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  • July 31, 2012

    Why I Love GunBroker.com, Part 1

    By Dave Hurteau


    One of the many reasons I love GunBroker.com is that you can find project guns. And one of the reasons I love project guns is that you can justify spending too much for one. With a new gun or a good used one, paying too much eats away at you after the initial-purchase glow wanes and can cause warm feelings to cool. But this rarely happens with a project gun.

    You may remember that I got myself a Savage Model 24 .22LR/.410 (one of the best squirrel guns ever made) for Christmas last year. The bores were good, but the wood was ugly white, the receiver had no finish left, and both barrels were riddled with rust spots. I found it on GunBroker.com, decided I couldn’t live without it, and paid way too much (around $350) given the condition. But here’s the beauty of it all. I had fun refinishing it. It cost next to nothing in materials. And $350 is not too much for the condition it’s in now (see photo above).

  • July 27, 2012

    Brand Worship for Bows is Nutty

    By Dave Hurteau

    Brand loyalty makes sense. If you plunk your money down for a bow and both it and its maker serve you well, you have every reason to buy products from that brand again. But in archery we have something more than mere loyalty; we have brand worship and its corollary, brand bashing.

    In my experience, the brand most frequently bashed on is Mathews, which is insane of course because they make great bows. But it all comes out in the wash because Mathews seems to be the most worshipped, too. The John McEnroe of bow companies, I guess. I don’t know who is nuttier, though, the Mathews haters, who are so certain of the company’s impiety that they would never lower themselves to actually try one, or the Mathews worshipers, for whom the possibility of another company making a comparable bow causes such physical pain that they can’t even entertain the thought. Both are stark-raving mad.

  • July 25, 2012

    Guest Shoot Me Down: Antler Restrictions are Good for Meat Hunters, Too

    By Dave Hurteau

    In the last SMD, I went on about why I think big-woods food plots are butt-ugly. Bioguy01 disagrees and did a fine job of saying so. Not quite fine enough to change my mind incidentally (I’m okay with improving big-woods habitat for deer, but I’d rather it be done in a way that’s in keeping with the land’s character—do some cutting, plant some native soft-mast trees and brush, etc.—but that is neither here nor there. What is here and now is that Bioguy01 is my guest today, free to go on about anything he wants to. And he wants to go on about antler restrictions.

    (But first a quick note: When I post an SMD, it’s typically a rant, prone to generalizations, overstatements, and points purposely exaggerated for effect to spark a passionate, but fun, discussion. I expect strong disagreement and don’t mind being called an idiot. But kindly go a little easy on my guests. Rip their argument to shreds, by all means. But be nice about it.)

    And now, here’s Bioguy01:

  • July 23, 2012

    Poll Results: You Are Mostly Bowhunters, Who Knew?

    By Dave Hurteau

    I had assumed, based on…well, nothing really, that the readers of this blog were more gun-centric. (“Gun-centric” by the way is a term I coined just this second, adapted from a similar “word” I heard in a corporate meeting. Pretty smart-sounding, don’t you think? You can use it if you want.) And yet, based on the early returns (439 votes at this writing) from our most recent poll, you are in fact more bow-centric. (Again, feel free.)

    If you had told me a week ago that roughly 50 percent of you would significantly favor bowhunting over gun hunting for deer, I would have suddenly become fall-on-my-face-centric. What’s more, based on the results at this moment, a whopping 63 percent of you are as or more into bowhunting than gun hunting.

  • July 19, 2012

    Poll: What Do You Like More for Deer Hunting, Bow or Gun?

    By Dave Hurteau

    There’s a lot of bowhunting coverage on this blog for two reasons: We already have a couple of pretty good gun writers, and Bestul and I happen to have the bow bug pretty bad. I still enjoy gun hunting. Of the three deer I killed last year, I took one with rifle, one with bow, and one with a muzzleloader. But in terms of the amount time spent with a bow vs. a gun, it was probably 70/30.

