May 9, 2008
Just how significant is the spike in sales of certain genres of firearms since the November 4 election?
Fears that the incoming Obama administration and a Democratic majority in both Houses in Congress will seek to reauthorize the so-called assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 have driven many firearms enthusiasts to purchase firearms that may be affected if such a prohibition takes place.
Not surprisingly, many post-election gun buyers are being drawn to the semi-auto AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, a platform that many feel could likely be targeted for possible sales restrictions.
There are a lot of numbers being tossed around about the election-inspired gun-buying frenzy, with the Associated Press reporting that sales across the country have increased from 30 to 40 percent in recent weeks.
As I blogged here on Tuesday, CNN reported that the FBI received more than 374,000 requests for background checks on gun purchasers—a leap of nearly 49 percent from the same period in 2007—during the week of November 3 to 9.
While it would be difficult to determine exactly to what degree sales have increased, I offer Gun Shots readers with a reliable indicator from one of the country’s foremost suppliers of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools and supplies; Brownells, Inc.
According to Larry Weeks, Brownells Media Relations Manager, “anything AR” is “blowing out the door” at the Montezuma, Iowa catalog facility and warehouse.
To put things in perspective, Weeks said sales of the company’s most popular AR 30-capacity magazine have increased 1,500 percent (this is not a misprint) compared to the same period one year ago.
In real numbers, the company sold 150 times more SKUs of the specific model hi-cap AR magazines during the week of November 4-11, 2008 than it did during the same seven-day period in 2007.
—J.R. Absher [ Read Full Post ]
“Look,” my vet said, turning toward me to look into my leaking eyeballs.
“These guys have pride, they have dignity and when that dignity slips away, they know it and feel it. You owed Jake his dignity. He fell asleep with his head in your lap and your voice in his ear.”
My brain agreed, but it’ll take a little time for my heart to catch up—maybe in a few days or months or after another few fall turkey seasons…
“Every bird hunter deserves to have one great bird dog in their lives,” friend and outdoor writer Tom Huggler once told me. “That’s it, you only really get one. So when you get him, cherish him and remember that you must hunt him every chance you get. It’s his mission in life so do not withhold him his mission.”
Was Jake my one great dog? I’m not sure, but as the clock ticked toward my 6:45 vet appointment tonight, my brain got stuck on rewind and the so very many memorable fall turkey hunts during the past 13 years re-played themselves in my head.
Of course, I will always remember the first bird, the hard birds, the courageous efforts, the hunts to exhaustion etc. But perhaps Jake’s finest hour came in just his first or second season when curiosity fall turkey dogging got the best of so many members of my New York club that I found myself playing guide to a half-dozen hunters.
Well, Jake broke a good flock of birds and after sitting on the re-call for ½-hour or so, some shots rang out. I continued to call for another ½ hour trying to drag in other flock members, but to no avail. When we re-grouped, I discovered that one of the members had hit a bird, but it had run off. With afternoon temperatures on the rise and the trail 45 minutes old, I felt that there was little chance of finding that turkey. I no sooner got the words out of my mouth when out of the corner my eye I spied Jake make a beeline run in the direction the bird fled.
If I live to be 100, the vision of Jake—tail in full wag—rushing back toward us with a mouthful of a very-much-still-alive turkey will be one of my all-time, most-cherished hunting memories.
Thanks, Jake.You were the best. —Gerry Bethge
(Special thanks to my buddy, Steve Hickoff, for the accompanying photo—and a shoulder.) [ Read Full Post ]
With the opening of firearms deer season this weekend, the Indiana State Police is warning hunters to avoid touching and moving items they find in the woods that may be
associated with clandestine methamphetamine production.
It’s an unfortunate and disturbing sign of the times in middle America.
Across portions of the nation’s heartland, illegal use of the highly addictive substance—and its production—is considered epidemic.
In one Hoosier county alone, Noble, authorities have reportedly seized 62 meth labs so far in 2008—up from 34 last year and 24 the year before.
Indiana State Police Trooper Rob Smith told the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette this week that meth production used to be a somewhat complicated endeavor that required the highly toxic farming fertilizer anhydrous ammonia, which often was stolen from farm supply stores.
