A blog by Bob Rich. Squirrel Hunting, Henry Rifles, Reloading, Range Shooting and More!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Squirrel Calling

Do any of you have a good squirrel calling technique? I heard a guy once who perfectly mimicked a squirrel bark with is mouth, but since I can't do that I use a call. This really doesn't bring them in, but sometimes when things are dead it will bring them out. It's more of a locator. I'm sure you have squirrels in your yard. Instead of shooting them, pull up a chair and listen. Then grab a call and try to talk to them. Especially if you live in a place like I do that prohibits summer squirrel hunting. It's a good time to learn their language.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bagged a woodchuck with the Henry .17HMR Golden Boy with Iron Sights

This Golden Boy is dead on! With iron sights I was able to take out this woodchuck at over 50 yards.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Turkey Targets by Birchwood Casey

Birchwood & Casey sent me two target frames and 6 splatter turkey targets to use when patterning the Henry 410. The frames slide into the corrugated cardboard backers and tabs hold the target. A cross-bar allows you to drive the frame into the ground with one step. Tabs eliminate the need for a stapler or tape to hold the target. The colored splatter effect makes your pattern much easier to see from a distance and makes shooting more fun. I can't wait to get to the range with the 410 to see how various loads pattern at different distances. Zoom in and check out the turkeys. They are beautiful. After taking these photos I put one on my computer screen and all of a sudden I hear a turkey gobbling. I'm thinking "What the hell?!!" I turn around and my daughter is playing with the dog, and the toy has a squeaker in it that would make the prefect turkey call. Almost freaked me out. Thanks Erin.

Check out the complete Birchwood Casey line and ask them to send you one of their beautiful catalogs. https://www.birchwoodcasey.com/

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Browning SA-22

The Browning SA-22 is an amazingly beautiful, light and accurate .22. Right out of the box this rifle shot dead nuts at 25 yards. Its sights are fine, with a thin blade front sight that allows for great accuracy. The rear sight folds down and elevation adjusts by loosening a screw, similar to the sight on a 10/22. Since I often hunt in the early morning with low light, I need a scope to look into the trees and amplify the little light that is available. That's why I mounted a cantilever scope mount and an inexpensive ($50) scope with parallax correction to dial in close shots.

The major down-side to this 150+ year old Browning design is the ejection port which is at the bottom of the receiver. I can't tell you how many times I was burned by hot brass flying down my sleeve. The positive side of the design is that when I lean up against a tree to brace myself for a shot, I'm free to position myself on either side since there is no side brass ejection. A drawback of the scope mount is that it interferes with the rotation of the barrel which separates the barrel from the receiver. Since the mount was installed I haven't been able to remove the barrel. This is a terrible design flaw. 

This rifle was manufactured in Japan, and I personally can't tell it from the early Belgium models. The manufacturing is flawless. I love the fact that the receiver is milled from a single block of steel, and I'm guessing that's why these rifles are so expensive. The wood is like glass and the checkering flawless.

Another thing I'm not crazy about is the loading system. First, I find it awkward to rotate the loading tube that is recessed in the recoil pad, then pull it all the way out to slide the cartridges into a loading gate located at the right side of the stock. Cartridges will jam if a bullet has any imperfection. If you're like me, when you return from a hunt, you unload the rifle and reuse the ammo. The last few rounds need to be manually ejected through the bottom of the receiver, and more often than not the bullet will slightly bend, causing the loading problem. This system makes for an elegant rifle, but I find the handling clumsy. 

Ammo: The Browning can only shoot LR, while a lever rifle can shoot any .22 ammo (other than magnums). I recently tested CCI Quiet 22 in the Browning and I was amazed that this light load was able to cycle the rifle! The action is not nearly as stiff as it appears. The Browning with Quiet 22 will make an awesome combination.

Should you buy one? If you're looking for a beautiful, light, accurate hunting and plinking rifle, and money is no object, this rifle might be for you. But if you're a real small game hunter and don't plan to baby your rifle, I don't recommend it. I much prefer hunting with the Henry Small Game Carbine which is short, light, accurate and gives me numerous ammo options.

This is the beautiful Belgium-made Browning which my brother willed me when he died last year, purchased in the 60's. This rifle hangs on the wall in his memory, and I'll be hunting with my Henry's.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Brass Stacker Lever Wrap on my Henry 410 Shotgun

A couple months ago Brass Stacker, who supplies my beautiful slings, sent me a new product to check out. It's a lever wrap that binds to your rifle's lever to give your knuckles some cushioning. The problem I had was that the instructions seemed so complicated that I put the package on the shelf and forgot about it. Sorry, but I'm not Mr. Crafty and I have no patience. Maybe I'm just stupid, but then too, for the past 22 years I've been designing corporate sign programs, so I can't be that dumb.

Oh well. I guess I'm a more visual guy and suck with instructions. So today I just threw the instructions out and did my best to hack my way through. Brass Stacker sent a lever wrap for my Golden Boy, but since I'll be hunting in the Fall with the new Henry 410 shotgun, I installed it on that gun instead. It really does cushion the knuckles, especially since the 410 is stiffer than my Henry rimfires. Hey, for a lousy $18 bucks you can't go wrong. I'm guessing that unlike me, you'll do fine with the instructions. If not, send Brass Stacker a message or post a comment here and someone will gladly walk you through. I'd still like to see them come out with a video for people like me, hint hint.

Here's a link to the product..

Friday, June 30, 2017

"What's the best ammo for my 10/22?"

Tom Gresham took a call on GunTalk radio recently from a new shooter who purchased a Ruger 10/22 and wondered what was the best ammo to shoot out of it. It sounded like he bought the gun for survival purposes and was talking about wanting to be able to shoot a squirrel if necessary for food. Tom is a wealth of information, but he had nothing for this guy other than to try a bunch of ammo and see what shoots best. the caller never hunted before, but guessed that he'd likely need to make a kill at between 20 - 40 yards. He was right about that. Not much chance of hitting something the size of a squirrel with iron sights much further out. Especially for a novice.

I wish the guy was able to leave some contact info so I could have given him an answer. Here's my thoughts on it in case he's checking around and runs into this blog...

I've discovered through  range testing that at 20 - 25 yards, all ammo shoots just about the same. In fact, I was amazed that what I consider junk bulk ammo shot almost as good as the much more expensive ammo. As the target goes out to 50 yards you'll see the minor variations in quality magnified immensely. Tom was right that you need to try different ammo to see which shoots the best through your rifle. Like I just said, at close range it doesn't matter much, but as the distance increases, you need to do some testing.

I've personally found the CCI Mini Mags shoots great through every rifle that I own. Federal Auto Match Premium bulk ammo works surprisingly good as well. Cheaper ammo like Thunderbolts doesn't shoot bad at all, but it's dirty, leaving a lot of crap in your gun. In a survival situation where you can't clean your gun all that often, that's something to consider. Also think about reliability. I rarely have a misfire with CCI MiniMags, but with Thunderbolts I've run across bad primers. The same is true with all Remington ammo. When you're hungry and need a kill for food,  you can't afford to pull the trigger and not have it go bang. Also remember that you need hollow points for hunting. The bullet expansion (mushrooming) creates a much bigger wound, instead of passing straight through the animal like ball ammo would.

Now go out and start shooting. Don't think you are going to buy a Ruger, throw it in the trunk and in an emergency situation be able to fill your stomach with wild game. You need to learn how to shoot and hunt. Your rifle needs to be sighted in with at least a couple types of go-to ammo. I've discovered that in my guns Mini Mags shoot many inches higher than Federal. If you didn't know that and needed supper tonight, you'll be in a lot of trouble. During an ammo shortage Mini Mags will likely be impossible to find, so you need to ready yourself to shoot with whatever you can get your hands on. I'd definitely suggest purchasing a bore laser to sight in your rifle. When the chips are down, you can't afford to waste ammo trying to get your gun sighted in. The laser will get you on paper and then all you'll need do is tweak your sights to get on target.

I hope this was some food for thought and gets you moving forward. Good luck and I hope you'll never need to use that Ruger during a disaster situation. Just go out and have fun with it. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

.22 Ballistic Curve and 50 yard targets, no scope.

Yesterday when I was at the range I sighted in 4 .22's. The closest I can position a target at that range is 50 yards. At that distance most of my rifles shot high with my rear sight set in its lowest position. Today I found this ballistic curve for CCI Mini Mags that gives a good picture of what was going on.

When I told my son that after 50 yards a .22 bullet begins to drop, he said that .22's  can travel for miles. I told him that's true, if the muzzle is pointed high into the air. When shooting normally, the bullet continues to rise for about 50 yards, then begins to drop. At 100 yards you're just about hitting the dirt.

What we can learn from this is that if most of our shots are at 25 yards, the bullet will rise until it reaches it's peak at 50 yards, then it begins to drop. At around 80 yards the bullet will be at the same height at it was at 25. That means that you can aim to a squirrel at 25 or 80 yards with no sight adjustment.

