Now’s the time to inventory your fall hunting supplies and gear, with some tips on how, and where, to resupply.
By Ray Reilly for Press Pros
When I was twelve years old I had an uncle named Harold McCoy – Uncle Hal (not the one who writes for Press Pros) – and Uncle Hal was pretty much my mentor for all things outdoors, hunting and fishing, and anything you needed from opening day to closing day of the hunting season. He’s the one who got me started.
He lived in the country, about 20 minutes from Youngstown back then, and every September he would call me and ask, “Ray, you want to go with me to get supplies?”
That’s all it took. Without saying another word I knew he was headed for Humphrey’s store (no longer there), near New Castle, and there’s where he bought all of his fall hunting supplies. Always had a list – ammo, gloves, socks, gun cleaning supplies…you name it and Humphrey’s had it all.
Uncle Hal and Humphrey’s are both gone now, but those trips made an impression on a ten-year-old that exists to this day. Now I make my own list of supplies, get ’em bought while they’re available (because I want exactly what I want), and because of lessons learned from Uncle Hal it’s rare when I ever get caught short-handed in the field.
And let me tell you why that’s important.
Several years ago I was on the road to Iowa to hunt pheasants with a friend, west of Des Moines, just prior to Christmas. And after all the pains-taking packing that I had done for a week’s hunt, when I got there I discovered that I had actually forgotten shotgun shells – left them sitting on a counter, a case of ten boxes, in my garage when I pulled down the garage door and drove out of my driveway.
“No problem,” said Doug Clemens, who was waiting on me when I pulled into the roadside cafe where we met in Des Moines. “Plenty of places to buy shells around here.”
Except, there’s a specific Federal shell that I’ve hunted with for years (they don’t make it anymore) – hi-brass #5s, and copper-plated – and none of the half dozen stores that he took me to had them. All they had was the standard Federal hi-brass #5s, softer, cheaper, and less effective. It didn’t keep me from hunting and having a good trip, but I crippled birds that I wouldn’t have had I had the ammo that I had purchased specifically to shoot late-season birds in the wind.
And that’s my advice to you if you’re a hunter. Get what you need now, while stock is available, and have it on hand so you can throw it in the truck and be on the road while others are standing in line at Cabela’s.
Did I say Cabela’s.
There’s a reason why Uncle Hal always went to Humphrey’s store, instead of buying mail-order, or in the big sporting goods stores closer to Akron and Youngstown. It was a personal visit when you went to that store, and all it took was a phone call the week before to ensure that everything you wanted would be waiting for you when you got there. Even a pair of waders, that Uncle Hal bought me when I was twelve for my first duck hunt on Lake Erie.
I remember shotgun shells back then were about $5 a box, and it’s true that you could save a dollar if you bought them from someone like Larry Potterfield, and Midway, USA. But Humphreys were friends, their store was a community resource, and Midway USA never had a bag of dog food in stock just in case you needed one for the road.
And that’s my lesson for you, still. Support your local outdoors outfitters, like Olde English, right there in Miami County, in the heart of Press Pros country. You’ll be glad you did when you need a firing pin, or a die for a reloader, or a last-minute hunting shirt (or coat) from Columbia. They’re going to have it in stock, and you avoid the risk of floating your credit card information online and it buying a hotel room for someone in California three months from now.
Here’s another bit of advice.
I know that Federal and Remington make shells for Wal-Mart and other discount distributors, but I don’t buy those shells unless it’s an absolute emergency on the road. If you’ve planned and paid for the hunt of a lifetime in South Dakota, be sure and travel with the real Federal Prairie Storm shells instead of someone’s “it’s just as good for $5 less.”
I personally wear a lot of Columbia gear – shirts, pants, and jackets – and I have for years because they’re well-tailored, made from good material, and they fit. They wear for a long time, and unless you outgrow them they’re going to be good the next time you need them.
Where boots are concerned, I wear a lot of Red Wings, but there are a lot of good options, including Danner, Irish Setter, and for something water-proof I don’t think you can beat the LaCrosse line. I have several pair.
Gloves? I swear they keep making them better and better, lighter and warmer, and more convenient for carrying and firing a shotgun or rifle. I’ve used the Browning brand for years, regular and lined, and they’ve never let me down.
If you’re in the market for a used gun, that’s where a local retailer can do you best. Because, often they sold that gun new to the original owner and have some knowledge about how it was used, cared for, and why it was returned or traded. You don’t get that at Cabela’s.
And shells? I’ve always used Federals, and I don’t think you can beat them. But a close second now is the Fiocchi brand, originally made in Italy, but now manufactured in the USA. For tough upland birds you can’t beat their Golden Pheasant product, in any gauge you choose.
That’s all I’ve got for you this issue, and as always, I’ve enjoyed it…along with a few good memories.
‘Til next time….