THE 2023-2024 SEASON LOG


January 3, 2023: A Trip, An Anniversary, And Some More Stupidities

Well, I have returned, more or less still alive, from a Christmas trip to visit Mrs Outdoorsman's Nephew and his extended family at their McMansion in Vienna, Virginia. There were moments when I wasn't sure I would. Of course, I had no real input into the decision to take this trip: we were invited, and I was told we were going.

Because of the massive hysteria engendered by the so-called "news" on TV about THE COMING END OF THE WORLD, AND WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE THANKS TO DANGEROUS COLD AND WIND CHILL TEMPERATURES THAT WILL CAUSE A FLASH FREEZE we left early.  I’ll note here that every year the Beautiful Talking Heads on the Boob Tube come up with a new term in their on-going campaign to raise ratings by trying to scare the wits out of us: this year's phrase was "Flash Freeze." Last year's was "Black Ice"; and let us not forget “Bomb Cyclone,” a genuinely stupid term resurrected—like a zombie—from last year.

And then there is rain...the Phrase Of The Year for rain is (drum roll, please) "Atmospheric River." That's what's happening in California. An "Atmospheric River" has hit them. Maybe now they will have enough water in Lake Mead that people in San Diego can go back to watering their lawns and filling their swimming pools. Oh, wait, no, according to The Washington Bleep! that isn't going to happen. Well, of course it isn't: otherwise they wouldn't have any of disaster to report. Needless to say, CLIMATE CHANGE is the source of all California's troubles. The life of a Beautiful Talking Head isn't easy.

Because of this sort of nonsense, our original plan, which had been to leave on the 23rd, was altered: fearing the Imminent Death from a Flash Freeze, a death that we would certainly suffer if we drove on Thursday the 23rd, we left on Tuesday the 21st instead.  Unfortunately so did everyone else. The traffic on northbound I-81 was five times what it normally would have been thanks to panic-stricken idiots scurrying to escape death from the Flash Freeze. What normally would have been a four hour drive took five and half.  We got lucky at that: it could have been much longer, had the Beautiful Talking Heads really set their empty, gorgeous minds to it.

Now, you can't show up as house guests two days early and expect to be welcomed.  So we stayed in a hotel. We had our 13-year-old Border Collie Lucy with us. Not every hotel will allow a dog to stay but there is a Marriott Residence Inn in Falls Church that's “dog friendly”—to the tune of $160 over and above the room charge.  This for a “pet cleaning fee” which I believe means nothing at all.  If there's any additional cleaning done I saw no evidence of it.  In addition to all of our own luggage we brought Lucy's stuff.

Traveling with a dog is like traveling with a baby: there's an endless list of things you have to have. Water and food bowls, dog food (dry and canned), dog biscuits, dog towels, the dog's bed, the folding dog cage for the van, and the all-important dog-shit bags for when the pooch has to poop. At home Lucy has her own sleeping space in our bedroom. A very nice wire crate with a plush pad in it. Mrs Outdoorsman had the very smart idea to bring along her bed pad; in the van she rides in a crate but bringing it into the hotel would have been a real PITA. However, Mrs Outdoorsman had a another bright idea: she put two chairs back to back and draped a sheet over them. This created a sort of "tent," under which we placed Lucy's pad. This worked like a charm. Lucy laid down on it right away and was content. It's something we'll remember if we take her anywhere again.

Lucy is a poop factory: I have never seen a dog who generated as much as she does. It's not like she eats that much, either. She poops so much I sometimes wonder if there may be another dog or two sneaking into our yard to crap, there's so much to clean up. When traveling you have to pick the stuff up, so I save those nice plastic bags that Kroger's uses for vegetables. As emergency backup I have plenty of those little bags-on-a-roll, the ones stored in a container that dangles from the leash. These are not so good as the vegetable bags, but they'll do. When you have a dog that poops five or six times per day, you need a lot of bags.

By the time we finally got to the hotel and checked in, it had started to rain. Not just “rain,” it was a veritable Noachian deluge.   It never stopped raining for three days. I, as the Designated Dog Walker and Poop Collector, had to take Lucy out into it at least four times a day. We both returned from these excretory excursions soaked, but at least she was (temporarily) emptied out when we came back in. There's not much to do in a dog-friendly hotel when it's coming down in sheets outside, so at least the poop expeditions broke the monotony.

