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PA elk & bear seasons now behind us

You can spend all year excitedly anticipating a few days here or there, and before you know it, those days arrive, they happen intensely, and then they are over like a dream.

This dream we speak of here are the various big game seasons that are such a big part of so many peoples’ lives, entire families and communities, entire businesses (I think hunting is an annual $1.6 BILLION business sector here in Pennsylvania). Thus far we have had an elk season and now the main bear season pass along. Here are some of my thoughts on these two wonderful experiences.

First, the elk hunt.

I was fortunate enough to draw a coveted PA elk tag, after applying for many years and building up a lot of preference points. The lottery drawing was announced in late August, and I immediately began planning. The general elk season is just six days long, and unless you are going to engage a guide for a few thousand dollars, you have a lot of work to do before setting foot afield with a gun. If you draw a bull tag, paying a guide is worth it.

After a tremendous amount of analysis and planning, and some September scouting, I was fortunate to hunt for elk with some good friends and a .62-caliber percussion rifle over my shoulder in Elk Zone 13. We camped out on a log landing in Sproul State Forest, with elk all around us, and each buddy scouted hard each day, looking for elk that the sole hunter (me) could get after.

Elk Zone 13 is huge, and contains a lot of vast public land. And so the elk harvest data shows that it is a bit of a Death Valley in terms of hunters actually killing an elk within it. While a lot of Pennsylvania elk hunting takes place briefly where a lot of the local elk have pet names and are used to being around people, there are a few elk zones where the opposite is the case. Zone 13 is one of those opposite cases. It is a tough place to hunt under any conditions, and under the rainy, warm, and very windy conditions we had, it was just about impossible. In the end, just one of three bull tags there was filled, and as of the fifth day of the six day season, just one of the six cow elk tags had been filled. I was not one of those people lucky enough to fill my elk tag.

And it was not a harvest failure because we didn’t hunt smart. We hunted so smart that we were bumping into elk guides and their clients at every turn. We had done our homework ahead of time, and we knew where the elk were likely to be, which is where you will find an elk guide, too.

One of the things I did as part of the analysis and planning phase was was plot all of the past elk harvest data on the large Elk Zone 13 map the PA Game Commission sent me. Once your eyes see exactly where the elk are killed every year, almost always in large clusters, over the past seven years that Elk Zone 13 has been around, you recognize where to concentrate your field scouting efforts. And then our subsequent field scouting efforts confirmed the presence of elk, including the day before the elk hunt started.

Like I said above, the weather conditions were awful for any type of big game hunting, and especially with a primitive weapon such as I carried. My effective range was 110 yards, and 75 yards was a lot more preferable. But range doesn’t matter if you can’t get an elk to stand broadside for a few seconds. I did mix it up directly with an elk herd that was hiding in a forest, and I did call one close back to me, and I did get a couple good setups on moving elk. But the seesawing winds gave away my presence each time, and the elk stormed off each time. Like I said, I had a wonderful time with good friends in a beautiful place with a fantastic gun over my shoulder. Elk or no elk in the hunting bag, I had a great time hunting elk in Pennsylvania (an especial Thank You to the many private landowners who generously granted me access to their properties to hunt elk).

Now, bear season.

Bear season ended yesterday, and the last of the bear hunters grudgingly left the cabin today. As usual, we had a large crowd gathered here, with everyone happy to catch up with chums from years past, sharing good food and good drink and good cheer. One thing all hunters eventually begin to notice is that with age comes a mellowing of the spirit. The chase is not as important as simply being present in God’s creation, often communing with Him in the largest house of prayer anywhere, the mountain forest cathedral.

And so fewer and fewer guys are coming here to hunt, and more and more guys are here to relax. And that is OK.

We who both communed with God in the mountain forest cathedral, and who also hunted, saw no bears and only a few deer. Mostly because there are no acorns in the woods, and all wildlife must go where the food is. If there is no food here, there are no bears here. Gypsy moths devastated Pennsylvania’s oak forests this past summer, and so there were no oak flowers to turn into oak acorns to fatten up buck and bear, squirrel and turkey. The woods was totally quiet this week, and it made me wonder what a squirrel migration looks like. Do hordes of mountain squirrels move en masse into suburban yards in lean years like this one? And where the heck do all the bears hibernate?

Roughly 1,450 bears were killed in PA’s early archery and muzzleloader seasons, and so far just under a thousand bears total are reported for this week’s bear rifle hunt. Usually this week’s four-day hunt results in an enormous bear kill. We are now looking at an epically low bear harvest in a state with a huge and burgeoning bear population that needs managing (Just a few days ago New Jersey issued an emergency bear hunt approval, because The People’s Republic of New Jersey is being overrun with bears, which unfortunately cannot be trained to eat liberals but whom the liberals recognize as a natural predator and are seeking to reduce out of self defense).

