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Recent gun “buy backs” hugest waste of money and time

Leave it to people who are so consumed with hate that they can’t think straight to make a solid public policy, and so they expend public time and funds on really stupid things.

We are talking here about the hate that so many elected officials (99.5% of whom are registered Democrat Party) have for firearms. Firearms that otherwise secure our police forces, secure our armed forces, secure food for the table, and secure our private homes and personal bodies from violence. Firearms by themselves never did anything to anybody, but if you are an ineffective elected fool, and you are looking to make some kind of statement about how effective you are to people who are easily impressed, you do a “gun buy back.”

Such foolishness recently happened here in Northampton County, Pennsylvania and in Utica, New York.

Never mind that there is no “back” in the gun buy-back, because the guns being purchased never belonged to the official buyer. But hey, fools are gonna fool, especially with foolish sounding policy names, and so we get these mis-named public gun purchases in mostly Democrat-run towns and counties. *I grew up in a rural area where the Democrat Party was heavily represented. Today, not one person out there is a registered Democrat, because this political party has gone off the rails.

Public funds are expended to buy guns, with great fanfare and yet very little or no gain in public safety. Usually the public message goes something like this: “If our purchase of guns here today stops just one mistaken shooting, just one crime, just one accident, why then this is all worth it.”

Which is of course more foolish nonsense. The same communities are often wracked with violence and epidemic official failure, causing hundreds of local citizens to die unnecessarily and prematurely every year. But the “just one life” thing always sounds so serious.

Never does anyone ask What if these guns were used instead to defend our borders by state militia in Arizona, or New Mexico, or California, or Texas? Think about how many lives THAT would save, given how many drug and drug violence deaths are being walked across America’s open southern border right now. These guns in the hands of private citizens defending the American border could probably save hundreds of thousands of lives!

Or, what if the local police put on a gun safety program and taught these same private gun owners with little firearms experience how to safely shoot and store their guns? They would probably make their homes so much more safe and crime-resistant!

When all of the potentially saved lives are compared to the one or two potentially, theoretically, possibly saved by the “gun buy-back,” then we see these gun buy-backs a) don’t save lives and b) are a waste of public money.

What really strikes the eye in these publicized public firearm purchases are the purchased firearms’ low quality, the large number of antique black powder guns that have not hurt anyone since the 1860s, the valuable historic and collectible guns that should be sold to raise money for public agencies, and the simple hunting-grade weapons that leftists tell us they never ever want to take away from us. And all of the hunting ammunition! Destroying this stuff is the crime!

Why don’t the police use the ammunition for police officer training? Why destroy something so valuable as ammunition?!

And since when does the government rip off private citizens, paying them literally pennies on the dollar for high value guns, and then instead of monetizing that public money investment, the government employees then destroy the high value property?

Why doesn’t the government have an appraiser on site who can advise private citizens about the actual high value of the old gun the local government is offering them $75.00 for? Why is ripping off local people a good policy?

In Utica, New York, roughly $30,000.00 of public money was spent on purchasing… “ghost guns,” which is a political term, a loaded term, and a fake term to describe guns that are manufactured off the grid. And you know what? Those “ghost guns” that sound so dangerous and scary to the New York Attorney General… they were printed on a 3-D printer! In other words, they probably cost a few bucks each to make, and then the public mis-paid the owners hundreds of dollars each.

How does any of this make sense?

And yet all of these guns and the ammo are destined to be destroyed. So say the unquestioning mainstream media fools, who stand up in front of the cameras and parrot the talking points they are handed. Hint to the paid media people: You got a degree in “journalism,” I think because you were supposed to be…journalists? What kind of a journalist doesn’t ask questions, especially of those in positions of political and official power? (Answer is: Mainstream media people are not journalists and they do not ask questions. Instead they parrot narratives given to them by leftist government employees).

So we here are doing the job of the “journalists” who appeared in writing and on TV with the articles and reports about the gun purchases in Northampton County, PA, and Utica, NY. We are asking the simple questions, and making the simple points that these are not intelligent uses of official time or money. But then again, we do not begin at the assumption that destroying any and all firearms is the right and intelligent thing for government to do, because we are not filled up with mindless hate for inanimate objects.

[Question to the pro 2A activists in Northampton County: Why not sue this nincompoop of a DA, Terry Houck, and demand that he at least assess the market value of these guns before having them destroyed? In no other area of government do people get rewarded for destroying valuable public property]

Terry Houck is Northampton County’s idiot DA, who takes great pride in knowing zero about the collectible, valuable guns he is destroying

Flintlocks, black powder percussion guns, hunting shotguns, single shots, highly collectible and valuable Veteran bring-back guns from Europe, all said by DA Terry Houck to be dangerous. And yet…none of these are associated with crime. And therefore they are not dangerous.

These are not the kinds of guns used in crime. Simple single shot shotguns and one really valuable over-under hunting shotgun, all destined to be destroyed. For no public benefit at all. Just to make fools feel good about themselves

If you stand in front of a camera and talk like a parrot, are you a journalist? Priscilla Liguori asked no questions, committed no acts of journalism in the making of her report about Northampton County’s gun purchases. One more big mainstream media failure

The green-colored gun is a Remington 20-gauge pump shotgun used for hunting birds and rabbits. The rifle at the far right bottom with the rounded pistol grip is a high value Veteran bring-back gun from Europe that never hurt anyone. The gun at the very top of the heap is a single shot black powder FLINTLOCK muzzleloader used to hunt deer; with 1790s technology, it has zero potential use in crime. Only hatred-filled firearm prohibitionists cheer on the destruction of these useful and safe recreational and collectible guns.

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.

