Idle Thoughts

As one gets along in years, and comes to the realization that one’s time on Earth is not only limited, but foreseeable in terms of its ending, certain idle thoughts come to mind.  In my case, of course, this resolves itself inevitably into a list — in this case, loosely defined as follows:

Assuming that my health would remain more or less as it is, what would be the things I would get now that would last me the rest of my life, and give me pleasure in the use thereof?

For the sake of argument, let me also assume that I’d pare down all the crap I currently possess — sell almost all of it, really — and would have only the things on this list to keep me amused.  Unlike my  normal flights of fantasy, this would not involve a lottery win, so economics will play a part.  It’s a tough question to answer, but I’ll give it a shot, so to speak, and start with the easiest ones.

Car —  almost without question, the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF:

…because it combines fun, performance, fuel economy and reliability in equal measure and compromise.  As for space, the only cargo [sic]  I’d carry would be New Wife, or my guns to the range, or groceries back from the supermarket, and for the latter two, even the Miata’s little trunk would be adequate (long-gun cases could be carried in the front).  The top comes down for the occasional en plein air  experience, and I would be perfectly happy to tour the country in it as well.  Color is irrelevant, although I kinda like the gunmetal blue as pictured, for obvious reasons.  And speaking of gunmetal:

Rifle — it’s a tough one, but to me the Miata of rifles is the Marlin 336 in .30-30 (with a scope because of my shitty eyesight):

Light, handy, reliable, enough punch for most situations, acceptable recoil and the ammo is pretty much ubiquitous in the U.S.A.  Realistically, I’m never going to have to make any long shots, and the lever action works quickly enough for those (shall we say) social  occasions.

Plinker Rifle — this is an even tougher choice, but I’d choose the Ruger 10-22:

I don’t think I need to explain or justify this choice, do I?

Now on to the handguns:

Self-defense — no choice;  my Springfield 1911 in .45 ACP:

Once again, no explanation is necessary.

Revolver — this is a little more difficult, but I think I’d pick the (new) Colt Python 6″ in .357 Mag:

Why the new one?  Why not?  It’s new, it’s a Python, and every gunsmith I’ve spoken to on the topic says the action is far better than the old one’s, and will likely be more reliable.  Of course, I’d prefer it in Colt’s original Royal Blue, but them’s the breaks.

Plinker Handgun — easy enough choice, here: the Browning Buckmark:

Best trigger of any .22 handgun (possibly of any handgun, period), and very reliable.  I’ve owned several, and never had a bad experience with any of them.  We’re talking hours and hours of plinking fun.

Finally on guns, a shotgun, mostly for clays — I’m going to go with something a little more indulgent, i.e. the Chapuis Chasseur Classic in 20ga:

It’s different enough — not part of the Beretta / Browning / Remington / Winchester matrix, and not insanely priced like the premiums — and of course the side-by-side barrels are mandatory.  (I have a 20ga SxS already, but I keep it at Free Market Towers, for obvious reasons.  The Chapuis would be my domestic  gun.)

That’s enough guns.  On to other stuff.

Camera — I’ve done the large SLR thing, and I don’t need that anymore.  My current criteria, based on years of travel, are that the camera be small enough to fit into a coat pocket, and must take AA batteries.  Hence, the Canon Powershot SX100 IS:

I’ve owned this little sucker for well over a decade, and have no quibbles — except that when shooting in low-light situations, you absolutely have to pop it onto a tripod because its lens stabilization is not that great.  Fortunately, I have a mini tripod which travels with the Canon, and fits into the other coat pocket.  (My backup camera — a Nikon Coolpix 4300 — is much better in this regard, but it only takes Nikon’s rechargeable battery which means you have to be close to a power source to recharge it — the reason I replaced it with the Canon.  Like .30-30 and .22 LR, AA batteries are ubiquitous.)

