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  • May 31, 2008

    Jack's Trout-7


    About four weeks ago my son, Jack, became obsessed with rainbow trout. I can’t say I was too surprised. Like my daughter, Ava, Jack has been interested in and fascinated by animals since before he could walk.

    His first love is cows. Bovines of all stripes, wild and domestic, loom large in his imagination. Any given day he’ll ask what kind of animal we should pretend to be and then rattle off a list of suggestions that includes American bison, wood bison, Cape buffalo, water buffalo, musk ox, black wildebeest, blue wildebeest and so on.

    He likes to spend time looking at the bison skull in our living room, an animal I shot last year, asking about what bison eat, where they live, what they like to do and other Very Important Questions. At four years old, one of his prized possessions, which he sleeps with every night, is a stuffed dairy cow he named “Cowey” that is so soft it could be made of angel kisses. Whenever I picture him in his bed it is with Cowey tucked under one arm.

    He also loves to fish. When the urge strikes him, which is often, I’ll take him and his sister to a small pond in our neighborhood and they’ll hook one bluegill after another until they’ve had their fill or the panfish stop biting.

    But somehow, somewhere he got trout on the brain and caught a very bad case of trout fever.

    The same thing happened to me when I was a boy, though at a later age. When I was 8 or 9 years old my grandfather gave me a book on the game fish of North America and I spent hours and hours pouring over the descriptions of the various types of trout and salmon—their sleek profiles looked so exotic compared to the bass and sunfish that lived in the pond behind my house and the cool, clean water where they were found seemed to me the epitome of wilderness.

    I don’t know what Jack pictured in his head when he thought of trout but I do know that the conversations he had been having at night with his grandfather, a passionate trout fisherman who lives in the Pacific Northwest, about the qualities and virtues of the rainbow—its multi-hued beauty, the disproportionate strength of its fight, its propensity to dazzle with acrobatic displays when hooked—had stoked the flames of Jack’s desire to a white-hot intensity.

    “Please, please, please, please can we go fishing for a rainbow trout?” he asked. “When can we do it, Papa? Please?”

    So just before Memorial Day Jack and I spent an afternoon in a rowboat on a small lake about an hour from our home. I propelled us in lazy circles hoping a trout would grab onto the shallow-diving hardbaits wobbling in the water behind us.

    Then it happened. The tip of Jack’s rod started pumping up and down in a frenetic motion and I tried to keep my voice calm as I told Jack to reel, reel, reel.

    I watched him move his fist in circles, bringing in line as best he could. “I think I have a bite,” he said.

    He couldn’t keep up with the fish and the line went slack, his rod pointing straight up toward the sky, no longer bowed.

    For an agonizing minute I watched him work the reel handle, slowly retrieving his line, which now sat in lazy coils on top of the water.

    “Do I still have a fish?” he asked. I could hear desperation in his voice. My insides tightened at my inability to help my son avoid having his hopes dashed. It is a feeling of helplessness unique to parents. The fish was gone. He kept reeling.

    But just as suddenly, the rod came back to life, doubled over in a deep arc. The fish was right under our boat and I could see the silver flash of the trout as its sides caught the light.

    “Do you know what you have?” I said as I dipped a landing net underneath the fish.

    “A bluegill?” he asked in a small voice, the idea of actually catching a trout being too much to hope for.

    No, Jack, it wasn’t a bluegill. It was a trout. A rainbow trout. Your first and it was a beauty, all 14 inches of it. You caught it by yourself and after we got back to shore you couldn’t keep your hands off it.

    “Papa, are you impressed of me?”

    Yes my son. More than you’ll ever know.

    —John Snow

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 28, 2008

    Canada and Guns (aka: Write Your Own Snide Commentary!)-9


    Granted, we have our share of gun-haters down here in the U.S. but I can’t recall the last time an American politician made a comment as silly as what popped out of the mouth of Toronto Mayor David Miller the other day. According to the Toronto Star he accused Canada’s Olympic athletes of murder.

    Speaking about shooting sports he said:

    "Nobody can deny that hobby directly results in people being shot and killed on the streets of our city."

    Miller is pushing for a round of new gun laws that would close down shooting ranges and make it more difficult for gun makers to do business in Canada.

    The article went on to quote Toronto resident and Canadian Olympic pistol shooter Avianna Chao:

    "Anyone should be able to see through this, that this is the politicians just trying to say they did something, even though it will have no impact on actual gun violence. ... Why don't they go after the gangs? Why don't they go after the illegal trafficking of firearms?"

    My own smart-ass answer to Chao’s rhetorical question would be that the gang members didn’t get the memo telling them to obey the existing gun laws, so why expect them to follow the new ones?

    I invite you to provide your own take on why Mayor Miller would accuse elite athletes like Chao of murder.

    —John Snow

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  • May 27, 2008

    Mandatory CCW Training-10


    I’ve been through any number of firearms training classes over the years covering everything from the basics to more advanced stuff. I don’t know how many times I’ve taken the intro level NRA course in my lifetime—I can think of at least a half-dozen instances off the top of my head—but even though it is repetitive it has never been time wasted. I always manage to learn something new or see something in a new way depending on the instructor and his or her skills.

