Sunday, November 29, 2009

Do You Have The Patience Required?

If you read my immediately previous post straight through, then I suppose that maybe you do. Sorry but that was sure a boomer on my part, a long one at that. I just measured it, 8 pages in MS Word format! Hope, that if you read it, you enjoyed it too. If you didn't read it, well read it in parts - it may be easier to take that way and may help you develop one of the finest hunting skills of all - Patience.

All the best,

Still Hunting - A Lesson To Be Learned - Patience Required

The deer have won again...then again so did the squirrels. Yes I remembered to take along a .22 revolver this time, just in case I was stampeded by squirrels like the last time I went deer hunting a week ago. I don't know what it is about those little bushytailed nut thieves, maybe they can smell blued steel revolvers or maybe their eyesight is keen enough to discern certain looks of shiftiness on the faces of hunters. You know, the type of shifty eyed look that tries to convey being at one with nature, an animal lover, a nice guy bearing nuts-a-plenty but instead that is covering up the fact that I am a maniacal killer of forest friends who is on the prowl for the ingredients for a good sized pot of Brunswick Stew. Whatever it was - my not so nice and all too nefarious look -the smell of my blued steel Smith & Wesson Model 17, the good clip of the wind through the willows (yes it was whipping at a speed that would have made clipper ship seaman of your quite happy because with winds like that they probably would be home a week early) or just that they had me figured out because they listened to me muttering miserably at myself the week before for not having brought along a 22 - they were nowhere to be seen or heard!

On Friday, I started out kind of late. Now that may have had something to do with me not seeing anything that day but I doubt it. The fact that I was pretty hung over may have had more to do with it. I stayed in a hotel in Binghamton, NY that just happened to be about a block and a half from a busy little strip of bars in the downtown area. Being the curious type of adventurer that I am, I decided to check out most of them. Oh my aching head. Nothing that a good long snooze restful watch for critters while under a hickory (or was it a white oak) tree could not cure. After just a few seconds in the transcendental state of mind I rapidly achieved - little men bowling nine pins could not have disturbed me. While I was sleeping keeping my eyes peeled and pondering insightful thoughts about how to snare my next dinner, I was so engrossed in dreamland deep thought that maybe I missed a squirrel or three that came to visit because I was so intent on looking for deer. Of course, there were several times that I rolled over changed my point of view and looked for squirrels in the tree tops so maybe, just maybe, I missed a deer too. It is a tricky balance of ones powers of observation that must be maintained as one attempts to keep a sharp eyed lookout for denizens of the tree tops as well as for those of the forest floor. Just a glance in the wrong direction at the wrong moment, or the blink of an eye, let alone a relaxing slumber for a few seconds, and all hope of bagging supper can be lost. That is unless you have about $7 handy and there is a McDonald's nearby. Let me just say this: Rip Van Winkle had nothing on me - not even the dissatisfied wife. Well maybe he had the dog to bring along, my wife would not let me take one of ours.

Saturday was a different story. Where as I slept fine on Thursday night, late into Saturday morning for that matter, I suppose thanks to an overindulgence of fine spirits, it was the spirits that kept me awake on Friday night. On that fateful eve the winds began to howl and by the wee hours of the morning they were literally screeching or should I call it more akin to the whistling of the dead. Yeah that's it - the way whistling zombies would sound. At least that was how it sounded to me. Besides the howling and whistling giving me the heebie-jeebies keeping me awake for most of the night - I must also admit that when the window of my room was whipped open by the wind, then slammed shut, I jumped out of my bed about three feet straight up. When I landed - it was lucky for me - and for the hotel door and walls (and maybe for the guest in the next room) - that for some unknown reason I had left my pistol on the other side of the room instead of on the night stand as usual. I thought I was about to become the victim of a hotel room invasion. All in all, I was awakened on and off about twenty times, at least, by the howling of wind throughout the late night and early morning plus that one almost heart stopping slamming of the window. I can see now how it was that people who lived in drafty old houses were the best authors of ghost stories. It kept me awake almost all of the night, much like I suspect it would have kept you awake as your awaited the ghost of Bob Jacob Marley to announce the three ghosts of Christmas. After all, in the old days when awake at night what was there to do but make babies - or if by yourself then to light a candle and write. Of course, maybe you would have slept more soundly than me once you put your pistol under your pillow (I don't do that ever, and recommend against such - I only use this as a metaphor of security for a night full of howling, whistling wind and banging windows - otherwise you might shoot yourself). Must have been a night like that, in a cold and drafty house, without a gun nearby, and a lot of candles, a good quill with a deep inkpot, that inspired at least that part of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Let me tell you, I could have written a masterpiece that night by flashlight with a Bic. Next time, I am staying at Motel 6 where they leave a light on for you instead of at a place named after a Bing Crosby movie that is noisy and drafty!

So as it turned out, on Friday night/Saturday morning, I was pretty much wide eyed and awake when my alarm went off at 0345. Note I said wide eyed, not wide awake! As it turned out though, I was out in the woods before dawn. I can tell you this, on a cloud covered night, with the winds howling and screeching and the treetops snapping cracking and rustling as they are whipped into an angry frenzy because the wind is making so much noise - you have to be one brave son of a gun (there I go with guns again) to even step foot into the not so enchanting forest. Me, I was already to head out to my deer stand at about 0515 - about 10 minutes after I had parked my car on the roadside of the state forest. I had been thinking of waiting in the car and staying nice and toasty as I enjoyed my cup of Java from Mickey D's (not much else was open at that hour on the way to my hunting spot) but I decided if I wanted to really do my best to get a deer I had best be on my stand well before first light. So I was out of my car, with my trusty little head lamp strapped to my noggin (using the red light so as not to scare any of the forest beasties), and had just taken my very first step into the woods, having planted my left foot on terra-firma, when I heard large gust of wind, akin to a hurricane force gale going through a subway tunnel, go through the woods in front of me. That was followed by a loud cacophony of tortured sounds - the rustling, and slapping together of the treetops, the grinding together of tree against tree, an almost creaking moaning of the trees as if in protest, a vibration of the ground under my feet (I swear it so), and then a loud cracking noise followed by a crashing the din of which I have not heard even at construction sites in New York City. At least it sounded like that to an ardent observer like me - who at that precise moment had stopped in mid-second step with right foot in air so as to be able to take in every minute aspect of it though someone might have thought I looked like a deer frozen with fear in the headlights of an oncoming truck - almost as if the forest had just given me a warning - pass this way at your own peril!

All of a sudden, that have drunk coffee in the cup holder between the front seat of the Corolla was singing a sweet Siren's song of promised delights to me. I opted for the warmth of my heated car, a semi warm cup of Joe, and a Johnny Cash to keep me company either until the wind died down a bit or until I could see where I was going and not wind up directly in the path of a tree that looked as if it were about to be blown over. I could tell you precisely when first light came, that is if I had paid attention to the clock on my dashboard. For some reason, I was just checking to make sure my door was locked (about the 20th time or so since I got back in my car to stay safe toasty and comfortable, as the light turned on. It was ever so dim at first, almost imperceptible but when I looked up after checking the locks, I could see that the eastern sky was a bit grey where it had been dark, very dark, just moments ago. When I did look at the clock it was 0600 precisely, so maybe it was light just a minute or less before that. Still though, the forest was dark. It was not until about 0615 that I felt brave it was light enough for me to safely venture into the woods and head to my selected slumber hunting spot.

The walk to my stand was uneventful. The wind had died down some, but was still blowing at a pretty good clip. I don't know if it was because the wind had died down slightly, because dawn was well upon the forests in those parts, or because this time I took my first step with my right instead of left foot (not that I am superstitious mind you but because I am the curious type who always wonders about how one thing may effect another even if seemingly unrelated) but this time there was no angry din, the forest remained noisy but relatively calm as compared to its earlier state and nothing - like an old rotted tree trunk or a huge branch, that could have just as easily landed on me - crashed to the ground this time. I was about 10 paces down the old abandoned logging road toward my goal when I was suddenly illuminated by light much as if lightning had struck at my feet. Someone in a pickup truck had just turned in on the road and came darned close to hitting me. You would have thunk that the knucklehead driving had just seen me enter the woods as he drove up on my car parked at roadside but apparently he had not or maybe just wanted to give me a scare. If the latter was the case, little did he realize that I, the intrepid hunter and adventurer, had been given a run for the money by good old Mother Nature herself and there was nothing that was going to deter me from reaching completing my quest. About 10 minutes latter I was seated, in relative comfort under a tree. Was it an oak, a hickory, an ash, I know not, but it was to be my back rest for the next few hours. As it turned out, it really was a good hunting spot. No I did not bag a deer while there, but you certainly remember those other hunters in the pickup truck. Well they apparently spooked a deer and it came by me on the very trail off of which I was sitting awaiting just such an opportunity. The thing was it was still too dark to see, what with all the cloud cover it was a gray dawn indeed. I heard it go by though, and though perhaps I caught the glimpse of a ghoulish shade shadowy deer like figure pass me by. Then again, in that light, for all I know it could have been one of the other hunters trying to creep and crouch by me through the woods - that light, with the wind still moving around the bushes a bit - can play tricks on a guy.

