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  • April 7, 2014

    Two Ways to Deal with Buck Fever

    By David E. Petzal

    Drawing on my extensive medical background, I classify buck fever as a form of hysteria in which your cerebrum and cerebellum shut down simultaneously and you are left either paralyzed and unable to do anything except wet yourself (or worse) or do really odd things like cycling a whole magazine of ammo through the rifle without pulling the trigger.

    We know that the sight of a big-game animal can have a profound physical effect on the body. Back in the 1990s, at a plantation loaded with really monstrous whitetails, scientists attached heart monitors to a number of deer hunters who then climbed into their trees stands to await one of these behemoths. When a Serious Deer did stroll by, heart rates went instantly from normal resting (about 72 beats per minute) to close to 200 per minute, which is a trip to the ER for many people.

  • April 4, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Pledge Week

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Thanks to reader Shawn Sipes, who sent this picture of his wonderful trio of Remington Model 14s in .25, .30, and .32 caliber. And, thanks to all of you who have offered up your guns in these last 10 months or so to make Gunfight Friday so much fun. Every week your guns and your insightful comments about them make Gunfight Friday read like a great hunting camp argument right here on this blog.

    Now, Gunfight Friday needs your guns.

  • 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.

  • March 31, 2014

    Rifle Ammo: Hanged by the Neck

    By David E. Petzal

    A friend of mine has just returned from his first trip to Africa and, as all such hunters do, is now walking around with his eyes fixed on a distant continent, plotting how to get back. (The place does get a hold on you.) He was hunting for plains game, and brought along a .300 Winchester Short Magnum, loaded with Swift Sciroccos, which performed peerlessly. However, he experienced a problem that comes up very often, particularly with short-necked cases like the .300 WSM—the bullets slipped forward in the case and one of them eventually jammed its little meplat in the rifling causing all sorts of problems.

    If you’re not aware of this when it happens, you’ll yank the bolt back and the bullet will come out of the case, spilling powder everywhere and leaving you to find a cleaning rod to drive the slug out. It happened to me on an elk hunt in Colorado, using 250-grain .338 factory loads with a very long, then-experimental bullet. I barked and roared like a berserk baboon.

  • March 28, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Colt Trooper vs SIG Sauer

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Today’s gunfight is between a couple of versatile all-around carry guns: a .357 revolver and a .22/.45 ACP semauto combo. The revolver is a Colt Trooper Mk III, made from 1969-1982. It is a redesigned version of the original Trooper, which was intended to be a medium-frame, lower cost version of the Python. As its name suggests, the “Trooper” was marketed to law enforcement agencies. The SIG Sauer P220 was introduced in 1975 as the Swiss army’s service pistol. Designed in Switzerland and built in collaboration with Sauer in Germany, it works with the precise reliability you would expect from a German-Swiss partnership and is still in use today. Here are this week’s contestants:

  • March 26, 2014

    Guns Don't Kill People; Ink Kills People

    By David E. Petzal

    Much as I try to introduce a healthy dose of the ridiculous, the grotesque, and the semi-believable (for example, Der Adolf raving about registering ARs) to this blog, life keeps beating me at my own game. Which brings us to the town of Norridgewock, Maine where, on March 18, one Michael Smith, who works the night shift (job unspecified) was awakened at 10 AM by tree surgeons taking down limbs that were threatening power lines near his house. Mr. Smith, who was shirtless, yelled at them from some distance to go away and let him sleep. But before you could say “Man with a gun,” his house was surrounded by Maine State Troopers and sheriff’s deputies, cocked and locked.

    How come? It seems Mr. Smith likes tattoos, and one of his tats is a life-size automatic pistol inked on his stomach whose barrel appears to be shoved in his pants.

  • March 24, 2014

    Does Your Camo Match?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I don’t do redneck often, but my turkey gun is an exception. It’s an 870 Super Mag with a Mossy Oak Break-Up stock. The rest is well-worn Realtree APG camo. To top it off, the sling is Avery KW-1, a camo pattern meant for waterfowl hunting.

    Which brings up the question: Does your camo match? Since the parts of my gun don’t even match, I’m going to have to admit my camo doesn’t match very often. Some people, however, are obsessive about having everything in the latest pattern, and all of it the same.

  • March 24, 2014

    Hunting Gear: Screwing Up

    By David E. Petzal

    One of the things I will go to my grave without knowing is, why is so much hunting equipment put on the market with obvious flaws? Is no one paying attention? Last week I attempted to mount a scope on a new rimfire rifle and found that when the scope was correctly positioned, the objective-lens bell collided with the rear sight. The rear sight folded down, but that didn’t help. The only way the scope would fit was if I punched the rear sight out of its slot, leaving a gaping hole, or used high rings, which are an affront to God, Man, and the Principles of Good Marksmanship.

    Did no one think: “If we put rear sight there, it get in way of scope. How about we cut slot one inch closer to muzzle?” That would have solved the problem, but it was apparently beyond whoever designed the rifle.

  • March 21, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Lee Enfield vs Remington Model 14

    By Phil Bourjaily

    This week’s matchup is a couple of older rifles, and age is about all they have in common. Rob’s Remington Model 14 slide action in .35 Remington is a deer woods classic. MReeder’s Lee Enfield is a classic, too, of another kind.

    The Lee Enfield was England’s service rifle from 1895 to 1957. MReeder’s No. 4 Mk. 1 is of World War II vintage and, as he notes, this particular Lee Enfield was actually made in the United States by Savage. Although we think of the Lee Enfield as a battle rifle, it was also used as a hunting rifle throughout the British Empire. There’s no way of knowing, but the Lee Enfield may have accounted for more animals, and certainly more different kinds of animals, than any other rifle.

  • March 20, 2014

    Tactical Rifles

    By David E. Petzal

    When I was in the Army, I was once herded to a class on anti-tank weapons, during the course of which the instructor repeatedly used the phrase “neutralize the enemy.” Someone asked the sergeant what “neutralize” meant. The sergeant smiled a slow and beautiful smile and said: “You’ll blow the living s**t out of him.” 

    “Neutralize” was a euphemism, and so is “tactical.” A tactical rifle is a firearm designed for shooting people in a precise manner, as opposed to New York City Police Department doctrine, which is to empty the magazine as fast as you can in the general direction of everything standing and hope for the best. 

    If a gun company were to announce its new model so-and-so people-shooting rifle there would be hell to pay. So the easy way out is to simply call the gun a tactical rifle and everyone is happy.

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