Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turkey Tailed Fungus?

I am not sure what these are called, I think they are called Turkey Tailed Fungus. If that is their name, one can see why. I spotted these while on a walk in the woods on a deer scouting trip a couple of weeks ago. The surprising thing about them seems to be that the fungi have fungus or mold growing on them - the uneven whitish stuff on their surface. Click on the pic for a larger view.

All the best,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Invasion of the Fire Bellied Toads (Bombina orientalis)

A few weeks ago, Brendan, our friend Harry and I drove over to Hamburg, PA to attend the Northwestern Berks Reptile Show. I wrote about it here. When I wrote about it back then, I did not expect Brendan to take care of the 9 Oriental Fire Bellied Toads (which I will mostly just call Fire Bellied Toads for the rest of this post) he picked up at the show. Yep - 9 of em - and as far as I am concrrned that is an invasion force when it comes to frogs entering my home. Not too long after he had them set up in a tank, my fears were realized a bit when, a few of them escaped. I think we are down to 6 of them now. Of the other three, I found only one and that was pretty much mummified when I found it; I suppose the others became likewise long before now. Well, after that first escape, he made sure to keep the enclosure closed tightly. I don't take such things lightly because, especially in the case of amphibians, it often means the animal will die; so I read Brendan the riot act. There have not been any more escapes. Heaven knows, I am familiar with the ability of most reptiles and amphibians when it comes to them being escape artists, just read my previous blog post two entries back from this one.

My biggest fear though was that Brendan would not care for these new acquisitions properly as in the feeding and cleaning department. So far, he has pretty much proved me wrong. I say pretty much because he has, once or twice, let them go a few days too long without feeding (which is not terrible if they are healthy but they should eat at least every other to every three days), and at least twice he has let the tank go without changing the water to the point where it started to smell a bit foul. This is supposedly not great for amphibians as they absorb a lot of chemicals through their skin but I have seen amphibians thrive in some pretty foul water in nature, they are fairly tough. Luckily there were no apparent ill effects for his toads. They are doing very well overall, that is those that did not escape. He has gotten them a small filter for their tank and he seems to have a sort of cleaning schedule - changing the water a couple times a week. As for the feeding, he usually gets them crickets at least a couple to three times per week and dumps them all in their tank at once each time. The toads eat and some cricket survivors live on for a couple to a few more days, that is until the toads get them sooner or later. Then Brendan gets them more crickets. He also feeds them wax worms and has put a few small guppies into the water area of their tank. We have seen them dive in and gobble up guppies a couple of times now, though it only seems like one or three of the toads are adept at this for now. Under Brendan's care, with very little prodding or help from me (of course I paid for the filter) they are thriving. When he got them they were mostly puny, now they are pretty much fairly plump (as in healthy not fat).

As you can see from the pictures, Brendan's toads are of the variety with a fairly bright green back. Some other fire bellied toads are pretty drab brown. All of these toads lack the visible frog ear known as the tympanic membrane and they have truly weird somewhat triangular pupils. They all have fairly warty skin on their backs, and a few warty areas on their ventral surfaces. All of them though have a pretty bright red or reddish orange bellies (some have yellow bellies) and you can see the red belly in two of the pics. As I have heard, when a creature in nature has bright colors on its underside as do these toads, it is a warning for other creatures not to eat them. These toads reportedly can secrete toxins from their skin and that warning would be well taken if this is correct. Personally, I have never seen these secretions though I have handled a lot of these toads. (It is supposedly milky-white so it would show up.)
With frogs and toads, with bright undersides like these, when they are threatened they often arch their backs and expose the brightly colored bellies. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of these toads, in captivity and only have seen a fire belly toad exhibit this behavior once or twice as best I can recall. Maybe they do it in the wild more often and maybe not. I would have guessed they would display this in captivity more often if truly for defense since they take other defensive actions as jumping or darting away and diving under water. Regardless of why they have them, I will say the red bellies make them look pretty neat.

Fire Bellied Toads are also known by their scientific name Bombina orientalis. As the name implies, they are from Asia (thus the 'orient' in the name). They are indigenous to northeastern China, the Japanese islands of Tsushima and Kiushiu, and the Khabarovsk and Primorye regions in southeastern Russia (1). All areas where it gets warm to hot in summer and blue-balls cold in winter, and man oh man that is cold. Note, I said in areas where it gets warm to hot in the summer, that is relatively speaking. These toads are often found at elevations where it warms up in summer but also where it still remains fairly cool in the summer relative to warmer areas of their range. It seems these toads are well adapted to a variety of habitats - all close to bodies of water. They live in various landscapes such as mixed forests (coniferous and deciduous), non-mixed forests of either type just mentioned, meadows, agricultural land, and so forth. They can endure long periods on land as long as the area holds sufficient moisture to keep their skin damp but they do seem to prefer living in or very near to various types of bodies of freshwater. Those would include swift and slow running streams, ponds, lakes, swamps, springs, drainage ditches, and vernal puddles. At the end of summer, the species can be found on land at distances up to few hundred meters from water.

Coming from an area with a temperate climate, they need to hibernate throughout the colder months. They hibernate up to 6 or 7 months out of the year coming out of hibernation in April or May to breed soon after in late spring through the summer. Once out of hibernation they begin to feed voraciously on worms, small insects and other arthropods, both aquatic and non-aquatic. They are opportunistic feeders and as can be seen some will take small fish, at least in captivity. All that feeding gets them ready for breeding and females breed through the season, laying up to about 250 eggs. The young hatch out in the water as tadpoles - hatching begins about 10 days to 2 weeks after the eggs are deposited. They then metamorphose over the next couple of months. After that, if they can avoid natural dangers and find enough food, they can live upwards of 20 years. This probably means that well cared for captive specimens could live at least several years beyond that. Jeesh - toads forever.

As far as keeping them in captivity, they are a commonly kept pet here and in Europe. Most of the ones available are probably wild caught specimens and this would likely account for many of them being pretty skinny when you see them in pet shops or at reptile shows. If wild caught, the possibility of them having internal parasites is fairly high but I must point that even skinny ones tend to fatten up nicely once fed regularly. This could either mean they can tolerate parasites (since they recuperate so well if actually parasitized) or that they were not parasitized and just not fed properly while in transit and lost weight because of that. I tend to think it may be both. As for parasites, if they carry those with an indirect as opposed to direct life cycle, it is quite possible they evacuate them all before too long and wind up parasite free. This would all need more study but would make some interesting work for a herpetologist.

Now that I have gotten some moms and dads on the alert about parasites in these toads, allow me to say they make great pets - the toads not the parasites - especially if you acquire captive bred toads. While many Fire Bellied Toads are still imported, they are becoming more and more available as captive bred. C/B animals are far less likely to have any sort of parasite load and are probably also much less likely to be diseased as could be wild caught animals. Fire-Bellied Toads are no exception, so if you want some, try to acquire captive bred toads.

Oriental Fired Bellied Toads are pretty tolerant of environmental conditions in captivity. They can tolerate fairly cool temperatures in the high 60s to warmer ones in the low to low-mid 80s (Fahrenheit). They usually do not require additional heat if kept at average room temperatures and may require air conditioning in the summer if your place gets pretty hot. Mine have always been kept in our basement at temps that are usually between about 67 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit, they have thrived at those temps.