But beginning earlier this year, the trooper said a change started taking place, and more illegal cooking operators switched to what he called the “one-pot method,” which produces smaller quantities of the drug but doesn’t create the telltale fumes or require anhydrous ammonia.
Trooper Smith told the Ft.Wayne paper that not only has the method led to an increase in production in urban areas, but it also makes it easier for producers to dump their garbage in the woods or on a roadside. Police recently arrested a man who had a one-pot lab in his backpack, he said.
In a joint statement issued this week, the Indiana State Police and Department of Natural Resources offered the following advice for the estimated 250,000 Indianans heading out for deer hunting this weekend, as the firearms season opens November 15:
-Methamphetamine “cooks” use a variety of containers to manufacture the drug, and small gas cans are popular. Don’t pick up a discarded gas can, even if it looks new.
-Other trash that could indicate a meth lab: Battery casings, clear plastic bags, empty blister packs and containers such as pop bottles and jars.
-Be careful of any discarded cylinder with a modified valve; it could have contained the volatile chemical anhydrous ammonia.[ Read Full Post ]
Fall turkeys can be hit or miss. Food sources may or may not hold them — just like deer. In October '07, on the first Maine fall firearms season in modern history for turkeys, I tagged a fall jake on Saturday’s opening morning. (Did this past spring opener too, but I digress . . .)
I got in there early, hunted near a sloppily cut cornfield, heard no turkeys at daybreak, but kept calling. Far off, a bird answered. I eased toward that position, eventually peeked around the corner of some brush. Turkeys. Lots of them, spread across the field full of clover. Into the near woods I slipped, crossed the creek, called.
A brick-red-headed turkey came hustling to me so I shot him. One and done. Spent the rest of the season putting buddies into birds. Sent one friend into that spot the following Monday. He spent the morning in there, heard and saw nothing.
“You didn’t see a big flock in that field,” he half-joked. “Honest, a bunch of them, minus one,” I insisted. “There’s nothing back there now,” he whined.
This fall, I nearly took a bird right after fly-down on the opener, and got obsessed with a flock of 20-plus turkeys — some gobblers strutted and fought on assembling, and/or when I called aggressively. I could have taken a juvenile gobbler (15 steps), with its brood hen and other birds of the year in range too, and chose not to take a shot. This is sort of like you BBZ guys passing on a spikehorn for a bigger rack that might be in range on the next hunt. You gamble. You might just eat that tag . . .
Sure enough, on the last day of this past six-day season that same buddy and I went down in flames. More honor in doing that together, right? It only gets weird when some guy asks how I did in Maine. “I had a great time,” I’ll enthuse. “Did you kill?” they ask. “I didn’t say that,” I’ll smile.
Or as my wife likes to say, “Honey, you only say ‘It’s all good’ when you don’t come home with anything."—Steve Hickoff
[ Read Full Post ]
Holy crap! (pardon the French)--not much else to say about this "in-box" mystery buck apparently taken by an Iowa bowhunter. Details, guys.....love to hear them. A 170 buck with zero in the way of brow tines doesn't come about every day. Look at that mass!!—Gerry Bethge [ Read Full Post ]
In the week since the election of Barack Obama as President, one must admit that—as promised—significant “change” has already taken place in the United States.
For one thing, residential yards are no longer cluttered by campaign signs. And it’s much more pleasant to listen to the radio or watch television without the barrage of nasty political ads.
And, oh yeah, firearms sales are surging practically everywhere in the country.
Just try going online to a news search engine like Google and type “gun sales” and see the results you get. There are recent articles from states including Kansas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Utah, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia with quotes and firsthand accounts of how folks are buying all types of firearms in record –shattering numbers.
For example, CNN reports today that Bernie Conatser, the owner of a gun shop in the Washington suburb of Manassas, Virginia, says sales have doubled or tripled since this time last year. On Saturday, he said, he did as much business as he would normally do in a week.
