Picking The Perfect Firearm For Your Child

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Spend time researching the right firearm for your child.

I will always remember my first firearm. I was 12 years old, and the firearm was a Marlin model 98 .22 long rifle. The rifle-fed from a tubular magazine in the butt stock. It had been my Uncle’s, as had the .12 Gauge break action that was handed down to me. Both guns were old, had little sentimental value since my Uncle was alive and were notoriously unreliable (had not been properly taken care of).

My Dad, not wanting his son to have inferior firearms, went to the local gun shop and picked me up a Remington 870 Express .12 gauge. I opened the package the 870 came in that Christmas. I pulled back the wrapping paper to reveal those beautiful green letters that spelled “Remington,” and I knew it was going to be a good Christmas! I was taller than most boys my age and I could easily handle the .12 gauge. In fact, I lugged that shotgun all through my beginning hunting years as I pursued turkey and deer in upstate New York. To this day it still accompanies me in the field every year for turkey. I’ll never get rid of that shotgun.

The Right Firearm

As a hunter, shooter and firearms instructor I have folks ask me all the time, “What gun should I purchase for my child?” As a father of three, with my oldest just now closing in on the age where they will get their own firearm, I can say there are 50 different answers to this question. My wife and I both hunt and shoot and our children have shown strong interest in both sports.

After teaching young folks how to shoot for years and taking youngsters into the woods on their first hunt on many occasions, I have some very strong opinions. Here are my top picks for a youngster’s first firearm.

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The .22

1. Davey Crickett .22 long rifle built by Keystone Arms. This is a great rifle for a little one to start shooting at around the age of six. It is smooth, easy to operate and has a solid cross bolt safety. I like the single shot .22 for first-timers because the process of loading a single shot is a great way to instill firearms safety in your child. And your child is going to have to learn to make every shot count. Single shot rifles also are a great way to conserve ammunition in an ever-changing world. One nice little gimmick about these rifles is they come in several different color options, so a boy can go for black or laminate, and a gal can go for pink.

Price Tag: Around $100-$120

2. Remington 572. The iconic Remington pump .22 has been in production for 60 years. Built like a tank and with a silky-smooth action, this is a perfect .22 for the older child/teenager. It costs a pretty penny as .22s go, but this is a rifle your child will have their entire life and will probably be passed down for a few generations to come! This is not the rifle for a first-time shooter, but for an older child or your teen, there is no better choice out there.

Price Tag: Around $550

The Shotgun

In my opinion, a child needs to be around 10 or 12 before being taught to shoot a shotgun. Sure, there are some children who start younger, but with the much stouter recoil it can be hard on young ones. Both of my choices are pump shotguns, as they allow for follow-up shots and their heavier weight reduces recoil for small shooters.

3. Mossberg 510 Youth 20 gauge. This is a great little shotgun. It has a 3-plus-1 capacity, adjustable shoulder stock that grows with your child and an assortment of chokes. You also can purchase an adult stock to install when junior gets bigger. I have found these shotguns to be very quick pointers and very handy in the woods. My wife has one with an adult butt stock and I have even borrowed it before for squirrel.  

Price Tag: Around $320

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4. Remington 870 Express or Wingmaster in either .12 or .20 gauge. This shotgun has much more heft, is quite a bit larger and should only be considered for your growing teenager. For young ladies and smaller-statured teenage boys, a .20 gauge is a fine choice. For those strapping farm boys in your family, get the .12 gauge – they will thank you for it later on. The Express my father gave me has been with me for more than 20 years. The firearm is indestructible and has never failed me. If you want a prettier gun with superior fit and finish, get the Wingmaster model. Either option, this is a gun that will stay in the family.

Price Tag: Around $320

The Game Rifle

5. Rossi Single Shot Youth .223 Rifle. This is my first choice for a young child’s deer rifle. Yes, a .223 can kill up to a deer-sized critter. With this rifle there is no recoil, which is a very attractive thing for a youngster. No, it is not suitable for elk, moose, bear or anything larger than a whitetail. But if you want a first deer rifle, this can work well. It also is great for kids wanting to get into the shooting sports.

Price Tag: Around $250

6. Ruger American Rifle. This is a terrific, cheap and accurate rifle. The trigger is great and the accuracy and relatively-smooth action are also very good. Fitted with a decent optic, you will be very surprised with the rifle’s accuracy. For the older kid or teenager, this is a terrific choice for a first “real game rifle.” For a younger child, I would suggest a chambering in .7mm-08, which is one of the most effective and light kicking cartridges around. For a teenager, I would choose a .270 or .308 for a little heavier punch.

Price Tag: Around $350

What would you add to this list? Take away from the list? Share your opinion in the section below:

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The Fastest Way To Rid Your Land Of Wild Hogs

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The Fastest Way To Rid Your Land Of Wild Hogs

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Over the past 40-50 years, the feral hog population across the country has increased dramatically. In some areas, it is not a horrible epidemic, but in others it has been devastating. There are an estimated 6 million hogs running wild in the United States

Wild hogs can be compared to bulldozers on four legs, wreaking havoc on forests, wildlife habitat, farms and even flower gardens. Hogs root, and wallow and pollute streams and rivers with their fecal matter. They carry brucellosis and can even carry tape and round worm parasites in some parts of the world.

For many years, people around the nation illegally imported hogs to their land to have another game species to hunt. This practice only increased the range of wild boar, with many of the landowners quickly regretting their decisions and begging people to come and kill their recent “game” additions to their land.

Hogs are known to eat turkey, quail, pheasant and even eggs, and to kill and consume deer fawn.

Many states allow landowners to use whatever methods necessary to kill wild hogs. Here are some methods you, too, can employ to tackle wild hog populations.

1. Hunting

This is actually the least effective form when employed in the traditional way. Often, trophy hunters will only target large boars and leave smaller sows to live to oink another day. By only removing a hog here and there, it does nothing to control the population.

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The reason: The female pig, the sow, becomes sexually mature at four months of age. It can breed three times a year. Each litter of piglets can have between eight and 16 new pigs. Get the picture?

If hunting is used, the objective must be to kill as many pigs as possible. Hunting needs to be paired with other methods to work. Once hogs are removed, hunting can serve to keep populations low.

2. Bait, trap, eliminate

The most effective way to control hogs is to set up a fenced trap with bait in the middle. The traps can be auto or manually sprung. The key is to capture as many hogs as possible. If a few sows escape, you are right back where you started.

Do not transport these hogs and release them. Completely and totally shoot and kill every hog captured in the trap. The large magazine firearms come in handy, as reloading while eliminating up to 20 or 30 hogs at a time can be a pain.

3. Tannerite

Tannerite is an explosive, and there are regulations regarding its employment; study your state’s laws before considering this option. Tannerite must be detonated by a high velocity rifle cartridge. The user must ensure he and anyone else is at least 100 yards away for safety sake, and that he is a good shot. If you miss, the hogs will surely bolt and the opportunity will be lost.

The more tannerite, the further back you want to be. If you are foolish, you will die. Usually four to eight pounds is sufficient. Bait the area for a few days with corn, and use trail cameras to determine hog patterns. The day you set out to decimate their numbers, put out more corn, mix the tannerite, and set it up, and then place yourself in a position of safety and concealment a safe distance away. Do not add any nails or shrapnel to the mix; the explosives have enough power to kill the hogs.

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The Incredible History Of The Ever-So-Versatile .30-06

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The Dependable, Ever-Ready, Versatile .30-06

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An old saying goes, “There is not very much that a man can’t fix, with 500 bucks and a .30-06!”

For more than a century, the caliber .30, year of 1906, has been America’s cartridge. From the trenches of World War I, to the battlefields of World War II, to the Korean War, the deer stand, and the rifle competitions at Camp Perry — the ’06 has been there.

The story of the versatile .30-06 actually goes back to the 1890s, a decade before its introduction. The US military was desperate to get away from black powder and the trap door, single shot Springfields that fired the massive .45-70 cartridge. At the time, nations all over the world were adopting smokeless powder and bolt-action rifles for their respective militaries, and there was no reason for the US to be left behind.

After a few years of trials and much political haggling, the US Army adopted the .30-40 chambered Krag-Jorgensen rifle, a Norwegian design. The rifle was obsolete from the get-go. It had to be loaded one round at a time, and it had a magazine cut-off. These two features encouraged the rifle to be employed as a single shot, with the magazine held in reserve if needed. This was utterly foolish, and proved just as stupid as it sounded on the battlefield during the Spanish-American War.

Another weakness was the ammunition. It was a short-ranged round and did not have the power equal to the ammunition used by the Spanish and their fine Mauser rifles. The US suffered enormous casualties at the Battle of San Juan due to the superior Spanish rifles and ammo.

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After the war, the US copied the Mauser, in the form of the M1903 Springfield. It was a beautiful rifle and was originally chambered with a .30-03 cartridge. This was updated in 1906, much to the credit of then President Theodore Roosevelt. The new cartridge was based on the 8mm Mauser round used by the German army and was just as powerful. Thus, the .30-06.

The cartridge saw its first action in the Philippines, Mexico and France during WWI. After the war, soldiers brought back their Springfield and US Enfield rifles (also chambered in .30-06). Many were sporterized by hunters and taken afield, where the .30-06 proved a very capable hunting cartridge. The ’06 could handle any game animal in the US, and most other game around the world.

Another World War came, and afterward millions of rifles and billions of rounds of surplus ammunition flooded the civilian markets. By now, civilian hunting rifles chambered in .30-06 became more and more common. Deer, elk and moose hunters especially carted .30-06-chambered firearms into the woods to bash their hoofed quarry into submission and fill the freezers back at home. In fact, the .30-06 was the most popular sporting cartridge after the venerable .30-03 in the post-war years in America.

The .30-06 also has served as the parent cartridge for many equally successful loads, especially the .270. In fact, between the .270 and .30-06, more elk have fallen to these two cartridges in the past 70 years than any other chamberings, other than perhaps the .30-30.

In the 1960s, Remington introduced the model 700 hunting rifle, millions of which are chambered in the ’06. The age of mass-produced, relatively cheap hunting rifles had arrived and has not stopped. Today, the .30-06 maintains its place as the king of American hunting cartridges, long after its military service has ended.

The .30-06 can be found in many different bullet weights and powder loads. There are loads tailor-built for whitetail or mule deer hunting. There are loads for elk and larger game. There are even loads for sportsmen to take to Alaska and Africa to take dangerous game such as the coastal brown bear. Just about every gun shop or sporting goods center carries .30-06 cartridges. While more expensive than it has been in years past, it is still affordable. Cheap import ammunition still is available and makes the price much more affordable for the budget-minded shooter.

More than 100 years after its introduction, it’s clear why the .30-06 remains one of America’s favorite calibers.

What advice would you add about the .30-06? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The ‘Battle Rifle’ Buyer’s Guide: 4 You Should Consider

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The ‘Battle Rifle’ Buyer’s Guide: 4 You Should Consider

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Before, during, and after World War I, almost every army on the face of the planet carried bolt-action rifles. These rifles fired a full power cartridge, and most came equipped with two-foot-long sword bayonets.

The concept behind these firearms was to give the infantryman an effective accurate repeater that also could be turned into a spear when the need arose. This was all well and good during World War I, where firefights still occurred more than 300 yards away, and trench fighting was common.

