one end.

Attach the loop to a bird wing or training dummy treated with duck scent. Hold the pipe out from your body, and drag the wing or dummy along a scent trail through yard. The pipe prevents your own foot scent from contaminating the trail.

Follow our FISHING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: