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  • June 29, 2012

    Shotgun Ammo: Maybe Speed Kills After All

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I have been skeptical of the current trend to high velocity lead shotshells. Unlike steel, which benefits from high velocity, lead is dense and retains energy well. Therefore I have always thought lead doesn’t need to be driven at high speeds to be effective.  I have shot a lot of pheasants with lead loads ranging from 1,220 fps to 1,500 fps and noticed no apparent difference in how the birds react nor in how many I bring to bag.

    However, recalling my trip to Uruguay made me reconsider.

  • June 27, 2012

    A Conversation Around the Campfire: What's the Best Elk Cartridge?

    By David E. Petzal

    This actually did occur at a campfire. As I was staring into the flames, waiting for the wind to shift and blow the smoke into my face, I was approached by a young man who wanted my advice on what kind of rifle to take on his first elk hunt.

    “What kind of rifle do you have?” I asked.

    “An Ultra Light Arms .280.”

    “What kind of scope?”

    “A Swarovski 2X-10X.”

    “Bless your heart,” I said, “you don’t need a new rifle. You couldn’t get a better outfit if you had Mitt Romney’s money.”

    “But will a .280 kill an elk?”

  • June 26, 2012

    Gun Nuts TV Season 3: Turkey Fever - How To Keep Cool and Make the Shot

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Season III of “The Gun Nuts” debuts tomorrow night on the Outdoor Channel at 7:30 p.m. EST and 11:30 p.m., and again at 3 a.m. We’ve changed the show a little--all, I think, for the better. One of the new segments is “Make the Shot” in which we talk about specific field and target situations and how to deal with them.

    When I first started doing TV someone told me: “As long as you talk about what you know, you’ll be okay on camera.” With that advice in mind I chose “how to keep from totally losing it when a turkey walks into range” as a topic, although we call it here: “how to shoot spring turkeys.”

  • June 25, 2012

    Is There Such a Thing as a Rifle That's Too Clean?

    By David E. Petzal

    I started shooting seriously (as opposed to spraying lead around the landscape) in 1958 at summer camp. We shot in an NRA-sanctioned program, and we did it with set of 10 or so .22 target rifles—good ones, as I recall. These guns were in use every day for two months, and were not cleaned until they were put away at the end of the season. As far as I can recall, they were just as accurate at the end of the summer as they were at the beginning.

    This is why I asked John Blauvelt if my compulsive scrubbing of my own .22’s barrel was unnecessary. His opinion was yes. According to John, the best treatment of a rimfire bore is benign neglect. After you put lots and lots of ammo through it and find yourself overwhelmed with guilt because it’s full of grease and wax and burned powder, you can run a wet patch through it and then a dry one. But nothing more than that. Most .22s, said John, don’t really start to shoot accurately until you get them dirty, and as far as rust goes, when the bore is coated with lube from the bullets, the steel is sealed off from the air, so no rust.

  • June 20, 2012

    Hunting in South America, Part II

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Several times during a South American hunt someone will say, “This trip is spoiling me for hunting back home.” If pulling the trigger is what hunting means to you, then going to South America will definitely ruin U.S. hunting for you because you will shoot a lot. If you’re a real hunter, South America won’t ruin hunting at home. But it is still a highly worthwhile experience to put on your life list. Nowhere in the U.S. will a mounted gaucho appear out of thin air, ride into the marsh, and retrieve ducks for you on horseback as one did for us in Uruguay. Nor are you likely to be passed on the highway by a 1948 Hudson Hornet with a load of firewood in the trunk on your way back to camp in the states. 

  • June 18, 2012

    South America: The Summer Bird Hunting Destination

    By Phil Bourjaily

    On my way back from hunting in Uruguay a few years ago, I met a group of hunters from Mississippi who had been shooting doves around Cordoba, Argentina. One of them asked me about my trip. I told him it was a mixed bag hunt for ducks, pigeons and perdiz. He asked how many rounds I had shot.

    “About 500 in five days,” I said.

    “That’s not very high volume,” he said with disdain. “Check this out.” He pulled up his shirt to show me a bruise the size, shape and color of a tenderized magnum eggplant covering his shoulder and half his chest.

    It is summer and if you want to hunt birds now you need to go to South America. If you go, consider a mixed bag hunt instead of a 1,000 dove-a-day marathon. You will still shoot more than most folks shoot in a full season at home and come home unbruised by the experience. I have done it twice, once in Uruguay and once in Argentina. Mixed bag shoots consist of ducks in the morning, then breakfast, then massive lunch and naps, then either perdiz, pigeons or doves in the afternoon, followed by more eating, plus wine. It is an easy schedule to take and South America is a fascinating place to visit. The picture above is of the sun rising over the Parana River in Argentina.

  • June 14, 2012

    Shotgun Tip: Let Birds Come Into Your Field of Vision

    By Phil Bourjaily


    People keep asking me “Are you still on TV? What happened to the Gun Nuts?” Good news if you’re a fan: Season III debuts on the Outdoor Channel on Wednesday, June 27. Dave, Eddie and I are back for another thirteen new episodes. The show airs at 7:30 p.m. EST (that’s 6:30 CST or “real” time), then again at 11:30 p.m. EST and, if you absolutely can’t fall asleep after that, you can see it yet again at 3:00 a.m.

  • June 13, 2012

    Evaluate Your Gun Collection: Which Ones to Sell?

    By David E. Petzal

    I don’t believe in having lots and lots of guns unless you’re an infantry battalion or a serious collector. You need someplace secure to store them; you have to insure them; and they represent money that’s tied up doing nothing. So periodically you must cull the herd. The question is, which guns go down the road? Here are some things I've learned the hard way.

  • June 12, 2012

    Good Shotgun: The Affordable Break-Action Franchi Instinct

    By Phil Bourjaily

    People ask me about affordable break action guns. I usually tell them to buy used because there just aren’t many good ones around (CZ is about it). Now there’s another to add to the short list: the Franchi Instinct.

  • June 11, 2012

    Book Review: 'Guns and Hunting' by Finn Aagaard

    By David E. Petzal

    Right at the top of the list of people I wish were still among us is Finn Aagaard, who departed for happier hunting grounds 12 years ago. He was a neat guy, and one of the very few of our profession who is defying Jim Carmichel’s dictum that there’s nothing deader than a dead gun writer.

    Finn’s writing is like that of Jack O’Connor—another exception to the rule. It contains a ton of experience, great common sense, strong opinions, and humor. This book, which is a compilation of his articles for The American Rifleman, is a 302-page jewel that covers cartridges, rifles, scopes, and hunting in general. It also contains an excellent and insightful foreword by John Barsness which is must reading for anyone who wants to truly appreciate Finn.

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