But World War I taught us that the age of the frontal assault was coming to a close. This was coupled with the fact that automatic weapons had made bayonet charges nothing but sheer butchery. Fire and maneuver became the new tactic of the day, as trench warfare was replaced and forgotten.

The US army was the first to adopt a “battle rifle,” per se, in the M1 Garand. This was the first semi-auto rifle that was the standard long arm in any army. Even though the M1 utilized an 8-round en-bloc clip rather than a detachable box magazine, it is still considered a battle rifle by most historians.

It was during World War II when the M1 Garand proved itself effective and reliable. It was also during World War II that the Germans designed the world’s first mass issue assault rifle, in the Sturmgewehr 44. The SG44 was revolutionary in the fact that it fired an intermediate cartridge rather than a full-power rifle cartridge. This made it much more controllable in fully automatic fire.

After the war ended, the Russians developed the assault rifle concept further into the Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947, or the AK-47. The Allies declined at the time to pursue the assault rifle, instead preferring a full-powered cartridge. The US and its NATO allies standardized the 7.62x51mm cartridge, also known to civilians as the .308 Winchester.

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Soon, adoption of the rifles that fired the 7.62x51mm round followed. The British, Belgians and others adopted the FN FAL. The Americans developed the M-14 from the M1 Garand and adopted it. Taiwan later produced their own version of the M-14, and the Italians updated the M1 Garand into their own battle rifle, the BM59. The Western German army adopted the Heckler and Koch G3. Several other battle rifles were adopted at this time, such as the Spanish CETME, a kissing cousin of the G3, and the AR-10.

The battle rifle concept soon proved that while it provided excellent knock-down power, they were mostly unwieldy in full automatic. Soldiers also could not carry as much ammunition as they could with a rifle such as an M-16/M4 or an AK platform rifle. Starting in the 1960s, the move from battle rifle to assault rifle started.

The ‘Battle Rifle’ Buyer’s Guide: 4 You Should Consider

M1A

However, there are areas the battle rifle shines in that most assault rifles simply cannot. For one, accuracy. The longer barrels and the 7.62 cartridges themselves lend themselves to better accuracy. Second is knock-down power; a .308 has nearly twice the energy of the projectiles fired in an M-16/AR-15 or AK series rifle. Last, is range. The effective range of the .308 is also roughly twice that of an assault rifle. With good optics, battle rifles now find themselves at home on today’s battlefield in the role of designated marksmen rifles, or for heavier firepower in CQB situations.

For today’s shooter, one has the choice between a modern sporting rifle, which is the civilian equivalent of military assault rifles, or a semi-automatic battle rifle. Let’s take a look at the most popular choices on the US market.

1. M-1A/M-14: The M1A, or semi auto M-14, comes in many shapes and sizes. Even in today’s military. the M-14 is not used in full automatic, and so it is with the civilian M1A/M14. The M1A uses a long stroke piston, similar to the one used on the AK-47. In fact, the M-1 Garand’s piston is the father of both the M-14 system and the AK gas system. The M-14 is known for its exceptional reliability, almost to AK-47 levels, and accuracy. The M1A is one of the most common firearms in civilian target competitions. It is not difficult to mount an optic to the top.

M-14s are made by several companies, the most popular being Springfield Armory, which markets the M1A. Fulton Armory and James River Armory are two other well-respected manufactures. Any of these three companies is a good choice. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to more than $50,00 for your M-14.

2. FAL: FAL rifles are another popular option for shooters. Though not as popular in the US as the M1A, the FAL is well-liked by shooters for reliability and handiness. Not the equal to the M-14’s accuracy, it still shoots a heavier round than the AR-15. The 20-round detachable box magazine lacks the capacity that the AR or AK has, but the 7.62x51mm has much more knockdown power.

Most FAL shooters in the USA believe there to be no better rifle. It is a unique club. If you want to join, plan on spending around $1,100 for a good DSA FAL.

3. CETME/G3: These rifles are so very close in design that we will lump them together. The G3 can be found in large numbers in the US. Not as popular as the M-14, it can still be had for much less. You can get a G3/CETME for starting at around $600.

4. AR-10: The most popular battle rifle in America. Like it’s little brother, the AR-15, AR-10s are highly customizable. They are also affordable. The AR-10 is the erector set of the battle rifle world, meaning you can buy or you can build you own custom upper and lower receivers. AR-10s are frequently used for hunting, and many are chambered in common hunting calibers. The most common AR-10 chambering will be the .308.

You can pay around $700 for a DPMS, or up to $5,000 for other brands.

What advice would you add on buying a battle rifle? Which is your choice? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

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The Iconic ‘Old West’ Cookware That Lasts (Pretty Much) Forever

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The Iconic 'Old West' Cookware That Lasts (Pretty Much) Forever

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One of the iconic images of the Old West is, of course, the cowboy. It is not hard for one to imagine a group of cowboys herding large groups of cattle across the western prairies, toward a far-off destination.

I remember viewing as a young man a photograph taken in the Old West, sometime around 1886. In the picture, a group of roughly a dozen or so cowboys are sitting around a campfire, eating a meal. There is a man standing in the middle with an apron on, dishing out beans and steak. He was the “cookie,” the man who handled the chuck wagon, provided the meals and always pointed the tongue of his wagon north every night so the cowboys would not lose their way. His equipment often consisted of an old Army Civil War surplus wagon — rebuilt into a mobile kitchen – along with a banged-up collection of utensils and metal plates and silverware, also often surplus. He always had cookware made from cast iron.

Iron was first used for cookware by the Chinese, starting around 200 BC. Before the advent of the modern oven, cooking over hearth was the most common method in homes. A large iron pot was the “tool” of choice.

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Fast forward to today. For outdoor cooking, cast iron is still one of the most common and popular methods. Cast iron holds up very well, especially if you are cooking over hot coals. It heats evenly, and does not require as thorough a washing as other forms of cookware.

The Iconic 'Old West' Cookware That Lasts (Pretty Much) Forever

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A well-used cast iron skillet or pan has a non-stick service that develops over time. You can recognize these well-used implements easily by their shiny black patina. A new pan or Dutch oven will not look like this, and will lack the non-stick service found on well-used cookery. To use your new cast iron, you first must “season” it.

To season a new pot, pan, skillet or Dutch oven made of iron, rub the entire object with a nice thick layer of cooking oil. Place the pan in your oven at 350 degrees for at least an hour and a half. When it is done, dry off gently with paper towels. Your pan will not have the deep patina that older implements have, but it will be ready for cooking. You can re-season cast iron as necessary.

When washing a cast iron pot or pan, use hot water — as hot as you can stand. Do not submerge the pan in soapy water but scrub off all of the food. If needed, you can use a small amount of dish soap to wash the pan or pot. After it is washed, dry with a towel.

There are really only two cast iron implements needed for outdoor cooking, and even most indoor cooking arrangements. The first is the Dutch oven; the next is a frying pan.

The Dutch oven is perhaps one of the most common pieces of cast iron cookware, and certainly the most iconic. It can be used for a variety of tasks, from stews to dinner rolls. The Dutch oven, in its most basic design, goes back 300-400 years. In America it was improved with a flat, ridged lid to hold coals on top for more even cooking. The three pronged stand helps keep the oven above the coals. On some Dutch ovens, the lid can be flipped over and used as a skillet.

Indoor Dutch ovens are much more popular, but are not ideal for outdoor cooking because of the domed lid and flat bottom. The domed lid has spikes on it, designed for either allowing condensation to drip down back onto the food, or to force the juices back into the meat. Indoor Dutch ovens are limited in their usefulness outside. You can’t stack hot coals on top of the lid, and you can only really cook with them over a camp stove or suspended over a fire for stews and such.

The other implement for camp cooking is the frying pan. The frying pan has a variety of uses, from frying eggs or bacon, to being used to grill a steak. An 8- or 10-inch frying pan, combined with the Dutch oven, is all you need to feed your group on a camping trip, and can be used in tandem to prepare meals.

I also strongly suggest that when you buy cast iron, make sure you buy something solid, such as a Lodge cast iron piece of cookware. Lodge has been producing cast iron for more than 100 years, and I’ve never had a piece of their cookware fail me.

What advice would you add on using cast iron? Share your thoughts in the section below:    

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A 1,000-Yard-Range Survival Rifle? Yep

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A 1,000-Yard-Range Survival Rifle? Yep

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If there is one iconic firearm of the 20th century that has come from an American arsenal, it is the M1 Garand.

The rifle that GIs and Marines lugged across Europe, slung through dense jungle and fought with on Korea’s frozen mountains. It saw action in Vietnam, and was given out liberally to many of America’s allies during the Cold War years. During the Vietnam protests, the M1 Garand was again used, this time by the National Guard to quell the riots.

The M1 was designed in the 1920s, perfected in the 1930s, and issued starting in 1937. John Garand, a Canadian by birth, took the better part of two decades to perfect his design and beat out the competition.  The rifle, in its final design, incorporated a gas piston-operated semi-automatic action. The M1 was fed from an en-bloc clip (yes a clip, not a magazine in this case) that held eight rounds of .30-06 ammunition. The rifle was both accurate and fast firing, and in fact there was nothing like it in the world that could compete with it at the time.

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The M1 gave troops a distinct advantage in WWII, when most of the enemies’ soldiers were still armed with WWI-era bolt-action rifles. The Garand could both lay down fire faster and be reloaded and brought back into battery quicker. Attempts by other nations to field a standard issue semi-automatic rifle failed. Only the German MP-44 Sturmgewehr, the world’s first successful assault rifle, was a better rifle than the American long arm. However, the Germans only produced about a half million MP-44s whereas the US produced over 6 million Garands.

After WWII and the Korean war, the M1 Garand was replaced with the M-14, which was just an updated M1 that fed from a detachable 20-round magazine instead of the 8-round clip. The M-14 also has a selector switch for full automatic fire. The M-14 was a failure as a standard issue rifle. For one, the cartridge it fired, the 7.62x51mm/.308, was simply a downsized .30-06 and was too powerful for full automatic firing from a shoulder-fired small arm. The remaining M1 Garands in stock were rechambered for .308/7.62 and passed to the National Guard, given to allies or sold as surplus to US civilians.

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Today, the M1 has found a home with competition rifle shooters at national matches. It is also a rifle that is passed down from generation to generation and is owned by millions of Americans. Whether chambered in the modern .308 or the more popular .30-06, the M1 is a powerful and somewhat heavy rifle by today’s standards.

While technically not what one would consider a “battle rifle” by modern standards, it is still able to hold its own. The long stroke gas piston action is very reliable. The rifle’s iron sights are very good, easy to use and accurate. The effective range of the Garand, especially shooting .30-06, is out to about 900 yards – although some shooters have hit targets at 1,000-plus yards. Try shooting that far with your AR-15.

Often the question comes up: Is the M1 Garand still a viable option for survival or home defense? Yes, it is, but it does have its disadvantages. Although I would contend that the M1 Garand is vastly superior to the very popular SKS (of which at least 10 million are owned by Americans), it is not superior to the AR-15 or the AKM platforms in a disaster scenario. First, the M1 cannot shoot most commercial .30-06 ammunition unless you use a different gas plug. Using modern hunting ammunition generates more pressure than the Garand was designed for — and it can blow up your rifle.

Surplus ammo can still be found but it is not cheap – around $1 a round. Steel cased and foreign brass cased ammunition loaded to mil-spec is available but not as cheap as the more readily available 5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm rounds.