Bidenflation just killed a national publication gem

“Soaring prices of paper, shipping, ink, and printing have put us into the red, and we can no longer function,” reads the personal note I received on a fabulous custom Double Gun Journal card from DGJ proprietors Daniel and Joanna.

What a message: Disastrous loss, beautifully wrapped and delivered on a silver platter.

My first encounter with the DGJ was spring 1991, in Rockville, Maryland, on a Tower Records bookstore shelf, along with Grey’s Sporting Journal and other fancier field sports publications. But the DGJ was different than any other publication I had ever seen, and, therefore, every quarter thereafter I purchased the latest edition and learned about reloading for black powder firearms long believed to be “obsolete” or “dangerous!” or un-sexy enough to compete with modern mass produced plastic and stainless steel firearms lacking a soul, a heart, or even personal appeal.

Distinguished gun and outdoor writers like Ross Seyfried and Sherman Bell introduced modern shooters, antique gun enthusiasts, and financially or historically oriented gun collectors to actually making those beautiful historic firearms shoot once again. Seyfried and Bell, in particular, removed the mystique and veil from antique rifles, double rifles, and double barreled shotguns with Damascus or twist barrels.

It turns out that the beautifully hand crafted double barreled black powder rifles and shotguns of the 1800s, and the early nitro express rifles of the 1900-1930 period, did not just look good. They also shot with incredible precision.

Since the late 1990s I have been an annual subscriber to the DGJ, eagerly awaiting each quarterly installment. In 2017, 2018, and 2022 I published a number of technical articles about Charles Lancaster double rifles. Of particular focus has been the development of Lancaster’s most valuable trademark technology, their singular oval bore rifling. For those with any curiosity, the Lancaster oval bore rifling looks like a smooth shotgun barrel. But if you squint your eyes and look hard enough, you will eventually discern an egg-shaped bore that rotates on a central axis. Lancaster’s proprietary oval bore rifling was long ago, and remains today, one of the great mysteries of sporting arms ballistics, because it absolutely defies physics. And yet, it works incredibly well.

An 1888 Charles Lancaster black powder double rifle that I shoot regularly is capable of placing paper patched bullets from BOTH its barrels into a 1.5″ hole at 100 yards. Now THAT is the very definition of firearm accuracy.

Charles Lancaster oval bore double rifles were The Thing for wealthy sportsmen around the world from the 1850s into the 1920s. That I eventually became the probable “expert” on Charles Lancaster oval bore rifles is due to a simple mistake, or a weird act of Godly intervention, or Fate. Because when now deceased Maine forester extraordinaire Tim Scott asked me to buy his Charles Lancaster .450 BPE double rifle, I bit. And then Ross Seyfried walked me through the steps of making it shoot safely. After that I was hooked, and the rest is history (see also lancasterovalbore.com).

And so here we are, saying goodbye to one of the last, if not THE last artisanal publication in America. A family owned business for decades, a byword and watchword and often the final word on antique firearms technology and reloading, the DGJ is irreplaceable. And yet it too is now fallen victim to Joe Biden’s hyperinflation. Everything is so expensive now, so much more expensive than it was just a year ago.

I recognize that Biden’s purposefully destructive economic policies are aimed at re-setting America into a more communist China-type place. While most Americans oppose this needless, illegal, forced, and destructive change, I think the loss of the DGJ is like the proverbial canary in a coal mine: Its early demise warns of us of coming dangers that can be fatal to us, too.

If you are interested in contacting the DGJ to acquire back issues, binders, beautiful note cards and artwork, etc., they can be reached at 231-536-7439 in central Michigan.

Maybe some day younger Americans will encounter these treasures, and discover an appreciation for fine firearms

My final article in the Double Gun Journal, thanks to Joe Biden’s purposefully destructive economic policies

 

What is hunting?

With hunting seasons drawing to a close here in Pennsylvania, it is worth the time to revisit an old question, which is What is hunting?

We ask because, without question, non-hunters overwhelmingly support hunting that is fair chase and purposeful. That is, hunters who are seen by the public to be respectful of our prey are recognized as a positive force, and worthy of continuing their pastime.

Every scientific opinion survey asking Americans their opinion about this subject for the past several decades has yielded the same result: Hunters who actually hunt get respect and support from non-hunters. On the other hand, people who are perceived by the general public to be casually killing animals just for pleasure or for “trophies” usually do not garner much support.

While there is a lot for us to talk about with even just the survey question itself, like how America has become so urbanized and thus our people so distant from the natural resources and processes that feed and clothe us and wipe our butts (toilet paper from trees harvested in forests) etc, this particular question, and its answer, is most important because hunters are a minority of a minority in America.

Positive public opinion about hunters and hunting is necessary to the continuation of regulated hunting as we know it and as it has been practiced for the past 100 years.

Given that American hunters are lamentably awash in a sea of soulless plastic and stainless steel rifles these days, whereupon the Hubble Telescope-equivalent scope is mounted, many owners of these contraptions are regularly and quite naturally tempted to attempt military-grade long distance sniper assassinations of far-off big game animals.

Though fleet of foot, strong of heart, and equipped with majestically sensitive noses, ears, and eyes, these animals cannot compete with humans who are so far removed from the natural zone of awareness these animals’ senses otherwise provide them. This begs the question of whether or not long-long-distance shots at these clueless animals are actual fair chase hunting, or are they incautious and disrespectful maltreatment of animals we otherwise admire.

Honestly, this stark question brings to my mind the images of charismatic megafauna hand-painted on cave walls by our spear-wielding ancestors: Rhinos, gigantic cave bears, massive aurochs, lions, zebras and wild horses, bison, etc. dangerous animals all, taken at great personal risk and at bad breath distance, contrasted with today’s ego-driven high-fence “trophies” mounted on manicured man cave walls around America, animals snuffed out without a chance at fight or flight.  The cave paintings were the Sistine Chapel experience for paleolithic humans, and today’s manicured egocentric faux trophy rooms are very sorry substitutes. Authentic versus fake, they couldn’t be more different from one another.

