Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Due to the insanity of a few people we are now, as a nation, in a big discussion about guns. The looming threat of new gun and ammunition restrictions has increased gun sales and made ammunition hard to find; especially .22 rimfire. I won't preach my own feelings on the Right of Americans to own and use guns legally, you are an adult with your own thoughts on that. But guns can play an important part in your future survival.

For our purposes here, we can lump the importance of guns into two categories:

1. Protection - of yourself, your family, and your food stores.

2. Acquisition of food.

So what would be good choices? What guns should you have on hand?

There are some general rules that cross the lines of both categories.

a. Affordable: You must be able to afford the gun and adequate stocks of ammunition. You have to weigh the cost benefit of the gun. How much shelf-stable food could you buy and store for the price of the gun? How expensive is the ammunition? You must fire approximately 50 rounds a month to gain and maintain a high level of accuracy and proficiency. When food and supplies are scarce, you need to be able to do "one shot, one kill". When you need to be keeping a low profile it is far to late to train.

b. Obtainable: You must be able to obtain adequate stocks of ammunition. Some cartridges are very common (.45 ACP, 9mm, 30-06, 30-30, 5.56mm, 12 gauge, .22 rimfire Long Rifle). Some are more rare and difficult to get (16 gauge, .22 rimfire magnum, .270 Roberts, etc.).

c. Simple: The more moving parts the more likely the gun is to jam or break. Single shot break actions are the simplest, bolt actions are usually good, pump action and semi-automatics are prone to problems though the better quality ones are quite good.

d. Accurate: You want a gun that shoots no worse than one and a half minute of angle (MOA). If you don't know what that means then you have a lot to learn before you buy your first gun.

e. Storable: You probably won't be able to carry your gun at all times. When it is not in your hands you need to store it in a safe, protected, secure place. This might be underground or hidden in other damp places. Regular blued guns have to be oiled constantly or they will rust. The best choices will be guns with modern, more durable finishes, nickle, or stainless steel.

For protection, any gun you are comfortable with and has enough power to stop a man is good enough. But I will only talk about guns for getting food here.caliber

1. The .22 rimfire is hard to beat as an all-around food-getting round. In a decent rifle you can expect to hit and kill anything from squirrels, rabbits, birds, raccoons, to small deer. A lot depends on the actual brand and type of .22 round. The best hunting round is the CCI Stinger .22 but those aren't manufactured any longer. If you can find some, buy them. The Remington Yellow Jacket round is a good one. Generally the lighter the bullet, listed in grains, the faster the velocity. With small game, and taking head shots, the faster the bullet the more likely the clean kill. For heavier game, like groundhogs, you want to be close and use a heavier bullet. 40 grains is the heaviest .22 round available. I never found hollow points to be worthwhile in this caliber. The round just isn't fast enough to reliably expand. Hollow points are not as accurate as round nosed bullets either. 

2. For large game, such as deer, sheep, pigs, elk, bear, etc., you need a centerfire cartridge. There is a nearly endless variety of rounds so keep what you have or trade out for one of the most common rounds. Ammunition can be in short supply and stores are more likely to carry the standards: 30-06, 30-30, .308,.223, 7mm, .243, .270; are some of them. Anything over 100 grain bullet weight will kill most North American game animals.

3. Shotguns are great all-around guns because they have such a variety of shells. Some are filled with "shot" (small pellets) and some have solid slugs. Shot can be very fine, suitable for smaller birds such as pigeons, doves, and woodcock. Shot can be medium sized suitable for small mammals and large birds such as rabbits, squirrels, and turkeys. Shot can be large (buckshot), which is suitable for hunting medium and large game from close distances; usually less than 40 meters. Then there are slug rounds. Slugs are solid rounds that look like very big bullets. Your shotgun needs to have a slug barrel or an open choke to use slugs. You can kill large game, anything in North America, out to 100 yards with a slug. Shotguns come in .410 caliber, 28, 20, 16, 12, and 10 gauge. The .410 is a handy, light shotgun but you need to be better than average due to the very light shot load. The 20 and 12 gauges are the most common. It is often very hard to find 28 and 16 gauge ammunition. 10 gauge is mostly used for water fowl hunting so the rounds are more common in areas where goose and duck hunting is popular.

4. Then there are combination guns, guns with more than one barrel. Savage used to make a great combination gun called the Model 24. There were several variants with different combinations of rifled barrels and shotgun barrels. I own a Savage Model 24 that has a .22 rifle barrel on top and a 20 gauge shotgun barrel below that. It is a heavy gun, to be sure. But carrying an assortment of ammunition for the two barrels I can literally hunt anything that walks or flies in the United States. The Model 24 is a highly sought after gun so they are hard to find and a bit expensive. Savage currently sells the Model 42, which is a .22 over a .410 shotgun. It is ultra-modern and also quite expensive. But it would be a good choice.

5. I don't recommend pistols for hunting though a good shot can do okay with one. I carry a pistol to kill wounded game. If times get really tough though you might want a pistol to defend and keep any game you shoot.

6. Take head shots if you are good enough. It saves valuable pelts, ruins less meat, and ensures quick kills. There is nothing worse than seeing an animal you shot scurry down a hole or run over the hill.

Over Wintering Hardy Vegetables

As I have done several times in the past I planted carrots, radishes, and spinach in the very late fall to attempt to grow it over the winter.  This winter was very cold and very harsh. I do not have an actual green house (yet) but I set up a makeshift one like I have done before.  

 The front is a double-pane window I picked up alongside the road at someone's house. They put it out for trash. The top and other sides is the plastic from a bed mattress I bought a couple years ago (a queen I think). So the plastic is doubled. The wood box, an old sand box that was my son's 24 years ago, is filled with a mix of sand, compost, screened soil, and chopped dried leaves. I wanted a very clean mix to grow carrots. I also placed six half gallon milk jugs full of water in the box to hopefully mediate the temperature inside the plastic. In the coldest months though the water jugs froze solid. This picture was taken on 11 April 2015.

The results were pretty good.  I planted about 30 carrot seeds and I think most of them germinated and grew. Some of the carrot leaves were burned by the cold and died but almost all the plants survived. I pulled out all the leaves and dead foliage and dug out a few of the carrots. The one carrot shown here is ten inches long.

There are also five spinach plants, out of six that I planted, growing. Now that the sun shines longer they will grow fast. What I have learned from doing this several times before is that mostly roots grow during the winter. That means that the plants are all set for extremely rapid growth once the days are warmer and the sun shines longer. I will start picking spinach leaves in about two weeks.

Below is a bunch of carrots that I picked to take to my other house. I've been eating them for lunch. They are very crisp and sweet with a strong carrot taste. Fresh, organic vegetables in the first week of April; that is hard to beat.