Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yes, But Can You Hit A Charging Bear?

So in my last post you saw that I decided to select a revolver as my chosen bear protection while traveling, hiking, and fishing in Alaska.  Again, I'm not out to harm a bear as I will be salmon fishing and this is only a last resort for self defense.  If you saw my last post and video, you probably noticed that I shot OK, but I really tore up my hand due to the recoil of the gun.  Well this time I was prepared.

I am armed with reinforced shooting gloves and better hearing protection.  I actually look like I know what I am doing at the range!  So after researching all week on the proper grip and aiming method for a large caliber handgun, I am ready to sight this thing in.

I start at the closest range of 10 yards and fire 3 shots.  I read that it is really important to completely focus your eyes on the front sight and let everything else go out of focus.  This sounds easy, but I naturally want to focus on the target instead.  Well, as you would expect, the experts are correct.  This really improved my shooting.  My first two rounds are nearly touching each other, but they are several inches to the right.  I adjust my rear sight to the left several clicks and presto!  I am hitting the bulls eye *(note the two shots in the bulls eye below)!  Now it is time to move a little further back.  The husband and wife that are shooting next to me are relieved I am moving.  The wife was not happy shooting next to the guy with the 44 Mag (just to loud!).

After the range is open for reposting targets, I move down to the 20 yard range.  I staple up my targets and go back to the line.  I focus on the front sight and try not to flinch as I anticipate the BOOM.  My first six are good!  It isn't Olympic level marksmanship, but I am satisfied for my current level of shooting (I hope to get better).  No further adjustment needed.  I got out my 22 pistol and plinked a little and shot the 44 Mag a little more, but I was getting hot and tired so I called it a day.

So I may have adequate bear protection by carrying my revolver, but the real question is, can I now hit a charging bear if needed?.  I really hope I don't get a chance to find out, but if I need to, I believe I can.  Instead, I hope my stories after the Alaska trip include only tales of big salmon and pictures of bears from a safe distance!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Can of Bear Spray Just Won't Do

So I am continuing to prepare for my Alaska fishing trip and most recently I have been wrestling with the question of bear protection.   It is common knowledge that Alaska Brown Bears frequent the same areas that Salmon fisherman do since they are all after the same thing, spawning salmon.  I have been utilizing Alaska fishing forums on-line to do my research and without a doubt, all the experienced  people say that you are foolish not to be prepared for bears.  There are two common options for bear protection.  Bear spray (mace for bears) or a firearm.  In my research, many recommended the bear spray for those new to Alaska, but when pressed what they themselves use, almost everyone is packing heat.  Now I don't mean that the streams of Alaska are littered with the bodies of chewed up fisherman and dead bears, but to enter into a situation where you will be in close proximity  to feeding bears without, first, knowledge about what to do and, second, protection if that bear awareness doesn't work is crazy.  I also don't want anyone to think that I am trying to harm a bear.  On the contrary, I look forward to seeing them and hope to take pictures of the majestic creatures (from a safe distance) without disturbing them.  

I researched diligently about what and what not to do in bear country and the effectiveness of bears spray and guns as a deterrent against bears.  I weighed my options and made a decision.   I decided that I will make every effort to not put myself in a dangerous position by keeping a clean camp, making noise while traveling in the woods and being very aware of my surroundings while fishing.  I also decided if all that goes wrong and I have an 800 pound brown bear charging me, I do not want to trust my life to a can of spray.

Now that I decided I want to bring a firearm, the next decision is what kind.  Resident Alaskans tend to use a 12 gauge shot gun and although I considered this, it would mean that I would need to modify my Remington 870 with a pistol grip, sling and 18 inch barrel and I would need to check an additional bag (my third bag) which would cost me $150 to check each way.  Dang, I could buy something cool with $300!  So I decided that I would buy a pistol.  I have always wanted a 45 caliber 1911 model pistol, but when I asked on the Alaska forums, they told me that this was not nearly enough gun for a bear.  The appropriate calibers were 44 Mag, 454 Casull, and 500 S&W.

Next I did my research of these calibers and I found that they all came in revolvers and were not cheap.  I like my guns to be aesthetically pleasing and most of the double action revolvers that I saw were, well, they were just ugly.  Make that ugly and expensive.  Then I happened upon the Ruger Super Blackhawks.  Although they are single action, these revolvers are, in my opinion, beautiful.  Clean lines, and a design that looks like something Wyatt Erpe might have carried.  I have found my gun.

I purchased a 44 Magnum at Cabelas, but had to wait a week before I could get to the range.  I knew it would have a kick, but I was sure I could handle it.  I drove out to my local gun range and approached the pistol range with apprehension.  I was taken back by the sheer power and noise from the handguns being fired to my right and left.  I only had ear plugs and everyone around me had external ear muffs (note to self, get ear muffs).  After a few minutes, the range officer called for the firing line to stop to allow for people to set up targets.  I stapled up my silhouette target, not because I want to practice shooting a bad guy, but because it is so large, I may be able to tell where I am shooting.

I make my way back to the firing line, load up and shoot.  The kick of the gun is immense, but it is very accurate.  I hit a bit to the right, but my elevation was perfect.  Soon I was placing most of my shots in the 10 ring. After I had fired all six rounds, I put the gun down and noticed my hand begin to sting.  The recoil of the revolver had driven the area where the gun meets the handle deep into the web of my fingers between my thumb and index finger and caused a blister.  On the other hand I had a blood blister where the handle had thumped the palm of my hand (note to self: get shooting gloves).  I continued to shoot about 40 rounds and was happy with the accuracy of the gun, but I really tore up my hands.

After I left, I went directly to Cabelas to pick up better hearing protection and shooting gloves.  I may be slow, but I am not stupid.  For now I will let my hands heal, but I think I will go back to the range tomorrow to see if I can't improve my accuracy, but even if I didn't improve, I am already good enough to hit a bear if need be.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cryogenically Frozen Quail from 2009

I just finished signing up for my 2011 dove lease and I thought, "hey, I should grill the last of my dove!"  Well I dove into my freezer and dug up the last two unidentified ice bergs that I was confident contained last season's dove.  I placed them in a large pot of water and began the thawing process.  As the ice melted away, I was surprised to find five nice quail in my pot.  Huh, I think these are from 2009.  Wow they are old!  I hesitated for a moment, but I was committed to exert my God given right as an American to grill on the fourth of July weekend.  I began the process of preparing grilled bacon wrapped quail (see ingredients and directions below).  At the completion of the grilling process, I tentatively took my first bite and was pleasantly surprised with an awesome result!  WOW, these are super spicy, bacon wrapped quail and they taste like I shot them this afternoon!  God Bless America!

5 whole quail (or whatever you have)
5 pieces of bacon (maple is best)
1 bottle of Cajun seasoning
15 slices of jalapeno peppers (Olive Mountain)
5 toothpicks

Directions: After defrosting quail, soak them in saltwater for 1-2 hours then place them on a plate and sprinkle the cajun seasoning liberally.  Then place 3 jalapeno pepper slices on each breast and wrap each bird with a single slice of bacon (use a toothpick to keep the bacon in place once it is wrapped).  Pre-heat grill and place on a low indirect heat for 10 minutes (breast side down first) and then turn for another 10 minutes.   Remove and cool before eating.

They Taste Better Than They Look!