Dove season is here!

Dove season is just days away, hunters all over Missouri have spent the last couple of months gearing up for this weekend event. Shooting doves is a new passion of mine, I was introduced to it a couple of years ago at Bois D’ Arc conservation area. Before learning about how great dove tastes, i never thought much of dove hunting, as I hunt for meat, which dove tends to lack.  I was talked into going by my buddy Travis, We have been hunting partners for years, mainly hunting squirrels and deer. My first time hunting dove was wrong, on just about all accounts. We didn’t really do much scouting, instead, we just showed up about mid morning at one of the conservation lots and gathered our shotguns and coolers and took our place in the field. I figured hunting dove would be easier than hunting squirrel, as I wasn’t trying to pick them out from the branches of trees, boy was I wrong.  We didn’t have any decoys with us to entice the birds into stopping for a spell, and even when the occasional bird did show up, the lack of wing shooting practice was plain to see. We left that day with a meager offering of two doves for myself, and three for my buddy. We decided to cook them simply, we lightly breaded them and dropped them in a saute pan with some butter, seasoning them with a little salt and pepper. After the first bite, both me and my buddy were hooked, the flavor was so good I immediately saw why people cherish these delicious birds. I would describe the taste as beefy with hints of liver. It would be another year before I could get back out into the field. Luckily the Missouri conservation department held a couple of dove hunting clinics that both of us were able to get into and learn more of the ins and outs of the art. The classes were very informative in all aspects of dove hunting. We learned about the different types of shot and a general overview of how to choose the best choke for each situation. We also learned about doves themselves, migration patterns, feeding habits, and how to attract them to you. We also practiced one of the most important aspects, how to shoulder the shotgun quickly and correctly and how to sweep the birds when aiming. I left with way more knowledge and confidence. The second clinic went more over identifying doves in the sky, and practical skills on the trap and skeet range. I learned that i badly needed practice before i should try dove hunting again. Gearing up for the second year was really fun, both of us showed up several Sunday afternoons and shot so many rounds that my shoulder felt sore for most of the next week. We managed to gather up some decoys in anticipation of September 1st. That morning we woke up well before anyone in the house even thought about stirring. Downing some fresh made coffee, we got our gear ready and drove up to the conservation check in station to check in and head to our spot, which we had scouted out pretty thoroughly the previous day. Once we got to the field we discovered just how different this dove season was going to be. Hunters lined almost all sides of the field that we went to. Some seemed like us,  new to everything, others seemed grizzled veterans, bringing an entire decoy army to set up in front of their position. Some even had hunting dogs to retrieve the bodies of the fallen. At daylight the field blew up, a cacophony of shots rang out as the doves came into land. One of the weirdest feelings is the steel rain that occurs when the shot drops back down to the earth. We made sure to stay hydrated and spent the whole morning trying to fill our daily limit. I fared better than last year and left the field with 5 birds. This time we made a staple of the dove table, bacon wrapped breasts, grilled. This next year I plan on making dove poppers with jalapenos and an herb and cream cheese spread. I hope this catches your eye and makes you want to go out and try to get a limit this September 1st!

Griswold Revolvers: Confederate Spirit in Action

The history of the Confederacy is the history of defiance of tyranny from oppression, it’s the soul of a nation that was founded and fought for in 1776. The war of northern aggression saw the Lincoln administration ascend to the role of tyrant, imposing northern industrial values against rural southern values. The south legally and rightfully seceded from the union, causing the federal administration to invade the newly formed country. Few things capture the true spirit of the Confederacy greater than the Griswold revolver. Samuel Griswold was an industrialist from Connecticut, after moving to Georgia and opening up a cotton gin factory, his company manufactured the largest number of cotton gins in the United States, making enough money to create his own village, Griswoldville. He branched out his manufacturing to produce a wide assortment of consumer products, such as soap, tallow, and candles. His village boasted amenities like a sawmill, gristmill, and post office. His southern spirit could not be broken, and at the out start of the northern invasion, he switched his cotton gin factory to producing revolvers desperately needed by the fledgling nation he pledged his allegiance to, these revolvers have become an icon of that indomitable spirit. Born out of necessity, the gun maker imbued southern resourcefulness into his works of deadly art. With steel in short supply, brass, along with copper and steel alloys were used for the frame, with twisted iron for the barrel. Designed after the colt model 1851, but with distinctive southern spin, some 3,600 of these unique revolvers were made. Griswoldville became more than a manufacturing town, it became a muster site for the Confederacy, and it’s success earned the ire of the north. The devil Sherman himself made sure that Griswoldville was the first to face the hell fire that was his march to the sea. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Griswold came back with renewed spirit and vigor to continue manufacturing as many revolvers as he could to fight the northern aggressors. The end of the war for Southern independence also marked the end of this manufacturing legend, no more would the factory of Griswoldville produce the iconic weapon. Griswold revolvers would fade into obscurity to all but a few, those that still fan the flames of Southern patriotism. Examples of this fine work of craftmanship now go for over a million dollars at auctions. Most history is written by the victors, but artifacts like the Griswold revolvers clearly show the history of those that fought against oppression, fought for their beliefs in states rights, and gave their all for the chance to live life the way they wanted, and not how others would want them to live. It is a history that is imbued in each and every historical artifact linked to the southern cause, giving a voice to the voiceless against the revisionist history that has been sweeping over the nation. It is the duty of everyone to maintain the dignity of both sides in each struggle, for when we lose sight of both sides of an issue, we easily succumb to false ideologies that can lead a nation astray. The role of history is to teach the lessons learned from previous generations, just as with the tree, when man has lost site of his roots, any new growth must wither and die.