Since my rifles were shooting high at 50 yards, they might be right on target at 25 or 80 yards. The next step it to go to the 25 yard indoor range to dial the sights in.

More ballistic curves for the .22 can be found HERE.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spent some quality time today with my rifles

My wife and kids asked me what I wanted for Father's Day. I usually ask for ammo or something similar, but this year I asked for range time. It's expensive around here to shoot at a private range; $34 for the day. Add ammo and targets and a 4 hour shoot could run well over $100. So this year everyone gave me cash. I know it seems strange, but I will be able to spend some quality time the way some women would enjoy going to a spa. Give me the smell of burning gunpowder any day.

Today I took a bit of that money, used a much needed vacation day and headed to the range. It's something I haven't done in about a year! With this year's back surgery, I've had to lay low. Even today I had to limit myself to shooting .22s.

Since I'll be hunting with the Henry 410 this season, I thought I'd remove the scopes from my rifles and return them to a more standard look and feel. So today I brought 3 Henry's to the range, along with my M&P 15-22. I put a green laser in them and roughly adjusted the sights. Today I would get to see where the POI actually is.

During that time I sighted in the M&P 15-22, The Henry Golden Boy .22, Henry pump action .22, and the Henry .22 Carbine. I actually accomplished something today, though there is still some work to be done. Videos to come

My childhood Ithica M-49

He I am back around 1970 with my single shot lever action .22. I never could remember what rifle it was, but Ithica came to mind this morning and the photo was shot around 1970. My older brother gave me the rifle when he bought the Browning which I received last year when he died. No need for rifle ranges in those days. Connecticut was the sticks. We'd find a clay pond, climb to the top of the surrounding hills, throw a can in the water and start blasting. Those were some great memories. Today if I ever tried that I'd be surrounded by police cars, arrested, my guns would be confiscated and I'd lose my pistol permit. In my opinion life here was much better then.

 I just did some searching and it looks like I found it. It's an Ithica M-49. I clearly remember that loading gate at the top of the receiver. I see them all over for sale cheap. I need to buy another for memory's sake.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ariel's First Shoot

My niece's daughter Ariel just sent me a couple of short videos of her first shoot, and you know there's not much that pleases me more than seeing family and friends learn to shoot. Usually girls start out with a .22, but Ariel started with a .45, or at least that's what she's shooting in the videos that I received. Look at how well she's controlling that firearm. Too many times I see first time women shooters handed a small gun, like a J-frame .38 Special. Those small revolvers send all the recoil back to the shooter's hands, where a larger handgun like a .45 absorbs a great deal of the shock. You did great Ariel, and I hope someday you can shoot with Erin and I.

If you think you're a tough guy because you shoot a gun, check out what Ariel now does in her free time; hanging way the heck up in the air from a piece of fabric! You're an awesome girl Ariel. I look forward to seeing where your new shooting hobby takes you.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lobster Landing

I know it's not hunting or squirrels, but I thought it might interest the anti's that I do more in my spare time than hunting and shooting. I started oil painting last year, and just finished this 2' x 3' painting of my favorite seafood spot in the area. My next painting will be another in the series of my favorite hunting spots.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hammer Extention for the Henry 410

I've mentioned in the past that one issue I see with the Henry 410 is the need to cock the hammer very quickly when a pheasant is kicked up. At that moment there are only seconds to pull back the hammer, get on target and squeeze the trigger. The trigger has to be pulled way back and it requires quite a bit more effort than does the hammer on a Henry 22. Today I bring you the solution; the GrovTec Hammer Extension. The 410 uses the same extension as the Big Boys, so I was able to order one for about $9 on eBay. Henry sells them as well. It comes with two Allen screws and takes only a minute to install. Once installed, grabbing that hammer and pulling it back becomes almost effortless. I'd say this is a must have if you plan to take those quick shots. The hammer won't be a problem if you're squirrel hunting because an extra second or two usually isn't critical. After the first shot the lever cocks the hammer. Even so, the hammer extension makes pulling back the hammer so effortless that I can't imagine why you wouldn't want one.

At the range with Jay Perry, a compilation

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Changing out choke tubes in the Henry H018-410 .410 shotgun

I chose the H018-410 (24") shotgun instead of the H018-410R (20") because the H018-410 has changeable chokes. I need as much reach as possible to get September squirrels that will be high in the trees, so a full choke is the way to go. The H018-410 comes with a full choke per-installed, so there's no need to buy one. But from time to time I also plan to shoot slugs at the range, and Henry recommends using any choke other than a full choke. Never shoot the shotgun without a choke installed or you'll destroy the choke threads.

