Guns, Gear, and The Great Outdoors

Posts tagged “outdoors

Kitchen Calamity

No great story is complete without a healthy dose of conflict woven into the narrative. Whether you believe in a higher power, cosmic karma, or plain-old blind chance, it is undeniable that this conflict always seems to find its way into this novel we call life. Thus in life, as in every great novel, while this conflict may create a fair amount of discomfort, it is an essential ingredient in the creation of something worth reading (or living for that matter). That being said, allow me to tell you a story….

Rob was an adventurous young man. He loved trying new things and quickly became disinterested with repetition. For that reason, he was constantly learning new skills, taking on new challenges, and existing in a constant state of metamorphosis in retaliation to the day-to-day blasé. It was for this reason that Rob decided to take on a series of 30 day challenges. As he sat staring into the stale January air one evening, pondering what to craft for dinner, a thought drifted into his head like the pungent smoke of a corn cob pipe. He apprehensively opened the freezer door and peered into a jungle of forgotten morsels. “Why do I make four or five trips to the grocery store each week while this food piles up and slowly degrades into useless crystallized nothingness?” he pondered as the frozen mist cascaded down onto his wool socks below. Thus the idea was born. He vowed not to buy food for thirty days; to live off the bounties of his current possession and reap the rewards of frugality and culinary creativity.
A week into his embargo of groceries, things seemed to be moving smoothly. Several delicious meals had been prepared and the freezer was already beginning to look more organized. Rob’s cellphone chirped on Thursday afternoon, reminding him of his commitment to a skiing trip for the weekend with his family. He gathered his cold weather gear, his trusty camera, and a small travel guitar destined for its maiden voyage. Gear packed and house secured, he and his girlfriend headed off to the mountains just as a blizzard began raining down fluffy piles of winter enjoyment.
After three days of visiting with loved-ones and pure outdoor euphoria, the happy couple returned home. Katie headed down the driveway to retrieve her tiny chihuahua pups from their stay at le spa de grandparents with a promise to return later. Rob had been brainstorming foraged meals all weekend and, after a short hike to check the whereabouts and well-being of the local whitetail herd, headed to the freezer. He instinctively reached for the top shelf, which was the resting place of a giant porterhouse steak that had been dancing in his head all weekend. A grill hunkered outside, patiently waiting for a large helping of charcoal and mesquite and the chance to craft this tender piece of art into medium-rare bliss. As his hands drifted over the tightly packaged meat, something felt horribly wrong.He quickly withdrew his hand from the icy depths as a red tinted drop of liquid escaped his fingertips and splashed on the linoleum like the first drop of a springtime shower. A cold chill ran down Rob’s spine as he gingerly reached back into the freezer. Every item on the top two rows was completely defrosted. Packages on the door were barely below room temperature. He couldn’t believe the devastating sight. Defeated, he reached for a garbage bag under the sink and began sorting through the devastation. Forty pounds of discarded carnage and three weeks remaining in the challenge left Rob temporarily paralyzed. As he sat and pondered the potential annihilation of his month-long project, a glimmer of hope rang through the darkness. With a full pantry and chest freezer remaining, “this just adds another layer of challenge” he smirked. “This might be fun”. emtyfreezer

~The preceding tale was based entirely on actual events~

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Skill 227: Hold a Shotgun Tenderly

Whether you enjoy beating the bushes in hopes of flushing a covey of quail, hiking through the opens plains in search of cackling ringnecks, or simply enjoy transforming fluorescent flying disks into fluorescent flying powder, you can do it better by getting your grip right. The manual relates the proper grip to the way you handle a common household item. Using the grip pressure instructed, this is what I noticed:

  1. The gun shouldered in the correct position naturally
  2. My usual sight tremors disappeared
  3. It seemed much easier to sweep the target and continue with my follow-through.

The moral of the story is this: after taking the book’s advice, it became clear that I have been holding my shotgun wrong for twenty years.

Sighting down browning gold


Skill 186: Teach a Bird Dog to Point

Bird Pointing Perfection

For the sake of dedicated journalism, and to provide you, the reader, with an all-inclusive reading experience, the obvious way to complete this skill was to rush out and buy the first pointer puppy I could find…

This is mistake number one that people make in the pursuit of bird dog perfection. Sure, skills can be taught…to a point. A key aspect of a rock-solid hunting dog, however, is rock-solid genetics. Don’t simply glance in the classified ads until you stumble upon a batch of puppies that will work. Do your homework, ask the gun dog community, and set yourself up for success.

This is one of those skill challenges that you only get to try out every 10-15 years (hopefully). That being said, my father’s two-year-old German shorthaired pointer, “Nikka” (pictured above), provides a means for me to evaluate her training against the tips suggested in the Total Outdoorsman Manual (TOM).

As I just stated, step one of our process was locating a quality breeder. Nikka came pre-packaged with a long list of championship bloodlines and a guarantee from this breeder. Step One….check.

Aside from genetics, the rest was up to us. When comparing the steps we took in creating the Michael Jordan of bird dogs to the ones that the book suggests, the approach was very similar.

[At this point, it’s a good time to let you, the reader, know that these posts will be a review of the tips discussed in the book, not a summary of them. As much as I would love to tell each and every one of you exactly what I am doing, I have this sinking suspicion that Field and Stream, as well as the authors would define me doing so as plagiarism. Since their lawyers are probably much more robust than mine, I’ll leave it up to you to buy the book if you really want to follow along. I would recommend doing this anyway, as the book’s pictures and asides from the author are worth the purchase price alone, not to mention the wealth of useful, intriguing, fun information]

To put our strategy into a few short path marks to ensure you are moving in the right direction: If your pointer puppy is less than a year old, is familiar with the sound of a .22, a 410, and a 20 gage, has tasted feathers, and you are familiar with the concept of positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors, your headed in the right direction. For a more detailed, step by step guide, check out the TOM and give their method a try.

In our case, Nikka participated in the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association’s natural ability test a few days after her first birthday. Not only did she receive a prize I perfect score, but she also pointed a bird in which the judges’ claimed didn’t exist in a wide-open field containing one small tuft of grass. As the judge sarcastically kicked around at the open ground, he chuckled at the notion that Nikka was pointing at nothing. Much to his surprise, a quail blasted out of the grass and did a quick fly-by of his head. He didn’t chuckle much after that.Nikka posing with a beautiful male ringneck pheasant