House On The Vary # 022: Firearms on the homestead

Welcome to our recurring “Home on the Range” series. Here we would like to share all of our experiences with those who live in the countryside, live in the countryside, hunt, farm, raise cattle and really invest in nature and the great outdoors. The ability to care for yourself and your family can be hugely rewarding and sometimes difficult at the same time. So in Home on the Range, we’d like to share our various exploits so that you can learn and hopefully receive your feedback.

Ironing on the range

Wherever your homestead is and whatever your main pest – be it bipedal, four-legged, sliding, or winged – firearms can be an extremely useful and indispensable tool, just like the rest of your farm implements. However, like the rest of your equipment, improperly used or handled firearms can be deadly or harmful in the worst possible way. Proper use, respect, and care must be both learned and taught to all who help maintain your homestead with you. Let’s take a look at some of the basics today, and I’ll share some of my top gun choices on our homestead.

FN SCAR17S and Glock G20

Homestead – safety first!

I recommend anyone who may be new to rural life or who carries a firearm every day learn as much as possible about how to safely carry, manipulate and trigger their firearm. Of course it is fundamental, but if you, your loved ones, and perhaps your servants, observe the four basic rules of gun safety at all times, you will prevent an accident from happening with a firearm.

  1. Always treat all firearms as if they were loaded
  2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  4. Always be sure of your goal and what lies behind it

Trust me, treating a gunshot wound (if treatable) is not a way to spend the day, especially in a remote rural setting. Stray rounds that crash overhead are also a sure start to an agonizing confrontation. Don’t be that person.

Carrying methods

My environment consists of a dairy farm under pivot. Open lines of sight on my property range from 500 yards to 2 miles. My biggest daily concern is rattlesnakes, and frankly my biggest “carrying tool” for this problem is a shovel that I never walk around without. I usually always have a pistol on my belt to clear out minor nuisances and either a shotgun or rifle slung around my head or close by. The shotgun allows me to harvest highland game or waterfowl at the appropriate times of the year, and to fight rattlesnakes at a greater distance than the shovel. The rifle (usually a SCAR 17S) allows me to solve any problems that may arise up to 1,200 meters away and also gives me the ability to catch big game if I’m really lucky on a “work day” during the hunting season .

The Beretta 1301 Tactical series makes a good snake shotgun at hand

Ammunition selection

For someone who uses firearms as a tool on their farm or ranch, the correct answer to “which ammunition is best” is “a wide variety”. Snake / Ratshot have their place and can be incredibly useful in cleaning up barn pests. Having a large selection of shotgun ammunition on hand at all times is extremely useful, especially if you might see snakes, ducks, geese, and chukars on the same day. I find that color-coded shotgun cards (stiff nylon shotshell carriers) can be of great help in quickly getting the right ammo on hand for the game at hand. Because my ranges are long and I also have the ability to deal with major animal problems, I tend to choose strong, deep penetrating ammunition for my handgun and rifle.

This relatively lightweight POF .308 would make a good general purpose ranch rifle for general use

About rule # 4 …

Having your own place to take photos is one of the many charms of owning rural land. Make sure you build a permanent, impenetrable, fireproof backstop behind your target area. Make sure the ricochet potential is minimized for both the shooter and your surroundings. Also make sure that the backstop is an appropriate height. Your neighbor won’t be delighted if his pivot irrigation system has a few new spray holes the next morning or if he hears grenades popping over his heads while he tries to work. The same goes for broken clay, spent shot, and plastic wads that fall on their side of the fence line. Speaking of neighbors, they are good to get to know and if you are going to hunt on your land, make an arrangement in which you can at least rescue one animal that will run on their land and die there.

This old Marlin in .44 Magnum managed to get some wild boar off other people’s ranches.

Prepare for the dark

If your property is rural, it will likely be extremely dark when you are out and about on your property. While a rifle equipped with an IR laser in combination with good night vision is the ultimate for quick and precise aiming and the use of a firearm at night, a good flashlight on the weapon is a must for every functioning long weapon. Not only does this light need to be bright, it needs to be positioned so as to minimize shadow from the barrel of the weapon, and it needs to be easy to manipulate control of the light quickly. If you only want to have one pistol with you, make sure that some type of light is either mounted on the handgun or can be used in conjunction with your pistol. Especially in these hot summer months, snakes are still an issue at night.

If the focus is on protecting herds at night, you are well served with a configuration like this …… or this one. Nothing beats thermal or IR lasers for quick targeting in low / no light.

Farewell shots

When viewed properly, firearms can be an indispensable and useful tool, just like everything else on the homestead. With proper education, respect, and maintenance, consider them to be like the rest of your precious farm implements and they will be a useful facet of your homestead life.

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