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Summer Parasites – A reminder for Health and Safety

by Ron Stephen
Well, to be honest, my original intention for this article, was to write a simple tutorial on how to properly field dress a Rabbit.
That changed while I was in the process of dressing this Rabbit, to an even more important subject,… that I will share with you all here. I have always heard that it is not a good idea to eat Wild Rabbit during the warmer months of late Spring through early Winter.
 I have heard it described as :
 “Never eat Wild Rabbit in months that are not spelled with an “R”
 (May, June, July, August). But depending on your location and typical weather, (especially in warmer climates such as we have here in southern California), we should also toss in September, and possibly October too. The idea behind this, is that most Parasites are either dormant or die off in the cold winter months, and in area’s that have snow, it is believed the Parasites do not survive “After the first Good Freeze”. (Here in  Southern California, we rarely get snow below 4000′ elevation) I suppose these old sayings of “Months without an R”, or “After the first Good Freeze” are not really hard line RULES,…but it brings us to the point of this article. That point is, ALWAYS thoroughly inspect your kills, and Be Mindful of any Unhealthy Game. We are now in the warmer months, and all the bugs, creepy crawlers, parasites are most active now. So it is important to keep in mind, pay attention, and closely inspect any kills you intend to eat. I took this rabbit yesterday in San Bernadino County on one of my permissions. I was dressing it out, and taking pics with the intention of presenting a “How To  Dress Out a Rabbit”.  I was going to include step by step instruction with each pic, but we’ll do that some other time, with a healthy and safe to eat game animal.
The priority for this article changed when I noticed this on the cutting board of my dressing table. What the heck is that thing ? and Why is it moving ?
EWwww… it’s a Bot Fly Larvae ! YUCK ! these are sometimes called “Wolves” , Warble flies, Heel flies, Gadflies,
So Yeah,….
 I wont be making any Rabbit Stew with this weeks bunny, and we can just toss it out for the Coyotes to feed on. (haven’t seen many of those on the permission lately), but we Did have one walk right out in front of us at only 50 yds a couple of weeks ago. Wouldn’t you know it, I hadn’t even taken my rifle out of the truck yet, and the Coyote seemed to know that, since he was in no hurry, and just slowly trotted away, straight down our target shooting lane. GRrrrrrrr ! This also warrants a mention to those of you hunting Coyotes, … as they are fraught full of Fleas, Ticks, Deer-flies, and who knows what else right now. These critters can infect both your game, and/or You too. So BE CAREFUL,… and use proper protection, if you plan on handling any kills during this time of year. They can carry a whole list of diseases one of which is Tularemia. So do your homework, and be properly prepared. Check your clothing often, check yourself and or your kids, pets, etc, after being in the field.
Here is some additional info/reading from the web on the subjects…

        Bot Fly Infestation

The Bot Fly or Cuterebra (Cute-a Ree-bra) is the larval form of a small fly like insect. The Bot Fly larva forms a pocket under the hosts skin, that grows as the larvae matures, called a “warble”. These warbles are most commonly found at the mouth, neck or flanks of the rabbit. Parasitic in nature, the Bot fly will deposit its eggs on a host such as a rabbit, or on an intermediate host such as a house fly or mosquito, transferring its eggs when the fly or mosquito lands on the hosts body. Bot fly’s may also lay their eggs on plants and surfaces near animal burrows/homes where they are then transferred to the host as it passes by. These eggs then hatch and enter the host animals body by way of a wound or by burrowing into the hosts body. The Bot Fly may also be ingested through plant material and migrate its way to the dermal layer where the same process then occurs. Once under the skin the maturing larva forms a growing lump called a warble where it will live until ready for its next
stage of development. The warble is typically oblong. The larva will cut a hole in the top of the warble forming a darker spot (warble pore) to breathe through, then uses it’s mouth hooks to secure itself. The Bot Fly larvae uses its warble much like other insects would use a cocoon to develop. It does not in fact digest the hosts live tissue, but digests the tissue exudate (secretions) of the host. As the warble grows with the maturing larvae the warble may occasionally be mistaken for an abscess. While unnerving and disgusting, it is rarely fatal, and once mature the larvae will crawl from its warble, fall from the host and develop into its pupae form in the soil.  It causes no more than mild irritation to the host. More than one warble may form at a time. The danger in Bot Fly infestation is the likely-hood of infection at the warble site. We don’t recommend trying to remove Bot Fly larvae on your own and recommend the bunn be brought to a veterinarian.

