Friday, March 31, 2006

check it out

We seem to have our first cyber-stalking anti-hunter over on the hunting haiku daily web site. The individual appears to come from the Detroit Michigan area and goes by a number of monikers, including "Bumps Cassidy," "Sally Phillips," "Levon McHenry," and "Pete LaBlanc." I'm sure there will be more.

So come on over and help us fight the infidels . . . in haiku form, of course. :-) Take a look at the threads that have multiple comments.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Where is Ducking Pete?

Last I saw him was beneath reddening maples...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Our worst goose hunt ever

This is a picture from the 2003 early season goose hunt near Ithaca – 8 birds/person/day. There are 39 in the picture - we were one short of the limit but had sailed one and decided that was good enough. All but a few were instantaneous kills due to a good decoy spread that brought them extremely close in for the shot – no need for magnum anything here. This is the one time I was glad we didn’t have double guns – the numbers required three shots and I think one of the guys did get a triple.

The hunt was very tough. The weather was nice and the ground dry, temperatures were very comfortable, no rain. We didn’t have to get up early at all and we had the whole place to ourselves.

What was really hard was carrying all the geese back to the truck from the 16th green. It was also hard to keep the gulls off the bread (lead sixes worked ok) and having foursomes play through the decs. But all in all it was a fun time. We wanted to do it again but we didn’t want to have to pay for another round or go fix the 4X4 wheel ruts left during set up.

The crew in the picture is now all gone, moved onto better things and left this haven of goose hunting for the next set of adventurers –any takers?


The perfect puppy elixir?

Well, hell must have frozen over! Two facts prove this to be true: 1) J.T. was able to actually shoot close enough to a grouse to actually make it change its flight path wherein it hit a tree and rendered itself dead – thus giving Mr. T the illusion that he finally hit one on the wing (sorry J.T., it’s a well known fact that you’re a ground-swatter”), and 2) my wife actually suggested that we might need to get my new son Hans a puppy. Now the odds of both events occurring in the same year are slim to none, so something big must be going down in this world.

Anyway, there was one condition to this suggestion by my wife – that the puppy must be a mutt (not one of those pure-bred-inbred-dogs as she likes to call them).

So, I’ll dare to open the door on the second most controversial topic for any grouser (no, its not about scotch): what kind of dog should I get for my son, and if possible, what 2 hunting breeds should be used to create the mutt?

My criteria are these (for the dog, not the kid):

-Must hunt close
-Must like the water
-Good with kids
-Won’t spill your Segrams 7
-Will not point coots or grebes

And now I leave it all to you....

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fly Fishing Alaska

In 1983, Nancy was having great success road racing. One of her sponsors, Moving Comfort, received an offer to send a “name” to Anchorage to speak and glad hand at a women’s marathon scheduled for August, 1984. Since Nancy clearly had the toughest name, she got the gig which included, among other perks, two Air Alaska tix. Off we were.

Reading the local newspaper one day over a mooseburger, I saw an advert for an overnight fishing adventure. You’d meet at the airport at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, say. Into the Beaver you’d go, landing at the camp noonish. Fish all day; great supper; and after a great breakfast next day, another hour of fishing before heading back in the Beaver. The whole thing lasted maybe 27 hours, but it was terrific. What was really cool was the cost. It was silly, something like $100, maybe less. The trick was being on the ground in Anchorage reading that paper. My $100 vacation was enabled by the camp management's understanding that a $100 a$$ in one of their $500 a night beds was much better than a $0 a$$. Primal Expedia in the bush.

The salmon come up the rivers in a predictable cycle, I understand. When I was in camp, the red or sockeye salmon were in the river. You may have read elsewhere “they were stacked in the river like cord wood.” Well, these fish were stacked in the river like cord wood. We heard the fish before we first saw them: the tails of so many fish trying to pass through a narrowish channel actually “beat the water to a froth.” No kidding. When hooked, though, bright fish often jumped athletically.

Here I am with one of my dead fish. Poached and served with a dill sauce, it made the best breakfast of my life.

What I brought back from Alaska was a certain ennui with fishing for the local variety, and a happy memory of the flight in the float plane. When I bumped into an old colleague at a supermarket in December, 1984, somehow the topic came up. It turns out he was, of all things, a flight instructor. In May, 1985 I took an introductory flight with him. In June I started regular instruction; and, being a slow learner, passed my check ride in August, 1986. The ink hadn’t dried on my ticket when the instructor offered me half ownership in his airplane. I was flattered, and excited, but also doubtful. How would I get that kind of money? “Mike, your half will cost ya’ $4800.” Well used planes built in 1966 are not necessarily costly to buy. It had a single, original radio, suitable for chats with Sky King. Also like Sky's "Bamboo Bomber," it had manual flaps, although N3864X's were activated by a Johnson bar instead of the more modern electrical operation. And the pilot's door latch frequently failed, making for exciting times indeed on take-off.

