I saw it weave left, slip right, then disappear through the auburn treetops. It’s not often you get such a clear look at an escaping grouse during the early weeks of the season, but there I was, frozen as the bird slipped through the prettiest shooting lane I’d see on the entire trip. I never pulled the trigger.
My excuse was that I didn’t want to shoot a bird that hadn’t been pointed by the dog. The embarrassing reality is that I’d been caught off guard. It was my first grouse hunt, and I wasn’t prepared for the surprise of the flush. That was a tough lesson, but it wasn’t the only one I learned during that trip to the hallowed grouse and woodcock coverts of Wisconsin’s north country. Here are some more hits and misses that, if you’ll consider before you reach the woods, should help you bag more early-season birds.
Seaduck decoys have come a long ways in the last few years, and these new dekes from Avery are the latest evolution. The Greenhead Gear decoys are foam-filled, which means they should be able to eat some steel and keep floating. As seaduck hunters know, their hunting gear is going to take a beating. This is especially true for decoys that draw in low flying birds that often take more than one shell to kill. So, give these dekes a shot the next time you head out for seaducks.
Introducing a sub-gauge shotgun seemed to be a theme among firearm makers at SHOT Show this year. And, this new Weatherby was one of our favorites. The SA-08 28-gauge Deluxe only weighs 5.5 pounds and handles beautifully. Don't think a 28-gauge has enough killing power? Let this new semiautomatic prove you wrong … it will retail for about $850.
The original Versa Max is a great waterfowl gun, but this year Remington is looking to make it even better. Borrowing some features from the tactical version of the Versa Max, Remington added an extended bolt handle, an oversized bolt release, and an extra-large safety for easier operation with heavy gloves.
Add these features to a shotgun that already does a good job of cutting down on felt recoil and has an adjustable stock for different shooting conditions, and you've got a duck and goose gun that's tough to beat in adverse weather.
The new Winchester Rooster XR uses the same technology as the Long Beard load announced late last year. Here's how it works: the resin fills in the gaps between the pellets. When the shell ignites, the resin fractures. This process creates a tighter shooting shotshell and more pellets on target, according to Winchester.
1. Losing Focus To be a successful shotgunner, you must stay focused on the bird throughout the shot. If your eyes bounce from the bead to the target, you’ll interrupt the swing of the gun and miss. Keep your eyes on the target to keep the gun moving.
The guys over at Winchester sent us this slow motion video of their new Long Beard XR turkey load. The load features a resin called Shot-Lok that fills in the gaps between the pellets and binds them in the wad. Immediately after the shell ignites, the resin fractures and turns to powder. This process creates a tighter shooting shotshell and more pellets on target, according to Winchester.
The turkey load has seen its share of evolutions in the last few years with the introduction of heavier metals and specialized wads designed to cut patterns tighter than Oprah’s pants. Those improvements -- plus the popularization of extra-full chokes and optics -- have pushed the effective range of the most competent turkey hunters out to 50-yard territory.
Winchester is looking to nudge that distance even further with its new Long Beard XR shotshell. The shell is unremarkable in everyway – copper-plated lead pellets, standard wad, and standard brass – except for one feature: a paste-like resin the company calls Shot-Lok. The resin fills in the gaps between the pellets and binds them in the wad. Immediately after the shell ignites, the resin fractures and turns to powder. This process creates a tighter shooting shotshell and more pellets on target, according to Winchester. The company officially announced the load today and it will start showing up on shelves in November or December.
Tis the season for spending time on your rear end —- hunting out of a layout blind, that is. These hides offer the ultimate in comfort and concealment for hunting open crop fields, where traditional blinds can’t be used. Across the grain belt in particular, where field hunting is most common, layout blinds are tremendously popular.
Shooting well from a layout blind can be tricky. Range of motion is somewhat limited by the near-horizontal sitting position, and safety must be taken seriously as hunters rise simultaneously from their hides.