More On Airguns – Two More States Legalize Airguns For Hunting

August 12, 2013

Crosman Hunting promoThis is pretty cool!  In a recent press release from Crosman, I saw the exciting news that Alabama and Arizona have opened the doors for airgun hunters on multiple new species.

According to the piece, Alabama will now allow hunters using airguns .30 caliber or larger for predators, hogs, and whitetail deer.  This is pretty cool news, especially in a state where much of the hunting is done at reasonably close range from stands or blinds.  I’ve always thought whitetail would be the perfect game for airgun hunting, just as they are for bow hunters.

In AZ, the regulations are a little more diverse, but the news is still good for the big bore airgun enthusiast.  Here’s how it breaks down, according to the Crosman article:

  • Allow the take of big game animals including pronghorn, deer (mule deer and Coues whitetail), black bear, mountain lion, bighorn sheep (desert and Rocky Mountain) and javelina, but excluding bison and elk, with “big-bore” PCP air rifles .35 caliber and larger, during general (rifle) seasons.
  • Allow the take of predators, including coyotes, foxes and skunks and fur-bearing animals, including bobcats, raccoons, weasels, badgers and ringtail cats withPCP air rifles .22 caliber and larger, during general (rifle) seasons.
  • Small game (rabbits and squirrels), other animals including coati and Gunnison’s prairie dogs, and birds including Eurasian collared-doves, crows and upland birds (quail, grouse, partridge and pheasant) will continue to be legal for harvest during general seasons with a variety of pneumatic weapons includingPCP’s, the popular break-barrels powered by springs or gas pistons, and the venerable variable pump and CO2 charged air rifles.”

While I’m certain that controversy will continue regarding the ability of air rifles to humanely kill game animals, there’s no question that this genie is out of the bottle.  Many states allow the use of airguns for nuisance species and small game, and with AZ and AL added, there are seven states which now permit the use of airguns (with specific qualifications) to hunt whitetail deer.  Here in Texas, you still can’t hunt whitetails with an air rifle, but they are permitted for all non-native species and several small game animals as well.

Crosman offers a chart on their website for anyone interested in learning more about their state’s regulations on airgun hunting.  It’s an interesting look at the regs across all of the states, and it is updated as of June of 2013.  However, as always, I recommend verifying the regulations in your own state through the appropriate fish and game regulatory agency.  Measure twice, cut once… ignorance of the law will not get you out of a hefty fine.

Who Needs Corn?

August 9, 2013

Texas PersimmonsI knew that this property held a pretty good mix of wildlife habitat.

The cedar (juniper) that covers my ridge and the far end of my pasture provides great cover, and while too much cedar is a bad thing, a good cover helps minimize erosion, and appears to protect some native grasses from the deadly effects of the Texas summer sun… especially during this drought.  I did a good bit of thinning last year, and while there’s still some more to do, I do enjoy finding new deer trails and beds, as well as the abundance of birds and small game that use this thick stuff.

I’ve got agarita as well, and while they apparently only bear fruit every other year, I had a bumper crop this season.  The birds and little rodents got most of them before I got a chance, but given the harsh conditions this drought has created, I’m OK with that.  We’ve got so much homemade jelly and jam right now, another year or so without agarita is OK by me.

I’ve got a lot of oaks, both red oak, live oak, and various scrub oaks, but they have taken a beating from the drought, and I’m losing several.  They just can’t handle the stress.  Some are shedding huge limbs in a surival effort to minimize their water needs, while in other cases entire trees have simply given up and died.  This is pretty sad, both because I hate to see the big trees dying, and because it means the mast production on my place is going to be even smaller.  I didn’t get much in the way of acorns last year, but I’m holding out hope that the surviving trees will make an effort this fall.  We’ll see.

One plant I knew I had on the property is Texas wild persimmons.  This is a native persimmon, and I’ve got the bushes all over the place here. My main horse pasture is full of them.  Last year, I can’t recall seeing much in the way of fruit, but this year I’ve apparently got a bumper crop.  I walked the pasture yesterday, and where I hadn’t seen a thing the limbs are now laden with green fruit.  And a handful of ripe ones.  On closer inspection, most of the ripe fruit has already been hit by birds, and under each bush I have found piles of fresh deer scat.  The whitetails apparently love these things too.  It’s like a race to get to the fruit when it turns ripe!  I was fortunate to find a couple that had just turned before the birds and animals got them.

