Hunting Part 1: The Rifle

I’ve been holding off on writing about hunting, because I was unsure of how to do so in a tasteful manner. In the end, I decided to do a three-part bit on my recent move into hunting for food. This article, the first in the set, will cover my acquisition of a rifle and my decision to take up hunting. The second will cover the hunt itself, and the third will deal with how to handle the catch, from butchery to cooking.

I’ve been a fisherman all my life, and many childhood camping trips included my parents and I cooking the fish I’d caught. Being a little kid at the time, most of these fish were bluegill, and while they had little enough meat on them, they were very tasty! Here in Arizona, options for fishing do exist, but they are limited by comparison to the East Coast. I’ve done a lot of hiking, camping, and exploring, but none of these seem to fill the same role for me that fishing did before. In the end, hunting seemed the natural replacement.

13-Shooting Gear

One of my interests in hunting and fishing comes from the connection it gives me to the animals I eat. One of my chief concerns with meat, and the reason for my brief vegetarian stint in college, is how easy it is to dissociate oneself from the animals we kill. It is too easy to see a pack of chicken breast in the grocery store simply as a pack of chicken, rather than the living being that it was. I remember an advertisement I saw for a seafood restaurant years ago. It involved a whale-watching ship, but instead of whales, there were giant leaping shrimp. Interestingly, the shrimp that were leaping were cooked and peeled; they should not have been moving at all, let alone leaping gracefully out of the waves. I realized then that many people, shown a live shrimp, wouldn’t recognize it as food, or even know what kind of “bug” they were looking at.

15-RifleBesides the rifle, I invested in a hunting knife
for skinning and cleaning my catch.

I had never shot a gun before in my life (or even touched a functional one), until last spring, when I went out shooting with a group of students from my martial arts school. There were a bunch of gun lovers in the group, so in the end I got to try a whole slew of different types of firearms. For hunting, I was a bit hesitant at first to get a rifle, seeing as there are a host of quieter (and less scary) weapons out there. I’m a decent shot with the blowgun, and have used it for rodent control with good results. However, I wanted something that I could use effectively on animals larger than packrats.

Cleaning is very important, since debris from shooting
can make the rifle less accurate, and increases
the chance of malfunctioning.

I decided that most of my hunting would be for rabbit. We have three common species here: the desert cottontail is a true rabbit, and is the smallest. The blacktail and antelope jackrabbits are actually hares, and grow much larger (up to 10 pounds). I liked the elegance of a single bullet, so I decided to go with a rifle instead of a shotgun. A larger caliber rifle will destroy too much meat on a rabbit, so I decided to go with a .22. I also wanted a bolt action, since I enjoyed shooting these most when I tried different firearms. Considering these factors and my budget, I decided to purchase the Ruger American Rimfire, in .22LR.

14-LockEven though the case locks, I also use this bolt lock
that prevents the gun from being loaded and fired.

I was concerned about safety as well, so I purchased a locking case to put it in. The rifle came with a bolt lock that makes it impossible to insert the firing mechanism into the rifle without the key. I also decided not to store any ammunition in the gun case. I know full well that a determined person with a minimum of tools could break open the case, cut the lock, load and fire the gun; however, I am at least satisfied that they cannot do so by accident, which is the best I can hope for.

After shooting for a while at targets on a berm, it was time to take it hunting…

~The Homesteading Hippy

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” -Douglas Adams

5 thoughts on “Hunting Part 1: The Rifle

  1. Pingback: Hunting Part 3: The Meat | The Homesteading Hippy

  2. Pingback: Hunting Part 2: The Hunt | The Homesteading Hippy

  3. Dan

    Hello. I just wanted to say good luck! I just moved to the country and am just learning a whole new set of skills, including hunting and shooting. It’s pretty fun to be able to shoot out in the yard with a .22 to practice. I also have a lab puppy and am trying to figure out what to do with him for training before it’s too late. I’m lucky that he is naturally not afraid of the gunshot. In fact, when I shoot in a certain direction he will run that way and look around.

    I’m gonna follow your blog. I look forward to hearing about the things you learn!

    1. The Homesteading Hippy Post author

      Thank you Dan. I hope to someday move out of the city. As it stands, I have to drive almost an hour to get any place where I’m allowed to target practice. Let me know how training the dog goes! I’m curious and have played with the idea of getting a dog for hunting someday.
      ~The Homesteading Hippy

  4. Pingback: Welcome to the Coop | The Homesteading Hippy

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