Books — I couldn’t trim my library down any more than I already have, and it’s creeping up again (to the consternation of New Wife, who reminds me constantly that we barely have enough room extant).  Still, I intend to read and re-read several non-classic books for the rest of my life, most notably John Sandford’s Prey and Virgil Flowers novels, as well as any derivatives thereof.  Also P.G. Wodehouse, of whose works I have many, and various Ken Follett novels as well.  It’s all about the style when it comes to novels, and I love all the above in equal measure.  Of non-fiction — history — books we shall not speak.

Binoculars — I don’t use them often, but I always travel with a pair, this being my Steiner AX830 (8×30):

…and while these do okay, especially for their size, I really need something a little more powerful (10x or more, with a tripod mount if necessary, because size is not really a problem).  All suggestions are welcome.

Watch — for me, the thought of having only one watch is akin to having only one gun:  almost a fate worse than death, but if I’m going to have a couple of watches to see out my shift, they’re not going to be automatic, nor need batteries.  Hence, the Longines Master and the Tissot Heritage (depending on whether I need a black- or white face):

Nice big numbers to accommodate my (did I already say?) crappy eyes.  The Longines is twice the price of the Tissot, but still under the magic $1,000 mark.  Both are wonderfully rugged and acceptably accurate.

Music — forget about it.  My music library is quite adequate, not to say extensive, and unless I were forced to sell all of it, I could see my days out with the collected works of Valentina Lisitsa and Genesis (and maybe my Beatles boxed set).

I’m trying to think of what else qualifies under the question at the top, but other than perhaps knives (of which I have many, and just can’t think of any I’d even think of buying today), none come to mind.

As with all exercises of this genre, feel free to participate in Comments.  I look forward to your thoughts, as always.

Best Interview Ever

Ron Spomer talks to Hitchcock45.  Hilarity and sound learning ensues.  His reason for quitting hunting alone is worth the price of admission.

That, and his admission that he’s trying to attract hot chicks through his channel…

Myself, I watch his shows because like me, he just loves shooting guns.  Almost any gun — but mostly, the older guns.

I don’t have either of them anymore… but I wish I did.  And both Ron and Hitch would agree with me.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Marlin Mod 62 (.30 Carbine)

It’s not often I come across a rifle I’ve not only never seen, but never even heard of.  So step forward Collectors, to show me the error of my ways:

Now that lil’ thang is as cute as a button — and would make a wonderful companion piece to a Ruger Blackhawk, similarly chambered:

Want.  I want that Marlin carbine, and I want my Blackhawk back, except that its current owner won’t sell it back to me.  Aaargh.

Heads On Walls

The Greatest Living Englishman has an opinion on big-game trophy hunting:

People who hunt big game are evil…

That’s why Boris Johnson (remember him) received universal support in 2019 for pledging to end the practice of big-game hunters bringing back the severed heads of animals they’d shot in Africa.

I was so supportive, in fact, that I went outside and banged my frying pans together, like we used to do for the nurses.

Because I just cannot understand why anyone could go to Botswana to shoot a lion or a giraffe.

It simply doesn’t compute in my head.

Fear not, however, because:

…but here’s why they are necessary

Because as the House of Lords debated the ban on severed heads this week, six African governments wrote to The Times newspaper begging them to let the hunting continue.

And they have a point.

They argue the big, wild animals in Africa often attack villagers and trample crops.

They are seen as a nuisance and are often shot by farmers.

But if a rich white hunter arrives on the scene and is prepared to pay upwards of £20,000 to shoot an animal, it’s suddenly worth the farmer’s while to make sure he has something to shoot at.

So instead of killing the wildlife, he starts to protect it.

Because he’s going to get a LOT more money from Hank the Texan dentist than he is from half an acre of maize.

The fact is that the rich white hunters who do this kind of thing are actually paying for the animals to be protected and looked after beforehand by the locals.

They’re even reintroducing rhinos to areas they haven’t been seen in for decades.  I know this. I’ve been to a park and witnessed it happening.  And I’ve met the locals who patrol the area at night, hunting the poachers.

If hunting was banned, all that would stop.