Two and a half days after arrival at the hotel we set out for Nephew's house.  In the interim we'd had to run some errands which necessitated driving in the (driving) rain. I used to live in the DC area, but every time I go back the suburbs have metastasized another 30 miles out.  The incredible traffic, which used to begin around Manassas, now begins near Front Royal along I-66. It gets worse as you get nearer to DC.  The traffic was simply phenomenal: how people can stand to drive in it for daily errands, let alone commute to and from work in it, is beyond me. Furthermore the roads keep changing. There are innumerable new exits along the highways, there's road construction where there aren't new exits (possibly to make new exits) and the signage is confusing, especially when they try to entice you into “Express lanes” which cost the earth and demand an electronic “E-Z Pass” to use.  

Inevitably you end up playing Dodge-'Em Cars with other drivers when you suddenly realize you need to do a lane change.  NOVA drivers are very aggressive, easily offended by someone having the effrontery to want to change lanes, are determined that You Shall Not Pass Me, are willing to tailgate on dangerously slick pavement, and all in all, seem to have learned to drive in North Carolina, which has the worst drivers in the USA, bar none.  (They're worse than Texans, and that's saying something.)

My GPS seemingly can't keep up with the changes.  It kept yammering in my ear about which exit I needed, blithely assuming that a) the exit still existed, b) that I could find it among the welter of signs, and c) that I'd be able to change lanes without side-swiping an angry suburbanite in a Mercedes or Audi.  (Those are two of The Official Vehicles of Northern Virginia. We drive a Kia, so it's surprising we didn't get spat upon as Ignorant Hicks. Well, maybe we did but with the rain we wouldn’t have noticed.)  The rain and the headlight glare made it impossible to see the road markings; driving mostly at night didn't help things much.

At one point we had to go to the “Crate & Barrel” store to buy a bowl to replace one I’d broken, where I learned that what I'd been taught in Catholic school was wrong: the real definition of “Hell” is Tyson’s Corner Mall at Christmas time.  Crate & Barrel was full of well-dressed NOVA residents of any number of genders, mostly blank-faced women wandering to and fro strewing money around.  I was there to buy only one item, but they were seemingly there to find out what they needed to buy to make their lives complete. 

We also had to go to a Wal-Mart (yes, there’s a plebeian Wal-Mart at Tyson’s Corner, otherwise the Home Of The Upscale Store) which required me to drive up a very steep and slick ramp into a multi-story parking garage. The line of cars up that ramp snaked down three stories into the street.  Mercifully we were able to get into the garage and thus out of the rain.  But if the Tyson’s Corner Mall proper is Hell, the Tyson’s Corner Wal-Mart is surely Purgatory.  Forty-five years of small town life have spoiled me.

But I digress....We did eventually manage to get to Nephew's house in daylight on the 23rd which helped with the drive, though the GPS didn’t. There we met Nephew, Niece-in-Law, his Indian-born wife; her two parents, and Nephew and Niece-In-Law's two boys, aged 10 and 8.

There's an old Victorian era maxim that "Children should be seen and not heard," which seems never to have taken hold in Nephew's house. These two kids do everything at top volume. They seem to be incapable of moving from one place to another except at a run.  The “pitter-patter of little feet” is transmuted into the "thunderous pounding of little feet" on the floors of the house.  Nor do they have a normal bed-time. At that age I wasn't allowed to stay up until 8 to watch "I Love Lucy" but these kids stayed up until at least midnight watching "Glass Onion."

Niece-In-Law doesn’t like dogs.  This is perhaps understandable, she having grown up in a country where strays wander everywhere and 30,000 cases of human rabies per year is the norm. But for Dog People it’s an attitude that’s not just incomprehensible, it's a significant pain in the ass to deal with.  Lucy, we were told, was not allowed in the house. It has bare wood floors and “...her nails might scratch the wood...” so she was confined to quarters in the basement guest room, where there is a rug. For her it amounted to a very cushy kennel.

