Why You Should Buy Another Gun Now

hanback stalking 783.jpg compressdSaw this on the Outdoor Wire and thought it made a good point. Put some of your tax savings that are coming in 2019 on a new handgun for home protection or a new rifle for deer hunting (treat yourself to a father’s day gift):

Much has been printed and broadcast recently about soft firearms sales. According to the liberal mass media outlets and their hatred of firearms, the gun industry is on the brink of death. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

You can do your part to help drive up firearm ownership numbers in the months ahead. Go shopping.

Those who watch firearms sales follow the NICS background checks numbers. May 2018 set an all-time monthly record for NICS checks—the federal gun clearinghouse for those making a firearms purchase. In most recent months, the monthly sales total has been around or above 2 million firearms purchased. Many are being purchased for self-defense, but hunting and recreation are also huge uses.

With hunting seasons and National Hunting and Fishing Day (Sept. 22, 2018) on the horizon, you should make plans now to buy another firearm.

Need some reasons to buy another firearm? Read on…

–Guns provide hours of fun for you, family and friends.

–Firearms can be used to protect you and your family and friends.

–Guns provide food when you go hunting.

–Firearms create jobs. By some estimates, more than 310,000 full-time American jobs are related directly to firearms. Per the NSSF, “Companies in the United States that manufacture, distribute, and sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment employ as many as 149,113 people in the country and generate an additional 161,795 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries.”

–Firearms help the US economy. Again, according to NSSF numbers, “…in 2017, the firearms and ammunition industry was responsible for as much as $51.41 billion in total economic activity in the country.”

What will your next gun purchase be? Start shopping. Good news is that many places are having sales fight now to make way for the new 2018 models.

Photo: Hanback with one of his favorite deer rifles, Remington Model 783 in .270 topped with Trijicon’s world-class 3X-9X Accupoint scope.

Hunt Of A Lifetime: Kodiak Brown Bear

AK brown bear sam

My friend and fellow Virginia hunter Sam Fullerton just returned from a dream hunt and filed this field report:

The hunt took place in a special draw area on the northern end of Afognak Island in the Kodiak chain. It took 3 years to draw the permit.

I booked the hunt through Wade Darby at Crosshair Hunting Consulting. Wade booked me with Afognak Wilderness Lodge, which has an extremely remote camp that the Randall family has chiseled out of the Afognak wilderness over the last 50 years. It is an impressive camp considering every single thing was either made from the rocks or trees growing on the island, or brought in by float plane or boat.

We left base camp every day by boat, and after about an hour’s ride to our permitted hunting area we glassed from the boat along the shore lines and hillsides.  We concentrated along the beaches at low tide. When we spotted a bear and determined it was a good one, we launched a Zodiac with a small motor and maneuvered to shore to get a closer look at the animal. We saw from 5 to 20 bears each day. Many were inaccessible and we simply watched to see if they would move or feed into better position, which rarely happened.

One day we spotted a bear, launched the Zodiac and got into position. My guide, Josh Randall, immediately realized we were looking at an exceptionally good one. After a good bit of slipping and sliding we were able to get into a good shooting position on a slime-and-barnacle covered rock along the beach. The bear fed towards us, flipping over rocks and driftwood looking for food.

I shot the bear squarely in the front shoulder with hand-loaded 270-grain Barnes TSX from my .375 H&H. Hit hard with the first shot, it spun and snapped a few times. I followed up with a second shot and the bear dropped on the beach within 40 yards.

I feel extremely fortunate to have had an opportunity to harvest such a majestic animal like this. Walking up to this bear was like a dream. I was in shock at the sheer size of the animal. The hide was spectacular, heavy and thick. Its head was massive.

My guide Josh was as excited as I was. We were able to get the main boat to the beach and winch the bear onto the front of the boat to return to camp for skinning, which was an all-day affair.

