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You Want Me in a Coffin?
October 2015

Honestly, I never imagined myself at 4:00 am one chilly October morning participating in my first snow goose hunt. It’s amazing how grown men take on a child-like enthusiasm when literally thousands of geese arrive in the area. This excitement was contagious enough for me to agree to this early morning adventure. What can I say……….it wasn’t on my bucket list but it can certainly be considered an adventure by the majority of the population who have not experienced this kind of hunt.

Some of you reading know the scenario: dressed in stylish camo (my favorite detail), duck blinds, tons of decoys, guns and ammo, thermos’ of coffee/tea, flashlights, camo cloth and we are good to go.

Luckily our friend had marked the field where the geese had landed the night before and using GPS and headlights found the white plastic markers after a bit of a mystery and searching. Actually, as the guys were out walking the field with flashlights, I reset the GPS and found it showing the marker to the right rear of the truck. I called out to Will and he found he was almost standing on it! No wonder we couldn’t see it at first. Mystery solved.

I took direction from our host and helped unload the truck as we piled our gear into the glow of the headlights. I felt like a secret agent on a night-time mission. Once everything was unloaded, we proceeded to set the blinds in place. Coffin blinds are a new phenomenon to me and I was amazed at how well they blend into the landscape once we covered them with straw and local grasses. So they look great, but I was worried about how I would coordinate myself throughout the hunt. Could I surmise if the guys can coordinate themselves that I could as well?

Next I helped place wind-sock style decoys into a hook or u-shape pattern to the front of the blind which will entice the birds to land in front of us. The decoys were predominantly feeders with their heads down which gives the incoming birds a sense of security and safety. The blinds are facing in the opposite direction of the wind as the birds will circle and land into the wind directly in front if all goes well.

There is a faint glow of light on the horizon and I begin to take in our surroundings. Flat fields with a few rises and water in the distance. The fields have stubble and left over grain which attracts the birds and explains why it is such a perfect spot. We enjoy a quick cup of coffee and survey our setup. A few minor alterations in placement, the decoys look great and our work is complete. After moving the truck a good distance away we take up our places in readiness.

I’m starting to get excited now as the light increases and I can faintly hear birds miles away. That is our cue to get into the blinds and the calls are started. Snow geese can be called using recorded sounds which create a haunting effect in the early light.

As I lay in my blind listening to the eerily relaxing call of the snow geese recording, with my right hand excitedly gripping my shotgun, I hear the birds coming closer and closer. Our host is giving a ‘play-by-play’ of approaching birds, heights, and direction so that we can be prepared when he gives the okay to ‘take them’. I can now see the birds through the top of my blind and the noise level is amazing from so many birds circling above. My heart is racing as I wait for the moment…………..’TAKE THEM’
Well, in the movie version of this next scene I elegantly and quickly push open my blind to the sunrise, sit up and raise my beautiful 12 ga side-by-side to my shoulder and down the goose positioned in front of my blind. Have you visualized this perfect scene in your head? Good, keep it there because that is not quite what happened.
My adrenaline was flowing and I pushed open the two sides of the blind and proceeded to get my foot caught on something so I couldn’t sit up straight. I did shoulder my gun (after everyone else was shooting) and shot at a goose. It happily kept flying as did all the others I shot at first thing that morning.

Several other waves of birds were landing around us but I was unable to get a good shot. Suddenly I heard someone yell ‘Donna, right in front….take it!’ It was magical how quickly the small group of geese had approached. As I bolted upright and took a shot it seemed like slow motion watching my goose receive the hit. But wait, nothing happened, did I miss? A moment later there was shot to my right. As I was still watching my goose, it folded up and started coming down hard. Darn, I thought I had that one but at least the second shot got it. The bird was coming down fast and looked as if it would land right in front. A loud yell from my right made me turn and I saw the bird land directly in my husband’s blind. The joke for the rest of the day was ‘Are you sure she likes you?’

During the lull that followed, we talked about my husband’s close call and the goose that our friend got to the right and behind him. So it was great news that the delayed reaction goose fell to my shot after all.

As with anything new, it takes a bit of practice and I am happy to say that I mastered the sticky coffin blind that day and shot my first snow goose. We did the same type of hunt for two additional days, so I’m adding the ‘coffin hunt’ to my list of adventures.