Oh well, the rest of the morning, up until about 0930 was uneventful. I had wisely set the alarm on my cell phone to go off at 0930 and had put it on vibrate just in case a deer was about to get shot by me at that precise moment. I would not want to have ruined my concentration what with my alarm going off sending the deer into a leaping and bound run through the woods toward safer haven nor would I have wanted to be awakened my an unnatural sound after all the commotion of the night before. That is of course, had I been sleeping. I can tell you, and this is no lie, a tree of proper width against your back at proper angle with head propped and held in place by a folded sweater can be a comfortable and sleep alluring trap. Not for me though, I stayed wide awake - and I saw nothing. After that I tried rattling up a buck. Then I waited about another half an hour to see if a deer would actually show up after I made more commotion than had the forest with all the wind just hours before. Truth be told the wind was still giving a good blow now and again so I am none to sure the sound of the rattling carried all that far over the noise of the treetops whipping about.

Once I had waited that ever so long 30 minutes, I decided to get up and go with my plan. My plan was to get up and get going. No, I was not going home. I was going to do some Still Hunting. It is kind of funny, the vernacular of the hunt. You "sit" on a "stand" (yes you can stand to, but most sit sooner of later, some, but not me, even lay down and sleep) and you walk while you "still" hunt. 'Still Hunting' amounts to stalking game animals. It is not easy, it takes patience, skill and luck. I have the patience usually, and I have the skill; no bragging but I have walked to within 15 of deer, 30 to 40 feet of a bear, and about 20 feet of a bobcat before because, most of all, I was patient. That is most of the skill in still hunting - being and remaining patient. In other words you move slowly; it has sometimes taken me 3 hours to walk a mile while still hunting. The trick is to walk and make any movements slowly, to stop often, to wait from about 10 seconds to 2 minutes (or more) before walking on again, and to observe what is around you and to remain patient and let the deer move. I have had deer stand there looking at me, and actually had a young buck (button horn) walk right up to me and sniff me from only inches away, it took patience not too move. It was a thrilling experience. Patience would prove to be the ticket I needed to see deer on this hunt.

While out and about, I headed from south to north walking upstream against the course of a forest stream. No I was not in the water, but on a deer trail that ran along the stream. I passed on hunter in the woods who I saw had looked around and seen me (otherwise I would have spoken in a loud voice letting him know I was there but he waived acknowledgement of me - something I do not recommend when you do not know the other hunter and his hunting skills - people have been accidentally shot when they moved by other overzealous and less than safe other hunters). I waived back, but only because I was sure by his waive that he had seen me, and I continued on. All in all I probably walked 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile and the break neck pace which allowed me to do so in about an hour and a half. As I got to the point where the stream turned toward the west, I kept headed north. I was in a mixed forest of pines, hemlocks and hardwoods and the going was crunchy. There were an awful lot of branches on the ground (having been cut previously and what with the wind last night - the dead, dry, branches were in abundance in my path in this particular stretch of my path). Best as I could, I tried to avoid snapping branches, but at about 215 pounds with a 25 pound backpack and a 7 pound rifle, and some heavy clothing and boots, I weighed in easily at about 250. It is virtually impossible not to snap branches, but that really does not matter all that much if you do the rest of the Still Hunting thing right. It seems I was doing it right. I had made sure to eliminate my scent with proper washing before the hunt (using a scent eliminator soap), I had some deer scent on a drag (deer urine on a pad dragged behind me on a cord). I try to keep it off of me to avoid having a buck attack me either in a buck on buck rage or in a mating frenzy depending on which type of male or female deer pee I use. Either way, it would hurt and hunters have been attacked and hurt by bucks before.

Back to the hunt. As I said - this time I had again gotten it right despite the cracking of branches underfoot. Well part of it right anyhow. The stream bed was about ten feet lower than foot level for me down a gentle slope at that point. There was a fairly large down fall about 15 to 20 yards in front of me and to my left about 15 yards. I had stopped and just started walking again, I had taken one or two steps both of the rather crunchy variety when I saw two dashed of gray ghost like swaths moving toward me from behind the downfallen tree branches. All I could tell was that it was a large animal or animals, I was uncertain if it was a deer or a bear. I stopped and out stepped two does. One an average sized doe and the other one was pretty huge looking sort of like a large wooden barrel around her belly. I had to give a second look to make sure it was indeed a doe and not a buck but there were no antlers anywhere to be seen. My heart was immediately in overdrive, I suppose due to the quart of high test adrenalin that had just been flooded into my system. I froze, one deer just stopped directly in front of me - only 15 yards away at most, maybe even half that distance, but I'll say 15 yard because I know that tunnel vision during times like this makes things seem closer. I glanced to the left, moving just my eyes, and the other deer - yes there were two - was still behind the down fall though close to the end of it nearest me.

At that precise moment, a lot of things were coursing through my head like Santa's reindeer course through the nighttime skies on Christmas Eve - at the speed of impossible x 20: Should I move, should I stay frozen, should I try to take a shot - no don't shoot all you can see of the deer right in front of you is about 8 inches of its right hindquarter, there is a wide tree between you and it, did the deer stop like that on purpose, are deer that smart, my back is killing me, my hips are killing me, arthritis sucks, this is it, the big chance I have worked so long for is here, this is the moment, this is it, look at that huge doe right in front of me, damn that tree and whomever planted it there, her head is behind the tree she cannot see me, when the deer leaves it will present a shot, don't move, wait for the deer to move, as the deer walks away it will present it self from behind the tree, wait, don't move, why are you lifting up the rifle, she cannot see you - lift it get it ready , sight in on where she will come out from behind the tree, do it slowly, move very slowly, no don't move, why not, do it now, she cannot see you, okay I am doing it remember to quietly take it off of half cock, heck I already did that a second ago, finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, okay it's where it belongs, move slowly, you jerk too late there they go, oh ^%&*$%##@....." Yes I had lots of thoughts and the last one was a discordant symphony of me cursing myself for not being patient enough to let the deer make the next move and for not just standing still no matter how much I was ready to run a marathon with all that adrenalin coursing through my arteries.

Of course, she did not see me raise my rifle for a shot. Chances are, even if she had, had I waited and let the deer move first, she would not have been alarmed enough to run. They were not all that afraid of me, that is evidenced by them stopping. They were uncertain of what I presented to them. Was I a threat or a harmless forest beast? They almost assuredly had thought a buck was approaching, they come on none to cautiously when they think they are walking up on a ready to mate doe or on another buck itching for a fight. Does react to buck snapping branches and rustling the leaves in stride - as part of their lives - and they are attracted to it. I also had been using a buck call and a doe bleat. They may have thought it was a buck and doe approaching. They came right over toward me and were in no big hurry - that is until I raised my rifle. Once I moved like that, they made me out most assuredly as an upright threat, not as a four footed deer. Had they moved first, they may have trotted or walked of a little bit then stopped again. That is the way of deer, even ones slightly frightened and unsure of a possible threat. The one I had wanted to shoot could not see me, no way she could have, her view of me was blocked by the tree that blocked me from seeing most of her. For the life of me though, I have no idea how it is that I just completely disregarded the other deer that still could me.

I forgot all about that one in the matter of mere seconds. So when I raised my rifle, ever so slowly, that one was watching from about 17 to 20 yards away to my left from behind the deadfall. It took of like a bat out of hell, may have been shot at before, but certainly has encountered humans that scared it. Why had they not run outright. Well deer cannot see all that well, certainly they cannot distinguish a hunter from the background of trees with all that much ease, not even a hunter in blaze orange as was I. First of all, they are color blind. Secondly they have trouble distinguishing one thing from another. What they do not have though is trouble scenting things nor seeing movement. Their hearing is also good, but as I pointed out they can be deceived. They did not scent me, even though the wind was blowing from right to left carrying any scent from me right to them. They would have bolted right away or hidden behind the downfall had they scented me as human. Instead they came to me likely expecting another deer or two. It was only when I moved that it keyed in on me not being another deer. Both of them bolted, maybe more like Santa’s coursers is a better analogy that like a bat out of hell - but they were gone in almost no time. I did have a good opportunity for a running deer shot. The one I wanted presented a spine shot. I could have hit it, of that I am pretty certain, I am a fair shot. The thing is that they were within 50 yards of a road to the left, from when they came. Should they have veered that way and I followed with them in my sights, well then I may have shot and should I have missed there were cars of hunters along the road, and a house in that direction. They ran straight then right - further into the forest. I figured a shot at a running deer even toward the woods was a bad chance to take with all the other hunters out and about on state land. I waited about 10 minutes then tried to stalk them, but they had gone much further once spooked than they would have had I put into practice the most important hunting skill of all - patience.