Naturally I jumped in with both eyes wide shut.

Here I am in old 64X, taxiing at Akron NY, its home base. In the other snap, I am leaning on my half of the airplane while my niece Sam awaits her ride.

If buying an airplane doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive, maintaining it is another story. By the time Nancy and I moved to our current house in 1993, I was very busy full time at the RCF, and with the move, the plane was now an hour away each way. I sold my half back to my friend.

One night around 1999, a bad storm dropped heavy snow hereabouts. The roof of 64X’s hangar collapsed, and the old timer was totaled. Sic transit gloria caeli.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Friday night at the fights

Just thought you all might be curious to read that long-time friend of grousers, Frank Zappai, is participating in the first ever Choka Cage Match at Friday night, 8pm - midnight, Eastern.

The press release for the event is at . I know you all join me in wishing Frank the best of luck in this newest endeavor!

choka on, Frank!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

3 Tug Hill Grouse for Beanie

Jim and I met on the old rec.hunting site where we frequently referenced upland hunting in NY. There was a third fellow, too, very amiable as I recall, always sharing that he got two birds at XYZ, then naming XYZ and giving driving directions. "Park at the second gate and hunt north. I left 2 bottles of Beck's Dark cooling in the spring there. Enjoy!" Yikes! He disappeared, either because he didn't like at least one of us, or, as I recall, because he got married. Well, I'm glad that Jim and I are still friends.

We arranged to hunt Tug Hill in early grouse season, so this picture is from September 20-30ish, 1997. Jim guided me to a place he'd heard was stiff with birds from a graduate student friend. Guess Pete was right, because we took these three. At the end of our lucky day, we tossed the guns, birds and vests on the ground while we enjoyed a cold post-hunt brew. To my current amazement, they landed in the random pattern frozen in the photo.

Good on you, old Bean!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Alternative Hunt Style Dogge

There is a neat thread about hunting subterranean mammals with Jack Russells over at SSM. If you wish, you can go there now.

Mixing oil, water and lunch….

I see that I will need a double before I can truly consider myself one of the brethren in this little circle of wisdom. IF I were to someday find myself fortunate enough to come into one (a grouse-grade 12 or 16) I would then have a dilemma: how to protect the gun in the rain. Now don’t go falling off your barkaloungers just yet, I will respect the gun and pay homage to it, but I will have to take it out in the rain since I can only hunt on days when it rains (according to my wife and bookie). So – question: what oil do you all use to protect your nice guns from the wet stuff? Better question: how do you protect your gun in general and not leave a film of highly toxic, EPA blacklisted chemicals on old Betsy that are strong enough to kill you if you were to get some on your POAS sandwich during the 4th lunch stop of the hunt?


Monday, March 20, 2006

Hunt report: POAS for supper

This past weekend we had a nice hunt for pheasants on a string up at Keith's preserve in Phelps, NY. Along for the hunt were Ernie and Mike O, fresh from cutting wood all day in the Tidball bottomlands. Our dogge of choice for the outing was Cabin Boy's GSP bitch Mistress.

We arrived at the preserve at the appointed hour of 2:30 pm and filled out the requisite paperwork for newbies to the preserve scene. I haven't hunted pheasants on a preserve since Pete Kleinman was a graduate student . . . that's how long it's been for me. Mike O had hunted the preserve with Keith previously, but Ernie and I were new to the game.

Keith had them put out four birds for us, but we were hunting an area where there had been a large release the day before but very little killing (something on the order of 3 birds had been taken out of 20 released). So we were primed for action.

After parking the Tidballmobile our host led the way. Conditions were chilly, 29 deg. F, strong winds, with a gray overcast sky. Perfect for POAS.

We hunted our way downhill through some gnarlies and along some ATV trails. We heard a cackle at one point, and Keith went in and busted up a pair--missing shots at a hen and at a cock that soared far overhead--Mike O also took a crack at that one, and we marked well its descent for future reference.

Just uphill from that spot Missy went on point again in the gnarlies, and we heard BANG. . . . BANG . . . . then a few seconds later, BANG. . . BANG.

