Category Archives: Manly Arts

Another Great Morning

2014-10-31 09.38.13 (917x1280)One of the better aspects of self-employment is the between-projects free time, much of which I spend at the range.  This morning’s outing was a nostalgic one.

The rifle pictured is an old Marlin 783 in .22WMR.  Note the old-style Marlin gold trigger, and if you look on the underside of the repeatedly-refinished stock you’ll see the old Marlin bullseye.  I bought this rifle with money I earned detassling corn and haying in the summer of 1975, and proceeded to kill a tall stack of woodchucks and crows with it around the Old Man’s place in the following years.  It was my constant companion on many a long summer day wandering the hills, fields and woods of Allamakee County.

I’ve kept it all this time and, I’m a tad ashamed to admit, it’s been largely occupying a space in the rack with occasional dustings and touch-up cleaning.

Today I decided to take the old gun out and give it a workout.  I burned up 50 rounds of Federal and another 50 rounds of CCI Maxi-Mags of unknown vintage, and the old rifle still shoots great.  I 2014-10-31 09.13.51 (1280x1197)punched some paper and then spent about 60 rounds breaking clay birds at 25 yards, off-hand, as fast as I could work the bolt.

The target shown is three rounds at 25 yards.  One ragged hole, and that’s from a solid sitting position.

The old gun still has it.  It’s always shot as well as I can shoot it, and the mark of a good rifle is that any failure of performance should be not on gun but on shooter.  I’ll be keeping this old Marlin for another 40 years, no doubt, and it will probably be passed on to one of the grandkids – maybe a great-grandkid.

The Best Way To Spend A Morning.

2014-10-30 11.13.33 (960x1280)This is, of course, at our own Aurora Gun Club.

The rifle is a DPMS 20″ upper on a polymer lower, and I keep the gun zeroed with mil-spec XM-193 55-grain ammo.  It’s a pretty fair shooter, even with a trigger that’s only so-so; a trigger replacement is on the agenda.  Still, we managed a couple of 1-1/4″ groups today after putting a zero on the new Simmons 24X scope.  This should be a great coyote-killer, and I suppose if ISIL ever invades Colorado, I’ll be more than ready.

Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-BearAnother hunting season over – this one cut short, as the inestimable Rojito developed some sort of electrical trouble and remains even now in an auto shop in Granby.  Mrs. Animal cheerfully drove up from Denver to rescue loyal sidekick Rat and yr. obdt., but we returned to the city with nothing to show for our efforts except, as always, great memories of time spent outdoors.  The one outstanding thing in this abbreviated hunt were the numbers of Shiras moose evident in our mountain stomping grounds; we saw no less than four on opening day, a young bull and three cows.  That bodes well for yr. obdt. if I ever manage to snag a coveted Colorado moose tag.

And, on this return to regular blogging, let me once more thank Robert Stacy, Smitty and Wombat-socho for the Rule Five links.  Appreciated as always, guys!

Speaking of that return to regular blogging, here’s an interesting bit of commentary from Forbes on the United States’ two very different “gun cultures” and how at least one county sheriff sees the two:  How Gun-Control Legislation Is Affecting This Election.  Excerpt:

Actually, a majority of sheriffs in New York and Colorado publicly oppose the new gun-control laws. Sheriffs are in a unique position to speak out, as nearly all of America’s 3,080 sheriffs are elected. These sheriffs aren’t standing alone like Gary Cooper in “High Noon.” Polls show that a lot of the men and women who protect us support the Second Amendment. In 2013, a survey of police officers by the National Girls with GunsAssociation of Chiefs of Police found that 86.8 percent of those surveyed think “any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport and self-defense.” Also, a survey done by PoliceOne.com of 15,000 law-enforcement professionals found that almost 90 percent of officers believe that casualties related to guns would be decreased if armed citizens were present at the onset of an active-shooter incident. More than 80 percent of PoliceOne’s respondents support arming schoolteachers and administrators who willingly volunteer to train with firearms. Virtually all the survey’s respondents (95 percent) said a federal ban on the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds wouldn’t reduce violent crime.

