Monday, January 30, 2012

A Gun for My Kid(s)

  I’ve been looking for a shotgun for my daughter and son to shoot.  I’ll probably have to buy two.  Reading articles and surfing the web has given me a lot of ides, but no one has recommended the perfect gun for a small kid to learn on.

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Sure they could use the gun Johnny is letting me use, but it’s a beast to shoot if you’re a young gunner.  You also have to learn to safely operate the hammer.  The final drawback is the weight which might help with the kick, but not for long walks in the field.

Johny's Gun.  It was great for us to learn on,
but is it right for my childreb?

Some recommend starting with a .410, but you have to be dead on with this gun.  Johnny has a new one and when we shot trap a few weeks ago, he would hit the targets without breaking them.  We found several targets with a single hole or two holes in the target, but not broken.  For encouragement alone, the gun needs to hit the birds hard enough to make it fall.

Stopping by the gun counters in the big sporting goods stores; I’ve looked at and had Sydnie hold the Remington 11-87 Youth and the Mossberg 500 Super Bantam.  I know several people who learned on the Remington and it’s a gun that will last.  Nothing fancy, just built for young gunners to shoot and shoot.  I haven’t met anyone who has learned on the Mossberg, but the 500 is built cheap and to last as well. Price is a little bit of a concern, and the 11-87 generally costs almost twice as much as the Mossberg.  But with the end of the seasons coming, sales are abundant as the big outdoor retailers start clearing guns off the aisles to make way for fishing.  Still, the Mossberg 500 wins the pricing war.

The Remington Adjustible LOP System

The neat thing about both of these guns is the adjustable stocks.  They both have plates that can be used to change the length of pull in ¼ inch increments.  The Mossberg Length of pull ranges from 12” to 13”.  I can’t find a specification for the Remington, but it must use their standard youth 13” LOP for the max and adjust down to 12” as well.  To compare, the single shot from Johnny has a LOP of 12.5”.  Maybe this adjustable stock system was around when I was young, but I didn’t have that feature.  It sure would have been nice.

Perhaps the largest difference between the two guns is the action.  The Remington 11-87 is a semi, while the Mossberg 500 is a pump.  One big consideration in my selection is recoil, and the gas-operated action of the Remington should reduce recoil considerably.  While the poor boy in me is partial to the pump action in the Mossberg, it’s not going to be my gun.  I’ll say that Remington 11-87 wins here.

The other feature I’m looking for is the weight of the gun.  As they are learning, I don’t want the weight to contribute to fatigue, an unsteady hold, or both.  Spending hours in the field hunting quail can also wear on a youth with a heavy gun.  It’s supposed to be fun for crying out load.  I’d rather not ruin my children for wing shooting by forcing them to tote a heavy gun all day.

The Mossberg 500 Super Bantam,
at 5 1/4 lbs, a Little Lighter

The Remington comes in at 6 ½ lbs.  At 5 ¼ lbs, you would think that the Mossberg definitely wins.  However, one way to reduce recoil is weight, and if the Remington isn’t too heavy, but lowers recoil slightly by the extra 1 ¼ pounds, it may be the best weight.  Then again, I could add weight to the Mossberg magazine and stock to reduce kick.  Round three goes to the Mossberg 500.

With the weight difference, I would assume that the Remington has a longer barrel.  But I’m wrong; the 11-87 has a 21” barrel while the Mossberg barrel starts at 22 inches.  I’m not sure if the barrel length matters too much here for a youth gun, maybe it will help the gun reach a little further, maybe not.  The barrel length may help the gun balance a little better, hopefully we can tell at the counter.

Barrel length is also important for the longevity of the gun.  In really don’t want this purchase to be like their clothes.  That is, I don’t want to have to purchase more and more as they outgrow the latest in a series of guns.  I would rather buy one gun for each.  They can buy more after they get out of my house.  The Mossberg 500 will fit any other 500 barrel.  With the adjustable stock, it should make for a gun that can be used as they grow with just the additional purchase of a longer barrel.  Remington doesn’t include this in their marketing of the 11-87, but I’m guessing that it will do the same. 

The Remington 11-87  With a Little Longer Barrel
Seems to Have Better Reviews
As far as longevity, I’ve read reviews that the 11-87 will shoot thousands of rounds with few problems.  All the reviewers seem to like the 1187.  On the other hand, there are several reviewing the Mossberg 500 who don’t like the look, the ported barrels, or the magazine spring.  However, all of these negative reviews are about aesthetics, not necessarily about how it shoots.  There are a few who say it will shoot thousands, but not enough to give any comfort.  So it’s a big scpre for the Remington 11-87 here.

So far the two guns are about even; with a slight lead by the 11-87 because people claim that it will shoot thousands of rounds without problems.  So what will it take, what’s my decision?  With each being so close, I’m going to let my children decide by the feel, and handling the gun.  While they can’t shoot the guns in the store, they can raise it up, hold it, and mount it.  My guess is that Sydnie will choose the Mossberg because she shoots lefty and the safety is on top.  I’m sure we can order a left hand safety from Remington, but she will not get to try it out.

But we will see.  How about a little help?  Be sure to take the poll to let me know what you think. LOOK TO THE RIGHT FOR THE POLL.

I Sure Hope Sydnie Doesn't Go With the Mossberg in Pink!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Caw Caw to You Too

You know there are no ducks when someone says, “I just like being out here.”  This was the case last weekend when my son and I woke up, layered up, and dragged gear into a small, icing over beaver pond in the hopes of a ducks landing in the decoys.