Another thought a lot of people are sharing today is that the early bear seasons, archery and muzzleloader, are very effective, so that come the late November bear season, there are a lot fewer bears to be had. Bears that are facing both extreme hunger AND extreme hunting pressure will den up early to get out of the storm. It seems a lot of the bears that survived the early seasons arrived in a bleak foodless November and said an early good night until March, 2023.

Next up is deer season, another dream time. And our deer patterns are also all off kilter here, so it is going to be a very interesting deer hunt in the mountains. Again, it’s no acorns, no deer. Except for that one gigantic buck I saw a couple times….stay tuned for that report. Let’s hope it makes up for the no elk and no bear reports we already filed away for 2022…

An 1884 double rifle made for tigers in India would be great bear medicine. If only a bear would appear.

This remote old mine is one of dozens that dot our mountains. It is a fine place to hunt, take a nap, or write in a notebook. A couple times I have done all three in one visit.

Camped with friends on an old log landing in the Sproul State Forest is a wonderful way to spend life’s limited time, elk or no elk in the bag.

A great way to spend a day hunting elk, with a beautiful .62 caliber rifle (not a smoothbore) made by Mark Wheland here in PA. With its 335-grain round ball, it is easily capable of cleanly taking a hearty elk.

Primitive hunting techniques are more important than ever

In this day and age of popular stainless steel and plastic hunting rifles and Hubble telescope-sized rifle scopes, primitive hunting techniques and weapons are more important than ever. Something in the bad age of video games and instant gratification happened to the American character in the past thirty years or so, and so many young Americans have become lazy and even a bit heartless, as a result. Hunting culture has suffered from this, too. Really badly. Today’s focus seems to be predominantly on the kill, and much less on the process of the hunt.

Those curious about the distinction here should look up some neat videos from real hunters in the big woods of Vermont, Pennsylvania, and the Adirondacks.

Hunting should never be just about, or mostly about, killing an animal. Especially if the hunter wants to call it a trophy and put it up on his or her wall as a representation of his skill.

People trying to justify 300, 400 yard long range shots (or farther) on unsuspecting animals are not hunting, they are assassinating. Their wood craft often sucks, their field craft is limited to wearing camouflage, and their knowledge of the game animal is negligible. They are not really hunters, but rather shooters. Their high-tech guns, ammo, and rifle scopes are a crutch diminishing their need for good woodcraft, and it also results in a lack of appreciation for an actual hunt, and a lower value placed on the animal.

Culling oversized wild animal populations for the benefit of the environment is one thing, but hunting wild animals for pleasure and clean meat should be accomplished with skill. Age-old skills that everyone can respect. Hard-won wild animals taken with real skill under fair chase conditions are all trophies.

An unsuspecting big game animal assassinated at long range (or worse, inside a high fence, or over bait) requires very little hunting skill, and can never be said to be a trophy that is reflective of the hunter’s skill set. And yet isn’t this why so many hunters want big antlers and broad hides? They see these big animals as a reflection of their hunting prowess, of their manhood, their chest-thumping status within the outdoors community. As a result, America has developed a hunting culture driven by bigger-is-better trophies, at any cost, all too often achieved through long-range assassinations of unsuspecting wildlife, or over bait. Fair chase, which has always been at the heart of hunting, has been tossed away in favor of quick gratification and unfounded ego bragging rights.

The primary reason why primitive hunting weapons are so important today, is that someone has to keep the culture of hunting alive. What is a primitive hunting weapon? Pretty much any legal implement that requires the hunter to work hard to develop unique field craft/ wood craft skills, including the ability to penetrate within a fairly close range of the prey animal’s eyes, ears, and nose: Any bow (compound bow, stick bow, self bow, longbow, or other hand-held vertically limbed bow), spear, atl-atl, open-sighted black powder or centerfire rifle, any large bore handgun with or without a scope, should qualify. Flintlocks, percussion cap black powder muzzleloaders, and traditional bows are especially challenging to master and to harvest wild game with.

All of these primitive weapons require the hunter to actually hunt, to rely upon his woodcraft to carry him quietly and unseen across the landscape, and into a fair and close range of his prey animal. Animals taken with primitive weapons and techniques are earned in every way, and therefore they are fully appreciated.

