Benjamin David

Duck Yak

| December 2, 2020
Duck Yak on the water
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.

A Duck Yak, or as others call them a Quack Yak, are kayaks setup or modified for waterfowl hunting. Mine is a basic angling kayak, modified for duck hunting.

I didn’t have a dog to retrieve ducks my first year of waterfowl hunting, and chest waders only let a person wade so far into big water. I’ve learned a lot, and improved my harvest with better tactics, but setting up a kayak for duck hunting has been a huge game changer.

My Duck Yak is a modified Lifetime Tamarack 100 angling kayak. I couldn’t justify owning a dedicated sneak boat, and don’t have the space to store a nice drift or jon boat, even if I could justify the cost.

Camo Paint Job

I added an anchor, a few small boat cleats, a lager cup holder that is usually used for spent shot shells, button snaps for adjusting material camo, a few rattle cans of Rustoleum camouflage paint, a little labor, and some mounting hardware can change a simple kayak, into a great duck yak.

Of course, the setup isn’t complete without a camo life vest, and a few good kayak leashes to keep things, like your paddle, from disappearing into the sink.

I’m harvesting above the average, and half of my time hunting is spent in the Duck Yak. It’s a fun and exciting way to hunt, and makes bird recovery and access to new spots easy.

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Cleaning Brass

| December 2, 2020
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.

Wondering what the best method for cleaning brass is? You’ve probably looked at wet tumblers, dry tumblers, and ultrasonic cleaners. There is actually a fairly simple truth. Use whatever method you are most comfortable with.

I only dry tumble. I use walnut media in a Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ 110V Vibratory Case Tumbler. I decided on dry tumbling, and using polishing agents, because it works great for me.

My brass gets clean, shiny, and free of grit and debris. It’s important that brass gets cleaned before resizing, but more important than being shiny, is lubrication.

Whatever tumbling method you choose, so long as your brass gets cleaned and properly lubed, you should be good to run it through the resizing and de-priming dies.

Brass Processing Steps

Dry Tumble with walnut and One Shot Case Polish
Lubricate with Unique Case Lube
De-prime/Resize
Clean the primer pocket with a brass wire brush on the end of a drill.
Dry tumble with walnut and One Shot Case Polish
Trim Case Length with case length trimmer and gauge
Deburr inside and outside with case conditioning tool
Prime
Powder Charge
Seat bullet

clean resized brass

Some people don’t let their brass touch the ground, and/or just don’t clean their brass. To each their own, I always tumble and polish, and I get consistent, accurate results for bolt actions, and semi-automatics.

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TIDEWE Chest Waders

| November 22, 2020
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 switched from hip waders to insulated chest waders for the 2020/2021 waterfowl season. I got tired of occasionally getting wet, and wanted more insulation than most hip waders offer.

I researched a bit, focused on finding the best value for dollar, and ultimately chose TIDEWE chest waders. The waders feature an 800g insulated boot, 100% waterproof 3.5mm neoprene with a Realtree MAX5 camo pattern, an internal chest zip pouch, a hand warming chest pocket, a shot shell holder for 6 shells, useful D-rings on the chest/shoulder straps that I use for clipping deke hauling carabiners, and an adjustable waste strap.

The sizing runs true to big in the foot, and are intended to be used by heavier, and taller people. I am 5’7″ and 135, with a size 9 foot. I ordered a size 8, and had to stitch the shoulder straps, because they weren’t adjustable enough for my height. Had I not adjusted the shoulder straps, what I consider the arm pit of the waders would have been much lower, down around my mid-section. If you are taller than I am, it won’t be an issue for you.

TIDEWE Chest Waders in Ice

I’ve worn the chest waders since the start of the season, used them in thick muck, frozen and icy water, and even in 9F weather, where ice formed all over the outside of the waders. I’ve had no leaks, or issues with the waders whatsoever.

The TIDEWE chest waders have over 450 reviews on Amazon, and a 4.6 out of 5 rating. So you don’t have to take my word for it exclusively. While the waterfowl season, at the time of writing this is well underway, no waterfowler would be unhappy to receive these as an early Christmas gift, and for less than $150 they would be a great gift for a significant other, sibling, parent, adult children, or a good hunting buddy.

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When Things Go Right

| November 12, 2020
Bufflehead and Green Teel Drakes
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.

Hunting has so many variables, like temperature, weather, animal behavior, logistics, and almost anything you can think of can easily go wrong, but when things go right, its so more rewarding than an average hunt.

