Deer, Dave and brother-in-law (Part 2)

While my last story about deer hunting with Dave and his Dad was memorable because of the excitement from my inexperience and lessons learned, this next one is just as unforgettable. Actually if truth be known, I think it may be number two of on my list of all time favourite hunts.

It was 2010 and work had brought me back to my home province of Saskatchewan and pretty close to Saskatoon where my sister and brother-in-law lived. My sister Angela and I had fought and tormented each other like ferrel cats invading one another’s turf when we were younger but had grown to be much closer after we moved away from the family farm. She married a wonderful man, Adam, who grew up not far from where we did and was in the same class as Angela. As much as I pretended to be the protective mean big brother I liked Adam from the start. He was smart, goofy and very good to Angela which was all I cared about.

Adam also happened to be into hunting as much as our family was. We spent lots of afternoons walking through pastures shooting gophers and went on several goose hunts together. Some of those goose hunts were the coldest and most fruitless expeditions I’d ever been on while others were some of the most incredibly funny. Actually, If you don’t mind a quick segue before getting back to my deer story I’d like to give you an idea how fun hunting with Adam can be.

On one of our migratory bird hunts we showed Adam how to quickly and efficiently wring the neck of wounded goose. Basically the technique is to hold the head, swing the body in circle quickly while keeping the head stationary which severs the spinal cord resulting in a quick death. Generally one or possibly two spins is all thats required. Adam felt confident after his instruction and decided on the next wounded bird he’d give it a try and It didn’t take long until he got his chance.We all watched in abject amusement as he chased the downed bird, grabbed it by its head and spun it once, twice…three times. We started giving each other funny looks as he kept spinning it when all of a sudden the body detached from just below where he was holding it and it went sailing through the air as if alive once again. Adam stood, as we all did, watching the goose arc into the sky and then slam unceremoniously into the ground several feet away. I’ll never forget watching Adam slowly turn towards us with a sheepish, bemused look on his face and then break out into his big smile while shrugging his shoulders impishly and trudging off to get the other half of his goose. We all died laughing at his first attempt and from then on any time one of us had to wring the neck of the bird we would remind each other not use what was forever immortalized that day as “The Hammerlindl Twist.”

Now, back to the story.

So that November, since I happened to be living nearby, Adam and I decided we would go out for deer together. Adam had never been deer hunting before and I was happy to have his company and help him in whatever way I could. I was excited because it had been a long time since I had bagged a deer and I was really looking forward to getting one. We met early at his place and headed south towards Dundurn, Sk where we would start our search.

It was an unseasonably cold day for mid November, even by Saskatchewan standards. The temperature was right around minus thirty-two Celsius with a wind chill factor bringing it closer to minus forty. At that temperature neither of us was really up for walking or being outside for any prolonged period despite being dressed for it so we mostly drove around hoping to catch a glimpse of deer or deer sign. When we did we would get out of the truck and still hunt an area if it looked promising.

Each time we got out the truck we would come back with bright red cheeks and eyebrows and scarves stiff and covered with frost, thankfully the truck had a good heater and unthawed quickly each time.

After several hours of exploring the area and making a few hasty retreats from areas where there were hunters that were more concerned about the number of shots they got off than where they aimed, we decided it was time for lunch. We had agreed before going out that we wouldn’t pack a lunch but instead would roll into whatever town we were nearby and find a place to eat. In this case the town was Hanley and we pulled up to the front of the Hanley Hotel.

For those not familiar with rural Saskatchewan (or any prairie town for that matter) you’re almost always guaranteed to find a great little mom and pop hotel/restaurant/bar/convenience store combo or a Chinese restaurant in every town. The latter of the two will also serve not just Chinese food but a huge variety of items , from pierogi’s to lemon chicken and everything in between. Trust me it will be delicious.

When we walked in the Hanley Hotel it was a real beauty and encompassed everything a small town bar/restaurant should be. Brown carpeted floors, old beer advertisements and bottles on the wall and above the bar, round wood veneer topped tables with pleather upholstered chairs tucked under them, a pool table off to one side, a mangy looking dart board and to top it off a well worn juke box. It was incredibly homey, inviting, warm, and, well staffed with prompt polite service which was exactly what Adam and I were hoping for. We pulled up a table and ordered two beers and two rye and gingers to go with our loaded burgers and fries with gravy on the side. It was delicious, restorative and a blast to just visit and strategize what we would do after lunch to get our deer. A few tables over was another hunting duo, they told us they had seen some deer to the east of Hanley and we decided to head out that way after we finished up.

