Category Archives: Manly Arts

I’m a Lumberjack…

Over at The Daley Gator, blogger pal Doug Hagin had an article (rightly) criticizing Bill Nye, the engineer who pretends to be a science guy; but the thing that jumped out at me was this photo.

I commented:  Regarding Lumberjack Guy above – look at those soft white hands! This gomer has never been near an axe or chainsaw in his life. The “outdoor” setting is probably at the edge of the parking lot for the photography studio.

We see plenty of these types around now; flannel and neck-beards have suddenly become popular among Millennial townies.  What will it be next – camouflage and Confederate flags?

Hey, everyone has the right to wear what they like.  I tend towards boots and my big gus-crown cowboy hats, even when bumming around town.  Now I grew up in a rural setting, and have run many a chainsaw and axe in my life – still do, from time to time.

But I can’t help looking down my nose a little bit at douchebaggery like that exhibited by the guy illustrated at top.  Wearing flannel and a neckbeard doesn’t make you manly.

Doing manly things, practicing the Manly Arts – that does.

Animal’s Daily Cigar Aficionado News

The Obama Administration was, to put it mildly, not friendly to manufacturers of fine cigars.  The incoming Trump team may be looking to reverse that.  Excerpt:

Late last week, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the incoming chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, met with President-elect Donald Trump and submitted a list of 232 items that could be repealed immediately after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

“We must undo Obama’s harmful regulatory regime that has hurt hardworking Americans across the nation,” the group said in language akin to Trump’s campaign rhetoric.

One item in the report entitled “First 100 Days: Rules, Regulations and Executive Orders to Examine, Revoke and Issue” recommends stripping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of its authority to regulate tobacco products.

The move could save at least 2,600 Florida jobs currently at risk and spare many businesses, according to Mark Pursell, CEO of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

Progressive-liberal firebrand U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who’s no fan of Republicans, urged the executive branch agency to back off premium cigars when it first began targeting the industry through a proposed administrative rule in 2014, but to no avail.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Grayson said that “the premium cigar industry is responsible for employing an estimated 20,000 Americans, and realizes almost $2 billion in annual revenue.”

The incoming Trump administration could extinguish the economic hardship on day one, according to Meadows.

Personally, I’m not concerned about the crappy, cheap-ass flavored cigarillos sold in liquor stores – except as a matter of principle.  I’m personally concerned about more upscale cigars like my favored Cosechero maduros.  But, moving back to those matters of principle, I’ll repeat something that has been a running theme here since I began keeping these virtual pages:  It is not the role of government to protect people from the consequences of their own bad decisions.

Nor is it the role of government to use the power of taxation to influence decisions that the Top Men in government don’t approve.  That’s what the Obama Administration has done with the various rules on fine cigars.  That’s what the incoming Trump Administration will, hopefully, undo.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Programming note:  I’ll be flying to Tokyo on Sunday for a two-week gig, so look for some interesting travel posts.

Now, today:  Thoughts on the classic shotgun collection!

Since I now have both 12 and 16 gauge versions of the renowned Winchester Model 12 and Browning Auto-5 shotguns – one of that latter being the sought-after Sweet Sixteen version – I’m casting thoughts not only to 20-gauge versions of those guns but also to another iconic American scattergun, the Winchester 1897.

The 1897 is an interesting piece.  Designed by the DaVinci of firearms, the ’97 was the first commercially manufactured 1897-winchester-ipump-action shotgun.  It was used by the U.S. military in WW1 and WW2 as a trench broom, as well as being sold in a variety of sporting versions including the Black Diamond trap guns.  Being an aficionado of trap shooting myself, a Black Diamond Winchester would be a neat addition, but there are plenty of 12 and 16 gauge guns available.

There’s another unique feature of the 97 – its external hammer.  There is no other safety on these guns, but I have always been of the notion that a gun with an external hammer needs no other safety, and besides which the only real effective safety on a gun is the one between the shooter’s ears.

If I decide to go down this road, one thing I may eschew in a restoration is the addition of choke tubes.  While I have done this on other guns (and I highly recommend using Briley for these conversions – you get what you pay for, especially on old Winchesters with their notoriously thin barrel walls) it seems appropriate to keep this historic gun more or less as is.

I haven’t made up my mind yet, but if I run across a particularly fine example, I may not be able to resist the purchase, especially if a Black Diamond gun is in the deal.