Nor, for that matter, were WE allowed to wear shoes in the house. Having been subjected to this no-shoes nonsense on previous visits I'd had the presence of mind to bring along some slippers—my mother used to scold me for walking around the house in only my socks, and I damned sure wasn't going to walk around barefoot, though everyone else did, including the boys—lest my toenails scratch the wood floors. Or that I'd get some loathsome foot disease they'd brought in and was lurking on those bare floors.

When I had to take Lucy out (four or five times a day, usually in freezing rain, but after that finally stopped, in sub-zero cold) we had to use the basement entry with its concrete steps because she wasn’t allowed to come up even to exit through the garage.  She’s at an age where she isn’t too active, but she hates to be left alone: she barks to make me feel guilty if I do that.  But social niceties demanded that I spend at least some time with the family, so the dog—as always—had to like it or lump it.   After two days in the hotel, where at least we were with her all the time, she was faced with another three days of incarceration.  Well, it was more comfortable than a real kennel would have been;  she had her bed, she had her food, and she got as much time as I was allowed to spend with her.  That’s all I could do.

She did, however, give us a real scare.  On Christmas Eve she managed to get into the bedroom closet, where she found some chocolate to eat.  All dogs love chocolate, but it’s poisonous to them because it contains theobromine, an alkaloid they can’t process metabolically.  We didn't know how much she’d managed to eat—as little as an ounce of baking chocolate can kill a medium-sized dog—but it wasn’t baking chocolate, thank God; it was those little squares of Ghirardelli “Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almond.”  Mrs Outdoorsman said there were only about four of them.  Nevertheless I wasn’t willing to take chances.  Luckily there’s a 24-hour emergency clinic within a mile of Nephew’s McMansion, so we rushed her there. 

On arrival I was required to call the Animal Poison Control Center to develop a “case number,” which cost me $95 for 5 minutes on the phone, answering questions that—once we had a case number—the clinic asked me a second time.  Then we were able to hand her over to the vet tech, who took her to the back, telling us they’d call us “in a few hours.”  This didn’t make me any happier.  I was reassured that she seemed to be in safe hands, though no doubt she was totally bewildered.  The essence of being a dog is that things are done to you: you have no control whatever.  Here was the poor thing, four days into a trip to a place she didn’t know and didn’t want to be, having been snatched willy-nilly from her home, dumped into our car for hours and hours on the road, then into Nephew’s basement, then suddenly snatched up again, thrown into the car, and handed off to strangers who would poke and prod her and give her drugs.  In the end she was induced to vomit, upon which event she brought up not only her dinner, but the remains of a loaf of fruit bread she’d eaten along with the chocolate and two still-wrapped Ghirardelli squares, in their foil packets.  That was a good thing: they might easily have led to an intestinal impaction. Then I was summoned, went back to the clinic, paid $648 in fees, was given discharge paperwork, and drove back to Nephew’s house.  Between the hotel and  the vet bill, the trip cost me well over $1000, not including gasoline at Biden-era prices.  Lucy is not a cheap date.

The rest of the time went uneventfully, except for the shrieking insistence of the boys that we play with them.  Mrs Outdoorsman was willing to do this, I wasn’t.  They demanded—and I do mean demanded, not requested—that she play board games, do puzzles, play “Pokemon Monopoly," watch idiotic animé cartoons, on and on and on, endlessly.  I retreated to the basement guest room to be with Lucy as much as I could.

The entire house is wired.  Everything—the lights, the numerous TV sets, the thermostat, the garage door, the oven, the microwave, the door locks—you name it, it’s tied into an “app” on someone’s Smart Phone. The lights in the closets come on when you open the door.  Of course there is the hateful  “Alexa” system in place.  Alexa listens to every word said and I’d bet that somewhere, someone is recording it just in case it’s needed by the FBI or the NSA.  I don’t believe anyone who says you can turn Alexa off.  Alexa is as potentially useful to tyrants as the Chinese facial recognition system and very much—entirely too much—like what Winston Smith had to deal with in "1984."  Big Sister Alexa Is Watching, or at least Listening.

