October 05 2021 – Kara Schott
Most practical hunting accessories fall into a few different camps. You have decoys and calls, clothing and footwear, among other generally camouflaged accessories, scent control, game cameras and optics, and then a series of shooting accessories.
If you can tack it onto your shotgun or rifle platform, it counts as a shooting accessory. Bipods and rests add stability for rifle shooters who have to take long shots that reach out past 300 yards or even longer. High-power, low-light optics, similarly, make those long shots possible. Tighter choke tubes make it possible for scattergunners (with good practice on plenty of clays) to reach gamebirds that are out past 40 yards. You get the picture.
Another practical shooting accessory is a brass catcher, but it’s probably not at the top of most hunters’ wish lists. Realistically, it’s probably absent from most of them. Anyone shooting a bolt-rifle or a pump-shotgun doesn’t need one, and there aren’t many specific instances in which shooters will actually choose a sporting rifle for pursuing game.
Nonetheless, there are some situations in which a brass catcher actually can be a valuable hunting accessory.
The Sporting Rifle as an Implement of the Chase
Some states outright forbid the use of sporting rifles for hunting. Pennsylvania, for example, disallows the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting, which has resulted in Pennsylvania being one of the only states where pump-action repeating rifles are fairly popular.
That being said, there are many states where they are legal and it actually makes sense to pursue some games with semi-automatic sporting rifles.
For example, night hunters in the south often chase feral hogs and other porcine game. These are wily animals that can close a distance quickly and have the propensity to be aggressive, even when they are not wounded. Some hunters choose sporting rifles not only because they can be expanded with tactical lights and low-light optics, but because they allow for rapid follow-up shots that are sometimes necessary to dispatch game.
The one downside to chasing game like this with a sporting rifle is that it’s effectively impossible to recover spent casings, especially in the dark. Let’s be honest, though. In close country, it’s nearly impossible to recover spent brass even during the day. A brass catcher like our Brass Goat can help with that.
The Ultimate in Adherence to the “Carry In, Carry Out” Philosophy
If you spend any appreciable amount of time outside, it’s a certainty that you’ve heard the “carry in, carry out” philosophy espoused. It means you should take in only what you need and remove every trace that you were there. Many outdoorsmen follow this principle.
Most conscientious hunters retrieve their spent shells and carry them out, when it is possible, if only for the fact that leaving them behind gives some hunters the bad rap of being “slob hunters.” No one wants that.
A brass catcher like our brass goat is easy to attach and holds plenty of spent casings (up to 30 rounds of .223 in its detachable hopper), eliminating you from playing the hunter twice - once for your quarry, and the second time for all that spent brass laying in the brush.
Better for the Environment
It’s no secret that hunting impacts the environment, which is the reason that state and federal bureaus regulate it so intensively. This is one of the reasons that non-toxic shot became mandatory for migratory bird hunters back in 1992.
Obviously lead is toxic, but how worried should we really be about brass? Well, in this case (no pun intended), it’s not so much about the brass itself. Brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, is actually relatively stable and resistant to corrosion.
However, many game loads are manufactured with lead, and lead residue remains behind on the surface of and inside brass casings. Fouling also remains behind from both the propellant charge and the primer. The safest ecological option is to follow the “carry in, carry out” principle mentioned above.
Of course, that’s far easier said than done when chasing game through dense thickets, at night, with a semi-automatic rifle. Sometimes it seems like those casings are flying out of the ejection port as fast as the bullets leave the muzzle, never to be seen again.
A brass catcher can help you contain them all so they don’t end up somewhere hidden in the brush where you’ll never be able to find them.
Brambles and Briars and Shoots, Oh My!
The one thing that may have kept shooters from adopting brass catchers as part and parcel of their hunting gear is the fact that some designs are simply impractical for hunting. Take the classic brass trap, for instance, which is made of a mesh bag held rigid by a wire frame that covers the ejection port and prevents hot brass from escaping.
These classic brass catchers attach typically to a pic rail section of the rifle’s quad rail and boast that they are made of heat-resistant mesh. Heat resistant or not, the mesh is decidedly a design flaw.
Anyone who has spent more than a nominal amount of time traipsing through the brush can tell you that loose odds and ends of textiles just won’t jive with thorns, brambles, briars, sedges, and other vegetation. Zipper pulls, boot laces, and even loose cuffs will get snagged and torn to bits by twigs and thorns. Low profile is the way to go - preferably low profile and sleek.
A mesh brass catcher is nothing but a velcro-magnet for the brush; luckily, our Brass Goat, which is made from molded ABS resin, is utterly impervious to these. It will not hang up on thorns or brambles and there are no meshes or loop webbings to get caught - it will slip silently through the brush, solving headaches instead of causing them.
Semi-Auto Shooters, Sign up Here
In the sense that a brass catcher will help you corral all your spent casings and bring them out of the brush with you, it can be a very valuable hunting accessory if you hunt with a modern semi-automatic rifle. Given the fact that our Brass Goat is better equipped to deal with thorns and other environmental adversities of the field, it’s an even more practical hunting accessory.