The rifle’s 8-round capacity also can be a handicap, as well as the distinctive “ping!” sound the rifle makes when it is empty and ejects the spent en bloc clip.  However, the sheer power of a .30-06 round or .308 can be enough to win a gun fight, or end a threat.

So yes, the Garand is still a viable option, albeit a little outdated. It is also expensive. You can buy an AR-15 or AKM for around $500-700 today, while a M1 in good shape will not sell for less than $1,000.

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The Silent ‘Stealth’ Survival Rifle That’s Compact And Lightweight, Too

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The Silent ‘Stealth’ Survival Rifle That’s Compact And Lightweight, Too

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Air rifles have been around for quite some time. The Austrian army equipped some of its units with air rifles in the early 1800s, and the Lewis and Clark expedition carried one on its westward journey. Back then, a huge flaw of the air rifle’s design was that it was delicate and had to be pumped over 100 times to fill its air reservoir.

I fondly remember my 10th birthday. It was the day I opened up that beautifully wrapped box to find a Crossman pump action air rifle. The rifle was capable of not just firing your standard BB, but also .177 pellets in single shot mode. I was given a carton of BBs, and a box of wad cutter pellets.

For that glorious summer I was Wyatt Earp, or a big game hunter in the Yukon. Many mourning doves fell to my deadly aim, as did a great many tin cans and hornet’s nests. The rifle was joined that winter by a pellet pistol and now I was armed for whatever situation boyhood could throw at me.

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Today, the pellet rifle is starting to come into its own among survivalists and hunters, and is seen as more than just a child’s tool before they own a real firearm – for a host of reasons.

The pellet rifle has proven itself to be a fine small game implement, and can feed a man lost in the woods on squirrel, grouse and rabbit. The pellet rifle is compact, and can allow the carrying of more ammunition than even a .22 long rifle, especially if it is pump-operated and does not employ C02 cartridges. And a pneumatic air rifle can deliver velocities within a range equal to that of many big game rifles.

It is not uncommon to see Internet photographs of hunters who use air rifles posing with their big game kills such as a wild boar or deer. No, I don’t recommend you take even the most powerful air rifle with you on your next Alaskan brown bear hunt. But a proper air rifle is suited to most game found in the lower 48 states and much of Canada.

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As a survival tool, an air rifle equipped with a pump rather than a CO2 cartridge is a fine choice to provide food in a desperate situation. In fact, as long as you have pellets, your air rifle can keep supplying you with needed protein. Pellets, being as small and light as they are, can be easily carried in large amounts in a pocket or backpack. The amount of pellets carried can easily be in access of several hundred, and an equal amount of standard ammunition would be a weight too great for most wilderness travel. In fact, just 100 rounds of ammunition can weigh several pounds.

An air rifle, while not being as long ranged as many rifles, can certainly provide you with more range than a sling shot. An air gun is also silent, a trait that you will not find with your .30-06 or even a .22. Often, an air gun will allow for a follow-up shot if you miss a game animal, since they won’t be spooked by noise.

The Right Air Rifle

Picking the right air rifle is just as important as picking the correct hunting rifle or your home defense weapon. It should come from a reputable manufacturer, and should work every time you need it. I strongly recommend that you pick a rifle that utilizes an air pump system rather than CO2, simply for the fact that if you run out of CO2, you are carrying a giant paperweight. You will not be running out of air to pump into your rifle anytime soon.

There are two manufacturers I really count on for a quality air rifle – Gamo and Benjamin. Both have been in the market for a long time, and both build quality products. They offer rifles in .22 or larger calibers, and their prices are affordable. It will not cost much more for one of their air rifles than if you were to go out and buy a new .22LR rifle.

Depending on your needs, you may even want to put an optic on your air gun. I have done so before, and I use a decent .22 scope. I get around the same results as when I mount one on a rimfire.

So before your next wilderness trip or trip to the firearm store, consider an air gun.

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Stockpiling Ammo: The Minimum Requirements For Your Survival Stash

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Stockpiling Ammo: The Minimum Requirements For Your Survival Stash

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If you ever want to start a debate on a survival or shooting forum, just ask, “How much ammunition is enough for an emergency stockpile?” Then take cover. You’ll be amazed at every single armchair general who comes out of the woodwork to offer his or her opinion on the matter. Some folks are minimalists: “Only what you can carry” is their cry as they announce their plans to survive by scrounging their way through the apocalypse. Others say, “Buy it cheap, and stack it deep!” These fellas are the ones who plan on getting into a gun fight every single day as soon as the power goes off.

Many folks out there don’t fall into either group, and they don’t believe there is any reason to stockpile rounds for an emergency. In fact, I know plenty of shooters who always say “buy only what you shoot.” I used to be that guy. But I had to be honest with myself that this isn’t the Pax Americana anymore. Turn on the news and each day we are confronted by the realities of our existence in an increasingly unstable world. Now, I’m a realist.

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As a gun writer and firearm instructor, I have heard the question more and more: “Hey Zach, how much ammo should I have in case something happens?”

Well, I just ran out of battery power for my crystal ball. But I can say that you should have enough ammunition to protect your family and feed them with fresh game and meat if needed. Here is the amount I recommend and strive to keep stocked in my own closet.

.22LR

Stockpiling Ammo: The Minimum Requirements For Your Survival Stash There is no better tool out there to constantly bring home game than a .22. From squirrel to rabbit, a .22 can bring home the bacon. Every homesteader and survivalist should have at least one reliable .22. During the depression, .22s kept families fed, and they can do it again. I strongly recommend aiming for at least 1,000 rounds per .22 — ideally 2,500-5,000 rounds. Start where you can.

The Shotgun

In addition to a .22, homesteaders and survivalists should have a .12- or .20-gauge shotgun. The shotgun can be used for small game like a .22 — for waterfowl and wild turkey, for instance. A round of 00 buck or a common deer slug can be used for much larger game. I cannot speak highly enough of the reliability of a good pump action over a semi-automatic shotgun.

I have two 12-gauge shotguns and a 20 gauge. I have two different barrels for each — one for slugs and 00 buck, and one for birds and small game. The slug barrels I keep are 21-inch barrels with a smoothbore and rifle sights. I have four-different chokes for each bird barrel.

At a minimum, I keep 200-400 rounds of game load for waterfowl, upland bird and small game, 100 rounds of 00 Buck and 100 slugs.

The Big Game Rifle

Although many claim that within months after a disaster there will be no wild game or anything to hunt, I think they are wrong. The person with a game rifle may be able to put more meat on the table over the person who does not.

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I try to aim for around 200 rounds minimally for big game rifles. I shoot common calibers such as .30-30, .243 and.308.

The Semi-Auto Sporting Rifle

A modern semi-auto rifle can be a great all-around firearm. For hunting, personal protection and home defense, these rifles can put a lot of rounds on target with decent accuracy.

For my AR-15s and AKs, I have about 4,000-5,000 rounds each. These rifles shoot a lot of lead, and have the potential to be “bullet eaters.” If you are on a budget, aim for at least 1000 rounds per rifle as well as 10 magazines.

The Handgun

My wife and I carry common caliber handguns — mostly in 9mm. I carry a Glock 19 daily and she carries a Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. I always aim to keep about 400-500 rounds on hand for each handgun.

What type of stockpile do you keep? What advice would you add on stockpiling ammo? Share your advice in the section below:

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The Best Upland Shotguns You Can Buy For Around $500

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The Best Upland Shotguns You Can Buy For Around $500

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There is perhaps no firearm as personal to a hunter, besides the deer rifle, as the shotgun used to take upland game birds. An upland shotgun, like the deer rifle, is truly an extension of the hunter – like a unique signature, as distinct to him as a thumb print. Sure, there are millions of the same model of many shotguns in circulation, but every ding, scratch and memory tells the story of that firearm.

Upland bird hunting is a terrific way to put meat on the table, and it provides hours of good, clean fun for yourself and others. Upland hunting is a challenge, and you need a fast-pointing, light and handy firearm to hunt birds. You also need the skill to pair with the shotgun, as birds are unpredictable and can fly in every direction.

Of course, upland hunting equipment, like any other hunting gear, can be quite costly. The two most expensive parts of any upland gear will be your hunting dog (if you run a gun dog) and your shotgun. I am not going to talk to you about man’s best friend today. We’re talking guns. And if you are like me, you probably don’t have a few thousand dollars just laying around to purchase an Italian gun. We will take a look at some excellent upland shotguns for the hunter on a budget, all for around $500.

The Classics

Some very attractive options for upland hunters are used classic shotguns. These models include Remington Model 10s, Browning A5s, Winchester Model 12s, and the like. While some of these fetch premium prices, others can still be found for under $500 at many pawn and gun shops.

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Guns such as the Model 12 Winchester or the Browning A5 are certainly plentiful, while others are much rarer and harder to find.

The Model 12 is as fine a pointing shotgun as you can find, and a well-broken-in gun will have an action that is as smooth as silk. You can still find good examples of these guns under $500, but you will have to hunt for such deals.

The Best Upland Shotguns You Can Buy For Around $500

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The A5 is just as common, and for many decades was the semi-auto that all semi-autos were measured against. The A5 was commonly used by both waterfowl and upland hunters as really the only option for a reliable semi-auto. Like many firearms brought into production in the early 20th century, it was built heavy. The action is recoil-operated, and every pull of the trigger will remind you of that.

Among other classics that are sure pointers are the Remington Models 10 and 31, both of which are pump action classics that can still be found for under $500. An Ithaca Model 37, still produced, is a fine classic to take to the field and has dropped many grouse and pheasant.

Other options are the plethora of used Stevens, Savage, Remington, Browning and other break-action, single- or double-barrel shotguns. Break action tend to be the go-to shotgun in the upland hunting world, as they are quick to point and light to carry. I hunted for years with a beat-up single shot Stevens that pointed like a dream.

New Guns

When it comes to new guns, there are many options available for today’s upland hunter. From pump guns to over/unders, they are available at many price points.

Pump Shotguns

If you are going even to consider a pump shotgun, I suggest you look at one for more than just the purpose of upland hunting. A pump gun is the ultimate utilitarian firearm (home defense, squirrel, waterfowl, deer hunting), and with that in mind I have only two that I recommend: the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. Both are under $500, and both are stranded-on-a-desert-island reliable.

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They come in a wide range of options, chambering and barrel lengths. I have both guns, and neither one has ever once failed me.

While not as fast pointing as some of the lighter doubles and semi-autos, these two guns will get you in the game fast, and can be used for much more than upland and bird hunting.

Semi-Autos

It can be a tricky thing to find a good semi-auto for under $500. Unless you are going to buy used, you have few options that I would really advise spending dough on.

I will, however, recommend the CZ 912 and 712 shotguns. These shotguns retail for around $490. Both have good reliability and have been torture-tested up to 1,000 rounds without cleaning. Sure, there have been some lemons but overall the reliability of these guns is what you would expect out of a much more expensive shotgun.

Break Action

It’s hard to go wrong with a Harrington and Richardson break action Pardner shotgun, but with H&R/New England ceasing production last year, new guns are hard to find. Still, you can find them for under $200, giving you a fast-pointing single shot 16, 20 or 12 gauge that does well for upland.

