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Support the organizations who support you: FOAC

One of the few curses of serving boards of various non-profit organizations is watching financial support and personal affiliation drop over time, primarily among the younger generations. No matter how much good works these nonprofit groups do, it is a fact that public (private) support and participation is decreasing across America, especially among young people. Groups as diverse as churches, shooting clubs, non profit land trusts and related conservation groups, the Elks, the Shriners, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, etc. are all hurting for income that they used to take for granted from appreciative citizens.

So why does support for outstanding organizations who do so much for us and our own interests continue to drop?

Right now there are two primary reasons that are the same across America, regardless of the type of non profit organization. Everyone volunteering for or staffing non-profits are seeing the same thing. First, older people are are getting older, and with age comes restricted income. With restricted income comes less margin and fewer Dollars for donations, a pretty straight forward reason. Related to this is that as older people age, they eventually die off, and America is seeing the very end of The Greatest Generation that created the America we enjoy today, as well as their children, the heirs to their solid values and sense of community and patriotism.

Second, and the biggest reason, is the younger generations take everything for granted. Literally everything they enjoy – roads, schools, bridges, libraries, churches, shooting clubs, etc. seems to have dropped from the clear blue sky for their sole enjoyment. What they do not understand is how much hard work and sacrifice was done by generations before them, to get us to this rich present. If they have a cool beanie hat, an iPhone, and a ten dollar coffee, these younger Americans are perfectly happy to let the world keep turning and to let someone else make it turn for them.

Hard work does not run in their veins.

Apparently social media is the answer to everything with the younger crowd; despite their ethereal quality, those binary digital photons are just getting everything done right and left, like life is a big MineCraft game. Grown ups know this is not a fact.

Younger Americans are not donating to or volunteering for non-profit groups, no matter how important those groups and facilities are to their happiness. Simple and very sad fact. And at some point, after the various organizations go belly up and go out of business, the younger people will ask “Hey, do you remember that friends of Apple Pie Park group? You know, the people who put in the gravel walkway into the park? Where are they, because that park walkway is all mud now and someone needs to fix it.”

One group that means a lot to me as a gun owner, that gets a lot done for all gun owners, including YOU, is Firearm Owners Against Crime, FOAC, a perfectly named group out of western Pennsylvania run by tireless activist Kim Stolfer, in partnership with tireless attorney Josh Prince out of eastern Pennsylvania. Under Josh’s hard work, FOAC recently won a big precedent before the Commonwealth Court, where years of bizarre precedent had required citizens to go out and break the law before gaining legal standing to challenge that law. Until Josh Prince persuaded them otherwise, the court had actually been requiring people to become criminals to challenge unfair laws!

No longer.

This court decision is especially important to younger gun owners who seem to incorrectly believe that firearms ownership is out of reach of anti-gun prohibitionist crusaders. Like the local park friends group that paves the walkway so elderly visitors and parents pushing strollers can access that park, FOAC is out there battling for you, me, US, so that we can enjoy our Constitutional rights without infringement.

Like so many other non-profit organizations, FOAC deserves our support. They cannot work for us without our support of their work.

(and yes, I am the Harrisburg City plaintiff in FOAC’s lawsuit)

 

It’s that time of year again

Plenty of things have gone to hell in a hand basket over the course of the last four or five decades, and I would only be living up my highest and bestest reputation as a grouchy curmudgeon if I ticked them all off here as a laundry list of petty grievances. But other writers and commenters have already done all that, much better than I can, so I am going to mention just one frustration. And it must be credited to that mild mannered conservationist Aldo Leopold, who first put his finger on this, on the very beginning of what ails us Americans today.

If I read one more time the overused phrase “In a Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold writes…” I am going to scream. You are there and I am here on the other side of the screen, and we cannot actually hear one another, so it will sound like a silent scream, but rest assured, it drives me nuts and right now I am doing my best silent scream imitation about this. Sure, it is a testament to how inspiring Leopold was and still is that so (so) many people begin all kinds of talks and writings and poems with this opener, citing some comment or observation Leopold made back in the crusty 1940s Dark Ages that yet, surprisingly, has so much application and salience today, eighty years later. But it is so very much overused to the point where it is almost maudlin to hear it used yet one more time.

And then, when I think of those intervening eighty years, well, they have been both a blessing and a curse, haven’t they, and so I find myself in that recognizably similar frame of mind…

So what the hell.

In Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, he talks about cutting down a large oak tree with a crosscut saw, and how much history is gliding by as the saw blade traverses across the tree stem. For every few growth rings that are sawn, Leopold lists various wars and human milestones, scientific achievements as well as natural science moments, as the blade cuts deeper. Just that description alone is a pretty cool writing achievement by Leopold. It is a symbol and image that so many people have trouble forgetting.

But then at the end of the essay, just when the reader thinks “Yeah, I suppose cutting fire wood is more symbolic and meaningful than I thought it was, guess there’s a lotta history in those old oaks at Grandpa’s farm,” Leopold suddenly gets to the whole raison d’être of his history lesson (and I am closely paraphrasing here):

I knew Americans were eventually doomed to cultural rot and failure when we discovered that heat came from a small switch on the wall, and not from cutting our own firewood every year.”