“I have been in business for 12 years, and I was here for Y2K, September 11, Katrina,” Conatser said. “And all of those were big events, and we did notice a spike in business, but nothing on the order of what we are seeing right now.”
The CNN story notes that for the week of November 3 to 9, the FBI received more than 374,000 requests for background checks on gun purchasers—a leap of nearly 49 percent from the same period in 2007.
Call it real or imagined, many Americans are convinced that the incoming administration and a Democratic-controlled Congress are going to restrict the type and style of firearms the average American may purchase legally, and they’re not waiting around for inauguration day to see what happens.
- J.R. Absher
[ Read Full Post ]
Kline and hunting partner Ron Smith waited for a few minutes before heading out
to retrieve the deer on Kline’s property along the Artichoke River, about 25
miles northwest of Duluth. When they found the deer, they were surprised to
discover a pair of mountain lions tearing flesh from the carcass.
“When we got there they had both been eating on it. We
scared them off, but they kept circling us. They didn’t want to leave,” Kline
told the Duluth News-Tribune.
Kline says he has no doubt the animals were puma
concolor. He said they had long tails, were
about three feet in length and definitely were not bobcats, wolves or coyotes.
The hunters said they phoned a third friend for assistance
so that two men could drag the deer while a third could watch for the mountain
lions, with a ready rifle, just in case.
“The chunks they tore off that doe were huge. The claw
marks were huge,” Kline told the newspaper.
He estimated the cougars ate about a third of the deer
meat in the time span between shooting and recovery, around 30 minutes.
Cougar sightings are not uncommon in far-northern
Minnesota, though it is quite unusual to see two lions together in any natural
setting, as they are mostly solitary hunters.
John Erb, a forest wildlife biologist for the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources, said his department receives about 200 reports
of cougar sightings each year, but confirmations—from photos, tracks or
had two confirmed last year, including one near Floodwood…but they are very,
very rare,” Erb told the News-Tribune. “And for there to be two cougars
together in one spot, that would be the first time in Minnesota probably in 75
years.” [ Read Full Post ]
Aren’t today’s modern
digital trail cameras great? Other than their obvious use for identifying game
and other animals in the field, we’ve heard of them being used for things like
verifying the existence of mountain lions in Louisiana and Missouri and for
fingering burglars and other nefarious characters.
The Northwest Florida
Daily News reports today that an unnamed Bay County man has been charged with
hunter harassment and trespassing after a strategically placed trailcam captured digital images of him spraying his
neighbor’s deer feeder with a substance that turned out to be animal repellant.
say ‘caught in the act?’
The owner of the feeder
had complained to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers
that he suspected someone was interfering with his bait site because deer had
stopped coming in to feed. So he placed a motion-activated camera at the
location and, sure enough, snapped a shot of his no-good neighbor, with spray
bottle in hand.
conservation officer investigating the case said that when confronted with the
photo evidence, the neighbor admitted spraying the area with animal
[ Read Full Post ]
Now that the election is over, anglers in battleground states can concentrate on battling some big fish this fall. According to Jim Bender at Lower Forty Outfitters (www.lowerforty.com) in Worcester, Mass, November means fishing the Swift River. As other rivers in New England begin to glass over with ice, the tailwaters of the Swift will remain open to anglers. “We’re catching rainbows, browns, and brookies,” he said. The water is clear and the fish are wary, which means using 12-foot leaders down to 7X and small midges and emergers. Anglers will find easy access to the river by parking on the west end of Rt. 9. “We can fish through the end of January,” he said, “that’s when it gets really brutal.” Jim also had reports about a run of land ocked salmon on the Sillwater River. He recommends fishing after a rainfall with bright streamers. “Look for the salmon on gravely areas of the river,” he said, “the best bite has been at the confluence above the reservoir.”