Another option is Stoeger Condor, which is an import. The Stoeger is a no-frill over under that points, shoots and can take a little abuse. It can be had for around $450. The Stevens 555 over/under is another option for double gun fans, and points well. It is a little north of $500, hovering around the $550 mark.

What shotguns would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

4 Beef Cattle Breeds That Will Bring You Big Bucks

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4 Beef Cattle Breeds That Will Bring In Big Bucks

Highland Cattle. Image source: Pixabay.com

I loved those old Robert Mitchum “beef, it’s what’s for dinner” commercials, and I like the new beef commercials with Sam Elliot, too.

What could be better than the life these commercials portray? Families around the nation sitting down and enjoying a meal, like things used to be. And at the center of every table: beef. Americans eat more beef than any other nation on this planet.

Having cattle on your farm can be a huge benefit – and it doesn’t stop with the beef. One cow produces, on average, 12 tons of nitrogen-rich manure a year, perfect for fertilizing your fields and gardens. Manure is the best fertilizer for your crops and also can be sold. People will pay for organic manure.

For the small farm and homestead, there are several breeds I really like. Each of them has different strengths.

I have built my list favoring a few breeds that have a good market in the US, since one goal with any beef cattle breed is meat production.

4 Beef Cattle Breeds That Will Bring In Big Bucks

Texas Longhorn. Image source: Pixabay.com

1. Texas Longhorn. This is, by far, my favorite breed to raise. Why? Because I can leave them on pasture for weeks at a time without checking them, and they will be just fine. Not that I leave them alone for weeks at a time, but I could. The Longhorn comes from a very ancient breed of cattle. They are very hardy, and can get by just fine without you. They don’t need help birthing their young, which is a huge plus to small farmers. Their meat is extremely lean and considered a delicacy by many. Longhorns are often used to breed with other cattle, and people will pay for your bull to breed their cattle; bull semen from Longhorns has a strong market in North America.

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Longhorns are not picky eaters. They will eat grass, shrubs, hay, corn — just about anything organic. They are very docile, and good around families. Just watch those horns, as they can unintentionally gauge you.

2. Angus. Angus cattle are one of the most popular breeds of cattle in the US. They are excellent meat producers and can easily give you 50 percent of their weight in meat alone. Angus are fairly hardy for cattle, and can be left alone for some time. Where I live in the southeastern USA, well over half of all cattle farmers have Angus. The numbers go up the further west you go, and in Montana and Wyoming Angus seemingly outnumber people! Free-ranging the cattle is very common, perhaps using supplemental hay and corn.

4 Beef Cattle Breeds That Will Bring In Big Bucks

Angus. Image source: Pixabay.com

The one disadvantage with Angus is, like many other breeds, they can have a hard time calving.  It is not uncommon for farmers to have to assist.  If you can’t bring yourself to do this, stick with a hardier breed or avoid cattle.

3. Highland Cattle. There is not that large of a market for Highland cattle as there once was. But it still exists. The meat is very tender and rich. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Highland porterhouse steak. The breed is very hearty, like the Longhorn, and well-adapted for colder clients and higher elevations. Not the best breed for Georgia and Florida. The thick fur coat will keep these critters cold in well under freezing conditions.

Highland cattle are great grazers and do very well free-ranging. They have a high butter fat content in their milk, and can be used as the family dairy cow as well as a meat-provider.

4. Hereford. Another good meat producer. Hereford cattle are common in the US and Canada as a beef cattle breed. Like the Angus, you will have to keep a close eye on the cows during calving season, and some assistance to the new mothers may be needed. They are very similar in temperament to Angus, but require a little more oversight. Like Angus, they will fetch decent prices at the market for live cattle.

What types of beef cattle would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:

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9 ‘Survival Guns’ That Will Keep You Alive In Any Situation

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9 'Survival Guns' That Will Keep You Alive In Any Situation

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There are countless stories of folks getting stranded in the wilderness unarmed and with few supplies. And in many cases, their lack of preparation cost them their lives. There also are many stories of people who get lost and end up surviving. What’s the difference between those who survive and those who don’t? The vast majority of people who survived were sportsmen who came prepared with knowledge and supplies.

One tool for survival which can make the difference between life and death is the firearm. Food, defense and signaling are all possible with a good gun.

Here are my top picks for survival firearms.

Pistols

1. Glock 17/19

The Glock has arguably the finest reputation in the handgun world for reliability. I have carried a Glock 19 daily for a long time. It has never once failed me — not once. The 9mm is not a choice chambering for bear defense, but for hunting and defense against smaller critters it is plenty adequate. Magazine capacity is excellent with 15-round magazines standard for the Glock 19, and 17-round magazines for the Glock 17. If you carry a couple extra magazines you should have plenty of ammunition to get you through. The Glock safe-action trigger may unnerve newer shooters, but it is completely safe if you practice gun safety.

2. Springfield XD Service model or XDM

Springfield has built an excellent polymer framed handgun in the XD model. The XD, like a Glock, has an excellent reputation for reliability. The XD features a grip safety similar to those found on 1911 model handguns and it has a Glock style trigger.

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XDs are available in many different chamberings, including the big three for auto pistols: 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.  Magazine capacity differs slightly between the service model and the XDM, but is comparable to a Glock.

3. Smith and Wesson Model 29

Go ahead and make your day. If you are in bear country and in need of a handgun that will give you a fighting chance against a brown or grizzly bear, my go-to handgun is a Smith & Wesson 29 chambered in .44 Magnum. Recoil is stout and most new shooters will shy away from such firepower.

4. Taurus Judge

The huge advantage of the Taurus Judge is the ability to shoot both .45 Long colt and .410 shot shells, including slugs, 00 Buck and bird shot. This gives you a wide variety of munitions and you will only be limited by what you pack with you.

5. .22 Pistol

.22I also want to say that having a .22 pistol in your pack is a great tool for harvesting small game for sustenance. Semi-auto or revolver — anything that is accurate to 20 yards and allows you to hit baseball-sized targets with regular consistency is a good pick.

Shotguns

6. Remington 870 or Mossberg 500

This is kind of a no-brainer, and survival shotguns have been argued to death in article after article. Either one of these shotguns will do the trick. Both are reliable and I wouldn’t hesitate to use either. In bear country, slugs and 00 Buck is the ticket, and you can keep shot shells in your pocket for small game. A slug from a .12 gauge will handle any big game in the world under 75 yards. It has put down elephants, hippos, water buffalo, polar bear and Kodiak bear. You will be limited to range, but not on firepower.

Rifles

If you are out elk hunting and you get lost, you’ll be stuck with your elk rifle. A .30-06, .270 or just about any big game rifle makes a fine survival firearm as long as it is reliable, accurate and has some extra ammunition. I’m not going to list hunting rifles here, as the list would be longer than my arm. But my top picks for hunting rifles are both the Remington 700 and the Savage 11. Both are outstanding rifles. They would do well in a survival situation and are very simple in their operation and upkeep.

7. Marlin 1895G

The 1895 guide gun fires a .45-70 projectile. The .45-70 is a very old and very large hunk of lead that has been in use since the 1870s. With the right loads, it will put a grizzly in its place, put down a bison and bring home the bacon with any large game in North America. You’ll be limited to about 150 yards at most.

8. Ruger 10-22

The perfect lightweight carbine for small game is a great choice if you are not in grizzly country.  The rifle is chambered in .22 long rifle or .22 WMR. This small game rifle is utterly reliable, uses a 10 shot magazine and can be had for about $230.

9. AK-47

The US semi-auto AK variants on the market are fine choices for survival. I would rather have an AK than an AR in a survival situation, as there are fewer moving parts. The 7.62x39mm round is capable of taking up to deer-sized game. It is perfect for a truck gun or in a disaster scenario. The rifle feeds from a 30-round, detachable magazine and has plenty of firepower.

What firearms would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

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Winterizing Your Homestead Even After It’s Too Late

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Winterizing Your Homestead Even After It’s Too Late

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Winter is inevitable. At times, it is a mild affair. At other times, snow piles up higher than a man.  Preparing your homestead and farm are important if you want to ensure the highest chance of you, your livestock and your equipment coming through the winter unscathed and ready for spring planting.

Here are some things that should be done. If it’s already too cold to do some of these chores, then wait for a warmer winter day to tackle them.

Your Home

Check the seals around your windows and doors. Improperly sealed doors and windows account for the largest amount of heat loss, and a huge waste of energy. Plastic sheeting, cloth drapes and curtains all work to reduce heat loss. Insulating a poorly uninsulated home can be costly but can yield huge rewards going forward.

Replacing an old, inefficient furnace can reduce waste and increase savings. For a wood stove, clean and inspect your chimney or flue. Make sure you have an overabundance of wood for your wood stove, especially an emergency supply for large snowfalls. Have a large supply of firewood in and near the house if you live in an area where snows typically reach great heights.

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Having an emergency supply of food, water, medical supplies and blankets for cold weather emergencies is important. Canned or dry food, and a means to heat your food, can make the difference between feast and famine in a massive blizzard.

Barn(s)

You don’t want to seal up your barn super tight if it is a livestock barn. Airflow is necessary to prevent a host of respiratory issues with your animals. Eliminating as many cold drafts as possible is sufficient enough to keep your animals warm.

Winterizing Your Homestead Even After It’s Too Late

Image source: FreeImages.com

For areas of a barn that need to be heated, then fill cracks, weather strip doors and windows, and inspect furnaces and heaters to make sure everything is running top notch.

Take the time before the big chill comes to thoroughly inspect and clean your barns, repair any fencing you need to fix, and prepare supplies to be easily accessible and dry.

Livestock

Prepare any winter clothing your animals need before the freeze. Mend horse and cattle blankets. Any new purchases of blankets should be made before severe weather hits, as these tend to disappear from feed and tack stores quickly.

Be sure you have adequate supplies of forage on hand. If not, purchase as soon as you can. I realize haying season is well past and it is not time to get the baler out. There are also financial considerations to make. If you are short on cash and fodder, perhaps trading and bartering can work; it has for me! Conserve your forage as best you can while making sure your animals have enough calories for the cold months. Remember: Livestock burn through calories fast at this time of year to stay warm, and extra food is needed.

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Livestock also will need a constant supply of water. Eating snow reduces body heat, and it takes six buckets of snow to equal one bucket of water. Water tank heaters are the best option for your animal’s water tanks. You will need to monitor them closely as to prevent water pipe freezing. Horses also have a knack for kicking heaters out of a tank, so you may have to improvise a cover.

Keep any water tank clean, checking often and screening out organic matter to prevent build-up.

If you have barn cats, be sure they have a warm insulated place to sleep in the barn.

For outdoor dogs, provide them a warm place in the barn. During extreme cold, consider bringing dogs indoors.

Heavy Equipment

Tractors and other vehicles should have oil changed to a lighter oil for winter. Check your hydraulic lines for leaks and repair as necessary. Replace antifreeze in all of your vehicles every two years. If possible, keep tractors, trucks and other equipment in sheds, barns and garages during the cold months. Diesel equipment may need to be plugged in for reliable starting. Gas tractors should definitely be sheltered if possible, as gas engines take sitting idle for longer periods hard.

If you have any snowplows, keep them easily accessible for rapid attachment to equipment.

What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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How To Turn Your Homestead Into A ‘Mini-Game Preserve’

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How To Turn Your Homestead Into A ‘Mini-Game Preserve’

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Many hunters often wonder how they can increase game and resources on their own land. In short: How can you make your own land, farm or homestead a “mini-game preserve”?

