Gary's Gun Notes #87
Another HHC (Handgun Hunter's Challenge) is under our belts and a good one it was. It was again at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee and as usual was a really good hunt. The lodge holds 24 hunters and we had 21 hunters there plus a couple of our regulars on the HHCs showed up Saturday afternoon for the normal Saturday evening BS session. We had a good number of the regulars on the hunt and several new hunters. We had large 400 pound hogs taken, Scimitar Horned Oryx, Fallow Deer, Corsican sheep, Barbarossa sheep, Aoudad, Blackbuck, Nilgai, and several other species that I can't think of right now. At least 3 of our hunters were charged by Russian boar and some really close calls were experienced. And a hint for a future hunter here. If you want excitement, go for a medium size hog, maybe 250 pounds or so. In most cases they will charge you when cornered and sometime when not cornered, like when you walk up on them when they are bedded down. A large 400 to 500 pound hog makes an impressive mount but very rarely will they charge. They are older hogs that are happy to just lay in the leaves and nap, sort of like Andy Rowe. There was a large herd of Bison and Water Buffalo there but nobody opted for the buffs.
Some of the guys really worked their butts off getting their animal. Tracy Marshall worked really hard to get his Blackbuck. Those little speed demons rarely stop for more than a few seconds when spooked and his was spooked from the minute we got there. Tracy finally got him with a long shot with his Encore in 257 Raptor. Kase had a similar experience with his Aoudad. he spotted him early the first day and the chase was on. Aoudad, much like Blackbuck, seldom slow down. It is said they graze at 30 MPH. Kase had chosen his 445 Super Mag Dan Wesson for the hunt that day and that posed the problem of getting within reasonable range of the Barbary Sheep, also known as the Aoudad. After several hours of stalking and chasing the animal, he finally got in a long shot, which didn't end the chase at all. Even with a 44 caliber bullet in him he continues to run. Kase finally crawled over a rise and caught him looking the other way and put 2 more rounds into him before he fell, then the Aoudad still tried to get up again and Kase had to put a finishing shot into him. I have seen Aoudad take 4 or 5 rounds of 45 Winchester magnum and still be up on their feet. They are one of the hardest animals to put down, especially with a handgun.
Lawrence Yao took a very nice Scimitar Horned Oryx with his 500 S&W revolver, and several really nice sheep were taken as well. Charlie Herf took an exceptional Fallow Deer with his 280 GNR. The hog hunters had to really hunt hard for their piggies. It wasn't that they were in short supply, they were just wild as they come. The back areas at the lodge where most of the hogs were taken hold some hills that are almost straight up and down and when spooked the hogs headed right for the top. While helping Puffy get his hog, we must have climbed one of those hills a dozen times over a 2 day period. Puff finally got his at just about the last hour of the last day. He anchored him with his 375 GNR#2 encore.
I hunted the Nilgai that they had there. They were a bit smaller than I had hoped for. The record book Nilgai has 9 inch horns and the one I took had a hair over 7 inch horns. I have a couple of Nilgai already that have horns a bit over 8 inches but the meat of the Nilgai, being an antelope, is extremely good, so I settled for a 7 incher. Nilgai are known for being tenacious and extremely hard to put down, but I wanted to take one with the 356 GNR Pirate gun, which is an 8 inch barreled Thompson Center G-2 with a 4X Leupold sitting on it.
I loaded up the Sierra 180 grain Silhouette bullet in the 356 GNR and it did just what I wanted it to do. We tried to sneak up on him several times but he was just too smart for us. Finally he stopped in the middle of the field to watch us and I started walking straight up to him, in full view. I learned long ago that sometimes sneaking will spook them more than just walking slowly toward them. I was in plain view of him the whole time and managed to get up to 75 yards or so of him. He started getting fidgety so I stopped at 75 yards. he was broadside of me with his head sharply turned toward me. This didn't give me the upper neck shot that I like, so I took a shot a bit lower in the neck. The shot was standing offhand and hit him pretty much where I wanted. he ran a hundred yards in a circle around me, heading toward the woods behind me. As he finished his half circle, the bullet started to have it's effect on him. He started trying to take those long steps that animals do when mortally wounded. he would reach out like he was stepping over a big log and after about 10 steps his rear end started to droop. If I had left him alone he would have dropped in a minute or so. But as he walked slowly toward the woods to my left, I got a glimpse of orange vests coming over the rise out of the woods. Not wanting someone to get hurt but an animal that I was fairly sure was on his last legs, I hit him again just behind the shoulder. he continued his slow walk toward the woods. I yelled at the guys to watch out and don't let him get down into the woods. Puffy was to my left and put a 455 GNR round in him and that ended it. Amazingly when we skinned him out, both of my 356 GNR rounds had gone all the way thru but the 455 GNR stayed in, mushrooming perfectly. The Nilgai weighed a bit over 350 pounds, about 75 shy of what they normally do, but he will help fill up my freezer for sure.