In the past, my son, 8, has come on these hunts only to complain “I’m ready to go now.”  This time was different.  This time he watched the woods waking up and this time he noticed things.  The hooting of a barred owl marking its territory, the song birds calling to each other as they wake, and the squirrels chattering and running from tree to tree all broke through the still and quiet morning one after another.  Soon, it was the cawing of a murder of crows flying over the swamp.  Dylan just hollers back. “AND A CAW CAW TO YOUR TOO!” I just laughed.

Dylan Watching the Swamp Wake Up

Then he looked at the calls around my neck and asked how to blow them.  I handed him the wood duck whistle and he puffed his checks to produce an awful screech.  A little instruction and it sounded pretty good.

After our toes were starting to numb, we picked up the dekes and headed back to camp; Dylan stopping to jump in a puddle and to laugh at the cawing of a few more crows.  He probably thought we had gone to the pond to hunt ducks, or at least that’s what I thought.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quail Fry

Recently, I tried to search for a quail recipe on the internet that would be simple but tasty.  What I found were long recipes that might require the assistance of sous chef.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these recipes produce master piece meals delightful to the most discriminating palate.  But for me, I just want it simple, easy and tasty enough for my simple taste buds.

So here’s a simple way to prepare quail:

What you’ll need:

A frying pan half full of oil
Quail, skinned, split down the back, and cleaned – two per person

Here is the simple part.  Take the quail, rinse them, sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw them in a bag of flour.  For those of you who have to measure, I guess one cup of flour plus ¼ cup of flour per bird will do.  Johnny claims you have to use a Thompson’s bag to ensure perfection, but any old plastic grocery bag will do.

Heat the oil over medium high heat.  The oil is ready when a drop of water throw in the pan will sizzle and dance on the top.  Now just place the quail in the oil for a few minutes then turn the quail over with a fork and fry for a few minutes more.  You’ll know the time to turn the quail by the color of the flour.  You want it to just start turning golden.  One note is to make sure you don’t overcook the birds.  Drying it out will ruin it.  For those of you who measure the flour, you can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.  It should read 170 to 180 F.

In hunting camp, we like to serve the quail with rice and gravy and beans.  For the gravy, just pour out most of the grease, salt and pepper the grease and then add enough flour to make the grease thicken.  Stir over the heat until the mixture becomes think, adding more flour if needed.

Enjoy, and go ahead and use your hands to eat it like you would fried chicken.

Now that’s simple, quick and easy and because the oil cooks it so fast, the quail don’t dry out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Don't Think, Meat

One of my favorite movies is Bull Durham.  In it Crash Davis tells Nuke “Don’t think, Meat.”  This advice was given to keep the pitcher from thinking too hard on pitching.  Once Nuke cleared his head, he threw strikes.  I don’t know about you, but for me shooting a shot gun is the same.  When I start thinking about how to shoot, I start missing.  When I am surprised by a bird rising or a dove showing up behind me, I just shoot and have more success.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my brother and the rest of my family in North Carolina.  I tried to get him to arrange a duck hunt, but time and scouting just wouldn’t allow it.  We did however visit Deep River Sporting Clays in Sanford and shot a round of clays with my dad and nephew watching.

My Brother and Nephew ready to break some clays

I shot miserably, and started thinking about each shot.  You’d think I’d be better with the nice Browning BPS my brother let me use, but no gun was going to keep me from thinking that day.  The next morning, I noticed a bruise on my arm where I was putting the gun.  I was thinking so hard about lining up the barrel, that I wasn’t even placing the gun on my shoulder.  I wish Crash had just said “Don’t think meat,” let the gun do the work.
Despite my shooting, I had fun.  The best part was that the trapper was super nice and set up some of the clays for my nephew to plink with a bb gun.  He even gave some great advice about shooting, which my brother and nephew used to get better.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teaching to Shoot?

I am not sure that I’m a qualified shooting instructor, but my Daughter is almost 10 and she’s been handling the BB gun with precision.  She has proven to be safe with the BB gun and was encouraged to start learning the shot gun.

This has to be one of the most exciting times; the time of passing on the skills, knowledge, and joy to the next generation.  My father taught me, and my best childhood memories are of hunting and fishing with my dad.  Even if we came home with few, or sometime no birds, it was fun.  Hopefully, I can do the same with my children.

Johnny has a single shot 20 gauge.  With the exchange between families (His father knows my father well), we all learned on this gun.  Johnny’s dad bought it when Johnny was 10, and Johnny learned on it.  Then Johnny’s brother learned on it, then my brother, then me, and then my younger brother.  So the gun has some tradition between the two families.

The problem is that the gun is a beast.  It’s almost as heavy as my gun designed for duck hunting.  It’s also one of those with a hammer, so once the hammer is cocked, it is not safe until you either shoot or un-cock the hammer.  This happens to be hard for small young hands.

But, what the heck?  It was good enough for Johnny’s family and my family, so why wouldn’t it be good enough for my daughter?  A couple of months ago, Johnny brought the gun to camp and let Sydnie take a shot.  With anticipation, Sydnie took the gun and we showed her the stance to use.  “Get your head down, legs apart, one foot forward, hold the gun tight to your shoulder, ……”  She must have been confused by all the instruction we were giving.

Then we asked her to open the gun and insert a shell.  “Now cock it.  OK, I’ll cock it and hand it to you.  Hold it tight to your shoulder, wider stance, put one foot forward, ok, well go ahead and shoot.”  By the second shot she was on target, and we took the gun home for her to practice cocking, un-cocking, and opening the chamber.

Recently, Sydnie carried the gun on a Quail hunt and sat under a tree for squirrels.  No luck with either, but it sure was fun to watch.