It won’t happen overnight, but there are some practical steps to increase game numbers on your land.

Here are some tips:

Abandon Clean Farming Techniques

Put aside the modern way of farming. Replant native grasses and shrubs on field edges to provide cover for turkey, quail, deer and other wildlife. Over the past decades large companies have urged farmers to clear grasslands on farms to reduce the chance of crop contamination — the belief being that rodents and critters living in shrubs and grass will contaminate fields with bacteria. In truth, there are just as many rodents in a field after you clear your grass and shrubs away. Grasslands prevent erosion, stop fertilizer and pesticides from reaching waterways, and provide cover and forage for wildlife.

When you harvest corn, soybeans and other similar crops, leave three to five rows standing along the edges of fields, and 10 rows in the corners. To prevent soil erosion, leave one to two rows standing down the center of the field. These are old practices that have only recently been abandoned.

Mowing grass and hay should be done after nesting season for game birds is complete, and after deer fawns have dropped. Where I live in Tennessee, deer fawn and birds nest in April and May. By mid-June, it is safe to start mowing hay and grass for maintenance of grassland. For haying, consider not mowing the 30 feet along the edges of the field. This tends to be the least productive part of a hay field anyway, and can be used for wildlife cover.

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In some places, prescribed burning of native grasses allows for healthy regrowth, and elimination of invasive species and weeds.

Improve Water Access

How To Turn Your Homestead Into A ‘Mini-Game Preserve’

Image source: Pixabay.com

Water is a must for wildlife. Improving water sources is imperative to any conservation effort. Cleaning up streams from garbage and trash left by years of neglect is a first step. Planting trees along streams that have been stripped of cover is the next. A stream should have at least 20 feet of hardwoods on either side; this improves stream cover, water and fish quality, and protection for wildlife. Keeping cattle away from streams goes a long way toward cleaning them up.

Clean ponds are another source of water. If you are planning to add a pond, try to place it as deep in your property as possible, smack dab in the middle. This attracts wildlife and keeps it on your land. Be sure the edges of the pond are well-planted with grasses and shrubs to prevent erosion.

Add Food Plots

Adding one food plot on a small piece of land, or several food plots on larger land tracts, provides forage for your game animals. Different areas of the country require different grasses and clover, and you will need to research your particular location for recommended forage.

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Typically, a food plot should be between half an acre to 10 acres in size. It should be a cleared area in the middle of a wood lot, situated near good cover for wildlife. A good water source should not be far off.

Manage Forests

Younger hard mast-producing trees such as oak and chestnut produce more forage than older trees. It is a well-known fact that younger forests are healthier for wildlife than old forests. No, I am not advocating chopping down old growth trees. However, woods management is important. Thinning out thick hardwoods and occasionally clear cutting a few acres is very healthy for forests. As new trees populate the woods, the amount of hard mast that hits the ground every fall will increase for wildlife.

Grow An Orchard

In addition to hard mast, soft mast is a favorite of wildlife, especially deer. Planting apple, pear, cherry and peach trees will actually improve game forage. Don’t harvest every apple, and leave around one-fourth or more of the produce from these trees for wildlife if possible.

What tips would you add to this story for attracting wildlife? Share your ideas in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

The WWII-Tested, Multi-Purpose Antique Rifle That Can Beat An AR-15

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The WWII-Tested, Multi-Purpose Antique Rifle That Can Beat An AR-15When you talk about famous firearms of the British Empire, a couple of examples will quickly ring a bell.

One is the respected Brown Bess and its variations, which saw the uniting of the crowns into the United Kingdom and the rise and expansion of the British Empire. Another would doubtlessly be the Enfield Rifled Musket, which saw action in the Crimean War and was used by both sides in the American Civil War. The Snider-Enfield and Martini-Henry Breechloaders followed, and were used throughout the colonial wars of the later 19th century.

But one modern rifle served the British Empire and its commonwealth through the two largest wars in history and is still available on the surplus market: the Lee-Enfield.

Image source: virginiatoolworks.com

Image source: virginiatoolworks.com

The .303 bore Lee-Enfield was adopted by the British Imperial Forces shortly before 1895. It saw use in the bloody Boer War, where teething issues were experienced, particularly when the rifle went toe to toe with the German Mauser rifles utilized by the Boers. Beginning toward the end of the Boer War, the British started a push to switch from the Enfield to a rifle that incorporated a Mauser action. During this time, a new variant of the Enfield, the “Short Magazine Lee-Enfield” or SMLE for short, entered service with the British Army in 1904, with a further change in 1907. This, consolidated with enhanced .303 cartridges, extraordinarily extended the rifle’s range, and increased its accuracy. With the start of World War I, the effort to replace the rifle with a Mauser-type firearm was ended.

During WWI, the Enfield beat almost every other rifle in the combat zone. With its 10-round magazine, and a one-of-a-kind cock on close action, the Enfield could be discharged by a trained infantryman at a rate of 30 rounds per minute. At the battle of Mons, the Germans reported coming up against machine gun fire, not knowing it was British Infantry discharging volleys during a “Mad Minute,” using the Lee-Enfield.

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When the Canadians entered World War I, they were equipped with the accurate-yet-lethally defective Ross Rifle. After tragic results, the Canadian troops happily turned in their Ross Rifles for Enfields. The Enfield turned into the standard long arm of Canada for the following three decades.

It was later said that the French had the awful rifle (Berther and Lebel), the Germans had the best Hunting Rifle (Mauser G98), the Americans had the finest target rifle (Springfield M1903), and the British had the best military rifle (SMLE).

At the finish of the First World War, the SMLE became the No.1 Mk. III rifle, and the push to modernize the rifle further was started by the Brits. Toward the start of the Second World War, the SMLE equipped the majority of the British Empire, and also Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It was joined and in many ways supplanted by the No. 4 Mk. I rifle, which was a modernized Enfield. The new rifle was intended for large-scale manufacturing and was much less expensive and simpler to build en masse than the SMLE. The No. 4 Mk. I was equipped with a spike bayonet reminiscent of Napoleonic days rather than the sword bayonet utilized by the SMLE, but it kept the dependable Enfield action and 10-round magazine of the prior No 1 Mk. III. The Mk. IV saw wide usage in World War II and Korea, as did the SMLE. In World War II, the SMLE was the most widely used British rifle in the Mediterranean and Indian theater of the war, while the Mk. IV was for the most part utilized in Europe.

The WWII-Tested, Multi-Purpose Antique Rifle That Can Beat An AR-15During the 1950s, the Enfield was supplanted by the L1A1 in both British and Commonwealth service and many surplus rifles flooded the surplus firearms market in the USA and Canada. The Enfield still sees military use with the Canadian Rangers, who are finally in the midst of replacing their aged rifles with modern .308s

The .303 Enfield has been to the Canadians what the .30-06 M1 Garand and M1903 Springfield rifles are to the Americans. It is an excellent hunting rifle, and throughout North America has killed a huge number of deer, elk and moose, and bear.

I personally have enjoyed the Enfield as a range gun. The 10-round magazine is very unique for a bolt gun and provides more “plinking time.” While .303 isn’t sold everywhere, you can find surplus rounds online. The rifle is accurate (not as accurate as an M1903, but more accurate than an AR-15). I have seen it used for deer, and can attest to the lethality of a soft-tipped .303. The occasion it took a large whitetail in my presence, it was a one-shot kill that dropped the deer in its tracks.

An Enfield can be employed in a home defense role, but be careful if you choose milsurp rounds as they will easily puncture walls, bricks, chimneys, etc. Most mil spec rounds on the market are armor-piercing, not unlike much of the .30-06 surplus from the 40s and 50s M1 Garand owners use. Hunting rounds are a better option for home defense for the Enfield. Its fast bolt action will come in handy here.

An Enfield can be a good all-around multi-purpose rifle for hunting, self-defense and scavenging.

Have you use an Enfield? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

There’s A Trick To Navigating Federal And State Gun Regulations. Read More Here.

Homestead Chickens 101: What You Need To Know To Get Started

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Homestead Chickens 101: What You Need To Know To Get Started

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I don’t know many farmers who don’t have at least a few chickens. Even dairy farmers I personally know keep a half dozen or more of our feathered friends. The chicken is to a farm what denim jeans are to the everyday American: indispensable and very common.

From fried eggs for breakfast (and chicken and waffles here in the South!) to fried chicken or the oven-roasted bird that graces our dinner table for Sunday lunch – yes sir, the chicken has been feeding Americans since its arrival in the New World with first settlers.

Chickens can produce 200-300 eggs a year or give you 10-14 pounds of white meat per bird. Not bad for an animal that is cheap to purchase and very cheap (or free) to feed. In fact, you can invest once in your first stock of chicks, and never buy another chicken again as long as you breed the birds yourself. Keep them in a pen, use a chicken tractor, or free-range them with other livestock. The chicken is adaptable to almost any environment.

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Here are five of the most common breed of chickens you will find on the American farm or homestead.

Plymouth Rock: The Plymouth makes a great started breed and can grow to more than nine pounds. This makes them a fine meat-producing bird, and they are also terrific egg-layers. The birds are quite easy-going and are great for beginners. We had several of these birds around the house when I was a kid, and it was on this breed that I “cut my teeth” with chickens. We fed them some corn and let them free-range. Simple as that, and we had a constant supply of eggs and meat.

Jersey Giant. Yee haw, boy, that there is a bird! The Jersey Giant is a large meat bird that can grow north of 12 pounds. They do well as a backyard and homesteading breed and for the small farmer. The hens lay very large brown eggs and most often are a very calm bird. Like the Plymouth Rock, they do fine free-ranging.

Leghorn. This is the iconic white chicken on the family farm. The Leghorn was brought to these shores originally from Italy. These chickens are ideally suited for laying vast amounts of eggs, averaging 280-340 per year. Their eggs are white and are the most common egg you and I purchase in a supermarket. Leghorns are very efficient when it comes to foraging, making them a good choice for your farm. But they are white, which could make them an ideal target for Mr. Fox or Wile E Coyote.

Rhode Island Red. A dual-purpose bird that does not gain the weight of the Giant or Rock. This bird is rust colored and can produce a good amount of eggs and meat for your table. These may be the most common bird on a homestead. They lay brown eggs that are smaller than the Leghorn eggs — and in fewer amounts.

Ameraucanas. These smaller birds are not really a meat chicken; they are far too small for that task. What they are famous for are their eggs. The birds are a little unusual looking, but are quite docile and make a good family pet. They lay blue eggs and are somewhat of a novelty amongst hobbyist and homesteaders. If you like blue eggs for breakfast and the sight of a different-looking chicken running around the yard, then this may be the bird for you.

Related:

Cold Hardy Chicken Breeds You Need For (Lots Of) Winter Eggs

What advice would you give the first-time chicken owner? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

The Easiest, Cheapest (And Tastiest) Animal You Can Raise For Food Is …

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The Easiest, Cheapest (And Tastiest) Animal You Can Raise For Food Is ...

Image source: decohubs.com

Man, do I love chickens and fresh eggs in the morning. I also love hogs, and the pork that I can turn into Virginia hams and back bacon. Goats and cows provide milk and delicious red meat. But with the exception of the chicken, none are as easy to raise for food as the good old “rascally rabbit.”