Here in the middle of his gentle outdoor lullaby, Leopold lamented the ease of life that had arrived with then-modern conveniences and services. He saw them as a two-edged sword, cutting both ways, for and against, because working hard for something, especially for your own ambient heat in the dead of winter, is an important lesson about how all humans are in truth part of the natural cycles around us all the time. Participating in these cycles humbles us, brings us into the actual healthy swing of things around us, helps integrate us with the earth’s natural vibe, tune, and wavelength, each of which we ride every moment of every day, even if we are unaware of it. And thus, it helps us thereby appreciate the natural world that sustains us every day. Even if we are unaware of it.

Leopold was advocating for Americans living newly cushy lives devoid of physical challenges to get the hell off their asses and live in the real world, to take responsibility for their own needs and not outsource everything (like the Romans did at their end). Cut their own firewood, grow a garden, shoot a grouse for dinner or a catch a fish for lunch. The ability to be self-reliant is not only an American trait from our frontier days, it is innately tied to all successful human cultures at all times.

Mind if we switch here to someone on the other side of the spectrum from our mild naturalist and wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold, who nonetheless expresses much the same sentiment?

I hate luxury. I exercise moderation…it will be easy to forget your vision and purpose once you have fine clothes, fast horses, and beautiful women. [All of which will result in] you being no better than a slave, and you will surely lose everything.” — Genghis Khan (brutal conqueror of the entire known world in his time).

As that completely successful “mad butcher” said it, luxuries make humans soft and weak. Hard work makes us strong and successful. If there is a hallmark of modern America, it is that we are awash in luxuries and conveniences, to the point where the younger generations have no idea how we arrived here at this point, how much sacrifice was required to give them these fancy phones and coffees. Our younger people think that luxuries and easy comforts just fall like manna from Heaven.

So, to be the truest, best American you can be, why not cut some firewood?

Here in central Pennsylvania it is that time of year again, the time of year where if you have not yet stacked the last of your firewood in the woodshed, you damned well better get on with it. Ain’t no time to lose. Any week now Mother Nature can show up with a big old cold surprise, a major dose of early Winter, knock out the electricity to your town, and leave you at the mercy of serious cold temperatures. It’ll be nice if we have all of October to enjoy mild Fall weather, with no need to light the wood stove, but you never know what the future brings. Better to be prepared, right?

Funny how something so insignificant as cutting one’s own firewood can be synonymous with an entire culture’s success or failure.

Wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold smoked tobacco, owned guns, ate what he hunted, planted a garden every year, and cut his own firewood. If you have not read A Sand County Almanac, then get it, because a world of special delight awaits you there, and it will change your life.

This season’s supply of split firewood stashed in the old woodshed, which is due to be replaced in 2020

Public Lands: Public good, public love

Someone named this September “Public Lands Month,” and while I have no idea who did this, or why they did it, I’ll take it nonetheless. Because like the vast majority of Americans, I totally, completely, absolutely love public land. Our public parks, forests, monuments, recreation areas, and wildlife management areas are one of the greatest acts of government in the history of human governments.

As a wilderness hunter, trapper, and fisherman, I truly love the idea of public land, and I love the land itself. No other place provides the lonesome opportunities to solo hunt for a huge bear or buck, either of which may have never seen a man before, or to take a fisher and a pine marten in a bodygripper or on a crossing log drowning rig, than public land.

If you want a representation of what is best and most symbolic of America, look to our public lands. They best capture the grandeur of America’s open frontier, the anvil upon which our tough national character was hammered and wrought. It was on the American frontier that Yankee ingenuity, self-reliance, and an indomitable hunger for individual freedom and liberty was born. And yes, while it was the Indian who reluctantly released his land to us, it was also the Indian who taught us the land’s value, so that we might not squander it, using it cheaply, profligately, and indiscriminately. Public lands are the antidote to our natural inclination to use land the same way we use everything else within our reach.

Some armchair conservatives argue that our public land is a waste of resources. That it is a bottled-up missed opportunity to make even more-more money, and if only we would just blow it all up, pave it all, dam it all, cut it all right now, etc, then someone somewhere would have even more millions of dollars in his pocket, and daggone it, he really wants those extra millions on top of the millions he already has in his pocket. When all our farmland is paved, that same armchair conservative will have nowhere to grow food to feed us, and apparently he will learn to eat dollar bills (he already thinks Dollars are what we survive on, anyhow, so it’ll be an interesting test of reality meeting theory).

But the truth is it’s mentally sick to talk about how much money you can get for selling your mother, or for selling your soul, which is what our land is, take your pick. Hunger for more money than a man knows what to do with, notwithstanding. But some things are just not worth valuing with money, and no number of payments of thirty pieces of silver will ever, ever amount to anything in comparison to what is actually in hand, our public land.

