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  • April 10, 2014

    Are You an Ant or a Grasshopper?

    By David E. Petzal

    You may recall Aesop’s Fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper. In case you don’t, it went something like this: A grasshopper who sang and danced all summer was rebuked by an ant who spent the time in endless toil gathering eats for the cold months.

    “You watch, a-hole; when winter comes you’re going to wish you’d stockpiled food,” said the ant.  But the grasshopper just kept at the fun and games.

    Sure enough, winter arrived and with it hard times. The grasshopper, who was by then starving, went to the ant and begged for food. But the ant, who was just finishing off an ant-sized Beef Wellington with a very nice Chateau Latour, belched, picked a piece of crust from its mandible, and said, "Beat it, parasite. You had your chance,” and with that he picked up an ant-sized Bennelli M4 tactical shotgun and fired a round at the grasshopper’s feet by way of emphasis.

  • April 3, 2014

    Outdoor Survival: First-Aid Kits

    By David E. Petzal

    I was asked what’s in my first-aid kit. Since I don’t remember, and I’m too lazy to dig it out, I’ll give you some general rules about first-aid kits that will be more useful than an item-by-item rundown.

    Don’t think about a first-aid kit as a fixed and immutable object. The kit should expand and contract, depending on where you’re going, what you’re likely to encounter, and how long will it take to get to a doctor, or have a doctor get to you. I have two first-aid kits, one for hunts, which are in close proximity to civilization, and the other for places like Alaska, where you may be left to your own devices if something happens. This saves me the trouble of re-building a single first-aid kit over and over.  Whatever you take, it should be small enough that you can keep it with you. My small kit is a little bigger than a fist and fits in a fanny pack with no trouble. The larger one is the size of maybe two fists. Package it in something waterproof, like a Ziplock bag, or better, the rollup Velcro-seal plastic bags sold in camping-supply stores.

  • January 28, 2014

    The Southerner’s Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life

    By David E. Petzal

    Garden & Gun, a bimonthly magazine which is published in Charleston, South Carolina, is the unlikeliest magazine ever to become successful, win awards, and achieve a national circulation of 700,000. In fact, it is the oddest concept to take root since the British comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore invented a restaurant called “The Frog and Peach” (“You never know when you’re going to want a bloody great frog and a really smashing peach”) and goddamn if it didn’t take off in the real world. But I digress.

    Garden & Gun is a lifestyle magazine which, in its words, covers “the best of the South, including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas.” One reason it has succeeded is that it employs only first-rate talent. Its previous Editor in Chief was Sid Evans, who was head honcho at Field & Stream, and its current Main Man is David DiBenedetto, who was a Features Editor at F&S. Eddie Nickens is a regular contributor, and I get in a lick once in a while.

  • January 24, 2014

    New Hunting Knife: SOG BladeLight Hunt

    By The Editors

    This 4-inch drop-point knife from SOG was one of the most innovative products of SHOT Show. It has a stainless steel blade and an injection-molded handle. The most intriguing feature is the six LED lights that give you 90 minutes of burn time. If you've ever found your deer after dark just as your headlamp batteries were dying, you'll fully appreciate the intelligent design of the SOG Bladelight Hunt. 

  • April 23, 2013

    Primitive Arrowheads: 'Bird Points' Weren't Used for Hunting Birds

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Usually we deal with guns only, but every once in a while you come across a video that takes a Gun Nut approach to primitive weapons, and this is one of the best. Were bird arrow points for birds or deer? Only one way to find out...

  • December 7, 2012

    Zeiss Conquest HD Binoculars: What a Top-Notch Binocular Can Do For a Hunter

    By David E. Petzal

    So, there I was, sitting in a box blind in Maine 10 minutes before last shooting light, looking through my scope at a hillside with a whitetail on it, trying to decide whether the creature had horns or not. This was complicated by the fact that the whitetail was already in deep shadow, and that the hillside was backlighted by the setting sun, and by the fact that it (the deer, not the sun) had its buttocks toward me and its head down in an infernal tangle of branches, weeds, and other annoying plant life.

