Preparing for the Hunt – Part 1

Hunting season has begun, in most states, and it is high time we dedicated a post to that subject and to rifles. I am most familiar with hunting white tailed dear, so that’s what I’ll be primarily focusing on. I’ll cover turkey hunting soon.

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Hunting is a lot of fun….for some people. It really just depends on the type of girl that you are. Do you like being in nature? Do you like the challenge of stalking an animal over the river and through the woods? Do you mind being in extreme temperatures? Does camo appeal to you? Do you mind getting your hands dirty (and bloody)? If you think this is for you, let’s get started on learning how to hunt like a pro (or at least get started on the right track).

The basics.

North America is home to Whitetail deer, Mule deer, Elk, Moose and some Caribou. There are also some Coastal Black Tailed deer which are a sort of variation of Mule deer.

A female deer is called a ‘Doe’. The male deer is called a ‘Buck’. For Elk and Moose, the male is a ‘Bull’ and the female is a ‘Cow’.

Mating season is in autumn and each doe goes into ‘heat’ only once during the fall. Bucks loose their antlers in the spring, but grow them back in the fall. As their antlers mature the bucks go into ‘rut’ i.e. they become obsessed with chasing down the females. They also start scraping the velvety covering off their antlers (you can look for scrapes on trees as a sign that a buck has been there). When a buck in in ‘full rut’ his neck will be swollen from the extra testosterone and the meat may be rather gamy. Bucks have territory that they will walk and mark every day. If you can find their trails and marking spots, you can stay there and wait for them to come along.

To go hunting you’re going to need 3 major things.

  1. A place to go hunting. Property. There are a few options if you don’t own land, one is to go on a guided hunt. This is probably best for someone who is new to all of this. Another option is to hunt on rented land or a friend’s land. There is also the option on going in on the purchase of some land with a few friends.
  2. A license and permit. Depending on the state in which you are hunting, you will need to get a license and probably pull a permit. I would say that it is ESSENTIAL to look over the laws and restriction for the area you are hunting in. Thankfully there’s a pretty convenient little booklet with all the info you need for any kind of hunting and fishing for your area. It’s called (originally enough) the Hunting and Trapping Guide for …. [enter your state here]. You should be able to get these anywhere that sells hunting or fishing supplies.
  3. A rifle. The type of rifle sort of depends on the state you live in. It also depends on what you’re hunting and what season you’re hunting*. twrahuntingguide2016-2017

*In Tennessee, ‘whitetail hunting season’ is actually three different seasons – Bow, Muzzle loader, and Rifle. There are also a few youth hunt weekends in there. During each season, you hunt with whatever is ‘in season’.

If you need more info on this topic, check out this website.

 

I was raised hunting whitetail. My daddy first took me hunting with him when I was 7 years old. If I remember correctly, I scared away a nice sized buck that time – he couldn’t get me to quit talking. I’ve gotten better at the whole “being quiet” thing since then. I never have, to the date of this writing, actually killed a deer. (Maybe this year!) Usually I didn’t have a gun, or dad sees the deer first so he gets to shoot it. Etc. However, I have helped him field dress, drag out and then process more deer than I can count. I always loved the challenge. Getting all wrapped up and going out in the freezing cold, just dad and I. Walking super quietly, so as to not scare anything away. There’s nothing quite like it. You see nature at it’s best. My favorite time to go out is early morning (4 or 5 am depending on the hike). It’s generally coldest right before the sun comes up. There’s frost in the air and sometimes snow on the ground. Experiencing the sun come up, seeing the first fingers of light shift through the trees, watching a deer walk through the peaceful morning mists. It’s really awesome. deer-hunting-15-large-10-2012Rather addicting, actually.

Just to make one thing clear.

Killing deer isn’t bad. Death is a natural part of life. However. If you are just hunting for the trophy, then I have a bone to pick with you. God gave us dominion over the ‘beast of the field’. We are to be good stewards of what He has given us. This means that if we are going to kill something, we need to use as much of it as we can (the exception to this is if the buck is in heavy rut, because the only thing not gamy tasting will be the back straps). Many will disagree with me on this, but this is my stance. That said, killing a deer is not bad, because in all honesty, there is an abundance of deer and, unchecked, it can become an overpopulation which causes serious problems. In our area the biggest problems are deer crossing the roads and causing accidents, and deer devouring gardens. In the 13 years that we have lived in TN, we have hit 10 deer.Twice, they totaled our car. It’s not because we aren’t careful drivers, it simply because there are so many!