Others complain that public land is communism, but what do they say about the old English and New England commons, where villagers pastured their collected cows? Were our forebears who fought at Bunker Hill fighting for communism? You know they weren’t. Sometimes sharing isn’t a bad thing, and sharing some land is probably one of the best things. If Yosemite or Sequoia National Parks were privately owned, no one from the public would be there, right?

Americans are fortunate to have in their hand millions of acres of public land that they can access, from Maine to Alaska to Hawaii and everywhere in between. Little township and county squirrel parks, big state forests and parks, and vast national parks like the Appalachian Trail and Acadia are all magical experiences available only because they are public.

It is true that LaVoy Finicum was murdered in cold blood by out of control public employees over a legitimate debate with tyrannical, unaccountable public land managers in Oregon. But that is not the fault of the public grazing land there, any more than a murder can be blamed on the gun and not the man who pulled its trigger. We need to hold accountable those who screwed over Finicum and those who murdered him, not blame the land on which it all happened. Despite some failings by public land managers, of which Finicum’s murder is a great and sad example, public land remains one of the very few things that government actually does well and right almost all of the time. Corrective action is just one new administration away, as selected by the voters.

If you want to see untrammeled natural beauty for campers and hikers, or if you want to experience bountiful hunting lands for an afternoon or a week, then look to the public lands near you or far away from you. Everything else – nearly 100% of private lands –  is either dead, dying, or slated for eventual execution at the hands of development.

We need a lot more public land in America. We need more to love in life, and nothing compares to loving a whole mountain range, a river, a field or a forest. It will love you back with nurture and sustenance, too.

Hang glider leaps off of Hyner View State Park, surrounded by a couple million acres of Pennsylvania state forest and state parks

 

Down below Hyner View State Park is the Renova (Renovo) municipal park, with some historical artifacts from past freedom-ensuring conflicts, reminding the next generations of the sacrifices made so they can enjoy iPhones and Starbucks

 

Yours truly standing high up in the Flatirons above super-liberal Boulder, Colorado, in the background, demonstrating “Trump Over Boulder” in case any hikers had missed the shirt. None had missed its presence there, by the way. Lots of public land here, enough for everyone to share, even Donald Trump! (and yes, there are a lot of boulders here in the photo).

The author malingering around the Boulder, Colorado Chautauqua kiosk, silently taunting the invasive liberals gathered and passing through there. And in fact, the Trump shirt earned many double and triple-takes from fellow hikers, unused to experiencing diversity of thought. I did not bite those people, though I was tempted. Great public lands experience!

My Confession

I have a confession to make. Maybe in the grand scheme of confessions or public admissions this is not too significant. But for me, wow, the burden I am shedding by admitting this here is just tremendous. Pardon me while I take a deep breath.

My confession is that …gosh, it is tough to say this…I really enjoy Rob Schneider movies.

This is probably (hopefully) not quite as risky as admitting to watching risque movies, but it comes close, because the subjects addressed head-on in Rob Schneider movies are wide open, no-holds-barred. A gaping chasm separates his movies from the standard Hollywood affairs, and admitting to watching them, maybe sometimes on repeat, carries some social stigma.

Rob Schneider movies are not alone in the low brow humor category. They are waaay better quality than Adam Sandler or Chris Kataan movies, and probably an even toss-up with Will Ferrell’s productions.

In the genre of man-child-not-grown-up, Rob Schneider plays the idiot savant better than anyone. Adam Sandler has “goofy” and “well-intentioned-moron” down better than anyone, but we know what is coming every time. Jim Carrey has in fact actually lost his mind to a bad case of TDS and now actually mugs and over-acts in public not on purpose but as his own personal habit. When he was just acting, Jim Carrey was funny; now he is scary. But Jim Carrey is not alone in ruining well-intentioned humor with politics. Will Ferrell also has become infected with the funny-man-not-funny disease by seriously involving himself in politics, for which he is ill-suited, and so now when he appears in public it is difficult to tell if he is serious but kidding, or plain foolish but serious. Ferrell’s pre-politics Talladega Nights was top shelf damned funny, and while I am in the process of opening my life’s weak points to public scrutiny here, I might as well tell the readers that my wife and I took our two small girls to see Talladega Nights when it opened. In a former church turned into a theatre, in Galeton, PA, when our girls were really, really small. Viv and I laughed a lot, and the two tiny infants fell asleep, or so we thought, until many years later.

And now on second thought hindsight, that one movie night may account for how the one kid turned out….I suppose a movie like that could really warp a young mind…guess she wasn’t asleep after all.

So anyhow, if you are looking for lightness-beyond-levity, easy-watching, seriously-not-serious, entertaining-without-pretense, slight raunch with a straight no-PC-here face, then Rob Schneider movies are for you. The high brow of the low brow. Especially Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. And as you can imagine, I am hoping as many people as possible will watch them, so I am not feeling totally alone, like I felt when caught looking at Ladies Home Journal bra ads when I was twelve in the super market magazine aisle. It would be nice to have someone on the couch next to me, enjoying the same movie as me. Instead of hitting me with a shoe and cussing me out about it.

