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  • April 30, 2012

    How the Public Sees Hunters

    By Phil Bourjaily

    There is a small percentage of the U.S. population that hunts, and a small percentage that hates hunting. While many of us believe the general public looks on at hunters with disapproval, the truth is, most of them rarely think about hunting at all.  

    When they do think about it, the non-hunters I encounter believe two things:

    - We are crazy for keeping the hours we do and going out in the cold.

    - Hunting is okay if you eat what you shoot.

  • April 26, 2012

    Turkey Hunting: Sometimes It's Better To Be Lucky Than Good

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I have written a lot of how-to turkey stories over the years, but I generally ignore my own advice. Instead my personal approach to hunting boils down to: sleep late, get lucky. This morning I actually woke up at 4:30 a.m., thought about getting out of bed, then decided against it. It’s not that I don’t like getting up in the early morning, it’s that I hate feeling wiped out later in the day when I do.

    So I left the house at the crack of 6:30 a.m. As an afterthought, on my way out the door, I grabbed a new mouth call from the box where I store the calls sent to me by manufacturers to try. I had noticed yesterday the ones in my vest were starting to fall apart and thought I should add a new one.

  • April 25, 2012

    Shotgun Tip: Staying In The Zone

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Talk to good shotgun shooters, and they will tell you they get “in the Zone” where targets look as big as trashcan lids and birds seem to fly in slow motion. I get in the Zone sometimes, but the difference between ordinary pretty good shots like me and really good shooters is that the champions can find the Zone regularly and stay in it. For me, being in the Zone is a fragile state.

  • April 23, 2012

    Petzal on the Trayvon Martin Shooting

    by David E. Petzal

    On April 11, Florida Special Prosecutor Angela B. Corey announced at a press conference that George Zimmerman would be indicted for second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. She prefaced this by informing the world that her team of investigators were fearless defenders of the victim, yet mindful of the rights of the accused; immune to political pressure from anyone; compassionate yet strict; enforcers not of public opinion, but of Justice. She did not say that hers was the greatest assemblage of legal minds since the drafting of the Magna Carta in 1215, but that was probably because she forgot. It reminded me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: “The louder he spoke of his virtue, the faster we counted our spoons.”

    In all likelihood, we will never know the complete truth about what happened in the death of Trayvon Martin, but I think I can guarantee that whatever took place, George Zimmerman will go to prison.

    He is guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of three counts of SWA—Stupid While Armed—and there is always a penalty for that.

  • April 20, 2012

    Long Range Shooting: Equipment and Theory Are Not Enough

    by David E. Petzal

    One of the shows in this season’s Gun Nuts will be me shooting at 500 yards at the Scarborough Fish & Game Association range in Scarborough, Maine. The point I will be making is that, if you don’t practice shooting at ranges over 300 yards, don’t shoot at game beyond 300 yards. It’s not enough to buy the equipment and know the theory.

    This was borne out a couple of weeks ago when I was shooting at Scarborough with Rocky Prout, who is head of the Rifle Committee, a Distinguished Rifleman, and a Highpower Competitor for 20-plus years. I was to shoot at 500 yards and we had a stiff incoming breeze on the order of 25 mph.

    Conventional wisdom says that an incoming wind will lift your bullets on their way to the target, and I asked Rocky how much I should allow for it.

    “Nothing,” he said. “At 500 yards this isn’t going to move a .30/06.”

  • April 18, 2012

    Fear and Loathing at Canadian Customs

    By David E. Petzal

    This took place in the 1990s at an airport in one of Canada’s western provinces, and involved a member of that country’s Immigration Service, which is dedicated to making life as hard for American hunters as it possibly can.

    I had been invited to this province by a scope manufacturer to hunt whitetail deer, freeze, and see what great stuff they made. By sheer chance, a few weeks previously, Field & Stream had been visited by a minister of Canada’s Department of Tourism who asked the magazine’s help in persuading sportsmen to visit their country, eh? He left a couple of his cards, and I, in a rare stroke of foresight, kept one.

    So I got to the Canadian airport and on the entry card, where it asked whether I was there on business or pleasure, I checked off business, because I was, after all, representing the magazine and was the guest of a manufacturer. This was a mistake.

  • April 18, 2012

    What Makes a Shotgun a Classic?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    We are filming my parts of Gun Nuts, Season III, even now. One of the segments we’ll be doing again this year is reader questions. I asked for them a while ago and have picked some to answer on the show.

    Here’s one that unfortunately didn’t make the cut for the camera, but I thought it would make a great discussion starter. I’m taking the liberty of posting it here. Thanks to frequent contributor Tom-Tom:

    “Phil, in your opinion, what characteristics does it take to make a shotgun “A Classic”? Many of today’s models seem to be the “New and improved” version while others are still made virtually the same as they were many years ago. Is there a common denominator across pumps, side by sides, over/unders, autos and single shots?”

  • April 16, 2012

    Final Proof that We’ve Gone Nuts

    By David E. Petzal

    This has absolutely nothing to do with guns, or shooting, but since many of you share a similar world view, I thought you’d be interested. For roughly 30 years, I’ve been a more or less regular blood donor. It’s one of the worthwhile things you can do, and I figure if they want my blood, they must really need it.

    Hitherto, all my bleeding has been done for the New York Blood Center, which is state-run. But there was a drive nearby run by the Red Cross, so I figured I might as well exsanguinate for them. It was held at a high school gym, which was packed with kids who were donating, and the atmosphere was fouled by s***y music being played at deafening volume, which apparently does not bother the kids.

  • April 13, 2012

    Trap Shooting Tip: Look at the Bottom Edge

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I have given a lot of shooting advice to a lot of high school kids on our trap team in the past four years. If you threw out 99.9 percent of what I’ve told them, trap can be boiled down to two things: “Keep your head on the stock” and “focus on the bottom edge of the target.”

    The former is obvious, since we have all been told forever that your eye is the rear sight of a shotgun. The latter, however, works wonders, and it surprises me every time it does. Looking at the bottom of the target should be wrong because trap targets are rising. But from what I have seen, far more targets are missed over the top than underneath. For whatever reason, people who don’t lock their eyes onto targets usually miss over the top.

  • April 12, 2012

    A Brief Rant On Mounting Shotguns

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Last weekend I took a National Sporting Clays Association class for my Level I instructor certification. It was a wonderful experience, I learned a ton, and I’ll be writing a column about it in the magazine in the future.

    However, since this blog space is supposed to contain “rantings and ravings” let me take the only complaint I have about the class and run with it. We did not learn to teach students how to shoot from a low-gun, unmounted start. Sporting Clays--once called “Hunter’s Clays”--used to be about hunting practice, just as skeet (another game that has abandoned the low-gun start) was. American sporting clays rules now allow a premounted gun as in trap and skeet. Unless you shoot international skeet or FITASC which do require a low-gun, there is no need to learn how to mount a shotgun.

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