    I was looking at the critter through a Zeiss Conquest rifle scope and, good as the scope is, I was unable to tell if it was time to pull the trigger. Finally, since the light was running out, I said the hell with it and picked up a Zeiss 10x42 Conquest HD binocular (a loaner; sent it back yesterday) and saw at a glance what I could not see through the scope—that the beast was a doe and that the day was over.

  • November 7, 2012

    A Tip for a Happier Marriage During Hunting Season

    By Phil Bourjaily

    This is me with my first rooster of the year, always a noteworthy event. Almost equally important is this: even though you can see that Jed wanted to jump out of my arms and keep hunting I called my limit one bird and went home. I got back a little earlier than I told my wife I would and had daylight left for some leaf raking.

    Having now been married for 29 hunting seasons I can offer this observation: It is not so much the time you spend in the field that leads to disharmony during the fall. Coming home later than you said you would be home is what causes problems.

  • November 6, 2012

    How to Pack for a Hunt

    By David E. Petzal

    “The only time I ever got my s**t together, I couldn’t pick it up.”—Roger Miller

    Packing successfully for a hunting trip is far more important than making out a will which will hold up. If you die and your will is successfully contested, what do you care? You’re dead. If, however, you bring only longjohn bottoms on a hunt and leave the tops at home, you’ll regret it bitterly for a week or more.

    Because I’m at the age when I have trouble remembering who I am, much less all the stuff that I have to take along, I’ve developed a system that’s worked pretty well. First, take out all the hunting gear you own. I mean everything, even if it has no place where you’re going.

    Second, assemble what you need, and don’t do this by simply slinging it into a duffle bag. Don’t assume that you have patches and gun oil in your cleaning kit. You may have taken them out on the last trip because the TSA doesn’t allow gun oil. Are all your batteries fresh? Have you gained so much weight since last season that, when you button your heavy pants, little purple veins erupt on your nose?

  • September 18, 2012

    An Outdoor Philosophy

    By David E. Petzal

    As a rule, I try to avoid philosophy as strenuously as I avoid honest work. I would as soon read Hegel or Kant or Nietzsche as I would pound a darning needle up my nose. But sometimes one is forced to think about something more all encompassing than Ms. Mila Kunis (pictured here).

    While hunting in New Zealand this past spring, I ran into a South African hunter of vast experience who said, in the course of our conversation, “The purpose of hunting isn’t to kill some stupid animal. It’s to give yourself a chance to stand alone in the wilderness and realize how insignificant you are.”

  • July 17, 2012

    Camouflage Follies

    By David E. Petzal

    It’s just been announced that the Army is giving up on its Universal Camouflage Pattern, after pissing away $5 billion on uniforms, packs, and other gear that say “Here I am. Shoot me.”* This is one further reminder that even if something says “camo,” it may not conceal anything worth a damn. Last fall I bought a one-man blind to take to Maine with me. It was so small that if I farted inside it, there was not room for both me and the fart. The blind would blow away in any kind of a breeze, and worst of all, its popular Pellagra and Redbug camo pattern stood out like the proverbial turd in the proverbial punchbowl. I positioned it on a hillside, walked uphill to where the deer would cross, took a look at the wretched thing, and realized that if I hung a neon sign above it that said “FLEE!” and sprinkled a couple of pounds of wolf s*** around it, the effect would not be much worse than it already was. Fifty pounds or so of pine branches later, it was somewhat concealed, but not much.

    I think that camo is largely a human conceit. Most animals, unlike people, are not visually oriented, and could care less what color your clothes are. When people wore red and black checkered wool suits they killed plenty of animals. African professional hunters, who work in close proximity to game all the time, wear whatever they damn please, and it makes no difference. European hunters, until recently, dressed entirely in dark green, and had no trouble getting game.

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