It’s been a long time since I last sat down at the keyboard to write for the blog. I’ve missed it.
I had the best of intentions to try and keep it up through the winter, spring and summer but as is often said, life happens. Looking after a toddler, doing house renovations, yard work and social commitments on top of the demands of my regular job just seemed to be enough to keep me from putting my thoughts to text. Not an excuse, just an explanation for the long absence.
However, with geese flying and hunting season back in full swing I really wanted to reconnect with the blog, those who read it and my creative side. One of the big motivators for me to start writing again was going out spotting with my son who is now 21 months old. We went looking for good ponds and sloughs to jump and despite not having much luck we had a fun picnic in the back of our SUV near a waterfowl refuge. It was a great time and I’m looking forward to many such occasions.
The blog originally started out as a means to share my hunting stories but also bring a sense of class back to hunting in a word gone mad with its obsession for camouflage. I was going to get my hands on as many inexpensive yet quality guns to review them with every hunt as well as make a small fashion statement to prove that within modest means an individual can achieve a bespoke experience without the ridiculous price tag that true bespoke carries.
I would say that my efforts last year were overall a success. The reactions I received from landowners, the occasional fellow hunters, family and friends were all positive. Personally, I felt like it brought just that little bit more to my hunts than in the past.
This year will be no different however one small change will be the firearms that I carry to the field.
In the quest to pursue inexpensive yet quality firearms I lost track of one of the tenants of hunting, which is to know your guns and be able to shoot them well. I also had a lot of calibre overlap which was inefficient and costly in terms of buying enough ammo to become proficient and still have enough to hunt. One other change will be the frequency of my hunts and blogs, because with a second child on the way mid season I’ve got higher priorities…but needless to say I will when I can.
So, the gun room which proudly boasted fifteen various rifles and shotguns now holds only six. Three shotguns and three rifles. It took some time to narrow the collection down to just the essentials but I think I managed to capture a good mix of practicality and refinement. My goal is to become extremely proficient in their use so I can ensure clean and responsible kills in the field which is what every hunter should aspire to.
In preparation for the season I’m going to describe them all below so that I can reference them in future posts without the need to go into great detail. Pictures to follow as I take them out.
For shotguns starting with my smallest gauge I have a Canadian Industries Limited (CIL) Spanish made side by side 410. I bought this several years ago as a fun grouse gun and something of a project to fix and eventually train my kids with. It’s like carrying a feather, locks up tight, shoulders nicely and points well. Its light recoil makes it a joy to shoot and after a bit of adjustment getting used to looking down two barrels is pretty handy at knocking birds out of the sky. I took it pigeon hunting with my Dad and Brother this summer when we visited the ranch back in Saskatchewan and it did very well against the swooping and erratic flight of the sky rats. I hope to use it for rabbits and squirrels this fall/winter because I’ve got a recipe for squirrel pot pie and rabbit stew I want to try and will share if it’s tasty.
Next up is the twenty gauge Sears branded “Ted Williams” semi-automatic shotgun. I got this shortly after I picked up my 410. It has an adjustable gas valve for light or heavy loads and an adjustable or “poly” choke. The latter was one of the reason I bought the gun as that adjustable choke meant that I could use it for steel shot if I wanted to take it for ducks, or slugs if I ever wanted to try it out for deer. I took it hunting it’s my friend Scott at his farm on Vancouver Island for ducks and geese. It didn’t get shot much on that outing but I’m pretty sure the few times I lined up a bird and pulled the trigger the result was it falling from the sky. That being said, I know that when my wife and I took it to the trap range she soundly schooled me dusting far more clays then I did with it. It’s by no means a classic but it is nice looking piece made between 1964 and 1972.
