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TOP STORIES

A Cut Above

Axes and hatchets are among man's oldest and most versatile tools. From splitting firewood to breaking down an elk, there isn't much these venerable icons of the outdoors can't do.
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Spy Baits

Although the term "spy-baiting" may conjure up all manner of creative connotations, this relatively new finesse tactic for bass is rather simple.
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Turkey Slam

The turkey world slam took OL's Editor-in-Chief around the world. Check out the photos as Andrew McKean chases gobblers from Florida to Hawaii.
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Top Rangefinders

Today's rangefinders represent a substantial investment, but you get a lot for your money. We tested six of the most feature-packed units to see which are most fieldworthy.
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May 9, 2008

Top Picks

  • “Do it yourself.” Utter that phrase to your boss and you could end up with a pink slip. Say it to an outdoorsman and the lightbulb comes on.

  • While most hunters spend their spring weekends waiting for turkey season, Aaron Milliken spends hour after hour studying Google Earth.

  • Anyone who’s come across one knows what Fred Bear meant a half century ago when he said that the thrill of tangling with a grizzly bear cleanses the soul.

  • April 25, 2008

    Braised Prairie Dog (And Other Perforated Treats) - 1

    My friend and fellow Gun Shots contributor, John Snow, calls prairie dogs “the third rail of American wildlife” for their ability to fatally polarize an otherwise coherent discussion of shooting, conservation and even land use.

    It’s hard to be neutral about prairie dogs, whether you drive a thousand miles to shoot them or you believe that they’re the crucial ingredient of a healthy Western landscape. But if they divide folks, they also suck any intelligence out of discourse about their proper management.

    Take, for instance, a fairly routine article this week in the Billings (Mont.) Gazette about a proposal to import a handful of Wyoming white-tailed prairie dogs into a sliver of southern Montana to supplement struggling populations.

    The story itself raised the usual risk of draconian Endangered Species Act prohibitions without proactive management, but it’s the comments on the story – more than 70 at last check – that reveal the fertile field of incoherence that defines most discussions of prairie dogs these days.

    As you can read, most comments advocate the immediate and selective long-distance removal of prairie dogs with 55-grain eviction pills. Other comments proclaim that prairie dogs did more to create prairie ecosystems than glaciers and wind. And almost all the comments deteriorate into insults, the eco-ninnies calling shooters drunk and primitive, the red-misters calling the prairie dog advocates rodent-huggers and pedophiles.

    Lest you dismiss all this vehemence as inapplicable nonsense, you need to know that the landscape is shifting for varmint shooters in much of the West. In one of the most eyebrow-raising episodes of the last year, the lunatic fringe convinced Colorado’s wildlife agency to at least consider banning recreational prairie dog shooting in that state. A decision is expected next month.

    If I can sift through a great deal of nonsense to the basis of their complaint, it appears that these varmint advocates have a germ of a case: Prairie dog shooters do not utilize the meat or hide of their quarry, one of the fundamental tenants of fair-chase hunting.

    So take a look at this site of “Native American Recipes.” Though when you consider our reputation as lead-slinging drunkards, maybe this site is more appropriate.

    Bon appetite. And remember that a mil-dot covers the chest of a prairie dog at about 400 yards.

    - Andrew McKean
    [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 25, 2008

    Remington AccuTip Bonded Sabot Slug - 5

    If you took a look at the biggest changes in firearms for hunters over the last few years you would probably have to conclude that the most significant innovations have come in blackpowder arms. We’ve got muzzleloaders that use smokeless powder, break-action guns that are simple to use and ergonomically outstanding, and electronically fired designs that don’t require use of a primer. Likewise the ammo we stuff down these guns has become more sophisticated, accurate and lethal.

    But we’ve seen another revolution in hunting arms as well in recent times—I’m thinking here of slug guns. The rifled slug gun of today is a different beast when compared to what we hunted with even ten years ago. I saw a striking example of this today with a Remington 11-87 Sportsman that I took to the range. The shotgun itself is a stout looking beast with a cantilevered rail for mounting a scope, a camo dipped thumbhole stock and a 23-inch rifled barrel.

