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 Setting up my Shooting Bag

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FrontierGander
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PostSubject: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 6:31 pm

:::Work in progress:::

I've been wanting to do a little piece on the shooting bag, what to carry in a hunting situation VS rendezvous or a shooting event.

Over the years I've learned that weight is a major issue for me. I can not stand having a lot of weight or pressure pushing/pulling down on my right or left shoulder.

With my new range bag, I laid out all of my shooting/reloading stuff and studied it hard.

My biggest problem is, I might need this! Ahhh, I really might need that... And never use it because by the time the first day of the hunt is over, my neck is hurting from the extra weight or am tired of the bulk of the bag rubbing against my side.

Now I also carry a backpack for food, water, knife, sharpener, rope, along with some other small items for starting a fire. All this weight adds up. Your Shooting Bag is not your Possibles/Haversack bag!

There are many times when I am hunting I will drop my backpack and come back for it after my walk is over, or if I filled my tag. The backpack is just to heavy and bulky to try to wear while stalking game. Some times however, I have no choice but to leave my back pack in place while stalking an animal.

While stalking game, I have my rifle, my shooting bag, powder horn ( Some times I use speed loaders to ease weight/bulk) and this is the set up that works best for me. Light weight, easy to handle and allows me to move faster and quieter.

My newest shooting bag is made by a gentleman out of Montana called Buckskin Jim, he made it out of heavy cow leather and also stitched it with the same hide that was used for the bag and strap. This bag measures 9"x8"x1.5" and with all of the must have items for firing and maintaining my rifle, this setup weighs 1lb 11oz.

The strap on this bag is long enough to sit right at hip level on my 6'3 frame. Some shooters like the bag strap short enough, that they can pin the bag against their ribs with an elbow while trekking at a fast pace to prevent the bag from noisily flopping around at your side. This is an area that is completely up to you and what feels most comfortable.

The strap on my bag is only 3/4" wide, but because my bag is light weight when fully loaded, it is superbly comfortable and does not cut into my upper shoulder. Bags that carry everything, including the kitchen sink, must be set up with a wide 2" + shoulder strap to help distribute weight and keep the shooters shoulder, feeling comfortable throughout the day.

Some bags also come with a fixed strap. Meaning, if it's to long or to short, you are going to have to make your own adjustments. My bag is non adjustable, but lucky for me, I am tall and it fits me perfect. A buckle can also be added down the road should it be needed to make the bags shoulder strap shorter.

The bag is treated with oils & waxes and dyes in such a way that when pulled or stretched, the finish becomes lighter in those areas. This is considered a mark of high quality, ideal for rugged outdoor use. Surface scratches and marks can simply be rubbed out with your hand. ( Note from Buckskin Jim about the bag) "It's consistent with bags depicted by the artist Alfred Jacob Miller at the 1837 Trappers Rendezvous."

Most of my shooting bags weight is actually from the smaller powder horn that carries enough powder for 30 to 40 shots depending on how many grains I am shooting on that hunt.

Do I really need that much powder for a hunt? No! But it's the smallest horn I have and to be honest, 5 or 6 speed loaders or premeasured powder tubes would do the job as well and take off a lot of weight. Again, the horn is romantic and makes you feel complete. Speed loaders are a hunters best friend. Your choice!

My horn is attached directly to my shooting bag strap with leather thongs that are then tied around the base ( Or staple ) and nose of the horn. I also like to attach the Spout plug with the same thong and tie it down tight so when a branch snags the thong, it will not be able to fully pull the plug free of the horn and dump my powder out while I am hiking through the mountains.


Keeping the bag closed, but easy enough to open in a hurry, I like how this bag came with a small deer antler that you can twist, and the leather thong pops loose and you have access to the inside of the bag. I am not a fan of steel buttons as they are loud and snap open to easily. You can not go wrong with an antler and leather thong to secure your bag closed! I won't even  mention how I feel about zippers.


One compartment? Two compartments? Or more!

That's always the question! Is bigger better? Do you need more compartments so you can have every little item in its own place? That's up to you!

Because I pack light, my bag has two compartments. The first smaller compartment, I store my leather #11 capper, spare caps, powder measure ( Soon to be fixed to a leather thong on the shoulder strap) ear plug, and extra patches. Again, does one really need an extra 100 patches for a hunt? No, just more added weight and wasted space in your bag. During a hunt, these extra patches will stay at camp.

The second, and largest compartment I keep my small short starter, Nipple pick and a TC arms 3 in 1 combo tool, which consists of a Nipple wrench - small hammer or flint knapper & a wedge key puller. My cleaning jag is always attached to my ramrod so I know I have it on me at all times in the field! Occasionally I will throw in a small rag just in case I get into foul weather and need to wipe the rifle down in the field."


Now one last thing I'd like to show is how I carry my extra round balls. In a hunting situation, I normally only carry 5 to 6 round balls in my bag or in my ball bag. Now because of my neck issues, carrying weight directly on my neck like a ball bag does, is a huge no no. Its uncomfortable for me and always in the way when leaning over to look at something or during a stalk. I normally put the balls into my bag, but you know how round objects are. They roll around and clatter into everything in your bag.

