JOURNAL

THE EMPTY CASES BLOG

It’s all about the shot!

SHOT-1

The question of why we hunt is commonly asked. The answer is really very simple. We hunt because we are designed to do it. Hunting is deeply imbedded in the human DNA. It is how we fulfill the first – and all – of the three primary aspects of survival – sustenance, shelter, and sex. These needs are the underlying goal of the show Naked and Afraid, a show where a man and woman are forced into the wilderness and must survive on their own. Generally the first two priorities take precedence for the contestants and the third – much to the dissatisfaction of producers and viewers – is never realized.

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Humans are pack animals and like to hunt that way. But, hunting is also an individual endeavor.

We hunt because we must but what is hunting about. Some will offer it is about camaraderie. This is understandable; most of us prefer to hunt with friends. Humans are pack animals and from the beginning hunted that way because it greatly increased success. Today, to some extent that can be true, but with modern weaponry strength in numbers is not necessary except on the battlefield. Still, some of my most memorable hunts have been because I was with others like my wife, daughter, and son.

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Interaction with nature can be mesmerizing, memorable, and deadly.

Then there is the idea that we hunt to interact with nature. This too is a very enjoyable aspect of hunting. I’ve seen, felt, heard, and smelled things while hunting that are forever engrained in my memory. Like the time I fed a Newfoundland fox my ham sandwich, listened to red stags rumble the German country side like trolls, smelled the pristine smell of wilderness on the River of No Return, and stood yards from more than a hundred African buffalo, all looking at me like I’d slept with their old lady.

SHOT-4

Done right, squirrel gravy is a delicious delicacy that will delight.

Securing food of course is the primary endeavor of the hunter. The food nature can supply us with is protein rich, totally organic, and tasteful. Rough grouse roasted over a campfire will warm the soul, pronghorn steaks grilled medium rare will satisfy the pallet, and eland back strap cooked over warm coals will make your knees weak. I’d be derelict in my mention of wild foods if I did not also describe the delicacy of squirrel gravy and biscuits the way only my father can make it.

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Campfire stories are always better after a successful shot has been made.

But will all those good reasons to hunt; hunting is really all about the shot. Hunters work endlessly in preparation for the shot. The meticulously assemble their gear, weapons, and ammunition, Work tirelessly on the range, hike over hill and dale, brave all Mother Nature can throw at them, and run, crawl, creep, and slither, into position to make the shot. For without the shot the campfire camaraderie is a little less exciting. Without the opportunity for the shot, the memories are a little hard to recall. And of course, the wild protein is impossible to taste.

Memories like this do not come from a miss.

Memories like this do not come from a miss.

“No,” you say, “I hunt for the experience, not the shot.” Well then pilgrim, just leave your rifle at home. For you see, without the possibility a shot may materialize, and without the equipment to make that shot, you are not hunting; you’re just walking around in the woods.

Yes, hunting is all about the shot: preparing for it, searching for it, and making it. For that reason and regardless of your weapon of choice, hunters should continually prepare for the shot. If you make it – if you secure that sustenance – and if you have a tent, cave, or hole to crawl into, you can then focus on that last element of survival, and life gets a lot more interesting.

The gift of a shot well made.

The gift of a shot well made.

Maybe the producers of Naked and Afraid should give their unclothed contestants a course in shooting, a gun or bow, and a tent. Then, each episode might be a bit more, um… exciting. Of course, it will still be all about the shot or they will starve to death and intimate contact will never cross their minds.

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It’s always, always, all about the shot!

Squirrel Scramble

The Greenbow Foundation and the Squirrel Scramble.

An uplifting tale about kids, parents, guns, and hunting. Some day the whitetail deer is the greatest game animal of all time, but the squirrel offers unique opportunities for young and old.

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Nakamura and his son Mason enjoy their first ever hunt as father and son during the Squirrel Scramble.

In Virginia, deer season ends as a new year begins. As such, most hunters put their guns away. However, I didn’t want the area youth to wait so long to get back into the woods so I did something. Through my youth foundation, The Green Bow Foundation, I created our first “Squirrel Scramble” to educate area hunters about the challenging fun of squirrel hunting and to help bridge a dormant span of hunting excitement between deer season and turkey seasons.

The Squirrel Scramble was held Jan 28, 2017 at the American Legion Post 247 in Remington, Va. Teams comprised of one adult and one youth paired up to hunt squirrels anywhere and any way legal, from half an hour before sunrise to noon. From noon until 1PM teams checked in and weighed their harvests to decide who would be our Squirrel Scramble champion.

Winners earned bragging rights and a Ruger American 22 LR Compact rifle. Mossberg also awarded the top male and female youth hunters with a Mossberg Blaze rimfire rifle. Second place netted a Simmons 22 Rimfire scope and third place a $25 gift certificate from Clark Brothers, a local firearms and outdoor equipment store in Opal, Va.