One especially annoying aspect of Alexa is the “intercom” function by which someone can announce anything to everyone in the house, because—needless to say—Alexa is in every room of the house. One night the boys used the intercom feature to wish us a “Good night” long after we were already asleep in the guest room. Then a few seconds later they came back on to wish Lucy—whom they had hardly even seen—a good night.  I’ll admit that I found Alexa useful for one thing: when I had to leave Lucy alone I’d tell Alexa to play music, which seems to have helped her to tolerate her confinement.

Speaking of music, every year I forget how much I hate “Christmas” music.  It’s the same 40 or so songs, every one of them a God-damned ear-worm, over and over, and over. Thank God somehow I escaped hearing “The Little Drummer Boy,” which is certainly the stupidest song ever written. Avoiding that was a Christmas Gift in itself.  Even the emergency vet clinic was playing Christmas music, as people waited to find out if their pets were going to live.

On the 24th I got out of the house for a couple of hours to visit a cousin who lives in Fairfax, and whose brother from California had come in for the Yuletide.  We also managed to meet up with my younger sister to have lunch in an Egyptian restaurant, Fava Pot in Falls Church.  It was a very good one, too: with very authentic food.  It was worth swimming through the rain to get there, in fact.

Mrs Outdoorsman's Niece, a restaurateur from Ohio, came a day after we did.  On Christmas Day another couple, related to Niece-In-Law, came for dinner.  These are very well-to-do people. The wife complained that thanks to having a private elevator that opens directly into their condo’s vestibule, “…we don’t know any of our neighbors…” and her husband, a CEO of several companies, was driving an $80,000+ Alfa Romeo Giulia Q4.  Nice work if you can get it.  We had a very nice dinner with a ham and a leg of lamb they'd brought.  It was all delicious, and accompanied by wine, wine, and wine.

We got home on the evening of the 26th, after a normal-length drive, again with heavy traffic southbound on I-81.  We found out afterwards that there’d been an accident on the highway that caused a 3-to-5 mile backup: mercifully we had passed that point by the time it happened.

Next year, they can come here.  I’ll not subject Lucy to that again.


More Stupid Stuff

There's no place better for stupid stuff than one of these up-scale grocery stores that puts on airs about "sustainability" and "eco-friendliness," and similar bullshit. I keep my eyes open for opportunities to document such things. While in Vienna I went to a Whole Foods store to buy some wine, and found this little gem: gourmet ice cubes. Made from pure—and undoubtedly organic, gluten free, sustainably harvested, etc.—Spring Water. You wouldn't want to risk your life, or worse, the lives of your guests and children, by using ice cubes made from tap water, which is filled with all kinds of poisons put there by Big Aqua to kill us all. No Siree, only the Best will do for Whole Foods' customers.

Needless to say, Stupidity isn't limited to the sort of people who shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (another fountain of Rectitude and Righteousness in the grocery industry). We hillbillies and rednecks have our share. I place in evidence the following item: flavored cigars. Yes, cigars. One would think that a cigar has its own distinct, unique flavor, but one has to take into account the current wussification of all segments of society, even Rednecks: sweetenings and sugar in everything, now including cigars.

A friend and I stopped in at a bait shop in Radford, and found these things on the shelf. A White Owl cigar is bad enough on its own terms, but a peach-flavored or strawberry-flavored White Owl, let alone a "Strawberry/Sangria," "Dark Chocolate," "Strawberry/Lemon," and "Tropical Twist" White Owl is of a level of vileness hardly to be contemplated. Not to be outdone, on the shelf below the White Owls are numerous "Swisher Sweets" in various flavors. This in a bait shop, a place where you can get minnows and night crawlers, cigarettes, fishing lures, and really, really bad hamburgers. There's no hope for a country that has sold its machismo to the marketeers.

We'd gone to the bait shop to buy...bait. An old friend who's a fanatical fisherman was here for a couple of days over the New Year's holiday. I took him to a place I'd fished before with some success (and no, I won't tell you where it is). He hit the jackpot: an 18" Rainbow Trout. Rainbows are raised in hatcheries and widely stocked in Virginia, but they're a western species, not native to the Old Dominion. I've gone out on some stocking runs, but these fish aren't stocked in the stream we were fishing. I had caught a smallish Rainbow there some time ago and asked about that, but I was told that stream is not and never has been on the DWR's "to be stocked" list.

