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  • February 28, 2011

    When You Realize You’re In Bad Gun Company…It’s Time To Go

    By David E. Petzal

    Back in the 60s, I knew an elderly woman who was convinced that if she stopped at a red light she would be set upon and robbed, so her solution was to drive through all red lights and stop signs. Through some miracle she was not killed, nor did she kill anyone, but no one would get in a car with her.

    Similarly there are some shooters and hunters who are unsafe and will always be unsafe. Whether it’s through stupidity or short attention span or an agitated disposition doesn’t matter. If you find yourself in their presence, leave. Right away. You don’t need to make excuses, although if you explain the reason for your departure it may do some good, but go elsewhere smartly, in a military manner.

  • February 25, 2011

    Random Thoughts: Fine Guns and Mixed Martial Arts

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Fine English shotguns are a hot commodity, says Time magazine. Investors seeking to diversify their portfolios after the disasters of the last couple of years have discovered the fine gun market. The limited supply of fine guns – most makers build very few guns a year – keeps the market strong.

    For instance, thirteen of Eric Clapton’s guns, including a pair of specially engraved William Evans doubles, recently brought over $700,000 at Sotheby’s.

    Fine English doubles are appreciating at 3 to 5 percent per year, which isn’t much, but it’s steady. Besides which, in the event of complete global ruin, you have a gun – albeit one that only holds two shells.

    * * *

    It is unfortunate with all the attention brought to New York slasher Maksim Gelman, we don’t hear as much about Joe Lozito, the man who helped disarm him in a bloody fight on the subway. Lozito says years of watching Mixed Martial Arts helped him survive.

  • February 24, 2011

    Peter and the Wolf: Petzal's New Ending

    By David E. Petzal

    Provoked by the news that Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has legalized Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up for wolves north of I90 (I am pro-wolf, by the way.) I listened to a recording of Peter and the Wolf, which I had not heard in over 50 years, and which was once an immensely popular piece of music for kids.

    Written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, it’s a short narrative with music telling the highly unlikely story of how a Russian farm boy manages to capture a wolf which is raiding the farm where Peter lives with his grandfather. A band of hunters that has been tracking the wolf wants to kill it, but at Peter’s insistence they take it to a zoo instead. End of story. The problem is, it left too many loose ends, so I have taken the liberty of updating things.

  • February 23, 2011

    Do You Need 1,000 Foot/Pounds to Take a Deer?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Before we get to our discussion question, here’s a little about the picture: Last month I wrote about the excitement of hunting a deer with a handgun, and a few of you asked for a closeup of the revolver and sight I used on the hunt. I shot a S&W 627, an eight-shot .357 magnum built on the large “N” frame normally used for the 629 .44 mag. I chose it because as a novice handgunner I figured a more massive revolver combined with a load milder than a .44 magnum would be a good way to start, and because I could practice a lot with cheap, low-recoiling .38 special ammo. I figured a good hit with a smaller bullet would beat a bad hit with a bigger bullet.

  • February 22, 2011

    Kitchen-Knife Control: When Parody is Indistinguishable from Reality

    By David E. Petzal

    This all came about because a crazed yahoo killed four people with a knife instead of a handgun in the fiefdom of Mayor for Life Michael Bloomberg. If said yahoo had used a handgun, His Honor would have rounded up his tame fellow mayors, gone to Washington, and treated us to yet another gun-control sermon in his adenoidal bleat. But it was knives, so he was silent.

    I thought this was a shame, so I wrote the post of February 18, titled ("Bloomberg Calls for Kitchen Knife Law Reform"), stringing together the clichés that Bloomberg, and Chuck Schumer, and all the usual suspects have used, and substituted “kitchen knives” for “handguns” where appropriate. As reader Breaking Clays pointed out in his comment on the post (and he gets an A+ for this one), the most crushing criticism of an opponent’s point of view you can make is when you write a truly idiotic parody of it and the parody is indistinguishable from the real thing. If this seemed real, it’s because there’s nothing in it you haven’t seen or heard before, spoken or written, in dead seriousness.