Back in the truck after lunch we were heading East towards the area where the gentleman in the bar had given us the tip when we saw two whitetail does bound out of the ditch in front of us and cross into a pasture just to our right. I was driving and sped off down the road to see if I couldn’t get us in front of them somewhere on the next grid road and hopefully surprise them. Adam kept watch as I drove and told me that he had lost them in a grove of trees not to far into the pasture. Stopping well short of the trees I let Adam out and told him to head out towards the deer while I would go to the far side and head towards him hopefully pushing the deer out on one side or the other for us to get a chance.

Adam stepped off while I drove another kilometre down the road and pulled into the approach of the adjacent pasture. I got out and crossed the fence into the pasture and started making my way to the poplar stand. The snow in the pasture was surprisingly high and I had to really lift my legs every step I took. About two-hundred metres in and really working up a sweat I noticed some movement on my left. When I looked over I was surprised to see about 5 fully grown bulls come snorting and bellowing up out some dead ground that had been masked by the uniformity of the snow. Caring less about the deer now and more about my own hide I turned around and made my way back towards the fence with a renewed sense of energy.

When I got to the fence the bulls had closed the gap considerably and were only a football field length away from me by the time I climbed it. As I sat puffing out big clouds of steam from my heavy breathing I heard a not so distant gun shot in the direction I had left Adam. “Good for him!” I said out loud and then cocked my head like a curious dog when I heard another rifle report. Must have wounded it and needed to finish it off I remember thinking. Either way it was time to go and see what had happened so I drove back and into the pasture I had let him off at.

I saw Adam standing by his deer and I stopped the truck a little ways from him and got out to congratulate him. “Nice deer Adam, well done!” I said. Adam looked at me and replied straight faced, “Thanks but we’ve got a problem!”

I felt a big pit open up in my stomach. Oh god, I thought, he ran into a bull as well and had to shoot it. I started looking around to see if I could spot it. “What’s the problem?” I asked.

Adam grinned that sheepish grin and said, “I shot your deer too!”

I didn’t know what to say. I think I stood there for a minute confused by his comment then started to laugh, it was such a perfect tongue in cheek comment I couldn’t be upset. It was also somehow so perfectly like Adam.

As it turned out Adam saw one of the two does near the trees and took his shot dropping it. What he didn’t know was that the second one was lying down where the first dropped and when it stood up Adam thought it was the deer he shot and fired again to put it down. So the guy who had never been deer hunting dropped two on his first hunt.

The does were a very nice pair, probably two or three years old. I field dressed them in the poplar grove taking time to show Adam how to do it but not spending much time on it because it was so damn cold my hands felt like they were being stabbed by a thousand needles. When I finished we loaded up the truck and headed into town to drop them off at Boryski’s Butcher Block which is on Millar Ave in Saskatoon. They did an excellent job processing our deer and made us some of the best venison jerky I’ve ever had.

*I checked online today and they still offer processing of wild game. If you’re looking for quality I highly recommend them.

I think, on the drive back to Adam’s place, I promised him that if we ever went deer hunting together again I was going to try my damnedest to drop his deer as well as mine. Unfortunately that opportunity hasn’t presented itself as I ended up moving away for work the following year and haven’t been home for a deer hunt since. I’m sure someday I’ll get my revenge but for now I’ll have to settle for the fact it was a great bonding experience and a terrific hunt that filled both our freezers and has made for a great story and many cherished memories.

All the best,

John

Deer, Dave and a brother-in-law (Part 1)

I had hoped that I was going to be able to get out for one last migratory bird hunt this fall but it seems like Mother Nature had other plans.

This past weekend we had our first pretty substantial snow in the southern part of the province. Along with the snow, temperatures also dipped well below seasonal averages and as a result the majority of the water in the area froze up. Most, if not all of the birds, pushed further south towards their winter nesting grounds. While this was disappointing in one sense it made me very excited in another.

