Benjamin David

Bagged a Mallard Drake

| January 11, 2020
mallard drake
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Bagged a Mallard Drake. While its not a big deal to a lot of waterfowl hunters who do it all the time, I’ve never made much of an effort to hunt migratory birds before. I’ve spent a few good days scouting, 6 mornings and one evening setting up, hours observing and learning about weather influence, proper decoy placement, and passed on a lot of diver ducks, waiting for a Mallard, Teal, other dabbling duck, or a goose.

After an unsuccessful morning hunt, and a solid day of working, I returned to the field for an evening hunt. I set up my mallard decoys just right for the wind conditions. A lone Mallard spotted the landing zone of my decoys, dropped in like a cruise missile, then flared to land. I took my shot and folded him right at the edge of some frozen ice.

I was rewarded for my patience(something I have very little of) and my persistence. I had bagged my target bird, a Mallard Drake, and no longer felt bad about passing on a bunch of diver ducks.

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Green Teal Duck Hunt

| December 9, 2019
Green Teal Hen and Drake
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Its been a while since I had a chance to get out and do any successful wing shooting. So when I harvested a couple Green Teal ducks the other day, I was pretty happy.

After a late start on an overcast morning. I set up a short camouflage blind against a background of tall sage brush, and lazily tossed 6 Hard Core Brands Mallard Decoys into some shallow water in front of it. I used a blind similar to the Ameristep 4-Spur Blind and it was just way too short. I ended up doing a bunch of crouching.

Reflection on Lake

Two ducks down, on a lake with cool reflections.

A small group of ducks eventually made a mistake, and flew in over the dekes. I doubt they were enticed by my shitty calling.

I usually shoot upland birds, Dove, quail, grouse and chukar, and don’t have a ton of migratory bird hunting experience. It’s probably the reason I didn’t gauge my shooting distance too well, and thought the rather small Teal were twice as far and twice as big. I waited longer than I had too and folded 2 birds.

The birds fell into about 6 inches of water, and a friends young lab, after a significant amount of coercing, retrieved the ducks. The commotion on the side of the lake, pushed the ducks off, so we called it good for the day.

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Eat Jackrabbits

| August 13, 2019
jackrabbit
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Can you eat jackrabbits? The short answer is Yes.

However, if you ask most American hunters if you can eat a jackrabbit, the answers are lots of variants of No.

The most common responses are:
“You can eat almost anything, doesn’t mean it will taste good.”
“I’d rather eat boot leather.”
“They are stringy and leathery, and I leave them for coyotes.”
“They are nasty predators, full of worms and disease, and shouldn’t be consumed.”
“My friend tried it once and said…”

jackrabbit

A lot of what I’ve heard and read, are the opinions of people trying them, by deciding to clean them after their guts have sat in them warm for a while, and then sticking them haphazardly on the side of a campfire hours later, then being un-shockingly disappointed. While some people enjoy this Neanderthal method of cooking, and it works well for some quarry, I prefer the methods developed over 45,000 years of evolution, and food science to boot.

I’m not going to dive into the species and subspecies science of jackrabbits beyond stating that jackrabbits are hares, not rabbits. They are just like a snowshoe hare, which I personally think taste delicious.

Like cottontail rabbits, and other hare species, they can carry Tularemia, bot fly larvae, ticks, and fleas. The fleas can also carry disease, like Bubonic Plague. Hunting any rabbit or hare in colder months can help reduce some of the insect and larvae issues.

With all that said, the cleanest rabbit or hare I have ever taken was jackrabbit at the end of July in California at about 9,000 feet. It didn’t have a single flea, or tick, and was I completely mind blown.

Tularemia is transmittable via open wounds, eyes, maybe even possibly just normal skin contact, but don’t quote me on that.

So don’t be a jackass(original pre-concatenation of the jackass-rabbit’s name), and wear gloves when butchering any rabbit or hair species. I carry nitrile or latex gloves as part of my kill kit, and use them to butcher everything. I also only shoot any rabbits with a head shot from a 22lr or .22 air pistol to control the carnage, and keep processing very clean.

As far as jackrabbit recipes go, I’ll let you explore for yourself. Hank Shaw’s website, or Steven Rinella’s The Meateater website are a good start. See links below. I will say that Americans should shake the jackrabbit stigma, and embrace consuming them, because they taste pretty good. Granted, if you suck at cooking almost anything can taste like shit, and that’s on you.

I’ve made stews, tacos, braised recipes, and even schnitzel, from rabbits and hares. I’ve even had snow hare in my ramen.

Hasenpfeffer Dumplings
Hare Stew
Jackrabbit Bourguignon

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Better Solar Battery Bank

| July 6, 2019
solar battery wiring tight
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I built a solar powered backup battery a couple years ago, but decided to make a better solar battery bank. I originally thought I needed more room for more 12v lead acid batteries when I built the last version. I never added 12v lead acid batteries, because LiPo batteries started looking appealing, and did not want to waste time or money on increasing amps, with more lead acid batteries. They are also quite heavy.

