How to Shoot a Black Bear

judge bearBlack Bear Week on Big Deer continues…

If you’re sitting 40 to 60 yards away from a bait pile, range with a rifle is no issue. But if you’re spotting and stalking, play the wind and sneak within 200 yards of a bear feeding in a snow slide or burn…150 yards is better and 100 is best and generally achievable, since a myopic bear can’t see you. The closer the shot, the better your odds of placing that first bullet perfect.

Where to hit them: A bear feeding his face is not in a hurry to go somewhere. Chill, stay patient and he will turn broadside or quarter-slightly away.

Now one good option is to place your scope’s crosshair for a high shoulder shot. A bear so hit and shocked will drop like a rock. If your bullet breaks both shoulders, he is not going anywhere.

Western bear guide Scott Denny (tablemountainoutfitters.com) is okay with the shoulder shot, but for first-time bear hunters he recommends the good old lung shot, especially when a critter is quartering away.

“Most people are used to aiming behind a deer’s leg and at its lungs, so they’re comfortable aiming there on a bear, rather than trying to take out the shoulders,” he says. Tuck the crosshair behind the top of the shoulder and halfway up the animal’s side. Don’t aim low for a heart shot! A big bear has long hair that sweeps the ground, so it’s easy to shoot too low if you’re not careful,” notes Denny.

Follow-up: I read somewhere that American hunters love to kick back and admire their first shot. That is an excellent observation. We stalk pretty well, aim well, press the trigger, drop our eye out of the riflescope, watch the critter go down and start smiling ear to ear.

Generally that works out, but it is a bad habit you need to break, especially when shooting a bear. After you hit him hard, bolt another cartridge and lock your scope on him. If the critter tries to scramble away or so much as quivers, hit him again with another bullet…and again to stop him for good. Now you can relax and go check the hide, no tracking required.

 

 

Camping World Takes Over Gander Mountain

ganderTough times in the hunting/shooting retail world has led, sadly, to another mega takeover.

Earlier this year Gander Mountain, which had been outfitting hunters for more than 50 years, filed for bankruptcy and was placed up for auction. On April 28, Camping World, the nation’s largest RV retailer, was chosen as the winning bidder ($37.8 million is a lot of money to you and me, but seems cheap for a brand like Gander).

The big question: What does this mean for the 126 Gander stores built across the country?

Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis said bluntly, “All stores are liquidating, and the inventory in there is going to go away.” Some stores will likely close for good, but “my goal is to keep open at least 70 and keep them operating as Gander Mountain. I will not be picking stores that do not have a clear path to profitability.”

Lemonis says that moving forward, Camping World intends to “refine the inventory selection,” which many in the outdoor industry take to mean substantially less selling of firearms and shooting/hunting gear. Lemonis said one of Gander’s problems was that the retailer was a victim of its own misguided approach to inventory. “At the end of the day, this company failed because it made some giant inventory mistakes and just bought too much,” he said. “Not the wrong stuff, but just too much. And it didn’t necessarily understand how to operate in a low-cost environment.”

Gander Mountain stores will continue to honor gift cards until May 17, 2017. If you have a card, hurry to your local Gander and use it. After that, Gander Mountain gift cards will no longer be honored in store or online.

The list of Gander stores that will close (or survive) remains fluid, but here’s the latest.

This is sad news for me, because I always enjoyed getting the Gander Mountain catalog, and in recent years visiting Gander stores. How about you? Who shopped at Gander and will miss it?

Remove Rust from a Gun

rust gunStore all your firearms in a cool, dry place, with a dehumidifier running nearby for good measure if there is any hint of moisture (as in a basement). But if you pull out one of your guns and see a few blotches of rust on barrel or receiver, here’s an interesting way to remove it.

From Range 365: The trick…is finding a penny minted before 1982, which were 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.

To start you need some light oil (good old 3-in-1 will do just fine), a medium brass-bristle cleaning brush, some paper towels, and your pre-1982 penny.

Pick a spot to start, put some oil on the metal, rub the penny over the area, and wipe clean with a paper towel. Repeat until the rust is gone. Use the brush to scour the rust out of areas with small crevices, like a shotgun rib.

The copper in the penny is softer than the steel, so light pressure will wear away the rust without scouring the steel or the remaining bluing.

Is Old Ammo Safe to Shoot?

ammo 002Mike: I have some boxes of Core-Lokt .270 loads that must be 10 years old? Are those shells still safe to shoot and hunt with? Love the blog, keep up the good work.—George from Nebraska

George: For starters, let me say that I’ve been hunting with .270, .30-06 and 7mm loads from a test batch I got at least 10 years old. Some of the cartridges are 15 years old.They are still reliable and accurate, and I’ve killed dozens of bucks with them.