These toads do not require special lighting but if any live plants are used inside their enclosure then you probably want to use florescent lighting for them (lights optimal for plant growth are available). If you use an incandescent bulb be careful not to allow it to heat up their enclosure too much, it could kill them. If it gets too warm while using one, then decrease the wattage of bulb you are using.

They can thrive in either an aquatic set-up a semi-aquatic set-up or a damp terrarium. In my experience, they tolerate chlorinated water fairly well if not excellently. I usually use water I have dechlorinated either by allowing to sit in a bucket overnight or by use of chemicals but have sometimes forgotten to do either will no ill effects. I do not think it is the chlorine in the water itself that directly causes the problems for amphibians but rather the fact that chlorine so readily reacts with other chemicals and minerals to create toxins. So it is probably best to dechlorinate it whenever you can. I strongly recommend you do this in summer; maybe it is just me but I would swear I can smell the chlorine in my local water supply in the summer and usually cannot in the colder months of the year. I am guessing they increase the chlorine in the water during the summer because the warmer temps probably increase the risk of bacteria in the water.

As for size of their enclosure, I have kept up to about a half dozen of them in a 10 gallon aquarium. I prefer the aquatic or semi-aquatic set-ups for them and give them a water area that is only about 6 inches deep at most. Usually, I provide a water area that is about 3 to 4 inches deep and I change the water about every 2 to 3 days, with an area on which they can haul themselves completely out of the water. I either use something like a smooth rock or a brick placed in the enclosure, or I may use a piece of something that floats like decorative cork bark. Better yet, my son has them in a semi-aquatic set-up with a relatively small water area maybe 8" long x 6" wide x 3" deep that is filtered by a mini-submersible filter. The rest of the enclosure has a land area that is pretty much always damp. It consists of piled up gravel, a piece of drift wood and a fake piece of drift wood to hold the gravel in place, some long cut sphagnum moss, planted bamboo shoots, a half of a coconut husk for a hiding spot and a fake rock background (made out of foam). The enclosure itself is a glass vivarium with 2 front-side glass doors and screen top. Make sure whatever type of enclosure you use is escape proof. These toads are good climbers and can climb glass especially in the corner of the tank, and ours even climb up the fake rock background. (Brendan's 3 escapees got out of a temporary tank on which the lid was not fastened properly.)

As far as feeding them goes, that is pretty easy. They will eat about anything small enough to swallow that crawls close enough to them. This included crickets, wax worms, small earthworms or trout worms. (You can cut the worms to small enough sizes and as long as the worm part wriggles it is fair game) and as I said above some will eat small fish. Crickets and wax worms are almost always readily available at pet shops nowadays. Try to feed them a variety of prey items. Crickets are okay a lot of the time but much better if supplemented with waxworms and other food items on a regular basis. Some pill bugs from your garden might also be relished, Brendan's gobble em down. Small earthworms are easy enough to find but be wary of those, or any insects, from a garden recently treated with insecticides or fertilizers. Trout worms, available at tackle shops and even at Wal-Mart, are another good choice. Keep their diet varied for best results.
We feed ours about every other day although feeding them daily is okay. As I said above sometimes we feed them a little less often but place enough crickets in the enclosure to then last them a few days. Be careful of the size of cricket you feed them, keep them pretty small. Large adult crickets might wind up preying on the toads. If you keep these guys in an aquatic set up, always supply something on which the toads and the food items can stay on to keep out of the water. Most of these bugs drown easily. Remove any dead food items from the tank as soon as possible to avoid a stinky mess; if you keep it clean you will have healthy and happy toads and stay happy yourself. Speaking of cleanliness, change the filter medium when needed. Also change about 1/2 the water weekly, with dechlorinated water.

As far as these toads being pets, I do not handle mine except maybe when cleaning their enclosures (which I give a complete take-down and cleaning about 2 or 3 times a year and smaller cleanings weekly) or when checking them for health purposes. These toads are not really slimy critters, but do seem slightly slimy, and while I am not averse to being slimed, it does a frog or toad (and these are very frog-like toads) no good to have this protective coating removed or to become contaminated by oils and salts on your skin. Additionally, if they actually do secrete toxins, you might want to avoid handling them more than needed to avoid the risk of adverse effects from the toxins. In that regard you may only want to handle them while wearing appropriate water-proof gloves. You may also want to make sure that young children and pets can not get to these frogs just in case those alleged toxins are powerful enough to cause harm if ingested. Young children and pets love to put things in their mouths. Always remember to wash up after handling any pet, especially those living in a damp, aquatic or semiaquatic set-up.

All in all, their care is pretty easy, they are easy on the budget, easy on the eyes and their vivarium or aquarium can be a piece of living furniture in your home. Oh, did I forget to mention, besides adding color they can also add some sound to your surroundings. They sometimes chirp and trill but not much in my experience, then again we keep em in the basement and when I hear them up on the 1st and 2nd floors they are not too loud. Breeding season probably gets the most noise out of em - typical of most critters that can sound off - isn't it!

All the best,
Glenn B


Sergius L. Kuzmin (ipe51 AT yahoo.com), Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. 1999-09-30
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2007-12-07)

Natural History And Captive Care References:

Personal Experience (Please note: my advice for keeping these is based upon my personal experience in keeping these toads. That will either be in agreement or disagreement from advice given by others. Any references or info I give are supplied to guide you to help you to find the best way you can care for your own Fire Bellied Toads and are not meant to be the end all be all of toad keeping advice. My supplying a reference or references does not indicate my agreement with the information supplied in them and my giving advice does not necessarily mean that is the best way to keep them - but is merely an example of what has worked for me.)



Breeding References:


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Today In History - Ingrid Bergman...

...was born on this day, August 29, in 1915. On this day, August 29, in 1982 Ingrid Bergman died. She was a great actress and a beautiful woman. If you want to watch some really good movies, watch ones in which she had a part. Any of these would be good picks:


For Whom The Bell Tolls



Joan of Arc

And the list of her films goes on and on all the way up into the year she died. Yes indeed, a great actress, no doubt about it.

All the best,

Glenn B

The Great Escape (Tortoise Style)

Things I find when doing yard work are usually not all that unusual. I am not lucky enough, as far as good luck goes, to find something like a gold ring set with rubies as was my next door neighbor while she was puttering around her garden right next to my property by inches at that). It was worth a few hundred bucks. Nah, my luck runs more like me finding a brown recluse spider crawling up my hand (that was only 2 weeks ago and it definitely was a recluse spider, if not the brown recluse, with the violin pattern on its back); lucky was luck was not very bad that day because I was not bitten. I found the spider in my compost pile under a pile of twigs I was getting rid of. My type of luck also had me find a metal box buried next to my back chimney. I dug it up expecting cash since it was just the right size to hold a nice wad of it and what did I find? Ash from what apparently been burned bones. Why do I think that? Because there were tiny teeth and bone fragments in it. Nope, the police were not interested. Once I found a really nice and smelly cat turd when I was looking for worms in my compost pile. I use the worms to feed my critters (tortoises, salamanders and the like).

