A perfectly proportioned bird gun: Philadelphia A.H. Fox 16g A-grade …

A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28" Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921
A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28″ Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921

This 16g A.H. Fox A Grade is on Gunbroker.com now. The online auction listing ends this Sunday,10/2/2022, @ 8:26 PM.

A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28" Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921
A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28″ Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921

This A-grade looks like it has lived its life as a go-to bird gun. While it’s in nice shape, it doesn’t have the color-case hardening and condition collectors want.

A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28" Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921
A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28″ Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921

That’s great if you’re looking for a classic American bird gun. It will keep the price down on, and it will make you feel like you can take this shotgun into the field without worry.

To me, the A-grade has always been the sweet spot of A.H. Fox shotguns. Sterlingworths are a bit plain. The second-style engraving that sets it apart, plus a round-knob, half-pistol grip stock make it special.

A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28" Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921
A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28″ Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921

“This FOX grade is a gun that the discriminating sportsman will appreciate as to price and workmanship. It is not a cheap gun, but a more than good gun at a reasonable figure, and can be built to your own specifications without extra charge. The material and fittings are of superior FOX class.” -from an A.H. Fox catalog

A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28" Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921
A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28″ Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921

A.H. Fox A Grade Pre-Savage 28″ Full/Mod 16 GA SXS Double Shotgun, 1921

Serial Number: 301339 Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1921 Gauge: 16 Gauge, 2 9/16″ Shells

Weight: 5 lb., 13.4 oz. Finish Originality: Original

Action Type: Top Break Side by Side Box Lock Hammerless Shotgun with Extractor

Markings: The top of the right barrel is marked “CHROMOX FLUID COMPRESSED STEEL”, the top of the left “MADE BY A.H. FOX GUN Co. PHILA. PA. U.S.A.”. The barrel flat is marked “A”, “301339” and with a Fox proof. Each side of the receiver is marked “ANSLEY H. FOX” in banner and the receiver and trigger plate have Grade A scroll engraving. The water table is marked “301339” and “A” on the right. The bottom tang is marked “301339” as is the top of the forend iron.

Barrel Length: 28”, Choke: Left: Full, Right: Modified, Both Fixed

Sights / Optics: There is a silver-colored bead mounted to the front of the rib. The top of the rib is finely serrated to reduce glare.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece checkered walnut with splinter forend, round-bottom pistol grip, straight comb and ventilated orange rubber Jostham recoil pad. The stocks have some scattered light nicks, scuffs and scratches. The forend has a repaired chip-loss on the top edge on the left-rear with a filled loss below this. There are a few tiny losses around the front edges of the wrist. The checkering is well defined. The LOP measures approximately 14 1/4″ and 13 3/8″ from the fronts of the triggers to the back of the recoil pad, 13 3/8″ and 12 1/2″ to the back of the wood. The drop at comb is approximately 1 3/8″, drop at heel 2 1/2″. The pad is shows wear and discoloration, but is still fairly supple. The stocks rate in about Very Good condition as refinished.

Type of Finish: Blue & Case Color

Bore Condition: The bores are mostly bright. There is no erosion in the bore, but there is some stubborn fouling.

Overall Condition: This shotgun retains about 90% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at most edges. The barrels’ finish is generally strong with a few light nicks and scuffs, most at the breech-end. The receiver’s case color has muting toward the bottom-front with stronger color toward the top-rear. The guard has light handling wear and some scattered minor surface oxidation. The action shows light operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this shotgun is in Very Good condition.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The barrels lock up to the receiver with no play. The safety engages automatically when the action is opened. We have not fired this shotgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None

Our Assessment: Ansley Fox was one of the earliest American innovators with internal hammer double guns. In 1894, at the age of 19, he was issued a patent on a system of cocking the internal hammers of a break-action gun using leverage from the barrels with his design actually containing nineteen patentable features, according to the U.S. Patent office. Fox would continue on, making it his life’s work to produce “The finest gun in the world” (as well as the finest car in the world and a few other manufacturing ventures). He even gained the praise of Theodore Roosevelt who wrote to Mr. Fox in a letter “The double-barreled shotgun has come, and I really think it is the most beautiful gun I have ever seen. I am exceedingly proud of it. I am almost ashamed to take it to Africa and expose it to the rough usage it will receive. But now that I have it, I could not possibly make up my mind to leave it behind. I am extremely proud that I am to have such a beautiful bit of American workmanship with me”.

