Saturday, April 26, 2008

Getting outfitted for Dove hunting: Guns and Gear

As success in the field is much dependant on having the proper gear in good order, the best options may not be the cheapest. When half way around the world I prefer to have reliable gear. Economize elsewhere.

Vanderbilt family biographer Ulf Aschen records one safari led by the Baron Bror Von Blixen, (Blixen was 'The Great White Hunter', see The Man Whom Women Loved, also by Aschen) “was probably the most expensive ever outfitted. A fleet of 20 trucks carried equipment and stores which included cases of champagne that were drunk until two in the morning… The plane left each day for Nairobi, either to take a guest to the hairdresser or trophies to Zimmerman, the taxidermist. It brought back fresh fish and Evian water for the Vanderbilt matriarch’s bath.”

That is how it should be done, but I did not marry a Vanderbilt.

Guns and preparation

Sure you can rent a gun, and they are fine. But they are not set up for you, and will not fit the same as your gun. Argentina is safe, you have little to worry about there. The only hassle is dealing with the Americans on the way back in. Just bring your receipt from when you purchased the guns or register them. I do not like that they wanted me to register the guns but I did it, and no federal agent has ever showed up at my house.

Bring automatic guns. Plural, guns. Take two exactly alike, the parts are interchangeable. I carry a pair of Benelli Super Black Eagle II's. I do not recommend this model, as they are heavier. They perform incredibly, but after hoisting them a few thousand times I want lighter guns. I just happened to have 2 of them, and could not get what is preferred, 12 gauge Benelli M2 with the comfort tech stock and 28 inch barrels, in time as I shoot left handed. You will need to make a few modifications to them to make them ready. The link is to Able Ammo, the can get you any gun you want, and ship it to your local FFL holder. I know them, Randy and his crew are good guys, and are in Huntsville, Texas if you are close and want to go pick them up.

First, clean the new gun, right down to the recoil tube in the stock. It is filled with sticky grease from the factory the will ruin your day. Old oil or grease will do the same. Do not trust the gunsmith unless he is a fine one, and has an ultrasonic vibratory parts cleaner, as they short cut on this.

Most important, replace the factory butt pad. Replace it with a Limbsaver Precision-Fit Recoil Pad, nothing else will do. I shoot 1,500 rounds a day and never bruise. The factory butt pad is OK, but will bruise you after 500 or 1000 rounds. Once you are bruised, you are done. You will chaff and bleed. Take all my advice on recoil management. Do not short cut. Here is what happens if you ignore me, like my friend Mark did.

Replace the red plastic follower, that is in the magazine tube and pushes the shells out, with an aluminum one. This part wears quickly and will cause feeding problems, especially when exposed to gun cleaning solvents. The replacement part is available from Briley, and is anodized aluminum. I did not find it on their website but email them or call. For solvents, I recommend Birchwood Casey Synthetic Safe Gun Scrubber. Anything else will eat the finish off if it is camo, and is otherwise rough on the nylon components. No brake cleaner or gasoline. Also the Argentines call gasoline NAFTA, I mistook them to say naphtha. My gun caught on fire with flames jumping out of the breach. A quick squirt from my water bottle and I was back to shooting, but should be avoided as a solvent.

Replace the bolt handle and the bolt release with Briley's. Briley's bolt handle is great as it is rounded. You will tear up your finger on the factory one. This is true off all automatic guns I have seen. The bolt release is important as the factory one is a small round metal button that is hard to locate and difficult to operate. The big paddle they have makes it so you just bump the thing with your palm and it closes.

Next, shoot them in. Granted these are not Cape Buffalo, but you should never go into battle with an untested gun. You will need to fire a few hundred rounds to get them to run properly. Clean them again, all the way to disassembling the cycling tube. At this point apply the lightest coat of oil possible, either Rem Oil, or WD-40, then wipe it off and reassemble. Oil is a magnet for dust and burned powder, that will foul the gun. Then when it fouls, spray hell out of it with WD-40 and keep shooting.

Recoil Management

Taking these preventative steps will ensure that you do not hurt your shoulder, thumb, cheek or ears.

Mount the gun properly! Bring the gun up to your line of sight, do not bring your head down to the comb of the stock. Contorting your neck this way will mess you up with all this shooting. If you are having to do this your gun does not fit properly. The Benelli's are easily adjusted if you know what you are doing. If not, go to a good gunsmith. Larry Feland in Houston is great, Briley can do some of this as well.

Get the Recoil Pad from above! Then follow these steps:
1. When dressing, rub your shoulder with a lot of Vaseline.

2. Then put a soft cotton undershirt on.

3. Then your shooting shirt, that has a recoil pad in it. This does not have to be a really technical gel or rubber insert, the plain shooting shirts sold by TAG Safari work well. I use them because no one else makes a left handed shooting shirt worth a damn, and these are tough. Tough also means the fabric is a little more course, so pay attention to #'s 1 & 2, or you will be bleeding.

4. Take a couple ibuprofen before the hunt. The spent powder will give you a headache, and the recoil does not help.

5. EAR PLUGS. Take a lot of extras, and give them to every bird boy you see, and show them how to use them. They have no concept.

6. Tape the end of your thumb loosely with athletic tape, to the knuckle, like a big thimble.

7. You must have gloves. Mechanix gloves. Your hands take a beating. You can get these at auto parts stores, Wal-Mart, etc. They are better than overpriced leather shooting gloves.

8. You are going to be showing these pictures off to your friends, so make sure you look cool. I had a tailor in Buenos Aires custom make a leather shooting coat for me. Mostly to give my friends something to talk about, but it is really nice to shoot in. Shoulder pad, shell pouches, hand warmer pockets, a bird bag in back, and a little pocket inside for my pistola.

They all just refer to it as my 'Pimp Coat'. I am going to have one made out of fox fur, cuz thats the kinda Pimp I am. They are all a bunch of jealous ass player hatin bitches anyways.

It was not all that expensive, about $500. Here is a picture I took of it hanging up while I enjoyed evening over a lake. Shortly after I took this picture a group of Silver Teal came and lit right on this shore, not 10 feet away. I was out of film.

The coat was made for me by Laffon Leather at Florida Street on Viamonte Street in Buenos Aires. Nice folks, and they do good work.
Pimpin' ain't easy, everybody wants the fur coat and the cadillac, nobody wants to put up with a bunch of triffling Ho's.


Pat said...

Mark (guy whose shoulder is blistered in the picture) is such a big pussy. I told him to wear a maxxi pad but he wouldn't listen.

Alex said...

I could bring myself to slap a maxxi(Is it 2 x's Pat? I don't wear tham often as you) pad on under my shirt. Our friend Linda, Abbe's wife swears it will work.