    Before today, I had shot two different loads through the shotgun: Remington BuckHammer 1 ¼-ounce slugs and Remington Premier Coppersolid 1 oz. slugs. Both have performed very well at 100 yards, with a slight accuracy advantage going to the Coppersolid load—but the difference is small enough that I wouldn’t feel handicapped hunting with either.

    Accutip_slug
    I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a few boxes of the new AccuTip Bonded Sabot Slugs, introduced earlier this year by Remington, in time to take bear hunting in Canada next week. These sexy-looking slugs (funny how new ammo must have an eye-candy element) shot as well as they looked. Granted, I only put one box through the gun (I’m saving the rest for the hunt) but I was rewarded with two key-hole groups, the first being a two-shot group just to see where I was on the paper and the second a three-shot group after I had adjusted my point of impact to get the 11-87 about dead on at 100 yards.

    These .58-caliber slugs weigh in at 385 grains and have a published velocity of 1,850 fps in the 2 ¾-inch length shell I’m using. Remington says the slug delivers consistent expansion whether the target is 5 or 200 yards downrange and has excellent (95 percent) weight retention to boot.

    If the hunting gods smile on me next week, I’ll hopefully be able to report on whether the slug performs as advertised. The accuracy is there—I’m curious to know whether the terminal ballistics is as impressive.

    —John Snow [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 24, 2008

    Buck Oddities: Check Out This Giant Non-Typical - 8

    Buck_oddI wanted everyone to take a look at this monster non-typical buck that was taken during the Kentucky gun season last November. This buck has a very unique rack with all of the neat kicker points and trash hanging off its main beams. You can bet your bottom dollar that I would let this buck ride in the back of my truck. In recent years, the Bluegrass State has been receiving a lot of attention for producing some impressive deer and this massive bruiser is picture proof that Kentucky’s conservative one buck per season management practices are paying off. I spoke with David Yancey of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Agency and he said he thinks this giant was taken from Leslie County by a hunter named John Morgan.

    According to Yancey, this big non-typical buck scored 214 7/8, making it an unbelievable whitetail in any state. Can you imagine having a top-heavy buck like this walking toward your stand at about daylight? If a set of headgear like this doesn’t get your adrenalin pumping then you might want to check your pulse, because you’re probably dead! I am going to try to find out more about this gargantuan buck and how the hunt unfolded. Keep checking the BBZ over the next couple of weeks and I will keep all of you posted. Seeing a buck like this makes me wish I could skip summer and go straight to fall!

    —Travis Faulkner [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 24, 2008

    The Weekend Bite - 0

    Northeast

    Weekend_fishing_042408Gary Brummett at Connecticut Outfitters (www.ct-outfitters.com) reported excellent fishing for largemouth bass on local ponds and lakes. He said several anglers registered trophy fish fooled with jigs, tubes and chatterbaits. Trout season opened last week to rave reviews. Anglers wading the lakes and ponds have reported catching rainbows and browns to 7 pounds. Northern pike action has sputtered due to cold water, but Brummett expects it to engage when the water temperature rises. On the salty side of the state, river herring are moving into the Connecticut River with striped bass hot on their trail. Anglers are catching keeper bass by using big plugs and soft plastics that imitate the 6- to 8-inch herring.

    Southeast

    Ken Penrod (www.penrodsguides.com) sent us this report from Life Outdoors Guide Service. SUSQUEHANNA RIVER, PA: Wow! Don’t know how else to explain this. Maybe “world class.” We are fishing between Harrisburg and Montgomery Ferry, operating from Riverfront Campground in Duncannon, where the Juniata River meets the mighty Susquehanna. Life Outdoors Unlimited (LOU) guide Danny Grulke had back-to-back 100-fish days for his clients and he never left the Juniata River. He’s using Mizmo teasers and Penrod Specials on 1/8-ounce Riverfront Campground jig heads. John Cooper and Brian Graves fished with me for four days and we easily caught 250 quality bass on the main river with Mizmo teasers in camo, roadkill, black and penrod special colors. Guide Dave Kerrigan is fishing the main river, near Halifax and he has discovered an awesome Mizmo tube called Irish Coffee. LOU guide Mike Breeding is kicking butt with jerkbaits near Sherman Creek. LOU guide Jon Drever is still working eddies behind islands and his clients are complaining of tennis elbow. I’ve caught a ton of bass on LJ Speed Traps. BAD NEWS: The river is dropping like a 10th grader in love. It’s about 4.9 feet as of Friday (18th) and we start sweating at 4.5 feet. Please call 1-800-881-7555 for up-to-date river conditions.

