Monday, December 5, 2011

Decorations

So since I killed that bear, I've been processing parts myself or through 3rd parties.  The meat so far is great.  Bear jerky (a 12 hour soak at 165F to render it safe) is delicious.  It's about as oily as those jerky "nuggets" you get in the bag, but it tastes 10 times better (and it was raised without a bunch of crappy feed additives!).  I'll be trying some of the sausages over Christmas, but I suspect they'll be good eating, too.

The pelt and the skull were taken to a local taxidermist at the start of October.  The skull I may have back by the end of the year (no word from the taxidermist yet, though) and the pelt will take longer.  Looking forward to both.  Oh, in case I didn't mention before, the head isn't being mounted.  Instead I'm having it defleshed and reduced to a bare skull.  I think (and hope) it will look good, especially with the one naturally broken canine tooth this bear has.  Gives it a little more 'character' and story.

The claws have been interesting.  I declawed one foot about a month ago.  I gave a claw to each of my parents, and set aside one for me, one for the wife and one for the little one.  They're wearable, but the process has been interesting. 

First, remove the claw at the first knuckle (sharp knife here helps).  Then remove as much skin and flesh as possible.  From there, the claws sit in a small container of 20 Mule Team Borax to dry out.  Once that's done (I gave it 3 weeks, 2 would have been enough), I suspended the bone of the claw, complete with bits of skin and such, in a solution of 50/50 clorox and water.  The bleach dissolves the tissue, leaving clean (but yellowed) bone. 

The next step is to clean the actual claw (basically a fingernail) and remove the quick.  A set of dental picks made short work of the quick.  From there I carefully scraped off the outer, damaged layers of the claw and scrubbed it thoroughly with a stiff brush and some soap.  This gets all the dirt out of the imperfections of the claw.

What you have left is a clean, but dull, claw.  The first thing I tried was buffing the claw with a flannel buffing wheel on my dremel.  This worked OK, but did not yield the desired results.  I then tried using clear nail polish to add a 'shine'.  While that works, it looks terribly unnatural, so I ended up stripping all that off and redoing everything.  So, what I found that seems to work:

1.  Wet sand the claw with some 400-600 grit sandpaper.  I vary the grit based on how many  
     imperfections I'm trying to smooth out.

2.  Wet sand the claw with some 1200-1600 grit sandpaper.  Here I have found little difference
     between 1200 and 1600 grit, since that this point you're really just putting a polish on the claw,
     and no longer trying to remove any major imperfections or smooth out the texture.  The shine
     obtained looks nice, but it's not quite up to what I want.

3.  Take a paper towel (I like to use the blue mechanic's shop towels) and do a final polish with
     some Flitz brand plastic polish.  This can take minutes or weeks, depending on what you want
     for a final product. 

The 3 steps above resulted in some nice looking pieces, though more could be done to create "show" quality stuff.  I didn't opt to go that far on my first run, since that was not my goal and since this was an experimental phase. 

The one I gave my mom had an interesting outcome.  She took it to a local jeweler where the bone was trimmed and set into a nice piece of sterling silver with a loop on top.  Then a nice sterling chain was strung through the loop for wearing.  It looks great, was not too expensive to have done, and the jeweler put an even better finish on the claw itself.  I'm not sure what he did, so I'll have to go introduce myself and ask.  I just hope it's not some well-guarded secret.  I was thinking that a nail buffer, like the ones my wife uses, would give a higher shine, so that's going to be tested. 

Since pictures speak a thousand words, I'll be photographically documenting the next 5 claws.  They're already cut off and in Borax, but that's easy enough to figure out on your own.  I'll show the cleaning and polishing steps and hopefully act as a source for anyone else that wants to see how this is done.  I found very little useful information via Google, at least not all in one place.  I did pick up hints and tricks by scouring various forums and I'm trying to put them all together in a single resource. 

Overall, I never considered myself a very talented person, but it's interesting how a few basic tools and materials can take a ragged bear claw and turn it into something you'd be happy to wear and show off.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Speaks for itself.

Some interesting thoughts.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Firing back

I've gotten some snide communications regarding the wearing of orange, halfwits, etc.

The following is not a retraction.  It is an explanation. 

If you are hunting, and you cannot tell if the object in your $50 Tasco or $1500 Swarovski Z5 is human, animal, vegetable or mineral, stop right here.  I suggest you sell me your guns and ammo and take up knitting or quilting. 

The point is, blaze orange is a "fix" to compensate for stupidity.  By embracing the fix, we legitimize stupidity and carelessness and ultimately become accepting of "stupid" as the new norm.  Instead of taking the idiots out of the hunting community and beating them with a communal chunk of broken concrete, we keep allowing them to be part of the party.  I don't want that.  There are a vast number of counterpoints to my argument.  They might be valid.  It doesn't matter.  The bottom line is that orange exists as hunting attire to compensate for the dumbness of people.  If you really feel like accepting that and promoting the existence of that level of dumb in our hunting sports, shame on you. 

I'm no elitist.  I don't think you should have to afford a $1000 rifle and a $1000 scope or a $2500 shotgun just to partake in the hunting sports.  If all you can afford is a used rifle and a serviceable old scope (FYI old Leupolds are gold to me, and not that expensive.  Old Redfields rank up there too, and can be had cheap), then God love you and have at it, man.  What I do demand, of myself and others, is that we employ the grey matter between our ears to make good choices.  If I can't tell what my target is, I'm not going to pull the trigger.  If I have any sliver of doubt or question, I am not pulling the trigger.  Why not?  RULE NUMBER THE FOURTH!  THOU SHALT KNOW YOUR TARGET.  It's not "You'll have a pretty good idea of what you're shooting at."  No, that version gets people dead.  You will KNOW.  If you do NOT know, guess what?  A deer or a bear or a pig isn't worth it.  Be smart, another shot will come along someday.  Maybe even a better one. 

So, don't encourage a culture of Stupid & Fail.  Live, and live by, the 4 rules (the 4th was merely my illustrating example), and use your brain.  That's why you have it. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sometimes Life does all your planning without telling you.

I left town Sunday to go deer hunting in zone D5, off Highway 4, near Bear Valley.  Saturday was opening day for that zone.  I was not going to partake in opening day nonsense.  I don't wear orange.  I don't believe in it.  I believe that if you're not a halfwit, orange is irrelevant.  Sadly, the halfwits are out in force on opening day.  Hence, I was not. 

I made a decent little camp on Sunday, noting that there were plenty of hunters in the area.  

I poked around a bit Sunday afternoon, and saw that the area was very slim on deer sign.  A few tracks here and there, many of them old, but not much else to whet the appetite.  Bear sign was around, but nothing spectacular near camp.  I had a bear tag.  For some reason, I always see bears when I deer hunt.  Every year, without fail, at least one bear.  And I don't mean "Look at that little black dot over on the next ridge."  I mean "Oh crap, there's a bear 40 yards from me!"  X zone, D zone, B zone, whatever.  I sneak up on them pretty well.  No idea why. 

Monday morning, I took a hike up an ATV trail, starting at 7200 feet and cresting a ridge about 8100 feet high.  Nice hike, and the weather warmed up quick.  Good for the body, not good for the deer hunting.  I did not see a single deer Monday.  On my hike up the trail, I found some fresh (hours old) bear prints.  Toenail to heel on the rear foot, a good 7-8 inches.  A full grown boar bear was in the area, moving down into a valley.  Probably towards one of the creeks I crossed, looking for a drink of water.  Or something. 