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Mason Nakamura celebrates his first ever harvest as a hunter.

I am thoroughly impressed with The Green Bow Foundation,” said Cainaan Nakamura, who used the Squirrel Scramble to introduce his son, Mason, to hunting for the first time. “From the day we registered for the event and even after the event was finished, we were met with happy, knowledgeable people that truly want to educate the youth (and the parents) about hunting and conservation. After meeting James Pinsky, the founder, I realized that this foundation is less about teaching the youth about responsible hunting and more about helping youth develop into responsible adults, that will have the confidence to make tough decisions and understand to results of those decisions.

Like many parents, Cainaan took the Squirrel Scramble as an opportunity to mentor his child into the world of hunting, which quite frankly is the very best thing possible for this kind of event.“

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Mason Nakamura waits for Green Bow Foundation founder, Jay Pinsky while he weighs in his first squirrel at the Squirrel Scramble.

“Our experience was great, not only during the event but also leading up to it,” Cainaan said. “Mason had to pass three (Dad imposed) guns safety tests before he could go on the hunt. The tests included a written test, memorization test, and practical exam. We began the hunt 30 minutes before sunrise and hunted until 11 a.m.,” said Cainaan. “There were very few squirrels that morning but I figured this would be the case since we were hunting squirrels. It seems like whenever you are hunting deer you typically see 1,000+ squirrels. Overall it was a successful hunt, I was able to experience my son take his first squirrel and watch him apply all the skills he had learned leading up to this hunt. Needless to say, he is hooked.”

The Squirrel Scramble did a lot more than challenge local hunters to harvest squirrels. It celebrated squirrels as a viable game animal in Virginia, with a seminar on the squirrels of Virginia by Green Bow Foundation’s senior conservationist, Dyllan Chapins. Additionally, American Legion Post 247 member and U.S. Army veteran Joe Cole taught participants about the proper field dressing, cleaning, and cooking of squirrels; two aspects of the event which weren’t lost on hunter and father Cainaan Nakamura.

“During the weigh-in and before the award ceremony we were able to learn all about the indigenous squirrels we were hunting, the proper way to process his kill, and even some different ways to prepare the meat. I really respected the balance of education that was married to the hunting portion of the event.”

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Congratulations to Team Tree Rat Eradicators Andy Thorpe and Colby Lewis who won our 2017 Squirrel Scramble.

In the end, the success of the Squirrel Scramble wasn’t seen in trophies, but in memories and one-of-a-kind moments. There were many, including seeing a mother and son – Tammy Lusk and Austin Shutt – hunt together for the first time. Austin wound up winning his division with an impressive harvest of a 2 pound 12 ounce fox squirrel with an air rifle.

A summer squirrel season in Virginia has inspired a second Squirrel Scramble for June 3, 2017. For more information about the Green Bow Foundation, visit the website www.greenbowfoundation.org

By: James Pinsky

I Have This Rifle

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New Ultra Light Arms rifles have put lots of smiles on my face. This one courtesy of a NULA 35 Whelen.

There are five rifles from New Ultra Light Arms (NULA) that live in my house. I could not bring myself to part with any of them.

  1. My NULA 22 LR is a single shot. It has potted a lot of squirrels and I used it on Christmas day to shoot my daughter’s drone down from where it was stuck on a tree limb.
  2. I used by 243 to take my best whitetail and it now belongs to my son. He would not part with it for a pretty girl.
  3. The 30 Remington AR was my idea of an ideal walking rifle. It has taken game in Africa and here at home. I used it to make one of my best shots on a kudu bull, at sunset, at about 300 yards.
  4. The 35 Whelen hangs around in case I get really mad at something. It has a kudu, zebra, and wildebeest to its credit. It also shoots like a match rifle.
  5. The 308 was turned into a Scout Rifle by Jim Brockman. It weighs just a shade over six pounds with scope and sling attached. I dropped a massive bull elk with it in New Mexico.
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This NULA Model 20 was turned into a six pound Scout Rifle by Jim Brockman.

The other NULA rifle I have here does not belong to me but I convinced Melvin Forbes to build it. It is chambered for the 300 Blackout, has a 20-inch barrel, and weighs five pounds, 11 ounces, with a Leupold VX3i 1-5X riflescope attached. It would make an ideal deer, hog rifle and predator rifle, and it would be great for a recoil sensitive shooter. This rifle also has a threaded muzzle so it is suppressor ready.

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The one of a kind New Ultra Light Arms Pathfinder.

I used the rifle to work up some 300 Blackout handloads for an article. I also hunted with it one deer season but never got the shot I wanted. This thing is a joy to carry and with the option of subsonic and supersonic ammunition, it is very versatile. It shoots like all the rifles from New Ultra Light Arms. Itty-bitty groups are the norm, and point of impact shift at 100 yards when you switch loads (supersonic) is non-existent. The trick to this accuracy is the precision with which Forbes builds these rifles, and the Timney Trigger, but the magic is in the stock.

