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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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2016 EXTREME BENCHREST

On Wednesday October 5th 2016 Doug Noble, myself and Tom Costan left the American Air Arms facility in Acton California to head out 7 hours into the Arizona desert. Our trip had not started as soon as we would have liked as our rifles had literally been just finished that morning setting us back more than 6 hours. I was very excited as this was my first widely followed Airgun event where I was sure to meet some very familiar faces. My goal was to do well in the Big Bore event and to hopefully place well in the small bore 75yard benchrest that was to be very challenging. We arrived in Arizona early that evening where we settled in and made sure we had all necessary components to compete the following morning. The next morning we piled into the van and made our way for some coffee before our arrival to the 2016 Extreme Benchrest event.

We pulled into the beautiful  Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club by 7:30 am where we were greeted by banners and an army of Airguns Of Arizona staff diligently getting the event ready.

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We made our way into the registration area where we were kindly greeted and given our time schedule that included a small bag of goodies along with an 2016 Extreme Benchrest T-shirt. Tom, Doug and I were excited to get some practice in before our 1st afternoon Big Bore event. We unloaded our guns, tanks and pounds of other shooting equipment to the nicely shaded shooting benches.

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We were greeted by AoA’s own Kip Perow who later I found to be quite a great shooter in the Big Bore event. The man sitting was Ron from High Arc Hunting shooting the new Bushbuck .45 monster Big Bore rifle. Doug Noble set up his custom built .338 that he has spent many months preparing to shoot here.

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Other well known names such as Rossi Morreale (below) from the show American Airgunner were practicing for the event. Tom and myself had a great talk with Rossi and were impressed with his love for the sport and his sincerity in trying to make it grow.

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As Tom and I set up our new guns for testing we had Micheal Wendt (below) the new owner of Airgun Nation forum come by to say hello and to check out our new guns. Micheal is a very friendly guy that had some very positive energy behind him and one I was glad to meet.

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I was having a great time trying out my new wood stock EVOL .30 while Tom was using the .30 TAC version. We were practicing with both of the American Air Arms .357 Slayers as well. For me it was quite the adjustment to switch between two completely different power levels. I was sighting in my .30 for the 75 yard event and my .357 Slayer for 200 yards.

img_6924-copy-copyimg_6908-copy-copyMy first event was the Big Bore 200 yard event where we were shooting at 4 military style targets, we had to make 5 shots onto each target. I was shooting horrible not only due to the wind but I had chosen the wrong scope for the application being a fixed parallax. After that disastrous event I headed over to have my Airtank filled where I was kindly greeted by Todd DeOrio (below) Airguns Of Arizona’s fill station expert. He was most helpful and very on his game as I had to visit him quite often over the next few days,never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a fill. Thank you

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The rest of the day we practiced some more and walked around in between checking out some cool guns and even spotting a few more well known shooters such as my friend Tim McMurray of Mac1 Airguns and former winner of the EBR.

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Food and refreshments were available all day long with a great shaded area with plenty of room to sit and chat. Precision Airgun was on hand with its mobile repair center as well as the onsite gunsmith.

img_6964  Day two for us was to practice till about 3:00 where we were to shoot our first 75 yard card.

img_6925-copy-2 I had still been dialing in my gun and practicing the best I could in the wind that didn’t seem too bad as of yet. Tom was shooting the best out of the three of us with his gun, ending with him doing fairly well on his card. I had made the mistake of not using my sighters as often as I should of, ending with me doing very poorly. (no need to post pic)

Day 3 we had or 2nd 75 yard card to shoot, all three of us were in the 3rd relay so we had a good portion of the day to practice. As I walked up to practice I saw another more familiar face such as Ted Bier.

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As the time approached I was feeling confident in my gun and my ability to shoot it well. We all headed down to our lanes to set our bench and to start the 75 yard event. I thankfully used a rear lead bag that proved to work much better for me, good to learn for future competitions. The wind was not as bad as the previous day but was still a bit unpredictable for me. This time I used my sights as needed and filled my gun along with using sorted pellets. For me this was my personal best and was very pleased regardless of how I placed.

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img_6983As you can see, these are very small targets and very humbling when missed. Unfortunately as good as I had done this day my previous card had killed my chance to qualify for the 3rd card at 100 yards.

Day 4 started early for us as our Big Bore event started at around 8:00 where we would be shooting at 85 yards and 200 yards. I was pretty confident with shooting 200 yards but was a bit nervous of the 85 yards as I’m not used to having to hold under. Doug, Kip, Ron and Tom were all shooting great. That Bushbuck is a pretty amazing gun, Doug’s .338 is just plain radical.

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I had a bit of confusion with my 85 yard targets but in the end was very happy with a 2nd.