For those with delicate hands and no intention of getting blood under their nails:

Either bring a guy along to gut your catch for you or get some gloves. As soon as you bring the deer down, it needs to be field dressed. This means cutting it open and de-gutting it. (See why you need a guy along, now?) After you get it back home/to camp you can butcher it out or, depending on the temperature outside, ‘hang it’ to keep the meat till you can get around to processing it. If you don’t want to do the butchering (it is a lot of work) you can bring your trophy to a processing place and they will do it for you. A word of caution, here though, if you plan on eating the meat, be very careful where you take it to get processed. A reputable place might be a bit more expensive, but it’ll be worth it. You don’t want to get sick from tainted meat.

Venison is considered a delicacy by most people, but where I live, it’s a staple that takes the place of beef at the table until spring comes around and people have to hang up their guns. Most good processing plants have options for you to choose how you like your meat, whether in special cuts, ground, sausage or jerky. You can also do it all at home, although I’d suggest getting ‘The Complete Venison Cookbook’ by Harold W. Webster. It shows all the special cuts and has some amazing recipes.

Stay tuned for part 2! 

 

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Safety and First Aid

As when dealing with anything that could be used to inflict pain and/or death, we must be sure to include a section on safety and emergency response.

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First, ALWAYS treat a gun like it’s loaded because you never know if it really is or not. If you pay careful attention to the things covered in this section and apply them, you’ll lesson the chance of having to use the first aid that we cover later on.

How does one treat a gun that’s loaded?

  1. Always keep the barrel pointed down and away from you and everyone else. My dad offers this pearl of wisdom: ‘If you don’t want to utterly destroy it than don’t point the gun at it.’ I would also strongly caution you to keep the gun pointed away from your foot as I’m sure you like your feet the way they are. A common mistake largely promoted by popular media is pointing the gun up in the air. As we all know, what goes up must come down and that is no different for bullets. If the gun accidentally goes off while it is pointed up in the air, the bullet will come down somewhere and can seriously injure or even kill an innocent person, sometimes even miles away. The best rule of thumb is to examine the ground where you’re shooting. It it’s dirt, point down, if it’s any type of hard surface, like concrete or asphalt, point up.img_4015
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to discharge the gun. If you find your finger resting on the trigger and you are not ready to shoot, then carefully move your finger off the trigger and extract it from the trigger guard. The best place for your finger is just above the trigger guard and trigger on the lower frame(handguns) or lower receiver (rifles). This position is best for two reasons: 1) the safety button/switch is often located thereabouts, 2) In this position, your finger is off the trigger but ready to fire if need be. This is especially important in self-defense, hunting, or competition shooting where preparedness and speed are necessary.2
  3. When you are out shooting you should always have someone with you or at least have a phone with you. Accidents do happen. It’s always best to have access to help if the need should arise.

At this point I’m going to give you some advice on what to do if our worst nightmare should happen and someone shoots themselves.

First of all, don’t faint. That has never helped any one and never will. The sight and smell of blood can cause some people to get queasy, just take a deep breath and try not to think about the blood.faint Keep Calm!

Access the Situation.

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Carefully study this map of major organ and artery placement.

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First Aid    

  If the bullet has entered the torso, you should assume that it is a potentially life-threatening. Stay calm. The first thing you should do is call 911. It is top priority to get an ambulance on it’s way asap. Keep the person very still and calm. Try to staunch the bleeding as much as you can, but do not try to move or disturb the person until help arrives because a torso wound is easily complicated and can be deadly. The only exception is if there is life-threatening danger. Like a building falling on you.

Wounds on the limbs can be assessed by the amount of blood flowing out of them. Call 911 immediately. Depending on how heavily they’re hemorrhaging, you should be able to judge whether an artery has been hit or not. It is advisable to keep as much blood in the person as possible. Keep the person warm and still. If you can, slightly elevate the limb above the heart. (I mean, if it’s a thigh injury there’s no need to hang the person upside down.) Try to keep them calm until help arrives. If they freak, then their heart rate will rise meaning the heart is pumping more blood which means greater blood loss. Attempt to staunch the blood flow. Stay calm.

