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Archive for July 2011

Backyard Deer Hunting Author Makes Affiliate Relationship with 5.11 Tactical Products

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This super bright recharchable flashlight from 5.11 Tactical puts out a white light that is excellent for following blood trails.

As a hunter, broadcaster, outdoor guy, blogger, videographer and writer one of the fun things that I do is to attend the annual Shot Show. I did a radio broadcast from last year’s show and covered as many of the thousands of exhibitors as I could who offered potentially useful products for an outdoor-oriented audience that might include hunters, fisherman and others who really love their guns, gear, knives, bows, crossbows and related stuffs.

  I look for innovation, and most especially for those products that are not only new, but are also useful. I was attracted to 5.11 Tactical Products by their rechargeable LED flashlight. These were very bright, white lights that I thought would be outstanding for tracking blood trails. I have owned flashlights by the bucketfuls, but these impressed me for their quality, the pure white spectrum of the light and rechargability.

  Looking around they also had some good quality liner-locked folding knives that could serve hunters very well as well as packs, clothing and law-enforcement-related gear. I am a very hard sell so far as clothing goes. Much of what I use is patched up and may be decades old. I did appreciate the design, use of rip-stop fabrics and even found a dark green forest color that I thought I could wear when I hunted. I was impressed enough to feature them on  my 2011 broadcast on “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures,” and to form an affiliate relationship with them to help promote what I think is an excellent line of  products.

A link to their web page and some of their recent promotional materials appears below.

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Written by hoveysmith

July 8, 2011 at 11:44 am

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Loading Modern Percussion Revolvers

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These guns and components were used in the video, "Modern Percussion Revolvers. Part 3. Loading." and are described below.

Percussion revolvers that most people know from the Civil War era are now available in modernized guns that both replicate the originals to varying degrees or are completely new designs. The new guns include Ruger’s Old Army, Pietta’s 1858 Remington-style  Buffalo with a 12-inch barrel, an 1873 Colt Peacemaker look-alike from Traditions,  and .22-caliber stainless revolvers made by North American Arms.  In addition, new powders are available such as Hodgdon’s Pyrodex P in granular and pellet form,  Triple Seven and other black powder substitutes as well as bullets, lubricated wads and accessories.  

  These modern components  make these revolvers easier to use, improve  accuracy and offer more flexibility for a variety of target, plinking and hunting uses. I am a hunter, and if I have a gun I am fairly well going to kill something with it. This was a real challenge with some of the guns such as the weakly powered .22 revolvers which are best used on small rodents at close range and others with such poor sights that they are best employed for follow-up shots on big game at point-blank ranges.

 Solid-frame all-steel revolvers can take loads of Triple Seven powder which develops 10 percent more energy that the same granulations of black powder. Additional killing power is added with  magnum-strength percussion caps and modern conical bullets.    These improvements, combined with adjustable sights and long barrels,  have the potential of improving these revolvers’ capabilities as killers of  smallish big-game species.  I am investigating the hunting potential of these guns in a 7-part video series.

  Part 3, “Loading” reminded me that there are some  contradictions in the literature about these guns in that they are sometimes called .44s or .45s  in different references. The Colt designation for these guns was that the .44 was considered the Army caliber, whereas the .36 was the Navy caliber. Replica .44 guns take .454 balls made of pure lead. As these are loaded, a ring of lead is cut from the bullets by the steel cylinder walls. Leading of the bore is prevented by putting lubricant over the top of the bullets, which also prevents chain firing. This is when flame jumps from chamber to chamber and the entire gun fires at once – a spectacular event.  Lubricant over the top of the ball and a felt wad beneath it  helps prevent chain-fires.

  The Pyrodex pistol-pellet load gave uncharacteristically non-uniform performance in  Traditions’ Peacemaker look-alike. The first load apparently caused sufficient recoil to cause the 6 O’clock chamber to fire because the cap slammed against the gun’s backplate. The next shot sounded like a squib and the others fired normally. Some lube did get into the “squib” chamber during loading. This appears to have spoiled the pellet which partly ignited, but did not generate normal pressures.  Additional shooting revealed that this revolver would not shoot round-ball loads primed by CCI Magnum percussion caps and charged with either Pyrodex Pistol Pellets or 30 grains of  FFFg  without simultaneously discharging one or two other chambers.  More work with this gun will be needed to develop workable lower-pressure  loads. DO NOT TRY HEAVY LOADS IN THIS GUN.  