If you doubt I would have gotten a shot had I been patient, let me just say you probably are very wrong. I once walked dup on three deer, two does and a fawn on my uncles farm. I was on an old overgrown logging road, they were coming across it, at least headed to et, feeding on acorns (or whatever) on the forest floor. I had stopped and was looking around slowly and there they were about 15 to 25 feet (not yards but feet) away from me just having come over a small rise. I had no human scent, I used deer scent, I was moving at a snail's pace and stopping frequently, and when I saw them I did not move. I stood there looking at them, only turning very slowly a few inches so I faced them straight on, and I watched them for at least 5 maybe 10 minutes. They had absolutely no clue that I was there, or if they did they ignored me totally as they got closer and closer while foraging in the leaf litter on the forest floor. I was hunting - not practicing as I had done often before. I had my shotgun, even if they ran I could have snap shot at least one of them. The thing was I had no doe permit, so I watched. After awhile my back started to ache badly. I also had on a small but fairly heavy pack then (I almost always have one when hunting). I squirmed a bit they did not notice. The big doe close, I probably could have jumped a bit and touched her before she took off - that close. I figured oh well, I'll take a shot doe permit or not. I fired a single shot into a safe backstop and the three deer took off for the life of them. I figured I would make them a bit more cautious and more fun to hunt the following year if I got a doe permit. I stayed put after the shot because while the two does ran over the rise in the direction from which they had come, the fawn hid in some pines and a down fall. It bleated and guess what. With about 5 minutes, the two does were back, the fawn had come to their sides, and they were feeding again right there in front of me. This time though I was moving a bit more because I was uncomfortable from the pack and from holding my shotgun all the while pretty much without moving except to fire the shot. The older doe came very close to me but this time realized something was afoot. She sniffed a few times in my direction, snorted, stomped her front hooves but I did not move. Then she came even closer sniffed, snorted loudly and took off for parts unknown followed by the other two. Why - probably smelled the burnt gunpowder residue - enough of a foreign smell to spook her.

The whole point is, had I been patient with the two deer on this recent hunting trip - I likely would have scored some venison for the table. There is no way to know how you will react and then continue to act in any given circumstance. Other deer have fallen to my guns before because I remained patient. This time though, I don't know what it was - was it the hangover of the day before, combined with a lousy night's sleep caused by the howling wind that had me thinking Jacob Marley's ghost was about to introduce me to those other three specters in my hotel room, or just my buddy Arthur I. Tis who always accompanies me nowadays (and is a pain in the neck and back and joints) and who was especially bothersome with that backpack on my back, or if it was just the excitement of seeing a shot present itself like that after my not having bagged a deer in a few years now - but patient I was not. In fact, I was so impatient as to have completely disregarded, in fact forgotten, all about the other deer that was watching me as I raised my rifle. While I can blame a lot of things for my impatience it all comes down to it being me who is still hunting and that is what happens to most hunters who try to Still Hunt!

Mind you, I did have one more opportunity to hunt coming up. That would have been today. Truth be told tough, while I faced lots of perils in my life, especially during my 30 year career as a federal agent, I can say without a doubt I was not brave enough to go at it again. Maybe it was just the prospect of spending another night facing the unknown - I mean who knowingly plans on getting hangover, or trying to sleep in noisy, drafty hotel on a windblown night, or to walk through the woods in the dark as huge limbs crash to the earth after being broken by a gale. So I decided to take the safer course and to head for home last night, besides that I was just not patient enough to give it another day and as I have said somewhere before - patience is required. Funny, I am not a patient guy at home but I can be while out hunting. Anyway, I would rather face the prospects of an accident with one of the many crazed and raging impatient motorists on the New York highways, even the part of it through sections of New York City, than to face the prospect of hoping another day would do the trick. That would mean that I would have had to have remained patient enough and have all else go right enough again other than having my hopes come crashing down as did that tree limb in the windstorm - or those deer go crashing through the woods - both scenes not witnessed and unthought-of by any but one impatient man.

I decided to be patient and wait until next weekend or the one after that because until the season ends, tere is always next weekend, or the one after that, if I can get one of our cars. Who knows, maybe by then I will have gone over this failed hunt enough times in my mind to really learn the lesson that I should have already known about patience and Still Hunting. If not, then maybe I will, at least, embarrass myself into getting it right the next time I have a dream shot like that with a deer only 15 yards away presenting itself broadside to me. And no, no matter what you may be thinking by now, I do not mean to infer that I was dreaming when it happened.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner Over And All Gone - I Am Going Hunting...

Well dinner is not all gone, there are plenty of leftovers even though we had a pretty small bird at just over 10 pounds for this year's dinner. We also had butternut squash with lots of garlic, stuffing made with corn muffins, pecans, almonds, shitake mushrooms, raisins and whatever else was in there (some made in the bird, the rest made in a casserole dish in the over), baked potatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. What a dope, I should have taken a picture because not only did it taste great but it was picture perfect too! Only Linda, myself, Celina, Brendan and my mother-in-law were together this year.

Celina and I took my mom out last night. She is in an assisted living place and has a hard time walking any distance and stairs. Since she cannot make it to our bathrooms what with the stairs to climb we went to her to take her out; my sister, brother-in-law and nephew will visit with her today. My brother is otherwise engaged and cannot make any dinner's tonight, and my sister-in-law (his wife) is going to her relatives for dinner. Of my wife's 2 brothers, one is working and the other had other plans for today.

Now that dinner is out of the way, it is time for me to go pack whatever I need to go hunting again - almost all of it is already packed though. Brendan has to stay home to get homework done and to study for finals so I will be afield solo. It is going to get him fairly upset, while at the same time making him happy, if I get one when I am by myself. I will miss him for sure. I have a full belly, the car has a full tank of gas, I have a shotgun and a rifle to bring along - and this time I will not forget a 22 pistol too for squirrels while I am out with either the slug barrel on the shotgun or the rifle - and heck, I have got to go soon so I had best finish up here.

Hope all of you had a very nice and happy Thanksgiving. For those of you who are under the weather, ill or otherwise, you are in my thoughts and I said a prayer for you before dinner. I did likewise for our guys and gals in Harm's way on foreign soil too. Hopefully they had something to celebrate today with the news that our commander in chief is finally supposed to announce his plan to win the war in Afghanistan - well to increase troop numbers anyhow. I truly do not know if we can win with him in command. I hope we can. That is more than enough about politics - I just wished you a happy Thanksgiving and meant it too, so I do not need to ruin your day with more political babble.

Probably no blogging from me until Sunday night.

All the best,
Glenn B

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanting to wish all of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Funny Thing About Coincidence... happens right when you least expect it. Today, I found out that a blogger whom I link to and whose blog I have enjoyed for years, has cancer. I was shocked and saddened and very surprised I had not realized such sooner since I do read his blog but somehow missed it.

Then, maybe an hour, or two later at the most, I found out that my father is dying of cancer and needs to go into a hospice. Again I was not keeping in touch as maybe I should have but then again he and I have not kept in touch. It has been a very cold relationship - really no realtionship at all for years now - that I will not go into further.

It just amazes me how coincidence works, that I would learn, in one day, of two people I know having cancer. It is often said that bad news, or bad things, come in threes. I certainly hope not.

All the best,
Glenn B

Soldiers' Holiday Care Package Donations

Well, it is one day before Thanksgiving and not one red cent has been donated to my drive for the Soldiers' Holiday care packages for my assigned solider from Soldiers' Angels this year. To say the least, I am amazed and puzzled. Over the past 2, or is it 3, years you all have been very generous. I can say that without a doubt the soldiers have appreciated that very much. Maybe I just have not publisized it enough - so I have moved the link for donations to the top right side of my blog page. It is now much harder to miss.

Time is running short for me to be able to go out shopping and to get the packages sent out in time for the holidays. It would really help to raise the spirits of our young men and women on foreign soil, who are protecting our freedom, if we could get together to send them some special and extra nice gifts for Christmas and Chanukah as we have done in the past. I do not care how much you donate, even a dollar would help.