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Animal’s Daily Hunting News

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Yr. obdt. looking over some Grand County elk country.

Our annual elk hunt, abbreviated as it was by some sudden travel plans, ended with an empty sack.  Note that I do not say “ended sadly,” as any time spent in the great Western outdoors is never cause for anything but happiness.

We had one good shot at filling one of our cow elk tags.  Near the spot shown above, loyal sidekick Rat heard an elk mew softly in the timber.  We split up and stalked into the pines in a pincer movement towards the patch of pines where the sound came from.

Rat overlooking the same country.
Rat overlooking the same country.

As we moved in, through the heavy dark timber I saw a pair of elk legs moving slowly upslope.  I moved up to a large pine, found an opening in the trees, and braced against the tree to place Thunder Speaker’s scope on the opening.  I saw an orange elk butt moving towards the opening from the left at a range of about fifty yards; then I saw in the scope a bit of elk neck, then an ear, then the head…

…then an antler.  It was a young raghorn bull, and we had cow tags.  Oh well.

Anyway, it was a highly enjoyable week.  Photos follow.

Animal’s Daily News

A bit late and a bit short this morning.  Sorry.  Yesterday’s activities involved a quick scouting trip to Grand County, where loyal sidekick Rat and I will be headed tomorrow morning to spend a few days doing battle with antlered ungulates.

img_0879Unfortunately the inestimable Rojito (pictured here) developed a transfer case problem.  It’s in the shop now, having made it back to Denver OK.  Hopefully it will be ready for tomorrow’s departure.  If not, we plan to borrow Mrs. Animal’s Explorer, which will limit us to graveled roads; no muddy jeep trails.  Oh well.  Update:  Rojito’s repairs are complete and Plan A is in effect.

In any case, here are a few photos from yesterday’s adventure.

Not much snow up high, as you can see.  The snowy areas are up on Smith Mesa near Hot Sulphur Springs, at about 8000 feet.  The big body of water is Williams Fork Reservoir, the sage country around which is good for picking up some late-season mulies in a normal year.  This has been a warmer and drier than normal year, so I suspect we’ll be hunting higher than normal for early November.  We’ll see.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearWell, we can now get Cuban cigars.  Excerpt:

I have good news for the winners and the losers of the election, whoever they may be. The winners may enjoy the pleasure of celebrating victory with genuine Cuban cigars. The losers can drown their sorrows in Cuban rum straight from the island.

That’s because President Barack Obama has made such indulgences easier. Until recently, any American traveler could bring back no more than $100 worth of these items. Under the new policy, you’re free to bring as much as you can carry.

True, you may bring supplies only for your personal use; selling them is forbidden. Ha. Enterprising travelers will either ignore or find ways to evade these rules. I imagine Americans who really want Cuban rum or cigars will be able to satisfy their desire without flying to Havana.

How good are they? Before he imposed an embargo on Fidel Castro’s communist state in 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered an aide to lay in 1,000 of his favorite Cuban cigars. In the ensuing decades, they have been prized by aficionados. Havana Club’s cachet has been sufficient to make it the best-selling rum on the planet.

Even some smokers who despised Castro were known to indulge when they got the chance. Anti-communists caught puffing Cuban cigars would say they weren’t subsidizing the dictatorship; they were burning the enemy’s crops.

Now, I’ve had Cuban cigars.  On a recent trip to Guadalajara, a bunch of the local company folks took my colleague and I out for a dinner in a rather upscale restaurant, and Cubano cigars were on the dessert menu, so I had one; I also bought one in a small tobacconist’s near the hotel and smoked in while on an evening walkabout.  They were good cigars and I enjoyed them, but honestly they weren’t noticeably better than my normal Coschero Torpedo Maduro.

underwearwinecigarBut that’s not the point.  The point is this:  The Cuban embargo has, for decades, failed to bring down the Castro cabal that rules Cuba.  Maybe trade will do the job.  I’ve long said that the Soviet Union was brought down not only by the arms race that the couldn’t afford, but also by the blue jeans and rock&roll that their younger generations wouldn’t and the apparatchiks in charge couldn’t afford to ignore.

It’s worth a shot to see if the apparatchiks in Cuba could be brought down the same way.

Rule Five Hunting FAQ Friday

2016_05_27_Rule Five Friday (1)I’ve been working on this for a year or so now; I think I will make it a permanent page here on the site.

Q: Is hunting dangerous?