In fact, I have come to learn that the rabbit is just about the easiest animals one can raise for food, and certainly one of most delicious. If you have never had rabbit on your dinner table, you are missing out. It is lean (only about 10 percent fat) and flavorful.  Hasenpfeffer, Spanish rice and rabbit, or roast rabbit on a spit. I am getting hungry just talking about such table fare.

I grew up fishing and hunting. We hunted squirrel and rabbit as kids and teenagers, and to this day I still consider rabbit one of my favorite game animals.

When I turned 14, I had an interest that lasted for several years to start raising rabbits to sell them, but that never materialized. It was not until I started working for a farmer after high school that I came in contact with meat rabbits.

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We had a couple dozen at a time on the farm, and along with my other duties, I cleaned their hutches and fed them vegetables and straw. Over time, I really came to appreciate how easy a rabbit is to care for as opposed to goats, and cattle or even chickens.

The Humble Hare

Rabbits are not picky eaters. I have fed them hay and straw, and even grass clippings from the yard and weed clippings from a garden. You can feed them rabbit pellets or cattle feed. They will eat almost any organic material — provided they like it. Not every rabbit is going to like all food items, but that is normal. You can try feeding the rabbits different things as you go, and soon enough you will find what they like.

The Easiest, Cheapest (And Tastiest) Animal You Can Raise For Food Is ...

Image source: Pixabay.com

These critters are not too picky about shelter, either, although you don’t want to leave them outside in the bitter cold. In temperate climates you can raise them both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor hutches are the most common, with wood floors and a waterproof roof, and mesh on at least one or two sides. Cleaning the hutches every couple of days is paramount to prevent disease and mold build-up. Remove any food they have not partaken of after 24-48 hours, and keep the rabbits well-stocked with fresh forage and water.

You also can build indoor hutches (in your home) for rabbits. Of course, being indoors you will need to pay close attention to keeping these indoor hutches clean, as there is the absence of fresh air that you get with an outdoor hutch. Cleaning these living quarters will also keep the smell down, as indoor rabbits can stink a wee bit.

Table Fare

When it comes to killing and butchering, rabbits are much simpler than the chicken. My preferred method of dispatching a meat rabbit is using a wood club to strike firmly on the base of the skull. I then field dress the rabbit as I would any small game animal I harvested afield. After the rabbit is field dressed, I wet the fur to prevent hairs from getting in the meat. Skin them as you would any small game animal, with cuts around the hocks, legs and tail and a pulling motion which removes the creatures hide quickly and efficiently.

The rabbit can be quartered, de-boned or used whole. It can be stewed, grilled, broiled, fried and roasted. How does it taste? Like chicken, of course! OK, not really, but it tastes like rabbit and it is delicious!

If you are looking for an easy-to-raise animal for additional meat for your family or farm, take a glance at the rabbit. Getting started is cheap, and if you can get past the “cute and cuddly” aspect of the critter, you can enjoy some excellent meat!

What advice would you add on raising rabbits? Share your tips in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

5 Easy-To-Find Small Animals You Can Eat For Survival

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5 Easy-To-Find Small Animals You Can Eat For Survival

Woodchuck/groundhog. Image source: Pixabay.com

Hunting is a great way to provide protein for you and your family, partially because the meat harvested is organic, free-ranged, and delicious.

Often, though, we talk only about the big-game animals available to us, such as whitetail deer, mule deer, moose and elk. We may even discuss waterfowl or turkey. But another group of game animals has been feeding America since well before 1621 (when my first ancestor landed at Plymouth Rock).

Small-game animals are a plentiful resource. Population numbers are high, they are everywhere, and most of them taste terrific. They can be harvested using a small rifle such as a .22 or .17, a shotgun using light game load, or even an air rifle. In a survival situation, they are often the only game one is able to harvest. If there is ever a major catastrophe, they may make the difference between life and death for you and your family.

Here are five small animals that are readily accessible, and ready for the dinner table.

1. Dove. One of the most prolific game birds in all of America, and quite tasty. Mourning doves especially are quite common in almost all of North America. Between 20 and 70 million of these birds are harvested every year by hunters, and that doesn’t even put a dent in their huge population. They have a year-round range in all of the USA, Northern Mexico and Southern Canada. To hunt them you will need a shotgun shooting 7 or 8 shot. Look for mourning doves around old barns, field edges, tree lines, bird feeders, etc.

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When it comes to cooking them, the birds have a great flavor. One of my favorite recipes is a spice jalapeno, mustard and lime-based marinade. The recipe is called “doves from hell, and can be easily found online. I like it spicy, but some people may prefer it milder.

5 Easy-To-Find Small Animals You Can Eat For Survival

Image source: Pixabay.com

2. Rabbit. Cottontail, snowshoe hair and even introduced European rabbit all have thriving populations in different parts of the continent. Rabbit and hares have graced dinner tables since before recorded history, and in some places are considered a delicacy. These small mammals are plentiful and quite nutritious. But beware: A diet of strict rabbit (or even squirrel), can lead to protein poisoning. Rabbit has almost no fat, and that is not necessarily a good thing in a survival situation.

Rabbits are easily hunted in brushy fields, forest meadows, backyards, tree lines and so forth. I have hunted them with a .22 or a shotgun. Many people use dogs to flush them and chase them. I prefer to stalk and shoot at 40-50 yards with a rim-fire rifle.

3. Nutria. Not as tasty an option as the rabbit or squirrel, but in a pinch nutria can add both protein and necessary fat. Nutria is a large rodent introduced to the USA from South America for its pelts. Originally brought here in captivity, some escaped and now the Gulf Coast states have plenty of these critters.

You can hunt for Nutria along river banks and in marches and swamps in the Southeaster USA. A .22 is sufficient to dispatch them. The meat is lean, though not as lean as rabbit, and is easily prepared.

4. Woodchuck. If you must eat, and game has dried up, chances are you can find a humble chuck still clinging to his bit of turf. A woodchuck is a type of ground squirrel, by the way, but does not have much in common with its tree-dwelling cousins. Chuck meat is edible, provided you marinate it overnight to take out the gaminess. If you do that, it is quite tasty, especially on the grill. Yes, I have eaten chuck before.

To hunt chucks, sneak along the fence line, or hedgerows bordering fields. I use a scoped .22 WMR and take the shots at around 40-70 yards. Woodchuck hunting can be almost as fun as prairie dog hunting out West.

5. Turtles. Turtle meat is very tasty. You will have to check the regulations of catching and killing turtles, as it varies from state to state. Snapping turtles, diamondback, terrapin and other species are huntable in certain parts of North America. You can use a firearm and dispatch the animal with a shot to the head (most common). Some states allow netting.

The best way to eat turtle is roasted or in a soup. Recipes are easily found online.

What animals would you add to the list? Share your advice in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

Is A 100% Off-Grid Life Even Possible?

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Is A 100% Off-Grid Life Even Possible?

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Is it possible to live fully and completely off the grid? This is a complicated question with a few different answers. Some people, of course, will jump immediately to a “yes” for an answer. They will be the first to point out how the Native Americans did it, the settlers and mountain men did it, and their grandparents did it. And they would certainly be right. Many people have truly lived off the grid to the truest and purist definition of the term.

You could purchase a good knife, a fine rifle, ammunition, a metal pot, and a few other odds and ends and then go out to where the road ends, ditch your car, and live like the North Pond Hermit. However I’m willing to bet not too many of us want to live like that. I certainly don’t, unless I must.

But let’s come back around to reality, and talk about the modern definition of living off the grid. For most, it’s owning a few acres somewhere, not paying a dime in electricity or water bills, growing your food, and only purchasing a few supplies here and there. But the question is: Can you live fully off the grid?

To answer that question, let’s examine a few key points.

Water. Can you find a safe, clean water source on your land? If there is no water source, can you collect water? Can you purify the water you collect? If you cannot find a way to have fresh water without having to hook up to city water, you cannot live off the grid. If you have property that has a stream or spring, you are off to a very good start.

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A well is a great way to get clean drinking water, too, although the upfront cost of digging it can be expensive. If you do not have a water source nearby, there are a few possible alternatives. Do you live in an area with a good amount of rainfall? If so, you can develop a rain water catchment system. Is there a stream or fresh water spring nearby that you can collect water from? This is another option, although extremely inconvenient and not really an option if you desire crops or animals.

Image source: sloeblack.tumblr.com

Image source: sloeblack.tumblr.com

Bottom line: If you want to live off grid, buy land with a water source.

Food. Are you going to keep buying most of your food? Or are you going to dive in and go off grid? To start, you must decide how you are going to provide nutrition for you and your family. You will need to provide protein, vitamins, calcium and the calories necessary to live. You will need to store food for the offseason. You will need to educate yourself on animal husbandry, gardening, tree care, etc. You will need to carefully plan your homestead or mini-farm to make the most of you valuable resources and space. Food is the next step to going off the grid, and without growing your own, you might as well stay in the suburbs.

Electricity. Unless you are going to burn oil lamps (and buy oil), heat only with wood and rely solely on canned and preserved foods, you will need electricity. And unless you want to pay an electric bill every month, you will need to figure out a way to make power. Solar energy or a water-powered electrical system are your only real options here – and millions of off-gridders are living just like this. After all, I doubt you’ll be able to build a nuclear reactor in your basement.

These are the three main things that you must have to live off the grid. The extras that come afterwards – such as firearms, medical supplies and even salt – are all individual choices.

Yes, it is possible to go off the grid. Sure, you may have to go into town a couple times a year for bullets, band-aids and seed. But even mountain men met up a couple times a year to trade fur for gold, powder, lead and other supplies. And they definitely were living off the grid.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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How To Mount A Firearm Scope, The Right Way

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How To Mount A Scope, The Right Way

Image source: Wikipedia

There are two methods of doing things in life: the wrong way and the right way. The right way often may take longer, but the results are almost always much better than the wrong way. This is especially true when it comes to the wonderful world of firearms and shooting. There certainly is a wrong vs. right way.

For the two decades I have been a firearms instructor, I have seen both the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way is certainly is not pretty.

When it comes to properly mounting an optic on a firearm, I have seen many people get it oh-so-very wrong. I’ve seen optics fly off of rifles or take a pounding from rattling around loose mounts screwing up the zero. The wrong way can cost you a deer, a competition or even your life.

The right way can fill your freezer, win trophies and protect your life and that of your family.  It only takes a little bit of time and perhaps a few extra dollars to do this the right way.

Let’s discuss the right way to mount an optic on your firearm.

Tools

You will need a stable rest for your rifle that keeps the firearm in a solid position; you can buy one or build one. You will mostly need a good set of screwdrivers here, with some flatheads. I have yet to ever need a Phillip’s head to mount a scope. For the bases themselves, you will most likely need a larger head, while the rings will require a smaller head.

Having a scope level makes your job go by so much more easily. Most of these are magnetic and stick to the top of a scope’s turret. Don’t scrimp and neglect to purchase one of these, as they are not expensive and will save you time.

Mounting Your Optic

The first step is to have the rifle you want the optic mounted on to be drilled and tapped. Most modern firearms come drilled and tapped, or if you are shooting an AR-15 or anything in that class you will most likely have a Picatinny rail. After you have your ducks lined up in a row with your rifle, choose your optic. We’ll discuss optics another day, but I will say to be sure you also have the right screws, bases, rings, Allen wrenches, everything you need to mount your optic before you get to it. Double check your rings and mounts before you leave the store and make sure you have the right size.