All donations (after PayPal takes it cut) go toward the purchase of items that go into the packages. I pay all shipping costs out of my own pocket and I donate at least $25 for the purchase of items per package we send.

I also want to take the opportunity here to thank Al S. and Jim McK. from my job for their donations, for my current soldier, that went to the package I sent out prior to the Holiday Care Packages.

All the best,
Glenn B

Right Wing Prof. - Keep Him In Your Prayers

Right Wing Prof. of Right Wing Nation and of Central Pennsylvania Orthodox is ill, very ill. He has cancer, and it does not sound good, in fact it sounds dismal - yet somehow he sounds strong. I have enjoyed his writing for a few years now but apparently had not been keeping up with my blog reading because I was absolutely shocked to find out about his health problems. I remember reading in October that he had fallen and fractured his spine and wound up in the hospital; then the next thing I realized was that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer of a type that metathesizes in the bones.

Heck, I just realized, I do not even know the man's name. Yet, there are tears in my eyes just from knowing him through his blog - Right Wing Nation.

Please, keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deer Hunt Results: Us - Still Hunting, Deer - Still Laughing; My Advice: Bring a Squirrel Gun on a Deer Hunt

What could be better than a couple or three days of deer hunting in the woods with your son? Well, for me three days in the woods with my son could only have been made better had we at least seen a deer! Man - this hunting on state land ain't easy; it sure is a lot tougher than hunting on a farm or on any private property of which you know the lay of the land and to which you visit frequently. When my uncle owned his farm, not 2 miles from where we chose to hunt this year, I saw deer on almost every hunting trip I made there. Sure, sometimes I saw only does and fawns when I did not have a doe permit, and other times I saw deer to far away to get off a shot with my shotgun, and other times I just missed the shot, but I did see deer. This hunting on state land though baffles me. Of course I went on a few scouting trips to the spot at which we wound up. I did all the things the books and outdoor magazines say to do. I have been there before too, many times over the years, and I know where deer sign has been over the years, same place as it is now. Yet, we did not see even one white hair of a white-tailed's tail! Our trip was disappointing in that regard but it had other rewards.

Brendan and I got out in the woods together on Friday, the day before deer season. I do not like going to my stand that soon before the hunt, I would rather visit my stand a week before the hunt but Brendan had not been there yet this year. I wanted him to be able to get out there before the hunt to see where it was that we would be hiking to at zero dark 30 on opening day. Less chance of an accident that way. While we looked around we made sure that we had the Remington 870 with the 28 inch barrel attached to it. That way, should we stumble across some turkey or some squirrels we might wind up with dinner. Brendan spotted a gray squirrel about 25 to 30 yards away and pointed it out to me. He had a perfect shot but the thing was he did not take it. When I asked why he pointed it out to me instead of shooting it, he said he thought it was too far away. Granted 30 yards would be about the maximum range for effective hunting with that gun, but I think it was within that range. Oh well - one missed opportunity.

Come Saturday and opening morning of deer season we set out from our room at Motel 6 in Binghamton, NY toward Windsor at about 0330-0345. We got to the hunting area at about 0410. Not to cold but certainly not warm out at the time but we were ready for it. We grabbed what gear we needed and headed out into the woods with small LED headlamps for illumination. used to be illegal for deer hunters in New York to go afield with lights and deer rifles or slug guns, but thankfully times have changed and now I do not have to commit a criminal act to avoid falling over a deadfall or into a woodchuck hole as I walk through the dark forest with my hunting gun. We, as rote, walk the woods with unloaded guns in the dark for safety reasons; we only load at out stands. I imagine though some others trudge through the woods with loaded gun at that hour and without a light the footing can be treacherous. The combination of loaded gun and walking through darkened woods is one that adds up to the potential for disaster so it is a good thing lights are now okay. Of course, it would be better if everyone also kept their guns unloaded until they reached their spots but not everyone is as safety minded as are we when it comes to guns.

We both walked to Brendan's stand. I wanted to make sure he would not miss it. That would have been difficult what with all the orange tape and reflective tacks I had marking the trail but I am the ever watchful father and will be for life (I helped him make it this far and plan to help him keep going for as long as I can). So, even if he is 19 and about to be 20, I walked to his stand with him and gave him deer hunting advice along the way. Then I went off on my own back to where I planned to make my stand. We sat on stands about 1/6 to 1/4 of a mile apart (yeah, I know - if you don't deer hunt you are wondering why we 'sat' on a 'stand' - some other time for the explanation). As for the site we chose for Brendan it was in a natural funnel that had the deer coming into it from from a homeowners green grassy lawn and apple trees. There was a lot of deer sign. There were a few deer trails coming out of a swampy area (which was between his stand and the grassy area), one coming from along a stream (the stream that fed the swamp), and a few coming out of the woods. There was deer poop galore. His spot had at least 7 scrapes with 50 yards, most within 25 yards. Those scrapes were active too!

So what did he see - a woodpecker, a squirrel, some chickadees. The chickadees were right over his head pecking at the tree under which he sat and looking for whatever it is that peck at when flying from bush to tree to bush. I am always amused by their antics and get kind of a feeling of satisfaction knowing that wild birds come so close to me when I am out hunting. Brendan, on the other hand, was a bit put off and shooed them away because he was worried they would bomb him with bird droppings. I never quite thought of that before, I told him it would have brought him luck. He did get a kick out of watching them though. As for the squirrels, Brendan had our Marlin 336 in .35 Remington, ready for deer. As tempting as those squirrels must have been to shoot at, especially the one who gave him the squirrel finger (shaking of a curved tail), he restrained himself and kept up his hopes for a deer. I am happy he did because there would not have been much squirrel left had he hit one anyplace other than the head with a .35 Rem.

My spot was near where a buck had a veritable playground when it came to rubs and scrapes. There were a few scrapes and at least 6 rubs within 25 yards of my stand. There was a trail going north/south and one going east/west. It was not so much in a natural funnel as was Brendan's spot, but was a spot well traveled by a buck that meant business. The scrapes nearby looked to be pretty recent. I had two possible spots picked out in y area at which to make my stand but as it turned out I moved to yet another spot. Same area, just a better spot for my stand. As I sat there, for the hour and a half or so before first light, my hopes were high - not so much for me getting a deer but for Brendan. It would be his first if he got one. Just before sunrise, and legal shooting time, shots rang out from the other end of the state land and from somewhere down in that direction but across the road. As usual some hunters were at the right spot but were firing at the wrong time. I had instructed Brendan that if he saw a deer he was to wait until legal hunting time. He is pretty good in such regards and I am pretty certain he would have waited. I told him if he saw one in the faint early morning light, chances are it would not be too far off by legal shooting time and he could call it within range if need be. Thing is he did not see any.

As for me, I did not see any deer either. I had hoped that since most hunters hunted this piece of state land at the northern end, we would get any that were spooked by them and that came down toward the southern end. No such luck. Now when you sit out in the woods, virtually for two days, in one spot or another, you begin to wonder have you done something wrong when you do not see any deer. I have done some thinking about that and here is what I came up with:

*Our stands were in areas well traveled by deer.

*We were pretty much scent free if not totally so. I washed the clothing in a good detergent made for hunters and we sprayed down with scent blocker before the hunts each day (all good enough on my successful deer hunts and on Brendan's successful bear hunt).

*We moved slowly when we needed to move.

*We stayed quiet except when calling or rattling or when we too a break and jawboned a bit (and that was not much).

*We had a scent trail and scent markers set properly.

*Our outfits, though blaze orange, were of the camo variety. (Deer are colorblind and thus the camo in blaze orange is actually camo in their sight although it is a bright warning to other hunters that we are indeed hunters - not an animal to be hunted.)

*We had other animals approach within close proximity of us either not seeing us seeing us and just not being fearful of us.

Since we did not even see deer at a distance, let alone close to our stands, I figure it was either crappy luck or bad choice of a stand site. Yeah I know there was plenty of sign, but maybe it was all just from bucks. I read, not too long ago, that to find bucks during the rut you need to find the does. That makes sense, next year I have to remember that and scout out where the does are going. Bucks are sure to be there too.

