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Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
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Loaded or unloaded?

This is an interesting topic that I have dealt with recently.  You see alot of the hunting shows today where guys will not put a round in the chamber until they are ready to shoot.  However, when i grew up in Vermont, and learned gun safety, nothing was ever mentioned about that.  Nobody ever thought about doing that.  If you were in the woods, you were essentially ready to shoot.

I am wondering where this idea started.  Is it a west coast thing?  Maybe because the terrain allows you to see animals from a further distance, so you can safely rack a round in without being heard?  Is it only when hunting with others, like guides or partners, so that you don't have an A.D.?  I am supremely confident in where I point my weapon and where my finger is in relation to the trigger.  I can understand that if you are traversing terrain that might cause you to stumble, it might be a good thing to do.  But in my experience, a big game animal is not really going to wait around until you load your rifle.

I had it happen recently to me.  We were planning on SITTING for deer, not even walking, and I was told to not load a round till I saw a deer.  I laughed and told him I would indeed have a round in the chamber.  That's why there is a safety, and why I am taught proper gun handling.  I told him I wouldn't have one while hiking in, but once we stopped, I was going "hot".  We left it at that, and nothing more was said.

What do you guys think? 

SoCoKHntr's picture
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Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
Posts: 1776
Yes

CA, I have noticed that to on some hunting shows. Maybe due to it being a TV show their very conservative with the image of safety they project. I am like you as I always, when hunting, have a round chambered and the safety on. Also, like you said, if in really treacherous country it would be a good idea to take a round out of the chamber. Also, while on horseback I don't carry a live round in the chamber due to the higher probability of getting knocked around or bucked off and a round going off. But, again, while hunting on foot I'm locked and loaded albeit with the safety on and I am very conscience of always having my barrel pointed in a safe direction. Jacking a round in after spotting game will likely cause you to spook an animal before being able to shoot in my opinion. Upon reaching camp or the vehicle I immediately unload the chamber and keep it that way until hitting the hunting trail again.

Edit: I did want to add when hunting with newbies, namely youngsters I have taken, I will have them go unloaded in the chamber due to their lack of experience in gun handling and more of a likelyhood they can make a mistake with which a firearm can be fatal as we all know. My experienced hunting partners do as I do and I feel safe around them even when their hot (round in chamber) in the field.

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Location: Misouri
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I'm lock cocked and ready to

I'm lock cocked and ready to rock doc.

CVC
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Interesting question that got

Interesting question that got me thinking about what I actually do when in the field.  I had to think hard, but I think for me it depends.  Generally, I don't chamber a round until I am ready to shoot because where I hunt and how I hunt allows me the luxury of keeping the chamber empty.  Now, if I was walking through the woods stalking game, I think I'd have one chambered.  But hunting out west there isn't a need to chamber the round until you get into shooting distance.

Sure the safety is a good tool to prevent accidental discharge, but not having one in the chamber is just insurance.  I also hunt whitetail with a buddy.  We sit behind large round bales of hay over an area he baited.  There is no rush to shoot because the deer are calm and eating so again I can chamber the round when I am ready.  We are far enough, 100 yards, that they don't hear me chambering the round.

So, the short answer is it depends on where and how I am hunting.

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Location: NE NV
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In 90% of the hunting I do,

In 90% of the hunting I do, the gun is locked & loaded. Doesn't make a difference if I'm spot & stalk deer hunting in the high desert or still hunting elk in the timber.  there are times when the only goal is to get through whatever nasty country is in front of you without breaking your neck (cliffs, forest blow downs, etc.) where the chamber is emptied but is rechambered as soon as the obstacle is passed.  The empty chamber syndrome seems to be a creation of blind hunting and/or TV scripting. 

Put it this way.  There is alsolutely no way I'm going to be hunting chuckar without a shell in the chamber & I'm not talking about pen raised birds in a corn stubble field in Kansas but real birds in real cliffs in Nevada.  So why would I want to carry an unloaded rifle in the same habitat while hunting deer or antelope?  You can also bet that as soon as I leave the tent or the truck with my muzzleloader, I'm putting a cap on the nipple.

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
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My rifle, shotgun, pistole is

My rifle, shotgun, pistole is always ready for action and with the safty on.  Where I hunt you may only have a second to decide to shoot or not and the time it takes to rack in a round is time wasted.  As others have said then comes the safty factor.  When it comes time to cross a fence slide down a hill side or crawl over some rocks well then the action is opened and the round is removed, but once on stable footing again the round is rechaimbered.

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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I am actually surprised that

I am actually surprised that all of us keep it loaded.  There must just be too many people out here watching those shows, trying to act like the pros... lol

I would have thought it would be more lopsided the other way.

CVC
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Interesting question and

Interesting question and interesting responses.  The main thing is just to keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction and it really doesn't matter if loaded or not.

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The only time I am in the

The only time I am in the woods with an unloaded firearm is on my way to the duck blind.  My arms are full of decoys and the shotgun is on my back with the chamber locked open.  Other than that, I am loaded and locked.  Up here, you spot game within 25 yds to a max of 100yds and there just isn't time to chamber a round.  There is barely enough time to squeeze off a round as it is.

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I always have a round in the

I always have a round in the chamber while walking, but while walking in the dark before or after shooting time I am unloaded.  On my old rifle I wouls waut til I got to where I really wanted to start hunting before I loaded a round.  But with my newer guns they all have a 3 postion safety and I feel extra confindent in my saftey on my gun and my gun safety ability to walk around with it loaded.  Now if I were embark on some very rough rocky terrain I think I would walk unloaded, cause you knows what can happen on some rough terrain.  With that said I guess it could happen anytime for that matter.  But I feel if my the terrain I walking along has good footing I am confident in myself and ability.

Tyler Durden's picture
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Location: Kernersville, NC
Joined: 11/05/2010
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when I get out of the truck

when I get out of the truck and have all my gear set out, the last thing I do before I start my walk to the stand is load the gun and chamber a round. Safety on and practice safe gun handling on the walk. If I am easing into my spot and I walk up on a nice Buck, I am not sure I could chamber a round quietly enough to get the shot off in time.

Also, I don't carry a sidearm like some people around here. For me it's not always about being ready to take a shot at a deer or whatever. Now, granted the chances are rare, but if I run across a bear or something similar and I cannot make a decent exit, I am not going to try to load while I am running. lol. Like I said it would be rare, but chance favors the prepared. Just a thought.

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