    South

    Larry Burfield at (www.larrysguideservice.com) was hiking up his pants and preparing for another round of flooding in Kentucky. “All the lakes are way above normal,” he said. “The launch ramps and parking lots are all under water.” With 9 inches of rain one night and 7 inches more a couple days later, the water was high and the fish were hiding. Larry was hopeful that the river would go down and the fishing would go back to normal. “The Corp has just released water in the lakes, and the streams are dropping,” he said. Burfield and a couple of buddies did a tour of the local scene and only found one launch ramp, on Lake Eufaula, that was accessible. The good news is that crappie fishing should be on raging once the water goes down enough for anglers to reach the lake. With the water high, Larry expects the crappie fishing to be a on fire. “They’ll be in 8- to 10-feet of water instead of 1 to 2 feet,” he says. He’ll be looking for brush piles and jigging to find the fish. In dirty water, Larry recommends dark-colored jigs, such as black and chartreuse, black and orange or orange and chartreuse. White bass were also starting to arrive before the flood. Larry will meet them at the rivermouths with slabs, jigging spoons, and deep-running crankbaits.

    Midwest

    “Fly fishing has been very good, but the water is high,” reports Carolyn Parker at (www.riverrunoutfitters.com) on the Tanneycomo section of the White River. High water has forced the guides to fish out of drift boats, but the brown and rainbow trout don’t seem to mind the conditions. The hot patterns are midges, crackle backs, and streamers such as sculpins. “We’re looking for any place with slack water,” Parker laughs, “which isn’t that easy with all this generation.” She acknowledges that high water and swift current are all part of fishing headwaters. Surprisingly, several anglers have reported catching walleye and white bass at the base of the dam. “That’s not a typical fishery,” she says, “but the high warm water has led the fish farther up stream.” The fish are falling for Rouges spinners. “I don’t know how much longer that will last,” she admits, “but it is fun.”   

    West

    Reporting from Anglers Arsenal (www.anglersarsenal.com) in San Diego, John Cassidy announced that the largemouth bass have already spawned and moved off of their beds. He said the fish are jumping on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and drop-shot jigs. Water temperature on most of the lakes is in the low 60s. “The forecast is for reaction-bait fishing to get better through the beginning of May,” he said. “That’s a good time for frogs, flukes, jerkbaits, and medium-running crankbaits.” Dan adds that Anglers Arsenal’s first night fishing tournament was a big success. Competitors fished on San Vicente Lake and blasted largemouth bass—the winning stringer weighed over 12 pounds. In saltwater news, John said, Mission and San Diego Bay are chock full of spotted bay bass and the halibut are starting to spawn. He points anglers toward areas with uneven bottom and recommends they use swimming shad and other soft plastics. “Anything with an orange belly is working,” he said. [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 24, 2008

    Fishing Under Fire - 0

    In a story that could be destined for Outdoor Life’s “This Happened to Me!” section, a fly-fisherman is recovering from life-threatening, third-degree burns after he was trapped by a wildfire last week near Carbondale, Colo.

    Thishappened

    Larry Garfinkel, a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective, was fishing with two companions April 15 when the wind-whipped fire overtook them. They were returning to their parked vehicle when they suddenly were faced with a wall of flames.

    “It just began to crescendo. It was just like an unstoppable locomotive,” Garfinkel later told reporter Scott Condon of The Aspen Times. “It's roaring — you can hear that sound, you can feel the temperature go through the roof. And we began to run.”

    Unfortunately, 61-year-old Garfinkle’s bad knee prevented him from outrunning the flames.

    “I told Chuck and Tom to save themselves,” Garfinkel said. “I couldn’t keep up.”

