Well after midnight last night, while I was in the basement working on yesterday’s blog post, I heard a noise outside that I did not recognize. Was it a car door closing? Someone driving up the driveway? I was not sure, but it came from that side of the house. This was not the cat or another noise I recognized; this was something unusual.
I tucked my Glock into my waistband, not even bothering with the holster or a spare mag. I grabbed the Mossberg Shockwave with the 1,000 lumen TL Racker and stuck my head and arm through the single-point sling. Not hearing any further noise, I took the time to jam my feet into a pair of shoes.
It was pitch black outside. No sign of light. That means the motion-detection lights on the house had not gone on, which I took as a good sign. There were also no headlights, and while you can drive without them, it is so darn dark out on a stormy night, that doing so risks running off the road or off the driveway, both of which have sharp drop-offs.
I cracked the door, noticing that there were no engine noises. I let the gun lead me out the door, pointed it down the driveway, and hit the pressure sensitive-switch. The 1,000 lumen LED lit up the driveway all the way down to the sharp turn.
There was nothing there. I swept the beam the other direction and caught the glowing eyes of a small creature. Wondering if it was a coyote, I was disappointed when it hopped off in a hurry. My beam of light had panicked a rabbit getting a midnight snack.
I went back inside, turned on the exterior lights, and then walked around the house, checking out the garden, the garage, under the deck, and everything else. All was quiet. I retired to the house and finished the blog post.
How the Light Fared
It was my first chance to deploy the Streamlight TL Racker in anything like a real-world scenario. I am pleased with the results of the fore end and its integrated light and switches, which I reviewed back in December. I had given it a review of 4.5 out of five pickles, and yesterday’s experience confirms it deserves at least that many.
The light was easy and intuitive to use. I never had to stop and think or fumble to turn it on. Just squeeze and you get an immediate beam of bright white light with a good width of throw. It was bright enough to see not only to the edge of the woods, but into the woods. While I would not be likely to use the Mossberg Shockwave at a target at the end of the driveway—it is just too far for buckshot unless the target was a vehicle size—there was more than enough available light to identify a target and engage it.
The Shockwave itself is lightweight and easy to use. I could navigate up the stairs, out the door and off the porch more easily with it than I could have with a full-size shotgun. If I know I am going to be under attack, then I’m getting out the 8+1 semi-auto I used to shoot in three-gun matches, but for scouting a bum p in the night, I think the Shockwave is a nice compromise between power and size/maneuverability. It is the shotgun equivalent of an AR15 pistol.
Was it a Bear?
It turns out the noise was a pallet being blown over by a big gust of wind. I stack my firewood on pallets, and after we burn all the wood in one woodpile, I tip the pallets up on their end to get them off the ground and minimize rotting. The wind last night was strong enough that it blew a pallet over, and it clattered around as it fell.
This experience raises the question of where a shotgun will be the ideal weapon once the chicken coop is populated. If we see predation out there from small critters like possums, raccoons, foxes, or skunks, all of which will gleefully help themselves to a chicken or an egg, a small lightweight rifle might be the thing. I don’t have a flashlight mounted on a .22LR, but I could set one up. I have a flashlight mounted on a 5.56, but that might be overkill. On the other hand, it’s a perfect gun perfect for coyotes.
A friend who raises chickens puts solar-powered motion-detection lights near her coop. That might eliminate the need for a rifle-mounted light.
Will a black bear try to visit the bee hive or the chicken coop? If so, will the woven wire and the electric fence keep him out? Time will tell, I guess. In the meantime, I better research how this state feels about killing predators that threaten your stock. I’ve lived in states that allow it, and I’ve lived in some that have restrictions. I have no desire to kill a bear out of season, but if it becomes a nuisance bear that doesn’t learn, there may be no other alternative. For that, I would prefer a 30 caliber rifle.
This is a learning year. We’ll see what happens.