As we figured Keith had just killed all four of our planted birds for the day, one of us (can't remember which one) yelled out, "Hey, Cabin Boy . . . how about saving some for us?" But he had only slain one (whew!), so we followed the original hen's flight downhill toward some railroad tracks.

After twenty or so minutes of poking around along the RR right of way, Missy again went on point, and as Mike and I converged on the bird from opposite directions, the hen pheasant flushed out toward Mike and met her fate. This is this.

We continued along the right of way back toward the direction where the high overhead cock had flown. We reached a large open field and crossed it, the dog working into the wind at this point. We re-entered some woods, where Ernie found himself outside on the edge staring down at a lone cock pheasant walking in the grass. He pursued the POAS (is POAS singular or plural?), wherein said bird reentered the woods. Ernie picked up the pace, the bird ran, and down at the corner of the field where the field touched the RR tracks, the bird flushed. Mike O was in the right place at the right time and took the shot that Ernie passed up. This is this.

We again worked out way out of the woods toward the road, then recrossed the big field to reenter the woods where the birds had been released. Here we found the birds of the day. Within minutes of reentering the release area, Ernie had killed a hen pheasant with his borrowed L.C. Smith Marlin Pheasant Killing Gun, which turns out to be just the ticket for administering the coup de grace for treed birds. Moments later a cock pheasant met its doom at the hands of at least three of our group--the community bird.

At this point I had no clear kill to my credit, and so Keith said, "You the man." I followed little Mistress along a short ridge and then down into the gnarlies where she stood staunch on point in the middle of an ATV trail. I walked in boldly behind her, and as I passed her she relocated about ten yards ahead of me. Again I walked in boldly beside her, and she relocated one more time about another five feet. Absolutely textbook! I murmured to myself. As I walked in this final time, a cock pheasant cackled and flushed off to my left, and I dispatched the bird with my street sweeping SWAT gun, as Keith had earlier monikered my machine. (no Parkers for POAS for this Purist, no sirree). This is this.

The Street Sweeper--perfect for POAS

Our intrepid gang of four continued, looping around through a patch of hardwoods that held a turkey that Ernie spared when it flushed. As we made a lower sweep through the release area, Keith and I spotted a lone cock walking the trail some eighty yards in front of us. Putting the Mistress at heal, Keith walked up on the bird, released the dogge, and within another minute or so Keith had added another cock pheasant to his game pouch--although I in a moment of weakness killed his cock extra good as it was falling from the sky. "Tantillo, what are you doing ruining my supper!" cried out the astonished, chagrined, nay, crestfallen Cabin Boy, but graciously our host accepted my humble apologies for being so quick on the trigger.

Moments later, Missy was on point again, and I was designated the Gun of the Moment. Walking in boldly, I saw the bird on the ground in front of Missy's staunch point. All I could think was that the bird was crippled, it sat there as motionless as a woodcock. I walked in to kick it out, the dogge started moving, and the bird struggled to get up and out. "A cripple," says I aloud, pausing to see whether the dogge would catch it or not. The dogge did not catch it, as the bird arose in short order, and I began counting off very carefully to myself, "One mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi," etc. etc.

At the count of at least four mississippi . . . give or take 1-2 mississippis . . . I let off the safety of my SWAT gun. Slowly bringing the gun to my shoulder, I carefully let the bird get out an additional several yards before pulling the trigger.


All that was seen of said bird was an EXPLOSION of feathers no more than 18 yards away.


And in an instant I knew I had essentially field dressed that bird in mid-flight.

I hung my head and turned away amidst the catcalls and hooting and hollering from the gallery. The POAS pundits were providing instant play-by-play analysis, and somewhere along the way (my mind is a bit fuzzy on the details) Cabin Boy described what had just happened:

"You put that bird through a frickin' BLENDER!"

And indeed, when Cabin Boy dutifully retrieved the bird for me--I in a state of shock, temporarily unable to function--he confirmed the diagnosis. "There's no bird here anymore JT. It's just feathers."

And suddenly, there was much mirth and joy as Our Boys realized that they had a new moniker to tag on Mr. Jim:


Needless to say that's not quite the nom de swatte I would have preferred for myself, but if the blender fits . . . .

Anyhew, I believe that that was the eighth and final bird of the day. After briefly examining the still smoldering remains of the recently departed aerially eviscerated hen, we decided to leave the carcass out in the open for hawks, foxes, or coyotes to finish off.