Monday afternoon was more of the same.  No deer, some bear sign.  A little buck walked into my camp around 8:30PM, but he was a spike (one point on both sides), and not legal to take.  Besides that, it would have been a dicey shot, even at the close (20 yard) range and highly illegal, being after regulation shooting hours.  I think some of the rules are stupid, but until changed, I play by them.

Tuesday, I took a walk down to a lower area with some small running creeks.  Down that way there was some active logging/clearing going on (nobody present, but lots of piled logs) and a nice road to walk along.  Amongst all the blowdown timber were lots of torn open logs.  Some tears were small, others were damn big.  Bear sign.  About 7:30AM a cub, maybe 100lbs, comes running at me out of the timber like a bat out of hell.  It sees me, turns tail and hauls ass away from me.  WTF?  Oh well. Why was that cub running?  No one was hunting by this time, except me.  And he was coming towards me, not away, like cubs are apt to do.  "Huh" was about all I could muster.  I never gave much thought to what spooked him.  I guess I wrote it off to "stupid kids".  If you have kids, you get it.
From there, I hiked around the toe of a ridge over into a hollow.   I roamed back over the ridge that afternoon and stalked down a dry creek for a look-see.  Not a thing.  Jumped a couple of does early on, but that was it.

Earlier in the day while I was nosing around up on that ridge, I had heard equipment down in the low parts where I ran into that cub, but figured it was trucks hauling out logs and paid no heed.  This would come to bite my white ass in ways you cannot imagine.

I set up around 5PM to watch the road and the bottoms.  Every hour or so I would walk 100 yards and then sit and watch for another 30-45 minutes.  Basically, an extended stillhunt.  About 6:15PM I started to move again, aware that I hadn't eaten much that day and I had maybe an hour and a quarter of usable daylight and an uphill walk back to camp.  Food and Fire sounded good.  Five minutes into my walk, there he was.

Big.  Dark, dark brown, almost black, with a tan muzzle.  Broadside to me, he had no idea I was there. Padding along on a dusty road, clean of twigs and branches is an advantage I rarely have.  Light was fading.  It was 6:28PM (I looked as I flipped up the scope caps.  It was too dark to find contrast between the body of the bear and my crosshairs.  But I was no more than 80 yards from this bruiser of a bear.  Easily 350 pounds, probably more, I estimated my aim and pulled the trigger.  As he took an unanticipated step.

I shot too far back, into the liver.  DAMN!  This bear made like a dog scratching a flea, glanced at me, and took off.  I knew he was hit and I knew that now I had to chase him down, on foot, loaded rifle and full pack in tow, and end it.  If I didn't, he was in for a long, painful demise.  I didn't want that  on my conscience.  No sportsman does, but I was rushed now.  Light was dim and I was tired from hiking all day.  Adrenaline took over.  I followed the crashing footfalls of the beast, first east, then north.

I paused every few feet of running to listen for a moment, homing in on the bear crashing through brush.  At the 3rd stop, I heard nothing.  He had to be close.  Before I could lay eyes on him, I smelled him.  He smelled of pine and something sweet I cannot place.  And he smelled like an animal smells.  Musky, with a twinge of blood in the air.  Quite the mix.  My eyes came upon him, on the far side of a little gully, leaning up against the far side a rock, breathing heavily.  He was no more than 10 or 15 yards away.  I flicked the safety off like I've done so many times before.  With no side shot, I walked around to face him, not 30 feet away, aware that he was wounded, scared and angry.  He growled at me one last time, and I put a shot square into his chest.  He slumped, but stared at me with an icy, but fiery, resolve.   His dying eyes looked at me.  Maybe in wonder, maybe in fading curiosity, knowing his time had come.  He was not going to die easy.  By now a pig would have been bleeding out and a deer would just be nervous twitches.  The bear just looked at me.  I was shocked.  I was also woefully aware that he did not want to die, and by this point, some small part of me didn't want him to die anymore, either.  The deed was done, if not complete.  This massive creature began to do what I can only describe as half plaintive baying and half moaning.  This had to stop, now.  I don't know if it was for my sake or his, but it had to end.  I chambered a fresh round.  The 3rd shot found both his lungs and he gurgled his last moan, kicked his legs a few times, and was still.  I stood there, jaw on the ground.  I could only marvel at this glorious, massive, gargantuan animal. 

I waited for what seemed an eternity.  Finally, I crept over and tapped his hind foot with my boot. Warm blood from the liver ran all over my foot and his passing was complete.  From start to finish, he took 5 or 6 minutes to die.  Some say a head shot would have been the best 2nd shot.  People who say that have never killed a bear, more often than not.  Bears are thick.  Everywhere.  Headshots don't always work and sometimes they backfire.  No, this was the best I could do.  Probably not the best any hunter could do, but the best I could do.

By now, it was almost dark. I fired up the GPS to mark the kill.  Then I got back to the road (a mere 60 yards to my west, and started walking back to camp.  This animal would require more than the buck knife in my pack.  A hatchet, a saw, a large game bag, water (for me to drink), flashlights and headlamps would all be needed.  So, I took off on foot, a mile mostly uphill, to camp.  I'd be right back with the truck and all my tools.  Idiot.

A hundred yards into my walk, it appeared.  A berm across the road.  30 feet beyond that, another.  And so on and so forth.  All said, 11 runoff berms had been put up during the day, blocking access to anything but perhaps an offroad motorcycle.  "Oh.  Fuck.  Me.  Now what do I do?"  "How do I get 350 pounds of animal back to camp, let alone to my truck?"  A million similar thoughts raced through my head as I hoofed it to camp.  In camp, I gathered my tools, repacked my bag, left the rifle, grabbed the pistol (we are in mountain lion territory up there, after all, and fresh blood was all over me and the bear), and said "I'll figure it out later."  I got in the truck and drove down that road to the first berm in my way.  There I noticed the skidder/scraper mechanized horror that had made my life so much more complicated.  I wanted to hate it, but whose fault was it?  Not its.  Not the operator's.  Not even mine. I couldn't have known.

I found my way back to the Giant as the last light faded to black.  I dragged him 10 or 15 feet to a flatter spot with a rope.  It left permanent burns.  Through leather gloves. Rolled onto his back, I began to open him up.  I'd never killed or dressed out  anything larger than a deer or pig before this, but the principles are the same for any animal - rabbit, pig, deer, bear, whatever.  Right?

I forgot about the extra 2 to 5 inches of body fat and the super-thick skin.  Glad I had 3 knives and a hatchet.  By 10:45PM or so, I had the bear skinned and gutted.  Rib cage split, I sliced through his neck, leaving the pelt attached to the head, rolled it up into a heavy duty (not cheap-o Home Depot) plastic debris bag and then doubled it.  Then I somehow wrestled the carcass into an oversized canvas game bag.  Right now, I'm not sure how I got 200 pounds of dead animal into that sack, alone.  I did, though.  I'm just not sure how.  I hauled the bag with the head and pelt, all 65 pounds of it, to the truck.  Half a mile.  Uphill.  Over 11 berms.  Into the back of the truck it went, along with a chunk of block ice from the ice chest. Bear pelts go bad quickly - the hair slips, I wanted to not waste it.  Now my overarching concern was getting that bear out.  But how?  It was 11:30 at night.  It was getting cold.  I was tired and I knew an adrenaline crash was coming.  I eventually drove back to camp, but covered in blood and dirt, opted to sleep in the truck.  I set an alarm for 6AM, just before first light.