    Then a willow tree on the banks of Sopris Creek, a tributary of the Roaring Fork, burst into flames, severely burning the angler’s left hand.

    Garfinkel told the Aspen paper he doesn’t know if it was acting on instinct or courage under fire, but he found water deep enough to completely submerge himself while the flames shot overhead, just inches above him.

    “The fire just keeps coming,” he said. “I came up for air once and then went back down.”

    For five days Garfinkel remained in the intensive care unit at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, where he was treated for third-degree burns on his left hand, burns on the back of his head, smoke-filled lungs and complications with extensive swelling. A skin graph was taken from his left thigh for his hand.

    A southpaw, Garfinkel has high hopes for the grafting procedure—after all, it’s his fly-casting hand.

    And despite the close call, he’s keeping a positive attitude.

    “I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re one ugly son of a bitch, but I’m glad to see ya!” [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 24, 2008

    More Blue Book Of Gun Values - 2

    Well, that didn’t take long.

    As I predicted, I was quickly able to start wasting time with my new copy of the Blue Book of Gun Values. My favorite bit in this latest edition appears on the last page (page 2,176 for those who are interested) and is entitled the “Top Ten Emailed Gun Questions.”

    This list serves to remind us that the politically correct statement that there is no such thing as a stupid question is, well, stupid.

    —John Snow

    Top Ten Emailed Gun Questions

    In the good ol’ days, some shooters and gun collectors would mail us out of focus, blurry pictures with illegible handwritten letters going into detail about the questions they had. The great thing about email is that it allows some people to write even more badly than they speak. As you can see from the following, effective communication may not be going in the right direction.
    10. RE: .22/45 over under pistol or darringer—I just bought this one, don’t know if it is a pistol or a darringer, or the age of it, if you have any info on gun I would appreciate it, how old and is it safe, it was made in ducktown, tn. is all the information I have on gun how much is it worth, looks like it has never been fired could be old or new

    9. RE: Army—I was looking at Blue Book online. I cannot find Army

    8. RE: Guns—1889 winchesrt leaver axion 3006what it werth

    7. RE: Manufacturer—I got a 38 special revolver with c.a.l. Georgia unit writin on it and it says it’s a astra 960. I’m trying to find the maker of this gun. can you help.

    6. RE: shells—I got this old worn out 20 guage H&R single shot that still shoots good. My buddi dropped off some 28 guage shells the other day. We put them in the 20 guage, and they fit pretty close. How will they shoot?

    5. RE: How old—I have a 22 calibar short made in Germany and the serial number is 339919. I’m trying to find out when this gun was made.

    4. RE: gunsock—I would like to buy a gunsock for my husband for Christmas and need a price.

    3. RE: rifle—I have a .22 rifle. Can you tell me what it worth

    2. RE: Saddam’s gun—What is the estimated value of the gun Saddam had on him when he was caught?

    1. RE: Winchester—I bought a Winchester Remington 870 I was wondering how much they run for. [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 23, 2008

    Snow What! - 2

    The scene last week in South Dakota looked pretty bleak. We arrived on Friday following blizzard conditions that left up to 10 inches of snow in some areas. High winds and drifting conditions didn’t sound like good turkey hunting conditions to me but boy was I wrong. By Saturday morning the weather had cleared. Temps were still in the 20s and the 20 mph winds made it feel like Antarctica, but the turkey hunting couldn’t have been better.

    At dawn we set up our Double Bull blind within about 150 yards of a roost. By first light I could make out what looked like a bunch of crows in the trees down a small draw. Turns out it was solid turkeys—over 100 birds.

    Over a 30-minute period they flew down then came up the ridge to where we were, strutting and gobbling all the way. To see that many gobblers displaying was unbelievable. Everywhere you looked there were fanned-out tail feathers and strutting toms.

    This was a bow-only hunt we were on and as this was the first time I’d ever taken any animal with a bow, I hoped to get a bird in close. No problem. The blinds are critical. We wore black fleece tops and balaclava’s to help hide our movements inside. If they see you draw, you’re sunk, as I learned when I spooked the first two birds that came in. I was ready the second time around, however, and was at full draw by the time the birds came around the corner of the blind.