The A.H. Fox Gun Co. would continue producing shotguns of various grades and chambered for various gauges through the late 1920s, when they fell victim to the Great Depression and were acquired by Savage Arms. This example is a 16 gauge A Grade, produced in 1921, the heyday of A.H. Fox, during the Roaring ’20s when post-war America was booming and Fox guns were selling as well as ever. Today, A.H. Fox shotguns are quite collectible. As Fox’s reputation was built on quality, their success didn’t necessarily mean that a huge number of guns were made. For the dedicated Fox collector, this A Grade would make a great addition to a collection. Better still, with its good bores and tight lockup, this shotgun can still serve, more than 100 years later, to take down flesh or clay birds in style. Please see our photos and good luck!

5 things you’ll love about the FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun …

FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun
FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun

We’re back. Stitch and I just returned from a few weeks of grouse and woodcock hunting up in Maine. We had a great time and we found a lot of birds.

While the 12g I had with me did the job, here’s a SxS I wish I had had with me:

The FABARM Autumn SxS

Last spring Caeser Guerini sent me one of these shotguns in 20 gauge to look over and bang some rounds through. It was a great gun and a blast to shoot. Here’s what impressed me most about it:

5 things to love about the FABARM Autumn SxS:

20g FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun
20g FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun

1. IT’S EASY ON THE EYES

20g FABARM Autumn SxS
20g FABARM Autumn SxS

My FABARM Autumn was a great double to admire with a rounded, color-case hardened action, some interesting scroll engraving, and nicely figured, oil-finished wood, While it had a vintage vibe to it, its clean, pinless action gave it a sleek, modern look.

2. IT’S BUILT TO SHOOT TONS OF ROUNDS AND KEEP GOING

Unusual lumps on the 20g FABARM Autumn SXS, part of its unique locking system
What the?!? Unique quad lumps on the FABARM Autumn SXS, part of its extra durable locking system

On the outside, the FABARM Autumn looks like an old-school, Anson & Deeley style boxlock shotgun. But it’s not.

Instead, the gun mounts the lockwork on its triggerplate and uses sliding rods to cock the hammers.

Hybrid boxlock / triggerplate cocking and firing system on the 20g FABARM Autumn SXS
Hybrid boxlock / triggerplate cocking and firing system on the 20g FABARM Autumn SXS

Then there’s the real interesting part of the FABARM Autumn: its quad-lug system.

Another look at the unique split hinge pin, quad-lump locking system on the 20g FABARM Autumn SXS
The unique quad-lump locking system on the FABARM Autumn SXS

These 4 lumps  are designed to increase the longevity of the barrel/action connection and help you deliver quicker, more accurate second shots. How?

Even though we worship SxSs like Parkers and Purdeys, those guns, and others like them, have their weaknesses. One’s the way the barrels mount on the action.

These shotguns connect to the action with two lumps. The front lump has the hook. This catches the hingepin. The rear lump has a bite. This receives a sliding bolt that comes in from the back to lock down the barrels (most British and European SxSs also have a bite on the front lump, but it doesn’t always do much to secure the bbls).

Hook on a set of Purdey shotgun barrels
Hook and bites on a set of Purdey SXS shotgun barrels, from Hallowellco.com

When you fire a SxS, the barrels twist horizontally and flex vertically, trying to pivot on the hinge pin. Even though the bolt, bites and action secure the barrels and resist this twisting and flexing, these forces pulls you off your target. And over time, they cause wear which can lead to a SxS’s barrels going off face and become loose on the action.

(For a nerdy dive into what this mean, read this article by Delbert Whitman Jr.).

Unique split hingepin, quad-lump locking system on the 20g FABARM Autumn SXS
Another look at the unique split hinge pin, quad-lump locking system on the 20g FABARM Autumn SXS

The FABARM Autumn quad-lump design displaces this twisting and flexing over more surface area. This helps cut down on wear and increases the longevity of the barrel/action connection.