A:  No, in fact hunting is one of the safest of all outdoor activities.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation gathers and reports data on causes of accidental death and injury in hunting.  Their 2010 data shows a 0.05% rate of injury among participants hunting with firearms.  You have a greater chance of being injured on a golf course or tennis court than in the hunting fields.

Q: Was hunting responsible for the loss of the Passenger Pigeon, and the near-extinction of bison, along with many other endangered and threatened species?

A:  No species has ever been endangered by modern, scientifically regulated hunting.  It’s sadly true that in the last two centuries, over-consumptive practices including unregulated market gunning resulted in the extinction or endangerment of several species.  Habitat loss added to the poor management practices of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  However, modern scientific management has resulted in the dramatic recovery of white-tailed and mule deer, elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, wood ducks, prairie grouse, and many other birds and animals.

Q: Will game populations stabilize eventually without human hunting?

A:  Yes, they certainly will.  They will stabilize through the mechanisms of starvation, disease, vehicle accident, parasite infestation, and a host of other unpleasant means.  Wild ani2016_05_27_Rule Five Friday (2)mals rarely if ever die peacefully of old age.

Q: Can we use chemical contraception?

A:  Chemical contraception has proven practical, in deer, in controlled areas, with limited populations, where most of the animals were individually known to the control officers.  On a large scale, it’s impossible.

Q: Does hunting desensitize people, especially young people, to the sanctity of life?

A:  Just the opposite has been shown to be the case.  A Texas Department of Justice study examined several demographic groups of ‘at-risk’ youths.  They surveyed three groups; youths who did not own or have access to guns, youths who owned illegal guns, and youths who owned and used guns legally.  The latter group, which included many hunters as well as recreational shooters, had the lowest delinquency rates of any; lower in fact than teens who did not own or have access to any guns at all.  The study concluded that this group, who received most of their socialization in home and family, was more law-abiding than the other two groups.  If hunting ‘cheapened’ the value of life, these youths would have been at a high risk for delinquency – the opposite of what was observed.

Q: Do modern weapons give hunters an un2016_05_27_Rule Five Friday (3)fair advantage over game animals?

A:  Success rates tell the tale.  Success rates on big game average anywhere from 10-40% in most areas.  That rate is calculated on the basis of animals taken / licenses issued; if you figure, roughly, three attempted stalks/shots for each animals, that is a per-attempt success rate of 3.3-12%.  Odds are stacked against the human hunter, indeed; game animals have far more acute senses, they’re stronger, they can run faster, they have natural cunning and an intimate knowledge of their environment.  One needs look no farther than popular hunting literature to see many stories of a hunter outfoxed by a wily deer, elk or bear.

Q: Do h2016_05_27_Rule Five Friday (4)unters frequently kill endangered animals?

A:  No, very few.  The main reason is obvious; not many endangered animal are available to be accidental targets.  That’s why they’re endangered.  It’s important to note that the largest cause of extinction or endangerment is habitat loss – and hunters are the uncontested champions of habitat preservation.

Q: What’s the difference between a hunter and a poacher?

A:  A poacher is one who hunts illegally, with callous disregard for the law and for the scientific process of wildlife management.  The ethical hunter scrupulously obeys the game laws of his/her area, and hunts with mindfulness of the surroundings, the game, and the importance of a clean, human kill.  The poacher does none of these things.  In short, the ethical hunter is a sportsman; the poacher is a criminal.

2016_05_27_Rule Five Friday (5)Q: Isn’t hunting a bastion of male chauvinists?

A:  Not even close. Women are the fastest growing demographic group in hunter’s ranks, according to recent license sales figures; this reflect a trend towards the view of hunting as a family activity, rather than a guy’s getaway.

Q: Are hunters vicious and cruel people?

A:  Not even close.  Noted German psychiatrist Erich Fromm, in his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, notes that the impulses for destructive aggression are very different from those involved in predation (hunting) and notes that hunters tend to be very peaceful people.[1]

[1] Erich Fromm. 1973. The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Holt,Rinehart and Winston, New York. ISBN 0-03-007596-3

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A Day At The Range

Another ‘tween projects morning at the range today saw me burning up a few hundred .22LR rounds, first with a Ruger 10-22 with an Adams & Bennett .920 target barrel, a Fajen thumbhole stock and a 6-24X target scope.2016-05-19 10.08.22

One problem:  The tight target chamber in the Adams & Bennett barrel doesn’t like the CCI Standard Velocity loads I was using.  It functions flawlessly with CCI Green Tags, but those have been damnably hard to find lately.  Still, when it functioned, it functioned great:

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These were 10-shot groups, at 25 yards, from the sitting position, not rapid-rapid fire but pretty much as fast as I could resight and squeeze.  This is one hell of a good shooting rifle.

