Sunday, May 24, 2015


Monday, May 4, 2015

The Short Shotgun

If the truth be known the gun that won the west was really a shotgun. More western lawmen and guards carried a shotgun than a revolver or rifle. Most of the settler wagons headed west had a shotgun under the seat ready to grab in case of Indians or a chance to bag supper. The shotgun is capable of gathering game or defending the homestead. Almost anyone can hit a target that is not moving with a shotgun and with a little practice the fox will not even get close to the hen house.

Loaded with birdshot you can gather dinner, kill a poisonous snake or defend the poultry from a predator. If you choose to load the shotgun with buckshot you can drop a coyote at 65 yards, stop intruders or add a deer to the winter food supply.  Loaded with slugs or sabots the shotgun can drop big game at a distance or humanely dispatch large livestock to butcher. Not to mention the fun my family has shooting clay birds thrown from an inexpensive clay bird thrower.  We just buy non-toxic biodegradable clay birds so that they will dissolve after breaking.


My favorite shotgun for the ranch has been a strong pump such as a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500. Pump shotguns are survivors and need little repair compared to other types of shotguns. There is also the mental intimidation of the sound of a pump shotgun be loaded in the dark.  Others prefer the simplicity and safety of a single shot version.  Lately I have grown fond of a 12 gauge coach gun with 20 inch double barrels just like the old stagecoach guards carried.  It is handy from the truck and one barrel can be loaded with birdshot while the other can be loaded with buckshot leaving you ready for any situation.  Of course having to look at the bad end of a double barrel twelve would have a psychological effect on two legged intruders in my opinion. The biggest drawback to shotguns is the limited distance at which they can be used, the weight of the shells, weight of the gun itself and the cost of ammunition.  In our two seat UTV or the ranch truck the weight really doesn't matter.
I recommend 7 1/2 shot for snakes and night time predators around the homestead.  I shoot standard 2 3/4 inch loads and save the 3 inch magnums for hunting large predators.  If shooting one of the light weight short shotguns be sure and install a recoil pad even if just one of the slip on types.  Recoil from a light weight 12 gauge can be punishing.  My favorite buckshot is #4 buck as it has three times the pellets of #00 and gives a much better pattern.  I have made coyote and bobcat kills out to about 65 yards with that load and can't imagine 27 pellets of .22 caliber not dropping a two legged predator anywhere inside that range.  When working on
the place I carry a twenty inch double trigger side by side double barrel with bird shot in the left barrel and buck shot in the right barrel.  The front trigger fires the right barrel and the back trigger fires the left barrel.  This way I am prepared to solve rattlesnake to coyote problems on the spot.
Stay safe, Wild Ed

Monday, April 13, 2015

Muscovy Ducks

When we moved to the country our goal was to become as self sufficient as possible.  We now raise grass fed sheep as a business along with grass fed beef for our own use.  We have chickens and guineas for eggs and hope to raise enough for all our poultry meat needs in the future.  I have been wanting to add some other animals that will be dual purpose here at WildWoods.  When I finish the poultry house we plan on raising broilers and heritage breed turkeys.
I have always wanted to raise ducks since I was a kid.  I can remember going out to an Aunt's house on the lake in the summer and she had all these ducks.  She also made wonderful cakes and such with the eggs and always sent some eggs home with my grandmother.  I don't have a good pond so I just figured no ducks until we build a pond.  Then I got to reading about the Muscovy Duck and how it does not have to have a pond.  They forage for their food and roost in trees since they are excellent fliers.  They have gripping feet with claws that allow them to hold on to tree limbs for roosting.  Muscovy Ducks are really a type of tree duck and their own species.  They will cross with other domestic ducks but the offspring are mules or sterile.  Of all the different ducks I decided Muscovy ducks would be the best for us to raise.  These ducks are quiet and seldom make any noise except a hiss when angry.  These ducks wag their tails like a dog when I take them out some feed or just if they are content.  They are excellent mothers and will raise several clutches of baby ducks each year.  The meat is less greasy than other domestic ducks and tastes more like pork or veal.  The eggs are great in our morning omelets and breakfast tacos. 
A local gentleman offered to sell us eight hens and two drakes.  He told me to clip their wings or they would just fly off.  We kept them in a coop for the first week to get used to us and the place and now we let them out every morning to forage, they march right back in just before dark to roost for the night.  When the wing feathers grow back out we will let them roost where they want.  If you are looking for poultry to supply meat and eggs without a lot of feed and fuss you might want to take a close look at these unusual birds.  Wild Ed

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