My luck is not always stinky though, sometimes I am in the right place at the right time and sometimes I find something a bit unusual in my yard. Today, I found two nice sized holes in the sides of my tortoise enclosure. That was right after I found my male Hermann's Tortoise near one of our two side gates. He would not have been able to fit under the gate unless he dug but they do love digging. I had been out there trimming the bushes and saw him at the gate while I was cleaning up. I put him back into the pen, saw one hole, covered it over with a brick and then counted my tortoises. When I looked for each I saw one of my Redfoot Tortoises making its way out of a hole on the opposite side of the enclosure. Man the wood is really rotting and they are diggings right through it like convicts digging their way out of a prison. Okay, I plugged that hole too. hen counted them all. There were 3 Redfoots, 2 Hermann's and no Russian. The search was on. After about 15 minutes, I found her under a bush keeping cool That was pretty much where I thought I would find her, under a bush, but only after two complete circuits of the backyard looking for her. Missed her the first time round.

All of them are back in the enclosure now but before closing it all up with them in there, I took them all out and gave them a nice long soak in about 2 inches cool of water in a concrete mixing basin. It's their version of a swimming pool. As for their enclosure, I am going to have to build a new one. I thought I had more time to do it after the previous time that one got out through a hole in the side but I guess I had best get it done pretty soon before I really lose one or more of them. The reason this one is so rotten, besides age, is that our local population of carpenter ants loves the wood it is made from, they destroy it building nests in it. It is made from plywood, which the next one almost definitely will not be made from. I am thinking of using pressure treated wood or cypress - or maybe even getting industrious and building a cement enclosure for them. That would be a lot more work but it would last a lot longer. I may have to see how much Home Depot charges to rent a cement mixer and see if they deliver and pick up the rental unit. If it costs too much or is too much of a pain to get to my house, then it will be wood again, just one that lasts loner than plywood. Whatever the new one is made from, it has to be able to withstand the digging prowess of Danny 'The Tunnel King' Velinski (Charles Bronson's character in the Great Escape) x 10; these little critters love to dig.

All the best,
Glenn B

Is The Islamization of the USA Starting Near Ground Zero

You watch this, then you tell me.

All I will say about what I think on it is this: Diversity without unity will lead to the destruction of America. There will be no unity of the diverse to come about from erecting this mosque/Islamic center except maybe if it is they who oppose it who unite. Only disharmony and disunity, between Muslims and non-Musliums, within our truly diverse culture will come about if it is built. Then again, maybe I am wrong, maybe unity will come about if it is built - the unity established once the USA has become a nation ruled by Islam. But whom am I trying to kid, I have not seen a truly united Muslim nation yet - have you?

All the best,
Glenn B

Ballseye's Gun Shots 84 - I'm Dreaming of a New Rifle...

...just like one I could win in this raffle:

Remington 700 BDL 3006 with Nikon Prostaff 3x-9x scope

Ruger M77 Hawkeye in 7mm-08

Marlin .308 MX Lever Action

4. Remington 877 12 gauge, 3.5 inch, synthetic

Winchester 1300 12 gauge pump, wood

Benelli 20 gauge, Nova, synthetic

Marlin XL7 25-06, synthetic

Savage 93F 22 mag. , synthetic

Mossberg Plinkster 22. l.r. Semi-Auto

Knight Wolverine .50 cal. Muzzleloader

They are only selling 700 tickets, as usual. There are 10 rifles up for grabs. I have a 1 in 70 chance of winning, well I really have a 1 in 14 chance of winning - or thereabouts - since I have 5 tickets. My ticket numbers are: 30, 76, 79, 80 and 81. I am betting on ticket number 30 since it is the furthest from the rest of them and therefore the oddball among them. Of course, I have taken my chances over the last 2 or 3 years on this raffle with no luck so I am not buying ammo for any of those rifles yet.

A nice thing about this raffle is that it helps support a sportsman's club that offers CCW classes and soon will have a 4H shooting program. Another nice thing is if you win, you can request your prize in a different caliber than the ones shown above, or for another gun of equal value. All the selections are okay with me gun-wise though I would very likely opt for different calibers on some. Not that I would complain though if I won and could not change. Just winning even the Mossberg Plinkster would make me happy, then again winning the first prize would make me ecstatic! I am keeping my fingers crossed and starting to save my change for the FFL transfer fee just in case!

All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Scouting Trip That Wasn't...

...and all because traffic sucked! It took me about 1 hour to drive to the ramp for the Throgg's Neck Bridge from my house today. Normally that is a 15 minute ride. The road to the bridge was stop and go, but only go real slow. The exit ramp for the bridge was almost at a standstill, so I headed over toward the Whitestone Bridge. The ramp there was likewise. I gave it one more try and headed to the Triborough Bridge, the one furthest west of the three. It was moving at a good clip but as soon as I crossed the span I could see the highway north was virtually not moving so I veered right and went back east to pick up a northbound highway from that direction. I eventually got on the Hutchinson River parkway going north, got just outside of the Bronx and again hit a wall of traffic. I exited, filled the car with gas, then headed back home with the hope I may go tomorrow. Even the ride home was disappointing. All in all it took me three hours and about 20 minutes to travel about as far as I normally would have driven in about 45 minutes had it been clear sailing by NY standards *(which would probably be a fair amount of traffic in most other places).

Oh well, either tomorrow or next Saturday are my other options. Since getting home, the wife, daughter and I took the 4 dogs for a nice long walk. Then I started gathering up some of my gun gear that is strewn around my basement in various nooks and crannies. It is amazing how much stuff can build up in 8 months or so since the last such clean-up. Oh well, back to work.

All the best,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Inglourious Basterds - a review of my 2nd viewing

I saw this movie when it first was in theaters - I guess last year. It was okay as far as acting and such but to tell you the truth, then as now, I will never understand the reason that the screenplay was written nor the reason it ever went on to become a movie. I don't care who wrote it or directed, yes he has made some other great films, but this one is not one of them as I see it. This is the sickest movie I have ever seen, quite possibly the craziest and worst storyline I have ever experienced in any form, and it is an absolute piece of trash in my opinion. I may watch it again another year or more from now to see if it makes any sense to me then as to why this piece of crap, in my opinion, was ever released but that is only because I believe there must have been some twisted thinking that some special message was being sent in it and that has me flummoxed and I do not like being flummoxed.

Maybe the message was for Germans, maybe for Nazis, maybe for Jews or other oppressed people - maybe it was for our brave men and women in the United States Military. Maybe there was no message and it is instead some form of sick conception of our military. I don't know. I do know this: I suggest that if you are a Jew who respects your religion, your morality and your traditions - don't watch it. I suggest that if you are a person of any other faith or simply a person of morality and ethics don't watch it. I strongly recommend that if you are in the U.S. Military you never emulate it. It is, in my opinion, truly disgusting and has absolutely no point to it except maybe to be as disturbing as it possibly can be - maybe just a movie to make you revel in insanity. I believe it to be the product of a warped and very sick mind and that even though I like a lot of blood and guts movies such as From Dusk Til Dawn and Pulp Fiction for ones made by the guy who made this one - this one is not like them. This one revolves around WWII and Nazis and Jews and our military and revenge and around the good guys becoming as bad or worse than the bad guys and goes far beyond the vileness of a group of extreme perverts as I see it. What a waste of film in my opinion. I know, opinions are like assholes - everybody has one. So allow one more time for me to put my ass right out there by saying:

Maybe I am an asshole for watching it a second time but I guess I just could not believe how terrible it was the first time around and I had to see it a second time to be sure. I am sure now, I believe it now. I think, figuratively speaking, that the screenplay was written by an asshole and the movie was directed by an asshole, produced by assholes, and performed by assholes because only assholes could produce a piece of crap like this - but as I said that is just my opinion.