Four hours of fitful sleep, punctuated by a distant AM talk radio station, is not really sleep at all.  It's not a nightmare, and it's not purgatory.  My mind was on the task to come, but my heart was contemplating what I'd done.  I have never seen an animal fight so hard for its life.  In the face of the inevitable, Old Mr. Bear had decided "No, not yet.  Not now."  I cut off his internal dialogue but I was sorry to have done it in the end.  I resolved right there and then that I would never hunt bears again. Period.  It has nothing to do with the work involved. The challenge kept me going.  The long-lost connection to a way of life that assumed such efforts as part and parcel of daily life rang strong.  "So this is how it used to be, more or less.  This was survival.  This was what life once was.  Sure, the whole village would help, but it was this.  The hunt.  The stalk.  The kill.  The butchering.  The processing.  The eventual feast and joy for another meal."  I never experienced that train of thought over a dead deer or a dead pig.  Maybe because I don't associate such strength and power with deer and pigs.  Certainly the sense of thanks and gratitude was there.  The twinge of remorse at ending another life was there, as always.  But the deeper connection to races of people, long ancient and mostly forgotten, was never there before last night.  So that's what it was and that's what it is.  The rest of my thoughts were matters of "How...how...how?", with answers of "Long, painful, time consuming, but doable.  Tough shit.  Suck it up and deal, shithead."  "OK."

Morning came and I drove back to that first blockade.  On a hunch I stopped at the skidder/scraper and left a note saying, in effect, "Hey, I'm down there.  If you plan to fuck me MORE, sound your horn or something so I know and I can scoot out of the way.  Thanks."  Just as I was about to leave the truck, I heard a diesel pickup coming up the road from camp.  "No fucking way.  No one is going to be hauling ass down here in a truck at 7AM to hunt."  Sure enough, two guys pull up, friendly as all hell.  I asked them about the road.  Turns out no one was supposed to be back until next week.  They got a call late Tuesday night about 10:30PM (about the time I started hauling bear parts to the truck!) saying "Open the road, the logging crew needs more brush removed before they want to log the stands out and salvage the culls."  So yes, those guys were going to smash down those berms and open the road. They even offered to pull the bear out with the skidder if they could get it in there (they couldn't).  In the span of 15 minutes they turned what would have been at least 4, and maybe 6, hikes with bear parts in tow, into a single drag of 60 yards to the road and getting this animal into the truck.

"I love it when a plan comes together" was more like "My lucky day, no questions asked, no reason sought.  Thanks!"

I got to the bear and dragged it to the road.  60 yards. 45 minutes.  200 pounds.  Me and a pair of leather gloves.  You figure it out.  Because I've done it, but someone forgot the get the t-shirts made. From the ground to the tailgate and into the bed was another 30 minute trick.  I would like to say physics and intelligence and wit played their roles in that job, but they didn't.  No handy trees, winch on the wrong end of the truck, no come-along, levers or ramps.  Just brute strength, determination and a constant, cussing hatred of gravity.  I wish I lifted heavier weights.  But whatever I lift, it was heavy enough.

Once in the truck, I made for camp.  Broke camp and made for a Fish and Game official.  See, in California, most anyone can countersign a deer tag.  One or two of my friends legally could do it.  But bear tags, they're special.  This is California and we have more bureaucracy than we know what to do with.  Only a F&G employee can countersign those. Fucking shit.  It's getting warm, and I need ice and a meat house.

First stop, USFS fire station.  "Seen any DFG folks around?"  "Nope, but we can sig..."  "It's a bear tag."  "Oh."  "Can we see the bear?!"

Five or six guys, none older than 25 or 26, adventure hound wildland firefighters.  Posing with the head, taking pictures, congratulating me, admiring me in vocal astonishment - I had killed and bagged the king of the forest.  A real massive testament to non-stop eating and evolutionary adaptive genetics. My hairless ape-form, tools in tow, had defeated the biggest the forest had to offer.  And at their age I remember feeling the same way about a big buck.  A resounding urge to unleash my primal scream and paint my face in bear blood quickly gave way to the situation at hand.  The sense of remorse I'd never felt that way before came rushing back.  The need to comply with bureaucratic mandates.  The imperative to get this bear on ice and do so legally. 

Off to another USFS station down the road.  On the way, I passed an oblivious F&G Warden.  I couldn't flag him down.  Goddamnit.  Is this a joke?  USFS ranger station couldn't raise anyone.  A nice lady made a couple of calls.  The verdict - you're driving your ass to the Region II HQ in Rancho Cordova. Great.  I hate Highway 49.  People are idiots behind the wheel.  The number '49' turns them into blind, drooling idiots.  Before they would let me leave, the lady asked to see the bear.  She wanted to see if he was bigger than one her husband had killed some years ago.  In her estimation, mine was bigger.  One guy cared not for the bear.  That's OK. The other USFS guy, who looked like my friend Rex, more or less acted like I was a criminal for killing such a grand animal. I hated him for it in an instant.  Do what I did, then tell me about your hate.  But in a way, he was also right.  Still, to Hell with him.  He can go play grabass in the office.  I have things to do.

Off to Rancho Cordova.  Eventually a very nice wildlife biologist came out to the truck to sign the tag and extract a premolar (they cut them and use them to age the bear, like tree rings).  In her estimate, based on tooth wear and gum condition, this guy was about 6-7 years old.  Old for a bear in these parts.  Details would be forthcoming in Winter 2012, but that was good enough.  She asked for a hair sample from the bear.  Nevada is doing DNA analysis to figure out how many bears cross the border.  I guess it's part of how they plan or discuss future Nevada bear hunts.  "Sure, take all you want", I said.  She did, and I scooted down Highway 50 in Central Valley Heat.  By rights, it wasn't one of those furnace-like 110 degree Sacramento days.  But with 80 lbs of melting ice between you and spoiled meat, anything above 45 is your enemy. 

Then the long drive to the meat house.  Uneventful, save being cut off by a Prius on the Carquinez Bridge (surprised? Not me.)  Mr. Bear hangs in a cooler now, waiting to be turned into jerky, sausage and salami.  His head and pelt are in my freezer until I figure out how I'm going to foot the taxidermy bill and what I want done.  Next to that, a bag contains all 4 of his massive paws.  Those are special. The claws , especially.  I have plans for those.  But first, research, so I don't screw up.   

Everyone I met the last couple of days - I told them the same thing.  He is a majestic animal.  He'll feed me and my family and my friends for a long time to come.  Eventually his head will grace my home, his pelt will be used on future hunting trips.  Hanging a great skin on a wall is decorative.  It's also criminal, in my opinion.  That fur will keep me warm on cold October nights waxing towards November, when the trout are sluggish and scarce, but also big and hungry.  Mr. Bear will give me fodder to contemplate the next day of hunting during future deer seasons when my feet hurt and my shoulders ache.  Unlike every other animal I've killed in my life to date, that bear is going to integrate with me in a way I never thought possible.  Also, I will never, ever, ever ever EVER hunt bears again. They die too hard.  Killing the strong is itself a sign of strength.  Refusal to take that life again is not fear of strength.  It is a manifestation of respect.  No, the bears can go live on and do what they do.