So, a bear or deer taken with a bow, a crossbow, a spear, an atlatl, a blowgun, a shotgun, a flintlock or percussion muzzleloader, or a modern muzzleloader or rifle with open sights seems like a pretty natural example of fair chase. The 400-yard Hubble Telescope plus “500 Magnum Killem” caliber assassination of the unknowing and unsuspecting beast is just that, an assassination. Is there anything fair or chase about it?

Just as political America now requires a return to our simple and beautiful founding principles, so will our hunters benefit from returning to mastering the basics of early American woodcraft, the ability to sneakily slither and glide into the wind across a landscape to get within the animal’s sensory zone and make an honest and competitive kill. This kind of field craft is the essence of fair chase.

Artificial reliance by hunters on high tech is embarrassing, to tell you the truth of how I feel. Repent and return to the basics, brothers and sisters! Our fellow Americans who do not hunt will not only support us, they will admire us, and as a result of their admiration our outdoor lifestyle will have a much greater chance of surviving beyond the high tech culture that is otherwise crushing everything natural and alive in its unwholesome path.

Wild animals have understandably inspired humans since our beginning

Hanging this stag’s magnificent rack on your lodge wall would be earned with the bow and arrow

An honest kill. This is hunting

 

Anatomy of a deer season

It doesn’t matter if you archery hunt for deer religiously, from October 1 to mid-November; the archery season is always over way too fast.

It doesn’t matter if you archery hunt a bit for bear and deer, hunt the week of early muzzleloader for bear and doe, do some small game hunting, have the men up to camp for bear season for four days, and then hunt every day of deer rifle season. The ending is always the same: It ended way too fast. We wait all year for this time, and before you can blink an eye, it is over.

For many hunters, this time is about being afield, hunting. The occasional actual killing part is a welcome indication that the hunting part was done well. Proof that the time spent outside was not wasted.

Oh, we still have some late deer season remaining, which is the late archery and flintlock hunt. But by now, deer everywhere in Pennsylvania are on high alert. A twig falling out of a tree and rustling a leaf on the ground will send a nearby deer herd into panicked stampede into the next county. So getting deeply enough into the sensory zone of these intelligent animals to take one with a bow or a flintlock at this stage takes real skill, not just the usual luck.

Although I will hunt the flintlock deer season, because I have some DMAP tags left, looking back even now with a sense of longing has me thinking about the anatomy of a good deer season. Some take-aways:

  1. Eat good food. Whether it is home-made jerky and dried fruit we make ourselves for our own time afield, or it is the extra thick gourmet steaks we bring to hunting camp, eat the best quality food you can afford. Hunting alone or with friends and family is a celebration, so eat like you are celebrating. And because Man does not live on bread alone, make sure your drinks are of a commensurate high quality.
  2. Practice, practice, practice with your gun. Archery hunters practice non-stop, but for some reasons many gun hunters leave it to one box of ammo and the days right before the season to “practice” shooting. Well do I recall sharing a range with a guy from Lancaster County at the bench next to me. Friendly enough, he enthusiastically, if spastically, launched his one box of “extra” shells down range as rapid fire as a bolt action can fire. I had offered him the use of my spotting scope and Caldwell shooting sled, and he declined. He did end up relying on my spotting and calling his hurried shots, however, because he didn’t quite have his scope figured out. The old random “spray n’ pray” is the approach he packed up and drove off to hunting camp with. Do any of us think he hit what he shot at?
  3. Bring your best jokes, naughty or practical. Hunting camp is fun, and each of us must contribute to that festive atmosphere. Many years ago, I bent down to inspect a strange looking object hiding under the cabin’s kitchen counter. And just as quickly I jumped back and screamed like a little girl when the damned thing took off running. That it was merely a muskrat pelt attached to a fishing line being pulled by Bob and followed by uproarious laughter at my expense just made my revenge all the sweeter. As for naughty jokes and rhymes, the list is endless. Look them up and bring half a dozen. Maybe I am lowbrow, or maybe I have low expectations, but it sure seems that everyone present laughs at these men-only jokes.
  4. Get out into position early, like at least an hour before first light, and when you move play the wind (nose into the wind), go quietly and slowly, and carry your gun port-arms and not across your back. If you can get out into position at 4:30am, even better. Just bring a blanket and some Zippo hand warmers.
  5. Food sources matter for deer and bear, too. We humans are not the only ones who both enjoy and need food. In a year of abundant acorns, a stand of sweet tasting white oaks will draw more deer and bear, and you can sit down wind of that stand of trees. In a year of scarce acorns, like this year, any tree that had a decent crop will still draw animals pawing in the leaves for whatever may be left in early December. By this mid-November, almost all of the already scarce acorns were eaten up, and both bear and deer seemed to be moving widely across the landscape in search of any food. It makes for tough hunting, and so we have to team up with buddies and other camps to work together to scoop up what animals are out there. Be flexible and think outside the box of a permanent stand.
  6. Speak animal language. Last year I grunted in an Adirondacks wilderness buck after busting him out of his bed. He was a territorial and aggressive SOB. But the conditions were all wrong for playing around, and although his body was visible, I could not shoot through the beech brush to get him. This year I returned for Round Two with the same animal, which had probably never seen a human being, and after two days of tentative efforts, Day Three resulted in the furious huge buck storming right in to my position with leaves, twigs, snot and mouth foam flying. I shot him in the neck at five yards, five miles from my truck. Lot of work, totally worth it for that DIY hunt of a lifetime. My position was carefully chosen for what he could see or smell under a certain wind direction. I waited until it was all just right, and let fly. His response was immediate.
  7. Take pictures, send them in emails. While journaling is not dead, most people today do not write in a personal or camp journal. Instead, we take photos and email them around. The recipients always appreciate them. Especially when ten or twenty years has suddenly passed, our knees don’t seem capable of all those steep climbs and hard sidehilling drives any longer, and a lot of our best times at hunting camp are sitting around with dear friends and reminiscing together. So don’t forget to take pictures and share them.