All the best,
Glenn B

The Lad Has Changed His Mind...

...or so it seems right now. That change of mind means I will likely be going on my deer scouting trip all alone. Hmm, that sounds good for the bears and not for me. Well, I'll have a good time anyhow - go for a hike, look for game and game sign, watch out for hungry bears, have lunch in the woods, watch out for hungry bears, enjoy the fresh air, maybe take a snooze under a majestic oak or swaying pine, keep an eye open for hungry bears, perhaps go fishing or catch some crayfish (mm delicious when steamed like lobster but man oh man does it take a lot of them to equal even a small lobster). It will be a day that will make someone else wish he had come along, as long as I am not eaten by a hungry bear.

All the best,
Glenn B

A Scouting We Will Go

No - not boy scouting - deer scouting. Brendan and I will be driving upstate this weekend for a day in the woods. We need to find ourselves a good place to hunt this coming season. Regular deer season starts in November so that means we are getting a pretty early start with things this year, as we should be doing. Around this time of the year, the bucks should have some fairly good sized antlers. So if we happen to run a cross a real monster buck with a big rack now - you can bet we will be going back to the same spot every couple of weeks to try to figure out his routine; better yet will also be trying to figure out the routine of the does in the area. Come November any routine that a buck follows now will be pretty much a faint memory in that buck's mind. What will be on his mind, just about every second of his waking day, will be mating. So - knowing where the does are will be quite helpful in finding a buck. Even if that does not work for us, we both have doe permits.

This weekend I am going to make sure to take a can of pepper spray with me - just in case we run across a bear like the one(s) that left all that bear sign I saw last week. If nothing else, it will give the bear a well seasoned meal and make the bear's leavings smell like pepper. Hopefully any bear encounter(s) we have won't get that bad for us and if we need the pepper spray it will do its magic and deter any hungry bruin boars or protective sows with cubs. Of course, if we find more piles of bear droppings, well that will be a good sign. It will mean that a bear or bears ares still in the area. If we are lucky enough to see one we will try to get pics. We will also be hopeful to figure out its routine so we get to see him again this fall because bear meat steaks are absolutely delicious. Of course, he is probably thinking the same thing about fat man steaks! I am sure if it came down to it, Brendan could run much faster than me, so I'll carry the pepper spray and the pistol.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just A Quickshot Of A Wordy Thought I Had

Old Fashioned Family Fun

Listening To News About Bedbugs On The Car Radio...

...on the ride home from work tonight and I got goosebumps; not because I heard that the city I was driving through is infested by them but because I had my car's windows down. It was a chilly 68 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City Bed-Bug City at about 7:30 PM or thereabouts. Those little boogers must be thinking they need to move back to warmer climes.

That thought was pretty far from my mind though as I drove along at a decent clip with the cool air washing over me. Man does that feel nice after what so far has been one of the longest hot summers I can remember. Now if you think the heat has been brought about by man-made carbon emissions and other man-made factors - you may be very wrong. There is some compelling evidence to think otherwise and I point you here.

Of course, the bedbugs probably do not give a rat's bottom end over any of this hoopla called Global Warming, they just keep getting those free rides into various parts of our society by the human vermin who carried them here from abroad in the first place. Now they have spread so far they don't even need dirty illegals to give them a ride, they can hitch one with us. I think we ought to bring back DDT for a brief but brutal campaign against them (that is if DDT would be effective on them). Whatever we use it should have some clout to hit em fast, hit em low and hit em hard.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Was He Eaten By A Bear While Making A Video To Prove That The Bear Really Does Poop In The Woods???

This video was discovered on a camera found by a couple while they were hiking through an area known to be frequented by large black bears in upstate NY. When found, the camera was lying in an area surrounded by bear several droppings. Though dented and scratched and in pretty bad shape, their were no bite marks or other definite bear sign on the camera. The memory card was still intact. The video is the last known activity of the pictured man in said area. The man who has not yet been identified is believed to have been from an urban area because he refers to himself, within the brief video, as a 'city guy'.

In answer to his own sarcastic question, he apparently did not know enough about bears to be a bit more watchful while in a small patch of woods containing 13 (count em) bear shits poopies, nor to realize that maybe 13 was not his lucky number but that 14 could be the bear's lucky number in that it would finally be getting some meat through his system and he (the city guy) would be the meat. It does seem as if something else caught his attention just before the video went dead as he starts to look all around him then comes back to one spot as if he heard or saw something in that very last scene. We can only guess it may have been a bear or bears that left all that bear sign in the area.

Please be advised, if you are eating or otherwise have a weak stomach, you may not want to watch this video, the subject matter is not pretty. It certainly does make one wonder though if the bears in the area had been lacking red meat in their diets, what with all the apparent evidence that they had been eating an awful lot of berries or fruits with fairly large pits and because there were no remains of 'city guy' to be found anywhere. It is hypothesized that the bear may have had such a bad hankerin' for red meat that, if it attacked and ate this man, it ate everything down to every last blood splattered leaf and every last thread of blood soaked clothing that should have been evident after a violent attack. Must have been a mighty big bear to get that guy down in one sitting, or maybe it was a mama bear and her cubs like the man said, in the video, he had hoped he would not run across. Three bears could have easily packed away even a very big lunkhead like him. Just imagine, if you will, an idiot walking through the woods, then prancing around the super seKrit spot 'where the bear shits poops (or bears shit poop) in the woods' while blabbing to himself as he filmed it - it must have looked like an easy meal to a bear, a darned tasty one (bears, just like us all, know fat makes for tasty meat) and a very large meal at that.

As I said though, there was no evidence of a mauling or of this guy being eaten, just this video found in his camera and him - who knows where he is! The mystery continues...and we are hopeful of solving it. So, we are thinking of making a movie along the lines of The Blair Witch Project if we can find a group of young videographers stupid intrepid enough to spend a couple of days and nights in the same area looking for the 'city guy'. Any takers?

All the best,
Glenn B

Andrew Klavan - puts it in a light that should make it understandable even to liberals

This guy is excellent:

I am going to have to look at more of his work.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, August 20, 2010

Well Here I Am at Holiday Inn...

...using up my Priority Club points and luckily I remembered to bring my laptop with me because they have free wi-fi. I still won't be blogging much tonight but just wanted to stop by my blog and say hi to you, my readers.

I spent way too much time stopping at Gander Mountain in Middletown, then at The Little Store in Roscoe, then at the original Dick's Sporting Goods in Binghamton but did manage to get in some time finding some hunting areas. Note, I did not say hunting spots because I did not get to hike more than about 45 minutes today to do any scouting. I figure I'll check out of the hotel early tomorrow and head for some of the better looking areas I saw today, then do some hiking and scouting at each. I am hoping to get at least 2 hours of hiking in at each of three spots. After 6 hours of walking, I'll park somewhere green and grassy and take a nap under the sky. Then I'll probably head home tomorrow night.

I've got to cut this off now so I can go get dinner and maybe a wee dram of something Irish.