I discovered this weekend that Cabela's didn't stock 410 chokes, so I went on eBay and ordered a Browning Improved Cylinder stainless steel choke for $27. There are chokes listed for less, but one blogger posted a comment warning me that he ordered a complete set for less, but they didn't fit. There are plenty of chokes out there, but I've never gone wrong with Browning. I would have ordered from Henry but the company informed me that at this time they don't carry chokes. I'm sure that will change in the near future so keep checking their website. Be sure to order an Invector-type choke.

Here's a list of chokes and their pattern percentage: FULL: 55-85% / MODIFIED: 35-65% / IMPROVED: 25-55% / SKEET: 20-45%

 The new Browning 410 Improved Cylinder choke

The choke tool that comes with the shotgun really doesn't fit the 410 choke all that well. It works, but the smallest step isn't small enough to fit into the tube. The bottom step is a hair bigger than the outside of the choke, so you need to be careful when rotating or the tool will slip off the slots.

Backing off the installed choke. Once it comes out about a half inch you can back it out the rest of the way with your fingers.

I actually found it a lot easier to use the end of the tool. The choke backed out easily with little effort.

The pre-installed choke is stamped with the Henry logo.

 The Browning choke screwed in almost all the way with no resistance, so the tool is only needed when the choke is almost fully seated. When you clean your shotgun, check the choke from time to time to be sure it isn't starting to back itself out of the barrel.

Monday, June 5, 2017

First Look: Brass Stacker's Henry H018-410 Sling, The Sootch00 Edition

I arrived home from work tonight to find that my new Brass Stacker .410 Rifle Sling & Cartridge Bandolier had arrived. Like everything from Brass Stacker, it's flawlessly made and of the highest quality. I quickly installed it on the shotgun and took a few photos for you to review. If it ever stops raining I'll be field testing it Saturday since I have an appointment with that chuck I missed last weekend. The wide cartridge bandolier nicely distributes the weight of this shotgun across the shoulder and holds enough ammo for two reloads. And like all Henry's, this sling is made in the United States.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

My personal reloading info for .38 Special, .357 Magnum & .44 Magnum

I've had some people recently ask me for reloading data for their Henry's. I took my Excel file and converted it to jpg for anyone interested. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. READ WARNINGS AND DISCLAIMERS IN RIGHT COLUMN.

I didn't reload much for .223 because I found it to be a pain to drop powder into that small case neck. I have been reloading the other handgun calibers for many year without the slightest problem. It's necessary that you check any reloading data accessed off the net with the bullet company's reloading manual to be sure you're reloading within the proper range. In fact, I insist that you do. I have to say that to legally keep myself out of trouble. If you use my data, please let me know how you make out in the comment section below. Enjoy!

Some of my Henry's back in 2013

.22 Frontier Model, Big Bog .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum and .17 HMR & .22 Golden Boys

Maybe I'm pushing it, but I needed to get out there

I know it's only been about two months since my back surgery, but I really needed to get back out in the woods. It's also important that I build my strength back so I'll be in shape for the September squirrel season.

(Top) I'm covered head to toe with Permethrin permeated clothing plus 40 DEET on all exposed areas. Bugs are bad here.
(Middle) My back surgery in case you think I made it up because I missed the shot.
(Bottom) My Henry .22 carbine.
This morning I was in the woods at 7:00 and I carried the Henry .22 Carbine with CCI MiniMags. Chuck shots are usually way too long for the 410, though there have been times that I've almost stumbled over them while rounding a bend in the path. There were two rabbits near the parking area when I arrived and a third when I left. I'm sure they'll be gone by the October hunting season. I rarely see a rabbit beyond the end of June. It must be because they are aggressively hunted by the large hawk population.

Along the way I came across a half dozen squirrels, but they are not legal to hunt until September first. Right now I just took note of their location. In 2016 went an entire year without seeing a woodchuck so my hopes of spotting one today weren't very high... until half way through the hunt I spotted a dark brown shape sticking out of the edge of the tall wet grass. "That's a chuck head!" It was about 60 yards away. There was no doubt. It's funny that so many times while I'm hunting I see things that I think might be a chuck until I get a closer look through the scope. But when I actually come across a chuck, I know it's a chuck and there is no doubt. That's exactly what happened this morning. I spotted the head, froze and slowly took steps to the side so I slipped out of sight. Within a few minutes it was up on its hind legs. There's nothing like seeing a chuck in that position. It's like a freak'n target!