The lead acid batteries I have, still have plenty of life, so I decided to re-use them. The new version is more compact, and better insulated against weather.

solar battery internal fitmentsolar battery wiring 2solar battery wiringside view of wiringsolar battery wiring tightold vs new side by sideold vs new top viewtop view of switches

I re-used 4 12v 7AH and 1 12v 8AH battery. I secured them into an internal holder, made of plywood. The internal holder protects the batteries, prevents movement, makes the carrier more rigid, and gives me a place to mount my screw block terminal for a cleaner wiring job.

The battery box is tactical ammo box, from Harbor Freight. On its own, its somewhat flimsy and unimpressive, but the dimension were perfect for 5 12v lead acid batteries. Its also waterproof, and has a nice little ‘top compartment’ for protecting toggle switches from the elements. The wiring is nice and clean, and fairly straight forward. All wires go to their respective polarity on a terminal block.

Three switches run three different plugs. Two of those switches run waterproof cigarette lighter sockets, which is how I am attaching the solar cell during the day time. A third switch runs a dual 5V 2.1A usb port, although this one, with a voltage indicator built in, would be the better option if I didn’t already have a mini digital voltmeter.

When we are car camping, or experiencing a power outage, we are able to comfortably power a automotive immersion beverage heater, a small USB fan, 6' led lights, and an inverter when needed.

This reduces the need to start the car and burn fuel, and lets us keep phones, GPS, watches, bluetooth speakers, and headlamps fully charged.

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Legal Lead Ammo

| July 5, 2019
lead free 22
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

The California statewide ban on lead ammo is now in effect.  Sure condors and other critters will continue to choke on old wheel balancing weights, trash, and lead fishing weights, but that’s because the lead free movement isn’t really about the environment, its about gun control.

In California, I can hunt a variety of small game using Crosman .22 cal 14.3g lead hunting pellets 500 pellets runs $6.28 on Amazon or 1.256 cents per pellet.  However, it is now illegal for me to use lead 36g 22lr ammo to hunt anything. If it sounds stupid, its because it is.

lead free 22

So what gives? Certainly its not environmental concerns driving this type of legislation, or we’d see more effective legislation protecting the environment holistically.  In addition to the statewide lead hunting ammo ban, background checks for ammo purchases are now a thing.  The government will most definitely be keeping tabs on your ammo sales.

I went through a background check at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and bought 2 boxes of lead free CCI COPPER-22 ammo for my 22lr. *At 8.99 for each 50 round box, that’s 17.98 cents per round, a stark contrast from my average 3.5 cent lead 22lr rounds.  The process was made more simple for me, because I had given them my patronage and bought firearms through them, before they got on the anti 2a political band wagon.  I did not have to pay 19 dollars for the background check, which would have made the purchase of 20 dollars worth of ammo twice as expensive, and a deal breaker.

The combined legislation effectively increases ammo costs more than 4 fold, decreases the availability of ammo as there are way less lead free options, adds a burden of background checks, and effectively taxes the law abiding citizen a $20 fee to legally purchase ammo.

The laws do nothing to curtail gun violence, they arguably do nothing or next to nothing for wildlife, and they encourage legal gun owners to break the law and buy ammo where its less restrictive and less burdensome.

The laws do seem to do one thing, and that is to help pacify an anti-gun voter base, that keeps our legislatures at the helm of an otherwise great state. But its never enough for them.

For more on the BS about lead, read for yourself here http://www.huntfortruth.org/myths/

*I also want to be clear, that I am not criticizing CCI, they are producing a product to satisfy California’s small game hunters. It is understandably more expensive than lead.

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2018 Holiday Gift Guide

| November 7, 2018
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.
‘Tis the season of feeling compelled to buy things. So if you are going to gift give this holiday season, make them gifts that matter. These are items I highly recommend for anyone who has a lifestyle similar to my own. They are gifts that will get mileage, and repeated use.

Household

Nesco Food Dehydrator

The Nesco food dehydrator is a good value for the price. Its 600 watts, and has an adjustable thermostat ranging from 95º to 160º F. That means jerky can be made safely, without pasteurizing in an oven before or after drying. Buy It - $57.55

Lodge 6QT. Cast Iron

We only use our enameled cast irons. They don’t stick, are easy to clean, and heat evenly, even on the crappiest of stove tops. If you prefer to support an american made product, and thats why you buy Lodge, well you are shit out of luck. Lodge Enameled cast irons are manufactured in China, just like Cuisinart. Atleast there are a plethora of colors to choose from, and they still seem well made. Buy It - $59.97

Hunting

Simmons Truplex Riflescope (3-9X40, Matte)

This is an unbeatable scope for the price. Other brands can compete on price, but not quality. Easily as good as scopes that cost twice a much. Throw this on your small game 22, or your plinker, and get some more life out of your rifle. Buy It - $44.50

Vortex Diamondback Binos

The best optics for the price. I don’t think there is a better pair of binos, near the cost of these optics. If you need something better, maybe you actually need a spotting scope.
Buy It - $229.99