Few experiences bother me more than watching some internet video of a fourteen year-old hunter running his hands over the antlers of a recently deceased buck, and listening to this inexperienced mere child discuss the finer aspects of this rack, its inches, its points, its relative size, and its (barf on my feet) trail camera name. Usually the child has shot the deer from an elevated box blind that conceals all of the hunter’s scent, sound, and movement. Whoever has taught these kids to hunt this way exclusively, and to then look at deer harvested this way as so many bragging rights, has done a huge disservice to these kids. These kids are going to grow up into poachers and baiters, always trying to prove how great of a “hunter” they are, and how studly and manly they are, at any cost. They will end up doing anything to score the next “record book” animal. These young kids who are being warped right now with this trophy nonsense are the future of America’s hunting culture, and what a crappy culture it will be if it is dominated by big egos and even bigger mouths armed with sniper rifles and no actual hunting skill.

Moms, dads, grandpas and uncles who are beginning to teach kids to hunt right now can do two simple things that will ensure their little student grows up into an ethical, responsible, high quality, law-abiding hunter: Make them use open sights on single-shot firearms and bows.

The skills that young hunters develop from having to rely on open sights and single shots (primitive weapons) will force them to achieve a high level of field craft, wood craft, and fair chase values. Developing skill requires a person to overcome challenges and adversity, often making mistakes along the way. And that results in better character.

Forcing kids to get close to their prey animal, and to take only carefully aimed shots with just open sights, will result in people who become really  excellent hunters. Adults can always opt to add a scope to their rifle as their eyes age, but the lessons learned early on in concealment, controlling movement, playing wind direction, and instinctive shooting will keep the respectable art of hunting alive and well.

This Fall, get your little one started on a flintlock or old Fred Bear recurve bow from the get-go, for squirrels and deer, and watch as a true hunter is born.

Should you hen call now to gobblers?

Spring turkey season is just a few weeks away, and a TON of spring gobbler (male turkey) hunters are about to pee in their pants right now, with increasing anticipation and excitement, every time they think about being out in the woods and tangling with a long beard Tom.

In Pennsylvania, any wild turkey that has a beard of any length is a legal bird to take in the month of May. The way we hunt them here is the hunter takes up a stationary position and calls, in order to lure the mate-seeking Tom turkey into shotgun or bow range. Using hand-held tail fans and stalking birds is illegal in Pennsylvania, because we have a ton of hunters and these two methods – hiding behind a turkey tail fan and trying to sneak up on gobbling birds – is a sure fire way to end up wounded or dead. Better to err on the side of safety, and so we hunt from stationary places, either on our butts up against a tree or from inside a man-made blind.

Because of the growing excited anticipation and the desire to locate wary gobblers before the season starts, some guys, and yes, it’s always guys because women are too smart and too mature to behave this way, will go out into the woods or even drive up and down roads, calling out the window(s) of their vehicles. They are trying to get the gobblers to gobble back at them.

Why do they spend their time this way? The official reason is they are verrrry professional hunters trying to locate their quarry ahead of time, so they can be the first to hang their harvest tag on one. Because hunting is competitive, ya know… (and not fun).

The real reasons guys behave like this are [WARNING – Adult themes ahead] a) guys of all ages and incomes are easily capable of becoming temporary morons for the flimsiest reasons, and for some reason hunting and fishing seem to teem with these flimsy reasons, and b) guys like easy stimulation.

To wit, older people might remember the drive-in theaters that once littered the countryside of Pennsylvania, and how in the 1970s and 1980s in addition to showing family classics like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, they also broadcast fully XXX-rated hardcore porn (often mockingly named after legit movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…use your imagination here) on their gigantic screens for the entire township to see every weekend night. Sure, if you paid to enter the parking lot you got the best view of the giant drive-in movie screen. But if you were cheap, broke, especially rambunctious with your girlfriend, or usually just lonely, some guys would find parking spots outside of the drive-in perimeter where they could watch the no-no movies and ummmmm…pleasure themselves.

And this is exactly what is going on with guys calling to gobblers pre-season, particularly from their vehicles on public roads. Guys will drive by private land that has a field or two, or a good wood lot that can hold a Tom turkey, slow down, lean out their vehicle window, and start cackling or cutting hen sounds to try to elicit a mating response from a nearby gobbler. And when the gobbler responds they get into a sexually frenzied calling match that leaves both human and bird exhausted and confused, with nothing to show for it.

Don’t do it. It is embarrassing for the human, and worse, it makes the turkeys call-shy, which hurts all hunters. Because the more that gobbler hears and responds to hens that never materialize, or who are not there when he suddenly shows up to mate with them, the less inclined he is to believe subsequent calls when the season is actually in. The more wary he is likely to be, the less likely he is to come in to your calls.