Happy Hunting!
Donna


Crash Test Dummy…..
Donna's Musings, Ugartechea
Jan 25 2012

There are a lot of accomplished woman shooter’s in Canada, and I’m not one of them. Having said that, I have first-hand experience of the many challenges that may occur when learning to shoot a shotgun or rifle.

I’ve already mentioned the fun you can have putting together a functional set of clothing for hunting “Have You Met the Michelin Woman“. Once you have the wardrobe, the next important item is your gun. The ideal gun would be of proper fit and gauge, with cartridges loaded to suit the type of shooting and ability. Of course, this is not always possible.

Long before I went hunting, I was invited to shoot some clay targets with another couple. Our friend’s wife was considering the sport, and would monitor my progress on this fine, sunny day. So as the crash test dummy, I set out with confidence, convinced I would leave an impression.

Everyone arrived and we set up the clay target thrower. Several different shotguns in various gauges were laid out and I was shown the appropriate cartridges for each gauge. The guys explained how the clay thrower operated and told me the safety rules we would follow for the day. I had been given a well-fitting shooting vest and gloves to wear, along with an additional shoulder pad to cushion any recoil. They handed me a shotgun and told me it was my turn. I was ready………..
Excited and with a rapt audience, I stepped self-consciously into shooting position and said ‘ready’ as I’d been instructed. Nothing happened. I looked over and realized my husband was still waiting for my command.

Sheepishly, and with less confidence, I stepped into position again and said ‘READY‘. The clays flew through the air and were almost on the ground before I took my first shot. In my haste, I had not shouldered the gun properly and experienced a very bad recoil on my shoulder. The guys said the gun ‘bit’ me, however I’m convinced it attacked me. Either way, I was in pain, embarrassed, disappointed and quite convinced I would cry. I had failed as a test dummy and I’m sure this is why our friend’s wife never did take up shooting.

This is what I learned that day……Avoid giving a new shooter a 12 gauge unless they are strong as a tree trunk. A lighter gauge (28 ga), with a light load will give less recoil, allowing more success which builds confidence. Next, a first-time shooter is invariably using a borrowed gun so do your best to provide one that has an appropriate length of stock. If the fit is too long, it will impede how they ‘shoulder’ the gun which can add discomfort. Thirdly, give some basic instruction on stance and elbow position. Teach them to shoot with the gun already on the shoulder until they become used to the recoil. This allows a quicker response as they become adjusted. And last, but most important…………as the teacher, you must always miss at least a few shots.

Some time after this experience, I purchased a Model 257 28ga, from the Spanish manufacturer, Ugartechea. A side-by-side shotgun with a custom stock to my measurements. I have found this gun to be easy to shoot with minimal recoil. This allows me to completely relax, enjoy the process and concentrate on technique. Overall, I’ve achieved better success with clay targets and bird hunting as a result.

In fact, in the fall of 2011 I shot my first Canada goose with this 28 ga and a #6 bismuth load. As my confidence as grown, so has the gauge of my shotgun as I now own and am comfortable shooting a custom fitted 20 ga.

A good fitting shotgun is not mandatory but it will help make you a better shot, because it will offer more comfort and ease in developing proper technique.
And remember, crash test dummies always leave an impression!

Donna
Bilozir Fine Guns


Alberta couple Canadian importers of fine guns

Yorkton News - March 3, 2011, www.yorktonnews.com
article by Alex Morgotch

 - CANADIAN IMPORTERS OF FINE FIREARMS, Will and Donna Bilozir were first time exhibitors at the 32 annual Yorkton Gun and Collectibles Show at the Gallagher Centre Agripavilion over the weekend. - First time exhibitors at the 2011 Yorkton Gun and Collectibles Show, Will and Donna Bilozir from De Winton, Alberta offered partrons fine firearms, shotguns, hunting clothes and reloading supplies from Italy and Spain.

The rifles and shotguns from Europe come from several manufacturers, some of whom have been in business for centuries, producing fine custom firearms. The flagship lines are Fair or Isidoro Rizzini from Italy and Ignacio Ugartechea out of Spain. “We handle double rifles, singles shot rifles and combination guns which is a shotgun and a rifle in the same piece,” Bilozir reports. He finds the over/under shotguns and the finely engraved side-by-side guns from Ugartechea, Aya and some of the others tend to be favored by customers.