The presidential election wasn’t the only contest on angler’s minds this week. Bill Dibble at Dance’s Sporting Goods (www.dancessportingoods.com) outside Richmond was concerned about the 2008 Bass Casters Invitational Tournament on the James River. Bill targeted the creeks along the Appomatics River focusing on deadfalls with crankbaits and spinner baits. Bill’s biggest fish was over 3 pounds and his stringer weighed 9 and a half pounds, but it wasn’t enough to beat the first place team’s 11-pound catch. “We had the right fish on, but we lost him,” Bill resigned. He said that the winning team was using the same tactic on a different part of the river. There are also good numbers of striped bass mixed in with the bass. Reports that catfishing is starting to get good around Dutch Gap at the Benjamin Harris Bridge. Soaking chunks of herring in the deeper channels of the River for big channel and blue cats will keep VA anglers warm through the winter.
So, what’s a candidate to do after the election? Go to Disney World, of course. Besides the Tea Cups and Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando offers some excellent opportunities for fresh and salt water fishing. Captain Rich Thomas at Bitters Bait and Tackle (www.bittersbaitandtackle.com) has been heading to Mosquito Lagoon and chasing speckled trout. “This is the time of year when the speckled trout action heats up as the weather cools,” he told us. Rich looks for the fish to push into shallower water as the water temperatures drop. He suggests launching a boat at River Bridge Park or Haul Over Canal and fishing a fluke or skip shad. Sweet water fishing should also improve as the water gets cold. He reported that anglers are finding steady action on largemouth in Lake Toho and the Harris Chain by working crankbaits and big rubber worms on the grassy points and sharp edges.
Once the acceptance speeches and victory parties are over, the President-elect can load his family into the wagon and head out of Chicago for some fly fishing. Jon Uhlenhop at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters (www.chicagoflyfishingoutfitters.com) suggested that the president and his men head to the Milwaukie River to fish for steelhead, lake trout, and browns. “How you fish the river depends on the water flow,” Jon explained. When the water is low, he suggests dead drifting nymphs, egg patterns and leaches. “Brown trout love chartreuse,” he points out, “while steelhead love Oregon cheese egg patterns.” When the water is running high, Jon switches to swinging.“Look for moderate current to perform a controlled swing over an area,” he says. Jon likes streamers in natural colors. “Top producers are olive or olive brown and black and red or black and purple,” he said. Jon added that there is plenty of parking and easy access at Estabrook Park off Capital Drive. “There is almost 2 miles of river to fish and it never feels crowded,” he said.
Nothing makes a person feel better than catching a fish. To pick up their spirits after loosing the election, the challenger and his people may want to get out of town and do some fishing. Aaron Lambert at Fisherman’s Choice Pro Shop (www.fishermanschoiceproshop.com) in Phoenix recommends running up to Lake Alamo or Havasu and taking his frustration out on largemouth bass. At Lake Alamo, Aaron has been pitching Sweet Beaver soft plastics and a ¼ to ½ ounce tungsten weight at downed trees. He’s found the best results with the colors “white trash” and “sprayed grass.” He said that anglers working ¼ to ½ ounce football headed jigs and Hula grubs along the rocky shoreline at the dam are also catching good numbers of largemouth. Lake Havasu is even farther from Phoenix, and the fishing is a little better. “The cool thing about Havasu is that the striper are starting to go crazy,” he said. Aaron has been catching striped bass under working birds with a Lucky Craft Pointer 100. When the birds aren’t working, Aaron says you can find the striper by looking for the boats that are dragging anchovies off Windsor beach. While everyone is fishing for striper, Aaron will go off and look for largemouth. “Sometimes we’ll go up the river and pitch and flip Flapping Hogs at the tulies,” Aaron said. [ Read Full Post ]
[dme:image size="small" side="left" title="first look thompson photo 1 [nid:1001309123]" index="-1"/]
There was little doubt that Thompson Center was going to expand on its line of Icon rifles that it launched two years ago.. A favorite pastime for gun nuts is to try to guess what’s coming next.
Well, the answer is here and it is called the Renegade 2. The T-C Renegade 2 can be thought of as the Icon’s little brother—it’s not as fancy and it isn’t as sophisticated but the family resemblance is unmistakable nonetheless.
And for those hunters for whom the Icon’s $1,000 price tag was difficult to justify the best news is that the Renegade 2 will cost about half as much. According to Gregg Ritz, the MSRP on the new rifle will be $500 and the street price should come [ Read Full Post ]
We hunters who eat the game meat have elevated levels of lead in our bloodstreams. Or we don’t.