Yeah, we know, you need some action now. Need to get your cheap jollies. Deer season ended in January and you’ve just been dyin‘ for something to happen ever since. Trout season doesn’t do it for you, and besides, you just get such a silly thrill when you hear those birds hammer back at your calls from the road. And that is the portrait of a guy, right there, in all of his pathetic weakness. Kind of like a gullible young Tom that runs right into gun range of a bad turkey caller.

On the other hand, women hunters are the stronger of our species. They are spending their time peeling potatoes, dicing carrots, mincing onions, and choosing white wine for their roast wild turkey they are going to harvest and cook. Because when the season finally opens, and women hunters step into the field to begin calling to gobblers, they will not be calling to birds they have foolishly turned call-shy ahead of time, and they will probably fill their tags right away.

What the un-secret biolabs in Ukraine mean

Ukraine as a stand-alone independent nation is a fairly new thing, especially in its current (1990 to 2013, 2014 to 2022) form. Historically, some part of Ukraine was always part of Russia-proper, including Kiev and the Crimean Peninsula.

When Ukraine took leave of its forced partnership with Russia upon the dissolution of the old Soviet Union, it did so as a highly vulnerable, militarily and economically weak new state. Its long, squiggly, almost haphazardly drawn  eastern border with Russia is for all intents and purposes indefensible, and was more of a statement about Russia’s temporary weakness than about what Ukraine actually was.

If not politically, in most other ways, Ukraine was fully or partially enmeshed and integrated with Russia from the 1500s until now. Linguistically, historically, culturally, not a whole lot separated the two nations, except maybe in the eastern Ukraine, which has had its own longstanding peasant cultural identity. Kiev in particular was always regarded as a Russian city, and aside from obvious military and symbolic purposes, it is for this reason that Russia is so aggressively trying to capture the capital.

And while Russia has been invading and fighting and capturing Ukraine over the past month, what did they encounter and take over but sophisticated laboratories. Special laboratories, doing things that ought not to be done according to international treaties. Like research into bio-weapons, germ warfare, etc. Very dangerous stuff. Very no-no stuff. Not stuff you want getting into the public view, and of course that is precisely where the Russians trotted it all out, in the United Nations and in front of international cameras.

At first the Biden Administration denied having anything to do with these labs. But that didn’t last long, because everything going on in the labs is by Americans using American equipment and stuff. United States fingerprints and hand prints and package labels are all over these labs, their workings, and their contents. Hence all the secrecy but no real deniability.

Eventually, last week, longtime Democrat Party insider Victoria Nuland confirmed the existence of the labs.

These labs are evidence that Ukraine has been a weak state from the beginning, and as such has drawn the attention of exploiters. It is not to say that Ukraine was a whore to the USA, but that weak Ukraine needed the USA’s protection to be able to resist Russia. And so Ukraine allowed certain no-no things to go on, like hidden, illegal bioweapon labs. These are the “quid-pro-quo” kind of things that Joe Biden spoke so plainly about several years ago when he openly bragged about getting the Ukrainian prosecutor fired for investigating Burisma, where Biden’s son Hunter received a huge corrupt salary.

In addition to secret labs, the exploiters also got their kids like Hunter Biden, Paul Pelosi, Jr. (Nancy Pelosi’s son), John Kerry’s kid, and Mitt Romney’s kid into corrupt businesses in Ukraine, all doing high paying, shady, usually illegal work that none of them were qualified to get or do. It was just the cost that Ukraine had to pay to get American protection from Russia.

And so is it any wonder that George Soros and other Democrats are all aflutter about stopping Russia’s invasion? What other embarrassing no-no things will be discovered in Ukraine by Russian forces, and then shown to the world for all to see?

Much has been made about the Nazi-like-lite AZOV Brigade fighting the Russians down in the Crimea and Mariupol, as though all Ukrainians hold racist, antisemitic views like the AZOV Brigade does or did (they probably do not). And much has been made about how Ukraine is a hidden cesspit of leftist and Democrat corruption, and on this count I think the accusation is not only demonstrated true by the evidence, we can see how it all happened.

A weak Ukraine allowed American military scientists like Dr. Mengele Anthony Fauci to use their soil to conduct illegal and immoral biological tests that would never stand public scrutiny (like how Fauci illegally funded the Chinese military lab in Wuhan with American taxpayer money). And then it was not far to go from there to certain wealthy American political families (Democrat and Republican) placing their useless and spoiled children into shady Ukrainian businesses as another form of payola AKA payoff AKA a protection racket.

This is the true meaning of America’s hidden labs in Ukraine. They were a beginning political entry point for a great deal of successive but unofficial political and financial  penetration by American political elites. All of it illegal and immoral.