However, some years ago there was one of these put-and-take fishing places not too far away, and we speculated that the fish I'd caught might somehow be an escapee from that. But that place closed many years ago, and no fish that had escaped from it (or been set free) would have lived that long. Nor are Rainbow Trout supposed to be able to survive Virginia summers: they're a cold-water fish.

Well, I am here to testify that Rainbow Trout do, in fact, survive Virginia summers. The fish my friend caught was a beautiful specimen. Took him on one of those bait-shop nightcrawlers. And no, again, I won't say where it was. My lips are sealed. I want to go back and catch that fish again.


An Anniversary

Today, January 3rd, marks 40 years to the day that I got my first puppy, my beloved, wonderful Toby. He came to us as a bewildered 5-week-old orphan, at a time when we really desperately needed him. We had moved to Texas a couple of weeks before, knew no one, had no money, and things were very bleak for us emotionally. Toby gave us something to love and much, much more. He gave me a reason to live, he gave me faith that the future might be brighter. I did everything wrong with him, made errors I have since not repeated with any of his successors, but he loved and he forgave because that is the nature of dogs.

Toby crossed the Rainbow Bridge suddenly, unexpectedly, in September of 1996, just a couple of months shy of his 14th birthday. His death from a gut torsion was excruciatingly painful and has haunted me for decades. There was nothing I could have done, but I've never really forgiven myself for his dying the way he did. I grieve for him every day, and sometimes, after more than 26 years, I still see him in dreams. All my subsequent dogs owe him a debt, but I owe him more than I can ever repay. Some day I will create a monument worthy of him so that his name will be known and heard for as long as I can make it so.


January 6, 2023: Practicing For Tomorrow's Bird Shoot...

...and I can't hit squat. Took my drilling out to burn up some antique 16-gauge ammo I'd been given. It all went off, despite certainly being at least 80 years old. Paper cases, of course. Most of them split on firing, but they all went off.

Not that it did much good. I hit the first target and missed nearly all the rest. I may well be the world's worst wingshot. I do better on live birds than clay ones, but those pheasants will have to be very unlucky tomorrow for me to hit them.

I'm taking my clunky old Stevens 311 double and a "backup" bolt action 12 gauge because that Stevens has given me some trouble in the past. The drilling has scope mount blocks for a detachable scope so I'm using that as an excuse for my lousy shooting.


January 8, 2023: The Bird Shoot

Yesterday I went to Holland's Hunting Preserve for my annual bird shoot with Phil. He always chooses quail, I do pheasants because they're big enough that I can hit them now and then. That said, I got all four of the pheasants I paid for and a couple of quail. Six kills for 14 shots: better than my usual average. Phil got 9 quail of the 12 he'd bought.

I had planned to bring my drilling but I shot so badly with it in "practice" I opted for my old, reliable, Stevens 311 12-gauge double instead. I've had trouble with this gun in the past so I brought a "backup" in the form of a 12-gauge bolt action. I didn't need it, the Stevens performed like a champ. I shot Remington "Express" high-brass #5's with #4's in reserve. I like fairly large shot for pheasants, though those #5's worked very well on the two quail I shot without messing them up.

Normally John Holland is the guide with his exceptionally well-trained dogs, especially Molly. He uses Brittanies. But this time he had a very large group to guide on another part of the property so we were guided by "Mike," who had Gypsy, one of Molly's pups. Gypsy is a year and a half old, coming on very well, and while she needs to work on her retrieve-to-hand a bit, she found every bird. No complaints!

At right, Mike is holding the first pheasant I shot. That one was a deader in the air, a very satisfying hit, thought not, of course, for the bird.

The weather was overcast but not too cold. The weather people had been predicting a "wintry mix" (why they can't just say "sleet" I don't know) but it turned out to be a very nice day in the end. Well, not for the birds, they had a lousy time.