A highly anticipated study that looked at whether people who eat wild game meat harvested with lead bullets have correspondingly higher levels of lead in their blood than the general population was released this week. And while some of the recommendations are dire, the results aren’t conclusive.
The study was conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and the North Dakota Department of Health and tested the blood of 738 North Dakotans who identified themselves as consumers of wild game meat.
The study was launched after investigations last year found lead bullet fragments in a significant percentage of butchered venison. Authors of the blood study aimed to find out if hunters’ families that ate wild venison were more likely to have higher levels of lead in their bloodstreams than the general public.
[ Read Full Post ]
Usually toward the end of the second week of November is when the rut really gets cranked up across most of Kentucky and many other states. However, this year it appears that things are little ahead of schedule and the big boys are already fired-up and on the move. On my last hunt, I found a total of 11 hot scrapes and several fresh rubs leading down a hardwood ridge toward my stand. Acorns were falling out of the trees like raindrops and the cool evening air had made the woods come alive with activity. Squirrels were bouncing around in the dry leaves all around me and I knew it was going to be a perfect evening to be in the woods. The month of November is truly a magical time to climb in the stand for bowhunters.
After only a few minutes, a yearling buck walked out of an adjacent thicket and began eating the acorns all around my stand. At this point, I still didn’t have my face mask on yet and the deer were already on the move. With all of the fresh rutting sign around my stand, I decided to breakout my rack-blaster grunt call and make some noise. A series of three agitated grunts triggered an immediate response from the thicket to the left of my stand. Immediately, a stiff legged buck marched out of the cover with a swollen neck and a bad attitude. This rut-crazed bruiser had a huge chunk of fur knocked off of its back and it looked like Mike Tyson had been gnawing on his right ear. This heavy-racked buck was definitely not afraid of a fight and it looked like he was more than ready to cut loose on anything that got in his way.
Within seconds, he marched right beneath my stand looking for the intruder who was dumb enough to grunt in his territory. Unfortunately, I had no shot and was forced to wait for the buck to turn. However, the buck circled around the backside of the tree and it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to get a shot. After switching sides of the tree, I came back to full draw and hit the buck with a loud bleat to stop him just inside of my last cleared shooting lane. A loud smack broke the evening silence as the arrow collided just behind the buck’s shoulder. The buck only ran about 20 yards before piling up within sight of the stand.
This was without a doubt one of the meanest and toughest looking bucks I had ever shot. His tore up ears, scarred back and sides reminded me of the old Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue.” You could tell this old buck had been through several battles in his day and apparently he could hold his own. The massive chocolate colored rack of the buck I nicknamed “Sue” was in perfect shape with no breaks or busted points. However, his fighting days are over and I’ve got the perfect spot on my wall for this rut crazed bruiser. – Travis Faulkner [ Read Full Post ]
My good buddy Bethge's right. The best fall turkey hunting is yet to come. For some, it arrived this week.
In New York state, longtime friend, hunting guide, and turkey dogger Kevin Evans and his son Cody—
with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a hunt several years ago when the younger Evans took his first fall turkey (and I filled one of my tags)—teamed up to score on turkeys, doubling on November 4 birds.
Getting in a quick hunt after school, father, son, and turkey dog "Patchezs" (eyes glowing from the flash in this pic provided by Evans) got a good break on 30-40 field turkeys, and by the end of it, each had tagged one.
Are you Strut Zoners getting out with your kids for any fall turkey hunting? Keep us posted when time provides.
Hope and change. Those are the two catchphrases that Sen. Barack Obama used to power his campaign to a decisive victory yesterday in his successful bid to become the next president of the United States.
During the long campaign, Sen. Obama made numerous promises and pronouncements to the crowds he addressed across the country, touching on every topic imaginable—the economy, the war, health care, climate change, energy policy and so on—down to, and including, the Second Amendment.