The very finely crafted firearms are used both for hunting and trap shooting.

Donna Bilozir points out that all guages right from 410 guage to 12 guage are available as well as a special Ugartechea run of 10 guages. The company made ten 10 guage guns and won’t be making any more, making the guns somewhat rare and therefore quite valuable.

The double rifles come in over/under Fair (Isadoro Rizzioni) models or they come in side-by-side models through Sabatti, one of the old world Italian makers, Donna Bilozir elaborates.

The Bilozirs are exclusive Canadian importers for some of the brands they carry. They have recently become western representatives for Davide Pedersoli black powder firearms, Donna points out.

The key thing they’ve found is most people have a lot of difficulty finding really high end guns. “They’re not going to appear in the big box sporting goods stores,” Bilozir notes. When somebody wants to get themselves something very nice, they can supply it, he adds.

They also fulfill a personalized service as every one of the makers they carry will offer a custom stock with either a rough and ready three measurement, drop at heel, drop at comb, and length of pull or custom, more specific measurement, depending on a client’s preference. As a result customer will get a fairly decent fit, says Donna.

The couple are the only remaining supplier in Canada importing Bal-listic Products reloading supplies for shotguns out of the U.S. “As a result if somebody wants to load any kind of ammunition for a shotgun we’ll be able to help them,” says Bilozir. Wads, hulls and reloading presses can be ordered and sent through the mail. The only things that can’t be mailed are powders and primers. “Therefore if they’re at a show, they better buy them then because we can’t really ship them,” Bilozir states.

In addition to firearms and clothing, the couple offers reloading supplies through a mail order business across Canada. Anyone interested in their products can contact Will and Donna Bilozir, 785000 Alberta Limited, Box 22, Site 11, R.R. #1, De Winton, Alberta, T0L0X0 or telephone 403-938-6066. More information is available online at www.bilozir.net.

As importers, the Bilozirs have a number of dealers handling these lines across the country. They’re always interested into talking to prospective new dealers. “We’re happy to go into a discussion with somebody who wants to handle these. That makes our travel time a lot less if we’ve got a representative in an area,” says Donna. Anyone interested in becoming a dealer for these products should contact Will and Donna Bilozir at the address or number listed above.

The couple typically travels to 23 gun shows across western Canada ranging from Brandon west. Peers from other gun shows told them Yorkton offers a good gun show which drew them to the city this year. “We’re 950 km from those doors (Agripavilion doors) to our fuel tanks,” Will quips.

Both are very pleased with the show and the turnout at their first show in Yorkton.


Donna

I was born a city girl, lived the life of a city girl, then somehow in my early 50's ended up living on a ranch. With a background in contracts, non-profit management, banking, corporate travel and alternative healing, managing a firearms import business and shotgun reloading supply business with my husband is truly an amazing journey. We have some animals that seem to hang around on our natural farm - cows, horses, donkey, dog. We grow some hay and green feed and enjoy some very beautiful scenery on our piece of heaven east of Okotoks on the Highwood River. Although I was 'around' hunting and shooting most of my adult life, it was not until five years ago that I began to participate and enjoy the many benefits of hunting, such as exercise, great company, good food, no phones and the scenery you could never imagine from the road. I'm happy to share my musings about what I learn and experience as a woman in this industry. Happy Hunting, Donna


How Much Wood Does a Woodchuk Chuk?
Contributors, Donna's Musings, Hunting, Manufacturers, Ugartechea
Jun 212012

It was a foggy, gray day in March when I first met Chukar. A lightly snow-covered, remote, valley provided the perfect backdrop for these small birds and a temperature of 3° allowed both humans and dog a comfortable day for hunting. The sun would have been nice, but let’s not quibble.

Over the past few years, I have heard various birds referred to by nicknames or shortened versions of the proper name, such as ‘Huns’ to describe Hungarian partridge. So when I was invited to hunt ‘Chukars’, I assumed this was a variation of the proper name…………..surprise.

The Chukar Partridge or Chukar (Alectoris chukar) is a native of southern Eurasia. The Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada. Some feral populations have established themselves in parts of North America. This species’ common name was derived from its noisy song, which ends in chuKAR chuKAR. I guess they don’t Chuck after all.

This bird is quite pretty with well marked black and white bars on the flanks and a black band running from the forehead, across the eye and running down the head to form a necklace that encloses a white throat and cheeks.

