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.

It’s not about what you’re carrying, it’s how you use it.

One of the most influential hunts of my life happened when I was twelve. It was so profound and the lesson so well etched in my psyche that not one hunting season in the past twenty three years has gone by that I’ve not thought about it before donning my gear and heading out for the first hunt of the season.

I remember being woken up early, so early it seemed that I had only just laid my head on my pillow. Dad shook me gently and told me to get dressed and come upstairs to get ready to go. I did, putting on my waffle thermals first and then a well worn pair of jeans, t-shirt and sweater before heading upstairs.  

The farm house was still dark except for the kitchen which was lit by a double fluorescent light fixture.  Dad had made a pot of stove top coffee and made toast which gave the room a rich cozy feel.  We quickly ate our toast and then bundled into our chore suits. I grabbed the trusty Remington 812, a single shot break action 12 gauge, a box of assorted challenger high brass shells and walked out into the chilly October morning.

Outside the old Ford was already running and warmed up. Despite only being twenty meters from the house getting into the truck it was a nice reprieve from what was probably a minus five or ten degree morning. With the old wooden goose decoys already loaded in the back we trundled up the driveway and down the road to the field that Dad had scouted the night before. 

The field was one of our own, a wheat field that had been swathed a few days before and where the geese where laying waste to the neat rows of the crop. We setup the decoys and hunkered down side by side in one of the swathes. Although I had done it several times before Dad coached and oversaw me load the gun in a safe manner. Once it was loaded we waited.

It seemed like forever that morning, waiting for the sun to come. Those who’ve seen it know that nothing beats watching the sun rise on a crisp prairie morning, the purples and pinks and growing light is something magical and hard to describe. Those who’ve seen it also know that when that sun is on the rise it is as cold and miserable as you are going to get until the suns warmth finally kicks in. But that morning I didn’t feel the cold I was to excited. As the light grew stronger on the horizon Dad hushed me and I heard the now all to familiar tell tale rapid whistle, “schwirr..schwirr…schwirr,” of fast beating wings.  We sat up in the swath and looked around and Dad pointed out a big brilliant green head mallard. It had bought the ruse of the goose decoys and was coming to take another look before deciding to feed. As it got closer I made the gun ready pulling the hammer back on the shotgun. The duck swung into range and I squeezed the trigger feeling the kick of it in my shoulder and its report in my ear simultaneously. Taking the gun from my shoulder I saw that I had hit the duck but only wounded it and I watched it limp away flying roughly through the sky disappearing in the dusk.

“Dammit John!” Dad said. “You wounded it, now it’s going to die somewhere out there. Only shoot at something if you know you can hit it and kill it.” The words were spoke without anger or malice, just a touch of disappointment. It was probably more regret for having wounded such a beautiful and tasty animal than my shoddy aim but in my mind I had commited some sort of unpardonable sin. We waited to see if anymore birds would show up but the frost on the decoys scared off every other flock that came through the area. We drove home empty handed but looking back its hard not to call it a successful hunt from the lesson I learned.

As I mentioned it’s been twenty three years since that fall and my desire to ensure as clean a kill as possible when I hunt is as strong now as it was instilled in me that day. That’s not to say I haven’t shot animals that ended up being wounded by chance; whether through sudden movements, jerking the trigger in excitement, improper bullet expansion or placement. Sometimes it just happens but the goal is to take every step possible is to avoid it like the plague.

So why do I bring this up and how does it relate to my journey to become a broke bespoke hunter? Well firstly it’s because I’m expecting a few of my new classic guns in the mail over the next few days and secondly because as the title suggests I believe it’s not about the gun your using it’s how you use it. If I had been using a pump gun when I fired at that duck all those years ago I would have had two more chances to knock it down and very likely would have. But the truth of the matter is I didn’t and I should have opted not to shoot. For the purpose of my blog, the rifles and shotguns that I am planning to purchase have similar limitations and considerations as that Remington 812 I started out with. 

If you’re still reading this and planning to try something similar but haven’t had a lot of exposure to firearms or hunting this is a critical point to understand. In regards to the rifles I want to buy, they won’t be topped with fancy scopes or chambered in big long range calibres capable of cleanly dropping animals at 300 plus yards. Or in the case of the shotguns, which will be single shots or double barrels, will only have one or two shots versus the three you get from a pump or semi-auto. Knowing your equipments capabilities as well as your own personal boundaries in operating it means that it is less important whether you’re carrying the latest gear or an older classic when you go hunting. This philosophy isn’t just applicable to an aspiring broke bespoke hunter it should be something every sportsman planning to go afield and harvest game strives for. Modern gear doesn’t absolve a person of this responsibility like some believe, in fact it may add more responsibilities. Hence my reason for a desire to return to a simpler style of hunting.

I hope you enjoyed the story and my musings. If you’ve already been out hunting I hope you’ve had a good harvest and if you’re about to head out I wish you success.