You see the stocks on the NULA rifles are unlike any other rifle stocks made. They are painstakingly built by hand in a proprietary manner, and the barreled action is bedded from the tang to the tip of the forearm. This means there barrel harmonics past the stock are almost non-existent, and the stock actually makes the thin barrel think it is an inch thick.

NULA PF-1

Melvin Forbes

In fact Forbes is so good at making these stocks, he builds one similar, but not identical, and under anonymity for another major rifle manufacture. Some of the technology for his stock was even stolen by another big name maker, and several have tried to copy these stocks but they have all failed to find the secret.

As much as I’d like to write a check for this rifle, I’m sending it back. (There is this boy who lives in my house too, and he will be attending college next year and a rifle cannot be traded for tuition. He already has his NULA.) This rifle is too good to live in Forbes’ shop; it needs a good home, a home where the other occupants of the house will appreciate its precision, dependability, and weightlessness.

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Standard New Ultra Light Arms precision.

Many who lust for a 300 Blackout have visions of an AR 15, dressed up to look like it just got home from the sandbox. If that’s your thing, that’s fine with me. However, if you like real rifles and want one that is second to none, this gem from NULA is special and unique. It’s also an opportunity to own a one of a kind rifle from one of the legendary rifle builders of our time; the man who started the lightweight rifle craze. To quote gun writer Jim Carmichael, NULA rifles are, “First, and still the one to beat.”

I named it the “Pathfinder, “ but if you buy it you can call her anything you want. And, I bet you’ll be calling it often.

If you would like to read more about this rifle, click HERE.

Disparaging the Guru

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Bashing Jeff Cooper on social media or blogs seems to be the in thing to do now days. Mostly perpetuated by millennial shooters, Granny Hawkins would file these vain attempts to get attention under www.doodlysquat.com  (If you don’t know who Granny Hawkins is, you’re a millennial for sure.) This bashing runs the gamut of proclamations that the Weaver stance is outdated, that the Modern Technique of the Pistol has been superseded, and even includes declarations that anyone who reads or remotely admires Jeff Cooper is a grey haired, dust covered, lunatic who’s not advanced into the 21st century.

DC-2I get it, I really do. Most millennial gun owners received their firearms training on television watching Hollywood pretenders act like operators, or on the web watching other tenderfoots play with their pistols. Or, alternately, they’ve taken a class from some tactard trainer who developed his own doctrine in his mom’s basement, while waiting for his on-lines friends to join in on a Call of Duty game.

Then there are the gamers. The competitive shooters who negotiate courses of fire where they know where they will always shoot from, how many targets there will be, where they will conduct a reload, and the time they have to beat. All of this by the way happens in an environment where the targets will not shoot back, try to take their gun, or beat the ever-loving daylights out of them while they’re trying to drop the slide on their pistol using their thumb.

Don’t misconstrue this as a knock at competitive shooters. I know several who are masters with a handgun. Shooters like Dianna Liedorff Muller and Mark Hanish. I have about as much chance outshooting them on the range as I do receiving a tantalizing invitation from Brittany Spears. I know this because I’ve tried. Here’s the thing; competitive shooting is not the same as fighting with a pistol in your hand. Yeah, I know, front sight – press. But let’s be very clear about something, fighting with a handgun is not just about shooting. If you think it is, you’re likely a product of paragraph two.

Here’s the other thing, and I’m paraphrasing Robbie Barrkman (ROBAR) here, just about everything related to handguns today, can directly be traced to Jeff Cooper. Cooper started the defensive handgun movement that continues today, and his 1972 book, The Principles of Personal Defense, is still the best resource on that topic. Oh, and for you competition shooters out there, would you happen to know who was the founding president of IPSC? For most, I doubt it. Were it not for Jeff Cooper, you would not have a game to play and we still might be shooting PPC.

What those of you who are not all that long out of diapers may not realize is that Cooper founded the way of life you like to think you’re living. At a time when this country needed it, he conveyed a message that struck at the heart of patriots and folks of good character. The sermons he delivered in print and in lecture shaped the future of firearms in America.

Yeah, you might have what you think is a better way and, hell, it might even be a better way – it might even be Timney trigger good. Regardless, and I’d bet my last can of Skoal on this, the last thing you or anyone else wants to do is get in a fight, in a diverse, dusky, chaotic environment, with a well-trained practitioner in the Modern Technique of the Pistol.