Bino Harness

Because you need free hands, and pulling binos in and out of a pack, is noisy, and it gets old. Buy It - $49.99

Havalon Knives

I stopped fiddling with knife sharpening and maintenance of hunting knives. Havalon knives use replaceable blades, that are a surgical scalpel level of sharp. They make field processing game quick, and easy. Buy It - $35.99

“Circe” Predator Call

Bring in the ‘yotes, and collect some pelts. Does will also come in thinking a fawn is in distress. So will bears, so be armed. Seriously though, don’t get caught calling in packs of apex predators without your firearm. Its a great stocking stuffer for any predator hunter. Buy It - $10.77

Crosman 1322

The 1322 is a simple and reliable .22 caliber air pistol. Its compact enough to stick in a pack, and because its a pump gun, it does not require compressed air or CO2. It’s accurate with stock sights, and adding a steel breach makes it more than strong enough to be a great squirrel, rabbit, snow hare, and grouse gun. Buy It - $48.00

Crosman Steel Breech

Get more power out of your Crosman 1322. Go from a stock 7.5 foot pounds to, over 12 foot pounds with a few DIY mods, and this steel breech. Buy It - $49.99

Off Grid Living

25 Watt Solar Kit

Whether hunting or traveling to remote areas, a solar cell and charger is just nice to have. Charge and maintain a car battery, or back-up battery. While it doesn’t replace a generator, its smaller, and a lot more simple. Buy It - $57.99

12v Beverage Heater

Its crude, but it gets the job done. When you are on the go, and don’t have time to fire up the stove to make a hot beverage, this will help. Stick in a cup, plug in to a 12v car outlet, add some instant coffee or tea. Having a hot beverage for such a minimal level of effort is a million times better than having nothing at all. Buy It - $11.33

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1322 Walnut Grips

| October 11, 2018
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I’ve always wanted walnut grips on my 1322. Something about the walnut grips and forend just take the 1322 to the next level. It took some time marking and shaping the walnut grips, and they aren’t perfect, but they are pretty dang close. The next pair I make will probably be done on a hobby cnc machine for precision and then hand finished. Check out the pictures of the process below.

The stain/sealer I used was Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish that I finished over with a blend of SC Johnson Wax and Kiwi Neural Polish. The result is a nice sheen that isn’t too glossy, and a much higher end look and feel over the original plastic grips.

Also, you may be wondering why the waxes… I always use this finish, it protects really well, better than a stock finish alone. If you want to see this in greater detail watch Larry Potterfield’s Midway USA wax finish video – here

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Leather Axe Sheath

| October 8, 2018
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

I sharpened my axe, and made a leather axe sheath to protect the edge. Its not the finest work I’ve ever done, but it was really for utility. I’m moving into a small wood stove heated mountain home for at least the next year, and I need to play catch up on getting some cords of fire wood stacked before winter.

I made the leather axe sheath from some heavy cow leather I had in my leather scraps bin. I simply traced the axe edge onto the leather, and then over-sized my cuts to leave space for stitching, rivets, and an eyelet. I drilled out some holes on the drill press, which is much easier than using an awl, and then stitched up the edges with a semi-decorative looking stitch. I used a hole punch for the rivets and eyelets instead of a drill, because of the hole diameter. I set the rivets with a hammer, and the eyelets with a grommet/eyelet setting tool like this cheap one on amazon. It gets the job done, but better ones definitely exists.

I waxed the finished leather axe sheath with SC Johnson Wax. Although for pure utility almost any wax would work to help bead off some water if applied alright.

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Bear Hunting Woes

| September 30, 2018
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

The deer and bear hunting season started, and we’ve failed so far. Sure we kicked up a few good sized does, and if it was an antlerless hunt I’d have tagged out with my un-scoped CZ 557 Carbine 270 Rifle pretty quickly.

But its not antlerless, and it will take a few more hours and a few more miles to tag out on deer. Unfortunately, the bear hunting isn’t going a whole lot better than the deer hunting. Tons of fresh sign, and lots of foot traffic havent turned out a bear yet.

A good sized black bear did wake us up before shooting light one morning, by shaking the car. It was investigating our ‘tent’, my 2003 Dodge Durango, by standing against it and sniffing through the mesh window screen/covers we leave over the windows. It was only inches from my face, before realizing we were in the car and spooking.

We were unable to track the bear a little later during the morning shooting light. The mesh window covers by Qualizzi work well for keeping out insects while letting fresh air into the car, but obviously aren’t much protection from a bear. Photos of bear prints on car aren’t super easy to see but I posted a picture anyway.

The following morning I was prepared for a bear visit, but we weren’t revisited. Frustrated I moved to a small meadow a couple hundred yards away, posted up in a concealed place where I could maintain some visibility, and started predator calling. I didn’t get my bear to come in, but the call worked really well to bring in waves of coyotes. Almost too well. One large yote approached to just a few yards away. I stopped calling and wrapped up the morning.

I’ll definitely try to spot and stalk, or just kick up a bear by putting in the mileage, but I’ll definintely be trying the calling approach again.

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