If the larvae is crushed in the removal process it can cause an anaphalactic (severe allergic) reaction leading to the death of the bunn. A vet is better equipped to fascilitate its removal.

Stages of Bot Fly Infestation:

Week 1:

  • swelling
  • abscess
  • redness
  • a lump with missing fur from animal scratching at site.

Week 2:

  • the warble protrudes prominantly from the animals body.
  • the tip of the warble, the spiracle through which the larvae breathes is visible.
  • discharge, blood, pus or a browish material.

By week 3-4, the larvae matures and drops to the ground to pupate.
The animal is left with a hole where the larvae was living.  Most of the time the wounds will heal requiring no treatment.
However, at times these pockets may become infected and require treatment.
The animal heals and there is little evidence of warble infestation.


Tularemia (Rabbit fever)

What is tularemia?

Tularemia is an illness caused by a bacteria, Francisella tularensis, which can affect both animals and humans. Most cases occur during the summer months when deer-flies and ticks are abundant and the early winter months during rabbit hunting season. During hunting season, illness usually results from skinning infected rabbits.

Who gets tularemia?

Anyone can get tularemia if they spend time outdoors in areas where infected animals, deer-flies or ticks, can be found. Rabbit hunters, trappers, and laboratory workers exposed to the bacteria are at higher risk.
How is tularemia spread?
The most common way tularemia is spread is by the bite of an infected blood sucking insect such as a deer-fly or tick. Another way people get tularemia is by getting blood or tissue from infected animals (especially rabbits) in their eyes, mouth, or in cuts or scratches on the skin. Tularemia can also be spread by handling or eating rabbit meat that is not cooked well. Drinking contaminated water or breathing dust containing the bacteria can also spread tularemia. Person to person spread does not occur.
What are the symptoms of tularemia?
The usual symptoms of tularemia are fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Breathing dust containing the bacteria may cause a pneumonia-like illness.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Symptoms may appear between two and ten days, most often within three to five days.
What is the treatment for tularemia?
Antibiotics such as streptomycin and gentamicin are used to treat tularemia.
What can be done to prevent the spread of tularemia?

1. Persons at risk should reduce chances for insect bites by wearing protective clothing, and by searching for ticks often and removing attached ticks immediately. Tick/insect repellents containing “DEET” provide additional protection. Permethrin is also helpful when sprayed onto clothing.
2. Children should be discouraged from handling sick or dead rabbits, or other possibly infected animals.
3. Gloves should be worn when skinning or handling animals, especially wild rabbits.
4. Wild rabbit meat should be thoroughly cooked.
5. Face masks, gowns, and rubber gloves should be worn by those working with cultures or infective material in a laboratory.

Where can I get more information?

* Your personal doctor
* Your local health department, listed in the telephone directory


With regard to Tularemia. For those who hunt predators, particularly predators that (can) prey on rodents (as most do), bears, foxes, coyotes, lynx/bobcat, etc., those predators are potential for contracting tularemia.

OK everyone, I hope you find this informative and a good reminder to Pay Attention out there.

THINK about what you are doing…. Watch what you are preparing for your dinner table,….. and don’t get lazy, .

(unless of course, you enjoy eating gross bugs and getting sick) haha

Take care, Have fun, and Shoot safely.

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Kral Puncher Breaker

by Dana Webb

After visiting the 2017 Shot Show in Las Vegas the United States was introduced to the Kral line of rifles and bullpups. The initial reviews were all very exciting, Krals looked to be a great entry level Airgun that offered many features of even the higher end Airguns. The Krals seemed to flood the market almost overnight, several distributors even had them on pre-order. Soon after the first batch of Krals arrived the great reviews started that in turn made them even more desirable to the consumer, the problem with this was nobody really knew much about the guns other than on the surface and short term use. After several weeks some problems with the guns started popping up around various forums. Several well known tuners had made attempts to modify and remedy the problems, parts, design and materials were obviously not well thought out by Kral, leaving many customers to fend for themselves as far as service and repair. This is just a vague story of the initial problems with the guns and needs not go further. Several months ago a gentleman by the name of Roger contracted the Airgun bug and decided to make his first PCP purchase that happen to be a Kral Puncher Breaker bullpup. Over the next three weeks Roger had spent almost every weekend shooting with an elite group of Southern California Airgunners, one of whom was Ron Stephen.