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If they pass out, which is likely when there is great blood loss, don’t freak out. Make sure they are still breathing and keep them warm. They will be okay and so will you!

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If you are the one injured, and whether you have someone with you or not, you can apply the same steps that are laid out above. Some wise words my friend who is a First Responder and Firefighter told me, were: You have to be able to tell yourself you’re not going to die. You have to look at yourself and say no matter how much blood I lose, no matter how bad it is, no matter how many holes there are, I’m going to make it. You have to tell yourself that no matter what happens I’m going to live. This is extremely important in negligent discharges because you’re not psyched up like you are in a fight. The adrenaline isn’t pumping till after the accident when you need to slow down. You don’t need/want to go into shock, so having the ability to tell yourself that no matter what happens you’re going to keep kicking is extremely important. It’s psychological. Even if it sounds silly now, it’ll get you home to your loved ones at the end of the day.

If you are hunting, or far away from medical attention, try to get the injured person to the nearest road or populated place. HOWEVER, if you suspect any sort of back or neck injury do not try to move them unless there is eminent danger . Moving a person in such a condition is an easy way to kill them. Instead, leave a phone if you have one (which you always should), with them and you go for help. If you are injured and have no one with you then give detailed directions, or as much as you can, to the dispatcher. Also, you should never go hunting without telling someone where you’re going to be and when (approximately) you’ll be back.

Medical Training.

I strongly recommend (as do my friends int he medical profession) taking a CPR class and learning how to tie a tourniquet.  Just in case you ever need it. The American Heart Association provides excellent CPR and First Aid classes for a reasonable fee. If you are into more extensive training I would recommend (although I haven’t personally taken it yet, I will soon) Tactical Response’s Action Medical course. I know the people that do them, and they know what they’re talking about and are very thorough.

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A Final Note.

Lastly, unload your gun when it is not in use. The exception for this would be guns carried for personal defense. A Personal Defense weapon should always be loaded. Bad guys won’t wait for you to load the gun before engaging you. More about this later.                                  When you are not using your gun you should immediately put the safety on.

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Well ladies, I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or would like for me to write about something specific, let me know!

Target Practice

Practice makes perfect.

This is a loaded statement, because in all reality, you will perfect what you practice whether it is correct or not. That is why it is essential for an individual to get quality training.

When deciding what training to get there are a few things to consider: First, What are you training for?img_3996

If you are interested in protecting yourself and those around you, it might not be the best idea to take a hunting or competition class, even though those classes might be teaching the right things for that category. This section caters to handguns, pistols specifically, but most of the points can be applied to rifles as well. Find the training that is right for you and caters to your specific needs and where you desire to progress to.

Note: Taking a handgun carry permit class will not teach you everything you need to know about shooting. You shouldn’t get the permit until you know how to shoot your weapon and are prepared to carry it. Because if you are carrying and you don’t know how to shoot, you are carting around a weapon for your attacker to use on you.

The next thing to think about is pricing. Unless you are blessed with a bottomless pocketbook, you are probably asking yourself ‘what am I signing myself up for? Will this cost more than I am willing/able to pay? Is it worth spending a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on? Etc.’ Well, ladies, I share your predicament. Owning, operating and outfitting firearms is not generally cheap. However, there are often more economical ways to every expense, and we’ll learn more on that specific topic in a later post. For training specifically though, finding a really good basic training course is essential. And will be worth the cost just so long as you are applying what you learned and practicing often. 

[This is my first target from practicing this past weekend. I’m not perfect, and I’ll just tell you right now, you aren’t always going to have amazing grouping, and sometimes your nail polish will get chipped. It’s okay. Just keep going!]