I finished up the morning by busting some stationary clay birds at 15 and 20 yards with two handguns, the first a 1930s vintage Colt Officer’s Target in .22LR and the second a late 1950s vintage Ruger Standard.  Fun morning!  The old Ruger Standard was a gift from my Mom to the Old Man around 1958 or 1959; I’ve been shooting it since I was about 12, and can still steadily hit empty shotgun hulls with every shot at 20 yards.  Great old piece.

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Animal’s Daily Random Notes and Deep Thoughts

Bear-stuffsToday I’m channeling my inner Thomas Sowell, one of my personal heroes, and posting some random notes on the passing scene.

On minding your own business:  Yesterday morning I had to run down to the local computer parts shop looking for a hard drive cable for a dying laptop.  I enjoyed a cigar on the drive down, and as the smoke was not finished, I stood for a few moments outside the store entrance to finish the cigar.  Next to an ashtray, mind you, in an area marked as a smoking area.

A Millenial-looking dude with dreadlocks walked past and evidently smelled cigar smoke.  He looked at me and began, “you know, if you ask me…”

I cut him off.  “I didn’t ask you.”  Unsaid but implied was the added “fuck off.”

He shut up and walked away.

nukePresident Obama will be visiting Hiroshima to promote “his vision for a nuke-free world.”   There is very little the President could do to more clearly illustrate his head-in-the-clouds cluelessness.  There will never be a nuke-free world.  That genie simply cannot be put back in the bottle.  There will always be nukes and there will always be bad actors willing to use them – at present the only thing deterring many of these folks is that fact that we have them, too.

At a recent gun show, I spent some time examining a 4″ Smith & Wesson 57 in the highly underrated .41 Magnum.  An old friend has a 6″ version and has developed a series of “.41 Special” loads for that piece that are powerful and easy to shoot.  The main thing that stopped me from making the offer is the degree of overlap in portability with my S&W 25-5 in the equally useful .45 Colt.  Can anyone think of something the .41 Mag has that the .45 Colt lacks?

Speaking of firearms:  In this time of interest rates that are effectively zero, old guns may be a better investment than stocks and bonds.  I’m an avid gun buyer/shooter/trader myself, and I have to agree to the extent that I’ve never lost money on a gun deal.  I’ve only ever even broken even on one, and that was deliberate, as I was selling a rifle to a friend for what I had invested in it.

Watching for Bigfoot.
Watching for Bigfoot.

Yesterday afternoon I saw a car with “Bernie for President” bumper sticker, next to which was a sticker with a Bigfoot and the words “I Believe.”  That juxtaposition was unwittingly appropriate; you’d have to be credulous enough to believe in Bigfoot if you also believe in the loony old Bolshevik’s economic policies.

And on that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

I think I need one of these.

Triple LockThe pictured sixguns, True  Believers, are examples of the Smith & Wesson .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model ‘New Century,’ generally known as the Triple Lock and widely considered the finest double-action handgun ever made.  It’s a unique and iconic piece of American firearms history (and so good examples usually carry a fancy price) and a valuable weapon in the hands of any dedicated guntwist.

This revolver was the first of Smith & Wesson’s swing-out cylinder double action revolver, the first of the big N-frame guns, chambered originally in the very fine .44 Special and used by the late Elmer Keith and others to develop hot .44 Special loads that led to the rise of the .44 Magnum.

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

This was possible in part because of the feature that led to the name “Triple Lock” – a third locking lug on the cylinder crane, which made the big revolvers bank-vault solid.  There was an issue – it was an expensive feature, requiring fine machining, and some potential users considered them too prone to possible failure due to dirt in the action.  So, after producing only 15,376 examples, Smith & Wesson redesigned the gun into the 2nd Model, eliminating the third locking lug and the ejector shroud and dropping the price of the gun by $2 – not a bad sum in 1915.

Old guns are almost always a fair investment.  Unless mistreated, they never lose value.  A good quality sixgun like these old Smiths should, if properly cared for, last a century or more.  It wouldn’t be a bad inheritance for one of my grandsons somewhere in the middle of the 21st century.