If center-fire cartridges are stored in a dry place at moderate temperatures with low humidity—say on a shelf in a dry basement where you have a dehumidifier running—they can have an amazingly long shelf life. There are many reports of people shooting 50-plus year-old ammunition with no problems, and killing deer with such ancient rounds.

But before shooting any old cartridges, check each one carefully. If the cases look clean and aren’t corroded, the ammo should work fine. But keep in mind the warning signs of unusable (and potentially unsafe) old ammunition: split case necks and/or corroded/rusty bullets, brass or primers. If ammo shows any of these signs, discard it properly and don’t shoot it.

DISCLAIMER: If you have the slightest doubt that a round or bullet does not look right, discard it and don’t shoot it.  

Probably the best and smartest thing to do with shells left over from the last few seasons is to go the range this spring and shoot them up. Then go buy a couple new boxes of your favorite deer load before next season. The ammo companies will appreciate it, plus you’ll benefit from the shooting practice. You’ll know those shiny new rounds to be safe and effective.

2017: It’s a Tough Economy for the Gun & Hunting Industry Right Now

2017 tough ecnomyThe health care chaos last week on Capitol Hill notwithstanding, things have been looking pretty good since President Trump’s election last November. The stock market is up and consumer confidence is high as the President reduces burdensome regulations on business and moves to act on tax reform this summer.

But ironically the election of our first pro-gun president in 8 years has slowed the sale of firearms and softened the overall shooting/hunting market. In recent years, with anti-gun Barack Obama at the helm and with the prospect of Hillary looming for another 8 years, law-abiding and freedom–loving Americans had a deep and well-founded concern that their gun rights were in serious jeopardy, and so we purchased guns and hoarded ammunition at a record pace.

But now, with President Trump in the White House and our Second Amendment rights secure for now, firearms sales have slowed and as a consequence cast a pale over the entire industry.

Colt, Savage, Remington and Federal Premium recently announced that they are constricting business and laying off employees, and many industry experts predict that other manufacturers will follow suit.

The record sales and profits from firearms and especially ammunition of the last 5 years carried over into the general outdoor and hunting market, and helped to account for decent to good sales. For example, a guy walked into a Cabela’s store to buy 3 boxes of ammo, and he picked up a new camo jacket and some other stuff on the way to the register. But many of those impulse buys have dried up and dried up fast.

In addition to declining gun/ammo sales is the overall retail industry’s struggles of 2017 and beyond. Namely, how do retailers with heavy investment in brick-and-mortar survive and grow in the Amazon world? You likely have empty storefronts in your hometown that thrived just 5 short years ago.

You might have heard that Gander Mountain recently declared bankruptcy, and as a part of that will close 32 of 162 retail stores in 11 different states. Click to see if a GM store near you is on the list to be shuttered.

Word is that Bass Pro Shops’ $4.5 billion deal to buy Cabela’s could be in jeopardy as federal regulators have requested more information from both parties. But most financial experts predict that the merger will still be approved and completed, most likely later this fall.

The bowhunting industry is not immune. The Outdoor Wire spoke with industry experts who pointed to significant problems facing the archery business and the considerable drop-off in bow and gear sales. One big reason—the trend of manufacturers toward high-end bows that cost $1,000 to $1,500. Not all hard-working hunters can fork out a good chunk of a mortgage payment for a new bow, so fewer bows are sold each year, and people are upgrading less and keeping their bows for 4 or 5 years.

While the gun/bow/hunting/outdoor industry is facing uncertain and tough economic times, there is light on the horizon. If President Trump can get our dysfunctional Congress to work together for once and approve meaningful tax reform for corporations and individuals alike this summer, and retroactive to January 1, 2017, the industry (and all retail) will receive an immediate boost. History shows that every time people get even a little more money in their pockets, they will spend some of it on their passions. There are no more passionate Americans than deer hunters. Give us back some more of our money and we’ll buy a new rifle or bow or trail camera or camo, just in time for the 2017-18 season.

As for the manufacturers, you will continue to see some constriction and shifting business strategies in the short term, but that can be a good thing. Smart business leaders step back, analyze changing market trends and then build and market products that people will buy in 2018, in this case quality and affordable guns and bows.

For retailers large and small, the future is inescapable and simple. We all still love to go to a Cabela’s,  Bass Pro or Gander store, and we love our local gun shop. We’ll still buy at those stores, but if a company is not heavily online and Mobile, they’re out of business or soon will be.

What about you? Are you spending less on gear? Buying more online? Will you purchase a new gun this year? Does a new bow cost too much?