Select scenes from Talladega Nights 1, 2, 3, 4.

Select scenes from Rob Schneider movies 1, 2, 3.

Arsonists burning down America accuse NRA + good gun owners

If you have any interest in what is happening in America, and no I do not mean the latest Hollywood family-rotting junk movie release or the latest sound-alike violent-thug rap song on iTunes, but rather the latest and most serious sociopolitical developments in the greatest and freest nation in the world, then you must watch the brief footage of last week’s Philly shoot-out (posted below).

Nothing captures what is happening in America, and why it is happening, better than the headline-grabbing shoot-out between ultra violent career criminal Maurice Hill and the Philadelphia police.

  • Despite facing scores of Philly police officers armed with AR15s and M4 automatic versions of the AR15 rifle, Hill was neither killed nor did he out-gun the police facing him, though he did lightly wound six officers who were brave enough to boldly charge into the building in which he held a hostage
  • Hill is a many-time convicted illegal drug and gun felon who was legally barred from owning any guns at all, including a sporting rifle like the AR15
  • Hill is a many-time convicted violent felon, whose many violent crimes with firearms landed him in court many times, but not doing any real jail time afterwards. As a result, Hill was a classic catch-and-release career criminal who should be in jail for decades but who is free among good law abiding people to purvey his happy life of crime, all gratis of liberal judges and district attorneys.
  • Hill did not have to commit his latest violent crime, but he was enabled by white liberals who hold that criminals like Hill are “victims” and law-abiding Americans are criminals
  • Hill was cheered on by dozens of local citizens, who also aggressively jeered the police officers there, threw trash on them, and challenged them to physical conflict
  • Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney immediately showed up on the scene and blamed the police, blamed guns, blamed private ownership of guns, blamed the National Rifle Association, blamed the American voters and taxpayers. Kenney did not blame career criminal Maurice Hill for the situation, nor did he blame the culture of violence in which Hill grew up and which is reinforced daily by violent Hollywood movies, violent anti-police rap music, an activist media that blames American freedoms, and white liberals like Mayor Kenney

For decades white liberals like mayor Jim Kenney have performed arson on America, and now they are blaming law-abiding gun owners and the non-gun-owning citizens who support their rights for the resulting conflagration.

For many decades white liberals in politics, in the media, in academia, in public and private schools, in unions, in the destructive anti America groups like the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center, and especially in the corrupting Hollywood media-entertainment octopus complex have done their utmost to set fire to America and burn it to the ground.

White liberals’ singular goal appears to have been to eventually re-make America into some different new utopia polity with an all- powerful government at its center, instead of the sovereign citizen voter whose power has always been diffused across the country, as demonstrated by the genius Electoral College. Having a powerful centralized government and no individual rights will allow liberals to force Americans to live exactly the way liberals think they must live, to make the “correct” choices.

And part of this white liberal arson program is to then blame the victims of their arson. Which means that after destroying America’s cities, ruining the families and communities of American Blacks and turning them into part of the fake liberal grievance factory, creating lawlessness by willfully failing to enforce the law (immigration, gun laws) on the one hand and then breaking the law on the other, white liberals can turn around and demand more “gun control” and demonize innocent Americans who have done nothing wrong.

Disarming law-abiding citizens is the primary goal of white liberals. Liberals have no interest in controlling crime, as proven by their judges’ and DAs’ failure to enforce gun laws on the books across the nation. Rather, they seek to remove the one great barrier to their dreams of unfettered tyranny, an armed citizenry.

White liberals own the Philly shoot-out. Maurice Hill is a direct product of white liberals and the Democrat Party; Maurice Hill is the left’s latest and greatest creation. Because Hill both implements the violent chaos and bodies in the street that the left needs to blame their political enemies, and he embodies the fake grievance victim who is never responsible for his violent actions.

Maurice Hill enables the Democrat Party to blame guns, blame America, blame Americans, and so the Democrat Party will continue to produce as many Maurice Hills as they can. I think there were about 56 Maurice Hills in Chicago last week, and about 34 the week before, despite all of Chicago’s cutting-edge “gun control.”

Like Chicago, Philadelphia now burns, and the Democrat Party cheers.

You want to end violent crime, and help American Blacks? Stop voting for Liberal Democrats, and start voting for officials who promote old-fashioned values like following the law, making good choices, foregoing immediate gratification for eventual big success, self reliance, community, family.

Here is the Democrat Party’s Maurice Hill 1, 2, 3, 4

100 years of Liberalism = mass shootings

Since the 1917 violent triumph of Socialism in Russia, communists have more aggressively spread their efforts world-wide. There is no secret about this. Lots of official information outlets of openly socialist and communist organizations precisely describe their goals and targets, past and present. Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, now Venezuela, all fell victim to socialism.