Certainly there is no nobility in a midnight garbage raider. Bears, like me, are opportunistic.  Don't blame the sunlight for the colors on the painting.  Blame the idiot that picked the colors.  I want no part in making nature that much poorer for the price of a few bullets in my rifle.

Wednesday I took the heart (I saved it from among the organs) off ice. My 2nd shot turned the heart inside out.  And still adrenaline, will, whatever, kept that bear fighting to live.  Three quarters of the heart was nothing but traumatized tissue.  What little was left, I sliced up, fried and ate.  It was the best meat I've ever had.  You could literally make a gourmet dish out of wild bear heart.  The rest was a loss  One-hundred-fifty grains of .30 inch lead at 2900 feet per second will dump an awful lot of energy in a big hurry.  Those grains will damage and they will ultimately kill.  But on something the size of Mr. Bear, they won't do it quickly.  

Here is the thing about bears versus any other animal I will continue to gladly hunt.  Deer know they're on everyone's menu.  Pigs know they're just a step away from being bacon. Bears?  Who the fuck do bears fear?  They don't.  They're as close to an apex predator as you can get in those mountains.  Documented histories tell of bears fighting, and sometimes killing, mountain lions.  Bears don't care because they don't have to care.  I didn't outwit a bear.  I read some sign and took a chance.  It's not bear "hunting", it's bear "finding".  I like hunting.  I don't like finding.  Not this kind, anyway.

This was an interesting lesson, one I never saw coming.  Hunting has been in my life since dad first took me for deer when I was 14.  Animals are food and the cycle goes on.  I never knew why I wanted to kill a bear.  I still don't.  Thing is, it doesn't matter.  "Why" is meaningless.  I was supposed to learn a lesson.  Something about life, something about death and something about me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moments of clarity, caught on screen

A friend is entertaining a job offer in Helena, Montana.  I wrote this email to a mailing list he's on and another friend on the list suggested I put it in my blog.  At first I figured "Who the hell is going to care?"  On reflection, if nothing else it'll be a good place to archive an interesting bit of babble. :)
----------------------

Now I'll tell you something about fishing.  Montana has, bar none, the best fly fishing in America, IMO.  Idaho is a close second and tied with Alaska.  If you live near Helena, you'll be damn close to the Missouri River, one of the best rivers for browns and rainbows I've ever had the pleasure of fishing.  While you can fish it from the banks, it's not nearly as productive as fishing it from a drift boat.  So when you get all settled and have some extra money, you *want* to buy a good drift boat. Not a raft, not a pontoon boat, not a kayak, but a drift boat.

The pictures I've shown you of fish I took out of that water are typical. There's at least 3 or 4 good fly fishing shops in town, and a dozen others that "will do" in the general area.  I also know of an excellent guide up that way who can help break you in to the scene on that river, at least.

You will fight big fish, and they will fight you.  It will be epic and momentous and you will know no greater joy in life after the fact.  Not even sex with a broad that knows what she's doing and how to do it and when to do it comes anywhere close to fighting big fish on big water with razor-thin leaders and nearly-microscopic flies.  Afterwards, when you reflect on what you've just experienced, you'll realize the only thing that ranks up there is the birth of your children.

And then you, like me, will be a goddamn addict.  You will focus any free time and money on chasing fish.  You will stand in an early October snowstorm, cold as fuck, glad to be there, waiting for the take.  You will "Chase the Rainbow" as I've taken to calling it to get your fix.  You will be a cheap, broke junky with an expensive habit.  You will forget birthdays and anniversaries and other so-called 'important' things.  Cars will smell like fresh river water, you'll have a sunburned neck and you'll only know it's time to grudgingly go home because the sun has gone down and you can't see your line any more.  On the drive home, you'll be thinking about the next trip down the river and which pattern to try.  You will own 17 pairs of polarized sunglasses but never be able to find more than one pair at a given time.  You will ignore trivial things like hunger and thirst and minor amputations.  Odds are you'll have a good pair of pliers on you at all times to pulling hooks out of fish (and your hands). Fly boxes will seem to breed in your vest and "appropriate workplace attire" will mean "something comfortable for the river after I get off work."

Oh, my friend, when you make this move, you aren't just relocating your body and your family and your home.  You are fucking relocating your brain to another state of goddamn being.  You will start learning to pray (and pray well you must) for mornings without wind.  In secret, you will beg like a dog for "one more cast" or "one last hookup".  You will start to see non-fishing people as those who are "missing out" on one great secret of the Universe.  You will scorn people with dry boots and office-soft skin.  A new language, "reading rivers" will be yours.  Baby steps at first, just getting the alphabet down is tough enough.  The words will come to you when you open your eyes to them or the water decides to show you one of its secrets.  The flowing water will taunt you.  Some days the River will be a kind and loving mistress.  Other days she will treat you like a cheap whore.

You, my friend, are in for a ride.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More evidence that it's all "theatre"

Took the wife and kid to the California State Fair yesterday.  We held advanced tickets, so we walked right up to the security checkpoint.

Farce #1 - They searched the wife's backpack (evil and dangerous sunscreen, OMFG!) and opened her purse.  The backpack I understand, since they asked if they could open it (refusal means no entry, though.)  They did not ask if they could open her purse.  Courtesy dictates that they should ask - after all women are very private about their purse contents in my experience.  Had I known this was coming, I would have advised my wife to pile tampons and pads on the top of the purse, maybe a BIG tube of KY and some other items, just to wig out the guy opening it up.  Anything to return the favor, just a bit.

Farce #2 (the big one!) - They never asked me to empty pockets or paid me a second look.  I've read the documents that the FBI and other police agencies put out (including nice Powerpoints) about how to spot someone carrying a pistol or other weapon.  It would have been really easy for me to get a nice subcompact 9mm or a mousegun through this security point.  As it was I got 2 knives through security and another small spray item that could easily have been OC spray (it was just medication, but still - the form-factor is nearly identical).  The knives are daily carry items for me, so it wasn't as if I was trying to game the system.  Still, at least one of them could have hurt someone if I was so inclined.

While the Theater Thug was searching the wife's backpack, I decided to speak my mind.  I told him he should be damned ashamed of himself.  You see, today was "Armed Forces and First Responder Day".  Way to celebrate and commemorate the sacrifices and risks those people take by effectively shitting on the 4th Amendment (spare me the case law discussion, I disagree that public place = no expectation of privacy).  He tried to get into the "I've seen the effects of gang shootings..." argument and I shut him down with "punish the bad, not the good."  He was a thug and I made sure to ruin as much of his day as I possibly could and to remind him that there are things more important than a little show of providing a false sense of safety and security. 

It's getting near time that either a fundamental shift has to take place at all levels of government, or else I need to start investing in companies that make rope. 

Yes, add me to the "list":

We are reluctant to admit that we owe our liberties to men
of a type that today we hate and fear - unruly men,
disturbers of the peace, men who resent and denounce what
Whitman called 'the insolence of elected persons' - in a word, free men.