The Tommy Gun: Not Just for Gangsters

In an effort to curb the problems that teetotalers viewed was caused by the evils of alcohol, much like the ravages of the on going war on drugs, the United States government outlawed the sale and distribution of one of the oldest industries in the world.  The cost of prohibition was high enough that it was eventually overturned, but not before creating the symbol of the gangster era, the Tommy gun. I remember growing up seeing the big drum magazine, like a shield, in front of a cigar chomping Irish gangster, spraying bullets at the coppers as he gets away. The movie, Saving Private Ryan changed that for me, It became an instrument of war, designed for a new style of warfare that began in World War one, and was perfected in the second.  The ever growing technological advances in war meant that men were no longer sent rank and file to face their doom in front of enemies on an open field of battle. With the development of the bolt action came the necessity to cover the soldier from the onslaught of rapid firing rifles. The trench became the choice for fighting, with men holding ground while shooting at the enemy across the dreaded no mans land. This fighting style led to a protracted form of war, with barely an inch of ground moving between the two forces. Armies had to change the way they fought, and with that came the need for a smaller, faster firing gun. The automatic rifle was a new concept, in need of perfection; starting as bulky, too heavy for one man to carry, and firing rifle rounds that would batter a mans shoulder without mercy. The year 1914 saw the retiring of John Taliaferro Thompson as he began to work on perfecting the automatic rifle, an icon that would eventually bare his name. After strenuous testing of various handgun calibers, the .45 was adopted as the best. He put his future creation on hold to return to active duty during WWI, earning a distinguished service cross as a brigadier general. After the war he devoted his time once again to the production of a new type of automatic weapon. He saw the need for an intermediate type of gun, one that shared characteristics of the handgun, and the standard long rifle, and one that could be made cheaper.  By offering John Blish, shares in his newly formed Auto-Ordnance Company, he secured the patent he needed for a delayed blowback system that form the backbone of his new submachine gun. 1919 saw the development of the prototype that would become a classic, chambered in .45 caliber, and using a box magazine, it was soon brought under scrutiny from the U.S. Government for adoption into the ranks of military weapons. After firing 2,000 rounds through it with only minor problems, the gun was then sent to the Marine Corps for further tests, performing admirably with similar results to the first. Although gun tested so highly, it would not see the adoption into the military at that time. After not being picked for the military dance, the dark history of Thompson began, men like machine gun Kelly, john Dillinger, and pretty boy Floyd. Perhaps the most iconic use of the Thompson is the 1929 St. Valentines day massacre that saw the beginning of the end for the Irish combine, and the rise of the Italian mafia. At the beginning of WWII the prodigal son returned home, with Armies around the world ordering Thompsons in the thousands. Specialized warfare groups soon adopted it as the go to weapon for operations, and sealed in blood, the image of the Tommy gun as the icon of modern warfare.

A Trip into the Deer Woods

Deer season is like a religious experience, every year men take a journey to better connect with themselves and reconnect with nature.  In the days and weeks leading up to the hunt there is an air of excitement, it’s always hard for me to get sleep leading up to opening day. I eagerly go over my rifle, making sure that every inch of it is clean and well oiled. I set my alarm and get up feeling groggy, but excited, a couple cups of coffee keeps me awake enough to make the trek into the woods. It’s simply beautiful out there, listening to the woods awake. I always get excited when I hear squirrels running through the dead leaves on the ground. It’s a primal feeling sitting there, hoping for that perfect deer to walk by. It’s only after a while that the cold November morning starts to creep inside. For years I never had a tree stand, and had to sit in on the ground, stealing away any thoughts of warmth.  The hours go by as i think about the past year and all of the things I’ve done with it, it’s like meditation, entranced, scanning my view for any sign of deer. The longer I wait, the more those squirrels start to sound like herds of deer all around me.  Like a mirage appearing in the desert, the image of a doe walks into my view. I carefully get my rifle ready, checking to see if there’s anything obstructing my shot, then i hold on target, waiting for the best possible shot. I say a quick prayer to god as i gently squeeze the trigger, aiming for a quick death. The shot pulls me out of my trance, the deer is down. I get up and make my way to the deer, I always say a prayer and thank the deer for the gift of sustenance that she has given me. After i clean Her up and get all the guts out, I hang her in the barn for a while and savor my victory. A quick breakfast of biscuits and gravy help me regain my energy for the task of processing the doe into all of the choice cuts. This time  I decide to experiment by cutting part of the backstrap with the ribs in, and leaving the other side boneless. I can’t wait to take some steaks, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper; and toss them into a sizzling cast iron skillet, tossing in some garlic and sprigs of rosemary for company. Once they are almost perfect it’s time to toss in a pat of butter and baste them to glorious perfection. A quick sauce of red wine and cherries clean all of the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan, drizzling sweet sauce over beautiful steaks, nestled on the plate next to a pile of new potatoes, and with that, another deer season success and plenty of meals fit for a king await me in my wait for next years high holy day.

More Than a Right

Defending oneself is a necessity that has followed us from before the birth of history, all the way through till today. From early stone swords, to the elegant precision of a finely crafted handgun; we have poured our heart and soul into creating Masterwork weapons that are both functional and beautiful.  Along with defense, firearms have also served to put food on the table for one’s family.  Hunting for our food ties us into the natural world, and connects us to a proud tradition passed on by our ancestors.  The second amendment enshrines the natural right of the individual, access to the tools necessary for the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness; arguably being the cornerstone of our constitution, for it guarantees every freedom we have.  The history of firearms is one of fascinating technological advances melding with natural beauty to bring gorgeous works of art to life. Join me as we go through the pages of history to showcase the art of gun making though the years.