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WH President's Wing Shooting Skill Saves Pet


"Most people wouldn't have taken that shot, let alone made it!"

Read more: WH President's Wing Shooting Skill Saves Pet

The Prodigal Gun

“Ma Burch, Ma Burch!”  My daughter-in-law was excited.  “I think I found your bracelet!”  The item to which she referred was a gold piece I had purchased last year and it turned up missing this winter.  In my “spread out” life, things regularly turn up missing.  With a home in Isle, land and cabin outside of town, work two hours south in Woodbury, and my kid's house where I sometimes stay – I leave a veritable trail of stuff wherever I go.  Things turn up eventually, but if something goes AWOL it could be in the box of my truck, my office desk drawer, in a tree stand, at a bear bait, in one of several garages around the state… or who knows where.  The snow had melted and the missing trinket had been found in the lawn at my kid’s house, somewhat battered, but still wearable.  It must have jettisoned off my wrist as I grappled with a suitcase and attaché through snow banks in January.

But a gun?  Now THAT is a different story.  I am obsessive about my guns.  I don’t name them like some guys do but I regard them with respect and I am safe to a fault. I know where they are.  They are always cleaned and oiled and stored safely.  Being a Firearm Safety Instructor, I practice what I preach.   I had felt pretty sheepish admitting after several months of looking, that it appeared I had lost my gun  - a .357 Ruger Revolver.  I mean… I don’t LOSE guns.  I backtracked through a dozen scenarios of moving it from its usual spot(s).   Did I take it from my truck when I flew to the ATA Show in January and the truck would be parked at work for week?  Did it bounce out of my ATV drop basket while rough riding my trails through the woods?  Did I leave it strapped to a tree at my bear bait?  Did I hide it in my cabin, or cabin garage or home garage before going on a trip?  Did it wedge in some cranny of my truck cab?  Or get stowed in my road kit in the truck box?  I racked my brain for weeks imagining all the scenarios that might have played out.   The problem with being safe with firearms, if you can call it a problem, is that I can hide things so well that a sniffer dog couldn’t find them. 

This handgun was my take-along everywhere protector and friend.  Some women say “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”  Not me.  My Ruger was my best friend.   Lest you think me loony, read Paxton Quigley’s “Armed and Female” and you will know what I mean.  I have a concealed carry permit and have fired that revolver thousands of times.  I shoot it both left and right handed.  I taught my son to shoot with it when he was a kid.  I had taught hundreds of Gun Safety Class students to shoot with it over my 20 years of owning it.   It was the first gun I ever bought.  I purchased it after an attempted break-in when my kids were babies and I was home alone with the kids a lot.    It has been my side arm through many bear seasons and my security blanket dozens of times when I heard things go thump in the night that weren’t supposed to go thump in the night.

And now – it was gone.  My daughter-in-law wants the two of us to go get Lady Smith & Wesson girlie guns, and that’s all well and fine, but a new gun just would not be the same.  Besides, it was a loaded revolver so I just could not be content with saying “que sera, move on and forget it”.  I felt a sense of responsibility to find it.

I had been through my woods many times, visiting each tree stand, checking every trail and back trail.  When winter came, I walked thru the snow searching.  When the first significant thaw came, I trekked miles around my property, to no avail.  However, there were still snowbanks so I knew I would have to endure wood tick season and look again and today was the day.  I have a rotten cold and thought a hike through the woods in the spitting icy rain would be a diversion from sitting home feeling miserable. 

I went through all the trails, and just as I was nearing my cabin, I stopped and thought “You know… the only thing I have not done, is pray.”   I sometimes think menial requests aren’t worthy of God’s attention, but I offered up this request anyway.

I decided to make one last jaunt to my bear bait on the southeast corner.  By now the icy rain along with doing the farmer nose blow, I was chafing badly, so this was my last hurrah.  The bait had not been touched since last year after the bears abandoned it mid-October.  Parallel logs covered the top, with two large logs propped on the sides to keep the others from rolling.  I looked in the tree stands near the bait, and returned to the bait from a back trail.

And there it was!   My gun, in its holster, was tucked under a propped up log.  Yes, I did the Happy Dance.  And yes, I thanked God.  I have high hopes that a good gunsmith will be able to restore my rusted out Ruger, but I am one happy girl.   The Prodigal Gun is home.


Short Guns for Big Game

Big Game hunting is always a series of challenges. Meeting and surpassing each challenge is a growth ring on the tree of hunting experience. It is the very nature of hunters to raise the bar of self-imposed limitations as they mature in skill and personal knowledge. Usually this is done in one of two ways, committing to taking only trophy quality animals or restricting the means or equipment with which you hunt. Hand gunning for big game is one such restriction that is gaining in popularity for seasoned hunters and even a few novices.