After I'd shot my birds my hip was bothering me so I hoofed it back to the truck and let Phil finish up. Walking on uneven ground is bothering me more as I age. Gosh, I wonder why?

John told me about a documentary show in which he and his operation were featured. It was broadcast on, of all stations, PBS ! The show is titled "The French Magnolia," and you can watch it here:

https://www.pbs.org/video/french-magnolia-cooks-pheasant-nggwui/

Very nicely done. I have noticed in recent years a tendency to, if not approve, at least condone "gentlemanly" types of hunting, though I must confess I never expected to see anything like this video on PBS. They even showed birds being hit in mid-air, something you never see on TV except on the ghastly "outdoors" shows, and even then they sometimes jump-cut away from the kill. The trend seems not to be extended to deer hunting yet. That is still portrayed as Bubbas crazed by blood lust. This new tendency is enhanced by (perhaps motivated by) glossy magazines like "Garden & Gun" and seems to be more or less specifically oriented to the South.

We have little in the way of wing-shooting around here except put-and-take birds. At Holland's the birds are taken out and cunningly placed in the fields, well hidden. Then the dog(s) go out and find them and Phil and I go miss them. It's not the real thing but it's close enough. I'm told wild pheasants are much different to hunt than these pen-raised birds; but I have seen perhaps three wild pheasants in my life, while driving out West, so I don't know.


More Stupidity

This gem came from our local Kroger store, where an understanding of the definition of "oxymoron" seems not to have taken hold. "Fresh for Everyone," even when it's frozen.


January 11, 2023: It's Always Something

Two days ago our clothes washing machine more or less gave up the ghost. Now, since we do laundry nearly every day, this was a catastrophe: especially since it would mean we'd have to to a—gasp, shudder—laundromat. This was entirely unacceptable. So Mrs Outdoorsman decreed we would buy a new washer ASAP. Off to Lowe's we went.

After half an hour the decision had been made: a brand new Maytag no-agitator washer, to the tune of $900+ after having to buy new hoses (which we didn't need but were required if we wanted delivery and installation), taxes, and a $40 disposal fee for our old, useless, worn-out-after-11-years previous Maytag. Oh, and let us not forget the expensive "protection plan" we forked out for, too. Can't be too careful! You never know, someday we might need it. Since "major appliances" these days have a shorter life span than they used to "insurance" is always urged on the consumer. After all, what's a conumer for but to consume?

It was delivered today. Two burly guys who spoke little English (one of them spoke none at all beyond "Thank you, sir" which was after all sufficient) carried the new washer through our yard using straps, hooked it up (complete with the new hoses we didn't need) and carried the old one away. Unfortunately the drain hose on the new washer wouldn't quite reach the place where it had to drain, necessitating that the dryer be moved to where the old, useless, worn-out-after-11-years previous Maytag had been, with the spanking new Maytag installed in the place where the dryer had been. The new washer is on the left; the ratty old dryer is still in service. Give it time....

Then I had to put in a new dryer vent hose. Our nearest hardware store had only the execrable aluminum ones. Having ruined two of these in the past trying to install them (because they're very fragile and easily damaged going around bends) I then drove to another hardware store and bought a vinyl hose. Perhaps I should have bought two of them. I'm certain the Town Code Nazis will in time mandate that only aluminum hoses be used. They will do this for two reasons: 1) because they can; 2) to make my life more difficult. Next time I visit the superior hardware store I'll buy another vinyl hose or two. Sooner or later the Dryer Hose Police will find out and they'll probably arrest me for "...creating a fire hazard..." or something equally silly but it will be worth it.

The new, super-efficient, never-to-be-equaled Maytag uses very little water, which I'm told is a good thing. It's good for the planet and don't you ever forget it! It gets around this by taking an ungodly amount of time to run a wash cycle. I timed the "normal" cycle at 56 minutes. So it uses more electricty, which presumably is not good for the planet, unless of course it comes from wind and solar, which we haven't yet got and probably won't get in my lifetime. Maytag giveth and Maytag taketh away.

Heaven alone knows how long the "heavy soil " cycle will take.