All the best,

Priority Club Points - Oh Hallelujah

My points from Priority Club have not expired, apparently they never expire. So instead of camping, and since my back has been aching - along with almost everything else - I decided to reserve a King Suite at a Holiday Inn. Not bad for free. I'll be further from the area I want to scout, but I am guessing within a 1 hour drive. So a good scout trip today for several hours, then a good night's sleep in a bed, then stop at the hunting spot again tomorrow, on the way home from the hotel, for a bit more scouting and maybe some fishing too. Sadly though, no spam or hotdogs cooked over the campfire tonight.

Later for all of you,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Solo Road Trip - Scouting Trip - Camping Trip

It is that time of the year to get my backside in gear and head upstate to look for a decent hunting spot. I will be heading up to Delaware County to the Bear Spring Mountain Campsite for an over-nighter, maybe even a 2 nighter. I should be doing a good deal of hiking and don't want to have to drive far from my anticipated hunting spot to find a place to sleep and since the campground is right at the hunting spot - well, what more could I want! Maybe at my age with the achy bones, creaking and cracking joints, the shoulder, neck and hip pain I could ask for a nice comfortable bed but tomorrow night I will probably rough it. That should convince me not to do it again until next year.

So there will be no blogging until Saturday night or maybe sometime Sunday. See you again after that.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ballseyes Guns Shots 83 - Don't Let Your Holster Confuse You...

...or for that matter don't let any of your other firearms related equipment do likewise. For now though, let me explain what I mean by using a few of my holsters as examples but first let me tell you about the pistols I carry regularly.

I carry virtually everyday. The most recent pistols I carry regularly are my agency issued SIG 229 DAK and my personally owned Glock 26. I highly recommend carrying a back-up pistol if you have high risk assignments. I carry the Glock 26 when I go out on high risk operations such as arrests and searches for contraband. The Glock 2 and the SIG 229 are both fairly different in design but both are double action only. Yet there is so much of a difference between them that if I go for the Glock as back-up after having fired the SIG, I have to remember I am now using a pistol with a much shorter and lighter trigger pull. After much practice, at the range, I have gotten to where this does not present a problem for me - at the range - and where I am pretty sure it will not present a problem in the field.

Normally though, I strongly suggest that if you carry a back-up pistol, the absolute best one you can carry is the same as your primary pistol. Simply put it is in essence exactly the same as the primary weapon and there is no transition in how you grip, sight in, fire or load one from the other. The second best would be one of smaller size but that is basically a sized down version of your primary carry pistol and that can use the same magazines as the primary. (In the case of revolvers, then one that uses the same speed loaders as the primary weapon.) When I was issued the Glock 19 by my agency as my primary carry sidearm, the Glock 26 was the almost perfect compliment to it, only another Glock 19 could have been better. I had an issued Glock 26 then. It was smaller and therefore a bit easier to carry as a back-up than would have been a second Glock 19 and it functioned in exactly the same way as the larger model though the grip was pretty different in that it was so much smaller. In addition, and this is a great plus, it could use the same 15 round magazines as the larger pistol. So, if I had to go to the backup, which I kept loaded with a 10 round mag in the holster, I could use the 15 round magazines I had in my mag pouch when reloading it.

When the job did away with the Glock 19s and went to the SIG 229 DAKs, we were allowed to continue carrying a Glock 26 as a secondary firearm. I bought myself one either just before we got rid of the Glock 19s or just after we got the SIGS. I had quite a bit of transitioning to do after having fired a couple of hundred rounds through the SIG and then had to fire the Glock. I think my first shot went off and hit dead center of the target. The second shot though smacked the paper bad guy in the forehead and I was supposed to be shooting chest shots. This was because, as the pistol recoiled and I brought it back to bear on the target, I started to pull my finger back slightly once on the target at all (as I always do) and the gun went bang when normally it would not have done so. Why - because I did not realize how much pressure I was exerting on the trigger after having fired the SIG with it horrendous DAK trigger that requires way to much pressure to shoot it. Having on gloves - it was very cold out - did not help at all. This is a problem almost all of the Glock shooters faced. I have since gotten used to it and it does not happen at the range, hopefully it will not happen in the field if the pucker factor kicks in during a real life or death incident. I practice regularly to avoid it happening again and am confident it will not but it took several trips to the range to be cured completely. Normally I would follow my own advice and carry the same model weapon for secondary as I would for primary. I did not have much of a choice but did have some. I could have gone with a SIG 239 for a back-up weapon but I was also looking forward to retirement and the Glock 26 was my choice with that in mind.

Now to the holsters. Just as different styles of pistols can cause problems, so too can different styles of holster, even if they are pretty similar in design and operation. It is the little things that can get you (as in get you killed) and that lesson was hammered home for me last week at my agency's firearms qualifications. As is usual, I carried by issued SIG 229 in the holster that was issued with it, a DeSantis model 011 M5 (not currently offered as far as I can tell but very similar to the ICE II holster now offered by DeSantis). Look at the pics and it is easy to tell that this holster is a thumb break. In order to draw the pistol from the holster the thumb snap must be opened and as the name implies this is usually accomplished with the thumb, the thumb of the hand that grips the pistol to draw it.

I have worn thumb break holsters almost exclusively for the 30 plus years (31 years next month) that I have been a federal agent. They hold the gun securely if they fit the pistol or revolver that they carry, the thumb snap is easy to open for a fairly fast draw and the thumb snap offers enough security against a takeaway to thwart one if attempted and if you know what you are doing to otherwise prevent one. They are not the most secure holster when it comes to takeaway attempts but then I can draw with either hand even when it is in a holster on my strong side and that is almost impossible with some other types of retention holsters. I have carried my primary weapons in this type of holster from day one of my armed federal service and have carried my secondary sidearms in one since I was eligible to carry a back-up piece.

Having and using the same type of holster for both my primary and secondary sidearms assured that whenever I had to draw my pistols, the manner in which I did so would be virtually the same. There would be very little difference, if any, in the way my hand traveled to each holster, how I gripped the sidearm, how I opened the retention device to draw, how I drew, or how I then put the gun back into the holster and then secured it.

As you can see in the pictures, I have a few different examples of the holsters I have used over the years with my Glock 26 pistol. All are of the thumb break design, that is except for my most recent acquisition. I got that one from Brendan when he bought it for me at a gun show not all that long ago. It is a DeSantis Facilitator. As DeSantis describes it, it made from Kydex, and uses their Redi-Lok™. The Redi-Lok is basically a spring tensioned lever that locks the pistol in place when it is properly placed into the holster and that requires thumb action against a lever to release the lock allowing you to draw the pistol. Similar to but yet not a thumb break. DeSantis says this about the Redi-Lok: "The Redi-Lok™ is a trigger locking device that is totally instinctual so almost no new training will be necessary." Well, while it seems to be a fine holster and a very nice gift indeed, maybe it is not the holster I should be using when I carry my Glock 26 as a back-up if my other holster is a thumb break design. As a matter of fact, I think you would be reckless to carry both types of holster at the same time. Lucky for me I learned this while I was at the range.

Now, allow me to explain why I say that about what I think is otherwise an acceptable holster. As is usual, with anything I get that is new to me, I practiced my drawing and shooting, from my new Facilitator holster, at the range. The thing was, it was the only holster I was wearing. It took a little getting used to because the Redi-Lok lever that you release with your thumb is not in the same position as were any of the thumb snaps on any other holsters I have ever used to carry my Glock or other service use pistols or revolvers.