The morning started out cold, the air still, and with a limited amount of bird movement. The couple birds that flew over easily got away unscathed. Sitting in 9F temperatures made us slow to react to the birds that came in with little heads up. Our decoy spread kept freezing solid, even with a jerk rig, and we were physically too cold and stiff to shoot anything.

It became fairly obvious we weren’t going to do well in the spot we were in, and collectively decided to move. I had figured it would be a waste and the morning was awash with failure at that point, but couldn’t see the harm in trying a new spot in an unfrozen part of the lake. Picking up and moving was made easier by having a quick to move layout blind, simple but practical camo burlap, and decoys with quick to clip rigging.

After moving, we only put out about half of our decoys to save some time. Concealed ourselves as quickly as we could, and waited. I had almost written off the morning, so it was great when birds started to move and give us opportunities.

My buddy folded a green teal, but I was noticing an opportunity with the duck hunting kayak to get the sneak on, and flush some some birds. I left my buddy at the decoy spread, and pursued birds. I dropped a Bufflehead drake, and the pressure pushed birds toward my buddy at the decoy spread, where he was able to drop a Bufflehead hen.

A little more bird stalking in the duck yak gave me an opportunity to drop the fastest bird I’ve ever shot. Another Bufflehead drake went ripping low across the water, I set my paddle down, picked up my shotgun, gave it the most generous lead I’ve ever given a bird, and folded it. I was instantly satisfied, when it folded, and cartwheeled the surface of the water for fifteen feet.

The morning had gone from terrible, to one of the best mornings of my waterfowl career. No, I didn’t limit, but I had done some of my best shooting ever, and on a day I had started to think would be fruitless.

My buddy added a Ruddy duck to his bounty, and the morning felt like an even greater success.

Sure, we had a bad start, terrible even, but we maintained positive attitudes, adapted, and turned the day around. We took home some ducks, and did some good shooting.

Really cold temps made staying warm hard. One issue I’ve had in really cold weather is wind and snow creeping down the back of my neck, and chilling me out. I bought a new camo balaclava, with a RealTree Edge pattern. Its longer than other balaclavas and leaves no gap on the back of my neck. I also bought a heavier weight, thermal underwear to stay warmer in my chest waders.

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DefendTek Tactical LED

| September 23, 2020
DefendTek DTM1C
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 DefendTek Tactical LED, model DT-M1C, is a low cost 300 Lumen tactical flashlight that uses rechargeable batteries, and allows you to toggle a strobe setting.

While on a trip away from home, my girlfriend prevented a home invasion. I decided that we needed to immediately improve our home security, and defensibility. We have firearms ready to use at a moments notice, but the ideal situation would be some sort of warning, and the ability to see in the dark, or even dissuade home invaders.

I got the DefendTek Tactical LED, model DT-M1C, because it is a compact tactical flashlight that fits on my Springfield XD, but can easily swap onto any picatinny rail, like the M-LOK rail on the underside of my AR15 NBS Free Float handguard. At $24.95 on Amazon, its a hard to argue against purchasing one.

Features Include:

  • The DefendTek Tactical LED, model DT-M1C, is a compact model.
  • Strong aluminum construction
  • 300 Lumen Cree LED
  • Strobe and Steady Light Modes
  • Easy to operate quick release
  • Uses 3v CR2 Rechargeable Batteries (Includes 1 non-rechargeable)

DefendTek DTM1C Side View

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Bright. I chose 300 Lumens, because any brighter, and it could blind the operator.
  • Strobe or Steady Modes, let you disorient a target or just illuminate a them.
  • QD rail mount design
  • Uses common CR2 Rechargeable Batteries
  • Low Price, great value, does not break the bank. Leaves you with money to buy additional batteries and a charger if you don’t have one already

Cons:

The option of steady or strobe modes is great. However, how you select the mode leaves a lot to be desired. Pushing a lever turns on the light in steady mode. Turning it off and then on again starts the strobe mode. You can not choose the mode separate from toggling the power. A better design would separate the functions.

Overall

Its a solid quality tactical light, with lots of features. There are some things to be desired, like mode of operation selection, however it can’t be beat for the price. The price point leaves you with room to buy additional CR2 batteries and a charger. I really wish DefendTek would update the light, because I’d happily buy the next generation with my minor gripe addressed.