The first big snow of the year along with the colder temperatures, gets me very excited for the opening of deer season. Now, I’ll admit that I have way more experience and passion for bird hunting than deer, but my outings for have always been very memorable and fulfilling in different ways. I’m not entirely sure I can put my finger why; I suppose part of it is because it’s a mammal, it’s a significantly larger game animal and last and most importantly I’m generally hunting with someone else. Out of the seven or eight years I’ve managed to schedule time to go hunting for deer I can think of only two instances where I was by myself and both those times something was missing from my enjoyment of it.

Two hunts in particular stand out in my mind when it gets to be this time of year and the weather turns. It makes me nostalgic for home and I relish being able relive them in my mind. I’d like to take the time to share them with you but I’m going to do it in two parts so the stories aren’t as long and I can give each one the time and detail they deserve.

The first was my very first time out deer hunting and it was with one of my best friends, Dave. I’ll never forget it because never since that hunt have I ever learned so many lessons and had so much fun by doing things the wrong way.

Dave and I grew up together but we lived about thirty minutes apart, which in our area of West Central Saskatchewan was practically next door. Our friendship started as toddlers but our hunting partnership began much later, finding and shooting mice with pellet guns and graduating as we aged to gophers, pigeons, partridge, sharp tail grouse and eventually coyotes and deer.

One year Dave and his dad asked if I wanted to go with them for white-tail down by the South Saskatchewan river to which I heartily agreed. We drove down to a piece of crown land somewhere between the towns of Fox Valley and Leader and started looking for deer. I vividly remember Dave’s dad, Bill, pulling up just short of a big stand of trees and getting us out of the truck to explain the plan of attack. He would walk down the middle while Dave walked the North side and I walked the South. With any luck he would scare a few deer out one side of the trees or the other and we could take the shot. This sounded like a great idea to me so I loaded the magazine into my old Long Branch Lee Enfield Mk 4, chambered a round and set off as instructed.

It was a cold but sunny day and the walk was distracting because the bare birch and poplar trees were a stunning feature against the backdrop of the rolling yellow grass covered hills around us. I remember thinking how unfortunate it was that I had to look into the sun when all of a sudden the woods erupted in front of me with scads of deer. They were everywhere and bounding incredibly close, easily within one-hundred yards. I brought the big rifle to my shoulder and hoped that one of the deer would stop running and thankfully one did, a doe and broadside no less, but it was here’s where my hard earned lessons began.

There is no doubt I had buck fever (even though it was a doe) and I aimed quickly and jerked the trigger sending the bullet not to my intended target of just behind the front left shoulder but just slightly behind it’s last rib and into it’s guts. The deer dropped, got up and then ran off , stupidly I took off after it instead of letting it go a ways and bleed out but in those days I was dumb and could run like the wind and maintain it so I wasn’t going to let the deer get away.

I chased the damn things for kilometres, over hill and dale leaving Bill and Dave well behind with only my close minded doggedness to run this animal down as company. Every time it would stop I would shoot hoping to hit it and end the chase, but the distances were too great and my adrenaline had me shaking so bad I couldn’t have hit a barn if I was standing inside it.

Eventually I ran the deer down but it was a long drawn out affair which left me sweaty, tired but victorious all the same. I remember standing beside it on the side of a small knoll and feeling the fog of obsession and focus lift from my eyes to reveal a barren and unfamiliar landscape. It dawned on me that I had no clue where I had ran, where Bill, Dave, and the truck were and that sunset was only about an hour away. Not knowing what else to do I set to cleaning my deer.

Having never field dressed a deer before I was going off the knowledge I’d gleaned from books and remembered from my hunter safety course. Of course all the examples in the books showed someone hanging the deer from a tree or a hoist but I had none of those so I turned the deer so at least I had a bit of help from gravity with the slope of the hill.