With the thumb break holsters, as can be seen in all of the pictures here, the thumb snap closes over the rear of the slide. Thus the snap is at the top of the pistol as it sits pretty much vertically in the holster. So, as your hand goes to grip the pistol, if you position your thumb correctly to first hit the snap, your thumb is in almost exactly the same position each time you draw from any one of these holsters. You could therefore wear one as primary and one as back-up and draw in virtually the same manner with your thumb in almost exactly the same position, relative to each holster, when you draw. That is a good thing. You do not need to change what you are doing from one holster to another and this could be the difference between life and death if speed of draw is of the essence. Even if one holster rides at more of an angle than another, as your hand approaches each holster, regardless of the cant of the holster, your thumb will be in virtually the same position relative to the holster in order to unsnap it regardless of which holster it is from which you are about to draw. Look at each of he pics of the thumb break type holsters and what I mean should be obvious.

While the Facilitator seems to be a fine quality and adequate holster as a stand alone, or as a back up with another holster that also utilizes the Redi-Lok system, I do not think it wise to combine its use with that of a thumb break holster and this would probably go for also not combining any two holsters with differing retention/release systems.

The Facilitator's security device is activated by properly seating the pistol into a properly adjusted holster. Let's see just what that means. First, when you get one of these holsters and take it out of the bag, you realize that in all likelihood it does not fit your pistol securely. I checked this after got mine by looking at others of the same model in gun stores. So you probably ave to manually adjust this holster after you purchase it. I say probably because maybe there are some that already fit the intended pistol securely but that was not my experience. Adjustment requires the tightening and or loosening of a few tension screws. I had to do this several times before I found the spot for each screw that made the pistol feel secure in this holster. To date none of the screws have loosened as far as I am aware and the pistol fits into the holster snugly.

Once the Facilitator is properly adjusted you can securely holster your pistol in it. All this requires is placing the pistol into the holster until you hear a faintly audible click. Under stress you might not hear it so after I holster I give the pistol an upward tug, trigger finger nowhere near the trigger guard or trigger) to make sure it has been locked in place. To draw, you grip the pistol and place your thumb on the inboard side of the pistol grip and activate the Redi-Lok (basically a lever release) and draw the pistol just after doing so. It is a seemingly natural movement. Yet there is a design feature that is an issue, for me, between this holster and those with a traditional thumb break. That issue seemingly, at least to me, conflicts with using both types of holster at the same time - one for primary pistol and one for back-up pistol - in my case the Facilitator for back-up. The design feature at issue may also make you wonder if you should wear a thumb break one day and then this holster the next day.

The feature of which I speak is the location of the thumb release on the facilitator. It is not that this design is one that makes this a bad holster in any way but that, as I said, I think it conflicts with use of the traditional thumb break using one as a back up, or using one on one day then the other on another day. Why? Because during a stressful situation you may go for the release you use most frequently and that can cost you dearly if you go for the wrong one. At the range it only cost me time and a bit off of my score - on the street - I do not even want to think about it.

You see, in order to activate the release, your thumb winds up in a very different positions than it does on a traditional thumb break (blue circle thumb break position, red circle the Redi-Lok release). It is literally inches reward and
inches further down from where it would be to open a thumb snap. In addition, it is now between the grip and the side of your body on which you are wearing the Facilitator holster. During practice at my local range (not during my agency's quals), when this was the only holster I was wearing, I had a bit of a problem getting used to its position. I was drawing slowly, consciously making sure I found the release lever, before trying to draw. Several times I found myself going to the area where a thumb break holster would have the snap - at and across the back of the slide but I simply realized this and moved my hand until my thumb found the lever. No sweat, done easily enough, and with lots of practice with this holster I was certain I would always go for the right spot with my thumb. So, I practiced a lot with it and became comfortable with its use over the course of a few to several trips to my local ranges. The thing was, that was not good enough as I was soon to find out.

When I was at the range for qualifications, last week, I qualified with the SIG 229 first. I had a somewhat off day with it. My score is usually above 245 out of 250. I shot in the high 230s. Not good at all for me. I was shooting too slowly on the timed portions and dropped 10 points by not getting off 2 shots. I think my score was 238 and that was even when I made up one of the shots, in a subsequent sequence, that I had not gotten off earlier. In other words I dropped 5 points because I had not gotten off a shot and also dropped 7 points shooting like a loser relative to my usual scores. Then I shot the Glock. was shooting it much faster than i had been the SIG. I am more comfortable with it, and am much more used to it. The thing is I was throwing shots haphazardly. I scored a 236 with the Glock even though I was able to shoot faster since the trigger is much more to my liking than that of the SIG (which is horrendous) and I did not miss getting any off. So why were my shots going somewhat wild? Because I was jerking the trigger most likely. Why was I doing that? To try to make up for time lost in trying to get the Glock 26 out of the new Facilitator holster that's why!

About 25% of the times I went to draw, during this timed course of fire, I wound up going for the thumb snap. Wen I realized their was no snap I then went for the release lever by allowing my thumb to go down to where I thought it would be and I wound up fiddling and pushing and twisting until my thumb got it. by that time a second or maybe even two had elapsed. For about another 50% of the times I had to draw, I went right for the lever and did not find it immediately. I usually hit a bit too high, or got my thumb behind the holster and was hitting the holster body itself thinking my thumb was on the lever. The other 25% of the time, I got it right. That potentially could have gotten me killed 75% of the time if I had been out on the street and had to draw quickly and that is if I had done everything else right.

My solution - next time I will wear two holsters that are thumb breaks, with the snap at the back of the slide. Why chance it with the Facilitator! Now, I am not going to throw out the facilitator. I will practice with it more at the range for those times I may decide to carry it as a solo holster, or with an eye ahead toward when i use it in retirement. I doubt i will ever carry it as a back-up holster again. Then again, I may not carry this holster all that much in retirement because there is something else about it that has come to mind that is unsettling to me. While I can draw from a thumb snap holster with my strong hand very quickly and easily, I can also draw from that same holster (while still on my strong side) using my weak hand. In other words, if my pistol is on my belt on my right hip as is normal, I then normally draw with my right hand. Should that hand become incapacitated for some reason in a fight, then I can also draw from the holster by reaching around with my left hand. I practice it frequently, I am pretty good at it. The thing is, I am very doubtful that this would be an easy, or even possible, accomplishment with the design of the Facilitator. I think at the least it would take a really concerted twisting effort to reach the release lever with my left hand if the holster was on my right hip or even if it was on the right side of my back on the belt. I am not saying it is impossible since I have not tried yet. You can safely bet though, I will be seeing if I can do it from the various positions in which I might find myself if I ever need to draw left handed from that particular holster when it is riding on my right side.