Kral Puncher Breaker

One weekend Roger showed up to shoot, filled his gun, loaded his magazine with pellets and “TINK”, nothing happens and the gun wont fire. Ron, being a good friend ends up taking the rifle home that day in hopes of fixing it through some help and research through the Gateway To Airguns forum . After a bit of reading Ron soon realized just how many problems he was finding and the unfortunate lack of support from not only Kral but the distributors as well. Ron finally called me and had asked what I knew of the Kral line of rifles and if I knew of anyone that had a good amount of experience diagnosing, fixing and tuning them, thankfully I was able to turn him on to a friend of mine Troy Hammer. Troy is fairly new to the forums but has been working with Airguns for a good many years and had a good amount of experience with tuning them. Troy had recently started his full time career as a professional tuner and is the proud owner of Annihilator Airguns. Over the past year Troy has spent a good amount of time with tuning the Kral line of rifles and really is the only one in the United States that will service them as well as offering several custom parts and upgrades. Don’t hesitate to visit his website and reach out for help, he’s more than happy to talk Airguns.


by Ron Stephen

After having a VERY pleasant and educational conversation with Troy on proper disassembly procedure of this rifle, we got together yesterday to tear down the rifle. I wanted to verify, if in fact, it had the same issue with the broken valve stem…
….  and Oh BOYYYYY did we verify it !

My buddies rifle not only had a broken stem, (Yes,… right at the O-ring groove), but it was also BEATEN TO DEATH ! The broken end of the stem was SO Deformed and “Mushroomed”, it was wedged in the valve like a Rivet! Notice in the pic Troy previously shared (of the factory stem), that the stem is chamfered on the very tip. The stem in my buddies rifle was beaten so badly, that the chamfer is completely gone, and is now severely mushroomed.



The broken tip was stuck so tight in the valve body, I could not pull it out. I had to use a drift punch and hammer inside the valve body to drive it out. It was wedged in there MUCH tighter than I would have ever expected. Upon finding it in this bad of condition, I immediately sent these pics to Troy, to ask if this was what he has seen previously on other broken stems,… or if this was the worst he had seen ?  Not to my surprise, he confirmed that this was the worst he had seen so far. In fact, not only was the Stem beaten so badly, but even the Rear Face Surface of the valve body showed significant hammer impact  damage…

Troy and I both feel that there MUST be more to this than simply a “Weak spot” in the stem, due to the O-ring groove. After inspecting the broken pieces, We both feel that there must be a “Bad Batch” of stems, that were Not Properly Heat Treated,… and inevitably made it into the assembly of these rifles from the factory. I tested this theory using a VERY FINE Jewelers Hand File, and I feel our suspicions are spot on. With just a couple of very light strokes of the file on the broken stem’s tip, it was quite evident this was Very VERY SOFT Steel. It basically felt like I was filing on soft butter ! No way could this material EVER stand up to several thousand strikes of a hammer. It is NOT a matter of “IF it will fail”,… it is truly a matter of WHEN it is GOING to Fail !

I want to take this moment to thank Mr. Troy Hammer of Annihilator Airguns and Tuning for his assistance and patience in taking time out of his day, with my several calls for help. I am looking very forward to receiving his improved and upgraded Valve Stems, as well as field testing some of his other products for the Kral rifles.

kral valve stem

(Top) New Annihilator valve stem

It is guys like Troy, who help advance the development and improvement of our sport. He is not just someone who is looking out for himself… He is a active hunter, shooter himself, and he truly wants to help those of us who can benefit from his personal experience with these guns. He is an asset to the sport, and I am glad to have met him. Hopefully we will have an opportunity one day, to share some trigger time and maybe even a hunt or two !  ;D

THANKS Troy !

 

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RAT HUNTING CHRONICLES

 by Ron Stephen


As the sun is about to set over the Chicken buildings/Ratting grounds. Time to gear up and get ready for the nightly invasion of fury terrorists…

 The buildings are all connected, covering over 2 acres, of Rat-o-mania.
 That’s a LOT of rats!

The silo’s are full of chicken feed that is automatically mechanically distributed through-out the chicken cages containing 25,000 to 50,000 chickens…

Row, after row, after row, of mechanical driven automatic feeders, providing a “Free-for-All-Feeding”. When the lights go out,… the rats COME out, (in DROVES !)


