Hunting Prep

Gettin’ Ready For Shotgun Season

STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE

Like many of you, I am much better at just doing stuff than getting ready for it. I guess it’s all about being prepared, and I was never the sharpest Boy Scout in the troop, or something like that.

But some things are too important to not prepare for. Depending on what and where you hunt with your scattergun, your season is either coming up fast, or is already here. September is often the last call for getting shotguns and other paraphernalia ready, so let’s talk about what you need to do to get out there and sling some lead or steel.

First, pull those scatterguns out of the gun safe and look ’em over. I’m sure that you would never put a shotgun away at the end of the season without a thorough cleaning, but if somehow this did happen, now is the time to rectify it.

Open the action and make sure everything seems to function properly – action, trigger, safety, etc. If there are any problems, you may (yes, I wrote “may”) have time to get it to your gunsmith for repair. But if there are any questions with functioning or the safety, do not take
the shotgun to the field.

Most of the time, the only prep our guns need is some old-fashioned cleaning. Pump guns and semiautos need a little more TLC when it comes to this, but don’t neglect the actions on your side-by-side and over-and-under shotguns just because they’re easier to clean. It is, however, easy to be intimidated when it comes taking pump and semiauto guns apart, so if you feel as if you are getting in over your head, don’t do it.

Not that long ago, I needed to disassemble a Browning BPS, and when it came to taking the bolt assembly apart I was unsure about getting it back together. Fortunately, there are multiple internet videos about putting this gun – and many others – back together.

While you are making sure that your guns are ready to roll, here are a few items that will help improve your experience in the field.

ONE GUN PROTECTION PRODUCT I’ve recently come to use is Hopper Spit by Birchwood Casey. The name is derived from – and I am not making this up – the product’s dark brownish-green color. If you caught grasshoppers for fish bait as a kid (as I did), you know what color their spit is.

Hopper Spit from Birchwood Casey is a fine gun protection product

Hopper Spit from Birchwood Casey is a fine gun protection product

Hopper Spit is an extreme rust and corrosion preventative for the metal on firearms. It will protect ferrous and nonferrous metals, and withstand the harshest conditions, including salt spray. This is a good protective spray for long-term storage of your guns (so you’ll be all ready for next season), or before a hard day in the field or the range. The suggested retail price is under $15, so you really can’t afford to not test it out.

For more, see birchwoodcasey.com.

ANOTHER TYPE OF protection that we often neglect in the field is for our hearing. For some reason, we wear it religiously when we go to the trap, skeet or sporting clay range, but we think that banging away in the dove field all day is somehow different. Some of us (like me) have already experienced some hearing loss from years of unprotected shooting, but it’s never too soon, or too late, to protect the hearing you have left.

Any hearing protection, including the simple “jam it in your ear” soft foam type, is better than nothing, but I think the in-ear electronic models work best. They effectively reduce shotgun blast noise while letting us hear what is going around us, and this increased awareness can be very important while on the range or in the field.

Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs provide excellent hearing protection on the range or afield.

Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs provide excellent hearing protection on the range or afield.

Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs are an excellent option for this need. GSP 15 electronic earplugs allow natural hearing when no background noise is present, and gradually protect from loud continuous noise from vehicles, machinery or gunfire from nearby shooters. At the flip of a switch, sound is amplified, improving distance detection up to five times for enhanced awareness.

I’ve used the GunSport 15 model ear plugs in the field and in a shotgun class at Gunsite Academy, and found them to be comfortable, effective and easy to use. The suggested retail for these ear plugs is $299.00, but if you do much shooting (or go to NASCAR races, etc.), they are worth every penny.

For more, go to etymotic.com.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING as too much ammo. Can I get an “amen?” We shotgunners tend to go through a lot of ammunition, and that is a good thing. No matter how many shotgun shells you may have stored at your ranch, you are probably always in the market for more. I know I am.

Before you head off to the dove field for your first hunting expedition, you should put in at least a couple sessions shooting trap, skeet or sporting clays – anything to get you out there shooting.

Browning BPT Shotgun ammo with a CZ-USA All American Trap Combo Shotgun.

Browning BPT Shotgun ammo with a CZ-USA All American Trap Combo Shotgun.

Maybe you’ve heard that Browning has entered the ammunition world, and here are a couple offerings for you to consider.

For the range, Browning offers Browning Performance Target (BPT) Shotshells. A combination of hard shot and a smooth hull make this an excellent choice. Most of you know that round shot will fly truer and hold a better pattern, and the harder or denser the shot, the more it holds its shape and doesn’t become deformed during flight. Harder shot also breaks targets better.

Before you hit the fields, woods or marshes, tune up your aim with some clay targets.

Before you hit the fields, woods or marshes, tune up your aim with some clay targets.

Browning wanted to come in somewhere in the middle on the price point on this ammo, and accomplished this on their BPT line with a brass-plated steel shell head. The brass plating allows for smooth feeding, but the steel head makes it difficult to reload, so Browning does not recommend it. MSRP for a box of 25 is $9.99, but you may see them on shelves anywhere from $7.99 up.

Browning has also introduced the BXD line of hunting shotshells. Along with nickel-plated shot for tighter downrange patterns, the main feature of these shells is speed. The 12-gauge 2¾-inch shell with a 13/8-ounce shot load delivers a muzzle velocity of 1,485 feet per second, and that, my friends, is a screamer. This type of speed should allow for less lead when drawing on that rooster pheasant that flushed a bit too far out.

For more, see browningammo.com.

Browning’s new BXD line of hunting shotshells feature nickel-plated shot.

Browning’s new BXD line of hunting shotshells feature nickel-plated shot.

THIS ONLY SCRATCHES the surface of all the things you need to attend to before you hit the woods or the dove field, but the editors would not give me the 20 pages I asked for to cover this topic adequately. Go figure.

As always, my advice to you is to just go. There will never be a perfect or even a good time to do it. Go to the range, go to where the doves are flying, or go see if the teal are in yet. No matter what you want to go after, just go! ASJ

September means that it’s time to bring your scatterguns out of the safe and into the field. Here are a few of the author’s favorites, including (left to right) his Remington 870 Wingmaster, Browning Superposed, Winchester Model 12, Browning A-5, Browning Model 32, and Remington Model 31.

September means that it’s time to bring your scatterguns out of the safe and into the field. Here are a few of the author’s favorites, including (left to right) his Remington 870 Wingmaster, Browning Superposed, Winchester Model 12, Browning A-5, Browning Model 32, and Remington Model 31.

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September 16th, 2016 by