Cops – at least the cops surveyed here – are people of uncommonly good sense, probably in part because of the inexorable onslaught of human stupidity they deal with on a daily basis.  An old retired state policeman once told me that every criminal he ever dealt with had a combination of three personality traits, greedy, mean and stupid – that proportions varied but all three were universally present.

These, of course, are the people that will completely and totally ignore any gun control legislation, no matter how well-intentioned, that ignorant state or Imperial legislators may pass.

user-girls-guns-550-29There is a gun culture in the United States, a culture of responsible, law-abiding shooters and hunters.  Some keep guns for recreation, some for sport, some for defense, some (like yr. obdt.) for all of the above.  Of all the nations in the world, only the United States, in its Constitution, recognizes the right to keep and bear arms as an inalienable right that we retain by virtue of being free, law-abiding citizens.  And those of us who choose to own guns, for any reasons, don’t like seeing politicians who are utterly ignorant of the differences between citizen and thug try to abrogate those rights.

That’s why three former Colorado legislators find themselves unemployed now.  That’s in part why Governor Hickenlooper finds himself in a tight race against a GOP challenger now.

Rule Five Friday

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (1)Since today marks the beginning of our annual excursion afield in pursuit of a winter’s venison, I thought I’d present a few thoughts on the hunt, yr. obdt.’s history in such, and the state of hunting in America today.

I was born into a family of farmers and outdoor people.  The Old Man hunted and fished most of his life.  Both of my grandfathers were outdoor types, and fishing trips with both of them are among my earliest and fondest memories.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (2)Since I was old enough to carry a .22 rifle in the woods, I did so – almost constantly.  Growing up in the hills, woods and fields of Allamakee County, Iowa presented plenty of opportunities to do so.  The endless summers of youth were long, in part because of my anxious awaiting of the opening of squirrel season in late August, the first of many small game seasons to open.  Hunting squirrels with a .22 teaches a boy to be quiet in the woods; it teaches him how to look over the terrain, to plan and execute a stalk, and how to shoot carefully.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (3)Later in the year, I always laid aside rifle for shotgun when seasons for ruffed grouse and later, pheasant and Hungarian partridge opened.  In December, it was deer season – and hunting whitetails on the Old Man’s place in Allamakee County stuck me with a love of big-game hunting that has stuck with me ever since.

Moving to Colorado when I left the Army in 1989 was the icing on the cake.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (4)Folks hunt for a variety of reasons.  Some hunt for trophies – and as every state requires, by law, the removal of all edible portions of a legally taken game animal, ‘trophy hunting’ as such should carry no animus.

Some hunt simply because they like to spend time wandering woods and fields, and that’s fine too.

Some hunt because they like eating wild game.  Why not?  It’s additive-free, lean, healthy meat – you don’t get any more ‘free-range’ than an animal you’ve hunted and killed in the wild.

I2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (5) have hunted for 40 years or so for all of those reasons, mostly the second and third.  I like the chance at a big buck or trophy bull as much as anyone, and it’s no secret I like to eat.  You won’t find any better eating than an elk steak cooked over an open fire.  And, there’s no better way to kill a few days than bumming around mountains, fields and forests.

So tomorrow starts the annual ritual.  The bloodwind calls.  It’s time to hunt.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Hump Day Meat-Eating News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Here’s an interesting tidbit from PJMedia’s peripatetic undercover man-on-the-street Zombie:  I Am Ashamed To Be A Vegetarian.  Excerpt:

I’m a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat in 20 years.

Up until this morning I was OK with my dietary choice.

But then I saw this video just uploaded by “Direct Action Everywhere,” a radical vegetarian activist gang, and now I am ashamed. Ashamed to be associated with them. Ashamed that everyone I meet must think I’m some sort of anti-meat revolutionary. Ashamed that mean-spirited lunatics have hijacked my personal food preference and turned it into rallyng cry for passive-aggressive bullying.

Watch and weep, as a contingent of vegetarian fascists burst into a random restaurant in San Francisco and try to pull some kind of creepy mind-game on the bewildered diners:

Watch the video.  It’s a hoot.