The quad-lug system also stabilizes the barrels and cuts down on horizontal flexing. This is an idea borrowed from competitive pigeon shooting and the thinking is that it helps you deliver a quicker, more accurate shot with the left barrel.

3. IT FEELS GREAT

A few years ago I shot a 12g Purdey Trigger Plate OU. It was big gun that came in at just over 8 lbs, but it had a lively feel that belied its weight and encouraged me to shoot it all day.

A few months later I was I hunting with a new 20g Italian OU. It was a field gun, and even though it weighed 6 3/4 lbs, it felt heavy and dead, like a target gun. I wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible.

I thought about those guns the first time I shot the 20g FABARM Autumn. How would it feel — dead or alive?

FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun
FABARM Autumn SxS shotgun

My gun had 28″ barrels and weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz. — a good weight for an all-around bird gun. But it also pistol grip stock and a beavertail forend. Those said “target” to me — and had me worried.

After a lot of clays and a flat of 2 3/4″, 7/8 oz loads (which were a PITA to find), I had my answer: alive and very lively.

Like that big Purdey OU, the FABARM Autumn snapped to my shoulder and and picked up the clays with little effort. The more I shot it, the more I wanted to shoot it. I think its lightweight barrels were a big reason for this, but not the only one.

I liked the pistol-grip, beavertail forend setup, too. They gave me a lot to hold onto and more control over the gun more. This made the gun easier to mount and move to target.

The selective single trigger was crisp and with just a of whisker play in it on second shots. And even though I pulled it as fast as I could and tried to make it fail, it fired round after round without a problem.

4. IT’S ALL YOU NEED FOR UPLAND HUNTING

With choke tubes, 3" chambers and steel-approved barrels, the 20g FABARM Autumn can do it all in the uplands
With choke tubes, 3″ chambers and steel-approved barrels, the 20g FABARM Autumn can do it all in the uplands

With  3″ chambers, choke tubes and barrels/choke tubes that are steel-shot safe, the 20g FABARM Autumn I had could handle all the bird hunting I did (or hoped to do).

If you’re an upland hunter, it could do the same for you.

5. IT’S BACKED BY A 5-YEAR WARRANTY

I’ve had old guns, older guns, and really old guns. They can be a PITA to maintain and repair. So I appreciate new, trouble-free new SxSs and OUs.

But of course, things do break. When they do, it’s good to know the gun is backed by a warranty, especially one with repair centers in the US.

The FABARM Autumn’s 5-year warranty gives you this kind of protection and peace of mind.

Of course, while I loved the gun, I thought it could use some tweaks:

  • The fences could use a bit of styling, especially on ahead of the toplever.
  • The pistol grip needs some refinement. I would like to see it look more like round-knob
  • They need to add an automatic safety. It’s a must have on a bird gun. I’ve owned guns without them, and it’s too easy to forget to slide it to “safe” after opening and closing the gun.

Ready to buy? Here are a few dealers on Gunsinternational.com who can help you out now:

Fabarm Autumn Pistol Grip Side by Side Shotgun | 20ga 30″ | For Sale at Cole Guns

Fabarm Autumn 20ga For Sale at Gordy and Sons Outfitters

Fabarm Autumn 20 gauge Side by Side 30″ For Sale at Pacific Sporting Arms East

Fabarm Autumn 20ga 28″ English Stock For Sale at Silver Creek Outfitters

Fabarm Autumn 20ga 28” barrels English Etock SST For Sale at the Iron Cowboy Gun Shop

Auction alert: 16g L.C. Smith Field Featherweight, NO RESERVE…

NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS
NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS

This one is on Gunbroker.com now. The auction started out a penny and there’s NO RESERVE. It ends this Friday, 3/5/2021, @ 8:19 PM.

NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS
NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS

Back in the day, L.C. Smith was one of America’s most successful gunmakers. According to this timeline from the L.C. Smith Collector’s Club, the first “L.C. Smith” SxS shotguns appeared in 1884. The company went out of business in 1950. The name was revived in 1969 and retired for good in 1971. In that time, LC Smith built 250,000+  guns in several configurations and grades (learn more about them here).

NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS
NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS

The 16g you see here is a Field grade, the most basic SxS Smith offered from 1912-1950.

The Field-grade Smiths came in 10g, 12g, 16g, 20g, and .410. Regular and Featherweight (FW) models were offered. LC Smith built around 199,384 of them — 38,678 in 16-gauge alone.

LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS: Wood finish is well worn, barrels have lot of blue with some wear spots, 2 9/16″ chambers, 14in LOP with drops of 1 11/16″ and 2 7/16″. imp mod and full.

NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS
NO RESERVE: LC Smith field FW Featherweight 16 ga 28in SxS

Online auction alert: A 16g Fox Sterlingworth to stare at …

A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun

If I had a $1 for every time someone said to me “I would like find a nice, original Fox Sterlingworth”, I’d have enough money to buy nice, original 16g Sterlie you see here.

A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun

It’s on Gunbroker.com now and the online auction ends 2/21/2021 @ 8:33 PM.

While Fox Sterlingworths are far from rare (more than 150,000 were built), ones in solid, original condition are hard to find, especially in 16 gauge.

A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun

A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun: This is a A.H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga and this gun is a jewel. Weighing in at 6 lbs (feels like a lot less) the LOP is 14 1/“ DOC 2” and DAH is “3 this little gun comes up like a dream! It has on little tiny chip on the edge of the forearm but other than that this is a super ALL ORIGINAL gun. The case color is 95% and the wood 85+ Only bc of the chip. The barrels are 28” imp modified/ Full.

A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun

Good gun alert: 20g Orvis/Arrieta Uplander SxS….

Orvis "Uplander" by Arrieta in 20 Gauge
Orvis “Uplander” by Arrieta in 20 Gauge
Nice grouse gun, nice price. That’s what I thought of when I saw this 20g Orvis Arrieta Uplander. New England Custom Gun in Claremont, NH, has it, and this true sidelock shotgun looks fairly priced at $2,795.

I remember seeing these shotguns in Orvis’s catalogs years ago. Their no-frills looks just feels right for upland hunting in New England. They’re basically 557’s with a plain, blacked finish, which I prefer over the engraving and color-case hardening Arrieta applies to their other guns.

Orvis "Uplander" by Arrieta in 20 Gauge
Orvis “Uplander” by Arrieta in 20 Gauge

Orvis “Uplander” by Arrieta in 20 Gauge: 27″ barrels choked .005″ & .005″. 14 1/2″ Length of Pull. Has some character marks but a great grouse gun. Price: $2,795

Orvis "Uplander" by Arrieta in 20 Gauge
Orvis “Uplander” by Arrieta in 20 Gauge

Goodbye Bob, Master Maine guide, gundog guy, friend…

Bob Foshay passed away last week. He was as a Master MaineGuide, a lover of bird dogs, and my friend. I’ll miss him.

Goodbye Bob, Master Maine guide, gundog lover, friend...
Goodbye Bob, Master Maine guide, gundog guy, friend…

I think the first time we hunted together was in October 2006. Bob took me to classic grouse and woodcock covers — old apple orchards, dairy pastures reclaimed by alders, poplar stands blocked off by rock walls — and to unlikely spots like stands of pines and pockets of young maples. The first lesson Bob taught me was that those kinds of unlikely covers could hold birds.

Master Maine Guide Bob Foshay
Master Maine Guide Bob Foshay with his GSP Nellie

Bob also taught me about bird dogs. He was one of the first guys in New England to hunt with a field-bred English Cocker (named Trigger), and at one time he ran and field-trialed a lemon-and-white Pointer. By the time I was hunting with him, he had moved on to an English Setter and GSPs. Bob taught me the merits of the different breeds and what mattered when looking for a pup.

I had my pointer Puck back then, and Bob loved to watch bolt through the woods and spring over fallen logs. “She does everything with gusto!” he said — and he was right.

The first video below is from October of 2012. That may have been the last season I hunted with Bob. I helped him sell off his shotgun & dog training gear when retired from guiding and bird hunting. I also helped him find a new home for his last bird dog, a close-hunting little GSP named Nellie. I tried to take him out a few years later so he could watch my pointers run, but it never happened. I don’t remember why.