I started to open up the deer like I had been told, taking great care not wanting to puncture the guts and contaminate the carcass with the bowel contents. What I didn’t comprehend was that because of my shot placement what awaited me inside was a horrible mess that no special care knife handling was going to prevent. The smell was horrible, I gagged a little and in doing so lost control of the body which then tipped towards me. Unfortunately I was positioned on the downhill side so the entire contents of the deer spilled out onto me. Now that the deer was field dressed I was tired, cold from sweat and stunk to high heaven. With nothing left to do I sat down and looked for the truck lights I hoped would come soon.

It wasn’t a long wait, maybe thirty minutes, before I saw the truck trundling over the hills towards me. Dave and Bill greeted me, relieved to have found me and helped me load the paltry little doe into the back of the truck. It turned out that no one else had got a deer and with the light failing we headed for home I felt pretty sheepish that mine was such a hassle. It wasn’t long before I felt even more sheepish as the stench from my coveralls and pants was to much to handle in the tight confines of the hut truck cab and I had to strip to my underwear and put everything in the back along with the deer.

When we got back to their farm Dave and Bill helped me move the deer, which was now a stiff from all the lactic acid buildup and sub zero temperatures, into the back of my truck to take home. When I got back Mom and Dad came outside to see the great hunter and his kill and congratulate me but what remember most was thinking to myself incredulously how something so small ended up being so much work.

Reading it all now it sounds like quite the unpleasant ordeal, but really it was a tonne of fun and a great adventure that I remember most fondly. I was so glad to have been able to share it with Dave and Bill it wouldn’t have been the same experience without them. Not surprisingly, Bill never went deer hunting with us again but Dave and I did have a few more adventures deer hunting together before we went our separate ways after high school. None of the following hunts matched the lessons or sheer excitement of that first one, but that’s probably a good thing.

Maybe our boys will get the same opportunities we did, I hope so.

Us – 1982

Our boys – 2017

This land is your land

Last Friday Owen and I went out for a really nice morning drive to see what there was for geese in the area. The days leading up to our trip had been getting colder and colder and I had begun to notice that there were far fewer birds passing over the house. Having really only gone out for geese once so far this year I was hoping I hadn’t missed all the action and could get one more hunt in.

We started off by checking a few areas that had been previously rich with geese but were disappointed to find that most of those fields had been cultivated and there were no birds on them at all. After striking out from there, we headed a little more northeast where we found a massive flock of geese. 

We pulled into an approach and sat watching the birds come in for while, or at least I did, Owen was more engrossed in chewing on a sock that he managed to get off his foot. As flock after flock kept landing I pulled out the RM map and looked to see who the landowner was and where there house was located. Often the landowner is several kilometres away from the field that you’re looking to get permission and requires significant time scanning the map to locate the yard. Fortunately this time the owners house backed onto the field I wanted to hunt. The geese were swarming in the field and sky above it and I knew that other hunters would be out spotting and I needed to get to the owner first. 

Owen and I drove pretty quickly to the yard. It was a really pretty place with a well maintained hiproof barn, two storey house and few out buildings that gave the place a real rustic appeal. I left Owen in the car as he was still enthralled by his sock and went to knock on the door.  After ringing the door bell and knocking without any sign of occupation I decided to leave a note for the owners to call me when they got home. I got back into the car and set off again in search of more birds but ended up having to take Owen home for a snack since the sock appetizer only peaked his appetite.

Throughout the day I waited, hoping to get the call that would allow me to go on what would surely be an epic hunt. I could visualize it from the time I laid eyes on the field; freshly cultivated with a skiff of snow, colder weather, low clouds, small frequent flocks and birds so hungry they’d be less picky about the decoy spread. But despite my impatient waiting the call never came and eventually I decided I’d load Owen back into the car and go see if they were home after work around 5 pm. 

When I pulled up to the house my note was still where I left it and there was still no sign of life in the house. I decided I’d go home and get supper ready then after supper come back one last time. If they weren’t there then I’d have to right the hunt off. After supper I did just as I planned, I went back to the cute farm and was crestfallen as pulled up and saw there were still no lights on in the house. I drove out of the yard disappointed but glad that I had made the extra effort to try and get permission. I pulled over on the side of the road about two-hundred meters from the approach and checked my map to see if I could find the owner of a neighbouring field and maybe draw a few really dumb birds close enough to take a shot at. Again I faced defeat as the map showed that all the surrounding land was part of a large agricultural conglomerate whose owners I’d never be able to track down. 