I probably said this up above and if so allow me to repeat myself, if not then let me say it here for the first time today, THANK GOODNESS I LEARNED THIS AT THE RANGE AND NOT OUT ON THE STREET WHERE THE LESSON MAY HAVE COME TOO LATE. My recommendation to you is never to wear two different types of holster, with one for your primary pistol and one for your back-up and also that you do not switch the type of holster you wear from one day to the next relative to retention/release devices. I suggest that when carry a gun as a back-up, you try to use two holsters that both have the same type of retention device and the same type of release. Same goes if you switch from one holster one day to another the next day - try to use ones with the same type of retention/release devices. Unless you have an absolute need to change the types of retention/release types, keeping them the same just might make all the difference for you in an armed encounter - the difference between you being the winner or you being the loser.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another Fishing Trip Planned

I have not had much luck this summer with fishing trips. Headed to the boat three times to go fishing, one time was turned away by the captain because his crew never showed up, another time caught 4 fish but none of those for which we were fishing, and the last time I caught zilch just like everyone else on the boat that night. So, for an upcoming tip in the near future, I am planning on going out on a different boat from a different location. As a matter of fact, the boat I will be going out on will be about 1,199.8 miles away from my home as opposed to the closer one which is only about 16.1 miles from my house.

Yep, I plan to fly down to West Palm Beach to visit my aunt and uncle next month. I am pretty certain my uncle and I will go fishing and I am planning on driving up to Ft. Pierce with him to fish aboard the
Capt. Lew. Last time I fished down that way we had a great time out on that boat. Caught enough fish to keep me happy and the ones we kept tasted great. Besides going out on the Capt. Lew, am hopeful I will also get in some freshwater fishing from a canoe (without being capsized by and eaten by an alligator).

While I am not rolling in dough, and would not be able to afford this trip under normal circumstances with the 2nd half of my son's college bill, and with my property taxes, soon due - I have a $436 credit with an airline because I had to cancel a planned trip to attend an NRA Law Enforcement Instructor's School out in Las Vegas (maybe next year for that one). I bought the ticket early, back in May, cancelled recently due to unforeseen circumstances, and now have to use the credit before next May. May (no pun intended) as well use it now, so I am flying down to FL in early September. Hmm, I'll still have enough of a credit to maybe do that again before May.

I hope the fishing will be even better than last time and that no hurricanes will be on order. Wish me luck please.

All the best,
Glenn B

Today In History - Some Famous People Were Born but...

...so was one who ruined today, August 15th, as a birthday. Take a look at the list and realize that if you share your birthday with her, well you have my heartfelt sympathy:

1688 Frederick-William I king of Prussia (1713-1740).

1769 Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France (1804-1815) and military leader.

1771 Sir Walter Scott, Scottish novelist who wrote Ivanhoe and Rob Roy.

1845 Walter Crane England, painter/illustrator (Beauty & Beast).

1875 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor London, composer (Hiawatha's Wedding Feast.)

1879 Ethel Barrymore Philadelphia, actress (Constant Wife, Corn is Green).

1888 T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

1912 Julia Child, American chef and television personality.

1920 Huntz Hall actor (Cyclone, Gas Pump Girls, The Rating Game or maybe best known as: Horace DeBussy Jones, aka: Sach, of the Bowery Boys)

1924 Robert Bolt, English screenwriter and playwright best known for A Man for all Seasons.

1938 Maxine Waters, congresswoman from California, second African-American woman to be elected to congress.

What a way to ruin an impeccable line of great people born on this day!

All the best,
Glenn B

You May Realize You Are An Ammo Hoarder If:

Your significant other does the laundry and finds several unspent rounds in the washer or dryer.

You do an inventory of your ammunition and it amounts to over 10,000 rounds and you only own one gun.

Your dry cleaner calls you to come pick up the ammo he found in your sports coat pockets while pressing it.

You have a cache of more than 3 calibers of ammunition for which you do not own firearms of matching calibers to shoot the stuff.

You have 500 rounds or more of ammunition for a hunting gun you shoot only a few times a year and even then only shoot less than 10 rounds each time.

Your wife tells you to get the lead out, and she does not mean out of your big fat butt by mowing the lawn or doing other overdue chores, but means it literally because there is no room in a closet, attic or garage because your ammo leaves no room for anything else.

You spend so much on ammo that you have overdue credit card bills.

You empty your pockets looking for a quarter for the parking meter and all you come up with are two rounds of 7.62x39, several 9mm rounds and the closest thing to a quarter is a .25 ACP round.

The dollar amount of the ammo you have on hand exceeds the money in your savings account, checking account, retirement account and your mortgage - combined.

You own more ammo than you could reasonably shoot within the remainder of your lifetime, even if you went shooting every day, and have no heirs to whom you can leave it.
All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ballseye's Gun Shots 82 - An Off Day At The Range...

...is something I suppose we all should expect now and then but I guess I do not usually expect to have an off day. I sort of take good days at the range for granted. Not granted because I expect to do well each and every time no matter what as if I am entitled to good day. Nope, I know there is no such thing as being entitled to a good range day. You have to work for things you want and being a good shot and shooting good scores are no exception. Yet, I do take good range days for granted but only because I work toward achieving them by practicing a fair amount and by always seeking to improve my shooting. So when I have a bad day, and to me even a mediocre day is a bad one at the range, well then I am taken by surprise and am also highly disappointed.

Such was the case this past Thursday when I went to shoot for my jobs quarterly qualifications. As usual, I have been practicing, maybe even more than usual within the past 3 months or so. I even went to shoot for practice just about a week before my qualification day and I did pretty darned good then. So, when I shot a 238 out of a possible 250, with my issued SIG 229, I was very disappointed. For some reason I was shooting slower than molasses flows downhill on really cold winter's day in Antarctica. I even missed getting off 2 shots during one of the sequences because I was just taking too long to shoot. That really bothers me not just because it really lowered my score but because if it had happened on the street when I may have been involved in a real life shootout - well, I might be dead now. I have never been all that fast on the draw nor to get off my first shot and while followup shots often come out at a good clip, on this particular day at quals I was really way too slow. I guess it is a mental thing, something also to do with the horrendously long double action pulls of the Sig, and just whatever else may have been eating at me on an off day. It is something I will have to work on and you can bet I will be shooting up the 200 rounds they gave me on the practice day and the additional 100 rounds they gave me on the qualification day during next trip or two to the range.

After I shot with the SIG, it was time to bring out the Glock 26. I shoot this one much faster, and was doing just that once I got it out of the holster. In fact, I shot it so fast that I am certain one of the reasons for me only shooting a 236 with it was that I probably jerked the trigger a few times trying to get off my shots within the allotted time of some of the shorter sequences. Now you may be wondering, if I was shooting faster than with the SIG, why on earth would I be jerking the trigger because I was trying to shoot fast enough for the allotted time; I mean that may seem to you like I was again at least getting off my first shot rather late after the draw. If that is what you thought then you would almost be right. I was actually getting off the first shot almost as soon as the pistol was up to eye level but that was still taking too long. The reason for that was because it was taking me what seemed like forever to get the pistol out of its holster and therefor I was wasting precious time in which I should have been shooting.

So why was I taking so long to draw? It was a relatively new holster and I will leave it at that for now if only because I plan to write a piece that deals specifically with problems like the one I had with the holster during this qualification period. The topic is important enough to deserve its own rant and I will give you that over the next day or two. The holster is sort of another thing I took for granted and shame on me for having done so.

Back to the main topic of this piece, I shot pretty poorly for myself. My scores were down for awhile, then back up to normal for some time now and I can say, without a doubt,that 236 and 238 out of 250 are pitifully poor scores for me. More practice required and maybe another holster too but as I said above, I will explain that in more detail soon.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ballseye's Gun Shots 81 - Ammo Prices Falling?