The problem was that there were no trees close enough to brace myself against. When I lifted my rifle, my lower back begin to ache and I couldn't stop my arms from shaking. Damn! In a few weeks I see the neurologist again about this post-surgery upper body weakness But for now, I did my best to get on target and brace myself. Laying prone put the chuck out of sight. So did kneeling. I had no choice but to stand, and that was a lousy choice. Do I take my chances and try to slowly make it to a tree or do I take the shot and hope for the best?

Since the chuck was standing, I knew it was on alert. It wasn't sure it was in danger, but it wouldn't take much to send it running. Better to take my chances than to have it just slip away into the high grass. Especially since it's my first sighting in a year!

I held my breath, let half out and when the shaking seemed to put the crosshairs on target I took the shot. "CRACK!" I chuck kept standing! "Damn! Am I going to get a second chance?" No such luck. In seconds it slipped away into the grass. I waited it out for 20 minutes but it didn't reappear. I'm hoping I know know the location of the den. There are chucks here again. I'm encouraged, and I'll be at this spot again next weekend.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

PRODUCT REVIEW: Pro Hear II, for sound amplification and suppression?

The first half of this story was originally posted way back on 7/8/2011

Over the coming month I'll be field testing a digital sound amplifier and hearing protection unit by Pro Ears called Pro Hear II. If you follow this blog you know that I've been wearing a pair of Pro-Ears Pro Muffs whenever revolver hunting or shooting at the range for the past few years and I couldn't be happier with them. For Father's Day I received a cowboy-style NRA hat that I can't wear when shooting because the muffs can't fit over it. I contacted Altus Brands and they recommended their Pro-Hear II unit. It looks similar to a small hearing aid that plugs into the ear with a tiny unit about an inch long that goes behind the ear.

The set comes with a good set of plugs that you use to block the other ear. If this works correctly, my right ear should hear amplified sound while filtering gunshots and the left ear will be blocked. I often shoot with large caliber guns on either side, so I always double plug (ear plugs w/ Pro Ears muffs over the top). Without both my ears double-plugged they are guaranteed to be ringing. I still have a hard time believing that these tiny units will replace standard hearing protection, but I'll test them and let you know how they work. If they don't do the job at the range, they should be great for hunting, especially when it's too hot to wear muffs. Check back for the test.

First you must know that these plugs are not the hearing protection they advertise. I wore them to the range and when my buddy shot his 1911, I found out the hard way. Hands immediately over ears and I ran for my muffs. I WAS PISSED! These plugs do almost NOTHING to limit gunshot volume.
 "I would recommend using two cigarette butts in your ears over these things
6/1/2017 Report
Over the coming years I wore this hearing amplifier numerous times during my squirrel hunts. I always returned with them in my pocket. It's basically nothing more than a cheap hearing aid. The kind that gives feedback when it gets near anything, you turn your head or turn up the volume. When the volume gets high enough to do any good, the deafening feedback forced me to turn the volume so low that they do nothing. Very frustrating. I finally gave up on them and started using my amplified range Pro-Ears headset. They work great, amplifying 9X and never a bit of feedback. You can literally hear a pin drop.

The in-ear amplifier, Pro-Hear II totally failed the test, but the Pro-Ears muffs work great. Now you know. I just checked their website and I'm amazed that they still sell them, but now they go for $270! With hearing aids you get what you pay for so the more expensive models ($370 & $450) might work without the feedback. It's also possible that they could have improved the electronics to reduce the feedback, but there's no way to know that. They look exactly the same. Considering that they all use the same kind of foam plug, I would never recommend any of them for hearing protection. Pro-Ears still advertises them this way:
"The Pro Hear II is a low-profile in ear sound amplification and suppression in one device"
I would recommend using two cigarette butts in your ears over these things. If you'd like to check them out for yourself, here's the link. http://proears.com/prohear-2. If you've purchased a pare and you feel differently feel free to add your comments below.

Monday, May 29, 2017

My Dad, Eugene A. Rich

I know it's not hunting, but it's the next best thing; fishing! My dad lived to fish. When he wasn't working or fishing for large mouth bass on a lake, he was standing in a fast moving river fishing for rainbow trout. I never remember my father coming home without filling the sink with bass, bullheads, or rainbow trout. I spent many a weekend sitting for 8 hours straight in the blazing sun fishing from a small boat in a CT lake. My dad always had a pith helmet in the boat, and when it would get too hot, I'd fill it with water and dump it over my head.