Having written off the hunt I drove home making plans in my head to take a few rifles to the range and get them zeroed for the deer season that was rapidly approaching. My thoughts were interrupted by my cell phone going off and my heart leaping with hope that it was the call I’d been waiting for so I pulled over as fast and safely as possible so I could answer the phone. The caller was in fact the landowner and he informed me that he didn’t allow hunters on his property. He then also questioned whether I was the vehicle driving on and off his property all day and demanded to know my vehicle license, make and model. Knowing I did nothing wrong I gave it to him and apologized for any inconvenience I may have caused him and managed to get half my goodbye out before he hung up.

Despite having done nothing wrong I initially found it irksome that he denied me permission and asked me for my vehicle info. I found myself thinking that I had every right to try and get in touch with him to get permission to hunt. That thought was quickly followed up by my next which was, he had every right to say no and inquire of me and what I was doing since I was on his property. I know if it was me I’d have done the same thing and the frustration and annoyance disappeared.

I know it doesn’t really seem like much of a hunting story but I think it’s a good one to relate as getting permission to hunt on private property is an integral part of hunting and something a broke bespoke hunter should always do, even if it costs you a hunt. 

Often all it takes for a landowner to be soured towards hunters is one bad experience. If they let someone hunt on their property who left a gate down letting livestock out or wrecked a crop driving on it, from then on outit’s just easier to say no. One inconsiderate hunter has ruined it for everyone else for a long time, possibly forever. 

In my case not getting permission for the hunt that morning enabled me to get out and test fire and zero three rifles that I plan to review during deer season. One of them it turned out needed some gunsmithing and if I had gone on the hunt I never would have known.

I’d like to finish by thanking my brother Alex and give him credit for the excellent picture he took of a home made no-hunting sign he came across. The signs may come in all make, manner and age but ultimately the responsibility for ensuring they’re not trespassing or hunting where it’s not allowed is on the hunter.  

Always be aware of where you are and ensure you have permission if required before you go off in pursuit of game.

Until next time, all the best.

John

Two barrels and some Burberry

Another Sunday on the books and another broke bespoke hunting trip that was successfully accomplished.

The outfit I chose to go out in this week was one-hundred percent chosen by yours truly. I was feeling a fair amount of pressure to step up my choice in clothes as I had recieved a few comments from friends and family that my last outfit bordered on being hipster just as much as it did broke bespoke. So I pulled out all the stops and I think the end result landed pretty solidly in the broke bespoke camp this time.


The outfit is composed of:

Vintage fedora style hat – previously owned ($20 value village)

Vintage Burberry jacket – previously owned ($40 antique shop)

Olive green flannel shirt – new to me ($10 Goodwill)

Grey pants – previously owned (Winners $30)

Combat boots – previously owned ($40 ish from an army surplus store)

Dress belt – previously owned (Winners $25)

So the grand total for me to put this outfit together outfit was a ten dollar shirt from the Goodwill store. If you were looking to put it all together from scratch you’d be in the $165 dollar range. Not to shabby to not look shabby.

The Burberry jacket was picked up in a Vintage/Antique store in Victoria, BC a few years back and never saw the light of day other than maybe one dinner party. A quick search of the internet will show you a new Burberry blazer/sport coat is going to set you back $1000-$1700 and used or online around $150. Needless to say I consider this to be the broke bespoke bargain of all time, at least for now.

Out in the field the combination performed very well. It was a blustery day with winds in the 15km/hr range gusting to 30km/hr and around 12 degrees. The wool blazer and flannel shirt provided plenty of warmth while allowing for breathability as I walked and started to get warm from the activity.  The hat did a great job of keeping the sun out of my eyes although the band inside would stick to my forehead when I took it off from time to time. 

I’ve had trouble finding a brown pair of dress boots at the thrift shops that will fit and are good candidates to be re-soled so the black combat boots got to go out again. The leather is always stiff when I go to put them on but as they warm up and I’ve walked a few meters they become supple and incredibly comfortable.