 -Gerald W. Johnson

Friday, May 20, 2011

The system is now fully broken.

http://www.kold.com/story/14604192/wife

That's a follow-up story, and a Google search will yield all the other nasty details of this Epic Police Fuck Up.  That's about all I can call it - an Epic Police Fuck Up. 

I'm not going to editorialize beyond my description above.  You draw your own conclusions.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The fur (and feathers) are flying.

Funny how 'life' gets in the way of the blog.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  The striped bass are showing up at the beaches and in the bay.  Pops lucked into a hot bite a few days ago, so I'm trying to follow suit (without much luck).  He came up with an interesting pattern that's something like a cross between a clouser, a zug bug and something that just randomly looks like a bait fish. 

So, I've spent the last few nights fiddling around in Man Cave with my various bits of fur, feather and thread trying to come up with something that will make a striped bass say *NOM NOM NOM*!!!!  Once this weather gets a little better, and the tides start to coincide better with the free time I do have, I'll go give them a try.  And I'll be sure to post pictures of what I made, and if any work, what worked. 

Some folks get locked in to recipes or known-good patterns.  I don't suspect there is anything wrong with that.  After all, if pattern X worked one day, there really isn't too good of a reason it won't work on any other given day.  To be honest, out of 35 or 40 patterns I take to the mountains with me, I bet there are 3 "go-to" flies in both nymph and dry patterns.  The rest are what I like to call my "Here goes nothing" patterns.  When the bite is slow, the weather is weird, or I can seem to make anything happen, I'll go with something I don't normally use.  I might even fish that otherwise unfished pattern in an unconventional way.  One season a couple years ago I was in the middle of a late June rain storm up in the Sierras.  I decided to try fishing a yellow humpy as a wet fly and I'll be damned if it didn't work like a charm.  Moral of the story: you never know what the fish are going to key on. 

Beyond that, never assume that the pattern has to look just like the one in the catalog or just like the one the guy upstream is fishing.  One of these days go turn a bunch of rocks and collect some mayfly nymphs, all the same type.  Look carefully at the details. No two are really identical.  There is always some bit of variation in size, color, leg development, body shape, proportion or tail length.  All you have to do is get close. 

It may be a bit early to hit the higher elevations, but there is still fishing to be done. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Walmart likes to make money.

From the WSJ, Walmart to start selling firearms in more of their stores.  They never completely stopped, except (so far as I know) in California.  And why did they stop in California?  Because the folks at Walmart couldn't manage to follow all the stupid California firearms sales transaction laws (start at Cal. Penal Code Sec. 12070 and read forth...see you in a year.)  Normally you would probably start making cracks about the folks that work at Walmart, but in fairness I know licensed FFLs in California that have to double-check the regs and guides when doing a transaction.

In free states you fill out at 4473, the clerk makes a call, usually gets an answer in a few minutes, and you're on your way out the door.  In California, you fill out the 4473, give a thumbprint, do the Hokey Pokey, ask Senator Fineswine "PRETTY PLEASE, MAY I?!", answer some other questions for the State, hand over your money, and then wait.  Ten days.  Ten long, painful, aggravating days.  So that Walmart folks were screwing up really does not surprise me. 

Here's to hoping that some of those stores will be in California, but I'm not holding my breath.  Then again, there is plenty of money in this state and Walmart wants money.  Sounds like a fair exchange to me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Make your discontent known

Apparently, bitching loudly in the TSA "Fuck my civil liberties" lines gets you targeted for additional or more intrusive "inspection".

If find that interesting only because every time I've found myself in a TSA line, I purposefully bitch loudly and clearly and not once have they ever screwed with me.  It may also help that I throw my California State Bar card in the "change/keys/other crap" trays, right on top, for the screeners to see. 

Yes, I'm saying "I dare you.  I fucking double-dog-dare-you, asshole."  I guess they don't like the dare.  And it's nice to remind my fellow passengers how  a nation of free men and women should not EVER stand for this abuse silently. 

Basically since that last flight a couple of years ago, I won't fly any more.  Period.  I'm just not going to.  Maybe that means "they" have won or the terrorists have won or some other obscure entity has won.  Don't care. Not playing their goddamn game anymore. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Self-defense for the disabled

The first time I gave this any thought was when I heard about the Palm Pistol.  Now it looks like there will be some serious consideration of who the disabled are, their vulnerabilities, and the need to give them the tools of self-defense.

In fairness, I think the statistics presented need to be further broken out in order to have a meaningful and honest discussion.  For example, how many of the rapes and sexual assaults take place in institutional settings versus in the home or in public spaces?  Who are we calling the "disabled"?  Is this strictly about the physically disabled, or will we consider persons like one of my sisters-in-law, who has a mental disability (perpetually stuck at the mental age of a 6 to 10 year old child)?  How many of these crimes were committed by persons known to the victims? 

I also find it interesting that one of the prime movers of the gun control movement, the Brady Campaign, has its founding in the tragedy involving James Brady.  He is disabled, though I'm not sure to what extent any longer. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eh?

What the hell is a "Gender Education Specialist"?


Link.

Second paragraph.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is progress?

Article here.

How exactly is this progress, folks?  How does this Professional Crook (aka Politician) get to tell me how I may or may not (in this case) protect myself? 

Personally, I'm not a fan of open carry in California (since it's unloaded open carry).  However if someone wants to utilize that method of carry, that's their call, not mine.

But, these guys in Sacramento, they know better.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Thoughts on Permitless Carry

Wyoming passed permitless concealed carry recently, and it looks like Montana is poised to do the same.  However, there is one niggling aspect of both pieces of law that bothers me.  Each restricts permitless carry to residents only. 

The question that comes to mind is whether or not a state may confer a benefit on its citizens and not on visitors (i.e. those with no intention to make the state their residence).  There have been plenty of cases about similar things, the first which comes to mind is Saenz v Roe (526 U.S. 489 (1999).  It's not on point for two reasons.  First it deals with persons who move to another state and plan to stay (establish residency) and it was about welfare benefits, not firearms. Shapiro v Thompson is another one from 1969 that forbade durational residency requirements to receive welfare benefits in Connecticut.  Both cases established a line of reasoning that announced a "right to travel" (an implied, not express, right) and which said infringement (of at least some sorts) on the right to travel is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. 

More to the point, the Court has also considered Article IV Privileges and Immunities arguments in the resident/non-resident context in Baldwin v Montana Fish and Game Commission (1978).  In that case Montana was sued because it charge non-residents more for certain hunting privileges than it did to Montana's citizens.  There the Court held that hunting was not a type of fundamental activity that Article IV's P&I clause was meant to protect. While it came out in the negative, the holding is illuminating because a distinguishing fact was the non-fundamental nature of hunting. 

Fast-forward to Heller v DC and McDonald v Chicago and you have some new landscape to consider.  The Court has held that the right to protect oneself is a fundamental and individual right.  In that light, where is the basis for a state's argument that the right to self-defense evaporates upon crossing state lines, assuming the party in question is not disqualified from the possession of firearms?  I can't see a very good one, unless the question is analyzed with only rational basis scrutiny.  Also, the "in the home" aspect of Heller and McDonald is pretty easily done away with by the "sensitive places" discussion in Heller.  Had the Court not foreseen "keeping" and "bearing" arms being a right protected beyond your front door, it would never have engaged in the "sensitive places" discussion, as brief as it was. 