Speaking as the guy who actually wrote the book about these people, this protest is typical – factless, clueless, and achieving nothing but an unearned sense of moral superiority on the part of the protestors, with no real effort on their part.  (See my own PJMedia article on the topic of “ethical veganism for some idea of what a real effort might entail.“)

Moose
Protein on the hoof.

Personally I prefer to hunt my own protein.  Only last Sunday all of us here at the Casa de Animal enjoyed venison burritos for supper, using up some of the last of last year’s fat meat muley.  This coming Friday loyal sidekick Rat and yr. obdt. will pack up high-powered rifles and sidearms and take to the field again to pursue wild ungulates, with the intent of killing and eating them.  Don’t like it, “vegans?”

Tough shit.

But, I digress.  Let’s get back to Zombie’s protestors.

The proper reaction on the part of the restaurant owner in this case would have been one sentence:  “Get the hell out.”  The incident described took place in looney San Francisco, however, where rational reactions are the exception rather than the rule.

breakky
Breakfast.

Make no mistake about the ultimate goal of these people; given the opportunity, they would use the force of law to prevent you from eating meat.  The “vegan” movement is, at its heart, fundamentally anti-choice; they are fundamentally against that very basic bit of individual liberty.

Fortunately they are a small part of the nation’s lunatic fringe.  Let’s hope they stay that way.

Animal’s Daily News

Greatest Pistol Ever Stopped Attackers Cold.  That greatest pistol ever, of course, being the Browning 1911.  Excerpt:

Our own 1911.
Our own 1911.

The history of the M1911 begins in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, when U.S. soldiers and Marines found themselves locked in fierce combat with the Moro, a knife-wielding native insurgency that combined religious zeal and potent drug use.

Much of the fighting was close-quarters battle and the hopped-up Moros took round after round from U.S. .38-caliber pistols while they continued to hack away at Americans.

If anything positive came from the bloody 15-year guerrilla war, it was the realization that the U.S. military needed a better pistol.

A look back at an older weapon pointed the way to a solution. In desperation, the Army had issued Colt Model 1873 .45-caliber revolvers—dating back to the Plains Indian Wars—to soldiers fighting the Moros.

The heavier round began to turn the tide. It often took just one well-placed shot from the .45-caliber pistol to kill a Moro.

Yr. obdt. can only agree with the gist of this article; the Browning 1911 is probably the best martial sidearm ever made.  The safe here contains one, not a Colt but a Rock Island Armory 1911, which is basically a Series 70 Colt in WW2-era 1911A1 style.  It’s a no-frills, very basic military-type sidearm which has the advantages of being BROWNINGpowerful, reasonably accurate and very, very reliable.

But what’s not mentioned in this article is that the 1911 was just one of many near-immortal firearms designs to spring from the fertile mind of John Moses Browning.  Walk into any gun shop anywhere in the United States and you will, without a doubt, encounter several firearms in the racks that are Browning designs.

That’s not a bad record for a man who passed away in 1926.  The DaVinci of firearms’ designs will certainly be in constant use a hundred years after his death.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearI’ve always been a fan of the venerable .30-06.  Six or seven rifles in this caliber have graced the gun rack and one point or another,  although we have but two in the house at the moment.  Loyal sidekick Rat also totes an ’06 in the field in pursuit of deer and elk.

It seems Gun Digest shares our appreciation of this fine old round.  Read Greatest Cartridges:  The Amazing .30-06 Springfield.  Excerpt:

There is now, and has been since the Chinese invented gunpowder, a continuing debate seeking the mythical “best all-around cartridge.” One can make a really convincing argument for the .30-06 as that cartridge.

Excluding the elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino, hippo, and I might add lion of Africa, and, perhaps another animal or two from elsewhere, an accurate rifle using proper bullets in the old Springfield will get most any job done convincingly.

gun control theoryFortunately, most of us do not have to make that kind of decision as we can select a cartridge that is essentially ideal for a particular animal being hunted. How this really splendid cartridge came about is an interesting story.

The gun rack at the Casa de Animal has a pretty good range of centerfire hunting calibers,  ranging from the thunderous .45-70 to the diminutive .22 Hornet.  But if a fellow wants a one-gun big-game arsenal, it would be hard to go wrong with the .30-06.