The shotgun that I decided to take out for the hunt was very nice German side by side 12 gauge. It was made in the city of Suhl in Thuringia Germany based on the markings on the bottom of the receiver. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to narrow down the exact maker. But despite not being able to identify the maker the guns made in Suhl have an amazing reputation for quality build, high grade steel and reliability. It’s definitely a nice counterpoint to the 20 gauge I took out last weekend as I think it’s a more subdued style of bespoke. For those wondering what it cost me I actually took this gun on partial trade for a rifle that I had decided to sell. But a shotgun of this make, condition and vintage I figure the purchase value is approximately $500. This would be comparable to others I’ve seen online recently.

This gun has 28 inch barrels with full and modified chokes and shell extractors only. There are double triggers and a tang mounted safety. The hardwood stock has a half pistol grip and a narrow tapering forearm both with nicely figured checkering. The gun shoulders and points nicely unfortunately it has a very unpleasant recoil. I wish I could tell you that I got to fire it at some birds but the winds and my luck for finding game birds didn’t improve since last weekend. I was forced to throw a few dirt clumps in the air as substitute targets. Now I’ve owned and shot several over unders and side by sides but this one seemed very sharp and abrupt. It didn’t hurt my shoulder or cheek and I hit both dirt clumps that I threw in the air but the sensation was off putting and I probably won’t hunt with it again but man it looks nice.


The best part of the afternoon was definitely when I stopped in at a yard to get the land owners permission to hunt a creek that ran across his property. As it turned out I was a mile further north than I thought and it was some random house whose owners had recently moved in and didn’t own any property. The young man and women that came out to meet me were about my age and after I explained who I was and what I wanted and they told me they couldn’t help. As I thanked them and went to get back in the car the man stopped me and asked me if I was actually going hunting. When I replied that I was, he shook his head and said, “Holy f*ck man, you look awesome!” I laughed and thanked him for the compliment then went off in search of the right farm. It was really encouraging.

Next weekend I think I’ll try and get out for a field goose hunt and take some time to hit the thrift shops for a good pair of brown boots. I’ve been starting to think about what I’m going to wear for a broke bespoke deer hunt so if you have any suggestions or ideas I’d love to hear them.

Until next time,

All the best.

John

A well dressed man and his gun

This past Sunday I was able to accomplish what I set out to do when I started this blog, I went on a hunt in true broke bespoke fashion. It was a great experience that I am happy to be able to share with you here.

The morning started off right when our son decided to sleep for a solid eight hours straight the night before. We were able to wake fully rested and relax while enjoying a nice cup of coffee feeling more human than we normally do. After a pleasant walk along the trail near our house and taking Owen for his swimming lessons I was able to take a bit of time to get ready for my afternoon hunt.

Picking an outfit I thought was worthy of a broke bespoke hunter proved more challenging than I thought. After several failed attempts to get the look I was going for to be cohesive I enlisted the fashionable eye of my wife Kelly to give me a hand. While I had imagined being able to get it right by myself, I was glad I asked for help because I feel the final ensemble really captured the essence of a broke bespoke hunter.


The outfit consists of:

Blue long sleeve dress shirt – previously owned ($20 winners)

Dark blue jeans (straight stretch) – previously owned ($35 Gap outlet)

Black leather combat boots – previously owned ($35-75 used from Army Surplus stores)

Wool vest – previously owned Powder River Outfitters ($90 available online) 

Timex gold/brown watch – previously owned ($140-150 at The Bay)

Wool Tie – previously owned Campbell of Argyll Clan Tartan pattern ($30-$50 available online)

Wool hat – Penguin brand $16 at Winners

Canvas bag – previously owned (available at army surplus stores for $10-$30)

So the total cost of the outfit for items I didn’t already own was $16.  But If you wanted to put this together from scratch you’d be looking at around $350, which for a broke bespoke hunter I wouldn’t recommend. If you want to emulate it just use what’s in your closet and dress it up a little with items from the Salvation Army or Value Village.

The clothes I chose were incredibly comfortable to wear and the vest provided just enough warmth on what was a very nice fall afternoon. I walked a total of about 5 miles and never once was bothered by the collar, tie or hat. It really did make the hunt seem more special and unique.

