With hunting seasons in full swing and many shortages also still in full swing, things continue to be nuts at best. Some new items that I figured wouldn’t be available this fall are actually showing up on dealer’s shelves. Not in large quantities but at least some are out there.

One of my favorite seasons is squirrel season, or tree rat season. It is hard to beat a day walking thru the woods with your favorite 22 LR rife in hand. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get ready for the season. I know a lot of states and areas require a shotgun for small game but that takes the HUNTING out of hunting to me. My only problem is trying to pick out the best 22 LR rifle for my day in the woods. I sorta collect 22 caliber rifles and handguns. One of my favorite rifles for many years has been the little Marlin 99M1. This little M1 Carbine looking rifle is deadly on squirrels or any other small game that I might hunt. I had one of these little game getting rifles for years and one day in one of my somewhat less than smart moves I traded it off. It took me years to find another one.

I mentioned this before so if you remember it, take a minute to go get a cold one out of the fridge. You won’t miss anything. Back in the mid ‘70s to early ‘80s I wrote a weekly column for a Nashville newspaper called Southern Sportsman. A big thing during that time was all the “super accurate” 22 LR rounds that were popping up in the gun shops. CCI had their speedy little Stinger, Remington had their Yellow Jacket, Winchester had their Xpeditor, Federal had one that I can’t remember the name of and several foreign companies had their speed demons, all claiming to be the best. I decided to see which ones were the fastest and bestest. Yeah I know there is no such name as “bestest”, but it sounds good. I had the Marlin 99M1 and the Remington model 552, the Remington model 66, and borrowed the the Remington 541, the Winchester model 9422 and the Ruger 10-22 to do the testing. I ran 5 rounds thru each gun of each of the various brands of ammo. I only ran 5 rounds thru each one so there was no situation of a barrel getting hot and ruining the group. At the end of this all day shooting session the end result was surprising to say the least. I kept the best groups using each different ammo and the top overall groups. The little Marlin 99M1 shooting the Winchester Xpeditor was the most accurate of the bunch with that particular ammo. Overall the Remington 541 was the most accurate but using the Winchester ammo the Marlin 99M1 was the top dog. I keep saying I will gather up all the new high velocity 22 LR ammo and the various 22 LR caliber rifles and see who will end up top of the heap these days. These days just getting the various brands of 22 ammo are a challenge at best.

Anyway this is the time of year I dig out all my 22 rimfire rifles out, wipe the dust off them and make sure they are sighted in for the little fur balls. Another reason I have put off this little test is the game and fish folks have changed the area I normally like to hunt squirrels to shotguns only.

One of the good things about this time of year is with all the 22 Magnum shortages our little Flattop Tools sell as quick as we can get them built. In case you are not familiar with this little tool, it is something I came up with in the middle of the night several years ago. It holds 3 rounds of standard round nose 22 LR ammo and after running the rounds thru the Flattop Tool the rounds give the power of a 22 Magnum. And with the 22 Magnum shortages the Flattop Tool is especially popular. The little tool is $75 and converts 3 rounds at a time and it only takes 2 boxes of 22 LR ammo thru the tool to pay for itself. Another good reason for the Flattop Tool is in this area with most of our trees here are the Ponderosa Pines and the squirrels like to get to the very top of these extremely tall trees and chatter at us. It takes a good hit to get them out of the top of the tree. They tend to get in the crook of a limb and the trunk of the tree and if the hit doesn’t do a decent amount of damage the squirrel will just lay there, dead but not enough punch to knock him out of there.

Another of our “seasons” I like is our rabbit season. I say “season” as there is really no season on the bunnys. You can hunt them year round and we have cotton tails and Jack Rabbits both here in abundance. This time of year is best as there are seldom any ticks or fleas on them after the first frost of the year.

Several years ago we built a series of very high powered Ruger #1 rifles in the 500 Jeffery and a couple of other calibers including the 585 Nyati. The Nyati has 4 to 5 times the recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun and several times more than a 300 Winchester Magnum rifle. We obviously had to do quite a bit of test firing of these high powered rifles. After a few weeks of building and test firing these rifles I noticed a bit of soreness in my right shoulder and within a few more months the damage had been done. This required having 5 screws installed in my right shoulder and no more test firing of the heavy recoiling rifles of these calibers. This put a change in my shotgun calibers. No more 12 gauge and even some light weight 20 gauges caused some pain after an afternoons shooting in a lightweight shotgun. This change brought about the addition of several 28 gauge shotguns in over/under and side/side guns. These I can handle with no problems. I will admit they don’t always put a big Jack Rabbit down immediately but if I do my job right the gun will do it’s job right.

Before we close out here let me recommend something for those of you that have elderly friends who are hunters. A good friend of mine who is a few years older than me came by the shop recently and brought several of his favorite guns with him. He is in his early 80s and had just gone on a deer hunt at one of the ranches in Texas. To say he was disappointed would be an under statement. He asked me to come out to his truck and help him with some guns and gear. He had all his guns except for a few 22 LRs. He also had all the ammo he had that went with his various center fire rifles. He had several rifles in 243, 270, 300 Win. Magnum and some large caliber shotguns. He wanted me to sell them for him. He said on the Texas hunt he had problems walking and getting shots off before the deer was gone. He was giving up on all his hunting. I had seen this coming for the last few years. He had gone to Africa with me and been to several of our HHCs (Handgun Hunters Challenge) and had problem getting around, even getting out of the truck in Africa. I had noticed it but figured he would get over it. The problem is he didn’t. Now he was past the point of no return. I am going to see if I can find a hunt somewhere where he and I can spend a few days together hunting. But my options are slim to none.

My point here is if you have an elderly friend who enjoys hunting, help him to continue hunting and shooting. Talking him into taking some small easy hunts with you. Spend some time talking about the hunts you have gone with him through the years. If possible get him back into the field, even if it is just a rabbit hunt or some other small game hunt that is not too rough on him. Even a hunt where you and he can sit in a blind waiting on the game to come by. You will be doing him a favor and yourself too, by getting an older friend back out in the hunting field with you.

Until next month, take some time and get out in the hunting field and do some hunting, even if it is after squirrels or rabbits. You will be doing yourself a favor. And while you are at it, take a youngster or lady with you. You won’t regret it.

Til next month, God bless,