  • February 18, 2011

    Bloomberg Calls For Kitchen-Knife Law Reform

    By David E. Petzal

    On the weekend of February 12, Maksim Gelman, a 23-year-old Ukranian immigrant with a history of drug arrests, went on a rampage in Brooklyn, NY that left him charged with four murders, two assaults, and two robberies. His weapon of choice was an 8-inch kitchen knife. Four other kitchen knives were found in his car. On February 14, New York City’s Mayor for Life Michael Bloomberg released the following statement:

    “This tragic event demands that America inject some sanity, some kind of reasonable controls, into its kitchen-knife laws. No one but a professional chef needs an 8-inch kitchen knife. No one but a professional chef needs an entire collection of kitchen knives. Why was this person, who had a criminal record, able to buy kitchen knives with no sort of background check? Because anyone can walk into a hardware or kitchen-supply store and buy any knife they want as easily as they can buy a blender or a colander.

  • February 17, 2011

    Old Gear vs. New Gear: Snowshoes and Scopes

    By David E. Petzal

    by David E. Petzal

    One of the areas in which I resisted change the longest was snowshoes. I had a pair of Vermont Tubbs traditional webs made out of ash and varnished rawhide in the “Michigan” pattern, and swore I would never get the new style Tubbs, which are made in China out of aluminum and neoprene. For years we got no snow, so I gave the old webs away, but this winter we got so much snow that I needed snowshoes just to pick up the branches on my lawn, and since I couldn’t find the old style anywhere, I got the new ones (the Venture model). I’m saddened to say the aluminum and neoprene monstrosities work much, much better than the old type. It isn’t even close. Next thing you know I’ll be replacing all my wood-stocked guns with plastic. 

  • February 16, 2011

    Ernest Hemingway's .577 Nitro Rifle Up For Auction

    By Phil Bourjaily

    by Phil Bourjaily

    Another famous gun is going on the auction block. In March, James D. Julia’s in Maine, the house which previously sold Nash Buckingham’s Bo Whoop and Teddy Roosevelt’s A.H. Fox, will sell Ernest Hemingway’s .577 Nitro double. Hemingway took the massive single-trigger Westley Richards side-by-side on at least two safaris and shot a lion, a rhino and possibly a buffalo with it. It is expected to bring somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000.

    If $200,000 is too rich for you, spend $40 on “Hemingway’s Guns,” (181 pages; by Silvio Calabi, Steve Helsly and Roger Sanger. The three have done a fine job of researching the guns owned by Ernest Hemingway. The book is full of interesting facts, lively anecdotes and an excellent selection of photographs. “Hemingway’s Guns” assumes no prior knowledge of firearms, so some of the gun writing is overly basic, but all in all it’s a great addition to any Gun Nut’s book collection and a whole lot cheaper than buying the rifle.

  • February 15, 2011

    Can You Handle The Kick?

    By David E. Petzal

    "A man's got to know his limitations." So said Inspector Harry Callahan in Magnum Force, and he was right. I get lots of questions on how hard various cartridges kick, and it’s an almost impossible question to answer because there are four factors in the equation: the load, the rifle, you and, oddly enough, public opinion. There was a time when the .45 ACP was thought of as almost unmanageable, and you still see it referred to as a brutal kicker. After World War I, the .30/06 was held in awe as something only the manliest of men would dare to shoot.

    In a sense, this was correct. If you shot a Springfield 03 with its too-short stock, or a Winchester 95 with its crescent steel buttplate, you would suffer. And if you’ve never shot a .44 Magnum (or a .45 Casull), you will indeed think the .45 ACP a hard kicker.

  • February 14, 2011

    Happy Valentine's Day: Do You Hunt With Your Spouse?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    It seems appropriate on Valentine’s Day to take up the subject of hunting with spouses and significant others. These are my friends MD and Julie Johnson, who are husband and wife as well as hunting partners. MD proposed to Julie during an early-season goose hunt. At Julie’s suggestion, they honeymooned by going fishing in Alaska. This picture was taken in the Black Hills during a trip they made to collect the Grand Slam together.

    The picture reminds me that several years ago I shared a duck boat on the Minnesota opener with husband and wife Fred and Diane. I remarked to Fred how lucky he was to hunt with his wife.

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