After the event we had nothing more to do till the banquet so we spent our time plinking with our guns and visiting friends. I was having fun offhand shooting the 200 yard silhouette while Doug was visiting the 550 yard silhouette with his custom .338. My good friend Jim Walton (below) from “Fun Birds Hunting” came by to visit and to do a bit of shooting with us.

img_6947-copyHad some more visitors from Chile “Patagonia Airguns” So nice to see people from all over the world, bringing some very nice airguns to compete with.

img_6958 img_6957My friend Steve Marsh (above) who lives in Arizona and came to keep us company and to show us some killer places to eat throughout the area. I cant wait to come back and do some hunting when time allows. The day was just about to and end with a few Thunderheads in the distance.

img_6991We headed down the road several minutes to a very upscale banquet hall that was overlooking a beautiful golf coarse. This is where we would have dinner, announce the winners and to draw for the raffle prizes.

img_7006Some very nice raffle prizes this year.

ham-raffleThe dinner was excellent along with coffee and dessert, and followed by the awards.

img_7007 Big Congrats to Ted for winning the $5000

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This year had so many amazing competitors,some that traveled from far away places. I see this event only growing stronger and I will say the future is in the young shooters. We all as airgunners need to focus on the progression and to try sharing this wonderful pastime. I want to especially thank the AOA crew for doing such a wonderful job and being so welcoming to me as this was my first year competing. I feel it was well worth the trip and can only help to do better next year. The 2016 Extreme Benchrest has many events that can fit just about any shooters needs. Next year I plan to compete in the American Field Target and Big Bore events. Anyone that’s wanting a fun,family friendly event,this is a winner. Thanks to all who participated. Results can be found here: 2016 Extreme Benchrest

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SAN LUIS OBISPO/ MORRO BAY FIELD TARGET AUGUST 20-21, 2016

On Saturday August 20th Lindsey,Marley and I headed two hours North from Ventura to the Beautiful San Luis Obispo small bore range. Our good friend Terry had arrived the day before and was kind enough to send me some photos that prompted us to make our way out. When we arrived to the location we were greeted by a nice little dirt road that took us about a mile off the highway into a secluded nook where the small bore range was. We pulled into what looked like a wild west movie set,complete with bathrooms, showers and a nice little clubhouse.

We were kindly greeted by many familiar faces,one of which was Motorhead. Was so good to see him,one of my favorite Airgunners of all time and someone I have always looked up to. We had made it up to late for me to compete but in still plenty of time to do a little field target shooting and to check out some very cool airguns.

Tapian Mutant Bullpup

As the day went on, Lindsey and I did a little plinking with her Colt replica .177 pellet revolver.

She is quite the Annie Oakley with that thing…..Yeeehaaa

By this time it was getting later and we set up our camp and enjoyed the cooler temperature with a nice ocean breeze. I finally made way to the clubhouse where I had the pleasure of meeting Scotchmo, the man who seemed to be doing everything. Scott was very welcoming and yet i could tell he was overwhelmed with everything that was going on. This man is obviously very dedicated to our sport and was very helpful in getting us set up and comfortable. Big thank you Scott, I really appreciate all you have been doing.

The evening was upon us and I could see the fog rolling in over the mountains bringing the temp down enough to want a jacket.We had a wonderful BBQ dinner followed by some good times around the campfire sharing stories and lots of laughter. I really enjoyed hanging with some of the old-timers that have been shooting airguns longer than I’ve been alive.

The next morning I was slow to wake up by 7:00 as I slept very well that night. I ventured over to Motorheads camp and was greeted kindly with an invitation to use his custom .177 Marauder, a beautiful gun that I had been eyeballing the day before. Scott was so helpful and kind, even providing some pellets and shooting sticks that later I realized I had forgotten to return. I spent a little time shooting the gun but not nearly enough to be comfortable to compete with. I had brought several guns with me but none of which were under 20fpe so i was blessed that Motorhead was kind enough to set me up.

Here is Marley and I waiting for the match to start, Yes I am a hunter.  ;D

I believe the match started about 9:00am but we all gathered around first to hear some rules and to find out who we would be paired to shoot with on the coarse.

I was going to be shooting with John and a 10yo old girl named Annabel, I felt a little out of place as these two obviously had way more experience than me in field target competitive shooting. Both were more than helpful in helping me learn how the scoring works and too was nice to be able to watch the techniques they used.

The first set of targets were standing only, one of my strong points of shooting being a hunter.

As we moved further down I could definitely see this was very challenging as some of the targets had obstacles such as branches and change in distance and elevation.

John shot mostly from the prone position while Annabel and I both preferred shooting sticks. The wind was blowing fairly erratically but in some cases would let up just long enough to make a shot.

John was a very experienced shooter and on a few of the courses made it look easy, very entertaining to watch. Annabel was just the sweetest girl, very smart and polite as well. I had the best time watching her as I felt excited seeing a kid her age having so much fun shooting airguns. She made some shots that were very impressive, and I even learned a few things without her even knowing she taught me.

Some of the targets were very hard to see.

I was having a great time even though I wasn’t doing so great, I did clean out a few lanes that put a smile on my face. Looked as though I was getting better, but still didn’t trust myself being comfortable with the gun. I was doing pretty good considering I had only practiced for 20 min before the match. Honestly I was having a great time just being outside and around so many that love airguns as much as myself. The coarse was as beautiful as a field target shooting range can get, cant imagine how pretty it is in Springtime.

Here is my friend Terry with his Marauder

We all finished our last set of targets and headed back to the clubhouse to eat,I was so hungry that I apparently had forgotten Motorheads shooting sticks somewhere. :(

My first field target match was absolutely one of the best things I have done for upgrading my hunting skills,I can only imagine how much better I will get with some more practice. The group of men and women I met here were some of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I will urge anyone who may be interested in trying Field Target to go to  http://www.slsba.org/  or  http://www.socasa.org/ for more information. Thanks to everyone and hope to see some of you again very soon. 8)

Enclosed are just a few of the photos I was able to get.