BS..ing with Bob Foshay, Maine Hunting Guide…

Good gun alert: 28g Gamba Principessa SxS …

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock
Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock

Here’s what I call a can’t-go-wrong double. It’s a Renato Gamba Principessa 28 gauge built on a rugged Anson & Deeley action. It weighs six pounds and it looks pretty much new. Price — a very reasonable $1599.

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock
Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock

Renato Gamba is Italian maker better known in the US for their Daytona OU target guns than their SxS game guns. I’ve seen a few of their boxlock SxSs. Each one has been a nice double, and I’m sure this one would be a great upland gun.

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock
Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS BoxlockExcellent condition overall. Price: $1,599.99 
Manufacturer: Circa: 1981
Caliber: 28 Gauge
Chambers: 2 3/4″
Metal Condition: Excellent
Wood Condition: Excellent
Bore Condition: Excellent
Barrels: 26″ Blued Steel with Tapered Rib
Triggers: Single Non-Selective Trigger
Stock: Checkered Deluxe Walnut Straight Grip Butt Stock
Stock Dimensions:
DAC: 1 1/2″, DAH: 1 3/4″, Cast off: 3/8″, LOP: 13 1/4
Fore End: Checkered Walnut Semi-Splinter Fore Arm
Butt Pad: Leather Covered Butt Pad
Weight: 6 lbs.
Sights: Single Bead
Chokes: Fixed: Modified & Improved Cylinder

You’ve got to go to Maine’s Chandler Lake Camps…

One Maine's finest sporting camps. 6hrs from Boston in the North Maine Woods
One Maine’s finest sporting camps. 6hrs from Boston in the North Maine Woods

Roughing it is for suckers. I know of that, now.

I’m not used to nice accommodations, and on past hunting trips I’ve curled up with my Pointers to stay warm, eaten Beefaroni out of the can, and gagged while using outhouses ranker than rest-area porta pottys.

This year I wanted something better. So I headed Chandler Lake Camps in the North Maine Woods.

Chandler's: A 5-Pointer experience
Chandler’s: A 5-Pointer experience

The North Maine Woods are 4-6 hours from Boston, 3Xs the size of Rhode Island, and more populated with moose than people. Once you’re in them, a dirt-road empire rolls out before you in every which way.. It’s lorded over by logging trucks, crisscrossed with brook trout streams, and spotted everywhere with grouse and woodcock cover.

Some success after after a few days at Chandler's
Some success after after a few days at Chandler’s

Chandler Lake Camps is an outpost of comfort and graciousness amongst all of this. Built in 1902, it was an abandoned family retreat when current owners Jason and Sherry Bouchard bought in the ’90s. With hard work and grit, they rescued it from decades of neglect and turned it into one of Maine’s finest sporting camps.

For uplanders, Chandlers is a place to get into lots of birds, whether you do it by hiring one of the camp’s Registered Maine Guides or by grabbing a Delorme map book and asking Jason to highlight some likely looking spots like I did.

Lexi, Sky and I averaged 2-3 birds an hour — solid numbers considering it was our first time in the area. We hunted overgrown logging roads and shot into the woods to explore deep pockets of birdy-looking cover and the furthest cover we hit was only 15 miles away from the camp.

Guest cabin at Chandler
Guest cabin at Chandler

On top of great bird hunting, Chandler Lake Camps also has great accommodations. Guests are treated to their own hand-peeled, spruce log cabins, each with a wood stove, electric lights, complete indoor facilities and charging outlets for things like remote collars and GPSs.

Meals are served in the main lodge, and everyone eats together around a large, wooden table. Breakfast is to order, lunches packed for you, and dinner family style. There’s a different menu each night, and everything is homemade in the lodge’s kitchen–even the bread and bagels.

And while Chandler Lake Camps is far away from civilization, it does have internet connection to the outside world. So anyone who needs to stay in touch with home or work can check in.

