Death to All Records?

Q | Withcatch-and-release so prevalent these days, I'm surprised that you must kill afish for it to qualify for any kind of record. What is the reasoning behindthis policy? --Ray Cummings, Philadelphia, PA

A | Each statehas its own litany of rules regarding records. But what you say is not entirelytrue of the two big national record-keeping organizations. The Fresh WaterFishing Hall of Fame ( has a catch-and-release categorythat's largely an honor system. It recognizes records based on length alone.Fish must be released at the catch site, and no weighing is allowed.

The InternationalGame Fish Association ( requires all weighing to be done on land.However, nothing states that the fish cannot later be released. Bob Crupi's22-pound largemouth (the second largest on record) is an example of a fish thatwas properly weighed, cared for and later released. Capt. Ralph Delph, out ofKey West, has boats equipped with live tanks that can keep 300-pound sharksalive for weighing on land, followed by release. More and more saltwateranglers with good livewells have begun making the run to shore to weigh largerfish. Afterward, they release them at sea.

Another keyfactor in establishing the authenticity of records is length-girthmeasurements, something that was neglected by Californian Mac Weakley, who inMarch weighed (on the water using non-certified scales) and released alargemouth bass that might have broken the world record. --Jerry Gibbs, Fishing Editor


Q | I've beenpheasant hunting just long enough to know two things: I love it above all otherhunting, and I need a dog. But I don't know what kind of dog I should get.Should I be looking for a flushing breed or a pointer? What is the perfectbreed for pheasants? --Jacob Haines, Pierre, SD

A | Close-workingpointing Labs and English setters of Llewellin or grouse-hunting stock can makeexcellent pheasant finders, as can German shorthairs of foot-hunting lines, butsteer clear of pointing dogs descended from big-running field-trial stock. Labsand most of the various spaniels can make passable to good pheasant flushers.But no breed is more perfectly suited to pheasant hunting, and has fewer quirksconcerning selection, than the English springer spaniel. This is partly becausethe field trials for this breed are so much like real hunting that trial stockcan make great foot-hunting dogs. However, be sure to avoid the long-hairedspringer spaniels bred from show stock.

The success ofthese dogs in the field greatly depends on how you train them, too. If youtrain them in shorter, trial-type casts, they'll be fast and hard-driving. Ifthey're taught that they will hunt all day, they'll pace themselves.

For a world ofinformation about field-type English springer spaniels and available puppies,visit --Larry Mueller, Hunting Dogs Editor


Q | My unclecollects shotshell boxes dating back to the 1920s and has over 300 of these oldboxes in his collection. Almost all of the boxes have a marking that reads"Dr.Eq. 2¾" (or some other number), which my uncle says represents thepower of the shotshell. Do these old shotshell boxes have any value tocollectors, and can you explain what the Dr.Eq. numbers mean in terms ofpower? --David Strickler, Bluefield, WV

A | Your uncle iscorrect that the Dr.Eq. markings on those old shotshell boxes are an indicationof the power of the shells originally contained therein. Dr.Eq., sometimesrepresented as "Drm.Eqv.," or in other similar ways, is an abbreviationfor "dram equivalent." This figure represents the relative velocity ofthe shotshell (loaded with smokeless propellant, which cannot be measured indrams) equivalent to the velocity achieved from a charge of black powder ofthat weight in drams. For instance, a 12-gauge, 2¾ inch, 1 1/8-ounce loadtraveling 1,200 feet per second is a 3 dram equivalent load.

Over a centuryago, when ammunition was loaded with what we now call black powder, the"power" of a shotshell was quickly recognized simply by the amount ofblack powder, in drams, that the shell contained. With the arrival of smokelesspowder, this method of expressing shotshell power became obsolete. A three-dramload of smokeless powder could blow a shotgun to smithereens, as more than afew shotshell handloaders discovered to their acute dissatisfaction.

Reluctant toabandon a method of expressing the relative power of their shotshells,manufacturers devised the Dram Equivalent system. This system, as its nameimplies, tells the consumer that his shotshells are loaded with smokelesspowder to a power/velocity level equivalent to a certain--though not alwaysspecific--weight of black powder. Like many traditions in the shooting industry,the old Dram Equivalent system has long outlived its usefulness but vestiges ofit still linger. --Jim Carmichel, Shooting Editor


Q | I've justbooked a backpack hunt for Dall sheep this fall. What caliber and rifle do yourecommend? --Claude Knoll, Atlanta, GA

A | Any of theflat-shooting calibers from .270 Win. up through .300 Win. Mag. are ideal forsheep hunting, where shots may be at extreme range. Since conditions are manytimes windier than the norm, bullet weights that are heavy for caliber willhelp minimize wind drift.

Since your huntwill be on foot, weight is clearly a factor. For the ultimate in lightweightrifles, take a look at the Ultimate Mountain Rifle from New Ultra Light Arms(304-292-0600; These guns are available for all .308-classcartridges and finished rifles weigh in at just 5 pounds. While they're notinexpensive, these custom guns have an excellent reputation for accuracy. --Todd W. Smith, Editor-In-Chief

Arrow Speed

Q | I've heardconflicting theories about an arrow's kinetic energy. Some folks say to go withthe heaviest shaft for good kinetic energy; others say shoot as light an arrowas you can get away with to get super-fast arrow speeds. Who's right? --H. Young, via e-mail

A | Kineticenergy is simply the amount of momentum an arrow has as it flies. It's the"oomph" that's delivered to the target. Heavier arrows have more energy(and mass) when they strike. This helps drive the shaft through the target.Lighter arrows have less kinetic energy but are faster and flatter when flying.I personally like heavier arrows. You give up a little in speed, but you gaingreater knockdown power. A pass-through shot is far more often lethal than anarrow that stays in the target. --Todd Kuhn, Bowhunting Expert

How Does ItWork?


Ever wonder howthe fiber-optic sight on your gun or bow continues to glow without some sort ofpower source?

Optical fibersare essentially thin strands of ultra-pure glass that are used to transmitdigital information as well as, of course, light. Each fiber is about as thinas a human hair. Bundled together, they become the optical cable we know as ourpin and barrel sights.

If you were tolook at a single fiber, you'd see that it's made up of three components. Thecore is the innermost part, through which the light travels. Around the core isthe cladding, a mirrorlike material that reflects light back into the core. Thecladding is surrounded by a plastic buffer coating that protects the fiber.

A fiber-optichunting sight maintains its brightness by absorbing any ambient light that itcan into the core and transmitting it through the cable by constantly bouncingit off the reflective cladding. This process is known as total internalreflection.

Red sights workbest in the middle of the day, when the ambient light is at its greatestintensity. Green and yellow work best in low-light situations, such as at dawnand dusk.


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Expert Tip of the Month

Not enough room in your pack for a pillow? Tired ofsleeping with your head on the ground? Fill a zip-top freezer bag with air anduse it as a head rest.