All the best and until next time.

John

The times they are a changin’

When I came up with the concept for The Broke Bespoke Hunter I was out on a walk with my eight month old son Owen. We had decided earlier that morning that we would head to the mall after his nap for a stroll, to get a birthday gift for my wife, people watch, and, maybe get a fancy coffee of some kind.

While we were walking through the mall I was surprised and honestly a little bewildered by how many people were wearing camouflage of some kind or another. I mean, I love bargain hunting like anyone else but to get dressed up in camo may be taking the concept a little to far.*

*I should state that I’ll wear camo when I’m out hunting but only then and never in public unless it’s to go into a gas station on my way to or from a hunt.

What I found so interesting was that it wasn’t limited to a specific gender or or age. Standing out in my mind was the young mom I saw pushing a stroller in camo leggings and man in his late fifties sitting on bench sporting a well worn Cabela’s sweatshirt. The Mossy Oak Break Up of the sweatshirt seemed so out of place next to the Aldo and Kernels that it made me wonder whether anyone who would wear camo in such a setting has ever actually put it to use in nature?  This got the gears turning in my head; if these people looked to hunting for their fashion cues maybe it was time for hunters to start dressing up a little more often! I’d like to think that besides the benefits of herd control, and conservation, hunting could save society from a future where Sitka Optifade Waterfowl is considered appropriate for a fine dining restaurant.

For the entire drive home I thought about what I had seen and how it would be a nice change of pace to get dressed up to go out hunting with classy firearm. Mind you not so classy a gun or so well dressed up to the point where I would be afraid to get a little dirt or blood on my gear, but enough so people would go, “wow, that guy looks pretty sharp.” When we arrived back at the house and the birthday gift was secreted away, Owen and I went down to my gun room* to continue to ponder what was fast becoming a storm of thoughts and ideas in my mind.

*Yes, I am lucky enought to have a designated gun room and it is a glorious thing filled with firearms, hunting gear and reloading related equipment.

In the gunroom, as I looked at the wall displaying my firearms, it was with a slightly torn heart, a one way conversation with Owen and a few encouraging texts from my dad that I decided to sell my tactical and target pieces to free up the funds to acquire what I would consider to be broke bespoke guns. By this I mean fancy older (1900-1970’s) guns that have been used but not abused, may have some minor cosmetic issues but do not prohibit their safe use, and, are relatively inexpensive so that someone starting out in hunting wouldn’t be afraid to spend the money on them. So the plan I developed is, I will list three of my current guns for sale in order to acquire ones that fit my new parameters and provide reviews of them as I use them. I’ve set my new purchase limit between $150 and $800 dollars per firearm. Some might criticize this as to broad a range, especially at the extremes of the budget, but it probably will encompass the majority of what people are comfortable spending.

Now a quick note before I go on, if you’re reading this and are already knowledgeable about guns and hunting I’m not saying that one can’t do broke bespoke hunting with modern firearms or that you shouldn’t buy a Savage Axis, Remington 783 or Ruger American. Most firearms manufacturers these day make great sub $500 budget hunting guns, just like those I listed. They will perform remarkably well and some instances likely a litttle better than anything I plan at looking to buy. But that’s not the point here. The idea is to do the business with classic wood styling and blued metal guns from the early twentieth century. There is, in my mind, something about composite stocks and gun designs that just doesn’t jive with what I want to get from this journey.

So what guns and in which calibres am I looking for? Here’s my list in no particular order which you can research at your leisure:

Rifles

Savage Model 99 – 300 savage or 308
Winchester Model 94 – 30-30

Marlin 336 – 30-30

Savage 340 – 30-30

Winchester Model 70 – 243

Mauser Model 98 – 7×57 or 257 Roberts (or Bob, Bobby as it is affectionately known)

Shotguns

Double barrels – in 12,16, 20 or 410 gauge. Side by Side’s (SxS) or Over Under’s (O/U)

Browning Auto 5

Remington 870

Browning BPS

Winchester Model 12

Ithaca Model 37

I’ll try to get the fanciest grade or model I can to keep with the theme of the project. Also as a heads up with time and after some use I may choose to trade some of them to acquire different models and do reviews on those as well.

Now that I’ve covered the guns I can speak a briefly about my plans for the clothing.

Buying new nicer clothes to take hunting doesn’t make sense and won’t fit in my budget. The firearms, and the ammo for them will almost assuredly use most of the funds I free up by selling my guns. So the plan is to go bargain hunting (not in camo) at the local thrift shops as well as undertaking some sewing projects for the things I can’t find or buy. All of it I will blog of course and  the sewing should be hilarious as the last time I did that was grade 10 home economics class.

I have in my heart and minds eye what I think a Broke Bespoke Hunter should wear and carry, once I start to acquire them I’ll post the pictures and stories to go with them. Please check in occasionally to see how things are progressing.

I’ll try write again soon.

All the best,

John