Northern PA’s acorn crop largely failed in 2021, possibly due to a late frost that killed the acorn flowers. Acorns remaining on the ground looked OK from the outside, but were all rotten like this on the inside. Wildlife is hungry and moving widely to locate food.

My “Freedom Buck,” killed on Sunday November 28th at 7:45am, on private property in PA. The ban on Sunday hunting is an attack on freedom, and so I named this Sunday morning buck after my declaration of freedom.

 

 

The deer that got away, but shouldn’t have

It doesn’t matter how many seasons I’ve spent afield, or how many big game animals I’ve taken while hunting. I am always surprised at how many strange circumstances there are in the woods that challenge my expectations and prior experiences. Over the decades some fatally wounded animals have gotten away from me, despite my best efforts to locate them. Or at least I thought they had gotten away, because I did not find them where I expected them to be, and ended up going home mystified about how such a large animal could seemingly vanish into thin air. Each one of these losses has been a “teachable moment,” and the better I became at following up wounded animals, the more I was able to look back on ones that got away (that actually were there but not found) and realize where and how I had failed to look.
Learning from these moments is important, because dying animals sometimes pull off disappearing acts that you can’t believe. That you would not believe if someone told you, and you would not believe if you did not see it with your own eyes. One big take away from my experiences is big game like deer and bear can be dead on their feet but nonetheless run far on adrenaline, and then do a head dive under a log, into a leaf pile, or over a cliff, thereby disappearing from view. It is up to the hunter to decipher the clues left behind by the mortally wounded animal, so that we can track it down and bring it to hand. Losing wounded big game animals is a big no-no, and although it does happen, it really shouldn’t happen very often.
Even with tracking dogs now legal in Pennsylvania for finding lost big game, a lot of hard work can be avoided if the hunter can figure out what likely happened right away.
Last Sunday morning I was reminded yet again that fatally hard-hit deer can nonetheless run pretty far, not leave much of a trail to follow, leave little or no blood trail, seem to disappear, and important clues about how far they are likely to go can often be found right at the site of initial bullet contact. Even in snow, which in the best circumstances shows all kinds of evidence that is easy to follow.
He had been grubbing for acorns in the brush behind the log at the top of the picture below. He was shot there when he turned broadside, at 120 yards. Notice the wildly turned up leaves and dirt, as his first few frantic leaps propelled him away from the scene of attack as fast as possible. There are just a couple of these scuff marks, and no blood visible on the snow yet. If snow were not present, we would only have the violent scuff marks as an indication an animal had reacted wildly and sought immediate escape. These scuff marks are typically (though not always) only found where the animal has taken a hard hit. In dry leaves and no snow, this might be your only clue at the beginning of a long and faint trail left by a fatally wounded animal.
The buck left a good clue that he was hit hard the first time: A series of sliding steps with scuffed up leaves and some minor blood spray, just little drops, right before bounding farther up the hill and turning around to regard his former position like he’d been stung by a bee. That’s when I shot him the second time. I knew I had connected with the first shot, but my impression was that it was not a hard or fatal hit.

Below is the buck after the second bullet, at about 140 yards, the hole of which is visible behind his shoulder; a classic behind-the-shoulder double lung/ top of heart hit. Usually it’s immediately fatal. Usually the animal is knocked down by the impact. But not that day. He absorbed the second soft point without moving, just standing there broadside, as if I had completely missed him. Even after he dropped he had a lot of life and fight left, as can be seen in his death spiral in the snow.

My challenge was that I did not see him fall, which happened while I was fumbling with my binoculars. Because I do not often use a rifle scope, I do not maintain a magnified field of view after my shot. Going back and forth between open sights and binoculars is my process.

As an aside, you may wonder why I use open sights, or you may be one of those people who deride open sights. Shooting instinctively with open sights is how I grew up and how I learned to hunt. Unlike a scope, open sights can take a lot more abuse in the field before they go out of whack. Unlike a scope, they cannot possibly lose their “zero” after spending eleven months in a closet. Open sights are absolutely reliable, and perfectly effective. Recall that American infantry are qualified on open sights out to 600 yards (or meters), so it is not like these things are relics from the past. Open sights are the best option, provided they are installed correctly and checked annually.

My preference for open sights is about more than performance, however. It has to do with how I like to hunt: On foot, getting close to the animal, within its sensory zone, and trying to kill it on its own terms, up close. This is a true contest of skill, not an assassination. And I hardly think an open-sighted center fire rifle is a disadvantage; it is a huge advantage over a spear or a bow. Scoped rifles are just that much more of an advantage.

So, I did not see the buck fall, and he fell into a small swale where I could not see him. Not wanting to stink up the woods and ruin further hunting, I sat on my butt and scoured the woods for signs of a deer. In fact, I saw a large buck a couple hundred yards away sneak into a thick tree top blowdown. It made me think the buck I had shot at was gut-shot and sneaking away to lie down, and so I did not push him. Only when the crows showed up over an hour later was it evident that the buck was in fact dead right where I had last seen him.

Will the US Supreme Court go rogue in the Corlett decision?

The US Supreme Court says it will hear arguments in a major Second Amendment (gun rights) case brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (Corlett, docket number 20-843) against the State of New York.

