At this writing June has pretty much passed into history and as we ease into July, our summer is on itís last legs and our favorite time of year, hunting season, is just ahead. Up here in the mountains the next couple of months are a bit iffy as far as the weather. Normally our Monsoon season starts right on the 4th of July. But this year our summer has been much cooler than normal with temps at night here at 8000 feet running from 25 to about 40 degrees and during the day mostly in the mid to upper 70s. That is 15 degrees or so cooler than normal and the ďexpertsĒ who very seldom predict the weather correctly, are saying our Monsoon will probably come 3 to 4 weeks late. I donít know if that means our winter will be later or not and that could hamper much of our hunting. If the temperatures stay warmer than normal the elk will stay up high where it is a bit cooler, while the deer and most other critters wait patiently for the rains to come to bring them high grass and fat needed to make it thru the winter. So right now, our hunting seasons are sort of iffy.

Speaking of our critters, a few years back I hit a big bull elk on my way home one evening. Doing 65 MPH and hitting an 800 lb animal can surely mess up a vehicle. It pretty much ruined the whole front end of my Expedition. They fixed it and the car was fine. The elk didnít fare as well.

About a month ago Colleen bought her a new Nissan Armada all decked out with all the ďnecessaryĒ goodies included. Two weeks ago coming home from a shopping spree she was probably lead footing it thru the woods and lo and behold there was a bear, right in front of her. She hit him pretty much head on which slammed him around to the side of her truck doing around $20,000 damage to it. She hit him about 3 miles from our house so she called and among some expletives told me she ruined the paint job on her new truck. Then she told me she hit a bear. I thought ďruined your paint jobĒ huh? I bet it did. I jumped in the truck and got there in less than 5 minutes. The bear was amazingly still alive. He looked to have a broken shoulder and probably internal injuries. The problem was he was on the side of the road and if he wanted he could lope off into the woods and finding him in the dark could be a problem and even dangerous to a hiker. At first I thought if he runs off maybe he will eat a liberal. Then thought no, I donít want to do that. Besides all his injuries then he would have indigestion too.

Anyway I had, as always, my Star PD on my hip. I had it loaded with JHPs then ball, then JHPs and so on. I walked up to about 8 feet of the bear and it was dark so I had no idea where my front sight was. Another truck pulled up a short ways away which gave me a bit of light. I took the shot aiming just behind the shoulder. No response to the shot. He kept slowly walking off. I hit him with the second shot which was ball ammo. This time he stood up on his hind legs and starting biting at his shoulder. As he came back down on his feet I hit him again just behind the shoulder. Again nothing. No reaction at all. Then I realized the truck that came up to my side was a highway patrolman. Colleen had called them and while I was taking my 3 shots he was getting his duty AR-15 out of the truck. He eased up to me and said for me to let him take the shot. He had a scope and hit the bear on the side of the head, ending the whole mess.

By now I was really beginning to wonder what happened to my 2 JHP rounds. Under his flashlight we checked bear for damage from the 3 45 rounds. The first 2 JHPs went a total of 2 inches in the bear. He had a lot of old winter hair that he hadnít shed yet plus a couple of inches of fat. The ball ammo went deep. At about 5Ē we gave up trying to trace the wound. But the JHPs failed miserably. My first thought was it was a good thing I wasnít up against a fat guy in a fur coat or I would probably be as dead as that bear.

The bear weighed around 300 to 350 lbs which for around here is about average. He was oddly colored with black face and legs and the rest a cinnamon color. He would have made a nice full mount but a lot of hide had been scraped off by the collision with the truck. All in all it just wasnít worth it. The bear was down and not off roaming thru the woods looking for a female bear, or Maxine Waters, whichever came first. But the 45 ACP ammo really gave me some second thoughts about what ammo I carry. Right now I am really disappointed in JHP ammo. To put it bluntly it simply failed and it could have been a lot worse if that Hiway patrolman hadnít showed up with his AR-15.