Certainly the best part of dressing up to go hunting were the reactions I got from the landowners when I stopped to ask permission to hunt on their property. I must have talked to at least seven people and more half gave me the once over from hat to shoes with a sceptical eye like I was really there to sell them something instead of asking permission to hunt. None of them actually mustered the courage to ask me about my clothes, I’m sure they mostly just wanted the strange yet snappy dressed fellow off their doorstep. It had me laughing out loud in the car a couple of times.

While the clothes I was wearing were a large part of the ensemble, the gun I was carrying was an equally important factor. To complete the look for this, my first broke bespoke hunt, I decided I would field my over under Italian 20 gauge shotgun.

I picked this beauty up for $300 and although cosmetically it has a few issues including; a broken butt plate, a chip out of the stock, some dents in the wood and minor rust flecks on the exterior of the barrels it offered incredible value for light handy bird gun and would be an easy refinishing project. The refinishing will be a fun project I will tackle over the winter and plan cover in a blog article as well.

The gun as I mentioned is Italian and imported by ARMSPORT INC out of Miami sometime in the early 1990’s. The top barrel on this gun has “A.V Marocciui – Made in Italy” inscribed on it and it has been difficult to find much information on this maker.
What I do know is that it is choked Full/Full meaning I can’t shoot steel shot through it for waterfowl hunting unless I have a gunsmith open up the chokes. I don’t particularly mind because this will always be an upland gun. It has 26″ ribbed barrels which make it easy to aim and easy to point. It shoulders and swings nicely and it locks up tight with no play in the action whatsoever. There is a tang safety but no barrel selector as some models have and the single trigger fires the bottom barrel first. A very nice feature of this gun that it has ejectors that will only eject the shells that have been fired otherwise they function as extractors. It was a joy to carry as it is quite light and well balanced.

Unfortunately while I did cover a lot of ground I didn’t find any game birds to shoot. Thankfully I did cross paths with two magpies in a bluff of birch trees and was able to properly test/blood my new shotgun. The first magpie was on a branch and lifted off just as I fired killing it with authority. I was surprised by how very light the recoil was from the 2 3/4″ #7 shell and I was able to swing with next to no disturbance onto the second magpie and drop it handily. The ejectors spit out both shells perfectly when I cracked the action and I was reloaded and ready to go in no time flat.

By the time I walked back to the car from the tree bluff it was time to go home so I wasn’t’ able to fire any more than the two rounds from the gun. But the two I did fired along with the way it handled and carried all day has ensured it a permanent place on my gun wall and many more trips for upland in the future.

Overall I would call my first broke bespoke hunt a resounding success and it truly made my hunt feel more like an occasion. I can’t wait to do it again and hope you’ll give it a go as well.

All the best,

John

What was old is new again!

I thought I’d take some time tonight to briefly write about what I will always remember as the great gun migration of 2017. 

When I decided to tackle this blog I set out to sell most if not all of my inventory of tactical and long range guns in order to buy more traditional, classic bespoke rifles and shotguns. I was very fortunate that the current trend is to do the exact opposite of what I was planning, this enabled me to sell high and buy low.

I listed all of my guns on a well known Canadian firearm website, Canadian Gun Nutz, and after a few weeks of searching and making deals literally from coast to coast I came away with what I feel is a very nice collection of what I consider to be classic hunters or bespoke guns.

The plan is to review each gun individually after I’ve taken them out hunting.  I don’t feel that it would do any good to comment on a gun before seeing how it handles in the real world. But if you’re following this and want to do some research on your own before I post my reviews, personal experiences and pictures here is the list of firearms that I will be covering over the coming months.

1. Savage 99 chambered in 300 Savage – acquired from Quebec

2. Mannlicher-Schonauer chambered in 6.5x54MS – acquired from Alberta

3. Remington Model 14 chambered in 35 Remington – acquired from Ontario

4. Savage Model 63 chambered in 22 wmr – acquired from British Colombia

5. Ithaca Model 700 over/under 12 gauge shotgun – acquired from Nova Scotia

6. Cooey Model 84 single shot 16 gauge shotgun – acquired from Nova Scotia

7. Suhl side/side 12 gauge shotgun – acquired from Ontario

8. Stevens Model 311 side/side 410 gauge shotgun – acquired from Saskatchewan

9. Arms Sport Italian made – acquired from Nova Scotia 

10. Ted Williams/Sears semi-auto 20 gauge shotgun – acquired from Nova Scotia

If after testing I find that I’m not a fan of the fit, function or performance than I will attempt to sell or trade it for another classic firearm that I have set my sights on. 