Now as for my hunting experience, I was very disappointed that I did not hear Brendan take a shot. I was also disappointed he did not even see a deer - especially the one that I think walked right up to a scent pad he had placed on the trail near his stand on day two. Deer tracks clearly showed a deer had walked up the trail, and then turned in right where the scent pad hung from a branch as if the deer had sniffed it, then turned back to the trail and walked on. Brendan did not hear or see the deer and I figure he must have been asleep. He said he did not sleep that whole second day. I have to wonder because they sure looked like fresh tracks and Brendan did not have a scent pad on the first day (we did have others up around the area though). Since he readily admitted sleeping on and off on day one, I had to believe him that he at least thinks he did not fall asleep on day two. He also admitted that he fell right out of his chair when sleeping (we bring along those fold up chairs with nylon seats). Now with honesty like that - who could not believe him when he said he did not fall asleep on day two? Of course, since the leaves in that area were still wet, I suppose a deer could have crept up and gotten away without being heard or seen if Brendan's attention was on something else at that time, or if he was day dreaming. The scent pad was behind Brendan over his right shoulder so it is quite possible. Oh well!

My hunt was not all disappointment. I was happy to have Brendan along, he makes a great hunting partner. He is nice to be around, he is a safe gun handler, he has good hunting ethics (just read above where he did not take a shot because he thought it was too far off), and he is my son. I have hunted by myself for years so it is always nice to have a partner and better yet when it is Brendan. Besides that I had some other fun while on my stand. It was while I was on my stand on day one that I realized, or is it that I remembered, that I should always bring a pistol or revolver in .22LR along on a deer hunt. Why? For squirrels - what else! The first gray ghost I saw was scampering along the branches about 8 feet off of the ground about 20 yards in front of me. He mad his way down to the ground, then onto a tree trunk only about 10 yards from me at most. That took him about half a minute what with frequent stops to look about for danger and to nose around in the branches looking for a meal. I followed his movements turning my head as I watched. I moved as if to pick up my shotgun and aim in for a shot. He did not notice me and if he did he was not afraid of me. He was a nice plump one ready for the long winter and I am sure he would have been good eating, that is had I had anything smaller than a once ounce shotgun slug with which to hit him. Later on, as I dozed meditated and pondered nature, under the tree where I made my stand, with tree trunk at my back, I heard a rustling sound in the leaves. I though - a buck cometh - but as I opened my eyes, which were pointing up because of the backward tilt of my head at that precise moment in mid snore, I saw a bushytail directly overhead. There was another fat little bastardsquirrel on a branch not 7 or 8 feet over my head - just sitting there chattering a bit. He then walked to the end of the branch, looked around sideways and up and down, then jumped to the branch of a nearby tree, just the next in a long line of branches that make up his woodland highway. He sat on the next branch for long moments, maybe as much as 45 seconds to a minute, before giving me the equivalent of the finger in squirrel language and with those quivers of his tail he turned and bounded to yet the next branch then onto a tree trunk about 20 feet from me where he made himself the perfect target for a 22 handgun shooter. Alas, the 22s were all home in the gin locker. I also saw a red squirrel in the same area. Later on, thinking maybe another point of view would be better from which to spot deer, I changed my vantage point by moving a bit further from the deer trail and to higher ground. It did not accomplish helping me to see any deer. What I did see though were two other squirrels easily with pistol distance at about 7 yards away. The next day I hunted further away from Brendan but on the same trail I had been on day one. This time I sat right near the scrapes and rubs. All I saw was one gray and one red squirrel. Had I brought along the 22 I could have had enough squirrels for a decent sized meal but as it turned out those squirrels just had their fun teasing me by coming so close that I almost could have jumped up and grabbed one or two of them. So folks, that was my long way of saying, as far as I can tell, it was not any movement on our part that had spooked the deer away. One other thing - you can bet I'll bring a .22LR handgun next time I hunt deer because I am more than willing to have a few squirrels cooking in the pot when there is no venison for the broiler.

A couple of other quick things about the hunt before closing: I also did a bit of still hunting (for you non-hunting types let me just say that 'still' hunting means you are moving, walking through the woods or stalking game - go figure wacky terminology). For my efforts I was rewarded with a find of a pile of bear poop. Too bad for me, and lucky for it, that I did not see the bear. I saw some deer sign but not as much, not anywhere near as much, as close to our stands (remember that is where we sat while hunting - wacky terminology again).

One of the best things about the trip was that Brendan did about 90% of the driving. It is nice to have a young hunting partner along. Had we gotten a deer or a bear, not only would he have done most of the driving, he would have done a lot of the dragging! I'd bet though after that, I would have at least done the driving on the way home. For now, I am doing the laundry, a good amount of it for just three days worth of clothes being that we had hunting clothes and regular clothes along. All in all the deer (and their buddies the squirrels and probably their spies the chickadees) are still laughing (I guess they are imagining me doing the laundry), we are still looking for a deer, and I am kicking myself in the head for not bringing a 22. There is always this coming weekend though, I'll be up there gun in hand and hope Brendan will be with me; I don't think not getting one has smashed his hopes just quite yet. Was that the end of cycle signal I just heard? You can bet it was! Gotta go and do more laundry to keep those deer and squirrels laughing.

All the best,
Glenn B

A New Shooting Sport

I can only wish that someday I could own, enjoy and afford the range set-up in the embedded video. It sure looks like fun.

All the best,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off To Hunt We Go... I am sorry to have to inform you that there will be an absolute paucity of blogging by me for the next 4 days. Brendan and I will be leaving for upstate NY after he gets home from his classes today and after we are done packing. I said we because while he already put his clothes in a bag, I am not about to get all the gear together by myself. That could only mean, that when we arrive at the hunting area, we would be missing something for sure, what with my muddled middle aged memory. Better to share such responsibilities anyway and not leave it all on one person's shoulders.

So, for now, that is it! I have to get the clothes out of the dryer. Then I have to start packing the hunting clothes and gear. I'd best remember to grab the cooler out of the garage too, and to make some sandwiches for the trip. Ice, got to get ice! Aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhh! Gotta go.

All the best,
Glenn B

New Addition to the Blog Roll

Smoke signals - this one may become addictive. It is on my blog list under: Rootin - Tootin - Shootin Bloggers. I found it by way of a comment left at The Jungle Hut (thanks Rita).

All the best,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ballseye's Gun Shots 39 - Range Report - Remington 513T Matchmaster

I had a lot of good things to say about the Remington 513T Matchmaster in the post immediately prior to this one. The proof of a rifle though is in the shooting. I took it to the range this afternoon, and set up targets at the 50 foot line. The targets were NRA standard 50 foot rifle targets for 22's. The black bull's eyes are 1 3/16 inches across if I measured right. As you can see I am posting 2 pictures. The reason I am only posting 2 pictures is because I only shot at two targets. Each has 12 bull's eyes. In all I only shot at 18 of those in the hour that I was shooting and the total number of rounds I fired was 88. It would have been 90 but I ran out of a particular brand of ammo and just shot the last three of that offhand, and that was not too shabby. For all the other shots, I fired them from a seated position, arms resting on the bench, with a coat folded up and placed between my arms and the bench surface. Yeah I know, really professional, but obviously it worked just fine.

As for the ammo, I fired a variety. Some was just cheap stuff, which is the bulk of the .22LR ammo that I have. Some was more expensive but nothing of the high end target type ammo used by competition shooters. Ammo types I shot were: CCI Blazer, CCI Mini Mag, Federal's American Eagle, Federal Champion (target velocity), Remington Thunderbolt. Nothing special as far as .22LR ammo goes, some of it even considered to be pretty low end - the CCI Blazer and the Remington Thunderbolt. There can be some surprises though when you expect something to be junk and it isn't. A look at the targets will show you what I mean. Click on each to enlarge it. They are annotated to show which ammo was used on each bull's eye, and as to group size. All groups were 5 shots except for one in which I fired 4 because I made a mistake when I loaded the mag, and the other because I ran out of ammo - so I discounted both of them. As for measurment of group size, I measured the widest spread from the outside rim of one to the oputside rim of the other. I think that is not the proper way to do it
and that normally you would measure from the inside edge of one shot to the outside edge of the other. That would have been tough since the groups were pretty tight. It was just easier to measure the way I did it but had I done it the right way then the group sizes would have been a bit smaller, maybe by as much as 2/16" for some groups.

Looking at the first target, you can see that every shot is to the left of center. I probably had not fired this rifle for at least a year, maybe as many as 2 or 3 years, prior to today and do not recall if it was sighted in right before or not. It is possible that the sights got messed up during a cleaning or moving or rearranging of the gun locker. Whether or not it was shooting at the center of the target is inconsequential for all the shots on that target. The thing was that it was shooting pretty consistent groups and all groups were to the left. That was good. A bit of twiddling with the sights and the result was target 2 where many more shots are at center of the bull's eyes. The groups on the second target are not too shabby but I could not again achieve the best two groups on target 1 which were only 6/16" across each.