Last in the shotgun stable is the very first gun I bought with my own hard earned money. I picked it up at sixteen years old when I was working as an assistant goose guide for an outfit long since defunct. It’s a Browning model BPS, stalker. It was all black originally but I had it dipped in mossy oak shadow grass so it didn’t stand out so badly in the stubble fields I was hunting. While my model doesn’t fit the bill of being bespoke, there are variants of my gun that certainly are. While I’ve been tempted too on occasion, I can never part ways with this gun, we’ve been through too much together and put too many birds in the freezer. I know every inch of it like I do my own arm and when I hold it, it’s really just an extension of that. I’ve made shots with it that have left my hunting partners gobsmacked and I love the confidence I have when I take it out. A lot of people don’t like the bottom load/eject system that the BPS is known for but it is a time proven design and reliable to the extreme. The only downfall is that with the stalker model I’m unable to affix a after market recoil pad directly to the stock, it has to be a slip on which I’m not a fan of. Partnered with Brownings Wicked Wing Choke tubes and Winchester Blind Side ammunition its a lethal bird busting combination.
In regards to rifles it was hard to scale back the collection. I love rifles, I think they are the most perfect combination of art and precision. The fit and finish combined with minute of angle accuracy is so tantalizing and alluring that I’ve often been tempted to cast caution to the wind and drop ridiculous sums of money for well figured walnut and deeply blued metal. As fortune would have it I was able to sell and then purchase what I feel are three iconic and broke bespoke rifles.
The first new rifle is a an older, but nevertheless attractive and accurate Cooey Model 60. It sits in a Cooey Model 600 stock, which has a running rabbit design pressed into grip along with pressed checkering in the fore stock. It’s a bolt action twenty-two rimfire rifle which takes shorts/long/long-rifle ammunition and is fed by a tubular magazine. It has ridiculously accurate iron sights but is also drilled and tapped for mounting a scope if desired. It is a bit of a pain to load given the magazine spring tube has to be fully withdrawn before shells can be added but it feeds flawlessly once its topped up. Cooey rifles are synonymous with Canadian small game hunting and learning rifles. I doubt that there are few seasoned hunters/shooters who haven’t spent some serious time behind the sights of Cooey, either learning or popping small game. I had to have one in the collection and I’ve already had it out for a gopher hunt this summer with my wife, during which it claimed many…although it was hard pressed to keep pace with the Remington 597 aka “pink death” that she was using.
Next in the rifle line-up is a true classic, a Winchester Model 94 chambered in the venerable 30-30. This particular one is a bit special because it is the Canadian Centennial model which sports a heavy octagon barrel and a receiver engraved with maple leaves. The action speaks for itself; everyone knows or can recognize the model 94 and if you don’t or can’t, it’s time to hit Google and read about a fascinating bit of engineering and firearm history. This rifle checked all the boxes for me, true classic, iconic good looks and a calibre that fills the niche in the short to mid range distances for wooded or semi-wooded land for light to med sized game. This model can be hard to find and if you do, you better be fast about picking it up because if you hesitate it will be gone, especially if it is priced under $650.
The last an arguably the only gun a hunter needs to own is a Winchester Model 70 XTR in 30-06. This rifle has a very nicely figured walnut stock with the very attractive red recoil pad and hooded front sight. I mounted a classic Redfield 1.5-7x wide-field gloss scope which will hold up to the recoil of the 30-06 and allow me to engage targets from under 100 yards at the low power setting all the way out to 250 yards at its maximum magnification with confidence. I eventually plan to hand-load for this rifle so I can use it for pretty much anything from varmints up to heavy loads for Moose or Bear. It’s a stunning rifle and always draws my eye, especially with the red recoil pad. The action is renowned as one of the smoothest every made and the accuracy is equally legendary. I haven’t shot this one yet but I’m hoping to get to range with it in the next week or so to zero the scope and get a feel for it. If all goes according to plan I’m hoping to get in the draw for elk next year and use it on that hunt. This year it may not see any action.
In addition to stories about hunting and working to bring some refined fashion back to these occasions I’m hoping to do a few more posts on my experiences cooking game and the recipes I try.
I’m sure that it is going to be a great fall hunting season and I’m beyond excited to get out and share my experiences with you.
I hope that your hunting trips this season will be safe, enjoyable and fruitful.
Until next time, all the best.