I now use my ball bag and have tied it to my 3" wide belt to help ease the weight from my upper body and of course, to keep them within easy reach. On a hunt, I only carry up to 6 balls in this ball bag. Anymore is just extra weight I do not need to carry around!



RENDEZVOUS!


COMING SOON


Last edited by FrontierGander on August 24th 2017, 10:59 am; edited 9 times in total
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BrownBear



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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 7:39 pm

@FrontierGander wrote:
:::Work in progress:::

Most of the weight is from the smaller powder horn that carries enough powder for 30 to 40 shots depending on how many grains I am shooting on that hunt.

Do I really need that much powder for a hunt? No! But it's the smallest horn I have and to be honest, 5 or 6 speed loaders or premeasured powder tubes would do the job as well and take off a lot of weight.

Good write-up.

Have you thought of just putting 5 or 6 shots worth of powder in your horn instead of filling it?

I ask cuzz my shot snake will hold close to 10# of shot if I fill it.  But I only put a pound or so in it, and man, what a difference.
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FrontierGander
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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 9:07 pm

I've considered it, but the weight of the horn is the biggest issue. I'd prefer to use speed loaders or powder tubes to carry premeasured charges if the horn gets to be a hassle. Sometimes that oak brush can really snag a nose hair, its so thick.
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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 9:13 pm

What gun is that?

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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 9:15 pm

That's my Traditions St.Louis Hawken kit gun I put together.
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OldMtnMan

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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 9:17 pm

I bought one of those on Claude's forum. It shot pretty good.

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BrownBear



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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 9th 2017, 10:08 pm

@FrontierGander wrote:
Sometimes that oak brush can really snag a nose hair, its so thick.

I can relate. Sounds like you'd be right at home in an Alaskan alder tangle.

I carry small horns inside my bags for that reason, and no other danglies on my bags either. I noted last night that TOW has a new listing for 6"-9" horns for not much money.  I'm considering calling up and asking for the smallest one in their rack. I need another small "day" horn to go inside the bag I'm building.  My others hold anywhere from 500 to 1,000 grains, perfect for the calibers I've paired them with.

One more thing-  If you make your own horns you usually scrape them real thin to cut weight. If the premade horn from TOW shows up thick and heavy, I'll be scraping it to within an inch of its life.
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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 10th 2017, 7:06 am

@BrownBear wrote:
@FrontierGander wrote:
Sometimes that oak brush can really snag a nose hair, its so thick.

One more thing-  If you make your own horns you usually scrape them real thin to cut weight. If the premade horn from TOW shows up thick and heavy, I'll be scraping it to within an inch of its life.

What tool do you use? Furniture scrapers?

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BrownBear



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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 10th 2017, 9:24 am

Never tried anything as official as a furniture scraper, but I bet it would work well.  I block up the horn with the tip toward me so it won't slide. I use a 12" millbastard and half-round files laid sideways and pulled toward the horn tip just as you'd draw file a barrel. Then I smooth with an old butcher knife held 90 degrees to the horn and pulled toward the horn tip.  Knife has to be fairly sharp, but it's kinda like scraping paint.

It goes surprisingly fast. You have to keep rotating the horn so you don't get flat spots or thin spots and thick spots.

BTW- The best thing I've found for "blocking" a horn like I said is a 25# bag of shot on the bench top. Second best is a home-built sand bag (pant leg from jeans).  Just lay the horn across it and press down as you work.
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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 10th 2017, 12:00 pm

Many for the older horns  were scraped thin to be able to observe how much powder they have, and a knife or furniture scrapers....If your are on a hunt, an old timers trick was to stitch the patch to the ball so there was no need to hunt for a patch...I have used this method with some really good success also it helps to cut down on what you carry....Thanks for reading my thought and opinions...

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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 11th 2017, 7:52 am

Gander you've put together a very nice possible collection and a nicely done bag as well. There's two ways to go IMHO with possibles one is to have whatever you might need and the other is have the bare essentials you need. The big trick is figuring out which is which! I've done hunts where I though I had the essentials and ended up short a needed item and I've gone out with too much stuff and lugged it all over the mountainside wishing I could park it back at camp! It's all just trial and error.....

it all looks goood to me!!

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BrownBear



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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 11th 2017, 10:06 am

@hawkthrower wrote:
The big trick is figuring out which is which!

Amen to that.

The best way I've found to figure it out starts at the range. NEVER lay anything on the shooting bench. Work only from your bag.  If you run out of hands and have to lay something down, you got problems when you move out into the field. Also do as much field shooting as you can manage away from the range.

Guy has to have tools of course, but a lot of them belong in your range box rather than your bag. I still take a box to the range, but I leave it in my truck. Walking back and forth to the truck gives me plenty of time to consider whether something is better in the box or the bag.
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PostSubject: Re: Setting up my Shooting Bag   May 14th 2017, 1:07 pm

For a scraper, consider what the old-timers used: window glass.  Scribe & snap a sheet of glass & use the fresh edge.  Unless you know how to sharpen a steel scraper, this will be better and easier to use.  When dull, scribe & snap for a new edge. 

I've got a steel scraper my Dad used for a couple of decades, complete with a holder he made to properly sharpen it.  For finer work, he always went back to using glass.
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