  For reasons probably having to do with the barrels or tooling he had available,  Bill Ruger’s Old Army uses a larger .457 bullet. Sometimes these are called .45s, although they are only fractionally larger that the .451-bullets used in the .44s.  Also, conical revolver bullets are sometimes designated as .45-caliber for the Ruger and the slightly smaller balls used in  Colt and Remington  replica revolvers are called  .44s.  Muzzleloading rifles,  that are commonly called .45s,  very often use a .440 round ball and patch. These round balls are not intended for .44-caliber revolvers.

 Although elongate, or conical, bullets were originally available for percussion revolvers, several more modern styles have been developed that give better results. The one shown in this video is Buffalo Bullet Company’s Round Nose Pistol Bullet (stock no. 44050) . On the box this is labeled as “.44-caliber, .451 diameter.”  This is the size designed for the Ruger Old Army revolver. In the video I call it a Ball-Et which is a designation the company uses for a line of  similarly shaped rifle bullets in various calibers.

  The Pyrodex pellets that are shown are special pellets designed for pistol use and marked “for CAP and BALL REVOLVERS.” These are also sold in round containers in contrast to the rectangular boxes used for the rifle pellets. These do not have the black-powder priming charge molded on the end of the pellet as used on Pyrodex rifle pellets.   These pistol pellets do not work well as blank charges. They may project as flaming missiles out the end of the barrel if fired with only a wads because insufficient pressure is generated to combust the powder. Shooters have reported  inconsistant results with these pellets in percussion revolvers.

 Ox-Yoke Originals makes both the lubricated felt wads (No. 4400) as “Wonder Wads 1000 Plus,” and the wax chamber seals as “Revolver Wonder Seals” (No. OXO2344). These can be purchased from dealers or ordered on-line  from Dixie Gun Works, Cabela’s or other catalogue stores.

 Pyrodex pellets and substitute black powders are often more difficult to ignite than black powder, and I use CCI Magnum No. 11 percussion caps. This size cap is “standard” for replica percussion guns, except for those that use the larger musket cap. Originally, there was a variety of nipple sizes and caps to fit them, with smaller guns taking smaller caps.

“Modern Percussion Revolvers. Part 3. Loading” may be seen as a YouTube video at:  http://youtu.be/kzLfX1UfILA.

Written by hoveysmith

July 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm

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Hunting with Pedersoli’s Howdah Double-Barreled Pistol

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Davide Pedersoli Howdah Hunter with sight-in target, hog teeth, percussion caps and expanded Buffalo Bullet Ball-Et from the hog.

 Davide Pedersoil named their gun the Howdah Hunter. The double-barreled pistol was 18 1/2-inches long, had two .50-caliber rifled side-by-side barrels and weighed about 5-pounds. As I write about hunting with black-powder pistols and this gun was called a “hunter,” I took it on as sort of duty to go out and hunt with it.

  There were some problems. We don’t have many, if any, howdahs in Georgia.  These wooden, leather and fabric structures sit on elephants’ backs and in India were used as mobile hunting platforms. Tigers would sometimes claw their way up the elephant’s trunk or flanks in an attempt to attack the hunter/s. The howdah pistol was a large calibered double-barreled pistol designed to be used as a last-ditch means of  self-defence.

 Cartridge versions were chambered for large capacity black-powder cartridges like the .577 Snider,  and I suspect that the 12-bore was the most common muzzleloading caliber. Pedersoli, the Italian gunmaker, decided to use some of the components of  their  muzzleloading shotguns and rifles and produce a double-barreled pistol on the style of these very uncommon,  historic arms.