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Pay attention to your bases and mounting screws. This is especially important for a drilled and tapped rifle. You don’t want to widen out your tapped drill holes in the receiver of the firearm.  You also don’t want to strip screws. Don’t settle for substandard parts or the wrong size screws and parts.

Thoroughly clean your firearm and you mounts. Be sure you get any grit and debris off of the area you will be mounting to, and from the scope’s bases. Taking your time here will prevent rust and scratches.

How To Mount A Scope, The Right Way

Image source: Wikipedia

My next step here is to dab a thin layer of Hoppe’s 9 or a decent protective oil onto the receiver where you will be installing your new scope.  If you have a Picatinny rail system and you need to install a riser mount to offset an AR-10 or AR-15’s front sight, do so at this time, and after that install the bases but wait to tighten in case you have last-minute adjustments. For a rifle with traditional taped receiver, install the base mounts and get the screws as tight as you can without stripping them.

Next, install the bottom rings and place the optic on them. Adjust to where you want the optic to be and then place the top rings on the scope. Use a good scope level and be sure everything is kosher. When you’ve done this, tighten everything up until you can tighten anymore.

Be sure everything is secure, and give everything one last tightening.

When you are satisfied with your work, take your rifle out and sight her in. If you have done a good job, you should have no problem getting nice tight groups and maintaining the scope’s zero.

Sighting In

Before sighting in your rifle, I highly recommend you purchase a quality shooting rest such as a Lead Sled, or burrow one from a buddy. A laser bore sight is a great tool, as is a quality spotting optic.

I prefer to laser bore sight a rifle first. Place your bore sight in your firearm’s chamber and set up a target at 25 yards. Unscrew the turret caps that cover the adjustment knobs on your scope. The laser sight will make a laser dot appear on the target; adjust you optic until the cross hairs are right on your laser’s dot. This eliminates much of the time to get on target and should ensure your first rounds hit near the bullseye. You will probably have to tweak your adjustments slightly downrange, but this step saves ammo.

Next, set up a target at 100 yards. Shoot three rounds and group your rifle. Make any needed adjustments to your scope and shoot a few more rounds. Normally this step takes me around 3-10 rounds of ammunition. Keep in mind that most shooting optics have an adjustment of one-fourth MOA, meaning that every time you adjust your scope one click you are moving it a quarter of an inch or a one-half centimeter at 100 yards.

After you have sighted in your rifle, replace your scope’s turret caps and be sure that they are snug. You may need to readjust your scope after every few hundred rounds.

Happy shooting!

What advice would you add in mounting a scope? Share your thoughts in the section below:

There’s A Trick To Navigating Federal And State Gun Regulations. Read More Here.

Is Stockpiling Food Even Ethical?

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Is Stockpiling Food Even Ethical?

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You would be surprised how many times I have been asked – especially by Christians — whether stockpiling is morally right. Or should we call it jealously hording supplies?

I have no doubt of the touchiness of this subject, and how it can really tick many folks off and offend others. I’m not going to dance around this subject, but I desire to hit it head on and answer the question as I have in the past.

I will be right up front and honest. I am a Christian.  I do my best to filter the choices I make in my life through the lens of the Bible. So with that said, you can stop reading this article, or continue on at the risk of being angry and offended.

So, is stockpiling right? I believe if you have a family, you must care for them. Living in a world that grows increasingly unstable by the minute, I have come to believe stockpiling is vitally important. I look at the biblical example of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph was the boy who was sold by his brother, jailed unjustly in Egypt, and then rose to prominence in Pharaoh’s court after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream about a future seven-year famine. Joseph built vast storage systems in the land of the Pyramids — so vast, in fact, that it allowed the Egyptians to eat heartily during the famine and sell surplus grain to foreigners. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote that a man who didn’t take care of and provide for his family was worse than any unbeliever.

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So, yes, I do believe stockpiling is morally right. In fact in many ways, I think it is very prudent for anyone who desires to ensure that his or her family weathers a major crisis.

The Dilemma

I think the real dilemma is, do you help others who are in need during a crisis? I met a guy who was not going to let anyone ever have his rice, beans or MREs. I asked him if someone knocked on his door during a major disaster what would be his response. He scowled a bit and said, “If anyone steps foot on my land, they will be dead long before they reach my door”.

Undoubtedly, some people reading this article agree with him.

I am a gun owner, a huge Second Amendment advocate, and I would defend my family. However, I could not kill my elderly neighbors if they knocked on my door starving and asking for a handful of food. Could I kill the couple a mile down the road with three young children and a new baby? Could you?

I sure could stop someone with lethal force who wanted to kill my wife and kids, but morally can I kill someone who asks for food? No, I cannot. Nor should you. That is not justifiable self-defense. It is cold-blooded murder.

The moral dilemma of stockpiling is how to respond to people asking for help. For me, I will help who I can. But I must put my family first. I must be sure my children have food and water, my wife has the nourishment she needs, and my parents and siblings have what they need. But I will not employ lethal force unless my life and that of my family is in danger.

In closing, each of us must decide how we will respond in a crisis when people come asking for help. They will come. And while some may come looking for trouble and to take your family’s sustenance, many will not. Not everyone is going to devolve into a monster. How you treat those people may in fact determine if you stay alive.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The 5 Best Dog Breeds For The Homestead?

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The 5 Best Dog Breeds For The Homestead?

Labrador. Image source: Pixabay.com

I didn’t have a dog growing up. My mom hated them, and thought them messy and expensive. Dad didn’t care too much for them, either, and I guess I can’t blame them. Sure, we lived in the country and with several acres it was ideal for a pooch, but alas, my forays into the woods went unaccompanied by man’s best friend.

When I was a farmhand we had a few dogs on the property and I began to realize the importance of a dog on the farm or in the country. They guarded our livestock and warned us of approaching visitors, and made a day in the woods not so lonely. When I met my wife, I was shocked when I found out her parents had not one or two but nine canines. And so, since then, my life has had plenty of four-legged buddies.

If you live in the country, hunt, farm or just want some additional security, I have narrowed down a few breeds that are great for country living. Of course, there are many different opinions out there, but these are my choices.

Before you purchase, consider three things: First, do you require a hunting dog or additional help on the farm? Both avenues require training. Some training you can do yourself, as in the case with a waterfowl dog. However, you throw the idea of cattle school into the equation, the cost can increase dramatically. Also, if you buy a certified puppy you can pay north of $1000 for the pooch.

1. Labrador retriever. These are great dogs if you have a family. Very gentle in nature, relatively easy to train, the Lab is a great dog for anyone who hunts upland birds and waterfowl. They are also a great dog to have around the farm.

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They do have a tendency to gain weight and develop hip and joint problems, but a healthy animal can live as long as 14 years.

2. Weimaraner. Another good family dog. Weimaraners are very popular with bird hunters across North America. They make a good family pet as well, and are gentle in nature similar to a Lab.

In my humble experience, Weimaraners are better as solitary dogs and I have developed the opinion that they don’t get along with too many other canines.

3. Beagle. Beagles are an excellent breed of scent hounds, and excel at chasing rabbits and can even be used for upland game. They do best when in a pack, and so it is recommended you own at least a few of these dogs together as they are highly social animals.

Kids love them, and often their first experience with a hunting dog will be a beagle circling a rabbits or treeing a raccoon.

4. German shepherd. Known in the U.S. for their work with police and security, German shepherds are prevalent on homesteads in Germany and all through Europe. The German shepherd will protect your children, especially if raised with them from a puppy. It also will protect your livestock if you train them right. Coyotes are no match for a German shepherd or two, although these dogs are vulnerable to wolves and cougars. Though a bit intimidating, a German shepherd can make a very good family dog, and will lay down its life for your kids.

5. Border Collie. Considered the most intelligent of all the domestic dog breeds. One of my personal favorite breeds of dog. The Border Collie is great around children and will quickly become one of the family.

Border Collies do great herding sheep and even cattle. They are the perfect farm hand for the rancher or the farmer with a dozen sheep or a few Black Angus.

What breeds would you add to this list? Share your own list in the section below:

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How To Build A Cold Frame Out Of Re-purposed ‘Junk’

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How To Build A Cold Frame Out Of Re-purposed 'Junk'

Image source: Pixabay.com

When I was a kid, I assumed you had just a few months to plant, tend to, and then harvest plants and vegetables. I was wrong.

When I started out working for a farmer I was introduced to the age-old “cold frame.” I learned it was a way not only to extend my growing season but also to grow some crops during winter. Cold frames also can help you get an early jump come spring, when you are chomping at the bit to get your spring crops planted.

What is a cold frame, you ask?

Simply put, it is a box-like structure with four sides designed to trap warmth and provide a sanctuary for cold weather plants, with a clear lid. You can build these boxes out of common materials you may already have laying around — such as bricks, spare boards, wood from pallets, plywood and hay. For a lid, I have used windows from car doors, an old window from a knocked down house, Plexiglas, plastic drop clothes and plastic clear sheeting.

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The size of the cold frame depends on the size of the plants you will be growing. Be sure the top to your container is large enough and thick enough to trap the heat. I like to build my containers around at least 24 inches by 48 inches, although some people build them several feet wide. Height is determined by the plants you are growing. The back of the box should be higher than the front and it should achieve a gradual sloping shape. This design captures more light and provides more warmth and nourishment from the sun than if it were just a flat box with a bit of glass atop it. Often after I plant a vegetable in the cold frame I surround it with straw for added insulation.

Some people build a permanent cold frame. But because I live in a warmer climate, all of mine are portable and made from plywood with a folding glass lid.

I place the container facing south. The location must not be in the shade, and it should be in a place that gets the most sunlight during daylight hours. You location should have decent drainage and yet be sheltered from a harsh winter wind.

Plant Care in a Cold Frame

Image source: instructables.com

Image source: instructables.com

When planting, I remove the first four inches of top soil and lay down a layer of flat rock, and then put the soil back on top. This makes our cold frame into almost an oven. It also allows for drainage after a downpour so as not to flood your plants. You even can place you plants in pots or on trays.

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Cold frames are like children and need attention. For example, you will need to follow the weather forecast when planting and tending your cold frames. At times, you need to keep your plants cool, as your cold frame can act as an oven. For summer plants you want you temperature inside a cold frame to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but at least north of 50. For many spring and fall crops, above 45 and under 60 is ideal, although some plants, such as kale, can handle temperatures far less than that.

On days when it’s around 40 degrees outside, keep your top open a few inches, and when it gets close to 50 or 55 degrees remove the top completely. Otherwise, you risk scorching your plants.

When the thermometer plungers into frigid conditions, insulate your plants with straw, newspapers, even blankets. You will lose most heat through the top of the cold frame, so a quilted cover is a great option. Just remember to uncover it come daytime so your plants can again be warmed by the sun. Lastly, keep the snow clear from your frames as that will block heat.

What are your top cold frame tips? Share them in the section below:

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The Best States In America To Live Off The Grid?

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The Best Places To Live Off-Grid

Image source: Pixabay.com

I grew up in upstate New York. The beautiful rolling hills, the Great Lakes. The lovely farm country. I would never go back if you paid me millions of dollars. Never.

But for the better part of a decade I have resided well south of the Mason-Dixon line. In fact, when I spoke to a relative a short time ago from New York State, they were shocked I didn’t sound like a Yankee, or even speak like one. “You’ve gone native,” they told me. Which is well and good in my book.