The persimmons are, as you can see from the picture, not very much like the big Asian persimmons many of us are most familiar with.  The biggest fruit I found was a little bigger than a quarter.  The skin is sort of thick, with a fuzzy covering sort of like a peach.  Eating one reminds me of biting into a loquat.  The skin is edible, but not very flavorful and sort of chewy.  The flesh sort of separates from the skin, and with a little manipulation you can almost suck it right out.  It’s sweet, and tastes a lot different (to me) than the flesh of the Asian persimmon.  It’s more like a berry.  The only catch is that there’s not a lot there, as each fruit has four or five great big seeds inside.  You do a lot of work for a little reward.

There are a bunch of recipes out there for Texas wild persimmons, and if I can salvage enough from the critters, we might try some of them this season.  But I’m not going to break my neck to pick the plants clean.  The truth is, I’m glad to have something out there for the deer besides corn (which isn’t really all that nutritious).  I figure, if I can’t eat the fruit right from the bush, then at least I can enjoy it in this season’s venison!

Where Angels Fear To Tread…

August 7, 2013

I’ve said over and over, and I’ll repeat, “I’m not going to let this site get bogged down in 2nd Amendment, Gun Rights vs. Anti-Gun rhetoric.” 

It’s simply not a topic I’m interested in assailing here, largely because I can’t stand the bullshit and propaganda that comes with that territory.  There are plenty of other sites where you can bash that ball around all you want. 

But there’s something that I’ve been chewing on for years, and that’s the increasingly open relationship between the firearms industry (the National Shooting Sports Foundation) and the NRA.  Of course there is a shared interest there, and it makes sense that these folks would be broadly aligned in an effort to block gun bans and restrictions.  On the one side, the NRA is ostensibly all about protecting the rights of gun owners.  On the other, the gun industry is all about an unobstructed market.  It would be blindly naive not to expect them to hold hands when it comes to efforts to preserve the right of US citizens to own guns, since Americans are easily the largest single market for civilian firearms in the world. 

Gun IndustryLately I’ve been seeing this very pointed image show up on Facebook, and even in my email.  At first I blew it off as more propaganda from the gun control crowd.  I honestly don’t spend a lot of time worrying over the debate, primarily because so much of it is lost in either the extreme fringes or blatant ignorance.  The signal-to-noise ratio is, at least for me, insurmountable.  This was just one more salvo from one side of the argument.  Whatever.

But I guess I didn’t dismiss it completely, because the next time it showed up, I started to think about it in the context of what I know as a gun owner and as someone who has some insight into the industry as a whole.  I started to look at it in a larger context as well, with big industrial lobbies such as agri-business (think Monsanto) and pharmaceuticals (think Viagra).  I considered it from the basic marketing premise of create a need (demand) and fill it. 

Every year at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trades) Show, the keynote event is the “State of the Industry” dinner.  It’s an opportunity for the participants to toss in a lot of money for a mediocre meal and a chance to sit and listen to presentations from around the industry.  There’s always a component in which leaders in conservation are recognized for their contributions.  DU, RMEF, and other organizations are generally in the forefront, and they accompany their speeches with a video presentation.  After observing a couple of these, I came to realize that while conservation is certainly a wonderful by-product, what these guys are really looking at is how to leverage the whole concept of conservation, habitat protection, and stewardship as a marketing gimmick.  The more wildlife we protect, the more there is to hunt… and the more there is to hunt, the more hunters will need hunting gear.  And that equals sales… which drives the industry.

Maybe I’m jaded.  Perhaps my take is a little too cynical.  Or maybe I’m the naive one for thinking that I had stumbled onto some sort of epiphany.  Was I just starting to recognize what everyone else has known all along?

So the more I think about this, the more I start to wonder.  I’m no big fan of the NRA.  While I do support the overarching idea of defending the Second Amendment, I do not align with many of their tactics or positions.  I’ve also been more and more suspicious over the years as I’ve watched the NSSF become more and more of an echo of the NRA party line in communications to their membership.  It does not seem impossible, or even unlikely, that the industry has co-opted the largest gun rights lobby’s huge membership for targeted marketing.  Whether it’s just simple symbiosis, or whether it’s something more calculated and cynical remain to be seen. 

And is it right or wrong?  I guess that judgement rests on any individual’s commitment to the concepts of corporate responsibility and capitalist ethics. 

But I’ll stop now, before I drop off into that rabbit hole…


Another Monday… Haiku For You

August 5, 2013

A summer monday.

100 degrees again.

A panting black dog.

Sorry about that… I had to do something to break the writing stalemate.  How long can you stare at a blank blog before something has to give?

But it is Monday, and it is definitely hot. 

Tomorrow, I promise… something of substance.

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