I should point out I have no official qualifications that would lend any sort of credibility to my review and judgement of these firearms other than this. For years I’ve bought and traded guns on the wildest whim. I’ve been told (on numerous occasions) I change guns more frequently than some people change there underwear. Now while that is a disturbing thought, it has been incredibly fun. It has also allowed me me to get a real appreciation for all flavour of firearms, shooting and hunting, from black powder flintlocks to 338 Lapua magnum precision long range rifles and every manner of scatter gun too.

To close tonight I can’t say enough about how excited I am by this project. It has really given me a sense of purpose and direction that I’ve been lacking in regards to my firearm collection and hunting. I get to reminisce about past hunts, trial new and old techniques, use new and unique equipment, and, share that journey by putting it down in writing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am. 

More to follow soon, I hope to get out this Sunday afternoon and put one of the shotguns and one of the rifles through some use.

All the best,

John

Goose Chili!

I was really fortunate to get out for a goose hunt this past Saturday. The weather was warm for a late September morning and there were lots of birds in the area I was hunting. Unfortunately the birds were pretty picky about my decoys and although they didn’t flare away they weren’t liking what they saw. I blame a fair amount of hunting pressure and too small of a spread.

Thankfully though it wasn’t a complete bust and the decoy spread was convincing enough to bring in a lone Canada Goose that I managed to knock down with my trusty Browning BPS 12 gauge.

But while some people would lament about only bringing home one goose I was elated for two reasons. The first was that my game freezer happended to quit two days before my hunt so I didn’t have room in my fridge freezer for more than one bird and the second was I just happen to have the perfect recipe for crockpot chili that calls for exactly one goose!

This recipe is an amalgamation of my moms chili, some I’ve seen in community cookbooks and the internet. Feel free to make whatever additions or substitutions you like to make it your own but I will say that after much tweaking this is the best I’ve ever tasted. I say its serve 4 people with enough for everyone to have seconds…or 6 to 8 with no seconds.

All the best and enjoy!

John

Equipment:

Crock Pot

Meat grinder

Frying pan

Ingredients:

2 – goose breast (skinned with silver skin removed)

1 – white or yellow onion chopped

1 – tablespoon of butter

2 – carrots peeled and chopped

2 – celery stocks chopped

1 cup – Corn niblets 

1/2 – Green bell pepper chopped

1/2 – Red bell pepper chopped

2 – Cloves garlic minced

1 – 16 oz Can of dark red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)

1 – 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (use 3/4 of the can)

1 – 6 oz can tomatoe paste

1 – 4 oz can green chillies

1 – can of beef stock

5 – tsp of chili powder

1/2 -tsp cayenne pepper

1 – tsp of cumin

1 – tsp of Tabasco sauce

1 – tsp of chipotle sauce

1 – tsp of white or black pepper

1 – tsp salt (more for taste)

1 – cup of sour cream 

1 – cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

1. Ensure that the skin is removed from goose breast and the the silver skin and fat is trimmed and discarded.

2. If the goose is fresh allow it to soak for an hour in some water and salt to remove the excess blood.

3. If fresh (after soaking) put it in the freezer until its mostly frozen but can still be cut into 1-2″ cubes with a chefs knife. If it’s already frozen make sure step one is followed and thaw so you can cut into cubes. The reason for freezing the goose is it grinds way better when its frozen and doesn’t get slimy.

4. Using a grinder (hand crank or electric) put the cubes through it.

5. Put the frying pan over medium-high heat and add butter then add the chopped onions and ground goose. Fry until brown and cooked through.

6. In the crock pot add all the remaining ingredients then top with the cooked ground goose and onions and mix everything well.

7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours 

8. Serve while hot with a tablespoon of  sour cream and top with cheddar cheese.

9. Be sure to have toast or some biscuits on the side for dipping.