January 12, 2023: Bluebirds, Come Home

We have bluebirds around here, and I've been seeing them in the neighborhood lately. Bluebirds are marvelously beautiful, unmistakable for any other species, especially the males. I grew up in New York; the bluebird is the official New York state bird, but I never laid eyes on one there. We have had them nesting in our yard now and then and I want them back.

So today I bought a new bluebird house. I had to go out to buy birdseed at Tractor Supply (we go through a LOT of birdseed and I believe we have the fattest birds in Montgomery County) so I picked up a house for them. Bluebirds are picky about where they like to live. Has to be over an open area because they eat insects; they don't want close neighbors. For two seasons we had them in our yard, then they decided they preferred some other accommodations. But this new house I bought is specifically designed for them; I hope they like it. The males come first to scout out nest cavities. They're earlier than usual this year so I didn't wait to put up a box.

It has to be about 5 to 6 feet off the ground, so I attached the house to a pole, which is in turn lashed to my fence with zip-ties. Bluebird houses can't have too large an opening lest sparrows and riff-raff like starlings get in. Nor should it have a perch because that's an invitation to snakes and other predators to come and dine on the nestlings.


January 15, 2023: Zilch At The Dip

Went to the Nine-Deer Dip this afternoon. I wanted to try to get a deer with my little Savage 24-S combination gun. I'd got it sighted in with Brenneke 20-gaug e slugs (see the entry for October 16, 2022). I've had that gun for decades and it's always been my go-to squirrel gun, but a 20-gauge slug will do a deer handily. We're now in the extended antlerless season in Montgomery County and with two deer already "harvested" (how I hate that euphemism) I thought I'd give it a turn in the barrel (ha, ha). It shoots reasonably well with the rifled choke tube in place and I'd have limited the range to no more than 54 yards.

But nobody showed up. Nada, nuttin', zip. Of course, as is always the case, on the way out a big fat doe ran across the road right in front of me. Happens every time. The extended antlerless season runs to March 26th: I'll get out again.

I have some issues with shooting does in the Spring when many (most) of them are probably going to have fawns in utero, but the idea is to thin out the numbers and that will certainly do it.  I once shot a doe (in late June on a kill permit) that had nearly-full-term triplets inside.  One shot, four deer, and all their descendants gone from the herd. 

Some of the anti-hunting zanies in places like New York want to use birth control injections on does and/or surgical sterilization of bucks; God alone knows what that would cost per deer, but surely NY has better uses for the money.  Such people cannot understand (or perhaps cannot accept) the truth: the best deer "contraceptive" is a bullet.


January 17, 2023: And Here I Thought Guns Couldn't Get Any Uglier

The obscene object at left is the "Tombstone" lever action rifle produced by some company called "POF," whatever the hell that means. This...thing...is even uglier than the Mossberg "tactical" lever action, taking "ugly" to a new level. But it's probably supposed to be ugly: the visual elements affirm Marshall McLuhan's dictum that "The medium is the message." Ugly=Badass, no?

Not only is it profoundly offensive to the eye, it's quite clear that this company feels that auto-loading rifles are going to be banned, so they'd better get into the market with a lever action—a lever action, for God's sake—that might, just might, placate the anti-gun fanatics while retaining the "tacti-cool" features that everyone whose sensibilities have been deadened have come to believe are good things. They are wrong, of course: nothing can placate the enemies of gun ownership. Just ask the Australians or New Zealanders, New Yorkers, Californians, or people in Illinois or New Jersey. This monstrosity may hold them off for a little while but it isn't going to stop them from going after "assault lever actions" sooner or later.

Rifles in pistol calibers are nothing new: the .32-20, .38-40, and .44-40 all came in revolvers and rifles, usually short handy carbines. What caliber was chosen for this thing? The 9mm Parabellum, that's what. A fine, traditional "cowboy" caliber. NOT. I would also like to hear some sort of logical explanation for the presence of a muzzle brake on a 7+ pound rifle chambered for that round. Well, it's...tacti-cool, yes?

Here is the most incredible thing about it: MSRP is...are you ready?...$1900 to $2100. Anyone willing to spend that kind of money on it needs psychiatric attention.


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