    Strut_zone_todd_042308_2We had turkeys as close as 3 yards. I shot mine at perhaps 12 yards using a Bear Truth 2 bow and Carbon Express arrows tipped with Rage broadheads. I had been told that if I couldn’t get a Texas heart shot to hold about 2/3 of the way up the body to catch the vitals. That did the trick. My bird ran about 10 feet and rolled over dead.

    By 8:30 everyone in our party had tagged out and birds were still coming down of the roost. Quite a scene. We figured the 2 days the birds had been held up by the snowstorm had done nothing but bring them on all the stronger once the weather cleared. I’ll never worry about taking a chance on an early spring hunt because of snow again. Saw tons of pheasants too, so those planning trips to SD for bird season should have great hunting to look forward to.

    —Todd Smith [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 23, 2008

    A Mess of Mystery Bucks - 3

    Srut_zone_042308_7 Here’s a stunning photo that’s been making the rounds of the internet in the past few weeks. One rumor says that it depicts a group of hunters who were about to lose their hunting lease and simply decided to whack ’em and stack ’em rather than leave a bunch of trophies for the next guys. I’m more inclined to believe that it’s a group of practical jokesters who simply pulled all their great deer mounts off the wall and photographed them in such a way as to make them look like recently killed deer. I see one or two possible bodies on those deer, but the rest look like shoulder mounts. What’s the BBZ POV?

    —Gerry Bethge [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 23, 2008

    The Truth About Mermaids - 0

    Mermaid1Mermaids are the stuff of whimsical myth—have been for centuries—and it’s little wonder considering the length of time men on sailing ships were forced to stay at sea. Remembering a few extended voyages I endured during a stint with the U.S. Navy, I can empathize. Today we’re told that sea cows (now extinct) and manatees may have been the biological reality that triggered such fantasies in the brains of ocean-weary sailors. Even their leaders were not immune.
    In his log of March, 25, 1493, Christopher Columbus wrote of sighting three mermaids off the Dominican Republic: “Female forms that rose high out of the sea, but not half as beautiful as they are painted,” he reported.
    Adventurer John Smith claimed having eyeballed a mermaid in 1614 in the Caribbean. He logged the following: “Her long green hair imparted to her an original character by no means unattractive,” and added that he had “begun to experience the first effects of love.” Could be he was still hallucinating about Pocahontas.
    While ancient tales depict both male and female “merfolk,” most of our fascination has been with mermaids–creatures with the upper torso of a beautiful woman and the lower body of a fish. Thanks to the typical Disney brain-leach effect (e.g. the doe-eyed Ariel as The Little Mermaid) the lissome, quasi-fishes are mostly imagined as friendlies these days. That wasn’t always the case.
    Much early folklore painted these fish ladies as nasty little things, often very ugly, and otherwise bent (like their kin the sirens) on luring men on boats to their demise. And then there are the hucksters.
    Mermaid2Like creative internet artists who orchestrate any number of fictional images and pass them as truth, physical mermaid makers have existed for years. Not long back, photographs were circulated of the purported remains of a mermaid netted by a fisherman in the Philippines, and later as having been washed up by a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The mummified remains were physically real, all right, but, like others, were cleverly crafted of a desiccated monkey head, bones of fish and other animals. (See photo)
    Such manufactured mermaids became popular in traveling carnivals and oddity museums in the 19th Century. Most famous of all was the so-called “Fiji Mermaid” supposedly caught by a Japanese fisherman’s net, and which was later displayed in P.T. Barnum’s (before he turned to the circus business) American Museum in lower Manhattan, NYC, before the place burned. This fabricated beauty was pieced together of fish parts, papier-mâché, the body of a baby orangutan, and a monkey head.
    Still, in our cynical age human nature continues to delight in the slight of hand as well as myths and the supernatural. And there’s always our romance with most things outdoors. In his unapologetic “Testament of a Fisherman” Robert Traver penned the perfect list of why we fish. Among his reasoning was this: “… because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid…”

    I’m thinking the same thing. [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 23, 2008

    Gun Rights Victory In Kansas - 3

    Good news for gun owners in Kansas, according to the Associated Press.
    Gov. Kathleen Sebeluis signed a bill earlier this week lifting the ban
    on a variety of Class III weapons.


