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  • November 30, 2007

    Deer Camp II-3


    In an earlier post, I mentioned that deer camp is a great place to hear stories. It’s also a great place for practical jokes. Here’s one of the best I ever saw.

    I was hunting on a huge ranch in South Texas in pursuit of the area’s legendary drop-tine whitetails. My buddy was a longtime newspaper columnist known to every hunter in that part of the world. After dinner the first night, the ranch owner told us about a new call he had just purchased in Houston. This was when grunt tubes were all the rage.

    “Wait a sec,” he said. “Ill show it to you.”

    He brought out what looked to be a miniature French horn and handed it my buddy, who inspected it suspiciously.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • November 28, 2007

    Great American Deer Camp-2


    Now is the time for the Great American Deer Camp. At a time when so many traditions seem headed to the dogs, this one is still going strong. Why? I think it’s because deer camp is one of the last refuges for us. We don’t have to shave--or bathe--and we can revel in the smell of wet wool, wood smoke, and cheap cigars. And for a few days, out of reach of the workplace and our domestic duties, we are free.

    For me, the best part of camp is the stories, and one of the best I ever heard was at a camp deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

    A longtime member of the camp said, “There was this break in the trees that overlooked a cedar swamp, just off the road that led to our morning stand. And every time we passed it Dad would always stop the truck and say, ‘You know, this is a great spot to see a big deer.’ It became a running joke between us because in all those years, we never saw a deer.

    “Well, the year Dad died, I almost didn’t come to camp. It was strange being here without him. Coming back for coffee the first morning, I stopped my truck at that spot; I thought it would be a nice way to honor his memory. Know what? There was a huge buck standing there. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s the only time I ever saw a deer there.”

    What’s your story?

    —Slaton White

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • November 19, 2007

    Go Ahead — Have a Martini!-5


    I have recently come to the conclusion that at least when it concerns the most important things in life — women, guns, cars and adult beverages — men are only slightly more intelligent than unicellular organisms. While that other sex, women, grow, change and evolve, men apparently have their critical circuits fused at an early age. I could tell you this story about jerking sodas in my grandfather’s drugstore in Memphis and this really hot girl in a poodle skirt and ankle bracelet…but I won’t.

    Instead, I’ll use that sleazy tease to explain why I’m crazy about Martini-Henry rifles. The falling block, self-cocking single shot Martini-Henry protected the British Empire from the 1870s until the turn of the century. They were big, ugly brutes, lobbing 577-450 bullets behind a huge load of black powder at the Empire’s enemies around the globe. You’re probably the most familiar with Martinis from the 1964 movie Zulu! (complete with exclamation point), starring Michael Caine, where 1,000 British soldiers with Martini-Henrys held off some 4,000 incredibly good Zulu warriors at Rorke’s Drift in Natal Province, South Africa.

    So anyway, at some formative time in my life I see Zulu!, and the single-shot rifle circuit fuses shut on “Martinis.” I’d been prepped for this moment by over-exposure to the old Frank DeHaas book on single-shot rifles, Single Shot Rifles and Actions, which I’d poured though with the intensity that only a young male primate who has not yet discovered the opposite sex can. My theory was that since I had never even seen a Winchester High Wall or Low Wall in any of the Tennessee gunstores — the early 1960s were hardly a high-water mark for single shot rifles — and all the Remington Rolling Blocks and Trapdoor Springfields were beat to crap, a Martini-Henry, or at the very least, one of the Cadet Martinis, the training versions in .310 Greener, was within my reach.

    I spent a lot of time planning, plotting, outlining caliber conversions…and then I discovered girls!

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • November 16, 2007

    Chuck Schumer, a friend of hunters?-12


    Despite rumors of global warming, Hell may actually be freezing over. I base that speculation on U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s sensible, sportsman-friendly proposal to use federal incentives to open farmers’ gates to hunters.

    Unless you’ve been counting glow worms in the bottom of a cave for the last decade, you know that Schumer, a New York Democrat, is possibly Washington’s most consistent, effective and diabolical enemy of hunters and gun owners. The architect of the Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Act, Schumer has voted against a ban on lawsuits on gun manufacturers and supported background checks at gun shows.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • November 1, 2007

    Browning X-Bolt-5


    While the biggest news coming out of Browning-Winchester this year is the reemergence of the venerable Model 70, Browning fans have something to cheer about as well. Xboltcompstkrgb

    The latest addition the Browning family is the X-Bolt, a rifle that will look very familiar to shooters who have spent much time with the A-Bolt, yet it comes with a number of interesting innovations.

    Feather Trigger
    In the Model 70 it is called the M.O.A. On the X-Bolt it is called the Feather Trigger. By either name the new trigger on these rifles is an impressive bit of engineering—impressive in the same way that the locks on a fine English shotgun are impressive—namely for its elegant simplicity. The Feather Trigger contains just three major pieces and is adjustable down to a 3-pound trigger pull, though they come preset from the factory to break at about 3 1/2 pounds.

    Xbolthuntergb As a technical aside, it is worth noting that the M.O.A. and the Feather Trigger are not interchangeable—all the components are different, though the concept behind their operation, a three-lever system, is identical.

    [ Read Full Post ]