Rows, and rows, and more rows of chickens with open troughs of feed available 24/7. with this much grain spread through-out the building, it’s easy to see why there are thousands of rats each night

Here is where they will be moving up in the rafters, right over your head, behind you, in front of you, beside you, between your feet, and all around you.

 Yes, several times I have considered taping up my pant legs so they don’t go crawling up my leg! EWWwwwww!


OK, So,… moving on.

Weapons of choice.
Low to medium powered single projectile type guns do work very well. Either Co2 or low pressure HPA/PCP guns do very well,… BUT !,… they do have some disadvantages. Those disadvantages include the fact that you will be shooting in near total darkness, using only a flashlight to hunt them by.
Green lights works OK, and are better than standard white lights, but Red lights seem to work a little better. This is because the anatomy of a rats eye has different “Rods and Cones” as compared to Human eyes. Humans see a color spectrum of Red, Blue, Green.
 Rats see a spectrum of Blue, Green, and low I.R.,… (they do not see Red the same way we do).
 They see red as more of a “Grey shade” (almost like a shadow)… and therefore they do not Alert and Spook as quickly when using a red light for spotting them.
Another disadvantage to using a single projectile type of gun is that the rats are being shot at ranges usually in the 15′ to 45′ range. (we are talking FEET, not Yards here). this means that zeroing a gun with a scope for this short of distances is almost impossible. if you zero a scope for only say 25 FEET,… then the “Line of Sight” vs. the “Line of Flight” is extremely narrow. sometimes as low as only 6 to12 INCHES closer or further than you 25′ zero.
 Seems easy right ?,… but here’s the deal,…
 when you DO spot that rat at the perfect zero distance,… he is RARELY sitting still, AANNNNDDD, he is either moving towards you or away from you.
 Now remember,… It’s almost COMPLETELY DARK, and you are trying to find a MOVING rat, moving through the rafters, using a fairly dim red light. By the time you actually ACQUIRE him as a target, he is no longer at that sweet 25 or 30 feet. SOOoooo,…. that means you catch him stopping at say 15 feet from you,… OR,… maybe its 40 feet from you, and you’ve only got 2 or 3 seconds before he starts moving again.
 So at this same moment, is when you are trying to figure out,…
 “OK, Now do I give it 1 mil-dot Hold under ?”,… “or is that 2 1/2 mild dots Hold over”,…. or,… “oh crap,…. nevermind,… he’s moving again” ! LOL !
Trust me,… it’s not as easy as it may seem to be shooting rats at such close quarters. you basically just have to experience it to understand it.
 It can actually be pretty exciting, AND is SOOoooo Much FUN you won’t believe it!
So SCOPED guns present there own challenges in these conditions, and “Open Sights” or “Iron sights” actually are BETTER than scopes.
 Here’s a couple of scoped guns I’ve used for the job…

 Also, Red Dot type sights are a bit better than scopes, because they generally are mounted lower to the bore of the gun, but,… they still do suffer somewhat similar issues as a scoped gun, trying to zero at such close range.
 Should I hold over the dot ?, Under the dot ? Where’d he go? how far is he away? Is he moving towards me? Away from me? man it’s so dark, Where’d he go again ? Do you see him yet ? OOHHHH THERE HE IS, right over your Head ! HEY,  Duck Down and Hold Still While I shoot ! … DANG IT ! My flashlight battery just went dead ! Just stay still where you are, and I’ll try not to hit you !
SO, the moral to the story is, if you will be using a “single projectile shooter” for close range,…Then open sights and a good red light are the best choice.
(Of course there are then the guys who have Night Vision set-ups on there guns, which makes shooting the rats at 20-30-50 yards possible), AND THAT MEANS, you no longer have such a short window of usable zero’d distances….
 but that’s an entirely different subject !
OK,…. so what’s a guy to do ? ? ?
Well,…This type of shooting is absolutely perfect for the old vintage Trapmaster’s , with their limited power and range. Add a little creative ingenuity and a custom fitted weaver rail,… a small flashlight in a scope ring,… and Waa-Laaa ! ! !,..
You’ve got yourself one HECK of a “In the Dark at Close Range Ratter Gun” !
Here’s mine…

A Red Headlight, and/or Handheld light can be very helpful in spotting and chasing them too…

So let’s move on to some recent kills.

And of course,  some of the Smelly Rats come visiting for a free meal too,
 so we happily serve them a hot lead injection also !

Hope you enjoy,
Cheers,
Ron