Yesterday, I had the privilege to hunt with my husband and friend at a private bird club in Alberta. We arrived just before nine am, and went to the lodge to sign in while the handlers released the birds. We donned our beautiful orange vests and hats and drove out to our starting point. Note to self – next time take my own orange hunting vest as the size XL I was wearing provided loads of room for shells, birds and other paraphernalia, but was comically cumbersome.

Our guide and dog handler directed us to the correct area where we began to comb the area walking in a line following the pointing and flushing dog. The black lab was excited and effective as she covered the broad expanse between us while moving forward. It was wonderful to have her point and wait for the command to flush the bird when we were all in range.

Due to the time of year, mild temperatures and snow cover the birds were having more difficulty flying with wet feathers. They would flush and fly but not as fast or far as in drier weather. This allowed lots of time to shoot, except when they decided to fly straight at our heads.

In this case, I was instructed to allow them to fly over (or duck) and then shoot as they moved away which proved very successful with my 28 ga Ugartecha sidelock.

As we hunted the edge of a body of water, one bird was hit and decided to head out over the frozen pond where he landed. This resilient fellow skated 200 yards across and continued down the far side for quite a distance. We had to stop and watch as this determined bird attempted many a fine figure skating maneuver on his journey. Alas, he ended up deep within a muskrat hole where the dog couldn’t retrieve.

Back at the lodge we enjoyed our lunch and drinks after an invigorating morning chasing Chukars. Below are a few links I found online discussing various aspects of hunting Chukars.

Happy Hunting
Donna Bilozir
Bilozir Fine Guns


Visiting an Italian Gun Maker – F.A.I.R. (Fabbrica Armi Isidoro Rizzini)
FAIR, Interests, Manufacturers Add comments
Feb 112012

If only I had a sports car with the top down……….imagine driving along a secondary highway on a sunny day in Northern Italy. On either side of the fairly narrow valley, lush green mountainsides loom above with ancient stone churches and houses perched on impossibly steep slopes. This is Val Trompia, famous home of many Italian gun manufacturers.

It was a very educational experience to tour nine gun factories in Italy and Spain. Late May 2011 found my husband and I in Marcheno, Italy, a smaller town in Italy north of Brescia. This was our second visit to the F.A.I.R. offices, having first visited in 2008. F.A.I.R. has been producing fine shotguns and rifles since 1971, having just celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2011. They produce a top quality, affordable line of over under shotguns as well as an impressive double over under rifle. Their single shot rifle, combination guns and trap/skeet models have also been extremely popular since we began exclusively importing F.A.I.R into Canada in 2007.

The factory is nestled at the base of the mountain near the Mella River which runs the length of the valley. On our last visit it was sunny and hot, however this day offered a marked contrast producing a violent hail storm. The factory is managed by Luca Rizzini, the son of the founder Isidoro Rizzini, along with his charming and efficient assistant, Moira. The responsiveness to our queries and orders along with the consistent and timely production and shipment of product has made working with F.A.I.R a very enjoyable relationship.

Custom stocks are made available for the reasonable cost of approximately $100 Canadian through the use of CNC technology. The operator sets up the machine using the measurements we provide (drop at heel, drop at comb and length of pull) and the basic stock is created by the machine. Of course, meticulous hand fitting and finishing is necessary to produce the finished piece. The machining and finishing of the inside of the receiver is noteworthy and adds to the appeal of these affordable, quality guns.
Deep in the factory you will find their 50 meter shooting tunnel where they test fire guns, in particular used for regulating the beautiful double-rifles. One of the most exciting parts of the tour was to watch the rifle regulator regulate the barrels of a double rifle. Using cameras and monitor he places the rifle in a rifle vise, fires both barrels, reviews on the monitor, adjust, shoots, reviews, and adjusts until both barrels are shooting a maximum of 50 mm apart at 50m. Often regulation is to 30mm, which is quite remarkable since the barrels start at about 15mm apart. This entire process takes about 30 minutes, and the quick, skilled, (and patented) adjustments of the barrels are extraordinary.

This enclosed area allowed us to enjoy the smell of smokeless powder and appreciate how loud a rifle can be (yes, that’s while wearing appropriate hearing protection). The attention to detail that is required to produce consistent results is obvious, and it was fascinating to watch these experienced people at work.