Dad used to rent a small rowboat and he'd attach the gas motor that he owned. We'd always spend a part of the day trolling the lake, and he'd let me man the controls. I'd usually have a couple drop lines over the side along with my rod and reel, and nothing was more fun than when we'd run into a school of pickerel. I'd be sinking the hook and pulling them in as fast as I could and it would seem like it would never end. I also pulled in some monster bullheads from that lake. Once I remember thinking I had hooked a boot, which ended up pulling in the biggest bullhead I had ever seen. My dad's favorite was Large Mouth Bass, and he never came home empty handed. At home he'd cut off the heads of the largest and let them dry on the clothesline (my mom must have been a saint). Once dry and picked clean by the flies, he'd varnish them and proudly display his prize over the workbench. He would have never considered spending our much needed money to properly mount a fish. I still remember cleaning the bullheads and watching their severed heads in the sink gasp for air. I'm glad squirrels don't do that.

When dad wasn't bass fishing, he was standing in a river fishing for rainbow trout with either fly or worm. Dad passed away about 40 years ago, but he left me with some great memories that I'll never forget. (Bottom photo: My dad with his brother Carl)

Military Service:
US Army. WWII. Stationed in Belgium. Military Police. Tour of duty: 7 years.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Rest in peace brother. Doug in Vietnam 1964. War casualty from Agent Orange.
 October 26, 1946 - November 8, 2016

"The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." Douglas MacArthur

Regarding Choke Tubes for the Henry H018-410 Shotgun

The Henry H018-410 shotgun comes with a 'full pattern invector choke'. The manual says, "Slugs are not recommended with the factory full choke". They also say not to use reloads in their centerfire rifles, but I think most of us do. But I think I'd take their advice on this one since a full choke could interfere with the path of the slug.

I just did a quick search for choke tubes. Browning makes the 'invector' chokes we need and they go for as much as $75 each. I found the best price on eBay for the same tube at $27.69 (which includes shipping). I ordered the 'Browning stainless improved cylinder'. It should easily give me the clearance I need to shoot slugs. Don't shoot slugs without a choke tube installed or you'll destroy the choke threads. Choke tubes make excellent Father's Day gifts. At least that's what I told my wife.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

First Shots, Henry H018-410

I couldn't wait to get into the woods this morning with the brand new Henry 410. There's nothing I can hunt other than woodchucks this time of year in CT, but it was a good excuse to get into the woods with the shotgun. My clothes were covered in dried Permethrin and I sprayed the rest of myself with 40 DEET. Netting over the head, amplified muffs, as well as leather fingerless gloves and I was good to go. In my pocket I had a box of 410 shells. Weighing in at only .79 lbs more than a Golden Boy, the 410 sure felt heavy this morning. I guess that's because a Golden Boy is heavy compared to my 15-22, and adding almost a pound makes it all that much heavier. The 15-22 weighs in at 4 lb 14.9 oz and the 410, at 7.54 lb. That means that I'm carrying an extra 2 lb 9.1 oz when hunting with the 410. That's the difference between steel and polymer.

It doesn't help that I'm badly out of shape, having thrown my back out in February followed by spine surgery, 4 months out of work on Workman's Comp and 7 weeks physical therapy. I haven't been able to use my arms much for fear of injuring my back again, so my arm weakness really showed itself today. Maybe the gun isn't nearly as heavy as it felt to me today. I definitely need to start working my arms out, and tonight I buy a sling.

Since I couldn't hunt squirrels there was no reason to get out as early as usual. I was in the woods at about 9am, walked the paths where chucks tend to hang out and visited some choice squirrel spots. Nothing was moving, other than an occasional song bird. I ended up taking a few shots into an old plastic barrel that washed onto shore. The gun feels more like shooting a rifle than a shotgun. The pattern was tight with basically no recoil. I could feel the recoil pad compressing against my shoulder, but other than that there was no recoil discomfort at all. This is a great gun for recoil sensitive shooters. One thing I noticed is that I don't think the hammer will be nearly as big a deal as I thought it would be. When I'm walking with the muzzle pointed skyward and I lower the barrel to get on target, if I hold my thumb on the hammer, the gun basically pulls away from the hand so the shotgun cocks itself without much effort.

On the return trip down the path I spotted a man who wasn't hunting, obviously there to let his dog run. When I reached him we greeted each other and he asked me about the shots he heard. I told him I was out there to try out a new shotgun and was there to exercise my back. He told me he recently recovered from back surgery, and that his recovery took 4 years. We discussed neurosurgeons, doctors, physical therapy, the return to work and recovery time. I discovered he was 70 and a Vietnam vet, so we discussed the VA Hospitals and my brother who died of Agent Orange at that same age.