In the interests of a more thorough consideration, I also gave thought to a case from 1985, Supreme Court of New Hampshire v Piper, where New Hampshire sought to forbid non-residents from becoming members of the New Hampshire State Bar.  The Court struck down that rule, creating a 2 prong test.  If such a law is to survive, non-residents must be a "peculiar source" of the "evil" the state seeks to eliminate, and the discriminatory act must be the best way to address the problem.  I can't see a bunch of non-residents rolling into Montana or Wyoming, carrying w/out permits but otherwise legal gun owners, being a "peculiar source" of any "evil" in this case. 

So it is beyond the state to foreclose upon the right to carry outside the home for residents or non-residents, though the state certainly may limit the method (i.e. concealed vs. open).  And that's where the biggest wrinkle comes in.  Both Montana and Wyoming are open carry states.  I haven't checked the specifics on their open carry limitations, but I'll wager they are far more liberal than California's unloaded-open-carry formulation.  If so, loaded-open-carry may be the only saving grace for the Montana and Wyoming laws. But even then, in the Piper case, the discrimination in the method of carry may not ultimately survive absent the requisite existence of a "source" of "evil" to be dealt with. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Q-d-fff-y

According to Faux News and See Enn Enn, we've started expending cruise missiles (likely near their expiration date) on Libya.  The Brits are tossing theirs in the lot, too.  And to my surprise the French are actually involved in a shooting match of sorts. 

About time. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Anti-gunnies will sink to any level.

This blog post is funny. Not so much for the humor, but for the sheer inaccuracy.

Absent a member # and an expiration date (or an indicator of being a Life or EPL member), it's not a "membership card." Pay up and they put you on the rolls. Otherwise, you've been solicited as a potential member, but you're not one.

As for why the NRA isn't going to the Great Obama Gun Control Summit, you have to ask? Really? If a fire hydrant is in the way of where you want to park your car, do you think it'll move if you step out of the car and incessantly bang your head against it? No. Same applies to NRA, Obama and Gun Control.

The NRA has finite resources in terms of both time and money. Why burn either on a pointless exercise when the real work to be done is in Congress, in the State legislatures and at the grass roots level? The NRA doesn't have to resort to astroturfing, unlike some other activist organizations. They actually have real work to do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Force

Just a quick thought. If a firearm jams up, or a fishing reel won't strip line properly, don't force it. Use a little bit of the brains we've got, stop, think, and analyze. Take the mechanical device in question down to parts if you must. Solve the problem, don't make it worse.

Sheesh.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nothing changes

A friend sent me this link today. I've seen the clip before in one of Carlin's DVDs. I know it's at least a few years old, and in the end, nothing has changed. Or maybe something has changed - his rant today might be more loud, vulgar and directed in 2011 than when he first came up with it. Can't say I'd blame him.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Take the advice, say thank you, and then practice more.

When it comes to a rifle and a shotgun, I consider myself able to hold my own as a marksman. I can hit 24" steel plates at 200 yards, offhand, with a Garand, and I do pretty well with sporting clays and real birds. Am I "Top Shot" material? Doubt it. Why? My pistol shooting sucks. Past 7 or 10 yards, it's like I go stupid with a pistol in my hand. Stance, grip, sight alignment and focus (front, not rear!) are all things I work on fervently. A friend of mine is a law enforcement officer, instructor, general gun guru and the best pistol shot I have ever been around. I've seen him take 27 yard pistol shots at things that I wouldn't bother with, or that I'd have to take the "Naval Artillery" approach with, i.e. bracket, then fire for effect.

Whenever I can, I look to him for tips, advice, feedback, criticism and anything else he can offer. That doesn't mean I would only seek his advice for all things pistol. If he had something to say about my rifle shooting, I'd give a hell of a lot of attention to it. There is no shame in not being the best, but there is plenty of stupidity involved in at least not listening to those more skilled than you.*

So when I saw this I was surprised. You have experts, professionals even, highly competent and motivated individuals who are trying to help you get better. The advice is free and the source is not suspect. Shut up, lose the ego, take the advice, practice the technique and get better. Seriously. If a bunch of clued-in people kindly say "Dude, you're doing it wrong", pay attention.

* - I'm not suggesting I'm the sport's gift to shotgunners, either. But I have spent, and continue to spend, lots of time chasing birds and clays with shotguns. It keeps the skill fresh and allows me time to experiment with techniques and possible improvements to my shooting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yes, you should be afraid.

First of all, this story doesn't really make sense. People break into homes to take showers? I thought it was usually to steal stuff. I guess in retrospect, the perp was stealing hot water and maybe soap. But, he looks like a dirty hippy and I didn't think dirty hippies bathed. Otherwise, they wouldn't be....dirty...hippies?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Junk and Stuff

Junk:

I really think the Phelps' are worthy of nothing more than contempt and scorn. That said, the Court did come to the right decision. Free speech means letting the morons have their say, too.

Stuff:

Just too cool. Want.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weak.

Things like this make "America" nothing more than a ghostly apparition of it's former self.

Justice calls for this ticket to be dismissed and the 'law' to be changed. Personally, I find 'laws' like this to be unjust, and therefore no law at all. This situation is just another example of government monopoly on violence. If the 'police' did not have guns and other weapons, we'd all just laugh at them, poke them in the eye, and send them away.

Government has some re-learning to do. The sad thing is, I'm not sure what kind of pupil they'll be.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Out on the streets.

I wonder if the guy will actually do any time.

I suppose it's not ATF's fault that this guy can't follow the rules. Ultimately the police/ATF are the ones that investigate and arrest people, they don't ultimately set the punishment. So I guess this is really a case where the courts fall down.

But it does raise an interesting issue. In Heller, Scalia left untouched the notion that we can restrict 2nd Amendment rights of certain persons, like the mentally ill and felons. Many crimes are created during each state and Federal legislative session, a good number of those are felonies. There was a time when the class of crimes called felonies was rather small and included things like murder, rape, mayhem and so forth.

So, are there just too many felonies that should really be treated as lesser offenses? Are the courts falling down in not enacting the harsher sentences that Congress seemed to want, i.e. the felon-in-possession statute? I come out on the side of us tending to over-criminalize illegal, but not felonious, behavior. The only logical reason for this is to "Send a message" to other criminals. The problem is that the message is "Don't worry, you'll likely just get probation, and probably 2 or 3 bites at the apple first before we really make it sting." Not exactly the best way to design or run a justice system.

The next step is to look at felonies which are malum in se (inherent wrongs, like murder) versus malum prohibitum (wrongs we prohibit, but which are not necessarily wrong in their nature, like prostitution and gambling). You can further divide that into things which are malum in se and violent or destructive and those which are malum in se and not violent or destructive. By "not violent or destructive", I do not mean to engage in the "victimless crime" argument that some people propose. Rather, I mean those acts which do not involve violent behavior towards persons or property, i.e. larceny or grand theft auto, absent attendant violence.