 The pistol that I requested from Dixie Gun Works had two 50-caliber rifled barrels. The gun is also available from Dixie Gun Works, Cabela’s and others with .58-caliber rifled barrels, 20-gauge smoothbore barrels or with one  rifled and one smoothbore barrel. It is always a challenge to get double-barreled guns of any sort to shoot both barrels to  the same point of aim.  Some makers have attempted to solve this problem by putting adjustable sights on top of each of the two barrels or by providing set screws to apply pressure on the end of one barrel so that it could be adjusted.  

  The Howdah Hunter had only a front bead sight. If I was to do anything to get the barrels to shoot together, I would have to do it by developing different loads for each barrel. In the meantime, I had arranged a hunt in Texas where I would shoot from tower stands at hogs coming into bait. This was the closest that I could come to shooting from a Howdah. (Although, I can see some real potential for hunting on elephants for hogs in Florida and on the Gulf Coast where the thick, tall vegetation and flooded swamp makes hunting very difficult  to do on foot.  Hunters do the next best thing by putting high seats on airboats and swamp vehicles.)

  After much experimentation with  powder charges and bullets, I found that I could achieve 2-inch groups at 20 yards. To get the maximum power from the gun’s 11 1/4-inch barrels, I changed the number 11 nipples to the larger musket cap size and elected to use Hodgdon’s FFg  granulation Triple Seven black-powder substitute powder. To keep variables to a minimum, I decided on a charge of 60 grains of Hodgdon’s Triple Seven powder in both barrels.  I used a 370 grain Thompson/Center Arms MaxiBall in the right barrel which gave 1022 fps. and 853 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy. The bullet that shot closest to the bull from the left barrel was a Buffalo Bullet’s 270 grain Ball-Et which had a velocity of 1088 fps. and 710 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy. Recoil was noticeable, but controllable.  The delivered energy,which would still be above the 500 ft./lbs. often considered as the minimum for deer-sized game, gave me confidence that these loads would be effective on hogs, provided that I put the bullets in the right place.

 Additional complications were that the trigger pulls were long and hard in addition to the not inconsiderable problem of no rear sight.  Since this gun was a  “loaner,” I could not smooth up the triggers as I usually would. Although it would not appear so, shooting guns with only a front sight, or even no sights, requires more skill that shooting a similar gun with a full set of sights. The guns must be held exactly the same way from shot to shot, the eye must elevate the front bead to precisely the same point while attempting to fight through the trigger pull. It was very helpful that I would be able to shoot from a solid rest by bracing the gun on the stand’s safety rail.

Texas hog taken with the Howdah Hunter.

The hogs were extremely cautious coming into the corn. They had obviously been shot from this stand many times before. It took minutes for me to ease the pistol into shooting position, silent cock the right hammer and wait for the largest log to be in a position. I wanted it to face directly away from the stand so the bullet would have the maximum opportunity to strike the spine even if there was a several-inch error in elevation. This ideal shot did not materialize. When the hog had moved a little away from the others, I aimed at the top of the front shoulder.

  I started the long trigger pull. A breath and a half later the trigger broke, and the shot fired. The hogs scattered, except for the one that I shot. The heavy bullet had passed close enough to the bottom of the spine to immobilized the hog, but it was still alive.  I cocked the other hammer. This time I sighted at the back of the animal’s head and, although fighting another tough trigger pull, managed to put the shot where I aimed. The hog died within seconds. The Ball-Et passed through the spine, the shoulder and was found in well-mushroomed condition under the skin on the far side.

  My quest with the Howdah Hunter had ended.  Both bullets were delivered to where they needed to go. I was very happy to put the Hunter back into its box and return it to Dixie. That hunt provided material for the 2010 edition of  Gun Digest. I had enjoyed the experience of working with an interesting and historic gun of a type that I would have likely never had a chance to handle, much less take on a hunt.

 A more detailed account of this hunt is in my new book X-Treme Muzzleloading which is to be published this fall.  For information on it and my other books go to www.hoveysmith.com.

Written by hoveysmith

July 5, 2011 at 11:40 am

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Video Series Started on the Modern Percussion Revolver

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A selection of modern percussion revolvers from .22 to .44-caliber was available to illustrate a reasonable range of guns.