Ukraine is indeed a cesspit, and as much as the Ukrainian people never knew it and don’t deserve what is happening to them now, their situation just makes me wonder how much of America is being used this same way by our political elites – enriching our enemies at our expense, weakening American borders at our expense – and we have no idea that it is happening right here under our homes and driveways.

Review of Kirschner’s deer lures

The whitetail deer rut is now under way across the Americas, and although writing about politics (especially a handful of days before such a momentous Election Day) is the bread and butter of this blog, man does not live on bread alone. Occasionally there must be a beverage. And Kirschner’s deer pee lure is it.

Twenty years ago I first met Bob Kirschner at the Pennsylvania Outdoor Show at the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex, in the traditional archery section. Among a slew of often cantankerous iconoclasts (think about the kind of people who hold onto traditional archery against the tide of ultra high-tech training wheel bows), he was a funny guy. As in kind of odd, as in not a huckster or a salesman, but almost shy.

Even though he was surrounded by a big display of his wares, which included his own videos on how to bowhunt wary deer using his unique deer pee lures, Bob was not a hard selling, fast talking circus barker. Instead, he seemed almost embarrassed that he had to take your money at all. Such is the way of the pure hearted, because of all the deer pee lures out there, Kirschner’s is among the very few that are worth anything. And that is because his pee is pure. No jest.

Somewhere at camp I have one of his videos that shows him making his deer lures. In one scene he is wearing a work smock, a big toothy grin, and carrying a large tub of deer legs sticking out in all directions. Each of those legs has a tarsal gland on it, which deer use to communicate with each other through their highly refined sense of smell. Bob painstakingly cuts out each gland and grinds it up into a paste, which forms the base of his very smelly deer lures. This takes a lot of work and a lot of time.

Contrast Bob’s laborious hands-on process to the over-the-counter stuff sold by the gallon at the big box stores. Not to knock anyone in particular, but my experience with many different brands is they are at best watered down versions of Kirschner’s lures, and at worst they are synthetics that don’t last very long and that lose their smell within a few months of purchase. Like Code Red and Code Blue….golly, guys, what do you put in your bottles? I do not think it is 100% estrus deer pee.

Somewhere a few years ago I saw an article about how much doe pee lure was sold nationwide, which is a LOT, like hundreds of thousands or millions of gallons, compared to how many penned farm doe deer there are, which is very few, and how a basic back-of-the-envelope calculation showed that the vast majority of “doe pee” lure sold in the USA is not actual doe pee. At least not 100%. Because the standards are so lax or even non-existent, what is sold as doe pee lure might only have 1% estrus doe pee in it.

There just are not enough penned farm deer to produce the vast amount of “deer pee” sold to hunters. Not even close. Which means that a lot of what is being sold as deer pee lure is not.

And this sorry situation is NOT what Kirschner sells. He sells stuff that will curl your hair if you sniff it, because it is that nasty tarsal gland paste he made mixed with actual pee from his own pet deer. No, you don’t want to ask how he gets the deer urine….same story with foxes, coyotes, and bobcats, all of which are kept in farms where their excrement is collected and made into lures for trappers and hunters. It is all expensive stuff, and it all works very well.

From the time I bought a small squeeze bottle of Kirschner’s SilverTop at that year 2000 outdoor show (what is now the Great American Outdoor Show, which will not be held in 2021), until four years ago, when it ran out, I killed a PILE of deer coming in to his lure. When I say a pile, I mean a literal pile, like piles of deer stacked like cord wood in the back of my pickup trucks. How, you ask? Answer: I get as many DMAP and doe tags as possible, which might number ten each season, and then usually fill 75-100% of them from archery season through the late muzzleloader season and late shotgun-only season in southeast PA.

Then I ran out of the Silver Top, which only required a few drops on a tampon hung on a tree branch each time hunting, and so it had lasted so very very long. And I thought, “Why not try some other brands, see what they can do, how they work.”

And what I found was that not one other deer lure has worked anything like Kirschner’s in the southcentral and northcentral regions in which I mostly hunt. Not even close.

Bob Kirschner tells me that very few people make deer lure like he does any longer, and at age 74 he is about to hang up his spurs from his incredibly physical work. He says that some Amish farms are beginning to make deer lure the way he does, and that they will have to take up the slack when he shuts down his operation (hint hint young people out there, here is a chance to run your own business and have fun).

So I bought an 8-ounce bottle of Kirschner’s SilverTop the other day, and I am hoping this will last me a good twenty years. How can this one bottle last so long? Because only a few drops are needed each time out.

