Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gun-store frenzy: Like a kid in a candy store

A funny thing happened to me at the gun store yesterday.

Hank and I made a trip to Guns, Fishing & Other Stuff in Vacaville because ... Hell, I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but here goes: I won another shotgun at a California Waterfowl dinner. Yes, it's my third in a row. Yes, I have done nothing to deserve such good fortune.

Anyway, I won a Mossberg Silver Reserve 20 gauge side-by-side, and Hank was the winning bidder on a Mossberg Onyx Reserve 28 gauge side-by-side. We really don't need either of these guns, so our plan was to trade them for a new duck gun for Hank that he'd been thinking about for a while - a Benelli SuperNova.

The way this works is when you win a gun at a Cal Waterfowl dinner, the gun store that processes the transaction will usually allow you to apply the wholesale value of the gun(s) you won to the retail value of the gun(s) you want.

I figured the wholesale value would be pretty low, so we went to the store thinking just Hank would get a new gun. But when we got there, we found out the wholesale value on the Mossbergs was actually pretty good, and we could easily get two decent guns without having to do much more than plop down a little extra change.

What I've really been wanting lately is a practice bow, just to start playing around with archery a bit. But the store doesn't carry bows, so I found myself in the odd position of suddenly being able to buy a gun.

Uh, what do I do now???

Hank and I conferred and decided we needed something for target practice and maybe small game - perhaps a .22-250?

I darted around the gun counters trying out .22-250s, and the only one I liked was super expensive, like $800, which was way more than the trade credit I had available.

I went back to Hank, who was still dealing with the paperwork on his gun (oh yes, we have LOTS of paperwork here in California) and informed him of my failure.

"Maybe a .17?" he suggested helpfully.

"I'll try that."

I took a look at several .17s and found the same problem - the only one I liked was really expensive, and spending extra money really wasn't in the cards for me.

I paced around the gun counters anxiously.

I can get a new gun!

I must take advantage of this opportunity!

But how???

See, normally I know what I want when I go gun shopping, but I just hadn't been prepared for this. I felt like a game show contestant who had 60 seconds to decide whether to go for the sailboat or the RV. I had to pick something, because all we could do was trade - they won't give back cash.

But I was flummoxed. Here I was in a position to walk away with a gun - a gun! - and I couldn't find anything that fit my needs and my budget. Our gun safe is too full to get something we don't need, and my credit card is too overburdened to plunk down hundreds of dollars willy-nilly.

So I decided: I had to walk away from the guns.

I felt pathetic and stupid. What self-respecting hunter could walk away from an opportunity like this?

But Hank had an idea: Could we use the extra trade value on ammo?

We asked the manager. "Sure!" he said.

So we went downstairs to the ammo department and picked out five cases of target shells.

Yes, five cases. A case has 10 boxes. A box has 25 shells. So we walked out of there with 1,250 rounds of target ammunition, which took a couple trips because that stuff is heavy.

And suddenly, I was happy.

Instead of getting a gun of potentially dubious value to me, I would be able to shoot skeet to my heart's content for easily the next few months without having to shell out for shells. Instead of having to learn a new gun, I could invest that time in improving my accuracy with my current gun so I have less bad shooting to be mortified about next duck season.

So what if I blew my chance to get a new gun? I've never been a gun nut anyway. I'm just a hunter who uses guns and ammo to get the job done. And that's just fine with me.

And hey, Californians, if you'd really like to win a gun, I recommend you join Cal Waterfowl, become a life member and attend a CWA fundraising dinner. At many dinners, you can make a $200 payment toward your $1,000 life membership and be entered in a drawing for a shotgun. There are usually very few people in that drawing - it's been three to eight the times I've participated - and I've won the last three life member drawings I've entered.

And it's OK - my life membership payment is now complete, so you don't have to worry about Lucky Holly competing with you anymore.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011


Chaplain to the Outdoorsmen said...

great article... although you didn't get your bow (of which I am a huge bowhunter fan) nor a gun, you can never go wrong with 1250 rounds of ammo, especially in California.

We live in Southern California... so ammo any way you can get it is a savings.

hodgeman said...

You can never go wrong with ammo... never.

I'm still shooting stuff I bought on sale in the 90's. .308Win at $4.99 a box.

.22LR for $5 a BRICK.

Phillip said...

Holly, I'd have bought that 20 ga from you in a heartbeat! The one thing (ok, one of several) that I'd like to have jammed into my gun safe is a 20 SxS.

As far as bows, I've got a 45# recurve I'd be glad to loan you if you want something to learn on. 45# may be a little heavy at first, but I'm pretty sure you can handle it. It's a great little starter bow, with the added advantage that it meets minimum hunting requirements handily.

Hil said...

Very cool! But I bet you would have loved that .17. :) I am using my husband's to help me improve my rifle shooting off of sticks. I can shoot it all day.