Where socialists have failed to openly gain control in democracies, like America and Britain, because their intended victims have more say through voting, they have mostly gone vague. Vagueness allows socialists to talk in circles and in generalities, avoiding the unpleasant hard realities their policies will truly mean for hard working Americans and Britons.

In that vein, for decades the Democrat Party purveyed a more palatable-sounding ideology than socialism or communism. They became Liberals. Liberalism, now called “progressivism” and its advocates “progressives,” is still the same old evil socialism; it is just more incremental than the overtly revolutionary form of the 1917 Soviet Union’s tyranny.

And so for one hundred years, liberals in American government have steadily introduced policy after policy, regulation after regulation, textbook after textbook, slowly changing American culture from the inside. For one hundred years liberals have used America’s democratic form of government (technically America is a republic, but loosely speaking we are governed by democratic principles) to achieve non-democratic outcomes. That is, liberals have used America’s freedoms and government to implement anti-freedom and anti-America policies and changes to our national fabric.

In general, American liberals have sought greater government power over the citizenry, a diminishment of individual rights, a lessening of the individual ability to stand up to and prevail against the kind of overwhelming government power America was originally founded to prevent. Their assault on America has at its core a determined corrosion of American identity and norms; that makes it easier to sell their anti-America, anti-freedom laws, regulations, and policies.

So, for example, by inverting the First Amendment, liberals have removed God from the public square. To liberals, any practice of religion in public is officially establishing religion. By gaining control of public schools through teacher’s unions, and then removing God’s values from those schools, liberals removed the ancient barriers and social mores that glued Americans together.

We can go down a list of liberal laws and policies that have been inflicted on America, and we can talk about how liberals have captured institutions like media, entertainment (Hollywood’s violent movies and ultra-violent video games), and academia, but let’s just say that after one hundred years of liberals tearing away at America’s social fabric, they have succeeded in destroying a great deal of what held America together.

Hearing liberals talk about more gun control is like watching people remove the wheels from my car, and then tell me how dangerous it will be to drive it and how I need to just give them the car keys.

I grew up in a rural community that had more guns, and more cows, than people. We all owned guns from an early age, and we suffered no gun crime. No mass shootings, no individual shootings. My 7th grade biology teacher reloaded my 7×57 Mauser rounds for me. In 7th and 8th grades I took my deer rifle on the school bus from home to Park Forest Junior High School in State College. The gun was placed inside my locker, and at the end of the school day, we students who had brought our rifles joined together to go deer hunting at some local farm or forest. Someone’s parent was in charge of picking us up and taking us to the hunt, and someone else’s parent was in charge of picking us up and taking us all back home at dark. It worked just fine.

Fast forward 40 years and America is a different place. School kids are shooting each other, unlike any previous time. The wheels have come off!

What changed is the American culture that supported responsible gun ownership was weakened by liberals, who have sought to eliminate private gun ownership. The founding American culture that created and reinforced values like self-reliance, personal responsibility, deferring immediate pleasure and gratification in lieu of future success, and making good choices was all tossed away in liberal-controlled public schools and colleges.

Instead of good solid time-proven American values, liberals taught bozo ideas like “challenge authority” — meaning disrespect your parents, having babies out of wedlock is fun, killing babies at will is freedom, who needs Home Economics and a hard work ethic when the government will just give you taxpayer-funded welfare money, and so on. So the culture of America changed, and now many of our youngest seem incapable of living up to basic American norms while still being presented with basic American freedoms, like gun ownership.

Liberals created this failed culture in which young Americans shoot each other. Just look at every major American city: They are nearly all run by liberals, home to the latest and best liberal ideas, and yet they suffer the greatest social failure, financial failure, and violence.

Liberalism is not the solution, but the cause of all that ails America today, especially the mass shootings in liberal-controlled schools.

And so liberals now demand gun confiscation, and phony “universal background checks” that are designed to create lists of who has what guns, to make gun confiscation easier.

Liberals created all these problems in the first place, and more liberal policy ideas like “gun control” are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Many years ago I worked with a woman who specialized in creating problems and crises in our office, and once the interpersonal conflicts were going hot, she would then swoop in and aggressively demand to “solve” the very problems she had created. Her proposed solutions always left her with more authority and direct control over everyone around her. This is what the liberals and the Democrat Party are doing with guns. They created all this mass shooting business, and now they want to exploit the violence crisis they created to further their assault on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who have no connection to crime but who stand between liberals and their dream of absolute tyrannical control over everyone in America, like their socialist brethren everywhere else.

At a certain point normal Americans have to wake up to this obvious situation, and stop voting for liberals and their deceptive ideas. Liberalism is not good for America. Turn it back, restore our founding principles as America’s norms, take back our government and our institutions from destructive liberalism.

Here (below) is retired US Army Col. David Grossman talking about why children are now killing each other. Grossman was the guy who taught American special forces troops how to overcome their natural human inhibitions in order to quickly kill their opponents, and who then witnessed an alarming generational change in how American youth perceived killing. If you care about what causes mass shootings, watch Grossman’s fascinating videos.