Many firearm manufacturers are recognizing this growing interest among hunters and adding handgun models to their product line which lend themselves more satisfactorily to hunting applications. Long range performance, manageable recoil, extensive caliber selections, more barrels length choices are only a few of the areas of attention gun makers focus on when designing a handgun specifically for hunting purposes. Fiber optic sights or scopes are the preferred sighting devices and many are even studded for attaching shoulder slings. The muzzleloader industry is also noticing a surged interest in short barreled, hand held, front-stuffers in larger, big game calibers.

For many, the word handguns immediately bring to mind cops and robbers or old west shootouts. Perhaps the hunting efficiency of handheld firearms has never been extensively publicized. RedHead ProHunting Team member, Larry Weishuhn from Uvalde, TX, has been enjoying the challenge of hunting with a handgun for many seasons. He has successfully taken most North American big game species in this manner. Although Larry has field tested and hunted with most makes and models of handguns, these are his preferred short arms. For deer, moose, elk, black bear, hogs and similar animals, Larry uses the Thompson Center Encore in a 30.06 caliber. His ammunition choice is 150 -165 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets. For grizzly and other really big bears, he packs a .450 Marlin in the T.C. Encore with 300-gr. Hornady ammo.

One of the best kept secrets among the hunting fraternity is the growing congregation of hawg-leg-packing purist who gather regularly to hunt, shoot, and compare ideas and experiences. The novice to this sport can quickly gain a wealth of first-hand knowledge and information by joining such a group on an actual hunt. White Oak Plantation in Tuskeegee, AL ( 334-727-9258) has been host to one of the handgun-only whitetail hunt for the past 13 years. Owner, Robert Pittman says this is his most popular hunt and the one, which always books first. "I'm always amazed at the accuracy of these guns in the hands of a skilled shooter", says Pittman. It is the challenge of getting closer to the animal and executing a perfect shot that this group strives for. It is very much like bowhunting but attainable for those whose physical limitations do not allow them to draw and hold a bow.

Surprisingly, one of the fastest growing segments of the hunting community to take up this method of pursuing big game is women. I believe there are a variety of reasons responsible for this movement. Basically, there are more women hunters than ever before in recent history. It only stands to reason that handguns would appeal to a portion of them. Perhaps another realistic reason for the appeal is the CONCEAL CARRY Law now in effect in many states. Women have flocked to attend the mandatory classes to obtain permits to carry handguns for protection. Thanks to the knowledge and instruction received during the training sessions, many have become more comfortable and confident handling firearms. Exposure to handguns in this manner has manifested itself in increased numbers of gun owners at target ranges and in hunting camps. A quick check of the subject matter of a few hunting website chatrooms revealed several discussions by women of handguns for hunting purposes. As a woman hunter, I feel the portability and mass weight plays into the equation. The difference between carrying a 4-pound pistol compared to an 8-pound long gun is appreciable at the end of a day.

After several sporadic bouts afield with hand-me-down, iron sighted revolvers, I hunted with a real made-for-the-purpose handgun during the 2001 deer season. Armed with a Thompson Center Contender with a 4X scope, chambered in a 7-30 Waters loaded with 120 GR. Boat-Tail Premium cartridge by Federal Ammunition, I took a quite respectable 10 point buck in Tennessee. Here are my tips and advice for others who are considering short gunning for big game.

Practice, surely this goes without saying, however my form of effectively practicing included shooting lots of .22 caliber cartridges. Thanks to interchangeable barrels I was able to get the same feel of the grip, trigger and basic balance with the lighter rimfire ammunition yet spared the additional recoil and noise level of the much larger hunting caliber centerfire cartridges. I worked on perfecting shot groups at close ranges of 15- 20 yards before tackling longer distances. I strongly recommend the use of shooting sticks or a solid rest for muzzle stability. A mono-pod by Stoney Point proved to be the perfect partner for the Contender to increase my accuracy at longer ranges. Since the gun I used was a single-shot model, a wrist band shell holder came in handy for easy accessibility of ammo for reloading. The unloaded handgun fit nicely into my daypack for transporting to and from the treestand, which left both hands free. A lazer rangefinder such as the compact, Bushnell Sport model confirmed the exact distance to targets.

Handgunning will not replace my affection for hunting big game with bow and arrow, muzzeloading or center-fire rifles but it does add variety and a distinct challenge to my hunting adventures.

For more information about handguns for hunting purposes visit the following websites or the gun counter of your nearest Bass Pro Shops' Outdoor World retail store.

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Regional Directors

Regional Directors organize
and participate in
shoots and shows

Julia Heinz
Alaska and the Yukon

Kathy Russell

Tammy Hartline
North Alabama, Mississippi p
and North Georgia

Synthia Wilson

Kim Hose
Rachel Baker
Beth Milligan
Jo Rice
Angelina Coopersmith
Jenny Paul
 Mara Osborne
North Carolina


Tracy Rowe




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