Located southwest of Ashland, ME,
Located southwest of Ashland, ME,
An access point to the North Maine Woods. Dirt roads, moose & grouse cover lie ahead.
An access point to the North Maine Woods. Dirt roads, moose & grouse cover lie ahead.
Sunset at Chandler Lake Camps
Sunset at Chandler Lake Camps
Sky's first grouse of 2017, at Chandler Lake Camps
Sky’s first grouse of 2017, at Chandler Lake Camps
View from the front porch at Chandler Lake Camps
View from the front porch at Chandler Lake Camps
Guest cabin at Chandler
Guest cabin at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Boathouse at Chandler Lake Camps
Boathouse at Chandler Lake Camps
Deck off main lodge at Chandler Lake Camps
Deck off main lodge at Chandler Lake Camps
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler

Buy this gun! 20 gauge Beretta 686 Onyx OU, 2-bbl set …

Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set
Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set

Here’s one of the finest double-barrel shotguns you’re going to find. These Beretta 686s handle like OUs costing many times more. They’re also reliable, easy to fix, and with this kind of Onyx finish, just plain sexy. For grouse, woodcock, and quail, they’re just about ideal.

With two set of barrels, 26.5″ and 29.5″, and a price tag of just $1699.99, this one is extra special. That’s why I’m saying someone needs to buy this gun. If someone else doesn’t snatch it up soon, I just might be the one to do it.

Beretta 686 Onyx 20 Gauge Over Under 2 Barrel SetThis is a very nice Beretta 686 Onyx 2 barrel set. The pictured barrels are 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue, both have vent ribs. The walnut stock and matching forearm are a nice grade of wood with a small hairline crack on the left side of the forearm. All in all a very nice shotgun at a very nice price.  Price: $1699.99
Caliber: 20 Gauge.

Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set
Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set

Chambers: 2 3/4 and 3 inch Over/Under with ejectors.
Metal Condition: Excellent.
Wood Condition: Very good with a small crack on the left side of the forearm.
Bore Condition: All are bright and shiny.
Barrels: 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue.
Triggers: Single silver color.
Stock: Nice mid-grade walut with a checkered pistol grip.
Stock Dimensions:
15 inch LOP
Fore End: Matching checkered walnut with finger grooves.
Butt Pad: Replacement black rubber butt pad.
Weight: 6 Lbs 3 Oz with the 26.5 inch barrels.
Sights: Vent ribs with single front beads.
Chokes: Screw in, comes with 9 total chokes.
Extras: Comes with the second barrel and extra chokes.

Let’s get this season going…

 

Best time of year
Best time of year

October’s here — finally. And even though Maine’s state biologists predict a mediocre grouse season and the foliage colors are sure to be muted, I’m looking forward to the fall.

I’ll be hunting the last two weeks of the month for sure, and then any other days & weekends I can fit in.

After a disappointing 2015, I’m shifting away from central Maine. There are birds there, but I’m having a harder time finding them. I also have less free time to look for them, too. And when you have limited time to hunt, one birdless day’s is a big deal — and not something I want to experience again.

Anyway, here are some pics of hunts and memories from seasons past. I hope you enjoy them.

A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s...
A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s…
Poplars in the AM sun
Poplars in the AM sun
Puck pointing a grouse at the objective
Success! Puck pointing a grouse at the objective.
Pure Puck
Pure Puck
Point! Now what do you do?
Puck, back in her prime

Uplander. A quick video about what it’s all about…

Pheasant o2008 Pheasant opener in South Dakotapener in South Dakota
2008 Pheasant opener in South Dakota
A breeder I used to know was a blunt SOB. Within 30 minutes of our first meeting he cut me off mid sentence and said this: “Someday you’ll grow up and be done with that.”

We had been talking about pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and I had mentioned the numbers of birds we were killing out there. This was back in ’03, when we were seeing 4-500 pheasants a day on the ground we hunted. Limiting out wasn’t the problem. Limiting out before noon was.

But this arrogant breeder wasn’t impressed. He looked down on anyone who gauged success by the number of bird killed — especially if the birds were wild.

Back then, his attitude pissed me off. I get it now, though.

These days, even though I love to upland hunt, killing birds is far from my top priority. Feathers in hand are nice, and a dead bird every now and then does a lot to keep a bird dog interested in the game. but there’s a lot more that

Auction alert: 28g Ruger Red Label, 28″ bbls, No Reserve….