So it’s a weird conclusion but if a halfwit with way more money than sense and no moral fibre at all wants to fly to Africa to shoot an elephant, the kindest thing we can do as a nation of animal lovers is . . . let him.

Here’s my take on all of this.  Firstly, as Clarkson notes, without hunting the game will just disappear.  Farmers will either shoot, shovel and shut up or else they’ll set out poisoned bait.  To a farmer, a predator isn’t just a dangerous pest:  it’s something that takes away his property — and as I’ve said before, a leopard will kill an entire flock of sheep, just because it can, before taking one away to eat.  Lions are not any better.  A large herd of springbok will eat all the farmer’s grazing for his sheep or cattle, and the farmer will end up with starving herds.  Don’t get me started on elephants, which are more destructive than governments.

So spare me the maudlin “O the pore wee beasties”  PETA nonsense.

All that said, however, I should also point out that I’ve never been a trophy hunter.  I’ve hunted either as part of a (very unofficial) game management system — helping a farmer protect his herds from lion and springbok, for example — or on very infrequent occasions for the sheer joy of the stalk, in terrain and climate so inhospitable it would make your nuts retract into your body.  On the latter occasions, I’ve been close to death so many times that my ultimate survival was a matter of pure luck.  That’s why I did it — and that’s why I don’t hunt anymore.

All that said, however, I understand the point of trophy collecting. When you have hunted something and taken its life, it is the ultimate form of possession, and there is a profound intimacy between hunter and prey — an intimacy that demands that one keeps a part of that animal, not as proof, but as a form of gratitude.  Even on those stupid “wilderness survival” TV shows, you’ll see someone who has just killed an animal for food say, “Thank you giving me your life so I can survive.”  It’s not hokum:  it’s about as primal a ritual as one can find, and it’s embedded deep within our hunter-gather gene code.

People like Jeremy Clarkson, who’ve never experienced that emotion, will say that they don’t understand that need to keep a bond with one’s conquest.  The key lies within the phrase “who’ve never experienced that emotion”.  You can’t explain it to them, and they’ll never understand it because, of course, food comes from the supermarket and not from the barrel of your gun.  (You’d think that Clarkson would understand this, seeing as he keeps cattle and — at one time — sheep.  But there ya go.  He may be the Greatest Living Englishman, but he’s not perfect.)

Of course, trophy hunting isn’t about getting food.  But the emotion it brings out is no different — “moral fibre” has nothing to do with it — and if we weren’t so coddled and anesthetized by our oh-so civilized society, we’d all know that.

That aside, we’ll just have to justify big game hunting as “game management” to assuage the hurt feewings of the Weepy Animal Lovers Set.  Like Jeremy Clarkson.

We Don’ Need To Follow The Steenkin’ Law

Oh, this is jolly:

In an unprecedented move, twenty armed Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents carried out a raid on a gun store in Great Falls, Montana, seizing all Form 4473 – documents that record buyer’s information during firearms transactions.

“We have now confirmed that both the IRS and the ATF were at Highwood Creek Outfitters in Great Falls around 7 am this morning. Both the IRS and ATF would not say why they were there,” KMON Radio reported.

“A spokeswoman for the IRS would only say they were there on official IRS business. The ATF says it was providing assistance to the IRS. We attempted to enter the store today and were stopped by agents at the door who would only say that the gun store is closed and will reopen tomorrow,” the news outlet added.

Considering that this raid was conducted under the auspices of the fine folks at the IRS, one would question whether the agents needed to confiscate the 4473 forms — which, lest we forget, contain absolutely no financial information.

However, ’tis an ill wind that blows absolutely no good, and there’s this little snippet:

Highwood Creek Outfitters is America’s largest online firearms and accessories mall, according to its website. The store is known for selling what Van Hoose calls “fun guns,” including AR-15’s and AK-47s.

And they did all that despite my never having heard of them before.  Sadly, I’m not in a position to give them any business at the moment, but if any of you are thinking of making an online purchase of a gunny nature, you might want to give HSO a look.

As for the Gummint thugs… [taking the Fifth here, Boss]