In fact, if you were to assemble a three-gun arsenal for hunting almost anywhere in the world, you’d be hard-pressed to beat a .30-06 bolt gun, a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun, and a .22 rifle.  Add a .45ACP handgun, say a 1911-pattern gun, and you’re ready for almost anything short of elephants.

Read the rest of the Greatest Cartridges series here.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

What do you carry around in your pockets?  Hung on your belt?

An interesting conversation the other day, centered not only on pocket contents but the Manly Art in general, led to this discussion.  Yr. obdt. routinely carries:

  1. Wallet
  2. Bandanna (in a pocket, not worn; carries out all the functions of a somewhat more robust handkerchief)
  3. Pocket knife
  4. Pocket watch (I detest wristwatches)
  5. Cell phone
  6. Cigar trimmer
  7. Lighter
  8. Money clip
  9. Where jurisdiction permits, a sidearm
  10. And edit – I completely forgot my damn keys.

There’s probably nothing defining about what a person carries about with them, except perhaps armament (see item #9, above.)  But it’s a matter of curiosity.

So, how about it, True Believers?  What do you carry about with you, from day to day?

Animal’s Daily News

Girls with GunsSo what’s the best state to live in if you’re a gun owner?  Guns & Ammo has the answer.  Seems the top five are:

  1. Arizona
  2. Alaska
  3. Georgia
  4. Utah
  5. Kentucky

No real surprises there.  This isn’t really what you’d call a scientific survey, but it is based on several factors including right-to-carry, Castle Doctrine laws, ease of obtaining a Class III weapon, magazine bans and other miscellaneous items.

Sadly our own Colorado comes in well down the list at #40, certainly in large part because of the legislative idiocy forced on our state only last year.  Alaska, where Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. plan to retire, fares much better – again, no surprise in a state with a long-standing outdoor tradition, not to mention plenty of toothy and dangerous wildlife.

gun control theoryThis is an election year here in Colorado though, and plenty of folks are unhappy with the current powers-that-be – Governor Hickenlooper, I suspect, will squeak by in a re-election but the mood of the country and the state are moving against the party that currently controls our legislature.

Then, True Believers, we’ll see what we’ll see.

Animal’s Daily News

2014_03_12_Shotguns (1)Two ongoing shooting iron projects returned from the Colorado School of Trades today (photo, left.)

The iron to the left in the first photo still has more work ahead.  This is a Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge, solid rib, made in the late 1940s.  The gunsmith school applied a polish and gloss blue and tuned up the action.  Next will come a new stock and fore-end, and then choke tubes – a tricky proposition, that, as Model 12s have notoriously thin barrel walls.  Still, several choke tube installers/manufacturers have thin-wall tubes especially for these wonderful old guns, so while it’s limited to traditional, 2-3/4″ lead shot loads, it’s doable.

Model 12 Action closeup
Model 12 Action closeup

And doable is good in this case; the Model 12 is the gold standard of American pump shotguns.   The gun started in (obviously) 1912 as a redesign of John Browning’s Winchester Model 1897, and had an eighty-year history.  Model 12s saw service in game fields, duck blinds and trap/skeet ranges all over the U.S. and Canada (many other places as well, no doubt.)  They even saw service in the U.S. military from the First World War through Vietnam.

It’s nice to have a nicely restored example of this fine shotgun in the rack.

The second arm, the one on the right in the first photo, is the Sears-marked version of the venerable Stevens 520a, again a 12 gauge, manufactured in 1945 or 1946.  2014_03_12_Shotguns (5)This one is done as is, having been polished, blued and tuned.  Why put the effort into a gun with little or no collector’s value, even if it were untouched and original?

Simple:  This was the Old Man’s gun, purchased with some of his demobilization pay when he came home to Iowa at the end of World War 2.  Again a Browning design, the old Stevens has a lot going for it; like the Model 12 it’s a solid steel action, a breakdown gun that fits handily in a short carry case.  It’s a good solid pheasant-killer, in no way fancy but effective – and durable.

You can pick these old Stevens shotguns up for a couple of C-notes when you can find them, but this one isn’t for sale at any price.