The promises he made on this subject are not ambiguous. He says he’ll recognize and support the Second Amendment as an individual right. He says we have no reason to be fearful that an Obama administration will seek to take away our guns or curb our freedoms. He spent a lot of time preaching this message to the “bitter clingers,” trying to earn trust, or at least allay suspicion.
[ Read Full Post ]
The 16-point, Buffalo-County buck had been videoed last summer, and the incredible footage was widely distributed throughout the internet. Back then it was rumored to be a world record whitetail, and hunters everywhere were hot to collect it.
The buck had not been seen until Decker shot it at a distance of seven yards, during a mid-morning hunt on private land in the rolling hardwood hill country of west-central Wisconsin.
Decker, a mill worker in Eau Claire, and his hunting partner that day Paul Olson, have been inundated by well wishers, the media, and interested hunters from almost everywhere in America. Decker isn’t taking phone calls, but his friend Jack Dodge is the taxidermist who will mount the buck, and as a long-time bowhunter in the area. He is very familiar with Decker, the buck and that part of Wisconsin. He filled me in on a lot of specifics about the “Decker Deer.”
“The buck wasn’t that big, only about 200 pounds, and I aged it at 3.5 years old,” Decker said. “It was a genetic giant, a real freak of nature, and I think that’s one reason he was so big, so young. I also believe a bowhunter had the best chance to take him in the size and condition he was in.”
Dodge says much of that part of Wisconsin is comprised of private property, and plenty of it under “quality deer management” to improve buck size. Dodge says many area hunters lament QDM in some ways because when a buck in low-hunted private areas reaches 5, 6, 7 years of age or more, they are almost unkillable.
A young, super-buck, like the “Decker Deer,” was vulnerable because of its comparative immaturity. Also, Dodge says the buck had no evidence of fighting, with no scares around the head or neck, and no broken antlers. Though the buck had much hair worn off from rubbing trees. In just a couple weeks, when the rut kicks into gear (and rifle season begins), it’s almost a certainty the buck would have been fighting, and could have lost many inches of antler. Dodge sees that frequently from the many whitetails brought into his taxidermy studio.
“The rut has not kicked in yet, and shouldn’t until about Nov. 12,” he explains. “But something turned on bucks that Saturday morning when Decker shot his deer, because I had a lot of business with big bucks brought in for mounting that Saturday – but almost nothing the next day, Sunday.”
Dodge caped the buck for a standard shoulder-style mount, which he says is what he expected Decker to do with the deer.
“Bob is just a regular, down-to-earth guy, and is proud of being lucky enough to take such a tremendous animal,” Dodge explains. “He believes anyone could have taken the buck, he just happened to be fortunate enough to be on stand when the buck came by.”
Although Decker has taken many good bucks with his bow, he hadn’t shot one in a couple years, according to Dodge. So when Decker first spotted the big buck at 40 yards he was very excited, though he believed it was only a nice 10-pointer. As Decker turned toward the deer, he had to adjust his safety harness to get positioned well to the buck for the shot. By the time he got situated, the buck was close and it was time to draw and shoot – at a mere seven yards.
Although Jack Dodge is not an official Boone and Crockett scorer, he has personally taken a Wisconsin B&C buck, and sees more giant-rack whitetails in one season than most people see in their entire lives. He hesitates to predict what the “Decker Deer” will officially score, because it has a slightly unusual rack. He believes it will take a judging panel or jury of five people to officially score the buck.
The deer has been taken to a scoring judge, for drying and official scoring later. It is not at Dodge’s taxidermy studio.
Dodge says the deer could be scored several different ways, and conjecture about how high it will score is silly. It’s a basic 14-point buck, with huge and towering tines. But there are two unusual points, however, allowing the buck to be scored typical or non-typical. While emphasizing that he is not an official scorer, Dodge indicates the buck should score minimally as 190-inch typical; likely more than that as a non-typical.
“It’s going to be close to a state record, and who knows about a world record,” he says. “Bob Decker isn’t all that concerned how it scores, or how high, just so it’s done right. The deer is what it is – a great Buffalo County buck taken by a great guy and bowhunter.”
More details to follow.
—Bob McNally [ Read Full Post ]