Alarms

We also added a bunch of really simple, but effective door and window alarms. If you are interested, I use these, everywhere. If one goes off anytime it shouldn’t, then whatever caused an alarm to trip will be immediately met with a firearm carrying the DefendTek DT-M1C.

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Basic Reloading Equipment

| September 11, 2020
basic reloading eguipment
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’m going to cover the basic reloading equipment needed to get started reloading. I won’t go into heavy detail as to why you should or shouldn’t reload, but I’ll just speak to it briefly.

If you want to reload to save money, you probably won’t achieve your goal of saving money. Its not true all the time, like with reloading premium hunting rounds or loading thousands of rounds on a multi-stage press, but most of the time, you won’t save money, you’ll just get to shoot more for the same amount of money. It usually takes a large volume and a long time for the average shooter to break even on equipment costs. The real benefits are ammo availability, custom load development, ammo security, and volume.

Now that I’ve briefly commented on why you might reload, I’ll dive right into the basic reloading equipment that you’ll need. Beyond the equipment, the most important things you can get are a mentor, reloading training, a reloading data book.

I’ll use the .223 Remington as a reloading equipment example, since its in such high demand. However, dies, shell holders, and other equipment and consumables like gun powder, for 9mm, or other calibers are all similarly expensive. My reloading equipment list also assumes a single stage press, where you only perform one reloading step at a time. Its the cheapest method to start reloading your own ammo, but not ideal for loading tens of thousands of rounds of ammo.

Reloading Steps

I’ve broken down the functions of reloading equipment into the seven steps they perform.
1. Clean/Polish
2. De-prime/Resize
3. Clean/Polish
4. Prime
5. Powder Fill
6. Seat Bullet
7. Measure/Adjust/QC

Equipment List for .223 Remington

This is the equipment list that you will use forever, or until you upgrade to other presses. It excludes consumable equipment, and other consumables listed further below.

Consumable Equipment List

This is equipment that lasts a long time, but eventually needs replacement.

Consumables .223 Remington

  • Bullets
  • Brass(pick them up after you shoot them, and pick up other peoples cases)
  • Powder
  • Primers

Total Cost?

Basic reloading equipment, including a single die set is about $200 to $250 dollars. Other consumables are another $25 to $40. 100 bullets, 1lbs of powder, primers and brass, will set you back about $100. Some consumables are cheaper than others, and prices for things like primers are based on demand, and can be absurdly expensive or unavailable. And yes… 1lbs of powder will give you more mileage than 100 rounds, but thats where volumes start to come into play

At a minimum, expect to invest $325 to almost $400, to be able to do 4 25 round mag dumps of .233 out of your AR15. Or 10 mag dumps for restricted 10 round magazine states like California.

Caveats

Quality of brass, and bullet quality and materials will change you consumable pricing a lot. For example. 100 cheap jacketed lead 223 bullets can be bought for $12. Whereas a 50 lead free .223 bullets required in California for hunting costs about $30. My example assumed a middle ground. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think you could get through 2 or 3 hundred rounds… on top of basic reloading equipment, for about $400.

Lastly, there is a lot of price gouging in todays market. High demand, and low supply means higher prices, and unscrupulous vendors willing to take your money in exchange for quelling your rational or irrational fears. Personally, I’d rather shoot less, and never support those people. Things will get better, and so will supply, but you can spend your money how you please.

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High Country Boil

| September 9, 2020
High Country Boil
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.

A high country boil is exactly what it sounds like. Its a low country style boil, with invasive Signal crawfish, caught in the high country on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.

I won’t get too granular on the differences in crawfish, and there ARE differences. Of the many species of crawfish, there are Red Swamp Crayfish(common in a low country boil), Virile or Northern, Ringed, Rusty, Shasta, and Signal. And many more.

In our area, Signal crayfish are invasive, they are also the largest species of crayfish anywhere near us. Unlike other crayfish in North America, many Signal crayfish have claw meat, worth the effort.

I’ve noticed the “catch. clean. cook.” caption on a lot of things on youtube in the last year. I’m not sure what exactly the fantasization with the fishing, gathering, and hunting process is in the last year. Maybe its just folks getting antsy in quarantine. Regardless of why the process is interesting, it’s certainly important.

Catching

Catching is straight forward. I use traps, like these, baited with chicken parts. I occasionally catch by hand, but am careful not to get pinched. I’m not sure you’d get ‘badly’ injured, but also can’t imagine it would feel great to get pinched by a large Signal Crayfish.