I have the same problem...the only guns I like are the really expensive ones. Which is why I only own one shotgun and one deer rifle — both Brownings, and now I can't afford to buy another for a while. :)

Chad Love said...

A wise decision. That's 1,250 little bits 'o learning and fun...

Holly Heyser said...

Chaplain, I sure wish I could've gotten a bow! But all things in due time.

Hodgeman, this won't last me nearly that long. I plan to shoot skeet two or three times a month between now and duck season, and at 100 rounds a pop, this'll go fast. Especially since Hank will also have a 12 gauge now, and will need to practice using a pump after being a double devotee.

Phillip, last time I checked out bows, I determined that we needed to start at about 35, max, and I'm sure I'm not any better now, given that I've completely dropped my weights routine. Now, if I could've traded that 20 gauge for one of your guns...

Hill, I'm sure I would have. Most of them had fancy combs - for right-handed shooting, which rules it out for our house. Most of them also didn't have iron sights, so you had to add scope to the equation. But yeah, I've really been wanting a lower-kick rifle for practice.

Chad, thanks! And skeet will be so much more fun knowing that money isn't pouring out of my wallet so quickly.

jryoung said...

Great article, I've had some luck with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Raffles (local chapters and national), there's a dinner coming up in April that I'm hoping to get lucky again at.

I keep "shopping" for guns but I know when it comes time to hunt I'm going to reach for my first gun. I've long thought about going down the "full custom" path, but just know when it comes time to hunt I'll reach for my first gun. I'm headed to Canada this fall for an epic five species hunt on horseback and I know that there is no other tool I'd rather have than my first gun.

I try to be a gun loony, but my emotional attachment to my first gun is far too strong.

Great call on the ammo, that should give you and Hank plenty of practice over the summer to hone your skills for doves followed by fowl.

Anonymous said...

There's always the option of a slug barrel for your 20 gauge. For those wildlife areas that only allow shotgun hunting for deer and pig.
You could still spend any additional monies on ammo.

Just my 2 (gunnut) cents,


SimplyOutdoors said...

It really is too bad that they didn't carry bows, Holly. I would love to read about your adventure into the realm of archery. However, I can completely understand being so giddy about leaving with so much ammunition.

Every year I tell myself that I'm going to shoot my pistol more - that I'm going buy a bunch of ammunition, and just shoot and shoot and shoot. But, then, I price that ammunition and I always back off, and don't get to shoot as much as I want because it costs so much.

Soooo......I can completely understand the euphoria that would come with knowing that I could shoot....and shoot...and shoot without having to worry about the cost.

Very nice! And...could you send some of that luck my way. I never win anything :)

Holly Heyser said...

JR: I really love my Savage 114 in .270, and I can get by with that and my Beretta 3901 for almost everything I want to hunt, so I'm just not aching for more guns.

I'd rather be really comfortable with fewer guns than always adjusting as I go back and forth between many guns. (My first shotgun, the 20 gauge Beretta 391, has been effectively retired and serves as a back-up or loaner for lefties; the second shottie I won is a loaner for righties.)

That said, if I ever get to go moose hunting, I'm going to need something a little bigger.

Jean: That's a good point! But too late now! I suppose BBs won't take down a forkie, eh?

Simply: I know. But, I might just treat myself to one when I get my income tax refund (after I tithe the credit card company, of course). I'll try to send some good luck your way - lemme know if it works!

Anonymous said...

If you want to hunt with copper slugs, you need a slug barrel. The rifled chokes don't stabilize the round. To my limited knowledge, the don't make non lead buckshot.

Next time you'll ask us first, then. ;-)


Erik Jensen said...

I add my voice to those encouraging archery. I haven't taken a deer with a bow yet, but I'm addicted because of the way the limits force you to observe deer more carefully. It's made me a better hunter during rifle and slug seasons. It sounds like you have a cautious attitude about draw weight, and I say that's good, since I was a real fool when I started several years ago with a donated recurve I got from my uncle. I am a strong guy, I thought, I'll just shoot away for long warmup, no stretching. Horrible idea. I've been dealing with shoulder overuse injuries since, but I have them under control, but it took several years. I've been shooting a 60 lb Bear truth compound, an excellent weapon. Turns out bowhunters are tough guys and don't talk about these injuries, but 80% of us get them and most of them are preventable. Now you know why I harp on stretching.

Holly Heyser said...

I'm a huge fan of stretching, and the older I get, the more I listen to my body and avoid risking injury.

I actually bought one of those Bowfit thingies a while back to try to build strength before buying a bow. When I realized I wouldn't be getting a bow anytime soon, I just dropped it.

All in due time...

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Good choice! I'd love to have 1250 rounds to practice with between now and next season. I should try and practice as though I do ...