 

A fish tale

What I enjoy most about the summer time is spending that time with my family, my wife and kids. Especially outdoors. Hiking, fishing, boating, target shooting, camping, and cutting firewood with the promise of grilled meat and cold beer at the end is all part of the family experience here.

So here is a fish tale, or the tales of two fish, a punny phrase if ever one swam.

First one up is high school and college friend Jeff called out of the blue.

“Come down on Tuesday. Paul will be here with his son. It will be a fun reunion and we will all have our boys together, out on the boat, fishing.”

Jeff was a varsity wrestler from our arch-rival school, one weight class below me. In college we were separated by three weight classes. Now we are both fat and happy dads, coaching our boys through life the best way we know how – in the outdoors.

An invitation to salt water fish hardly ever goes neglected, especially with two other friends from high school and college, and within 24 hours my boy and I had rolled into town, found our hotel, gone to sleep at 4AM, and risen at 7:30AM ready to spend the day in the salt and sunshine with old friends. Paul and his son showed up from across the country, and we piled food, cold drinks, ice, and gear into the boat and headed out. Jeff is an old salt hand, and was a masterful captain. His friend Brian served as first mate and heartily complimented the wolfed-down sandwiches we brought, while Paul threw his overboard, complaining that they were soft. Some things just never change.

“You are a spoiled princess, you know that?” I scolded Paul. “We were up all night making these delicious sandwiches.” He asked for another sandwich; dry this time, he said.

Aside from catching up among the three of us, and introducing our boys to each other, we caught a pile of mackerel, some bluefish, and we lost one or two large cobia. Here is how the mackerel were prepared.

Captain Jeff, a friend since 1979

 

Happy and proud dad, tired and satisfied son

Fileting fresh mackerel

Brining filets and whole fish for smoking

Brined mackerel on smoking rack

Smoked mackerel…for dips, treats, scrambled eggs, yum

Fast forward a week later and the boy and I are fishing in Pine Creek, which is still running high, for two years now. This means that trout are not only holding over in great numbers, but are thriving in a big freestone stream that nonetheless usually hits 80 degrees and gets skinny by July, an environment where trout are normally picked off by eagles, mink, otters and herons this time of year.

I cast the Rebel Crawfish across a familiar riffle and hooked a large fish, which turned out to be a fat 16 inch rainbow trout. On a tiny ultralight spin rod with four pound test, it felt like the proverbial whale. He came to hand after a noble dispute.

“Do you want to keep him,” I asked my boy. “We haven’t kept a trout out of here in I forget how many years.”

“Yes,” he said, firmly and without hesitation.

This is a kid who really enjoys eating fresh fish, so setting aside my usual aversion to killing trout, I slid it into a small pool of cold spring water cascading down the bank, where the fish could breathe and stay fresh, and also remain within eyesight. That heron kept circling, and I wasn’t about to lose my prize to him.

The boy was admiring the beautiful trout, which had the healthy fins and magically vibrant colors of a native fish, or at least a hatchery fish that had spent an unusually long time in wild water. A fierce, or jealous, look came over the boy’s face and he asked which lure it had been caught on. Instead of tying one on to his rod, I just handed him my rod. One trout among the dozens splashing for emerging mayflies was enough for me, enough for the year. Watching my son catch fish is better than me catching them, and so I stood in the cool shallows with the current tugging at my Crocs, and supervised his casting. The late hot sun beat down harsh and merciless.

“Where did you catch him?” came the unexpected question.

Normally I advise where to cast, and since he was about nine, the boy will cast in the opposite direction of where I suggested. Even if it means getting tangled in a tree or snagged on the bottom. He has been improving on his independence for years now, if not improving his fishing skills. This time, however, he was on a mission. He cast a few times to where he was directed, gaining his bearings, and on the third or fourth splash the plug went exactly where it needed to go, over the fast current and just upstream enough to get a drag-free drift with some natural wobble. He immediately connected, and gently fought another perfect 13-inch rainbow into the shallows.

“Do you want to keep this one, too?” I asked.

“Yes. One fish for each of us. Or both for me – One for dinner and one for breakfast tomorrow,” he replied. Without a hint of irony.

Sound logic it was, and so we placed this trout next to its confined but quite alive mate in the little spring pool in a hollow of rock up on the bank.

With a fine trout under his belt, now it was his turn to sit in the cool shallows and watch me, as I went back out to catch a few bass lurking in the deeper current below the ledgerock. A couple came to hand and were released, and a couple got away. The sun then set over the valley, illuminating the Camel’s Hump and Trout Run in a magical Summer glow. The kind of day’s end that is so beautiful and perfect that you are sure you will remember it clearly forever just as it is experienced in that moment. And we probably will remember it clearly, mostly because the next morning he ate that fish down to the bare bones and then went outside to shoot his flintlock with true professional calm, hitting the distant bulls eye over and over and over. He made his dad proud.