As a final thought, if your technique, tool, or opinion is so high-speed, low-drag, and better than owl-shit on a butter sandwich, there’s no need to belittle the work or opinions of others while you espouse its virtues. Cream has a way of rising to the top; tell your story with the respect due those whose shoulders you’re standing on. If your thing makes sense, shooters will flock to you like crows to a dead opossum. And, while it might not sound like it, that’s a good thing.

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THE SHOT

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We had already called seven coyotes from the stand we were on. I had shot three of them. One of which, after dropping like a rock, got up and ran off three minutes later. I did not see the dog get up, I was busy engaging another coming in on a string to my direct front. We were about to celebrate our success when our guide – Cody Glause of Cole Creek Outfitters – spotted two other coyotes out at about 780 yards.

I did not pay them any never mind, they were well beyond my range, and they’d laid down, uninterested in the tempting music we were making. My partner on this hunt however said rather confidently, “I’m gonna shoot that coyote.” Now, had this been a common man I would have laughed. But Neal Emery of Hornady is not your average trigger puller. I’ve seen his stuff in action; he once took a whitetail buck as clean at 702 yards as anyone else could have done at 25.

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Neal asked, “Will you spot for me?”

“Yep. I’m on him. Tell me before you send it.” We had a bout a 15 mph, 50° crosswind and Neal was using a JP AR 15 chambered for Hornady’s new 6mm Creedmoor cartridge. I figured this might be a bit of a stretch of Neal’s skill and equipment; the whitetail I watched him whack two years ago was shot with a 300 Winchester Magnum on a graveyard calm day. This was a smaller target and a lesser cartridge.

The bullet struck about a foot high, just over the coyote’s back. I relayed the info to Neal as the dog jumped to its feet, sprinted about 25 yards, and stopped. Cody called out a new range of 806 yards and Neal said, “On the way.”

The coyote nose dived into the sand hills, gained its feet, and tried to navigate the sage to make the distance even further. It did not matter, in less than 100 yards the song dog was down for the count.

Without question that was the best shot I’ve seen in the field. It was made by an employee of Hornady, with an AR 15, and a 6mm Creedmoor shooting a 108 grain ELD bullet, in a wind a pirate would have died for. If you ever run into to Neal, in the field or on the range, my advice would be to not challenge him to a shooting match.

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Lawyers, Guns, and Money – Triggers and Nonsense

Timney AR Trigger

Not too long ago Mossberg acquired the rights to a patent for a drop in trigger; a trigger designed by someone else. Mossberg then proceeded to file suit against a host of trigger manufacturers – including Timney – for infringement on the patent they now owned. There is nothing uncommon about this behavior. It is simply a way for companies to protect their intellectual property. Uncommon or not, I didn’t see this as a good thing. This is partly because I felt the patent was issued without merit. At its basic level it was like trying to patent an aftermarket wheel that matched the lug pattern on a common automobile.

Timney Install

This all caused some bit of hoopla in the firearms industry, partly because there were of lot of manufacturers involved in the litigation and partly because it seemed, well, like sort of a devilish thing to do. I like Mossberg as a company, mostly because they make reliable products for an affordable price. I own, use, and trust their stuff frequently. I also like Timney triggers because after years of pulling them I’m convinced they offer the best interface between a shooter and a gun. In a way it was like two of my friends were fighting it out.

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Fortunately, it seems logic has solved this problem. As reported on the Firearm Blog, the patent in question has been found invalid. It also seems that – as it should be – the free market will sort it all out. Instead of leaving it up to lawyers and the like, may the best trigger win. I’m still gong to buy and use Mossberg products – I strive to not let the work of lawyers influence my life, happiness, or shooting.

There is a lesson here for all, in business and in life: If you want success, just be the best, litigation generally just causes a mess.

 

Introducing: The Scout Rifle Study – A Web Book

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The Scout Rifle Study is a project that began so long ago I’ve forgotten when. It started as research for an article and morphed into an obsession that has consumed much of my time. When it was announced that the findings of the study would be published in book format I received many requests for pre-orders along with a host of advice. Everything including a coffee table book to something as simple as one in the Kindle format was suggested.

But times are changing and the Internet is now the main source for information on just about everything. Just the same, the popularity of Scout Rifles is at an all time high, with interesting and exciting news occurring frequently. For these reasons I’ve decided to publish the 60,000 + word manuscript, chapter by chapter, on-line, in web page format.

This publication method offers multiple advantages over common printed or digital manuscripts:


The content can be updated with new information at any time.

Multitudes of images can be included, some of which are historical and of a resolution not suitable for print.

The web-based format will permit video integration.

It will allow for forum based reader discussion, reader contributions, and social media sharing.

Most importantly, with a single click the Scout Rifle Study can inform interested parties all over the world about Scout Rifles.

And YES, it will be FREE!


The registration website is now live. Click HERE and you’ll be able to sign up to receive e-mail notifications when new content is posted.

SCHEDULED RELEASE DATE: 30 January 2017

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