Post Season

Maybe you put down that trophy you had been stalking for days. Maybe you winged a hail mary on the last day and hit nothing but dirt. Regardless of how last fall’s hunt was, the post season is no time for slacking. Here are some tips for next season.

1. Range Time

Did you really miss or had you knocked your scope out of alignment while running around in the woods? Yes the shot placement you got on the broadside 200 yard shot was good, but could you replicate that shot with another 50 yards? Maybe your animal has quartered and there’s a little breeze. Ultimately all hunting boils down to marksmanship. We spend so much time learning how animals behave and how to hide from them. Because there is so much to learn about ecology and biology, we forget that at the moment of truth, information is meaningless if you can’t shoot straight. You can be an absolute nature noob and still randomly come across game. Unless it falls on your gun you still need to know how to shoot.

2. Care and Feeding

Without good equipment you are a naked monkey waiting to be mercilessly slaughtered by mother nature. Your equipment keeps you together, you need to return the favor. In the post season, you don’t clean your guns after the range. You get out the manual and disassemble and reassemble it. Give it a deep clean and inspect all the parts for wear or fatigue. The same goes for all the rest of your equipment. Replace the batteries in electronic devices like headlamps and GPS. Look through clothing for stains and holes. Take apart and inventory your survival kit. Replace all the used and worn stuff. Nothing like finding out your waterproof match case had a little crack in it when you’re freezing to death in the woods.

3. Review

The amount of finely detailed topographic and visual mapping that can be accessed in a instant is staggering. Bring up google earth and look at where you hunted. Where did you see game and how did it relate to the topography? Use this information to plan your next hunt. Go back and see what the moon, the temperature, and the precipitation were doing. See if there is any correlation between those markers and animal behavior in the area you hunted. Are you hunting the same area next year or moving to a new spot? Bust out the maps and start planning!

4. Exercise

The only reason I don’t hunt my Elk this way is because I respect local game laws (which disallow spears). If you had a hard time keeping up with the animals there’s probably a reason. Deer are not known to sit around smoking cigarettes and watching TV. Elk do not get staggering drunk and eat fast food at 2am. Take a look at your lifestyle and see if it’s slowing you down. Hitting the gym has so many advantages it’s not even funny. Focus on your legs and cardiovascular system to make those mountains into hills and miles into meters.

5. The Invaders

Invasive species are everywhere. If you don’t know about these critters start looking at your local wildlife management office or website. In my wonderful state of Colorado we have an endless supply of invasive species and native populations that need extra control. Find out about year round seasons for animals where you live. Like most of North America, Colorado is infested with European Starlings. It’s not exactly stalking trophy Elk in the wilderness but it gets you outside and keeps your skills sharp. It’s an excellent pursuit that can aid in scouting for other, bigger game. You’ll also get the double benefit of helping native species and local ecosystems.

The season never ends. It only takes pauses. Get your body, mind, and gear in shape for next year and you won’t be disappointed.

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A Gentleman Owns More Than One Suit

Go google “best gun for survival” and as of today you get 30,600,000 returns. The argument goes something like this…

GunGuy1:”The best gun in the entire world is x”

GunGuy2: makes valid point about gun x that it may not be the best but is still a good gun:

GunGuy1:”WHat ar you Hitlers! you must be retard or SOmething!!!1!!11!!”

This conversation goes back and forth for way to long.

I do not believe in the best of anything. Can you imagine the best screwdriver? A gun is a tool. It is a very specific tool with millions of permutations. There is no such gun that is perfect for everything. Let’s look at different guns and see what they have to offer.

Hunting Rifle:

When you really want to reach out and touch something, this is what you want. In a prolonged disaster situation, food becomes a priority. A .30-06 or 7mm bolt action with a scope will bring home dinner. Lighter calibers like the .30-30 offer similar game getting capabilities but with less recoil. A lever action .30-30 would offer the advantage of quick shooting in a defensive situation. Hitting game at 300 yards and hitting people at 300 yards are two different stories. Defending a house in an urban setting would be an area the hunting rifle may fall short. A situation that requires you to shelter in place and defend your home from multiple aggressors would require faster shooting and lighter loads. An advantage of hunting rifles is the popularity of the cartridge. In a prolonged disaster situation ammunition stocks may run low. The popularity of these cartridges in North America would increase your odds of coming across more should your own supplies dwindle.