Ruger Red Label 28g, 28" bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997

Here’s another one of these awesome OUs. These doubles are magic wands in the grouse woods. Most of the ones I see have pretty poor wood — but not this one. The 28″ barrels and straight grip are also hard to find.

This over-under is on Gunbroker.com now with No Reserve. The listing ends 7/24/2016 @ 9:18 PM.

Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997: This is an early gRed Label in a hard to find configuration. It comes with an english stock, 28″ barrels, 2 1/2″ drop and a 14 1/4″ LOP. Gun is about as nice as it gets. It comes with a very nice leather case with accessories and wooden cleaning rod as seen. Comes with 5 choke tubes.

Ruger Red Label 28g, 28" bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28" bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997

Even woodcock like visiting New York City…

Woodcock in Bryant Park. Click on image to go to video.
Woodcock in Bryant Park. Click on image to go to video.

Right now, the American Woodcock is migrating back from its wintering grounds in the southern United States. Many of these softball-sized birds will travel 1000+ miles as they return to their breeding grounds, some from Louisiana all the way to Maine and Canada. They make this trip twice a year. Just think about that. Amazing.

This woodcock decided to stop off in New York City during his trip. It was spotted in Bryant Park, a 4-acre enclave of green in the center of growling Manhattan. I wonder what the little bird made of the place? I do hope he made it out of there. I’ve been to Bryant Park, and while I love visiting, I’m alway glad to get back home.

BTW: Click on the image to go to Youtube and watch the video.

Latest Lexi. Some shots from the weekend…

Warmer weather has come early to New England, and Lexi and I have been out taking advantage of it. Here are some shots from the weekend.

Lexi Pointing. Her tail is not showing much confidence.
Lexi Pointing. Her tail is not showing much confidence.
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Saw this truck on my was out of one spot. I think he's a bird hunter.
Saw this truck on my way out of one spot. I think he’s a bird hunter.
Persistence and patience
Persistence and patience
Shagbark Hickory tree
Shagbark Hickory tree
Old rock wall, younger trees
Old rock wall, younger trees

Woodcock in the snow…

Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow

Lexi and I headed out last Friday afternoon to see if we could find some woodcock. The little guys are migrating north now, and I’ve heard they’re as far up Massachusetts and even into Maine.

We had had warm weather most of last week with a couple days in the 60s,  but on Thursday temps dropped and then on Friday a snowstorm rolled in. By the time Lexi and I reached the cover we were going to check out, a couple inches of snow had fallen.

Woodock are ground feeders and worms make up most their diet. So these birds need to find clear areas of frost-free ground to eat. In these pics, you can see how a couple woodcock found this type of cover in a wet seep. They were waddling around in the snow, feeding. The holes and from their beaks, probing into the soft ground for earthworms.

Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow

Short films grouse & woodcock hunter are sure to like…

Like grouse hunting? Then you’ll really like these short films. They’re part of the Project Upland Film: Bird Hunting Film Series a ” film initiative to help promote the future of upland bird hunting and the non-profit The Ruffed Grouse Society.” Check them out now.

The Experience: Follow veteran Grouse hunter and New Hampshire native Harry Rowell into the Grouse woods. While Hunting New Hampshire, Harry reflects on his passion for Grouse hunting and the experience as a whole. A humbling short film that will inspire future and current bird hunters alike.

Because They’re Wild: Follow Northeast Regional Director of The Ruffed Grouse Society, Tripp Way into the Grouse Woods. Tripp reflects on his enjoyment of the woods, his passion for the Ruffed Grouse and the precious time spent afield with friends. As a dedicated conservationist and experienced upland hunter Tripp delivers the powerful line of “Its our responsibility to get these folks in the woods”.

Popped! Lexi’s first wild bird …

Lexi checking out her first dead wild bird
Lexi checking out her first dead wild bird

It finally happened: Yesterday, I killed my first wild bird over Lexi.

It was a woodcock, and I shot it after she gave me a nice, solid point. The one I shot turned out to be part of a 3-bird cluster. They were all together in an alder tangle, and after I shot the first birds (it took me two shots), the other birds went up.