As it was near the end of the day, we beat a hasty retreat to the truck where Ernie provided suitable libation for us all, and there was much rejoicing. The scorecard for the day had been eight birds harvested, seven of which were suitable for bringing home and putting on the supper table.

well, that's all the hunt news that fits to print. signing off,

The Blendinator

Friday, March 17, 2006

this is a Grebe

New Policy: You must be able to identify this bird in low light conditions and resist targeting it to be able to hunt waterfowl at Canoga Creek Farms. No exceptions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

...the sum of my African Hunt experience

here are some brag shots... apologies for being so "far afield"

Springbok, Kalahari SA 2001

Impala, Eastern Cape, SA 2004

Kudu, Eastern Cape, SA 2005

Where is the BS(S) in this forum?

Maybe being a latecomer to this horse and pony show I’ve missed it, but why hasn’t anyone brought up the good old Browning SxS as a must have toy for grouse hunting?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

dog pic

Cagey asked for a picture of my dog somewhere along the way. Here she is as a young'n enjoying the water.

Dogge with Water Lillies (ca. 1998)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Forget what Mr. Mike says . . .

And don't forget, he's the one who took us all on the NEQPD not too long ago (Never Ending Quest for the Perfect Dogge, for newcomers).

I made the field trip today to Syracuse to inspect the CZ Huglu Ringneck 28 gauge gun that was in stock at Gander Mountain. I now stand by my earlier statement that this gun--and the small gauge equivalents in the Bobwhite model as well--are probably the best value for a new side by side gun today on the market. You can shoot steel through them, the wood to metal fit is beautiful, the wood for a sub-$1000 gun is beautiful, you can have choke tubes--it's all there. The rounded Prince of Wales grip is my personal favorite grip style, so I'm in to that as well. So again, forget what Mr. Mike said about Huglu's Teutonic Majesty--he was undoubtedly referring to a 12 gauge gun from several years ago, not these guns being imported today.

Ringneck model

I picked up the literature. The 28 gauge gun that I handled today weighed 5.7 pounds and came up very sweetly to the shoulder, and my eye lined up right on the bead. The 28 inch barrel version of the same gun would weigh 5.9 pounds; and the 20 gauge version of the gun would weigh 6.1 pounds.

Move to the 12 gauge, however, and the gun jumps up to 7.1 pounds. This is probably a good thing, though, especially for you lads and lasses who would be shooting such a gun out of the Double Black Blind at pesky incoming waterfowl.

The only negative that I saw on the gun is that the case coloring is not quite up to Doug Turnbull standards (surprise, surprise), but also that I could see the machining milling marks on the receiver, ever so faintly. Well, you can't have everything.

And as I mentioned yesterday, the folks on Shooting Sportsman who have actually shot these guns are for the most part very pleased with them, thinking them a great value for the money. Read some of their conversation here, here, and here.

Again, the question here is value for the money. If you insist on a side by side that can shoot modern loads, has choke tubes, and you've got $4000 for a custom Spanish import, then have at it. But if your budget is under $1000, then the Ringneck I looked at today was $999 new in the box--for a 28 gauge. The Bobwhite with double triggers and English grip would be $699.

Bobwhite model

The only other guns that I can think of that come anywhere close would be used Ithaca SKB side by sides. Clearly some of the brethren have gone that route and are very happy with their guns.

But I think I may be getting a 28 or 20 gauge toy sometime soon, you know, just for fun. And we all know I like two triggers--lucky for me that's the cheaper of the two models!

Sour Grapes

Friday, March 10, 2006

...a meager contribution

God knows, and even Tantillo knows, that my gun knowledge is limited and that my gun collection, is, er, colorful. However, I have "kilt" a few things with my "colorful" guns and even fancied myself in the new gun market recently, having "kilt" enough to justify plunking down real money.

I bought the Marlin LC Smith in 12 gauge sxs. I regret it.

Now, I am am instinctive shooter, especially since Josh enlightened me at a firing range somewhere in the DC metro area by suggesting I become a left hander. (Why, because Uncle Sam found it useful that I sacrifice my right eye ...long story...perhaps next grouse camp.)

So, I shoot left now, and this LC Smith kills stuff. I beat the snot out of it the first two weeks I owned it killing geese mercilessly. I hit what I aimed at. But not well, not enjoyably. Bottom line is I don't enjoy this gun one bit.

First, hate the single trigger. Second, hate the inability to select barrels (important when I need a "fuller" choke to take the banded geese closer to Jim so they don't escape unscathed due to Tantillo Balistics Blundering) ;).