By the time we reached the car we both had just about exchanged our life stories. I meet the nicest people when carrying a gun. The bad thing was that on the return tip we had passed 4 groups of people who were birding or just walking, scaring away any chucks that might have been hanging out. That means that the next time I go out I'll need to be there closer to sunrise.

As we went our own ways the guy must have found a tick because he told me to check myself over. I told him I was covered with  Permethrin and DEET. He laughed and we both drove away.

The Henry 410 looks to be very promising for the September hunting season this year. What I need now is to locate some 4 shot shells. I think they will have more reach and knockdown power than the 9 shot I hunted with today, which will help punch through the heavy September foliage. Until the next hunt...

Friday, May 26, 2017

First Impressions: The Henry H018-410

I've owned a lot of Henry rifles over the years, from their basic Classic H001 .22 to the Big Boy .44 Magnum. I'm used to Henry's amazing quality. But this 410 manufactured in their Wisconsin plant just blew me away. It's my first steel Henry, and the first thing I noticed was that the finish is flawless and beautiful. The checkered American Walnut stock is as nice as the wood on my other Henry's. The gun just feels really solid. The action is tight, but smooth, and I have a feeling it will get even smoother as this shotgun breaks in. It's hard to call this gun a shotgun because it looks and feels so much like a rifle. The hammer is tight and the pull long to lock it into firing position. This is the only potential problem that I see. There's always a few seconds to pull back the hammer when a squirrel is spotted, and the hammer pull on Henry rifles are much shorter and lighter. But when a pheasant flushes, there's only seconds to get on target and take the shot. Will I be able to pull that hammer back quick enough? When hunting with my old 20 gauge bolt action Mossberg, there sometimes isn't time to even slide the safety off before the bird is out of range. Will the hammer be a problem? Only time will tell, but I have to look at it this way. When I'm hunting with a .22, I have to totally pass on the pheasants I flush. When I hunt pheasant with a 20 gauge, I usually pass on squirrels because of the damage the shot does to the meat. At least with this 410 I have a chance at bagging a pheasant and taking squirrel. It will likely mean that I need to pull back that hammer at the first indication that a bird is in the vicinity. I'm sure I'll quickly work out the bugs as the hunting season progresses. With all the reviews on this gun that are out there, has anyone else brought up this hammer issue? No. That's because everyone is trying to look impressive shooting holes in soda bottles at the range. If you want to know how this shotgun practically functions, keep checking back here.

I can tell you one thing. This gun is going to draw a lot of attention. No one will know it's a shotgun. It's illegal to hunt with anything bigger than a .22LR on CT state land, so I know I'll be questioned left and right. This shotgun will be a real conversation stater, like when I used to hunt squirrels with a Stag AR-15 with a .22LR bolt carrier installed.

A few more first impressions: The 410 feels a bit heavier than my old Mossberg, but it's also much more beautifully balanced. In fact, I noticed the balance the first time I drew the gun to my shoulder. I love the idea that Henry decided to put swivel studs on this gun. Being able to sling the gun over my shoulder should alleviate the weight issue as I'm walking between hunting spots, as well as improve stability when shooting. There's a very nice recoil pad installed so I don't think recoil will even be an issue with such a light gauge shell. The gun comes with a changeable full choke installed. The barrel isn't rifled. If you want to shoot slugs, you'll need to replace the full choke with another. Henry emailed me that the full choke is the only one that will cause a problem when shooting slugs, and the gun manual backs that up. The fact that I can swap out chokes is one of the reasons I went with this longer model. I need a tight pattern to reach squirrels in the treetops, and I know it will help when pheasant hunting. Henry claims that the sorter model with sights is the versatile model, but I tend to disagree unless you plan to install a scope. The shorter model's receiver comes pre-tapped. The way I see it, if I want a target rifle, I'd be better off buying a Big Boy .357 Magnum, and iron sights are worthless when shotgun hunting. On the other hand, the ability to change the pattern really makes the longer gun more versatile. That's my opinion anyway.

I also like the idea that this shotgun makes use of a transfer bar. Many revolvers like the newer Ruger Single Six use a transfer bar so there's no need to carry the gun with the hammer on an empty chamber. With a transfer bar the gun will not go off unless the hammer is fully cocked. That's an excellent safety feature.