Here is another hint to hunters: Don’t overuse deer pee lure. It does not need to be sloshed about by the bucketful, and it should only be used during the actual rut, which is end of October into mid-November.

When hunters mis-use deer pee lure, either by using too much or by using it in early October, they are desensitizing deer to their world of smell, and instead of luring in deer, they confuse them and make them cagey and wary.

Using too much deer pee or using it at the wrong time eventually trains deer to stay away from it, or to be skeptical of it.

Two years ago I watched a Maryland hunting guide set off an enormous bottle of “Buck Bomb” for a youth hunter, which filled our woods with a chokingly sick scent that vaguely smelled like doe estrus. One buck was eventually brought in, a nice eight point, but he was so suspicious that he literally ran up to within 75 yards, looked around, and seeing no doe, turned and ran like hell back to where he had come from. Using too much of a good thing is not always a good thing to do, and hunters will do better in the short term and the long term if they are much more judicious in their application of deer pee lure.

So, there, that is my endorsement of Kirschner’s deer pee. I get no royalties, kickbacks, baksheesh, or remuneration from this essay. In fact, I hope Bob does not read it because he will probably object to being called shy. I write this out of simple admiration for a well done product that has made me a very happy hunter for a very long time, and I hope you get some, too. Just use it correctly.

Good luck this season. Have fun and be safe!

Put Joe Biden on trial in the senate

Yes, we know, the Republican Party has little fight in it, and that is the reason why the ridiculous kangaroo show trial in the senate has been allowed to go on for more than the first five minutes. I mean, compare the hidden way the Democrat Party handled the due process-less “impeachment” in the US House to the hands-off way the GOPe handles the Senate side.

The entire impeachment hoax has been nothing but a non-stop anti -Trump political activity that began before Trump was even sworn in.

So now that we have listened to months of lies about Trump, it is time to set the record straight. Oh, I know, the GOPe doesn’t have the stomach for drawing this out, for letting this go on and on. They just want it to end and go away.

Except, it won’t go away.  The Democrat Party Press will never allow this to go away. They will have panels discussing it every day until Election Day, and never in Trump’s favor. Every Democrat Party anchor – George Stephenapolous, Chuck Todd, Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer, Rachel Maddow, you name it – will be talking about it until Election Day, and never in Trump’s favor.

So, let’s get the cause of this up on the stand, under oath. Get corrupt Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the cocaine addict dishonorably discharged from the US military, up on the stand, under oath, to explain what the hell they were doing in Ukraine that lead to this whole cover-up and fake impeachment effort to stop the criminal investigations into the Bidens in the first place.

If Joe Biden is put on the witness stand under oath, then the American people will finally get to find out, one way or another, what exactly happened in the Obama administration that channeled so many inexperienced young Democrats from high level families into high paying jobs in Ukraine.

So, irony of ironies, if there is one possible silver lining and hidden purpose to the whole fake impeachment, it is the possibility to get the criminals who started this whole thing under oath on the witness stand. Answer some questions.

Of course it would require not only the Senate republicans to want to actually do something, but then the US Dept. of Justice would have to, too. And as we have seen, the US DOJ is just as corrupt now as it was four years ago, when a previous administration ran it. Sorry to say, because AG Barr does give some great talking head. He sounds freakin awesome, but he then allows corrupt and partisan holdovers in the DOJ to have their way politically, with no consequences. Which means Barr is not in this fight, either.

The sad thing is, with a few notable exceptions, the Republicans just do not have any fighting spirit in them. None. And they are facing a very determined enemy, who will say and do anything, no matter how untruthful, how damaging to America, to achieve their goals and to protect their criminal history.

It may be that in the end there is no political solution to this mess, and that instead of the politicians, the American people are going to have to sort it out themselves.

Adios, Pancho Villa

When he came out of the guest room, suited up to hunt, he looked like the famous Mexican bandito Pancho Villa.

No lie.

Under his ten gallon Texas cowboy hat, he had two bandoliers of rifle ammunition crossing his chest, a Colt .45 ACP on his right hip, a massive custom Bowie knife on his left, his rifle slung over his shoulder, and I think a revolver in a shoulder holster rig.

We were going deer hunting in northcentral Pennsylvania, but my Pancho Villa was loaded for bear and beyond. We all kind of stood there at 5:00 AM, slack-jawed, staring at him in disbelief, our coffee mugs levitating between lips and falling to the floor in uncontrolled spasms.

He carefully explained what purpose each weapon served. The scoped rifle was obviously for deer, and the knife was for gutting a deer. The Colt Commander .45 ACP was in case a bear attacked him at close quarters, and the revolver was in case a human attacked him. Or maybe I have that reversed.