A brace of fresh trout

Perfectly pan fried trout with butter and herbs

Someone really likes fresh trout

Independence Day Redux

Tomorrow is America’s July 4th Independence Day, the day Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from the tyrannical Great Britain in 1776.

In modern days we tend to take this holiday, and all it stands for, for granted. We enjoy fireworks displays, we grill out with family and friends, we travel and vacation, communities gather together to celebrate. After dark, red flares are lit around the entire circumference of Chautauqua Lake, which is pretty neat to see. All those disparate communities and property owners unified for that one moment. America’s greatest moment, our crowning achievement – God-given Liberty for all people.

What we do not celebrate or take note of today is what ensued after the Declaration of Independence. The long, bloody, wearying, expensive war with Britain and her mercenaries; the lost communities that were divided along loyalty lines, and which self-destructed in mass hangings and reprisals; the lost fathers and sons killed in combat; the bloody raids from Canada deep into Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, that lasted until after the War of 1812 had concluded.

The American War for Independence was, in fact, a civil war, our first civil war. On one side were advocates for political, social, and commercial stability, harmonious continuity, and loyalty to our British benefactors and feudal overlords. On the other hand were a handful of people who believed in something radical, something new, something previously unseen in human experience: Liberty for all, freedom of choice and of association, government devoted to representing the interests of The People, and not just the monarch or his chosen few.

Winning American freedom was very hard, and it cost a lot of lives lost and money spent. The destruction of towns north and south is still legendary. Boston, New York, and even Philadelphia were severely damaged, and with that went economic damage and deprivation that reached everyone.

Yet it was all of this deprivation and tenacious warfare and willing sacrifice that cemented the American spirit of self reliance, true grit, and patriotism for the most unique, freest, best nation on Earth. And yet, as success bred success and material success bred complacency and satiety, Americans began to lose that original spirit. Our material wealth has spoiled us and put many of us to sleep, to the point where we actually have a major political party advocating for the gifting of “free” healthcare to anyone who illegally walks into our country. And none of the current taxpaying citizens here qualify for that same free healthcare!

I do not think it is alarmist to say that America is now in another civil war. The evidence is all around us. Oh, we are not yet fully lined up and shooting at each other. But we are becoming fully lined up along ideological differences and shouting at each other, which is the exact way traditional battles are and have been fought with spears and swords or muskets and cannons. Both sides line up and size each other up, brandish their weapons, make bold declarations, and then charge.

Despite the many violent ANTIFA skirmishes against freedom and free speech advocates, Americans just have not yet charged at each other. This is because while the many normal Americans went to work, paid their taxes, mowed their lawns, volunteered, took their kids to Little League, another segment of the population was working hard at infiltrating and capturing institutions. Once captured, those institutions (Media, academia, education, unions, charitable foundations, all levels and branches of government, the Boy Scouts etc.) have been bent to the purpose of promoting leftist ideas and policies, to mainstream treasonous anti-America policies.

All of this infiltration and capturing has gone on under the feet of the normal Americans, the citizen taxpayers, who are just now beginning to wake up and realize that while they did their duty, others were doing their utmost to gain full control of our political institutions, in order to force a very non-free form of government upon us. A very non-America form of government.

Enjoy your Independence Day, friends. In between the beers and the hotdogs, you should consider talking with friends and family about current events, about how freedom and government accountability can be restored, how America can be brought back from the precipice on which it presently stands.

And maybe talk about an Independence Day redux, too.

Our family’s best and favorite summer vacation route

When our kids were younger, say from ages seven and up, we would take them on an annual vacation through Upstate New York. The trip was devoted mostly to Revolutionary War history, but also to American frontier history, American Indian history, and natural history. All kinds of historic forts dot  the Mohawk Valley, and in between these places are all kinds of incredible natural history places, like the Herkimer diamond mines in Middleville, Moss Island, and the Canajoharie River carved pool. Lots of places to fish at every stop and everywhere in between.

We always started at Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY, and working east we would end at Fort Ticonderoga on the New York/Vermont border. Since we started this trip the forts have all gotten better and better. Fort Ontario refurbished all of their cannons a few years ago. Fort Stanwix has been majorly upgraded and has regular re-enactments. And Fort Ticonderoga now has the biggest private cannon collection in America, so get your tickets to the night time cannon shoot.

The Mohawk River is now largely a canal, and from Oswego to Moss Island you can watch small pleasure boats that started in Florida being raised from lock to lock as they make their way to Lake Ontario, and then to the Ohio River and back down to New Orleans, where they will circle back through the Gulf of Mexico to Florida. Many of the boat owners will stand on the deck to make sure their boat does not bang into the walls of the locks, and they are happy to tell you all about their trip so far. A few years ago one guy told us how his wife had just left the boat and him, and had rented a car to drive home. By the time he expected to arrive back in Florida in the Fall, her things would be gone from their home and the divorce papers would be waiting for him on the dining room table. He actually seemed pretty cheerful about it and said he was still excited to complete the trip, even by himself. By the time he was done telling us this short story, his boat had gone from one end of the lock to the other and was about to start sailing up river.