The hide was not stretched and had been salted when the hide measurements were taken. The bear squared 10 feet 7 inches claw to claw wide, and was 9 feet 6 inches nose to tail, putting it just over the magical 10-foot squared mark.  Alaska game and fish biologists measured the skull at 27 9/16, which will qualify it for Boone & Crockett awards. It was tentatively aged by the biologist at approximately 25 years old. Nearly all the bear’s teeth were either broken or rotten.–Sam Fullerton

Tech notes: Sam Fullerton is a well-traveled big game hunter and hand-loader. Sam reports that while skinning the bear, he recovered the first Barnes TSX bullet, which had entered the front shoulder at a slightly quartering-to angle; it was bulging under the hide just in front of the opposite side rear hip. “Perfect bullet performance with nearly 100% weight retention,” he says. Sam has also used the Barnes TSX in both 270- and 300-grain on a variety of African big game with the same impressive results.

Why Are Fewer People Hunting in 2018?

ny adirondacks rob buckA survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reveals that only 5% of Americans age 16 and up hunt. That’s half of what it was 50 years ago.

The number of licensed hunters, most of them deer hunters, dropped from 14.2 million in 1991 to 11.5 million in 2016. Most disturbing, the decline is expected to accelerate over the next decades.

Why fewer of us? I have my suspicions and government agencies and wildlife organizations have their theories, but I wanted information from real-life hard-core hunters, so I did a little Twitter/social survey. It’s far from scientific, but pretty darn representative I believe.

Loss of Access

By far the number one reason fewer people are hunting, especially east of the Mississippi, is loss of access to private land. This is not surprising, and it’s something I have known for years, but we have seemingly reached a tipping point. After years fighting it, trying to hold on to one or two spots they have hunted for years, people get frustrated and fatigued. Another 200 acres or so a guy has hunted for 20 or 30 years gets bought and posted and he says, “That’s it, I’m out.”

The repercussions? Not only do our numbers drop another tick, this guy’s kids don’t get the chance to hunt, and their kids don’t… You get the point.

Many landowners are posting their private properties, closing them to hunting probably forever. Others are leasing farms and woodlands to deer hunters and clubs, often at exorbitant fees depending on the rack genetics of a region. Many private lands continue to be developed, with houses springing up on hallowed ground where you and I shot deer for years.

My survey revealed that leasing land remains a hot topic, with strong feelings on both sides. One person in the Midwest wrote: “In my area almost all the private ground is now leased…people are paying big money, and I can’t afford that. So eventually I’ll have to quit…and dammit my kids and grand kids can’t hunt.”

Another hunter in Virginia posted: “My buddies and I lease land. We don’t like paying for it, but hell if we didn’t we wouldn’t have anywhere to hunt.”

Hunting Is Too Expensive

“Hunting has become a rich man’s sport.” I’ve heard people say this for years, but again we have seemed to reach a tipping point. Most deer hunters that responded to my survey, hard-working men and women, can’t afford lease fees or are not willing to pay up to hunt.

A number of people also mentioned that the cost of gear and tags have gone up so much so that they can’t or aren’t willing to pay for it. I get where they are coming from. But all things considered, if you still have a spot to hunt, hunting deer in your home state is still pretty cheap. As a rule, in-state licenses are reasonable. You can buy a fine new deer rifle package with a scope for $400 or less. The truth is, you can wear the same camo you have worn for 10 years, and in most cases use the same old gun and bow. So I urge you not to let cost impact your hunting.

America’s Changing Demographics & Culture

This is the most complex reason for the decline and the one that causes me the most worry. The vast majority of urban and suburban parents don’t hunt, and thus their kids will never have a chance. Rural parents, the ones that have driven the recruitment of young hunters for years, are super busy. And many of them have a different outlook on life and priorities than you or I or our fathers did, so their kids are never introduced to the woods.

As one guy wrote: “Many parents would rather pay $10,000 a year for their kids to play select sports than take them deer hunting these days.”

Most everybody rightly pointed to technology, electronics, video games, social media, Snap and the like. One person said: “When a kid becomes addicted to all this by the time he’s 4 or 5, he can’t imagine going out into the cold, wet woods when he’s 6 or 7 to sit still and wait for a deer.”