    Most of the time I’ve taken the course to satisfy the requirements for getting a concealed carry permit. I’ve done that in Connecticut, New York, Washington and, most recently, for a non-resident permit for Utah. Some of these classes have had a shooting proficiency element, others have not.

    I’ve never thought much about the requirement to take one of these classes, but Larry Correia over at Monster Hunter Nation, who has taught CCW classes for years has and he’s concluded that mandatory training classes are essentially worthless:

    When I first started out, I did a full on basic handgun class in addition to the lecture portion that was required by the state.  What I quickly discovered was the people who were going to be smart, were smart.  People that were going to be stupid, were on their best behavior while I watched them, then immediately went back to being stupid when they were on their own.

    He makes a number of very compelling points in his essay. I still believe it is a good thing to make sure a person at least knows how a pistol or revolver functions and that it is worthwhile to drill folks in the basics of firearms safety (or to try to at any rate) but it is hard to argue with Correia’s point on how any proposal for a shooting requirement is little more than just window dressing.

    —John Snow

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  • May 26, 2008

    John McCain on the Second Amendment-3


    Asked point-blank about his views on the Second Amendment, Sen. John McCain didn’t mince words:

    I have been a consistent supporter of the Second Amendment. It means to me what it says. Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms.

    Nothing about the rights of hunters. Nothing about “sporting” or “recreational” use of firearms. It is about the rights of citizens. This is as it should be. He also made this pledge:

    I will continue to fight back efforts to weaken the Second Amendment.

    I know there are a lot of skeptics out there concerning McCain’s record on gun rights. I’m willing to accept him at his word on this issue. And will be the first to hold him accountable if down the road he betrays that trust.

    —John Snow

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 24, 2008

    The Teutonic Mentality-1


    In his review of a Mannlicher Classic for our August issue, Outdoor Life Shooting Editor Jim Carmichel was writing about the intricate single-set trigger on the rifle, which “would make a cuckoo-clock maker green with envy,” adding this aside:

    As a German gunmaker once confided, “Why make it simple when it’s so easy to make it complicated?”

    Which explains to perfection why so many guns of German and Austrian origin look and work the way they do.

    —John Snow

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  • May 23, 2008

    How Not To Shoot A Shotgun-2


    There are several sure-fire ways to keep yourself from breaking clay targets with a shotgun including closing your eyes before pulling the trigger and loading up with slugs—both of which I’ve seen.

    A less obvious, but equally effective, technique to lowering your score is to do a bunch of rifle shooting right before stepping up to the line for some trap, skeet or 5-stand. There’s nothing that throws off the mechanics of a graceful shotgun swing as quickly. Get the concept of “aiming” buried into your body’s sub-conscious and have fun watching those targets sail toward the horizon unscathed.

    This has happened to me more than once at my gun club where the rifle range and shotgun fields are right next to each other. Every time I go from shooting a rifle to shooting a shotgun my technique tanks.

    Yesterday I watched this happen to two of my friends, both of whom are very good shotgunners, and neither of whom couldn’t hit a clay worth a damn after their rifle shooting was done.

    But even though I was smart enough not to shoot a rifle beforehand, I still shot like hell. That’s the beauty of shotgunning. If you don’t get thrown off by one thing, there’s some other flaw in your technique waiting to derail you.

    As one of my “friends” on my squad told me, “I think your shooting technique is contagious.”

    —John Snow

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  • May 22, 2008

    John McCain on the Assault Weapons Ban-10


    John McCain was once quoted as saying he would support an assault weapons ban (which he voted against) depending on certain "details."

    In this new interview he says doesn't see a scenario under which he would ever support such a ban.

    Based on his comments here, at the NRA show and on his voting record it looks like not only is he the most pro-gun candidate in the running for the White House but that he is solidly pro-gun by any yardstick you care to use.

    —John Snow

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • May 22, 2008

    Guarded Optimism-0


    Glenn Reynolds thinks we’re too confident. But that didn’t stop SayUncle from saying we’re winning– and he links to quotes from depressed anti-gunners to back it up! Who’s right? We report, you decide.

    —John Snow

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  • May 21, 2008

    Write Your Own Gun Law Redux-0


    We urged people to write their own gun law. Looks like someone did!

    —John Snow

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  • May 21, 2008

    Elk Calibers-6


    Outdoor Life publisher Eric Zinczenko just took delivery of a new long-range elk rifle, a beautiful custom Ed Brown Savanna chambered in .340 Weatherby. Hard to argue with his choice. It will certainly handle any elk that ever had the nerve to hang out on the other side of the canyon.

    The last elk I took (with a gun) was with a rifle chambered in the anti-.340 Weatherby. I used a single-shot .260 Remington. I shot the bull once, at 264 yards, and it ran less than 50 yards before piling up. Those 6.5mm bullets are just wonderful hunting bullets.

    Anarchangel also recently weighed in on what makes for a good elk cartridge.

    —John Snow

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