Third, and most important, the cast. Its a bad deal. Not well published or advertised, but clearly there, and not favoring lefty's. Lots of crippling shots, lots of ugly connections. Birds fell, I was shooting solo, the dog retrieved 'em, but they weren't the clean stone dead drops from the sky I have become accustomed to. Switched back to old favorites and I was back in "enjoyable" form. This is important to me, all science and ballistics aside.

Finally, it is stocked long (or else there is something else going on) which means the trigger guard beats my hand to a pulp (reminiscent of one of Pete's guns).

So, in response to an embedded comment somewhere in the impressive 19 comments to the recent Grouse Gab post, I'd say avoid the LC Smith Marlin thing.

True, I broke the gun in on waterfowl ('cause I have different guns for upland, of course!), but I think my impressions would be the same in any case. With that, I slink back to my amateur's armchair and await more action from you pedantic pugilists.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ever shoot a moose with a .243?

Next topic – bullet selection. Who makes the best big game bullets for deer sized and moose sized game.

Any 2 bit flukey can take out a deer with big a 30-06, but when I heard of people shooting moose stone dead with a .243 I was impressed. Part of that has to be the bullet design, and I’d like to know if any of you have a favorite. I’m going to suggest the 30 cal 180 gr. Swift A-frame for deer as a primer and the A-square 180 dead-tough, also in 30 cal., for those large woodchucks near the nuclear plant discharge.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Hey lads and lasses,
sorry to have been out of the loop lately--was felled by a bug of some sort and spent the last 48 or so hours in stuporific doze under a mass of quilted blankets.

Anyway, just in case nobody's up-to-date and current on reading their 5 Smart Guys comments, Superior Shooter this morning pleads with us to help him address his off-season gun woes. To wit:
Maybe the esteemed panel can suggest a new gun for the house (grounds for divorce on my end if I get caught!)? What is the best left-handed poor-man's aint-got-no-good gun dog gun that you can recommend? I'll not impose any limits on the conversation but I'm currently limiting my looking to the Ithaca 37, the 870, the 1187, a "loose" citori and possibly a new Ohio born NID (all in 20 ga). Note that the last two choices require some lucky tickets at the next Red squirrels sportman's dinner potluck and bbq.
For the sweet love of the almighty, will someone here please help the not-so-humble one figure out what his options are? Also, if Superior would provide us with more detail about the RUMORS that he's passing on about Ohio-made New Ithaca Doubles in 20 gauge, that would be much appreciated by yourn' truly.

I know we've got some lefties out there--and I'm not just talking Al Franken fans--so let's pony up some good gun advice for the shooter.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A "Core Business" post

Some of y'all might remember, last Fall, when a flight of woodcock arrived in the Finger Lakes Nat'l Forest neighborhood,monsignor Tantillo exhorted Cabin Boy to get to a woodcock covert immediately. Later, Tantillo whined about feeling guilty about hammering the same coverts over and over, ad nauseum navel-gazing blah blah blah.

Anyway, I digress...

Point is, my dogge Artemis had the hunt of her young life on that day, and I am grateful that Jim had previously introduced me to his FLNF haunts.

So, so long 'til huntin' season.

Welcome to 5 Smart Guys who Hunt and Mr. Mike

I want to take the opportunity this morning to welcome two new "smart guys" to the blog, which brings the total of smart guys up to . . . >5. (see Pete, numbers are my metier.) Blackbird is a student of mine with a keen interest in hunting and an almost pathological curiosity about the sociology of blogging. We also welcome Superior Shooter, whose most distinct character trait is an almost t0o-painful-to-watch humility. Stop groveling Super, tell us what you really think of yourself. I think you will find that Supershooter will sling the b.s. with the best of them.

Anyway, welcome to grousers.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Newly discovered Elmer Fudd classic haiku!!

This is an exciting find: Elmer Fudd's long-lost haiku classics, now lovingly assembled in a haiku chapbook and available for sale online. Check out the autumn artistry in these gems:

Buds form in the woods
Be vewwy vewwy quiet
I'm hunting wabbits

Oh boy, wabbit twacks
Whaddya know? No more bullets
Summer mosquitoes

And who could fail to be impressed by the verbal pyrotechnics Fudd exhibits in this haiku:

Wild ducks migwating
There's something scwewy wound here
Locking and loading

All in all, an impressive collection. Highly recommended.

Knocked down on fwesh snow
That wabbit must have twicked me


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Careful, it's rough out there, Bambi

Two deer locked antlers in a fight in Indiana and then drowned when they fell through the ice of a farm pond. For details and photo, read the full article.