When I was shooting on the second target, I think know I was getting a bit rattled by two other shooters who just would not stop talking, one of them was exceptionally loud. Even with all the shooting going on all I heard was him. It was friggin annoying. I was about to say something to them when I noticed one of them pointing his shotgun directly across the firing points at a right angle to all of them next to his. In other words, had he let one loose, it probably would have injured or maybe killed a shooter on one of the other points. Lucky for them there were no other shooters at that moment, the other two guys in that bay of shooting points had already left. So, I gave them a good but restrained lesson in where to point firearms, when to have a finger on the trigger, and to consider all guns as loaded. They both listened and I think they got it too. That was it for me though, no more shooting. My getting annoyed combined with the strain of trying to shoot as well as I could , and taking my time doing it, had me at the point where my shots would not be getting any better.

By the way, yes it is pretty stressing to try to shoot as well as you can when hand holding an 8 to 9 pound rifle even if resting on the bench. Maybe I should invest in some shooting bags or a rifle rest. I suppose that working out a bit to better develop my arm muscles might also help, heaven knows I have not worked out recently because of Arthur I. Tispain. No excuses though, and heck I don't need any, I shot pretty good for a muddled minded middle aged guy whose eyes are not what they once were back in my day. In closing, I have to say that the Remington 513T Matchmaster is one heck of a tack shooter and is obviously capable of better accuracy than it can get with my finger on the trigger.

All the best,
Glenn B

Ballseye's Gun Shots 38 - The Remington 513T Matchmaster

The Matchmaster was tucked away snugly in the far corner of the gun locker. It had been there for a long time, all but forgotten, among its more used companions. It came out now and then to be inspected and cleaned and then was gingerly placed back into its corner. As far as shooting went, it had not been fired in well over a year maybe even two.

There is no acceptable reason for neglect of the type I just mentioned; and I readily admit - I am guilty of it. The remedy ofcourse is at hand and later today I plan to head to the range. Yes, the Remington 513T Matchmaster will be there with me. Sometimes, we forget old friends but when we remember them and get together with them again it is always a good time. That is how I anticipate my time at the range with this rifle later today - a good time. As far as actually shooting it goes, I expect it will shoot better than I can aim or deserve it to do. A funny thing about this rifle is that when I bought it, it had been tucked away, probably forgotten, in a gun cabinet with a for sale tag on it, at a local sporting good store. It was a part of the owner's personal collection of firearms. I just took a look at the receipt for it, that too had been tucked away and forgotten, though a lot longer than was the Matchmaster. I bought it in January 1999 - almost 11 years ago for $271.25. He was asking $250 and that is what I paid - plus tax of course - this is NY after all! To me it seemed like an awful lot to pay for a .22 rifle back then, but it was in fact a good deal.

The rifle was impressive back then, heck it still is now. It is a hefty boomer, I don't know the weight but my guess is around 8 to 9 pounds. For a .22 rifle that is pretty heavy. It is a bolt action repeater with a 6 round magazine. The stock is wood with high gloss finish, the metal is all blued steel. The Globe front sight is hooded and has interchangeable inserts. The shame of it is I have three of the same inserts for it. I also have another two inserts made of orange plastic. It might be interesting to use them someday as I cannot recall ever shooting with them before. I think it would be possible to insert them along with one of the metal inserts. Sort of sunglasses for the front sight. The rear sight is a fully adjustable Redfield peep sight with positive click stops. The barrel on this rifle is a heavy target type and is 27 inches long. Not as big around as some made today but not a narrow one by a long shot. It is drilled and tapped for a scope mount. On the bottom of the forend there is a multi position sling swivel base, another feature found on target rifles. The swivels were attached, and along with them came a really nice leather sling. All in all, with its weight, the leather target sling that came with it was a very good thing. The rifle is in excellent condition. There is a chance that the wood was refinished at some point, I am pretty certain of that especially with the fingerprint in the varnish. Sadly there are a few scratches to the surface finish of the wood, but only minor ones. The metal has not been refinished and is in 98%+ condition.

They were made between 1940 and 1968(1). I know when I bought this rifle, but I am not sure of when it was manufactured; from what I can see by the date code that is stamped on the barrel it was either made in 1941 or 1963. The code of which I speak is a 2 letter code, the second letter distinguishing the year of manufacture. The second letter on mine is a K and as far as I can find out, K is assigned to both 1941 and 1963 (2). There is a good chance this was one of the two or three types of rifle I shot at summer camp many - many - moons ago in the mid to late 60s. I remember they were heavy as is this one, heavier then I suppose, when I was a stringbean of a kid.

As far as shooting it goes, I pretty much said it all above. It shoots better than I can aim. This was manufactured as a target rifle and it will hit where you aim it and if you can aim at the same spot and hold it there consistently when you squeeze off a shot then it will hit there consistently if using good ammo.

If you are in the market for a fine rifle in .22LR, this could be it - well not this particular one - mine is mine. Of course, you need some money to buy one and they are not inexpensive. I saw a similar one today at that already had a bid of over $550 on it. That is an increase over 100% in value compared to the price at which I bought mine. Not a bad investment in 11 years.

All the best,
Glenn B

2. and

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ballseye's Gun Shots 37 - Guns of the Hunt

Guns of the Hunt - sounds like it could be the title of a Capstick or Ruark book, or maybe even something by Theodore Roosevelt - a title that is more than just about guns, and more than just about the hunt. Truth be told though, for the purposes of this blog, while there may be some talk of guns there is no great hunting story - at least not yet. You see the hunt has not yet begun, at least not this season's deer hunt. I was lucky enough to get away over the weekend to do some scouting for deer sign and found plenty of it. As could be expected of me, I brought along a few guns just in case. In case of what? You know in case I stumbled across a turkey that was lost or a squirrel with a death wish. I actually almost came across a flock of turkeys. As I was scouting out hunting area and hiking at the same time with my trusty Remington 870. I heard a raucous commotion in the woods not far ahead. There were leaves rustling madly, branches cracking and what sounded like antlers banging into one another. I was sure, I mean absolutely certain, that I was about to sneak up on two buck locked in combat. What happened was not quite what I had expected. I got close to the commotion, even saw some branches moving in the undergrowth. Then nothing so I sat down with a good sized tree to my back and waited. Then I heard some turkeys cackling or whatever they call it. Not gobbling, this was more like hen chatter. After about 10 minutes I chattered back as best I could. Next thing you know, I was talking turkey to a turkey and yes it was answering me. This went on for about 20 to 30 minutes, then dead silence. After another minute or two I could hear what sounded like several birds walking away from me very stealthily. I guess I screwed up and either they saw me or I cackled too many times. I figure they were not more than 40 to 50 yards away and even thought I caught a brief glimpse of one as they approached me - then as I said - they took off in another direction. Oh well, the hunt is most assuredly not just about the kill. I had a great time and cannot remember having that much anticipation in a long time. Well maybe almost as much as when I thought it was two bucks engaged in combat! As a matter of fact, I am none too sure there had not been two bucks dueling it out; the sound of antlers rattling together was unmistakable and I cannot imagine a turkey making a noise like that. Now the bucks may have been right near a flock of turkeys - for all I know they were spectators as I had hoped to be. Really folks, this is no tall tale -this is how I perceived it while in the woods. Of course, there is a chance all that noise was being made by another hunter but he would have to have been mighty foolish to have been trying to rattle deer and talk turkey and take the chance of getting both a deer hunter and a turkey hunter thinking he was what they were seeking. Actually, there was turkey and deer sign all around, so I figure it may have been both types of animal making all the noise and they were close to one another by coincidence or because of a mutual food source.

Now, back to those guns, after all I said there was no hunting story here - didn't I! I brought three guns on my weekend trip: the Remington 870 mentioned above - mainly for turkey, a Ruger 10/22 All Weather (my son's) - mainly for squirrel, a Sig in .40 S&W caliber - mainly as a self defense carry sidearm. The Sig came with me everywhere, the 870 was with me in the woods just about every minute I was out there, and the Ruger - well it stayed in the car except for a short hike during which I hoped to bad a squirrel or two. I did not seen even one. That is okay though because I did see lots of something for which I was looking and that would be plenty of deer sign.

Thanks to this second, or is it my third scouting trip prior to this season's opening, I have a pretty good place selected from which to do some whitetail deer hunting. Being it is on state land there is always the chance someone else will have his big fat butt seated right on the spot that I selected for my big fat butt and for Brendan's much slimmer butt but those are the chances one must face when hunting on public land. I marked off the spot and two stands with orange tape and am hopeful no one else will tear it down or be attracted to my spot by it. I do not care if others hunt nearby, I just figure that they should respect me and the work I did in finding the spot just as I would respect them likewise and therefore am hopeful they will steer clear of it. A good thing about this particular spot is that it is not more than a few hundred yards from the road right where I will be parked. I like not having to drag a deer too far, and this spot is great for that. It is also full of deer sign. There were tracks all over the place, several rubs and a few scrapes. Some of the scrapes are only feet from where there were others last year. Chances are the same buck made them then and this year. Of course, there is a good chance there are doe tracks in the mix of those tracks I saw. As we have an anterless deer permit, I would be more than happy to bag a doe. I am pretty sure Brendan would take either a buck or a doe but being this would be his first deer you can bet I'll pass up any shot I could take on a buck that he can also get his sights on.

