Tuesday 31 March 2009

New species to hunt in Ireland

We seem to have 2 new species to hunt: Wild boar and muntjac. The former I would suspect has escaped from the farmers farming them, they have been seen in Wicklow. The latter are clearly being criminally introduced. Yes, introducing an alien species is a crime in Ireland.

If you ask me I am of two minds about this. On the one hand I dislike the criminal disregard for the law and the danger of introducing diseases into Ireland. Also they will eat the undergrowth in the forests, albeit probably not as much as people fear since it is their cover. On the other hand I welcome the addition of new species to a rather poor eco system. Germany for instance has wolves and elk coming in from the east, but in islands this is impossible.

There is a shoot on sight order out for the muntjac but given their breeding habits and ability and small size I don't think they can be eradicated. I just hope there were enough introduced to create a genetically stable population. And the wild boar? Long may they live :)

Monday 30 March 2009

What can one use to shoot hares in Ireland?

I recently got told on boards.ie that it was illegal in Ireland to shoot hares with a rifle. I had a browse round the Irish Statute Book and found this:

(3) It shall be an offence for a person to hunt or injure in the course of hunting with a shotgun a protected wild animal other than a hare otherwise than under and in accordance with a licence granted in that behalf by the Minister.

Now this seems to say that it is legal to shoot hares with a shotgun, but not that it is illegal to shoot hares with rifles. I have asked in the forum and got told to ask my local ranger or the Ministry for the Environment. I have asked a ranger who is on boards.ie via private message and I rang the ministry who took my details and promised to find out and ring back. The guy actually sounded interested. My current impression is that this may well be a well perpetuated myth.

I am admittedly finding it bizarre enough that one cannot hunt protected wild birds with bullets in this country (doesn't apply for vermin such as crows as far as I can see) and would be surprised if one could not hunt the smallest protected mammal with a bullet - on earth why? But we will see ...

Sunday 29 March 2009

Further on the subject of cheek weld and solutions to the issue

Having found out about cheek weld I am seriously wondering why a lot of scopes appear to be mounted even higher than necessitated by the big lenses. As far as I can tell this appears to be a case of lazy gun smithing? I would consider mounting a scope as low as possible the ideal.

Interestingly enough Leupold have come up with an attempt to at least ameliorate the issue and that is the VXn-L family of scopes.

as we can see they have a little cutout in the front lens and thus can be mounted lower. Given that most stocks are still made in such a way as to be ideal for the use of iron sights, this strikes me as rather a major improvement in the situation. Leupold seems to be in general a bit below the big 3 of scope manufacturers (Zeiss, Swarowski and Schmidt & Bender), albeit they are attacking that field with the VX-7(L) scopes that at least according to Chuck Hawks are as good as the big 3.

In general one wonders a bit why in this day and age where at least varmint rifles are being made without iron sights at all the stocks, at least of hunting rifles, are still shaped like they were made for iron sights. Interestingly enough target rifles are not upholding this tradition, as seen for instance here:

This is a Savage Arms varmint and target rifle and we notice the straight stock, built for people who are not planning to use iron sights on this gun ever.

Friday 27 March 2009

And so it begins ...

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to be able to shoot my own meat and take up what was a rather early interest in hunting. I read a lot about this while I was still going to school, but never got around to doing it. I took one look at the hunters in my hometown and ran for dear life.

Now that I am married and feel like I can start on my dreams I have decided to revisit the issue. A few friends were interested when I posted on LJ about this and we went to the Courtlough shooting grounds and killed a few clays. I rather disliked the place, there was too much money expected and people weren't very friendly.

So I did a bit more research and found Hilltop Quad and Shooting Club in Co.Wicklow. Sadly a bit of a drive but much nicer people and loaner guns available for members. Last time I was there and shot the guy dealing with me was a metalhead. Fun guy. he claimed that I did well and I think I did when paper punching. That was the first part, shooting a bench rest rifle over 50m. 10 practice rounds and 25 'competition' at 25 small targets on a big sheet. The targets only had the 5 inner rings, so 6 was the lowest score. I scored 210 out of 250 possible and found that plenty of times I shot a 6 or 7 when I was of the firm opinion that I had the scope right in the center.

We then went and shot clays. On the way there I told him that I wasn't there so much for the craic, but in order to actually learn how to shoot. So he taught me a little bit of style and I began to see the importance of a good cheek weld. It is like the anchor in archery. When we went back to the shop we talked guns a bit and I picked up a CZ in .22 and for the first time in my life I had the iron sights in perfect alignment just from bringing the gun to my cheek! Now that I know what went wrong with the paper targets I actually can imagine shooting a 'possible' in that  discipline because I know I suffered from freefloating cheek there. This is rather a cool feeling :)