    Kansans will be able to own machine guns, other fully automatic weapons, sawed-off shotguns and silencers starting July 1.

    Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill Monday to legalize the possession
    of such weapons. The state banned owning machine guns in 1933, but some
    legislators said a change was necessary because legal questions
    threaten to keep dealers from delivering weapons to law enforcement
    agencies.

    Given Sebelius’s history of not supporting gun-rights measures—she
    vetoed a concealed carry bill a couple years back—this comes as a
    welcomed surprise.


    —John Snow
    [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 23, 2008

    Bambi, That Evil, Rotten, No-Good Vermin - 4

    I try to maintain my composure whenever possible when discussing gun rights or hunting with antis out there. I think it is a good tactic to remain calm and placid in the face of weak reasoning and irrationality. But just as Superman has Kryptonite, I have Bambi.

    Nothing sends me over the edge faster than the mention of that doe-eyed little demon, even when the person I’m talking to isn’t an anti-hunter. This happened just the other day, in fact, when I tried to explain to a friend why I won’t let my children watch the movie and be exposed to its brainwashing propaganda. By the end of the conversation my eye had developed an involuntarily twitch and my blood pressure had rocketed out of orbit. My friend looked both concerned and scared.

    The reasons to revile that filthy, spotted rat are too numerous to catalog here, plus if I started to type them out my computer screen would soon be dotted with flecks of spit. Suffice it to say that Bambi is for me the preeminent symbol of brain-dead environmentalism—you know that brand of “thinking” that holds that animals have nuclear families, that predators don’t eat meat (or flat-out don’t exist), that man, and more specifically hunters, are soulless destroyers of the natural world, and that fuzzy and furry herbivores are somehow the most morally supreme beings in the universe. Try explaining that last point to my innocent shrubbery, which has suffered unspeakably at the hands (hooves? mouths?) of my local deer.

    But my overheated response to the cervid-from-Hell is not unique. An article in today’s New York Times about the death of one of the Disney animators who worked on the film discusses the polarizing nature of the debate around Bambi. The article even notes that when Bambi was released back in 1942 that Outdoor Life labeled it an “insult.”

    That’s putting it mildly.

    —John Snow [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 22, 2008

    Keep it Simple - 2

    Strut
    As shooters, sometimes we tend to over think things. On a recent Florida turkey hunt I ended up borrowing a single-barrel, break-action Mossberg SSi-One to take my Osceola gobbler. I couldn’t have been happier.

    Mossberg made these guns for several years from about 2000 to 2004. The gun featured a custom choke and red-dot site. All you had to do was put the red dot on the base of the turkey’s neck and he was yours. The gun also had a very cool sling that slipped onto the butt stock with a sock. The front of the strap simply slipped over the top of the barrel with a large O-ring. The beauty of this strap setup was that you could easily remove it once you got set up so you didn’t have any straps dangling in your way when it came time to shoot.

    I took my bird at about 20 steps. He dropped so fast the second gobbler he was traveling with simply hopped up for a moment before dropping down to spur his lifeless partner. We watched the show for several minutes before the second gobbler decided he’d had enough. (We hope to have this video clip up soon.) As he snuck off, hunting partner Toxey Haas from Mossy Oak made a super 35-yard shot to lay him down for our double.

    Mossberg doesn’t make break-action shotguns any more but H&R does. I hope to build one this summer. They’re lightweight with a synthetic stock so they’re super easy to carry. The break-action design is certainly very safe and is ideal for younger shooters. And I can pop it open and have it reloaded just about as quickly as I would cycle a pump or semi-auto.

    With companies like Primos offering aftermarket turkey chokes, putting a simple single-shot turkey gun together is easy and they’re not very expensive. If you don’t already have a turkey-specific gun in your hunting battery yet, building one of these is a fun project to consider. Keep your eye on your local classifieds or national shotgun trade publications and you may be able to pick up a used single shot to build your new custom turkey gun real cheap.