I have already had several people ask when the next HHC will be. Normally I have one on October and if all goes well and Obama doesn't bankrupt us all, we will have another one sometime in October. I will probably book it in July or so.
The news this week has been the news that marlin is closing it's doors in 2011. I talked to a couple of friends in the industry about this and talked to John Taffin this afternoon. My guess is that they will not close. They are trying to get out from under the unions up there. The unions are killing this country and every business that can is trying to get away from them. The firearms industry is no exception. My guess is that they will close their doors for a few months and re-open in either North Carolina or South Carolina. The Freedom Group, the company that owns Marlin, already has a plant in South Carolina so to me it makes sense to move there but North Carolina is a strong possibility also. The South holds more and more good reasons to move there. With right to work states, it just makes sense. Also before somebody starts saying that Freedom Arms owns Marlin, that is not true. The Freedom Group owns them, no relationship to Freedom Arms. They also own Remington, DPMS, H&R, Bushmaster, New England Firearms, Dakota Arms, parker Shotguns, L.C. Smith, and non gun companies like Eotac and Barnes bullets among others. Another reason I don't believe marlin will close their doors is all the new products they announced at this year's SHOT SHOW, including 6 new lever action rifles and expanding their 22 bolt action line up. And I could really be wrong on this as there have been several statements that marlin is closing the doors for good, but my gut feeling says 'tain't so.
Another company that have been with us for over 20 years, KBI Firearms has closed it's doors. They didn't manufacture guns but were the distributor of several well known brands, such as Charles Daly, CD Defense and Jericho Arms.
Mossberg Arms has been around for almost 100 years and continues to be strong in the hunting and self defense market. They also have a line of medium priced bolt action rifles out that are very well made. Mossberg has for years had a series of inexpensive shotguns made in Mexico at their Maverick plant. They are releasing a new maverick brand of rifles also, in the standard 243, 270 and 30-06 calibers. These should retail in the mid $300 range and be a very good seller with our economy continues to stay lackluster at best. With large companies like Remington and Winchester retailing their rifles for $1000 or more (someone needs to tell them we are in a recession), this is a great time for the Mossberg Mavericks, Stevens new bolt actions and other very competively priced hunting rifles.
The black rifles continue to be stagnant on the market and if you have been wanting one, the list of ARs is almost endless and prices are at the lowest I have seen them in 10 years or more. Benelli, known for their fine shotguns has recently introduced their own AR-15 style rifle, called the MR-1. Many companies are moving their "black rifles" over into the hunting fields. Remington was one of the first and it has worked for them. DPMS has a new rifle called the Yote, (in 223 and in Mossy oak camo. Sig Sauer has 3 new models of AR rifles out for this year also. One has a 7 inch barrel, another has a 14.5 inch barrel. The 3rd has a 16 inch barrel. The first two obviously aimed at the law enforcement trade.
Weatherby Arms should get the nod this year for some of the most "unusual" rifles, (I didn't say ugly, but......). Winchester continues to release special commemorative lever guns, while the public asks for hunting guns. The latest is commemorating Oliver Winchester's first sexual experience. Uberti is adding the 44 magnum to it's single action model 1873 line up. Not really sure why as I doubt very seriously anyone would use it in cowboy action shooting and with fixed sights it is not the best for a hunting handgun, although rumor has it that an adjustable sighted version is just around the corner.
Those that like the feel and heft of the 1911 but want it in a caliber that is cheaper to shoot should check out the new 1911-22 from Chiappa Arms. made in Ohio it is a true 1911 in size but chambered in 22 LR. It retails for under $300.
H&K is bringing out a true MP-5 in 22 LR. An exact copy of the MP-5 but chambered in 22 caliber. No word yet on price but probably not cheap. Taurus has a new super thin and ultra compact (that's what it says on the box) in 9mm that you can put in your back pocket. It is the 709 Slim. The ad says it can be hidden down the front of your pants or under a T-shirt.
That's it for now. This Gun Notes is a bit late due to our HHC hunt. Hopefully by the next issue I will know more about Marlin's closing or not closing. Til then, take a youngster shooting. They are our future.