Our kids had never heard such a thing in their lives, and it gave us plenty to talk about the rest of the trip.

So here is the Revolutionary War route that our family has taken many times over the years, often summer after summer. As our children gained age, they gained new abilities to comprehend and appreciate what they were seeing. Definitely start at Oswego, and do not miss Fort Stanwix. There are all kinds of places to stay each night as you make your way east. Most of them are inexpensive, and many are historic, the the old hotel in Rome, NY, which is actually pretty nice. We usually spend at least one night camping at the Herkimer KOA in Middleville, NY, where we will spend one day mining Herkimer diamonds and another day exploring Moss Island and the historic General Herkimer homestead, which has real cannons and lots of history.

The Oriskany Battlefield monument is one of those places you can’t believe no one talks about, and when you get there and learn and see what took place, you realize how the entire Revolutionary War’s outcome hinged on this one fierce battle between Mohawk Valley patriots and British Regulars, with Indians on both sides.

Moss Island is incredible; I won’t spill the beans and you have to go see for your self, but you absolutely have to go, wearing hiking boots or good trail sneakers. The little town there has a great ice cream store, and my kids always liked fishing under the bridge as well as at Moss Island.

The Canajoharie River has the carved rock pools you can wade in, which I do not identify on the map because I ran out of label room.

Saratoga Battlefield is where a certain famous and then infamous American general made his name. Fort Ticonderoga is AMAZING, and if you are able to get tickets to the night time cannon shoot from the ramparts, you will not be left unimpressed. Trip home to Central or eastern PA, or NYC/New Jersey, is via the NY Throughway south to any number of state routes and highways, depending on how much time you have. We usually do this trip in seven days, though it can be done in ten or even five. The Remington factory tour tickets should be secured beforehand. It is an incredible tour, or at least it was. I think we took it before OSHA stepped in and limited it. The museum there is excellent in and of itself.

I think most teenage kids will enjoy researching each of these sites ahead of time, and you parents can research where you want to stay each night.

PA Farm Bureau & PA Grange thieving property rights and gun rights

Who would think that two organizations I have always revered would turn out to be the absolute biggest threats to private property rights and our Second Amendment rights?

Sadly, it is true that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Pennsylvania Grange have gone on a crusade against private property rights, hunting, and gun rights that has shocked everyone to the bone, most especially the traditional opponents of these activities like the Humane Society and CeasefirePA, who have now joined with them.

When the PFB and the Grange shack up with the Humane Society, a group dedicated to ending farming and animal husbandry as we know it, and with CeasefirePA, and against the NRA, then you know both organizations have gone off the rails. But the fact is, both PFB and the Grange are in full crusade mode right now, and there is no end in sight.

It all started with their opposition to expanding Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. Including small game, groundhogs, or big game in Sunday hunting (presently limited to coyotes, foxes, and crows), somehow ignited a firestorm of indignation among the octogenarians running both of these organizations. Canes were rattled, and the political war was on against anyone advocating for more hunting opportunities in Pennsylvania. Every bit of political and legislative capital these two groups can muster has been brought to bear in every avenue of political decision making. The net result is not just that they are on record being against other people hunting on Sunday, but that our existing hunting rights, gun rights, and property rights are now being diminished and in the case of Sunday target shooting, at real risk. Until now, no one outside of the anti-gun CeasefirePA had been opposed to target shooting, especially on private property.

Pennsylvania is one of just THREE states in America that has no big game hunting on Sunday. So it’s not like Pennsylvanians asking for expanded Sunday hunting are on the fringe of some crazy movement. The rest of the country is already doing it.

But PFB and the Grange have acted as if Sunday hunting will end civilization as we know it, and they went to war with a scorched earth approach. Both organizations are now on record trying to eliminate even target shooting on Sunday, even on private land, let alone archery hunting on private land on Sunday. This has been an all-out political assault on private property rights and on our Second Amendment rights. What private property owners do on their own land on any day of the week is of zero consequence to anyone else, but PFB and the Grange have made it their business to control what you do.

Didn’t Pennsylvania pass the right-to-farm laws so that farmers could do what they need to do, seven days a week, without interference? Turns out that the organizations dedicated to farming are not dedicated to the actual farmers and property owners themselves. Not really. Lots of farmers and farmland owners want to hunt and shoot on Sunday.

Take the Grange. Their motto is “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

Their mission is “Pennsylvania State Grange supports the local Granges to help members grow as individuals, unify their communities and create opportunity through legislation and community service.”

And yet the Grange is taking hard political positions exactly opposite of their motto and mission. There is no unity, liberty, or charity in their opposition to private property rights and to the Second Amendment. There is nothing helping members grow as individuals when the Grange stands in our way of hunting with our families and friends, on our own private land, when our complicated schedules allow for us to be together.

Beware these two organizations. They are prime examples of how a few people can hijack an organization and destroy its credibility in one swift and foolish move, and take our most sacred rights down the toilet with them.