Get good training, and then apply it. Use it. Practice. If you don’t use what you learned you are wasting your trainer’s time as well as the money you spent. Now I do understand when you say, “But I haven’t got any time to train, not to mention practice!” I’m in the same boat. Finding the time and motivation to practice just isn’t a priority for most women. It’s hard and awkward, and for the majority of us ladies, we just aren’t comfortable wielding implements of death and destruction. However, I figured out a simple solution for daily/weekly practicing a while back. Maybe it’s silly and most guys would laugh (let them!), but there are these airsoft handguns that are all metal and are close to the same weight and size as a real handgun.airsoft-asg-gbb-hw-g

For some mysterious reason, they are so much easier, and even fun, *gasp* to practice with. (Maybe because you can rest assured that if it accidentally went off it wouldn’t kill anyone.) It is also really easy to target practice with in the backyard. A piece of wood will stop the little plastic pellets – so no fear of it punching through your hedge and killing the neighbor’s cat.cat

If you live within city limits, have a hectic schedule, or just aren’t comfortable practicing with a real gun without supervision yet, this might be an option you should consider. Also, they’re not very expensive. A fun way to practice with these is to get a tin pie plate and hang it up in front of something secure that will stop the pellets. Then plink away! It is very satisfying to hear the Tink! Tink! Tink! of your projectile smacking the target. As you get better, you can use smaller and smaller targets to tighten your grouping*.

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*Grouping – The placement of multiple shots on a target in one shooting session. The closeness of the grouping, the nearness of all the shots together,  is a measure of the accuracy of a weapon, and a measure of the shooter’s consistency and skill.

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so what to practice?

Well, your trainer should give you a list of things that you can practice on a daily basis. In case he/she didn’t, here are a few things to work on regularly. (I will be writing a post about techniques and proper execution of these practices very soon so stay tuned for that!)

First practice getting a really good two-handed hold on your handgun (Pistol). You might like some help making sure you’ve got this. Make sure your gun is unloaded and the chamber is empty. Then take your strong hand (this depends on if you are right handed or left-handed) and firmly embed the grip in the soft fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and pointer finger. Your hand should be as high up on the grip as possible and holding the grip as tightly as possible. Now press your other palm to the first palm/exposed grip and wrap your fingers tightly over the other ones. (Long nails don’t work well with firearms. I’m not saying cut them all off, but you may want to file them down a bit. They will get caught on stuff and break, also fingernails stabbing into your palm when gripping a gun, doesn’t feel extremely pleasant.)  Your thumbs should run, stacked, parallel with the slide. Note: if your fingers are on the slide, they’re going to get pinched. This is painful and something to be generally avoided if you like keeping blood inside your body. grip-progression

This guy is demonstrating this hold really well, except that his thumbs need to drop down a bit. (Sorry these aren’t ladies hands. I’m working on getting some women’s examples soon.)

Face your target. Your feet should be in a comfortable stance, legs about shoulder width apart with one foot forward more than the other (for me, my left foot is forward about 5-6″). Your arms should not be locked. Instead, they should be slightly bent so as to absorb the shock from the gun firing.correct

This helps you to refocus on your target  quicker after each shot. Which in turn helps your accuracy.  Lean forward into it a bit. It should be rather difficult to wrestle that gun from your hands at this point. This is good. You have more control this way.

Now you are ready to shoot. I suggest setting a preferred grouping for yourself and practice until you get all your shots in that area. Next time you shoot you can make it a bit smaller. Go easy on yourself, the first time you go out to shoot, your goal may be to just get all the shots on the target itself. That’s okay.surprise2

Like most of you, at this point in learning all this, I was saying to myself, “Um, this takes a long time. What if I need to shoot fast to defend myself?” But like we said at the beginning, practice makes perfect and eventually, with practice, picking up your gun like this will become second nature and will take you no time at all. It’s sort of like putting on mascara. At first it was sloppy and took a long time, but you soon got the hang of it and it’s not a problem now. So be encouraged! You can do this!

Well, this post waxeth long. I shall write more on the many questions this epistle has probably aroused, very soon. If you have specific questions you would like answered, please tell me in the comments. Thank you for your time, and have fun practicing! 

Anatomy of the Handgun

Hello! So today we’re going to cover the basic anatomy of handguns. The category ‘handgun’ can be broken down into two basic types. And each type then has variations. But we’re just covering the basics today and maybe in a later post we’ll go over a few of the variations.

The two basic types of handgun are the Pistol and the Revolver. Most modern women will encounter more pistols than revolvers, so we’ll start with that.

Pistols ~

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The history of the pistol is rather unclear, primarily because of the misconception between the words ‘handgun’ and ‘pistol’. People often interchange these two names because they think they mean the same thing. I always did. But while talking to a gunsmith the other day, I was ‘set strait’ on which one was which. A handgun can be used collectively to mean any gun without a shoulder stock and that can be fired with one hand. While a ‘pistol’ is any gun that has a chamber that is integral with the barrel (which means it is in the barrel) and can hold multiple cartridges in the handle. Pistols are generally rather boxy and, especially the new ones, have a magazine which feeds the cartridges into the chamber through the handle of the gun.