We will be leaving on Thursday afternoon. That way we get to hunt the last day of turkey season on Friday. Deer season opens Saturday. With two of us going, I suppose the chances are that more guns will be with us than I had with me this past weekend. Figure my Sig .40, the Remington 870 for deer and maybe turkey and maybe squirrel too, my Marlin 336 in .35 Remington for deer, Brendan's Ruger 10/22 or my Marlin 25MN in .22 WMR (for squirrels), and maybe one of my Mosin Nagants for deer if I am feeling frisky. I may also throw a .22 pistol into the mix for fun. Of course, the chances of us using them all are remote on a three or 4 day hunt, but I like the motto - 'Be Prepared'. Then again, not all of them may fit in the trunk of the Corolla with all our other gear in there but I have been known to be a wiz at packing a trunk and getting more stuff I'd never need into one - just in case. Thursday will tell but it is a safe bet that the 870, the 336 and at least one rifle in .22LR or WMR is also making the trip. Of course, so too will a sidearm. Hopefully whatever we bring for the hunt will not fail at the critical moment (yes that means I am also hopeful there will be that moment of opportunity for a shot at a nice deer) and at least one of us will bag Christmas dinner. You all know me well enough to realize that if only one of us has a shot, I am hopeful it will be Brendan.

Safe and happy hunting,
Glenn B

The Other Side Of Ballseye...

...well maybe not really the other side, just a thing about me that I usually don't talk about. Today I played the happy homemaker the not so happy house-cleaner. About once a year now, for the past few years, I have given the carpets in our living room and basement a good cleaning with a rented carpet cleaning machine. The main reason this came about was because of our dogs and their inability to be housebroken 100% (or would that be the dog owner's fault, in which case I tip my hat to my wife - her dogs - not mine). I am not going to place any blame, I'll just say man a carpet sure can look like crap (and it is actually the wee that makes it look disgusting). Yet, without placing culpability for our messy carpets, especially the one in the living room, I have to wonder what on earth ever made my wife decide to go out and get another mutt while I was away for work in Arizona this spring/summer. Did she go for a medium sized mutt like our Mimi (who is perfectly housebroken) - no she did not! Did she go for another psycho Chihuahua like our little Pepe (after Pepe Le Pew - of course) or a more demure yet sometimes psycho pooch like our little Lucy, our other Chihuahua - no she did not.

What she went for was this, a medium sized puppy that was a fawn and brindle, cuddly, loving, licking (a lot), scrappy ball of fire that is now weighing in at about 53 pounds at 8 months of age. She is full of love, and full of energy, and also full of water - or so it would seem she was until she was housebroken. Wait a minute, allow me to correct myself. Yes, she was full of water, but never for all that long. As it turned out, or should I say as it poured out, it often did so all over the living room, dining room and kitchen. Should someone have thought about this before buying a canine fireplug? Sure she should have thought of it. Did she think of it? No she did not and if she did she did not care about the mess that would ensue. Now mind what you are thinking right about now. Of course we cleaned it each time she had an accident. We used rolls and rolls of paper towels, bottles and bottles of pet accident spray too. You know the stuff if you own a puppy; it is supposed to make the stains disappear like magic.. It all FM though; that would be fucked-up magic because it did not work very well. On the carpet in the basement I could do a cleaning job and make it look like almost nothing had happened. The carpet in the living room being much lighter was a totally different story and it stained with rings around where the puddle had been and that area stained too, just lighter than the rings. It was pretty disgusting.

Now that the wonder dog, who could do no wrong in my wife's eyes no matter how much she wee'd in the house, is finally housebroken the best of all except Mimi, we are left with only Lucy or Pepe doing there thing now and then. Thankfully that is a drop in the bucket compared to what Roxie could let loose. Roxie, that's the big one's name, did I forget to mention that earlier. Well being that they are all mostly housebroken, I decided to clean the carpet. Why my darling dear sweetheart never kept them locked in the crates she has for them, or left them locked in the kitchen (where the floor is linoleum) is of no consequence because the deeds were done and I was left with the mess. So earlier today I was off to see homer. Yep, a trip to Home Depot was called for. I picked up the carpet cleaner and headed home. I got the living room done in about an hour. That included vacuuming, moving only 2 pieces of furniture, (because I moved most of it last night) and cleaning it with the cleaner. Then down to the basement. I was about half way done down there when the machine started to make strange high pitched nosies and to start to smell as if electrical insulation was burning. Back to see Homer again - wouldn't you just have known it what with my luck! Got a brand new machine this time, and a free bottle of carpet cleaner. When I told the gentleman at the counter that I needed more cleaner because the last I had was wasted when the other machine broke down he threw me a free one. That was unexpected and nice. Then back home and I finished up the job after dinner tonight. Well I finished cleaning the carpet. I have about an hour of furniture moving to do yet, but I know enough to allow lots of time for the carpet in the basement to dry before I place furniture back on it lest I get a moldy aroma in a day or two. Luckily my basement is normally very dry even on pretty humid days in the summer. It will recuperate nicely from this bathing experience.

As for the carpets they look pretty good. Now the one in the living room looks like it needs replacing and that is because it does need it but it is clean and decent enough for us not to be ashamed of it if guests come over. As for a replacement, I want to wait until the spring, maybe in May when the weather is mild and we can leave the windows open for a couple to a few days to get rid of the new carpet smell. Then again, if my wife has her way, we will be getting a wood floor installed and throw an area rug over it. We already have solid oak flooring under our carpet but the boards were ruined by the previous tenant's 15 cats. Her being wacky and old meant she did not clean up well. Hmm sounds like a problem for someone I know who owns 4 dogs. I may still see if we can save that floor, or just put drop in wood tiles over it. I would prefer the oak but we did have it refinished and they could not get rid of 2 stained areas. I may just have it stained so dark that those other stains will just blend right in - like walnut or darker. It would save us a bundle. For now the carpet is presentable again, and my wife is having a party on Friday (gals only, when Brendan and I go deer hunting) so I was smart to have gotten it done today - otherwise I would have wound up out in the doghouse where the dogs should have been in the first place!

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, November 16, 2009

Does This Man - Our President - Have Any Clue At All... to just how badly he is representing the Untited States of America and her citenzry around the world? Does he have even one iota of knowledge as to what it means when he bowed so low to the emperor of Japan as to make it look, in my personal opinion, as if he was playing the part of a fool? The bow in Japan is a tradition during which the person who bows lower is admitting that he is subserviant to or owes more respect to the other person. The other person, the one who bows less, is acknowldging the lower standing of the other person simply by not bowing as much and also shows his own self esteem by hardly bowing at all. It is akin to keeping the lower classes and ranks in there places.

What usually happens when the head of state of a country meets with the emperor of Japan, the head of state from the other country may bow slightly out of courtesy and the Japanese emperor will bow likewise. Afterall - thse are, if not equals, then at least both heads of state. If you watch the video closely, you will note that the emperor does indeed bow. He bows about an inch or two - that is it. Obama on the other hand looks as if he just lost his contact lenses or maybe as if he is asking for an apology from the emperor with his first bow, then makes several more bows of lesser tilt. Our country, with this president in charge, must be the laughing stock of the globe. I, for one, am embarrassed by such actions on his part while representing America, but that is my personal opinion. What do you think.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ballseye’s Choices For Care Package & Stocking Stuffers

Well it is again that time of year when we at least start thinking of shopping for the Christmas and Chanukah holidays. Me, I already started my holiday shopping. I got a present for each of the men in my family in my generation and included the next generation too. I’ll not say what it is because someone of them may read this and the surprise would be ruined. Usually, I do not start my Christmas shopping until after Thanksgiving but I saw something for them and knew it was limited in numbers and might be harder to get later so I ordered 5 of them. Thing was, I received them and sent them back for an exchange; the ones I got were not in good condition and they have promised to send ones in excellent condition next time. After all since they are new items they should be in excellent condition!