If you stole a car when you were 19, took the felony rap, did your due to the State, cleaned up, went right, got your education, a job, have a family and maintain a good career, are you a massive risk (or any risk) to society, at age 40, if you want to purchase a handgun to keep at home? Are you any more or less a risk if you want to buy a shotgun so you can go bird hunting? In my opinion, no. Now, if between 19 and 40 you had a bunch more run-ins with the law, more convictions (even lesser ones) and a general pattern of disrespect for the laws of society, then yes, I'd say you are a danger. But for a 21-year old transgression, no, you're not. If you were, your behavior between age 19 and age 40 would have born that out.

On the flip side, lets say at 18 you burglarize a house some dark night, rape a lone female occupant, try (but fail) to kill her, flee, and get caught. Do I want you to ever have access to a firearm? No. Disrespect for human life is vastly different than disrespect for someone else's shiny car in my book.

Unfortunately, society is not willing or able to have this discussion and engage in this introspection. I suspect we'd rather go all "law n' order!" with more major crimes created day in and day out than actually think critically about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and where we want to arrive (compared to where are actually are) with the whole process.

Monday, February 21, 2011

TulAmmo

Lucky Gunner has a fascinating article about TulAmmo. Highly recommended read.

BTW, buy some ammo from them. They are good folks and one of the few vendors that was willing to work with California gun owners when there was uncertainty about whether AB962 would be overturned. I had some personal contacts with them, and they were genuinely interested in pushing the envelope of that stupid law, while still remaining legal. They didn't take the cop out like Cheaper Than Dirt and Sportsman's Guide did.

And no, they don't pay me or endorse me. I am just a happy customer.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Islamofacism.

Here.

I was wondering when this piece of work would pop his head up again.

Tool.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Well, I already knew Modesto was kind of a hole...

Residents wanting to hire private, armed security does not surprise me in this age of municipal budget cuts (read: fewer police on the streets.)

As some of the comments suggest, why don't residents buy their own firearms and protect their own neighborhood? Why is it that the "solution" is to hire someone else to provide protection? Is it because people are generally brainwashed into compliant little sheep who believe that only some Mystical Magical Force is capable of providing security? Are they lazy? Stupid? Something else I'm missing here?

I'll reckon that bad guys will be more hesitant to mess with the neighborhood if they know each and every resident is armed, trained, and ready to defend life and property with the requisite and legitimate force necessary. That does not mean you have to form armed patrols to walk the streets day and night. What it does mean is that the bad guys will go looking for softer targets or might even eventually reconsider their present means of employment and move on to something more legitimate.

Good people must take a stand. Paying an armed guard service is not taking a stand.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some people in Wisconsin, USA are stupid

So let me get this straight. The Wisconsin Senate was set to debate a measure to remove certain (but not all) collective bargaining powers for public employees in an effort to reduce a budget deficit.

1. Trying to reduce debt. OK.
2. Open debate on the issue and the means. Good.

So, what do some WI legislators do? Flee the state to block numbers 1 and 2. Meanwhile, union members/organizers/activists protest at the state capitol, claiming that the measure to be debated is anti-democratic.

1. Legislators fleeing the state to avoid a debate is democracy-in-action? No.
2. Union members helping to force a standstill in the state government is
democracy in action? No.

This isn't "power to the people" as one lawmaker tried to claim. This is usurpation of the democratic process enshrined in our republic. And all these public "employees" should be ashamed.

The 'Progressives' are here, they are dangerous, and if you look behind the curtain, you'll see the likes of Alinsky and Ayers calling the plays, posthumously or otherwise. I'm just waiting for them to declare a "Day of Rage" to really seal the deal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Uhm. Dumbass?

Who the hell is this James Brown guy, and what on the face of this green Earth do his comments have to do with the pending legislation in Nevada?

For the record, "automatic" weapons are already highly regulated at the Federal level (as well as in some less-sane States), so I'll assume Captain Dumbass is talking about semi-automatic weapons, like a trusty old M1911A1 or a new-fangled Glock $NUMBER Gen4. It makes my head hurt to try and wrap my brain around what he might be getting at, so I think I'll stop hurting myself and instead enjoy a nice hot cup of tea.

Update on Traveller's Insurance gun policies

Well this is an interesting non-response. I can't say I'm surprised - insurance companies generally like to avoid bad press. On the other hand, what difference does it make if the named insured owns a sporting rifle, a pistol or grandad's old M1 Carbine? Do crooks generally target their home burglaries based on something as specific as a firearm type? If so, perhaps the homeowner already failed in letting that information out of the bag (assuming it's not an inside job). That doesn't excuse the theft or the criminal, mind you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Like shooting holes in cheese?

OK, so the post title is a weak attempt to combine shooting humor and cheese humor. But it seems the Swiss have voted to remain free, at least for now.

Interesting how the proponents of gun control are urban regions and

"...a broad coalition of NGOs, trade unions, churches, pacifists and centre-left parties."


Sound familiar? The Socialists, the Socialists, the Socialists, and, oh yes, the Socialists. The same people that think They Know Better than you. Government is the solution, 'people' are the problem. What they should do is just be honest - "freedom" is the problem, in their eyes. Self-determination, initiative, desire and a willingness to work harder than the next guy to get ahead - these are all dirty concepts.

They'll solve the problem by stripping freedoms, one at a time, creating absolute dependency and then dictating the terms by which you'll live your life. The goal is obvious, but the method and execution are insidious. It starts with your guns, your carbon emissions, your liquor, your cigarettes or your food supply. These are all things that 'regular' people can somehow agree are bad and should be controlled. Then it moves on to speech and ideas and expression (the Germans, their national history aside, are a prime example here with their anti-Nazi laws). This country has a shameful past in the history of slavery. To this day, we don't ban the KKK or prevent them from marching. No, we're generally intelligent enough to let them do their thing and then regard them with disdain and contempt. Their ideas and expression of those ideas are protected. Our freedom and open society inform us that those ideas are wrong and they lose in the end.

It's a screed here, I'll admit. As I said, though, it starts with 'guns' or 'booze' or 'carbon' and just marches on. Stop them. Now. Everywhere.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Go, Joe.

I like Joe's blog. It's pretty much devoid of bullshit. Actually, as far as I can tell, it is totally devoid of bullshit. He pokes an eye in the Brady folks over their clamoring for magazine capacity limits with a good video.

So I'll ask the Brady folks again: You claim to favor only reasonable gun laws. What do you consider to be an unreasonable gun control law, Mr. Helmke?

Traveler's Insurance = FAIL.

This.

I'm not sure why Traveler's takes that position, and though the lawyer in me can make about 4 or 5 educated guesses, none of them really stand out as presenting an excessive risk. Not in a country with million and millions of firearms in homes.

The world is full of dangerous stuff. Accidents and stupidity can, and do, happen. Lots of things can kill and maim. Booze, prescription drugs, guns, kitchen knives, matches and so on. Note the items I listed. That's not fodder for a game of "One of these things is not like the other." Seriously.

Fortunately, State Farm doesn't behave so foolishly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

GPS

I would guess at least some hunters out there rely on GPS as a backup method for finding the way home if all else fails (compass gets crunched, can't see the Sun due to clouds, XY-chromosomal, intertial guidance system fails, etc.)

So this does not strike me as a good thing. Just skimmed the article so far, but it's worth being aware of, at least.

I want accurate spray firing.