These two opponents are now met in legal battle, and the US Supreme Court is the final battlefield upon which the outcome will be legally determined. Legal being a kind of tenuous word these days, as all kinds of government agencies have taxpayer-paid staff who now illegally behave any damned way they want, with no legal accountability. The illegal behavior of the “public servants” raises the question whether the official decisions the various government agencies are then issuing are actually legal, and whether or not citizens should give a fig about them.

The case facts (the policy question) of Corlett are right out of the Constitution’s Second Amendment: The right to keep and BEAR arms. New York State says no, citizens have no intrinsic or Constitutional right to carry concealed or unconcealed firearms outside of their homes, without the state’s approval. And thus has New York State made getting a concealed carry license very difficult, and the penalties for law-abiding citizens who do carry without a license extremely harsh.

As you might guess, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association believes the opposite. They contend the plain meaning of the Second Amendment means what it says: To bear arms is to carry them in public, while the keep arms part is about having guns in your home. No license or government approval beyond what the Second Amendment says is necessary to keep or bear firearms, nor is government interference in such an individual Constitutional right lawful.

Moreover, they point out that the public policy question is on their side, because concealed carry permit holders are overwhelmingly law-abiding and safe. It does stand to reason that the people who go through the government red tape rigmarole presently needed to get a carry license are people who innately believe in following the law, in contrast to gang members and other urban scourges who carry and use guns illegally as part and parcel of their daily living. Therefore, New York’s stated purpose of limiting carry licenses for public safety and crime reduction is not only meaningless, because the current policy fails on both counts, it is actually having the opposite result. States with liberal concealed carry laws have seen a greatly reduced amount of violent crime, because would-be criminals understand they may encounter deadly force in response to their criminal behavior.

Many gun owners are excited about this case, after so many years of the Court declining to hear appeals of lower court decisions that were completely contrary to the Heller and MacDonald holdings (which were both strongly in keeping with the plain language of the Second Amendment’s very broad guarantee of individual gun rights). Well, hold your horses, people. The US Supreme Court has declined all kinds of appeals of lower court infringements of not just 2A, but what are in essence complete overturns of Heller and MacDonald precedents. The Supreme Court majority has allowed these lawless lower court decisions to stand. When the Court declined to hear appeals of lower court decisions on gun rights that were contrary to established Supreme Court precedent, the Court was more or less agreeing with the lower courts. The result has been a slow chiseling away of Constitutional Second Amendment rights by political activists sitting on lower courts, a slow erosion of the Supreme Court’s standing among and relevance to the citizenry, and a very clear message to Constitutionalists from all the courts: Do not hold hope for the American court system to protect individual American civil rights.

America’s court system is just as politicized and dysfunctional as the rest of our federal government. This is due to the divergent natures of the two types of people inhabiting our courts: Leftist activists for whom the law means nothing but a randomly opportunistic pathway to implement socialism and tyranny, and moderates who cannot be troubled to make a stand on hardly anything at all. So the moderates get swept away by the anti-law socialists. The Supreme Court is subject to these same forces.

Think about how America is still in the aftermath of the Court declining to hear enormously important cases about how some state administrative agencies (Pennsylvania’s Department of State being one) had unilaterally and illegally changed their state election laws right before the 2020 election, bypassing their own state constitutions and laws. And yesterday the Court sided 6-3 with a criminal illegal alien who fought his deportation on the grounds that the US Government had failed to give him “sufficient notice.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

If you are a convicted criminal illegal alien, the US Government and the citizen taxpayers empowering it owe you nothing but a swift kick in the ass on your way out of America.

To be blunt: Because the Supreme Court allowed the 2020 election to be stolen, and would not even hear the monumental legal and policy issues raised during the steal, why would any of us believe they will stand in the way of the government trying to steal our guns?

If any particular official government entity or group of individuals is responsible for the destruction of America’s rule of law, it is the Supreme Court. No wonder fewer and fewer Americans have confidence in or loyalty to this failed government entity.

So, if you are one of the people salivating over the prospect of the Court hereby upholding the Second Amendment rights of the citizen serf in Corlett, you are DREAMING. Do not raise your own or anyone else’s expectations about the Supreme Court now swooping in to set things right on the Second Amendment. If anything, we should be prepared for this lawless body packed with leftist activists and cowards, with just a couple of loyal patriots (the two Constitutionalists Thomas and Alito), to throw the Second Amendment overboard. If anything, we should be raising people’s preparation levels for defending our 2A rights by all means necessary. The US Supreme Court has gone rogue and no American should look to the compromised traitors in it to provide any relief to USA citizens.

So come what may, regardless of what will be the Supreme Court’s latest decision on the Second Amendment, New York State citizens may yet determine on their own what they believe their individual rights to be, and also what the limits are on government interference in the private lives and rights of citizens. After all, both government and these various courts were established to resolve differences in favor of citizen rights that are already very clearly spelled out in our founding documents, including in New York’s own constitution. All of America’s founding documents were written and established to limit government and to elevate the citizen over government, a situation now being reversed in a nationwide atmosphere of autocratic government totalitarianism. New York State being an Exhibit A. Which the Supreme Court may well reinforce in its Corlett decision.

New York citizens may choose to protect themselves as they see fit, perhaps with a concealed handgun minus the license part. Obviously this is presently at some risk to a person’s liberty, due to New York’s anti-Constitution state administration.

And this raises the bigger question here: Will enough Americans rise up and re-assert our collective ownership of this thing called government, which has gone totally rogue and turned against us, the citizen taxpayers? Unfortunately, blood is probably going to flow in answering this question. We freedom loving citizens are being attacked and damaged by anti-freedom people who want full control of everyone and every decision we make. Human history demonstrates that only brute force can determine who prevails in these kinds of contests.