That’s enough on what I bought already, let me talk start writing about what I set out to pen herein. One of the reasons I already started to shop for Christmas was mentioned above, a limited item on that was available; another reason though is that I started shopping for the Soldiers’ Care Packages I will be sending out over for this holiday season. That just got me in the general shopping mood and being that it is already mid- November I am also in the Christmas shopping mood. Now I have the same problem I have every year when shopping for my family, and I also have the same problem I have had over the past couple of years when shopping for our soldiers who are in Harm’s way. As for my family I have an idea of some nicer gifts that will go to my wife, daughter and son but I need to pick out some stocking stuffers too. I prefer to get them something nice for the stocking along with some goofy and less expensive items too. As for the soldiers, I plan to get them things they can all share, but I also will try as I did in years past to get a gift for each soldier in the unit. Like the gifts I mentioned above, that I have already bought for the men in my family, these will probably be something the soldiers can use and will be pretty happy to receive even if each one of them receives the same exact thing.

This year, as over the last two, I have been assigned a soldier by way of Soldiers’ Angels. It is my job to write to him, to email him, to send him care packages. I just sent out such a package with a long letter. One of the things I asked in the letter was what he could use, another was how many guys/gals are in his unit. I would have emailed him to ask but he gave no email address just his mailing address in Afghanistan - on the front lines near the Pakistani border. Things I sent in this package were wool socks, granola type bars, candy, chewing gum, a wood carving book, a wood carving set, wood blocks for carving, mixed nuts, and some other things that I cannot think of right now. I am hopeful to receive a reply from him that tells me what he and his buddies can use - but even if he never writes back to me, I know what to send. I’ll just send things I have sent to the other couple of guys in the past who were assigned to me by Soldiers’ Angels and to the one other soldier I sent stuff to on my own (someone I never met but whom I had contact with on the Internet before he was deployed).

So what are good things to send to our guys and gals in the military who are on foreign soil. Just about anything in general but there are certain restrictions. First let me start with the restrictions – the do not sends:

Do not send:

Pornography, not even mild pornography
Pork products (to soldiers in Islamic countries)
Firearms, ammunition, explosives or fireworks
Propaganda (such as no anti-Muslim or anti-military books)
Liquids or food stuffs in glass
Anything that freezing will ruin
Anything that heat will ruin (though it should be getting cold over there soon enough)
Mass mailings of religious items
Alcoholic beverages

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, what can you send:

Clothing like hats, gloves, socks (I just sent a 3 pack of very thick wool socks to my soldier), and so on
Batteries (various sizes but think of batteries for things like portable DVD players and Walkmen – so AAA, AA sizes mostly)
Music CDs and Video DVDs (be careful it is nothing that might be considered even mildly pornographic)
Toiletries such as baby wipes, deodorant, scented soap, toothpaste, dental floss, toothbrushes, safety razors, and so on.
Sun Block
Earplugs (the foam variety) in multiple packs (helps them sleep or helps them retain hearing if in an artillery unit)
Books and magazines and newspapers
Small notebooks and pens, or letter writing kits (fancy paper with envelopes)
Candy (try to send stuff that will not melt, send chocolate in late fall and winter)
Chewing gum, bubble gum
Nuts of all varieties (I usually send mixed nuts)
Dried fruits
Beef Jerky
Crackers, and cookies (they may get squashed but you can bet they will get eaten)
Spices for cooking (The first year it was requested I send an electric Crock Pot and spices - and I did just that with your generous help.)
Drink Mixes like Crystal Light
Tea bags and Ground Coffee
Ziploc type freezer bags
Small toys like Matchbox Cars, Slinky, marbles, (stuff they can either enjoy themselves or give to local kids)
Small games, decks of playing cards (often available in 6 or 8 packs), poker chips
Small hobby kits (like the wood carving kit I sent this time round)
A kite flying kit
Small art kits, like pastels or charcoal and drawing paper
Dry graphite lubricant
Eyeglass repair kits
A baseball and glove
A Football
Small Air pump with pin for football
Small breakdown fishing rod kits (they make em pretty small nowadays and you can bet if there is a river, stream, pond or lake there will be fishing getting done even if there are no fish in it – that is just the optimism that comes with being a fisherman)
Pictures of loved ones (if you are a family member or loved one of the soldier)
Letters or cards from anyone who wants to include a note for a soldier (unless you bought it in the store, do not accept any sealed packages or envelope from anyone for inclusion in the care package – make sure you can review the contents)

Some of the things I have included in the previous care packages that I later found out were really well received by the soldiers were sort of the stocking stuffer variety of gifts – with at least one of them for each soldier in the unit. The first year each soldier got at least one flashlight and one pocket folding knife. Last year I do not think I had enough knives and lights to give one to each but it worked out that each soldier in the unit should have received either a knife or light. I have also sent Tobacco products (I have sent cigars and smokeless tobacco – they were both a big hit). I make a point to send enough cigars so each person in the unit can get one.

As for the flashlights please allow me to give an unabashed plug for a particular company. When I first thought of sending flashlights, two years ago, I contacted several flashlight makers and suppliers. I was looking at picking up small hand held lights of the high intensity type. Some agreed to sell them to me at a pretty good discount. Then one of the manufacturers came up with a deal that still chokes me up today. Streamlight of Pennsylvania offered me a deal I could not believe nor one that I could turn down. Angel D., one of their reps, sent me a light and batteries (including batteries in each light and extra batteries for each light) for each person in my soldier’s unit. I think it was something like 10 or 12 flashlights and about 36 batteries. Those lights retailed for well above $55, some places had em as high as $65 – and that is apiece! Then last year, I contacted Streamlight again, but insisting that they offer me a discount so I could buy some lights from them that time. They again agreed to send 12 lights, once again Angel D proving she lived up to her name. I was almost to ashamed to ask her how much she could sell me a few more for because the soldier’s unit last year was bigger than the one the year before. The next thing I knew, I received 16 Streamlights in the mail – all free.

Folks, these were all pretty high end flashlights. Again, they retailed for about $60 apiece and that second time they sent 16 of them. The company that did this is an American company in PA. It is an American made product they sent. It was done for a stranger to send to strangers and all based upon patriotism, good will and trust. They were not going to get an rave reviews in the news for this. For all they knew I was reselling the things. What they did get was my thanks and I conveyed the thanks of the soldiers to them. (What Angel D did not get was a gift I meant to send to her. That is me and my muddled middle aged memory again. I will send her a little something soon – she deserves it.)

What I could give back to Streamlight, I did. I gave recommendations for their products on my blog just as I am doing here. I am not doing this for payment or as repayment, I am doing it out of courtesy to people who really did a nice thing for our soldiers in a war zone. So here goes my spiel.

Folks – read this and read it well – if you are even thinking of buying a flashlight to send to someone you know in the military, or maybe thinking of buying one for family or a friend to put in their stocking this year, or as a gift for a coworker in a fire or police department – or even thinking of getting yourself a high quality light – PLEASE CONSIDER STREAMLIGHT. Heck I bought one for myself last year (lost it already). I also had one from work, lost that one too. I can attest to their usefulness and quality though based on my limited experience with them and based upon what I have heard fro m others. I think they make a great product. Besides that, as I said above, they are great people who have done some wonderful things for our troops; my bet is I am not the only one to whom they sent lights for the troops for free.

Okay, that is it for the unabashed plug.

Back to the idea behind this rant. All the things I mentioned above, that the soldiers can share like food or books or music CDs or cigars, are great items to send to the troops. Other small items, stocking stuffer sort of items, like knives, flashlights, pocket knife sharpeners, and other small durable items that a soldier can easily carry and then keep for the rest of his or her life are greatly appreciated by them. Other durable (and fairly durable) things, that would be for one person alone, are also greatly appreciated. These would include: sunglasses, religious or secular medals (never in bulk), a baseball glove, compasses, gloves, wristwatches, some form of not too expensive jewelry, nail clippers (imagine treasuring a nail clipper but I’d bet they do), a small hardcover book you dedicate to a particular soldier, CD players, and such are all great items to send. (Remember send expensive packages or items insured.)

Now, if you think about it, an awful lot of what I mentioned above would make good stocking stuffers as well as great inclusions for care packages. Of course, I could go on and on and on but I’ll finish up soon. In closing, let me just say - remember, way up above, how I started this piece. Something about 5 things I ordered for the other men in my family for Christmas. I will not tell you what I ordered them but will say they would be great stocking stuffers and yes they are included in the above list.

By the way, if you would like to donate to this years efforts at putting care packages together for my assigned soldier and his unit, you can click on the donation link on the right side of my blog page. Anything will be appreciated and everything I receive after PayPal takes their cut goes directly toward the purchase of items going into the care packages. I will be paying all shipping costs out of my own pocket as in the past.

All the best,
Glenn B