 My interest in black-powder guns is usually along the lines of,  “Will this gun hunt?” Even when I purchased my first percussion revolver  in 1959,  I was most interested if I could shoot squirrels with my replica .36-caliber brass-framed import. The answer was that although it was more than sufficiently powerful to take a squirrel, it was so ill-sighted that it was almost impossible to hit a squirrel, except at ranges of a few feet. The gun not only shot high, it also shot considerably to the left.

  As more, and better quality, replicas appeared in the market I tried those too. These included the Colt Walker, which were fun to shoot, relatively powerful (more so than factory loads of the .45 Long Colt), but weak guns that lacked a top strap over the cylinder, were just as poorly sighted as the old .36 and a S.O.B. to clean. I shot NMLRA competition for a time, and I used a Thompson/Center Patriot single-shot pistol for target shooting.

  Bill Ruger decided he could make a better percussion revolver somewhat based on  his Blackhawk centerfire single-action design.  He used the stronger top-strap frame, as had the historic 1858 Remington, and considerably improved the gun by installing some excellent adjustable sights.  Because it would have the Ruger name, he did not cheapen the gun by using inexpensive materials. Initially, the gun was to be offered in both .36 and .44 calibers. I suppose a few .36s were made, but I have never seen one. This revolver, once introduced, became the finest percussion revolver ever made, so far as its design, materials and functionality were concerned.

The Ruger Old Army and a broom are both employed in alligator hunting.

The Ruger was a gun that I thought that I could hunt with, and I did. I used it to take squirrels, small game and as my preferred pistol for delivering close range shots into the brains of alligators  after I have an arrowed them and drug them to the boat.  In my writings I took the line  that this and similar percussion revolvers had too little powder capacity to really be effective on deer-size game, except as back-up pistols. 

 I started to receive kick-backs on this statement from several correspondents who said that they had successfully used these pistols on deer and hogs. They convinced me that this was worth trying in a couple of guns that had adjustable sights and other qualities that make them more suitable for general hunting. The two guns that I selected to try on deer and hogs for the 2011-12 hunting season was a stainless version of the Ruger Old Army, which I already owned, and a stainless Pietta 1858 New Army Buffalo revolver from Cabela’s with a 12-inch barrel.

  Because I now had a reasonable sampling of modern percussion revolvers, I decided to produce seven YouTube videos as I took these guns through the steps of  getting them ready for small and big game hunting.  The first, ” Modern Percussion Revolvers. Part 1. The Pistols.,” appears below.  As the rest of the series is produced, I will append their  U.R.Ls. to this post. If you have trouble viewing “Part 1” here you can go directly to YouTube and see it at: http://youtu.be/PB0SYhonsqM.

Part 2. “Prepping the Percussion Revolver” may be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OnXc4sFJaE. I removed the shipping oil from the gun, widened the rear sight and ground a little metal from one side of the hammer nose which was losing impact velocity by  rubbing against the gun’s frame.  When I clean the gun after shooting, I will take a little more metal from the hammer nose and polish it bright. 

Part 3. “Loading” may now be viewed on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/kzLfX1UfILA. Two guns, the .22-caliber North American Arms’ and Traditions’ .44-caliber Peacemaker-style revolvers are loaded using external tools, while the Ruger Old Army is loaded in a more conventional manner using an attached  loading lever. I have posted a separate blog to more clearly identify the components used during the loading and shooting videos. 

Part 4. “Shooting” Take 2 is on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSWL6tCXDrU. I did not crimp the caps on one of the guns which caused them to fall from the nipples, and I had an unexplained double-fire with another gun when two chambers fired at once.  I reshot this video as “Take 2,” but instead of one double-fire got two triple-fires using a different load in the gun. This event yielded some good information and stop-action shots of the event that are in the video.

Part 5. “Cleaning.”  may be seen at: http://youtu.be/_unvG7iBY1w. This includes  CVA’s brass-framed “Confederate” revolver, Traditions’ 1873 percussion pistol, Cabela’s 1858 Remington Buffalo, Ruger’s Old Army and North American Arms’ .22 caliber percussion revolvers.  Unlike modern cartridge guns and loads, these must be disassembled, cleaned with soap and water, dried and oiled to prevent corrosion from black powder and most substitute propellants.

Written by hoveysmith

July 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm

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