UPDATE: Reading the Washington Post assessment of this case provides insight into the minds of tyrants. The Washington Post wonders aloud what will happen if the Court is “too broad” in its reading of what can only be plainly read as a very broad individual right to keep and bear firearms. As a mouthpiece for the radical Left, the Washington Post sends public messages from elected officials to everyone else, and so they wonder if a “too broad” interpretation of the Second Amendment will result in the Court being “overhauled” by the Democrat Party with an increase in the number of leftist activist justices sitting on the bench. You can’t make this stuff up, and they are proudly stating up front that if the Left does not get what it wants, which is official tyranny via the Supreme Court, then they will artificially install a new Supreme Court that will give them the policy outcome they want, democracy be damned. When people use democratic processes to achieve non-democratic results, you are dealing with pure evil. Well, what am I saying…these people stole the 2020 election in broad daylight, so what else should be expected? My advice: Gentlemen, prepare to defend yourselves!

UPDATE May 2nd, 2021: The Supreme Court discredits itself yet again. The Court has declined to hear one of the most salient lawsuits of our time, that brought by Laura Loomer, whose weighty complaint to the Court was that the Big Tech digital media are illegal monopolies who illegally discriminate against Americans, and thereby violate citizens’ First Amendment free speech rights. Loomer being the Exhibit A of the moment. And we all know an awful lot of “cancel culture” discrimination by Big Tech has been going on the past  twelve months, affecting at least a third of the American citizenry, and you would think a reasonable Supreme Court would want to weigh in on this problem. But no, the Supreme Court continues to behave disgracefully and kick away the sniveling little wretches who keep showing up at the carriage door begging for some relief from their oppression.

This Court is daily diminishing its own usefulness and relevance to the American People, and the only answer why this is, is that the Court’s majority no longer sees themselves as part of the American republic or as guardians of the Constitution that holds the republic together.

If not us, We, The People, then who the hell is the Supreme Court working for? I think the Corlett case is going to demonstrate exactly who the Supreme Court is protecting and promoting these days: Tyrannical Big Government. I hope I am wrong, but looking at all these decisions the Court is making, including Loomer’s case, it is clear the US Supreme Court is AWOL.

Don’t you go and feel all alone if the Court’s anti-Constitution behavior leaves you thinking their decisions no longer have a binding effect on you. The Court is clearly now made of tyrants, and tyranny has no role or place on American soil, and they have no claim on the allegiance of the American citizen, much less our obedience.

PA’s must-do 21st century deer management policy

When Gern texted me on November 12th “planning to plant the entire farm with grass next Fall… 100%  hay… can’t afford to feed wildlife. Going broke trying to make money,” I knew that my best deer management efforts had finally failed over the past 13 years.

Every year I work hard to make sure our deer season is as productive as possible. Because our tenant farmer pays us a per-acre rent every year, which covers the real estate taxes and some building maintenance, and for 13 years he has grown soybeans, corn and hay in various rotations across the many fields we have. Our arrangement has generally worked out well both ways, but that text message ended my  sense of satisfaction.

While I do wear dirty bib overalls when I run the sawmill and also when I try to impress people who don’t know me, Gern is the actual farmer who tills (broad sense), fertilizes, plants, and harvests a very large farm property in Dauphin County, some of which I own and all of which I manage. Our property is one of many that comprise about 30,000 acres of farm land that Gern and his family cultivate in Central Pennsylvania. To say that his family works hard is the understatement of all understatements. Gern embodies AMERICA! in flesh and spirit, and to see him so utterly beaten down by mere deer is heartbreaking.

Over the years I knew that both overabundant deer and bears were taking a significant toll on our grain crops (Gern’s primary source of family income), and so I worked hard to recruit the kinds of good hunters who would help us annually whittle down the herds, so that the pressure was taken off of our crops. About five years ago I proudly photographed one of our late-summer soybean fields, at about four super healthy feet high, indicating a minimal amount of deer damage. When I passed the soybean field pictures around to other farmers and land managers, nothing but high praise returned. And so I patted myself on the back for our successful deer management, and congratulated our guest hunters, who were killing about 25-35 deer a year on our property. Our hunters were filling an impressive 50% to 65% of the roughly 54 DMAP deer management tags we hand out every year, as well as some of their buck tags and WMU 4C tags.

But, change is life’s biggest constant, and while I rested on my hunting laurels, deer hunting changed under my feet. The past few years have seen a lot of change in the hunting world. First and biggest change is that hunters in Pennsylvania and other states are aging out en masse, with fewer replacements following them. This means that a lot less pressure is being brought to bear on the deer herd. Which means a lot more deer are everywhere, which is not difficult to see if you drive anywhere in Pennsylvania in a vehicle. There are literally tons of dead deer along the side of every road and highway, everywhere in Pennsylvania. We should be measuring this at tons-of-deer-per-mile, not just the number of dead deer and damaged vehicles. Frankly this overabundant deer herd situation is out of control not just for the farmers who feed Americans, but for the people who want to safely drive their vehicles to the grocery store. Hunters are sorely needed to get this dangerous situation under control, and yet Pennsylvania’s deer management policies favor overabundant deer herds to keep older hunters less crabby.