That night when I got home I went thru the guns I have stashed around the house and pulled out every JHP round and replaced it with FMJ ball ammo. During this I remembered a friend I hunted with when I worked at the radio station across from FT. Campbell. I hadnít seen him for a while as he was been sent to Viet Nam with the rest of the 101st. One day he called me and asked me to play a Jimi Hendrix song for him. I asked him when he got back. He said about 6 months ago. He said he had got messed up in a firefight and came home for a series of surgeries. He asked me when did I get off the air. I told him at 10 AM and would be out of the station by noon or so. He told be to come by the back gate at FT. Campbell and we would do some shooting. When I got there he was waiting. He got out of the Jeep and I noticed he was limping. I asked him what happened. He reached down and rapped on his lower leg with his knuckle and it was obvious it wasnít meat under there. He has lost his leg from the knee down. I started asking him what happened and he pulled a picture out and showed me a pile of destroyed meat that used to be his leg. There wasnít a piece of bone bigger than your thumb. He said they found a 45 ACP ball ammo in his boot. He said there was pretty much hand to hand fighting and he was hit by friendly fire. But the 45 ACP ball had hit his knee at a downward angle and went down the leg bone destroying everything along the way. He obviously lost the leg but was in good spirits and not feeling sorry for himself. He was dating a nurse there on post and things were looking up for him. But that wound came back when I thought of what the 45 ACP ball had done to that bear and what the JHPs hadnít done at all. From now on it is FMJ ball ammo in all my carry guns. All this also reminded me of all the big animals, Water Buffalo, Bison, Watusi, bull elk and so on that I had taken with a 41 caliber silhouette bullet. Those bullets had gone thru hair and neck muscle and broken the neck bone for an instant kill. And the silhouette bullets are, for all practical purposes, full metal jacket with just a tiny bit of lead at the tip. Enough to make them legal for hunting. I had never had a silhouette bullet fail me if I put the bullet in the right spot. Colleen hit that bear on a Friday evening so I had all weekend to ponder what I needed to do. As I said I took all JHPs out of my guns and replaced them with FMJ ball ammo. That was a total change experience for me and possibly could save my life or the life of a family member in the future.

While we are on the subject of hunting, our HHC is coming up October 3 thru 6 at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee, and you are invited. We normally have 50 to 55 hunters there for the hunt. It is listed as an HHC, which stands for Handgun Hunterís Challenge. But you can use whatever you like. Rifle, bow, handgun, whatever. One of the regulars on here said it wasnít a real hunt, it was a gathering of friends, and that is exactly what it is. 50 friends together for 4 days of hunting and being with old and new friends and looking and playing with guns. I usually bring a couple dozen handguns for the guys to look at, handle and shoot if they like. Plus a lot of the other guys bring their guns too. Plus I usually give away $3000 to $5000 in door prizes. So join us if you can. There is almost 15,000 acres of Tennessee hillside and animals galore. Big elk and red stag herds, exotic deer and sheep and wild boar by the hundreds, Bison, Water buffalo and a lot more. The prices are right with no hidden fees and they treat us like a king. If you want to join us, call Sandy at 931-979-4050 and sign up.

Another hunt for you to consider is our next Africa hunt next May. I book the whole camp which holds 12 hunters. Right now we have 9 signed up, so if you want to join us, get with me for more info. And contrary to popular belief an African hunt doesnít mean you have to spend $25,000 or more. Several of my guys have been with me on these hunts and they average about $7000 plus the airfare. And that is 7 days hunting in South Africa and taking 3 or 4 plains game animals. In Africa you only pay for what you kill. There is a daily rate that covers your PH, the trackers and skinners, your lodging and meals, pretty much everything. You donít have to come up with a lot of money up front either. They get half of the daily rates which adds up to about $3200 and you donít owe anything else until next February when the second half of the daily rates are due. Then there are some small items like one night in a hotel when you get to Joburg and a small fee for our transportation to camp. When the hunt is over they will e-mail you with your bill a few weeks after you get home. There is nothing like it. A bit over a year ago I took a huge Cape Buffalo that will rank in the top 2 in the handgun record book. I took it with my custom Encore and my 450 GNR round with a 500 grain .458 caliber bullet from Hornady. Odd thing is on my first hunt in 1992 I took a Custom Contender with my 450 GNR and a 500 grain Hornady bullet. I had read all the stories about hunting in Africa and how you needed to have a monster caliber and a 500 grain bullet. All that was bull and I didnít bring my 450 GNR handgun to another African hunt for another 20 years. But the head man on the safari John Abraham told be to bring one of my big guns that the area we would be hunting in had some monster Cape Buffalo. He was right and mine and Collenís plus buffalo for several of our hunters that went along on one of both hunts also took big bulls. This past May Colleen went over with 11 friends and she used her 458 rifle I built for her for her first African hunt several years ago. And needless to say she shot a Cape Buffalo bigger than mine. But hers was with a rifle so that wonít effect my ranking. She also took a monster Kudu, a huge old bull eland and a Gemsbok. The last 3 with her favorite Colt Sauer rifle in 300 Winchester magnum. Africa is probably the greatest place left to hunt in this old world of ours. I have been 14 times and canít wait until next May for my next one. Again if you are interested, give me a call at the shop at 928-527-4100. Right now I have 3 openings so grab a friend and join us.

I had planned to telling you about some of the new guns and gear coming out for this coming season, but everything is running slow these days so I will know more for the next edition of Gun Notes. Until then go shooting and when you do, take a lady or youngster. They are our future.

Until next time, God bless,

Gary