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Jim Niemiec's Blog

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Junior waterfowl hunts and turkey tune-up
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
42nd SHOT Show opens with 2,600 exhibitors

When things go bad in blind
Finally new flocks of teal, sprig, spoonies, gadwall and Canada geese are now winging through this portion of the Pacific flyway, offering up pretty good gunning for those hunting refuge hunt sites, those shooting out of above ground blinds and shotgunners coming up out of covered goose blinds.

This WON hunting editor just has to pass on what took place this last week on a couple of waterfowl hunts. New flocks of puddle ducks arrived in the more than half flooded Prado Basin providing some pretty good shooting for those in dry blinds and hunting out of boats. This hunter drew a pretty good blind selection at a club owned and operated by the Riverside County Flyway Foundation and prior to shoot time, lots of puddle ducks were working over ponds and landing among decoys. All showed promise of a good duck shoot.

WHEN THE BENELLI M2 SHOT JUST FINE — WON hunting editor Jim Niemiec bagged this limit of ducks while hunting in Prado Basin with his yellow Lab Sierra. His Benelli M2 performed flawlessly, but since has had two problems with the firing pin inertia spring that has cut a couple of duck hunt short. JIM NIEMIEC FILE PHOTO

The first duck this hunter shot was a green winged teal and my yellow Lab Sierra did a good job at retrieving it and I only fired one round out my Benelli M2 auto-loader. I grabbed another Federal Black Cloud #3 shotgun shell and filled up the magazine to be prepared for the next flock of birds that will hopefully wing within shotgun range.

A flock of sprig began circling the blind and after three circles one bull sprig cupped and started to settle down into the decoy spread in front of the blind. It was at about 25 yards and I came up with the Benelli shouldered with the front bead on the nose of that sprig and pulled the trigger…click! Hoping it was just a slight malfunction, I reloaded and got ready for the next group of ducks to cross over the blind. Again, all was set to make a killing shot, but nothing happened when I pulled the trigger. Thus, ending my morning’s hunt.

Plans had already been made to head over after that morning’s duck hunt and do a season closing Canada goose hunt at the Cibola Sportsman’s Club South Ranch. I was out of the blind by 6:30AM, with just that single green winged teal and was hopeful of borrowing a shotgun from a fellow hunter to avoid having to make the drive back home in traffic and then make the 4 hour drive down to Cibola. One hunter I asked had only a 16 g. side-by-side with no goose loads and a second hunter had his prized Winchester Model 12 that wasn’t up to loaning either.

Arriving at South Ranch, too late for the evening hunt, I went to work on getting my 50-year-old Remington Model 870 cleaned and ready for action the following morning. I had “officially” retired the old 870 with its F-grade walnut stock and fore-end, but felt it was worthy of another Cibola Valley goose hunt.

Canada geese numbers in Cibola Valley are very high this year, but they have become pretty decoy shy. South Ranch guide Bob “Budda” Fields said that each day offered up a shot at decoying honkers.

In anticipation of shooting a couple of mallards before the geese started moving up the valley, I loaded the old 870 with Black Cloud #2’s and would later switch out triple BB’s when geese began to fly.

I then made my biggest mistake of this year’s hunting. Switching out the duck loads, my first round was a heavy load of Federal Premium BB’s, backed up with T shot. A lone honker made the mistake of locking in on the South Ranch decoy spread and fully committed to the spread of decoys behind my blind. I waited; Sierra sat still. At 25 yards I got up, shouldered the 870 and missed that bird! I think the pattern out of that old full choke barrel was a tad too tight for such a close shot. The second round, from the slower recycling pump, hit the goose in the belly and that shot dropped both feet of that big honker, but it continued to wobble off towards the closed portion of the federal refuge. I have no idea where the third shot went, but it likely missed its target. Unfortunately, that goose likely ended up being dinner for a coyote or flock of vultures, as there is no way that honker would be able to fly again once it was on the ground.

This was the second time that Benelli M2 had a firing pin malfunction. It was just as couple of seasons back when the same scenario occurred at a prime southland duck club. It was a morning similar to this past week’s hunt when there were flocks of puddle ducks working ponded water. After the first shot, the Benelli wouldn’t fire again, and I walked out of that blind with a single bird, as other hunters were well on their way to limits.

After that hunt, I took that M2 into Bolsa Gunsmithing, 714-894-9100, for repairs to the firing pin mechanism, including a replacement spring and it had performed perfectly up until this past week’s hunt.

Time to call Bolsa Gunsmithing.

Co-owner of Bolsa Gunsmithing Jason Nash, answered the phone and after talking about the firearm repair business and family updates, I told him about the problem with my Benelli.

“Jim, didn’t we just fix that firing pin problem a couple of years ago?”, asked Nash.

My answer was, “Yes, and it has shot just fine until this last hunt. Is there any problem with the firing mechanism of the Benelli M2?”

Nash’s response was, “We have a lot of customers who shoot competitively all the time. Those that shoot a Benelli bring their shotgun into our gun shop every year to have the inertia spring replaced. It’s just a matter of whether you close the bolt or not that puts pressure on the spring and as a result the system will not allow that shotgun to fire safely. While I am not sure it’s a failure of the spring, it’s a good place to start. Bring the shotgun in to the shop and we’ll check it out for you. This spring issue is just not a problem with Benelli auto-loader shotguns, we often find the same spring related problem with Beretta’s.

Hopefully, I will be able to get over to Bolsa Gunsmithing to have the spring replaced and firing mechanism checked out before the waterfowl season ends, but I am not going to change the barrel of that old Remington 870 that is NOW fitted with a modified choke barrel.

• • • • •

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