So, because I am about to break out the spotlights and AK47 to finally manage our farm deer the way they need to be managed (and yes, PA farmers are allowed to wholesale slaughter deer in the crops) (and yes, I feel the same way about our favorite forested places in the Northern Tier), here below is the kind of deer management/ hunting policy Pennsylvania needs via the PGC, if we are going to get the out-of-control deer herd genie back into its bottle and stop hemorrhaging farmland on the altar of too many deer:

  1. Archery season is too long. At seven weeks long, the current archery season lets a lot of head-hunters stink up the woods, cull the very best trophy bucks, and pressure the deer enough to make them extra skittish and nocturnal before rifle season begins. Even though rifle season is our greatest deer management tool. The same can be said of bear season, which is the week before rifle season. So shorten archery season and lengthen rifle season, or make the opening week of deer season concurrent with bear season, like New York does.
  2. Rifle season must be longer, and why not a longer flintlock season, too? Is there something “extra special” about deer come the middle of January, that they are prematurely off limits to hunting? Most bucks begin to drop their antlers in early February. Have three weeks of rifle season and then five weeks of flintlock season until January 30th, every year. Or consider flintlock hunting year ’round, or a spring doe season in May.
  3. More doe tags are needed. There are too few doe tags to begin with, and most doe tags sell out and are never used. This is especially true in WMUs 5C and 5D, where despite enormous tag allocations, tags quickly become unavailable. That is because individual hunters can presently buy unlimited numbers of doe tags, for some reason having to do with the way deer were managed in the 1980s…c’mon, PGC, limit of two or three doe tags for each hunter in these high-density WMUs, and at least two doe tags in Big Woods WMUs like 2G and 4C.
  4. Despite good advancements in reducing the regulatory burden on deer hunters this past season, there are still too many rules and restrictions. For example, why can’t our muzzleloading guns have two barrels? Pedersoli makes the Kodiak, a fearsome double percussion rifle that would be just the ticket for reducing deer herds in high deer density WMUs where the PGC says they want more deer harvests. But presently it is not legal. Another example is the ridiculous interruptions in small game seasons as they overlap with bear and deer seasons. This bizarre on-again-off-again discontinuity of NOT hunting rabbits while others ARE hunting deer is an unnecessary holdover from the long-gone, rough-n-ready bad old poaching days of Pennsylvania wildlife management. PA is one of the very few states, if the only one at all, with these staggered small game and big game seasons. Bottom line is hunting is supposed to be fun, and burdening hunters with all kinds of minutiae is not only not fun, it is unnecessary. Other states with far more liberal political cultures have far fewer regulations than Pennsylvania, so come on PA, give fun a try.
  5. Artificial deer feeding with corn, alfalfa, oats etc on private land during all deer and bear seasons must end. Not only does this “I’m saving the poor starving deer” nonsense lead to spreading deadly diseases like CWD, it artificially draws deer onto sanctuary properties and away from nearby hunters. Or it is baiting, plain and simple. Feeding causes overabundant deer to avoid being hunted during hunting season, but then quickly spread out on the landscape where they eat everything out of house and home when hunting season ends. This year up north (Lycoming and Clinton counties) is a prime example. We had no acorns to speak of this Fall, and whatever fell was quickly eaten up by early November. As the weeks rolled on through hunting season, the deer began leaving their regular haunts and unnaturally herding up where artificial feed was being doled out. This removed them from being hunted, and creates a wildlife feeding arms race, where those who don’t feed wildlife run the risk of seeing none at all. So either completely outlaw artificial feeding or let everyone do it, including hunters, so they can compete with the non-hunters. And yes, people who buck hunt only, and who do not shoot does, and who put out corn and alfalfa etc. for deer during hunting season, are not really hunters. They are purposefully meddling in the hunts of other people by trying to keep them from shooting “my deer.”
  6. PGC must better communicate to its constituency that too many deer result in unproductive farms that then become housing developments. Because the landowner and farmer must make some money from the land, if farm land can’t grow corn, it will end up growing houses, which no real hunter wants. So real hunters want fewer deer, at numbers the land and farms can sustain.

 

Halfway through PA deer season

We are halfway through deer season, and I, having hunted in several counties in Northcentral and southcentral Pennsylvania, have a few observations. These might be helpful to those seeking to fill tags this coming week, or to policy makers trying to mould a better season next year.

a) Despite the “purple paint law,” which is Pennsylvania’s new private land trespass law that carries severe penalties for trespassing, PA hunters continue to trespass and poach and shoot deer on private lands they have no business being on. So far this season I have been witness to the deliberate taking of deer on private land by people who have no right to hunt there, both a buck and a doe.  One incident was just plain sloppy woodsmanship; the other was purposefully crafty. Some trespassers are habitual lawbreakers, who trespass more to get one over (in their warped thinking) on someone who has land, rather than to actually pursue a specific trophy animal or meat for their family. This blurs into the mental illness category. Others are defiant individuals, who have always had authority problems both at work and elsewhere. This also blurs into the mental disease category. The antidote to all this miserable behavior is the joy of hidden trail cameras, which have caught several malefactors in flagrante. Yeah, Jon, you….again. To be continued!

b) Pennsylvania is now a huge deer trophy destination. The trophy bucks that are being taken from archery season, when deer are at their most vulnerable, right through rifle season, would have been unimaginable twenty or forty years ago. The enormous heads (antlers/ racks scoring 140 inches and above) that are being taken by hunters everywhere across the state are easily on par with famous trophy destination states like Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Kansas.

This development is a looooong way from the spike bucks and “trophy” fork horns of my youth, and frankly to which too many older hunters would gladly return.

This exciting development is primarily a result of top-notch deer management by the Pennsylvania Game Commission over the past twenty years. Along that twenty-year-way, PGC has suffered a lot of abuse for its deer management, which always involved reducing the number of over-abundant does and retaining a high number of mature bucks to return again next year, with racks that have gone from OK to spectacular. People upset with PGC were long accustomed to “seeing” lots of deer. These people incorrectly equated overabundant deer with a healthy deer population, because, in fact, the truth is the opposite. Too many deer is unhealthy for not only deer, but for a boatload of other animals, and plants, that everybody other than deer needs. Deer diseases like TB and CWD are a result of deer populations too high for their own good. So is the deer-car-collision disease, which is crazy high in PA.