Oh happy days, it seems that the indications are that prices for ammunition may be falling. "What indications are those?" say you. I answer: "The current retail prices are indications enough for me'. Let's take a look at some of them:

AmmoMan.com has Wolf 7.62x39 in either FMJ or JHP going at 1,000 rounds for $219.00 (including shipping). That is a pretty good price. I have not seen the price that low in awhile, it was certainly not that low when I last purchased it. If I remember right, my last purchase of a thousand rounds in this caliber was on August 1, 2009, almost exactly one year ago, and the price was $249.99 shipped from CenterfireSystems.com. They had the lowest price by quite a bit back then, AmmoMan had it for $279 shipped right around the same time and SportsmansGuide.com had it at about $314 back then. Back to today's price, the $219 shipped available at AmmoMan now is about a 12% price drop in a year as compared to the best price I could find back then. Not the greatest savings but certainly substantial. Had I waited until now to buy that thousand rounds, well I could have used the money I would have saved to buy a decent case of beer, something like Pilsner Urquell but who could have known when the price would come down some.

Other ammo prices also seem to be falling somewhat. Not all that long ago, the SportsmansGuide.com was offering Remington Core-Lokt in .35 Rem. at about $24.97 a box of 20 plus shipping. I just ordered 100 rounds of it (5 boxes), a few days ago, at a price of only $20.78 per box plus shipping. That is almost a 17% savings and I was sure to get in on it.
Ammunition To Go has CCI Blazer .22LR, 40gr. solid points, 5,000 rounds for $189.99. That is not as good as it should be but is not a bad price and i think it has come down a couple of dollars from what I saw a few months ago when I picked up 2,500 rounds for $111 from another dealer and that was the best price I could find for 2,500 rounds then. While there is often a discount when buying 5,ooo rounds as compared to 2,500, you can bet it is not near as much as a $32 difference in price between the two. So, yes I am sure it's price has come down too.

I also recently purchased 100 rounds of 8MM Mauser ammo. If I recall correctly Sellier & Bellot 8x57JS, 196 Gr. SPCE, was priced at $19.68 per box of 20 rounds at Natchez Shooters Supplies. It is now going for $18.49 per box. That is a savings of $5.95, or about 6%, for 100 rounds.

I also just bought a couple of 100 round boxes of CCI Mini Mag, .22LR, round nose ammo, standard velocity, for $6.79 a box at a dealer in PA. The least expensive I have seen this go for at a dealer, including at gun shows, over the past several months has been about $6.99 a box with it usually going for about $7.29 or more per box of 100 rounds. Again a decent savings percentage wise, about 5.5% from the lowest then til the lowest now.

So, it seems to me that ammunition prices are falling somewhat. This could be a result of recent Supreme Court decisions relative to the 2nd Amendment. Those decisions have made it much more difficult for the anti-gun crowd to enact further legislation baning guns and ammo. It has put the brakes on the Obama administration from doing so by way of legislation (though remember they will try by way of treaties made with other nations such as those in the UN). As a result, people who shoot may not be buying up as much ammo to hoard it as they obviously had been just a short while ago. If we vote the bums out of Congress this fall, we stand a chance that our liberties and rights will be strengthened and that prices such as those for ammo will fall even further once the fears of them denying us our rights have subsided in their absence.
Of course, there can be other reasons that ammo prices have dropped but whatever the reason it appears to be a good thing and hopefully a downward trend in ammunition prices will lead to much more affordable ammo.

As for me, I would like to take further advantage of the lower prices but just paid my son's college tuition (half of it anyhow) with a credit card and have to get that paid off pronto. I also have a few medical bills still due from my surgery back at the end of may and need to get them paid off too. So it is not likely I will be buying a lot of ammo in the near future although I may not be able to resist if the prices fall even more in the near future and I have been squirreling away a bit of change and dollar bills now and then. Oh for the days of 1,000 rounds of Wolf 7.62x39 JHP ammo at $179 per thousand to come round again.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Farewell To Arms (or at least to a certain longarm)

In the midst of a heat wave, in the mid summer of this year, I shot for qualification at a range on an island that looked across the bay and and outer counties to the mountainous towers of steel, glass and concrete that are the heart of the city. Though there have been other places, this one has been the one place, where I have qualified the most in over a quarter century. In all that time, while there may have been a rare exception, I cannot recall a single qualification day when I did not shoot a Remington 870 Shotgun. Today, I said farewell to that firearm, it is the first time in memory that I did not shoot one for qualification.

It's not that I have lost any of my faith in this fine weapon as being just that - a fine weapon - nor have I begun to think that it would not be among the best of choices as a primary weapon when on a high risk operation, it is more along the lines that I feel I need to start to wind down in preparation for my retirement. Actually, my decision to turn in the shotgun, is a bit more complicated than that and also has to do with some recent politics in the office that have disenchanted me and therefore had me wondering if it is worth it to me to maintain the additional responsibility of being assigned such a gun. Without me going into the details of the politics, allow me to simply say, I decided that if my agency was not able to overcome the muddled bureaucratic nightmare of indecisive micromanagement and instead show some intelligent decision making ability based upon good old fashioned respect for its workers and the level of responsibility they exhibit with firearms, well then it was time for me to put aside the additional responsibility of carrying this particular gun. No I did not have any type of problem with the gun, nor with it having been issued to me, nor with any use of it; I just want to make that clear. The issue was something different but it was an eye opener and enough to make me realize that under the current administration within my office, I probably would be a fool to continue to maintain the additional responsibility of being issued this gun. So, with a good deal of regret, and not any less of a feeling that I was losing an old friend, I decided I would turn it in this quarter.

I miss it already and it has been only the first qualification day without my shooting it. I can live without it though, without the added responsibility of maintaining it or having to qualify with it and without the bruised shoulder that it causes almost every time I shoot it tactically at the range. I have arthritis and bursitis (and maybe other damage) in my right shoulder and wish I had filed the necessary paperwork to report an injury every time I got a bruise from shooting it (especially since my shoulder has never otherwise been injured that I can remember). That way I would never have to worry about paying for the medical bills for the shoulder but I never did file those forms and if it needs fixing now then I guess I'll have to foot the bills instead of worker's comp. I figured all those bruises on my shoulder, the aches and pains, the soreness were all just part of the job and the responsibility and would all be worth it in the long run should I ever actually have needed to fire the shotgun in defense of myself or another agent on my job. As it is, while I carried it on arrest operations and such many times over the years, and was all to often the first in the door, I never once needed to fire it except at the range. I hope, in the relatively short time I have remaining on my job, I will not find myself in a situation where I need it and do not have it.

It is just that the bureaucracy in my office has become unbearable and finally gotten me to the point where any added responsibility, with little or no respect for it, or appreciation of it, is just not worth it to me - the shotgun being just one example. In addition, as I said above, I need to get into the wind down mode looking toward a not too distant retirement. While I have always welcomed a good deal of additional responsibility on my job, and have volunteered for things beyond the scope of most of my coworkers, extra responsibility at this point is not something I need on my shoulders since it seems to me as if my job is discouraging me from taking it on or continuing it.

Did I mention I miss it already? Farewell old friend.

All the best,
Glenn B