I'll let the Op-Ed piece speak for itself. Mind you, it speaks like a stammering, lost and confused drunk. But it does speak.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A better type of wealth 'redistribution'

Instead of the government taking my taxes and using them to fund wasteful, unhelpful programs and policies that end up lining the pockets of labor, lobbyists and special interests, here's a better idea.

Guns are expensive and in today's down economy (recession, depression, take your pick - it sucks) few law abiding folks can afford to drop $300-$900 on a quality self-defense firearm, be that a pistol, shotgun or rifle. Even at the low end, you've got to pick between a noisemaker and food/rent/gas/heat/electricity in the most practical and realistic of situations.

So, each year we hear about law enforcement gun 'buybacks' (really another term for theft, IMO, but that's another post.) Agencies claim these firearms are checked to see if they were used in a crime and then either held as evidence or destroyed. It is wasteful and silly to destroy perfectly good and useful firearms, though probably wise to trash ones beyond repair or service. So let's take the good ones out of the batch and give them (along with training) to people who need them. Assuming you are not a prohibited person, are trained in safe use and storage and have a need, why not? By "need", I mean general good-cause, i.e. "self-defense" is just perfectly fine with me. And you can pick and choose among what will work best for you - an AR-15, a shotgun, a revolver, a semiautomatic pistol and so forth.

I seems only reasonable.

Inspired by this story.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New addition to the family

I picked up a Rock Island Armory (Armscor) 1911A1-CS (that's the Officer model, 3.5" bull barrel) from the stupid California 10-day jail a week ago and took it to the local indoor range on Friday.

Took the pistol home and it was covered in protective grease. Not quite cosmoline, but close enough to be annoying. In the box you'll find a bunch of literature about gun safety, a warranty registration card, a couple of fire shell casings, one 7 round ACT-MAG, the pistol itself with GI-style sights and a cable lock.

Disassembled and cleaned and looked at the tolerances and finish. Overall the slide-to-frame fit was nice, the barrel lockup was good, everything felt smooth once I oiled the slide rails and cycled the slide a few dozen times and the trigger pull was OK. I estimate the pull in the 4-5lb. range, but I haven't measured yet. Not too much creep and a decent, but not great, break. The Kimber trigger is better, but it's also twice the price.

Since the frame is cast and then machined, there are some casting marks that aren't machined or polished out of the VIS, but the VIS itself seems to be properly relieved for allowing only the upper part of the lower lug to make contact on recoil. Ejector and extractor looked fine, all safeties worked, the feed ramp looked acceptable, and the first function check with dry-fire was good. Off to the range, then.

I put about 135 rounds of Federal and Winchester 230gr ball ammo through it. The factory ACT-MAG was flawless (to my surprise, I'd heard they were junk). I had 2 FTRB's on the 3rd round, once with a Chip McCormick 8 round magazine and once with a Kimber 8 round magazine. No clue why, but the slide was 1/4" out of battery. Removing the magazine and then slightly pulling the slide back showed the extractor had in fact captured the round, so I don't suspect an uncontrolled feed issue (i.e. it wasn't extractor "pushing"). Tapping the rear of the slide with my hand put the pistol in battery. Re-inserted the magazine and finished without additional issues. Odd that both FTRB's were on round 3 of generally good quality magazines, but both were 8-round units. Other magazines (2 Kimber, 2 other Chips, and a Springfield 7 round USGI) all ran fine.

My initial guess is that this is related to several factors - magazine spring tension, release of the round from the feed lips (abrupt vs. gradual) and momentum of the slide. When you take a 5" design and chop 1.5" inches from it and fiddle around with recoil springs and guide rods, everything has to be just right. The Officer-style is, to some purists, an abomination. To me, it's tinkering with a known-good design. Do it right and you get good results. Be half-assed about it and get junk. I think Armscor did OK in this realm, but I'll have to wait and see. For the record, I don't recall what the feed lip profile is on the two magazines in question, but I'll guess at hybrid for SWC-type ammo.

Then I put 25 rounds of Remington Golden Sabre JHP through the thing. I was a little concerned here, since a pistol originally designed for ball ammo won't always feed JHP very well without some work (usually due to the flatness of the bullet nose and the bullet ogive.) Whatever Armscor did, they did right in this regard. All 25 went through the pistol nice and easy.

Accuracy at 7 yards was good for a personal defense pistol, but things did open up a bit more than I like at the 12 and 15 yard ranges. Some of that was the pistol, some of that was the so-so USGI sights and some of that was me getting used to the gun. In defense of the pistol, at 12 and 15 yards, each round by itself would have slowed a bad guy, and the follow-up shots would have likely ended the encounter.

For the price, you can't beat this little gem. I'll probably white-dot the front post (a good method is to drill out a 1/16" hole in the front sight and fill with some white appliance paint), and install an extended thumb safety when time permits. If I ever manage to add a California CCW to my CCW collection, then tritium sights will be in order. The factory wood grips are smooth, and I can see that being a problem with wet hands, in the rain and so forth. The quick fix there will be a set of Kimber rubber grips, similar to what my TLE II wears. I like them and they work well.

About the only thing I don't like is Officer vs GI magazines. I like all the magazines for a "family" of pistols to Just Work, and obviously an Officer magazine won't run in a GI-style 1911. Even more concerning is if in an emergency you grab for a GI 1911 and an Officer magazine. Not good. Solution - a bunch more 7 round magazines and a few X-grip bumpers. But then you run into a similar problem where your GI-sized magazines won't fit GI-sized guns without first removing the X-grip. But it lets me have magazines that are otherwise fully family-compatible. Imperfect, but acceptable for now.

I'll post back after I get 500-600 rounds through this critter and see how it does long-term. For now, the Kimber will be what I carry in the woods. I prefer the heft of a full-size 1911 and in the woods I really have no need to conceal a pistol. Plus the holster-magazine holder-pistol combination was set up for the Kimber and it all just works for me. If I start carrying while fishing, the RIA will likely be the go-to choice, however.
Interesting take on large capacity magazines, with a focus on the 33-round units for a Glock. Pretty well-written and thoughtful, and surprised to see it in the Post.

I do differ with the author, in part, though.

"For them, the Glock with a 33-round magazine is the weapon of maximum utility. You can load it on Sunday and shoot it all month. (Nobody wants to reload a gun while being shot at.) It's light and easy to control. You don't have to carry it or conceal it; it's under the bed or in the drawer until needed. When the question arises of who needs an extended magazine, the answer is: the most defenseless of the defenseless."
I'm not sure I totally agree here. 33 rounds of 9mm, plus the weight of the firearm (which granted, isn't much, thanks to all that nylon) isn't "light". It's not overly burdensome, but it certainly is not light. As for "easy to control", that big stick hanging out of the grip is not necessarily hard to control, but if you're not used to it, things can get a bit unwieldy.

Of course the practical solution to both my exceptions is practice, practice and more practice. Develop the necessary muscle memory and muscle strength and you'll be fine. Mind you, given a choice, the scattergun is what I'd prefer as my first line of defense. To paraphrase, the pistol just buys me some time and space for getting to it.

Shoot safe and have fun.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Don't just let a good crisis go to waste.

Manufacture it, at least in part.

I thought this was the sort of thing ATF was supposed to prevent. Whistle blower (Federal law offers protections for folks like this, one paper, anyway.)

Keep up the good work, guys.