The bandoliers were self-evident. Everyone needs an extra 100 rounds of ammunition when deer hunting.

We went hunting that day, and I sent him up the hill to sit above the cabin. It was a good spot, and many deer had fallen there. He did not shoot any deer, however. Oh yes, he saw some, and a couple that presented decent shots. But he did not feel like getting all bloody.

He took a lot of chiding that night around the dinner table. So the next day, when we set out from the porch under twinkling stars, he was dressed like everyone else: A parka, orange hat and vest, a rifle. Half way across the gravel driveway I stopped and asked.

“What the hell is that SMELL?”

We all looked at one another, and then everyone looked at Pancho.

“What? I always wear aftershave in the morning. Every man should wear aftershave,” he stated.

“We are deer hunting, not running around on our wives, dammit,” I hissed. “Get back inside and clean yourself off. Every deer can smell you for a mile away!”

Five long minutes later Pancho emerged from the cabin, smelling less like a man on the make. Good. We all checked out with complete kit, and we started to all walk across the same stretch of gravel driveway.

Again, halfway across the gravel a tremendous CLANG! rang out. We all jumped out of our boots, whirling about to see what it was. In the stillness of the 5:20 AM pre-dawn dark, that loud and incongruous metallic noise was the only noise, something absolutely necessary to avoid if we were going to put the sneak on wily whitetail deer.

“Oh,” said Pancho.

“My rifle sling was not attached properly and it disconnected from the rifle barrel.”

His rifle and expensive scope had fallen to the ground. Never mind the air raid siren warning affect this had on deer for half a mile around, it probably damaged either scope or gun, or both.

Nevertheless, he reattached the sling and off we went into the gloaming, working our ways into spots high up to snipe ambushed deer from above.

He did shoot at a deer that day, and he missed. Even he was not surprised. The scope had taken a hell of a hit, and required a half dozen shots off the porch to get it dialed back in later that day.

Over the years many similar hilarious and improbable tales emerged from Pancho’s hunting exploits up north. Unfortunately he skipped an opening week of rifle season to take his flock on a trip to the Holy Land, ate undercooked, tainted chicken, got Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and became paralyzed from the neck down.

This once strong, masculine, proud, intelligent man was increasingly hemmed in by a world of aids, walkers, motor scooters, and help with everything. In the past couple of years he talked constantly of dying. His body was in fact shutting down, and he wanted out. His untreatable pain was immense.

He died Friday, a victim as much of the Guillain-Barre paralysis as the double-edged drugs meant to prolong his life.

Pancho Villa was not his real name, but to me, one of his admirers, he will always be that colorful bandito. A man swimming powerfully both with and against the tide he had been born into. To those who could not pronounce his name, he was “Chay-me.”

To his parents, he was Chaim. Born in Boro Park, Brooklyn, he was the son of a wood worker and a homemaker, who both fled Germany before the death plague descended on everyone around them. To those who do not know Boro Park, think Fiddler on the Roof. This is a super insulated society, walled off from everything outside. This concrete jungle does not breed woodsmen or hunters.

Chaim Schertz got his PhD at NYU and his rabbinic ordination at YU. He was a terrible hunter, but a great man, a great teacher, a great friend. I miss him now and always will.

 

It’s berry season!

For about 150,000 years we humans have been hunter-gatherers, living a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle that follows the migrating animals and the growth of plants our bodies can eat.

Edible plants were a huge component of hunter-gatherer food, easily dried and carried, many of them lasting well into October and November after plants have gone dormant in most places. Unlike meat, dried edible plants do not easily rot, or attract nibbling animals.

Among edible plants, fruits and wild berries reign supreme.

That is because fruits and berries contain an unusual mix of carbohydrates, sugars, minerals, and vitamins, all of which are necessary for survival. Especially vitamin C, a crucial ingredient in a healthy human body (think scurvy).

The fact that wild berries taste especially sweet and supplement other foods with extra flavor is a big draw.

Sweet-tasting foods rarely occur in Nature.

Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries, wineberries, and many others grow abundantly here in Pennsylvania and across the Eastern US.

Plains Indians like the Lakota, Pawnee, and Comanche made a mix of red meat and berries called pemmican. Ripe berries were turned into a big mush and then worked into meat strips. Usually the mixture was dried on wooden racks in the open air and sunlight, and the dried slabs and sticks were then put under the horse saddle to be worked and broken down into what we would call jerky today.

“Jerky” gets its name from the gentle jerking motion of the horse saddle, as horses step forward. The motion slowly breaks down the meat fibers, making them easily chewed and digested.