We have to kill a lot more deer. PGC knew that and started it in 2000, and it was a slow and painful process that necessitated an entire cultural shift among tradition-bound hunters.

However, PGC alone doesn’t get all the credit for these big bucks, even though the agency has carried the torch of scientific wildlife management through a hailstorm of undeserved crap. Another reason Pennsylvania has so many massive trophy bucks roaming around is that we have a lot fewer hunters and less hunting pressure over the past five years, and over the past fifty years. There is a big difference between someone who buys a hunting license, because he has been proudly buying a license every year since 1962, as it is part of his personal identity, and someone who buys a hunting license with the intention of squeezing out many of its benefits and opportunities, such as climbing high into remote places in pursuit of huge bucks.

Buying a hunting license is a tradition among many older Pennsylvanians, even if they don’t actually hunt much or at all with it.

If I can think off-hand of five hunters I know who will comment on the dearth of deer hunters seen in the more remote places, I can probably easily find five hundred others who will testify to far less hunting pressure in most places, not just the remote ones. This means that old bucks with big trophy racks have more secret places to go where they can go on growing old, without dying of sudden acute lead poisoning from a hunter standing downwind behind a tree. As the population of really older bucks continues to climb, they begin to spill out into more accessible and less topographically challenged places, where the average Hunter Joes can now occasionally pick one off for the local newspaper’s front page.

c) I miss John R. Johnson as my long time knife maker of choice. John took a break from making his beautiful custom knives about five years ago, and fortunate are those of us who bought his highest-quality products while we could. While it is possible to hunt with a hunk of basic soft steel half-assedly made into a rough knife shape in China, why should we? Ever since the dawn of our species, a hunter-gatherer species, our hunters have ALWAYS prided themselves on the high quality of their weapons and accoutrements. Having a nice rifle and a nice knife is a source of great pleasure for every hunter I know, and most aspire to having the best they can stretch to afford. That is to their individual credit and to our collective credit, as a sign of sophistication and high performance. So if you are fortunate enough to find a JRJ hunting knife somewhere, buy it right away. Cherish it, keep it sharp and well, and use it. It is a product of one of our central Pennsylvania native sons, and a true embodiment of the rugged character and values we here in central Pennsylvania cherish.

 

Diana Archer saves my brain from Exploding

Across America brains are either exploding or are on the edge of it.

Mine is on the edge of exploding, because I was expecting an honest election result two weeks ago. You know, where my preferred candidate successfully barnstormed the swing states and generated big results. Instead, the election experienced tremendous voting irregularities, outright open fraud, political interference, and a clear effort to spam the whole process with such an overwhelming number of fake ballots and fraudulent counting that clearing the whole mess up will take a herculean effort. It did not matter that my preferred candidate had worked his ass off, had taken many risks and worked himself tirelessly to persuade an unusual mix of new and old voters to support him.

Instead, what awaited my preferred candidate after Election Day was a slew of fake voting machines that have been tampered with, fake ballots, fake ballot counting with no transparency etc etc across eight states, and a fake media that was pre-pared (like prepared to be prepared) to immediately anoint his opponent the winner, regardless of the actual outcome.

Fake it til ya make it and then election by media acclaim is what has been attempted against my candidate. It is infuriating, because it runs contrary to everything America is about.

Making the post-election period worse than the actual fake tallying process already was, is the mainstream media and Big Tech effort to censor and suppress information contrary to their narrative that Joe Biden won and is now the President Elect. It is one thing to go to bat for an ancient 47-year career politician who is corrupt and senile. It is another thing altogether to try to hide not only his corruption but also the fake election that he “won.”

Interesting that Biden did not win any down-ballot elections across America, almost all of which (98% I think) went for his opponents….no, no predicted “blue wave” happened…Biden just happened to win the “big one.” In real elections, this does not happen, because all of the real votes are correlated with various other candidates, and not just the presidential race. This is Exhibit A in the vote tampering argument.

So those of us addicted to the simple idea of a fair-and-square transparent election have had our heads exploding for two weeks. We cannot believe the unashamed, scandalous behavior that is happening in front of our eyes, what is really an illegal attempt to hijack an entire nation.

While I could sit at my computer and stare wild-eyed into my iPhone as the 1,440 minutes slowly tick by each day that this scandalous process unfolds, like so many friends are doing, I have decided to remove myself from this tense situation. Instead, a lady named ‘Diana Archer’ is taking me out into the woods and fields, where we are going to contemplate life, love, being a balanced human being, etc. I need this time to regain some inner balance that has been thrown askew, and I think about 75-million other voters probably feel the exact same way. Fortunate me that I have Diana to take my hand and lead me on.

To be explicit, Diana Archer is really Diana The Archer, the Goddess of the Hunt. As hunting season has now arrived full force, from deer to bear to ducks to doves, the whole east coast is alive with clandestine rural life, all led by Diana.

With Diana at my side, I intend to sleep snugly in my Seek Outside tent, using its titanium stove to keep warm at night, to boil tea in the mornings, and to dry out inevitably wet clothing. During daylight hours Diana will hopefully be by my side, helping me get into a kind of Thoreau-Wilderness-Zen mindset, where nothing can trouble me, and I become at one with the natural rhythm of Mother Nature and the rifle in my hand. And no, there is no scandal in this pure woman’s company, just the spirit of the hunt, which is often just the hunt for the spirit.

So, see you all in a bit. Forgive me if I am not glued to this computer screen, but am escaped, at least for a healthy while.

An Art Deco Diana

A Classical Diana the Huntress with a stag

An ancient Diana with hunting dog, photo by Rebecca Bugge