A few other notable comments from my survey:

One person wrote that baby boomers are aging and not hunting anymore. True, and there are facts to support this. Studies have shown that hunters are most active at 48 years old. Every few years after that, they hunt less and less…around 65 most people hang it up, either by choice or necessity.

One guy responded and said: “Part of the overall decline in hunters can be traced to the decline of America’s once rich traditional conservative values.” I’d say some truth in that.

Another person posted: “Some of my friends just say they have lost of the fire to hunt.” Disturbing, and if you dug deeper into their thinking I bet you’d find that they have lost all or most of their best places to hunt. They might have been forced to hunt a few years on public land where they didn’t have must success. All this douses that fire.

That guy, who still has the fire, went on to say:”Time to find some new friends!” LOL

Here’s the main reason all this matters. State wildlife agencies depend heavily on you, me and our brothers and sisters in arms for funding. Money generated from license fees and excise taxes on guns, ammunition and fishing equipment provide some 60% ($3.3 billion) of the annual funding for state fish and game agencies. As hunter numbers dwindle, so do dollars for conservation.

For more on the decline of hunters and the culture of hunting in America, this article is must read.  

So what do you think? Still got any good places to hunt? Still got the fire to shoot a deer?

I do.

4 Most Popular Hunting Cartridges

hale 2018 ALBoone and Crockett did a survey one time. They compiled a list of cartridges that hunters used to kill North American big game and big bucks that ultimately made their record book. Not surprisingly, here are the top 4 rounds:

–.300 magnum (used by 18 percent of the hunters in the survey): This includes the .300 Win. Mag and .300 Rem. Ultra Mag. A lot of the animals killed in this survey were big and tough, like bears and elk. But quite a few record-size mule deer and whitetails were felled with the flat-shooting .300 too. Never a bad choice, IF you can handle some recoil.

–.270 (12 percent): The .270 is still one of the kings and always will be, no matter how many sexier, flatter-shooting cartridges are developed. The .270 is a proven performer and has little recoil, so most hunters shoot it well. Fine whitetail cartridge, all things considered probably the best. After a few years of hunting with other cartridges, I find myself going back to my Remington Model 783 in .270…I shoot a few more bucks with it and wonder why I ever stop using that fine rifle.

–.30/06 (11 percent): Only thing surprising is that it didn’t rank higher in the top 2. Still the best all-around big game cartridge on the planet. I’ve killed sheep, black bears, caribou, elk and lots of deer with 150-, 165- and 180-grain bullets; why I ever stopped hunting with the .30-06 I really don’t know, but I haven’t shot mine in years. I need to go back to this venerable cartridge again.

--7mm Rem. Mag. (10 percent): The 7 Mag. will always have a following, especially with elk and mule deer hunters out West, where it really cannot be topped. I used this cartridge a lot last fall, and while it performed well, I need more range and hunting time with it to feel comfortable.

Which rifle and cartridge do you hunt with?

Iowa Lady’s 251 7/8” Muzzleloader Monster Buck

iowa freak 1

Today’s guest blog from Dave Nennig, who provides a follow-up on the giant velvet buck his wife Lyla shot with a muzzleloader in Iowa in December 2016. Dave believes “The Freak” remained in velvet that year because he was wounded by a neighboring bowhunter the previous season.

After 14 months of having “The Freak” at the freeze dryer and taxidermist, and looking for someone to officially score him, the deer was finally measured last weekend at the Iowa Deer Classic. The Freak had 28 scorable points and a gross score of 268 6/8, with a net of 251 7/8 non-typical. Just an amazing animal!

From what we have been told, it is probably the largest buck taken in the State of Iowa with a muzzleloader by a woman. Might even rank high in the world in that category. I have attached a couple pictures from the classic.–Dave Nennig

iowa freak 2

Dave, I’m pretty sure Lyla’s buck IS the top-scoring whitetail ever shot by a huntress with blackpowder, and SURELY the largest velvet buck. Congrats guys, thanks for sharing this story. I appreciate your support of BIG DEER TV!