So here we are, a bunch of sedentary Americans, mostly eating out of cans and bagged frozen foods.

One antidote to this somewhat unhealthy arrangement is to go outside and do stuff.

Hike, walk, sit and read or sit and chat with someone face to face, fish, canoe, grill out, etc., so many easy outdoor activities.

A really easy outdoor activity is berry picking. Sure there are some thorns, but so what. The benefits are fresh, delicious, healthy berries that are not sprayed with chemicals, or bagged in plastic bags, or frozen. The whole family can do it. Go find a field edge, and bring some hard containers, and start picking.

Humans have been berry picking in that Summertime window of opportunity for a really long time. So long that it can be measured in ice ages come and gone, ice sheets advancing and retreating. That is a lot of years.

If we have been doing that activity for that long, you know it is good and natural. That the whole family can do it, and then make pies together afterwards, makes it all the better.

Just watch out for poison ivy!

 

 

Am I off the radar screen? Pardon me while I follow the migrations

Across the Atlantic seaboard and throughout the eastern US interior, fish and animals are migrating, or following mating instincts as they prepare to mate or compete for mating rights.

Those of us who are hunter-gatherer-naturalists are following these natural pulses of animal life, as this is the best time of year to intersect with our prey.  These movements and motions of our prey naturally lead us out into the ocean, onto river banks, hunkered down on field edges, along the beaches, or into the woods with a bow and arrow.

Striped bass, blue fish, deer, doves, and geese are all moving.  Their calls may often be distant, or mostly silent, but they pull me nonetheless.  If given the choice between writing about politics and culture, or hunting and fishing (and running a business and family), the blog always comes in last.

So please forgive me if I am off the Internet radar screen right now, as I follow these magical migrations happening all around us.  Our ancestors did the same thing for tens of thousands of years, too.  I will return…

For shotgun slug hunters, relief

If you hunt deer in a shotgun-only zone like southeast Pennsylvania, Long Island, or New Jersey, you know the common futility of shooting rifled slugs (Foster slugs) out of your smoothbore barrel.  Within 50 yards, odds are you’ll connect, but beyond the likelihood of bagging the deer drops like a stone.  Foster slugs are effective in close, but never real accurate. (My friend, attorney, and hunting partner George A. would like me to remind readers that he has shot many deer with his Remington 870 rifled barrel, and he can attest to its great accuracy with sabots)

After flinging about a lot of wasted lead slugs last month, most of which were within 60 or 70 yards at deer standing broadside, my frustration reached epic levels.  Instead of leaving my otherwise trusty Remington 870 wrapped around a tree in the woods like some tennis pros beat up on their racquets, I decided to join the growing crowd of shotgun hunters and buy a rifled barrel.

Rifled barrels are known for dramatically improving shotgun accuracy, and effectiveness.  Even a barrel that is nearly snap-on/ snap-off, like the Remington 870, is reported by many hunters to shoot remarkably accurately out to 100 yards.

So, scoring a brand new 12-gauge Remington rifled barrel (open sights, not the cantilevered scope ramp) for $170 was exciting, but was only step one in improving my score.  Next I had to determine which sabots (pronounced say-bo-z) would emit from that new barrel.

After extensive research (which now means reading both drivel and gold on the Internet blogs, forums, product web pages, etc.), I selected the reloading components at www.slugsrus.com.  These are the folks who invented, patented, and until recently marketed the Lightfield slug, as well as the Hastings slugs of yore.  Their proprietary wad and lead mushroom head slug (“hammerhead”) result in astonishing accuracy with 490-grain lead slugs.  Not just claims of accuracy, but demonstrated accuracy in all kinds of circumstances.

That kind of freight, moving at 1600 feet per second, is a whopper, the Hammer of Thor, a ton of bricks, a falling grand piano, and every other appellation you care to assign.  It is a stopper of enormous magnitude. Forget lil’ old deer; grizzly bears and other large dangerous game will have a tough time resisting the urge to lay down and go into the long sleep once they meet this slug.

So I spoke with Pam at www.slugsrus.com, at length, and ended up purchasing sufficient components to reload 40 shells at home.  Reloading is a lot, lot, lot cheaper than buying pre-made shells off the shelf. If you are like me, and you want to see for yourself that the new rifled barrel is indeed capable of incredible accuracy, then a good half or more of those handloaded slugs are going to go down range off the cabin porch.

If you are a shotgun shooter by necessity or choice, and you resent paying ludicrous prices for shotgun slugs, I strongly recommend that you contact www.slugsrus.com and see if they can help you both improve your gun’s effectiveness, and save you a lot of money.