New York is about as liberal/progressive of a state as you can get. It’s a state that does not honor life, the sanctity of marriage or gun rights. It taxes its residents to death, does not value homeschoolers and has no more respect for Almighty God than does Richard Dawkins. Since I have left, the New York government has only worsened.

For many of us who homestead and farm on a small scale, we also raise families, own firearms, go to church and desire a quiet life lived in peace. Sadly judging by the moral and political climate in some places in North America, we often have to leave the place we call home in order to find these things. I believe there are still good places out there to put down roots and farm and raise your children, while other places in the USA have gone quite authoritarian.

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Here are three areas in the United States for those seeking fair land prices, less government involvement, a religious friendly atmosphere, low taxes, and a place friendly toward gun owners.

South

The land of cotton has changed much in the past half century, but the area is well-known as a bastion of conservative and Christian values in the USA. The land is good for agriculture and there are many homesteaders and small-time farmers who have flocked to this region over the past two to three decades from all over the USA and Canada.

My pick for the southeast:

The Best States In America To Live Off The Grid

Image source: Pixabay.com

Tennessee. The state’s motto of “Agriculture and Commerce” speaks of the beautiful and lush farmlands — and low taxes. There is no state income tax in Tennessee. Gun freedoms are very good, and in fact after a recent shooting, Tennessee’s lieutenant governor urged people to go and get their handgun carry permits. No such thing as an “assault weapons ban” or magazine restrictions exist in the Volunteer State. Land prices are expensive toward the Blue Ridge Mountains, but Middle and West Tennessee land prices are affordable. Homeschooling conditions are great for families.

Southwest

Texas. Don’t mess with the Lone Star State. A conservative government, coupled with excellent gun laws, makes Texas one of the top places to live for the small farmer or homesteader. While not as fertile as some states, ranching is big business in Texas. A farm on the Edwards Plateau will provide your family with water from the aquifer with the same name. In the more fertile east, row crop farming as well as vegetable growing does reasonably well.

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With the end of the recent drought, Texas received more rainwater this year than it had in seven years. Beware of buying land near the Mexican-US border and stay away from the more progressive cities like Austin or Dallas. Most Texans value liberty and independence, a great thing for the homesteader or farmer.

West

The Best States In America To Live Off The Grid

Image source: Pixabay.com

Idaho and Wyoming. Both of these states tie for the best places to live out west. Excellent gun laws, conservative government, a fierce independent spirit, and excellent farm country make these Rocky Mountain states ideal for the homesteader/farmer. Rich soil is available, and land prices are cheap. If you want to be away from people, this is the perfect place for you. You want to hunt and fish? This is the ideal location for the sportsman, with teeming populations of deer, elk, pronghorn and even bison. Idaho is the more temperate state, whereas Wyoming is known for its brutally cold winters.

Northeast

New Hampshire. The last bastion of any freedom in the Northeast is the Granite State, but even this state is slipping slowly toward the liberalism that has transformed the Northeast. If you must live in the North, New Hampshire or perhaps the north woods of Maine are really the only two viable options I see.

What are your picks for best places to live off-grid? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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The 3 Best Axes Money Can Buy

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The 3 Best Axes Money Can Buy

Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe. Image source: woodtrekker

The problem in compiling a list of the very best axes on the market today is that it’s literally impossible to list every single one.

For the homesteader, farmer and outdoorsman, an axe is a vital piece of equipment, one that is made by countless manufacturers. Just like tractors, knives, firearms, chainsaws and tools, everyone has an opinion. Someone may like Council tool, another like the axe that was custom built by a blacksmith.

I’m apologizing up front; I don’t know your friend Bill who has made knives and axes for decades in his shop. But I have spent quite a bit of time using an axe in felling, splitting and hunting/camping tasks that I think I can list the ones I think are “the best axes.”

Before I begin, I’ll write a quick note. I am not including hatchets or tomahawks or any other “belt axe.” If you have spent any amount of time in the outdoors you probably have come to learn by now how useless a small one-hand axe is for larger tasks. In truth, there is nothing a hatchet can do, that a larger axe can’t do better.

1. Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay Axe

Not all that long ago, Snow and Nealley produced all of their products in the US with strong hickory handles and forged heads. Around 2003, S&N shut down most of their company in Bangor, Maine, and limped along with a skeletal staff importing axe heads from China and using wood axe handles from Tennessee. I have one of their axes from this time, and to be fair it is not a bad axe at all. I use it primarily for camping tasks and hunting. In 2012, the company switched ownership to an Amish family who moved the company to Smyrna, Maine. They also switched to 100 percent American materials. Their new products are quality. In fact, they hearken back to Snow and Nealley’s earlier days.

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Their Hudson Bay axe comes with a 22-24 inch hickory wood handle, and a drop forged steel head. The axe head has a narrow bit for lighter tasks and a flat poll for hammering jobs such as driving tent pegs and similar jobs. This small axe fits perfectly on a pack, does not weigh much more than a hatchet, and can be used for all sorts of wilderness tasks.

Price: $75

2. Council Tool Velvicut Line

Council Tool Velvicut Line. Image source: woodandmetal.com

Council Tool Velvicut Line. Image source: woodandmetal.com

Council Tool is by far one of the largest axe manufacturers in the States. One hundred percent American made, Council Tool does not build junk. One aspect that makes Council such a popular brand is they don’t sell overpriced products. In fact, most of their axes sell for around the $50-60 mark.

Council’s Velvicut Line is a step above their standard axes, which are a step above just about everyone else’s axes. There are three axes which come in their Velvicut line. The first is the Velvicut Bad Axe Boys Axe, a medium-sized axe. The next is the Velvicut Felling Axe for felling trees, and they offer a Velvicut Hudson Bay Axe that is just a tad shorter than the axe offered by Snow and Nealley.

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If you want an axe that your grandchildren will use, consider Council’s Velvicut.

Price $130-$190

3. Gränsfors Bruk, any model

Gränsfors Bruk

Gränsfors Bruk Viking axe

Made in Sweden, Gransfors is an axe company that does not merely build a good axe; they build beautiful pieces of rock solid family heirlooms in the making. They produce forest axes for most outdoor activities, as well as splitting and felling axes for heavier use.

Every single axe I have ever owned or used from them is nearly indestructible. You can also buy an “ancient Axe” from Gransfors, such as a Battle-ready tomahawk like the Native-Americans used, or a Viking axe. However, Gransfors is known primarily for their tool axes. Typically their axes cost more than almost every other axe on the market. You can pay $60 for a decent Council Tool axe, but you will most likely spend around $200 for a Gransfors. They are worth the extra coinage, as they hold an edge and have the quality that makes other axes red with envy.

Cost: Depends on the model, but plan at least $150-$300 

Do you agree or disagree with this list? What axes would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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The Right Way To Teach A Child To Shoot

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The Right Way To Teach A Child To Shoot

Image source: thewellarmedwoman.com

I love my kids. The energy they bring to our home, the warm embraces I receive every morning when they wake, and the joy of watching them learn and grow. All of these things make life beautiful.

I want them to grow up knowing the Lord, following God, valuing life, to be handy with a shovel, able to use a tractor … and a crack shot with a rifle. I desire them to be able to hunt game, dispatch a rabid coyote, and be able to drop a sexual predator with a well-aimed barrage of gunfire. In short, I want my kids to learn not only how to handle a firearm, but to respect that firearm and the responsibility that goes with it, and shoot extremely well.

Safety

As a firearm instructor, my top concern on the range is safety. This has to be our step one as a parent when it comes to teaching our children to handle guns. Every child needs to be taught to respect a firearm. They also need to be taught that a firearm in an inanimate object, and it is only dangerous if in the hands of a dangerous or evil user. My wife and I know a woman who was raised by her parents to fear guns. To this day she is deathly afraid of the sight of a rifle, shotgun or pistol. This should never be our goal as a parent.

Teach your young children to never touch a firearm, except with Mommy or Daddy’s permission. I let my 5 year old handle a firearm unloaded. I am already instilling in her little mind that her finger never touches the trigger until she is ready to shoot, and to keep the muzzle pointed in the safest direction possible. I am always right there when she handles it, and it is always unloaded unless she is firing at a target with my help. Our firearms remain locked up.

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Our goal should be to see our children become confident, yet not cocky. Respectful, and not fearful. I want to raise my children in such a way that if they were to come across a firearm at a friend’s house someday left out and loaded, my child could safe that weapon — meaning he or she can determine safely if it was loaded or not, and unload and safe the firearm if needed.

I have an example here in my own life. As a teenager, I once came across a potentially dangerous situation at the home of a farmer I knew. I used to hunt and work his property part-time. During deer season one year, the farmer who never practiced the best firearm safety had gone into town with his son. They left a few rifles and shotguns in a common building on the farm fully loaded.  One of their shotguns, a Browning Auto-5, had a round in the chamber, and four more in the tube magazine. The muzzle of the shotgun was completely full of hardened mud and pebbles.

The Right Way To Teach A Child To Shoot

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I was aghast at the sight. I had grown up as a hunter and around firearms and I knew my way around them extremely well. I grabbed that shotgun before some of the other part-time employees who were a wee bit reckless came to work. I unloaded the shotgun, and then proceeded to unload the other firearms, a Remington 700 and a Mosin M1991/30. The shotgun with the plugged barrel sure made me feel uneasy, so I raced over to the tool shed, retrieved a cleaning rod and gun oil and gave the barrel a thorough cleaning. By the time the other knuckleheads arrived to work, I had stored the guns in a safe place out of their sight and told my boss. He shrugged as I handed him the ammunition I retrieved, but I knew deep down I did the right thing.

That is how you want to raise your kids to behave around a firearm.

Shooting a Firearm

Never start your kids on a high-powered rifle. I have seen so many idiots — and idiots is too kind a word — hand a youngster a .12 gauge or .30-06 for their first time shooting. When the kid is naturally bruised or knocked on his rear, the adult explodes in rip-roaring laughter. I honestly want to grab the firearm and wrap the barrel around the adult’s neck when I see this.

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We should desire to see our kids grow up to love shooting, hunting and the outdoor sports. The first time out should be with light cartridges and small guns. Even a BB gun is great. A .22 is terrific for youngsters. Get them comfortable shooting, and then work on accuracy.

A .22 bolt action is the best tool to teach a child how to shoot. I never let a youngster use a scoped rifle unless they really need one. Start with iron sights and build confidence. Gently teach, and encourage your child. However, be strict with firearm safety. You must never waiver with a stern hand when it comes to safety.

Also, never let your child handle a firearm that they are not capable of handling.  Many of us can remember last year when a firearms instructor in Arizona let a little girl handle a UZI submachine gun with tragic consequences. Let’s not let that happen. Start slow.

If they are going to start deer hunting, why not a light kicker like a .223, which contrary to many armchair gun expert’s opinion, has dropped plenty of deer. If you must go heavier, think a .243 or .7mm-08. A .30-30 can do fine for an older child.

As your child gains confidence, feel free to teach them how to handle larger chamberings. I strongly suggest waiting to introduce the shotgun until they are comfortable enough to handle recoil. I have found many larger 8 and 9 year olds are ready for a youth .20 gauge and turkey hunting.

Stay safe, and God bless!

What advice would you add on teaching a child to shoot? Share it in the section below:

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