For me it seems like 2020 has passed like a speeding bullet and also like dragging a heavily laden toboggan on hot dry pavement. Enigma is truly the watchword for this year and that is certainly not understatement. We still have more than half the year left and I often wonder “what next.” But now that we are hopefully able return to some normality in our daily lives it just might be time to prepare for some fun times in the very near future.
Montana’s upland bird seasons open in just 72 days. Of all the outdoor activities I participate in, hunting Montana’s grouse, partridge, and pheasants is absolutely my favorite. Regular readers of this column know just how much I enjoy shotguns and bird dogs and fall days full of feathers and sunshine. In a nutshell, I can’t hardly wait, but like everyone else I have to. So here are a few suggestions to help the next 72 days pass more quickly.
Most of the state’s clay target clubs and ranges are now open. Besides being good practice, crushing clay targets is great fun; the rewards are instantaneous and other than some occasional good-natured ribbing, there is no penalty for missing. The costs are quite reasonable; most trap or skeet clubs charge about $ 5.00 or even less for a round of 25 targets. Throw in a box or two of target loads and a fun afternoon can be had for 15 to 20 bucks. A few trips to the range over the next couple of months will make filling your limit of tasty avian fare much easier. And if you have four-legged hunting companions like me, you won’t be subjected to the disappointed, almost sneering, look from them when you’ve turned your money into noise and that wily rooster is headed to the next forty.
The last few months firearm sales have gone through the roof, but most of those sales have been for self-defense items. There are plenty of shotguns available and I don’t remember when prices overall have been so reasonable. Besides good prices, there are rebates available from many manufacturers, not only on guns but also on a lot of their gear. I expect that there will be even more offers as we approach the fall season.
Shotgun ammunition is readily available and like smoothbore guns there are some great deals. Some of the shotshell ammo makers are even offering rebates. For instance, Winchester’s terrific AA® and Remington’s STS® target shells have a $ 2.00/ box (25 cartridges) rebates available. The rebates lower the cost of these premium shells to nearly that of the budget priced offerings and both are very reloadable. Personally, I have used AA® shells for years and love them, but the Remington STS® rounds are also very good.
It’s never too early to get ready for the fall season. Dig out your smoothbore, clean it, go to the range and have some fun. This fall you and your companions will enjoy your hunts even more than ever, I guarantee it.
Be safe and good shooting.