Tomorrow morning I'll take an early walk it the woods to take a few shots and to hunt for chucks. I'll get a report out soon after. This should be fun! Now into the basement to give the barrel a good cleaning.
The Henry 410 came in today and boy is it a beauty! I'll be taking it into the woods and firing it a bit tomorrow to get some first impressions. If I'm lucky I'll also have a run-in with a woodchuck. Check back tomorrow for my report.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The New Henry 410 Shotgun

I've been reading and watching many good reviews of the Henry 410 shotgun over the past few weeks. Most of them basically mirror the Henry Repeating Arms spec page and after taking a few shots, report how the gun feels and patterns. I've already posted some basic specs with a link to Henry's site where you can read this information first hand. The BRShooting Journal has always been 'hands on' reporting, so I'll be reporting on the shotgun from the field during squirrel and pheasant season. I want to know how far I can be from a squirrel and still knock it out of a tree. I'm curious to know if a .410 has enough punch to take down a flying pheasant and what shot is necessary for both. I'm even hoping to harvest a woodchuck with it over the summer.
Squirrel hunting in Connecticut doesn't start until September 1st, so until then I'll post photos from the woods while chuck hunting, as well as from the range where I'll run boxes of slugs through it. I need to find out if this rifle will work better for home protection than my .38 Special. I'd like others to shoot it over the coming months so I can get their impressions as well. How reliable is it? How smooth is the action, and do I prefer a lever to a classic pump or my old Mossberg bolt action? How easy is it to acquire a target with only a front bead? Am I willing to risk my life and the life of my family on its' reliability? These will be the things I'll be researching at over the coming months as I enjoy shooting the new shotgun that looks like a rifle.

I've been hunting squirrels with a .22 and pheasant with a 12, 16 and 20 gauge shotgun for the past 50 years. It's hard to teach a dog new tricks, but if I can find one gun that will drop a squirrel without destroying it, and is also capable of taking down a pheasant, I'll be sold. At least between the months of September thru November when pheasant are stocked and dense leaves are on the trees. Once December comes around, the pheasant are harvested and the trees are bare. Then most squirrel sightings are much further out, between 40 and 75 yards. For that I need an accurate Henry rimfire with a parallax corrected scope. If the game cooperate this year by showing up, this is going to be one heck of a fun hunting season. Keep checking back for my continuing reports from the field. And keep us all up on what you're up to this summer by posting in the comment boxes. I'm always looking forward to hearing from you. Until next time ~Bob

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Applying Permethrin

(My daughter Erin on the left with her childhood friend Liz on last year's Peruvian adventure.)

This morning I went to Dick's and picked up a 24 oz spray bottle of Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent. At only $14, it was a lot less expensive than I thought it would be. I asked my daughter if she knew about this stuff and she said, "Yes". When Erin and her friend Liz took a trip to Peru last year, they were instructed to douse all their close with it because the bugs in the jungle are fierce. You can't get a better testimonial than that.

The first thing I did was to bring everything outside to be sprayed and hung my hunting clothes on the clothesline. Then I put on some Latex gloves to protect my hands from this stuff. It's really toxic until it dries.

They give an instruction sheet in the box which I found a bit confusing. It says you must use 3 oz per garment. 6 oz. per outfit. The bottom line is that the bottle contains 24 oz and you can treat 4 outfits per bottle. That means that you should use 1/4 of the bottle per outfit. Be careful which way the wind is blowing. You want the wind to your back if possible. Once sprayed, leave the clothes out to dry for a minimum of 2 hours on a dry day and 4 hours when humid. Then store everything in a dark plastic bag between uses to help preserve the application. Once applied, I don't wash the pants until they get really dirty. Of course the shirt and socks will need to be washed after each hunt. You can wash 6 times before needing to reapply.

The question came up in an earlier post as to whether Permethrin has an odor that game can detect. The package says in big letters that it is odorless, so I guess it must be.

The best way to know if this stuff is working is if I don't have to think about bugs and if I don't find crawling creatures on me when I return home. By the way, bring some bug spray with you for areas like your hands, neck and face. I also wear a mosquito net over my face. You'll want so cinch the bottom of your pants with legging straps to keep ticks from walking up your socks onto your legs. Even though the socks are sprayed, better safe than sorry. When I was in the service we used to wear blousing straps at the bottom of our military greens to seal our pants to our combat boots. I highly recommend buying a couple pair at an Army Navy store or from Amazon for about $2. They are well worth the price. In future posts I'll let you know how well this product works. For more information, go to https://sawyer.com/