Annette’s First Hunt – Getting Ready
As regular readers know, I’ve recently decided to go on my first hunt. Since it’s a brand-new experience to me, I’m getting over my nervousness by making sure I’m as prepared as I can be for the big day. I took my Hunter Safety Course a few years ago and will get a one-day license at the hunt, and these are a few of the other things I’ve done so far:
The hunting event I’m going to is a half-day of sporting clays followed by a half-day of duck hunting. That means shotguns! Most of my shooting is done with pistols, so the first thing I did was pick a shotgun and make sure it worked. I only have 12 gauge shotguns so that part was easy, but I knew I wouldn’t want to use my competition Benelli M2 shotgun because of its purple-and-gray zebra-striped paint job (awesome on the range, not quite as welcome in the marsh) and it’s short, with a 21-inch barrel. I decided instead on my Beretta 1301. Its barrel isn’t quite long enough, but it’s the closest I’ve got and I know how to run this gun. However, I don’t shoot it a whole lot, so step one of getting ready was taking it to the range and making sure it functioned properly.
I also took the time last week to check out what I’d need to do legally transport my shotgun to the hunt. I don’t live in the same state as where I’ll be hunting, and New Jersey has notoriously strict gun laws. Fortunately, I’m covered both by state law and federal law to take my gun directly to the hunting preserve, if I follow the rules about unloading my gun and putting it in a locked container out of reach while I’m driving. My Beretta came with a very nice hard-sided case that accepts locks, and I’m thinking using that will be a better plan than adding locks to one of my soft cases. I’m also going to make sure that I fill up on gas before I leave and that I have directions in my GPS so I don’t stop anywhere I’m not supposed to while going to and from the preserve.
Of course, with a gun goes ammunition. With that in mind, I headed up to Cabela’s for a little ammo shopping. I didn’t expect to be confronted by a giant wall of shotshells appropriate for waterfowl, and was definitely a bit overwhelmed. It was easy to toss out the choices that didn’t meet the basic requirements that came in my equipment and supplies list: #2 or #3 steel shot. After that, it got a lot harder to narrow down. Since I have some shotgun experience and I’d already tested my Beretta with a few target loads I had at home, I knew how light of a load the gun would be able to cycle with, and how heavy a load would be too punishing for a long day of shooting. I also decided that for a first-time experience, I wasn’t yet ready to invest in super-expensive ammunition. In the end, I came home with Federal Premium’s Speed-Shok.
While at Cabela’s, I also looked for another piece of required gear: a camouflage jacket. I’ve never owned a piece of hunting clothing in my life, but I do spend a lot of time outdoors shooting matches and training, not to mention a past life as an avid downhill skier. November weather in the Mid-Atlantic can be unpredictable, with temperatures from the mid-teens to the mid-60s and any manner of wet stuff falling from the sky. In order to give myself the greatest flexibility, I picked out a roomy, not too heavy jacket so that I can add layers underneath if it ends up being cold. It’s also waterproof but still breathable, in case of rain. Choosing a lighter jacket also helped me save some money, so that was also a plus.
All I’ve got left to do now is get a pair of rubber boots. Can you help me think of anything I’ve forgotten? Head on over to Gun Carrier’s Facebook page and let me know, then come back here to see how my hunt went!