    —Todd Smith [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 22, 2008

    Hello, 911? There’s an Alligator in my Kitchen! - 0

    Sandra Frosti told authorities that when she investigated a noise in her kitchen about 10:30 last night, she was shocked to see the front half of an 8-foot, 8-inch alligator.

    That was enough to send the 69-year-old Pinellas County, Fla. woman scurrying to the telephone to call 911—then she hightailed it out of the house.

    Original_2

    “There’s an alligator in my kitchen!” Frosti excitedly told the dispatching officer who answered her call at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.

    “How long do you think the alligator is?” asked the dispatcher.

    It’s HUGE!!” responded Ms. Frosti.

    “Well, how long is huge?”

    “I don’t know,” explained the 911 caller. “I only saw the front half of it, and that must have been at least three feet!”

    “You sure it couldn’t be something like an iguana or a really large lizard?”

    “Oh no, no, no, no, no, no!” Ms. Frosti emphatically replied.

    Investigating county sheriff’s deputies said the big fellow apparently broke through the back porch screen door, trying to get to the family cat, which survived. It entered the home through an open sliding glass door, and then made its way in through the living room, down the hall, and into the kitchen.

    A trapper successfully removed the big amphibious reptile and Ms. Frosti was able to safely return to her home.

    No word on how soundly she slept last night, though.

    Listen to Ms. Frosti’s 911 call here. [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 22, 2008

    New Blue Book of Gun Values Out - 1

    I’m always on the lookout for ways to waste time at work and I’ve come to think I’m rather proficient at it. Just ask my co-workers.

    One of the most pleasurable methods I’ve found to make minutes turn into hours is to spend time with the Blue Book of Gun Values, the most authoritative source out there on what guns are worth. But the beauty of the Blue Book is that it gives so much more information than that. It can teach you how to grade firearms, tell you which features in a particular gun are most valuable, help you run down the production date of a particular gun based on its serial number and a supply info on a host of other topics.

    If you pick up this book and are unable to make at least two hours disappear then there is something seriously wrong with you. The newest edition, the 29th in the series, is now available.

    —John Snow [ Read Full Post ]


  • April 21, 2008

    Texas? Book Your ’09 Spring Hunt Now - 4

    Texasjakesnwtfphoto_2
    As my good buddy Jake Fagan at Realtree said after his recent Lone Star State hunt elsewhere: “Texas just wasn’t Texas this year.” Amen to that. I recently hunted the Key Hole Ranch (www.keyholeoutdoors.com) where we encountered waves of juvenile gobblers that were born during last year’s super Texas hatch. Clearly, the numerous jakes were running the show. And if not the jakes, the hens . . .

    The first morning: we had a longbeard at 55-60 yds. It had come a quarter mile to the calls, but three hens took him away as he was closing. Had another good bird strutting/hammering behind a wall of Wrigley Field cover, a hen calling right next to us. She didn't like the scene—they moved off, and even came back to more calling. Didn't close that deal. Close. Had the safety off numerous times.

    On one occasion, five young gobblers came sweeping in to our calls kamikaze-style, somehow knowing ranch rules didn’t offer that otherwise legal option—by then I was about ready for some Shortbeard Justice. Nearby two brick-red headed longbeards slinked into range, not strutting, clearly intimidated by the Gang of Five, but walked away unscathed. Trust me: the other gunner had his safety off as I faced the other direction, calling.

    I hunted alone the final morning. Called four rowdy strutting and gobbling jakes right off the roost, then eight hens from various directions—they hung around me as I clucked and softly yelped on a diaphragm. Up the pasture a ways, a longbeard stepped out in full strut 45 minutes later. Jakes all turned in a line—a stare down. Waited for the big tom to rush in and fight the Mob of Four, but he stayed well off. Hens chose the shortbeards.

    Eventually all moved off, and I slinked off back to camp to pack for our ride to San Antonio with other birds firing up nearby. It was a beautiful Texas morning. Our camp tally by the end of it: Three longbeards tagged for six hunters . . . again, think 2009.

    —Steve Hickoff
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