  • July 18, 2012

    Drought Could Spread Hemorrhagic Disease to Deer Populations

    By Scott Bestul

    Yesterday the NOAA (National Oceanographic & Oceanic Administration) confirmed that the drought plaguing much of the nation is the worst in over 50 years. That’s obviously bad news for farmers—and the rest of us--but the outlook might be equally grim for whitetails and the folks who hunt them. Hemorrhagic disease (HD), which includes EHD and blue tongue, goes hand-in-hand with drought and heat. Biologists in areas where these outbreaks occur are keeping an eye out for the first signs of deaths associated with the disease.

    Both variants of HD are blood-borne illnesses caused by biting midges or flies. According to the Quality Deer Management Association, EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) and BTV (blue tongue virus) are nearly indistinguishable; infected deer may exhibit symptoms within 5 days of being bitten.

  • July 13, 2012

    The Long and Short of the New Bowtech Insanity

    By Dave Hurteau

    This winter I was tickled—tickled I say—to learn that Bowtech would offer a 35-inch version of its new flagship Insanity, along with a fairly normal-by-today’s-short-bow-standards 32-inch model. This, along with Bear’s new 35.25-inch Anarchy and PSE’s 33.75-inch Dream Season EVO and Hoyt’s 35-inch Carbon Matrix, among others, could actually make a person hope that the short-and-light craze is mercifully coming to an end. (More on that another time.)

    I say mercifully because I tend to like a longer, heavier bow. Generally, they shoot better. I say generally because this cannot be assumed in the particular. (I recently tested a 30-inch, 3.5-pound Mathews Heli-M that was a real shooter. More on that another time.) And so, I just got done shooting the Bowtech Insanity CPX and CPXL, equipped with the identical accessories, side-by-side. Using the same three arrows, I took 10 three-shot groups at 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards with each bow, and then averaged the group sizes. Here are the results:

  • July 11, 2012

    Breaking News: Deer Czar Kroll Issues Final Report

    By Scott Bestul

    Wisconsin’s new Deer Czar—Dr. James Kroll—and his team have issued their much-anticipated review of Wisconsin's whitetail management. We’ve covered the precedent-setting move by Governor Scott Walker of hiring a politically-appointed deer trustee in the magazine and in this space but that story appeared before Kroll and his team had finalized their work.

    Now we have the final report, and several of the recommendations make good sense, and I felt the team was largely fair in its critique of the Badger State's deer program, pointing out shortcomings and offering suggestions for improvement. The seven-page summary can be read here but the highlights for me were:

  • July 9, 2012

    Study: Mortality Rate High for WI Big-Woods Fawns

    By Scott Bestul

    Only 2 out of every 10 newborn whitetails will survive a year in northern Wisconsin, if one year of research done by Badger State scientists proves a trend. DNR researchers captured and radio-collared 30 fawns in the spring of 2011; by April of this year only 6 were still alive.

    Predation was the leading cause of mortality, accounting for 15 dead fawns (bears killed 5, “unknown predators” took another five, bobcats nailed 4 fawns, coyotes got one, and “unidentified canid” took another). Hunters, poachers, vehicle collisions and another “unknown” rounded out the list.

    This 80% fawn mortality rate is only the beginning of data the WDNR is gleaning from a multi-year mortality study. In the winter of 2010, researchers began capturing adult deer in two study areas; one located in the heavily-forested northern part of the state, the other in central Wisconsin, where agriculture is more prevalent. Fawns were captured and collared beginning in the spring of 2011. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the $2 million study is being funded by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund.

  • July 6, 2012

    Shoot Me Down: Big-Woods Food Plots Are Butt-Ugly

    By Dave Hurteau

    Why not do back-to-back SMDs? Being called an idiot is funny and may even build character. So for the most part, I don’t raise any loud objections to food plots. They are absolutely not unethical; luring deer to shoot for food is morally permissible just about any way you slice it (even if you slice it thickly and against the grain, which is so wrong in a different way). But there are some special places where a plot really bugs the heck out of me, not because it’s wrong or unethical or unfair but because it’s hideously incongruous. Butt-ugly. An affront to good taste. (And if you ask David E. Petzal, he’ll tell you that good taste is everything.)

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