Today we hit some other alder covers, but it was real cold last night and everything was frosted up. We hit another spot on higher ground and found several woodcock and a grouse. Lexi did her job, but I didn’t.

We have another week to hunt and the grouse are starting to move, to I hope to kill one of those for her soon.

Some highbush cranberry in one of our spots. Grouse love these.
Some highbush cranberry in one of our spots. Grouse love these.
A frosted over alder cover. The frost drove the woodcock out.
A frosted over alder cover. The frost drove the woodcock out.

 

A few good points about Pointers …

Pointing a Spring Woodcock
Puck pointing a spring woodcock, many years ago

I never set out to be a Pointer guy. Back before I got Puck (my first pointer), I had never even seen one, except for in books and magazines. Then one day I was flipping through an issue of the Pointing Dog Journal, and I noticed an add from a Pointer breeder near me.

This was Autumn Memory Kennels in Bolton, MA. Ten months after my first visit there, Puck was mine. Today, I can’t imagine owning any other breed of pointing dog.

In The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs, you can read a bit more about what makes pointers such great dogs.

Lexi's perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.
Lexi’s pointing a woodcock the other day.

“Perhaps no other breed of bird dog has had more selective breeding based solely on their performance in the field than pointers. Even so, pointers are also excellent hunting companions and house pets.

In addition to our English setters, Jerry and I always have owned pointers. We’ve bred, trained, competed and lived with them for more than 20 years and are now producing our fifth generation.”

Read all of The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs now.

Elation & frustration. Day 6 of our fall hunting trip …

Fresh woodcock splash in the alder cover
Fresh woodcock splash in the alder cover

So far, it’s been several days of ups and days. We’ve been finding birds, but not many. Some of the woodcock have been holding for points, but the grouse have been flushing wild.I saw these birds flush on their own, so I know Lexi was not pushing them up. I’ve never seen such skittish grouse.

It wasn’t until today that we got into a significant number of woodcock. They were right where they should be this time of year – in an stand of Alders – and in about 30 minutes we put up 12 birds. Lexi had solid points on three of them. I missed them all. On the others, a couple flushed wild and Lexi bumped the rest.

Lexi standing over the splash
Lexi standing over the splash

Bumped birds are one of the frustrations of breaking in a dog, and it’s hard for me to remain calm and patient when I see Lexi pushing birds into the sky. She’s also had her share of long pauses/false points. After a while, these things drive me mad.

I strapped my pointer cam on her so I could get a better look at what she was doing in the woods. The videos below are what we shot. There’s a long and short version. Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

We’ve got ourselves a bird dog …

Lexi's perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.
Lexi’s perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.

You can’t hunt on Sundays in Maine, but you can run a bird dog. So Lexi and I made it out this AM for a little photo safari/training run. Lexi hit birds the first place we stopped, and in about 45 minutes she pointed 2 grouse and 2 woodcock.

I saw the grouse flush wild before I could get all the way to Lexi’s point. The same thing happened with one of the woodcock. I flushed the second woodcock out from under a perfect point. Talk about proud.

I can tell Lexi is still figuring out how to handle these birds, and she may have pressured the first three a bit too much. Compared to how she did yesterday, she’s learning fast. With a little luck, I should kill her first wild bird for her tomorrow.

Enjoy the pics.

Leaping Lexi.
Leaping Lexi.
Brilliant fall red, flashing against the blue sky.
Brilliant fall red, flashing against the blue sky.
Maple leaves.
Maple leaves.
Lookout over a local pond.
Lookout over a local pond.
An old rock wall. The woods behind it were cleared farmland at one time.
An old rock wall. The woods behind it were cleared farmland at one time.
Brilliant fall colors on this tree.
Brilliant fall colors on this tree.
A real old tombstone -- maybe original.
A real old tombstone — maybe original.
Tombstone of a American Revolutionary War veteran
Tombstone of a American Revolutionary War veteran
Crazy looking white pine tree.
Crazy looking white pine tree.
Old meeting building. Classic New England architecture. Check out the details!
Old meeting building. Classic New England architecture. Check out the details!
Nice window!
Nice window!
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