Assault Rifle:

Everybody loves machine guns. It’s a fact. Britain conquered the world  using single shot muzzle loading muskets. I remember watching Zulu Dawn and thinking, “If the redcoats had some AK’s that would have been way easier.” This exposition will only cover two rifles: the AK and the AR. Please don’t get sad that I don’t cover your favorite assault rifle. This is to discuss two very popular rifles in America right now. The AK-47 is the most used assault rifle on the planet. It has fought in conflicts of every imaginable terrain, climate, and scale and repeatedly proved its worth. It’s so simple you can train an illiterate goat-herder from Central Asia to use it in 5 minutes. The 7.62 x 39 is heavy enough to drop attackers quickly and can even drop medium sized game within distance. I live in a suburban environment and envision a shelter in place scenario. When the food where I live runs out, I don’t need to be shooting anything beyond 100 yards. I’ll be dealing with looters or foragers. I want a nice, reliable, fast gun that will keep my home protected. A drawback to the AK vs the AR is the range. Sure, you can make it into a Druganov clone to increase the accuracy but the load is too light to take anything bigger than mule deer. The AR (and its descendents) is an exceptional rifle that offers the rapid fire needed in a close quarter urban environment. The low muzzle velocity and high energy create startling wound profiles on game and hostiles alike. The AR has been fielded in multiple environments and come up shy on just one facet, reliability. AR’s are built with extremely tight tolerances. These tolerances allow the AR to put rounds on target well past 700 yards. This also proves to be its downfall when operating in dirty, grimy conditions. Jamming in the middle of a gunfight sounds like no fun. If you found an AR and an AK in a mud puddle filled with sand you have two options. Pick up the AR, field strip it, clean every nook and cranny and hope it works. Or you could pick up the AK, urinate in the action, cycle it a few times and be ready to party. A definite advantage of the AR over the AK is its modularity. I’ve heard it called Barbie for boys. Every imaginable pistol grip, stock, magazine, scope, and doo dad can be mounted on the AR to fit the owners needs. An AR also has the advantage of using the 5.56 NATO round. This could be an advantage if the disaster takes the shape of some blue bonnets coming over our hills.

Shotgun:

It takes big game. It takes small game. It takes birds. It takes aggressors without even aiming. The shotgun is definitely a tool I want to have if the SHTF. The same gun can be used for multiple purposes depending on the ammunition. Light loads for the daily small game and birds it would take to maintain calories, slugs for the occasional big game. I would argue pump over auto for simplicity sake. I can fix my Remington 870 Express but my brother’s Benelli is like a rubix cube. Even if you get stuck with a basement full of cheap target loads you can make cut shells. The shotgun may be great for all sorts of situations but its range may leave something to be desired. Anything beyond 100 yards will merely be irritated by the noise of the gun and remain injury free.

Black Powder:

Hear me out. My Model 1851 Confederate Navy .44 is deadly. I take squirrel and rabbit with it easily. I can use up black powder on small game before dipping into any “real” ammo. It’s a cheap and easy way to prolong the home magazine. What about caps? Those will run out before the powder surely?. To that I say Ha! Flintlock! And I also say don’t call me Shirley. Our forefathers defeated the largest army in the world using flintlocks. The Zulu’s may have smashed the British at Islandlwana but we started the tradition of whipping her majesty’s soldiers way before they did.

Handguns:

100% necessary. A large caliber handgun such as the .44 magnum or a Desert Eagle .50 will easily take large animals within range. A handgun is also essential when it comes to self-defense. The abundance of handgun ammunition will ensure supplies last if the SHTF. Handguns do not have anything near the power or range of the other guns listed here. A handgun is certainly something you want to have in the toolkit if things get ugly. I would again argue revolver over automatic for simplicity. The revolver certainly falls short in the capacity department when compared to semi-autos.

So what are we going to do? There are several things at play here but for me a chief concern is price. My Scottish blood turns to ice when I look at the prices of guns and ammunition. The reason I’m such an AK fanboy has two reasons, durability and price. I may be planning for the apocalypse but I still have bills to pay right now. An AK-47 in America should cost $400 with two magazines and a cleaning kit, new in cosmoline. An AR will be double that. For a rifle you can get a .30-06 bolt action for $200 (minus scope). How about a Nagant? You can equip your whole family with the same rifle Simo Häyhä used for $600! A shotgun will run anywhere from $80 for a single shot .410 up into the $300’s for a good pump action. What about the price of ammo? Shotgun shells can be accumulated in larger amounts for a lower price than rifle ammo. Consider the cost saving of having your weapons be of a uniform caliber. Think pistol caliber rifles combined with handguns of the same caliber. A .40 carbine with a .40 on your hip will provide several methods to eat food and deter people with ill intent. Black powder is crazy cheap. You can melt down anything metal for bullets and shoot for eons. If you want to get creative you can even make black powder from scavenged resources.

So what then is the best gun to have if things got really, really, bad?If you haven’t seen the light yet let me help you. If you got through the first paragraph and said ‘tldr’ here’s a picture instead of words.

a tool for every purpose

-Richard Hammack