The earliest record I can find of the pistol was made by Paul Mauser and his colleagues in 1889.

Distinguishing Features: A chamber that is integral with the barrel of the gun. Multiple rounds of ammunition in a magazine.gun-blog

Technically, a single shot is considered a pistol, except that is only can shoot one round at a time. It also had an interesting history so I’m going to do a separate post on single shots.

The general range that a pistol can shoot accurately is up to 200 yds.

The recoil can be significant, but for the most part, it’s pretty moderate.

Most common types of pistols today: Glocks, Colts, H&Ks (Heckler and Koch),

Springfield Armory, and the Smith and Wesson.

Revolvers ~

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In 1818 Elijah Collier of Britain invented the Revolver or revolving pistol which began to be mass produced in 1822.

Here in America, Samuel Colt invented what we now know as the Revolver in 1836.

Distinguishing Features: Revolving cylinder that contains the cartridges. Also, cap and ball or cartridge arms. Barrel length can be anywhere from 1” to 16”.

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The general range to be effective is up to 100 yds.

The recoil depends on the gun. Some have no ‘kick’ and some can knock you flat.

There are different reasons to own different types of handguns. Everybody has their preferences and will argue them in to the ground. However, it’s best, when looking for the right firearm for you, to try out a lot of different types until you find what you like best. Don’t let other people try to tell you what you need. You need to get the type that you are comfortable with or you won’t carry and shoot it.

And as a side note, let the haters hate. If you love what you’re carrying and it works for you, then that’s what matters. You don’t need their negativity in your life, anyhow.

Guns: An American Heritage

America is based on freedom. A very intelligent man once said: Freedom stands for something greater than just the right to act however I choose—it also stands for securing to everyone an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. [Mike Treder, IEET website.]

Freedom isn’t free and never has been. It is a precious yet intangible abstract. A concept that many millions have paid the ultimate price to give to their posterity – you and I.

Freedom is the right to justice and happiness. You cannot have that right if you have no power. Power is won through the ability to wield fear over your enemies or those who do wrong. I would say that the greatest power a person, or in our case, a people, can wield over another is the fear of death. Before the first firearms where invented and dispersed, people used swords and axes – much less humane, if you ask me. The modern day weapon is the all-powerful, and stunningly swift gun. To own these en mass, is to keep the power over freedom in the possession of the free people.

Besides being used to defend our freedom, firearms have long been a part of our American Culture. They were with the pilgrims who began to settle our coasts. They purchased our freedom from our British overlords. They saved our ships in 1812. They are wound in the myths and legends surrounding the settling of our frontiers. They worked their way west to our farthest coasts at the sides of the settlers. They were used to fight slavery during the Civil War. They protected our cowboys and the cattle they guarded out in the wild west and settled duels in the east. They were the trademark of the infamous gangsters of probation America. Then they marched with our doughboys to deliver freedom to our allies overseas in 1913 and again in 1941. Serving justice to a virulent and deadly fascist party known as the Nazis. The more recent history of the American firearm has become muddied with the smears of crime and mass killings of the last quarter century. Because of this bad reputation accumulated since the Vietnam War, many people, women especially tend to view firearms as evil devices that kill people. This is a misconception. As we continue in this journey together, we will begin to understand them on a more intimate level and will learn to use and appreciate them.

Right off the bat, I would like you to lay aside any notions that guns kill people. I once read a sign that said ‘if guns kill people than pencils must misspell words’. Guns do not kill people. People kill people. If there were no guns, people would still get killed. [statistic: 4x more people die from hammers / 8x more people get killed from falls.] Ultimately, all people die. This is just a reality of life that we need to accept. But we are here to make sure that it’s not because of your mishandling of a firearm.

In upcoming posts we’ll begin to go through the basics of safety, gun anatomy and reasons to carry a firearm. From there we’ll progress into shooting basics and different techniques, tips and hacks.

Remember, if you would like and specific areas covered you can go to our contact page, or use my email address, and send me your ideas, comments, or corrections. I’m excited to hear from you!🙂