Transportation

I toss all my captured crayfish into a tote with a battery operated air bubbler, for transportation home.

Clean/Purging

Once home, I transfer the cray fish into a bigger tote with a larger volume of cool de-chlorinated water. I de-chlorinate with an aquarium water de-chlorinator.

I let the crawfish sit in the tote for at least 24 hours, without food. Nobody wants to eat a poop vein full of black crud. 24 hours is the minimum to let a crawfish purge itself of waste. 36 to 48 hours is even better.

Worth mentioning is salt. Adding epson salt, in short gives the mud bugs diarrhea, and can speed up the purging process. Some folks use table salt which may kill your crawfish. I’m sure some country bumpkin will tell you how to salt things and how his ‘granpappy’s granpappy done it’, but I couldn’t care less. Giving crawfish time to purge, and not losing them to salting, seems to work best for me.

Cook/Boiling

I bring a solution of water, lemon and salt, up to a boil, then drop the crawfish in. As soon as the water starts to boil again, i set a timer for 12 to 15 minutes.

At the same time I start the boil… I start another pot of brine. It includes bay leaves, pepper, salt, seasonings, lemons, and whatever the hell sounds good on crawfish.

When the crawfish are done boiling, they get a quick rinse in cool water, and then get added to a hot soak in the brine. They get brined for a few minutes, then plated for consumption.

My process, right or wrong, purges the crawfish, cleans them of any parasites, and them brines them for a great flavor.

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Reload 12 Gauge Steel

| September 4, 2020
Reloading 12 Guage Steel
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.

Want to reload 12 Gauge steel shot? Tired of not having the right ammo locally available? Living in California an dealing with ammo background BS? I got over it, and I’m happy to be able to produce any shot shell I want or need, at an economical price.

With California ammo background checks and associated costs, plus the lead free ammo cost compared to lead, as well as the lack of local availability, reloading hunting shot shells makes economical sense.

Equipment
12 Gauge Lee Load All 2 - $58.99 - $72.99

Consumables
10 Lbs. Steel #5 Shot – $19.99
200 Steel Shot Specific Wads – $20.12
200 Primers (x2 100 box) – (3.59*2) = $7.18
250 Overshot Cards 1/8″ – $5.03
1 Lbs. Shot Powder (Alliant Green Dot, Alliant Steel) – 23.99

Consumable Cost
$76.31 = 19.99 + 20.12 + 7.18 + 5.03 + 23.99

Total Cost = Equipment Cost + Consumable Cost
$135.30 = $58.99 + $76.31

You can expect to load 160 1 ounce loads, with the limiting factor being the steel shot. All the other supplies will load nearly double that amount of shells. If you can even get a hold of #5 steel, and its a decent hunting load. A box will probably cost between 12 and 17 bucks for 25 rounds. The above listed equipment will load 160 shells, or 6.4 boxes. Meaning you’ll probably break even on the consumables, and break completely even after your first 400 – 500 rounds.

All of the above doesn’t even consider the ammo background check costs, lack of availability of ammo, and any costs saved on trips to the sporting goods.

Its a winning deal just to avoid California’s asinine ammunition laws.

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12 Foot Pounds, 600 FPS Plus, Crosman 1322

| August 18, 2020
crosman 1322
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.

In the quest for 12 foot ponds of energy, I decided after all the modding to my Crosman 1322, that I would over pump and see what I could generate in terms of power. I originally expected that I was going to have to increase the barrel length to get to 12 foot pounds of energy. As it turns out, it is achievable without a longer barrel, some increased air cylinder volume, and a steel breech. But just barely.

fps-1322-12 fpe

Over pumping resulted in shot strings that were over 600 fps with 14.3g Crosman premier domed and pointed, pellets. My highest that I could record is the 618 FPS.

The sweet spot for consistent shot strings for my pistol now lies around 16 pumps, for over 580 fps. I’ve taken rabbits past 65 yards with the Crosman 1322 in Wyoming winds, and I have no ethical or moral qualms with the dispatching energy at even greater distances.

In ideal conditions, I’d like to use a rest, or shooting sticks, and try to take a rabbit or grouse, past 100 yards. I’m still toying with the idea of a few more inches of barrel length so I don’t waste air, but am not sure I want increase the gun size and decrease the backpack portability of the pistol.

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