Of course, no visit would be complete without sampling some very fine food and wine but beware of the ‘cover charge’ at restaurants. We had our most expensive meal at Lake Garda where it was 10 EU each just to sit at the table. But we did have a nice view of Italian Mallards!

F.A.I.R. will be announcing some new models at the I.W.A. show in Nuremburg this March, so stay tuned for some very exciting developments.

Happy Hunting
Donna Bilozir
Bilozir Fine Guns


Regina Winter Gun Show – Jan 7 & 8th, 2012
Announcements, Gun Shows
Jan 042012

Come visit us at the Regina Gun, Knife and Militaria Show this weekend. It will be our first visit to this show with our Italian and Spanish guns and shotgun reloading supplies.

This annual show is organized by the Saskatchewan Gun Collector’s Association (S.G.C.A). We understand this is a fairly large show with a wide variety of vendors, and is well attended.

Where: Evraz Turvey Centre, West on Armour Road from Highway 6 N of Regina
Saturday – 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday – 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Donna Bilozir
Bilozir Fine Guns


Have you met the Michelin woman – I have nothing to wear!
Donna's Musings, Interests
Jan 032012

‘Sure, I’ll go duck hunting!’ This was the excited response to my husband’s first invitation to go hunting. After a few days of constant questioning of the five W’s … who, what, where, when and why, I began to feel unprepared.

I discovered that the hunting party would consist of myself and two very experienced hunters, of which I’m not. It would take place after a day of work and would involve walking through water, tall grass and reeds, plus the weather would most likely be quite cool. We would be standing or sitting for long periods of time.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized I had nothing to wear for these conditions. My husband’s response was “It’s no problem, we’ll find something around here for you to wear”. Famous last words. Yes, I did own a pair of ancient Goodyear hip waders that I’d purchased for $5 from an equally ancient gentleman at a garage sale. And yes, I did own long underwear, sweaters, gloves and other paraphernalia. But little did I realize that on the day of the big event I’d look and feel like the female version of the Michelin man, loaded down with gun, chair, cartridge belt, duck call and camo net over a borrowed jacket.

Within minutes of arriving at the slough we were immersed hip deep in water and suddenly, without notice, the guys were shooting. I was startled as I struggled to balance and not drop my gun. I quickly decided that even though I looked really ‘hot’ in my new outfit, it wasn’t going to work for me.

So began the journey of discovery into the wonderful world of women’s hunt wear. At first, I thought it didn’t exist, but eventually I found a few brave manufacturers venturing into uncharted territory. My criteria for acceptable outdoor clothing were comfort, fit and function. The balloon-shaped bomber jacket that I chose for my first hunt offered broad shoulders and did not cover my hips for warmth. The long underwear and heavy pants provided warmth but were too restricting and uncomfortable. Happily, I found Prois Huntwear which has the Xtreme jacket and pants which are windproof, waterproof and lightweight with 150 Thinsulate.

Years later, the list of manufacturers has grown and changed, with only two companies specifically targeting women. Both of these lines offer good quality, design and sizes, while several other sites offer some pieces of women’s hunt wear. (See below).

There were also several comic attempts to find men’s waders that offered my foot size, fit over my hips and allowed me to bend at the waist before we realized I would never fit into these weirdly shaped items. A dedicated search resulted in the joyous purchase of women’s Redington chest waders that curve in all the right places.

So you ask what happened to the stylish Goodyear waders. They hang proudly in our mud room and are used to this day for visiting hunters.

Whether you hunt with a gun or a camera or simply tag along for the experience, remember that proper clothing can remove discomfort and allow you to focus on your time in the outdoors. If you are an avid outdoors woman, or just thinking about going out, take advantage of the women’s outdoor products available. You can enjoy beautiful scenery, sunrises or sunsets, animals and great companionship that would otherwise not be experienced. Happy Hunting, Donna.

Listed below are some links to women’s camouflage and waders.
Women’s Camouflage Hunt Wear
Prois SHE Outdoor Apparel
Includes Women’s Camouflage
Gamehide SHEHUNTS Rocky Mountain Boots Browning
King’s Outdoor World Yukon Gear
Waders
Redington Caddis Systems Patagonia SIMMS BARE Fishing

Donna
ALWAYS SHOOT STRAIGHT

 

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