April snowshoe hike


Morning after the storm. A 10-inch snowfall in late April creates beautiful landscapes, but after five months of winter we are ready for some green springtime beauty. 

April snowshoe hike

This has been a loooong winter in the North Country, capped by an April 18 storm that dropped 10 inches of wet snow. But the day after the storm dawned sunny and clear, a perfect blue-sky morning for the winter’s final (we hope) snowshoe hike on the farm.

April snowshoe 2A couple miles of shoeing up and down the hillsides was more than enough exercise, with clots of snow clinging to the webbing and making the shoes weigh 10 pounds each. No, it can’t be that my legs have lost any muscle tone. I’ve been resting them since the bird seasons ended in January, so they should be in great shape.

It was worth the leg cramps to see the snowy landscapes and hear a rooster pheasant crow out his claim to his mating grounds (Standing in 10 inches of snow? What is he thinking?)

But a springtime hike through greening grasslands would be nice, too. After five months of winter, we are ready for May’s warm sun and morning walks in shirtsleeves rather jackets.





Posted in Snoeshowing, Winter | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Hunting camp maxims

vest with tp

The inside pocket of your hunting vest is for a small roll of toilet paper, unless it is large enough to hold a large roll of toilet paper,

Hunting camp maxims

Over the course of five decades in hunting camps, the Over the Hill Gang has discovered several universal truths that we should share with those who are newcomers to the blood sports. Each of these truths merits an essay of its own, or at the least a parable, that describes the trauma that accompanied its discovery and illuminates the life-changing lesson learned by the charter members of the OTHG.

In the interest of brevity and readability, however (and to protect the reputations of certain OTHG members), we have distilled these stories down to a collection of cautionary maxims that can guide those who set out into the wilds of the North Country. We hope that we can pass on to you our experience and wisdom without the attendant distress and suffering.

Ponder these maxims and learn from them if you will.

The first evening in camp should be observed with good beer, good whiskey, and good cigars. All succeeding evenings should be observed with cheap beer, cheap whiskey, and cheap cigars.

On remote trails, shift into four-wheel-drive to plow through the first muddy stretch and you will get really, seriously stuck in the second or third muddy stretch.

Green is nature’s “Danger Warning” color on meat and cheese.

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Posted in Bird hunting, Deer Camp, Deer Hunting, Hunting, Hunting Humor | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting ready for winter – in April?

April firewood

Getting ready for winter – in April?

Old timers say there are only two seasons in the North Country:


Getting Ready for Winter

But that’s hyperbole. Each of the four seasons grace the North Country’s landscape with a different kind of character and beauty, and we enjoy them all.

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The defective computer monitor (Subtitle: ‘I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t let you back into the airlock’)

broken monitor (2)

No, I did not try to blast my way into the ‘airlock’ but I considered it. broken monitor (image from www.pinterest.ca/pin/335518240960233846/)

The defective computer monitor (Subtitle: ‘I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t let you back into the airlock’)

Friends who are skilled with social media marketing strategies, and much more clever than I, have been after me for months to expand my social media “platform.” Writing essays and short stories and posting them on a blog is fine as a hobby, they say, but if I want to be noticed in the virtual universe I must promote myself and my writing through a Facebook page, Facebook Live, tweets, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

No one is going to read your blog, or buy your books, they told me, unless you raise your online profile. Get noticed.

To do that, I needed more computer equipment, including a monitor that was larger than the tiny screens on my Kindle and laptop. Reluctantly, I went online shopping and found a Dell 27-inch monitor for about $120, plus shipping, from a company called Adorama.

Adorama – someday that name may be ranked with Chernobyl, Mount St. Helen, the Titanic, and the Chicago Fire. Comparing it to the Black Plague would be too severe. Probably.

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Posted in Computer Technology, Technolog, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

File marks

File Marks 2File marks

Look closely and you may see them: file marks.

The faint traces of file marks are barely visible on the water table of this old Lefever Nitro Special 12 gauge double gun. The marks are the final cuts of the metal-to-metal fitting work of a craftsman at the Ithaca Gun Company, Ithaca, N.Y., in 1925, the year this gun was manufactured. He was filing down the surface of the water table so that it would join perfectly with the flat of the right barrel, assuring a tight fit of the chambers against the action body and the face of the breech block.

He did not polish the water table after his fitting; the marks from his file cuts must have still been obvious to him before he closed the gun’s action a final time, but the metal surfaces met evenly and the locking lugs snapped into place with a solid click, so he knew the gun was safe and sound. Why didn’t he do the final polishing with a strip of emery cloth? Maybe he was paid piece work, and polishing was not required by the supervisor charged with quality control. Or maybe the noon whistle was blowing on Saturday, and he was in a hurry to go home and spend time with his family.

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Posted in Bird Guns, Hunting, Lefever Shotguns, Shooting, Shotgun Engraving, Shotguns | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

ED puts me back on the beam

Balance Beam ScaleED puts me back on the beam

Something was not right. The numbers on the digital screen jumped to 28.4, then dived to 23.2, then stabilized at 24.3.

The electronic scale was measuring charges, in grains, of XMP 5744 powder for a reduced load of .30-06 ammunition that I wanted to shoot for practice rounds with my lightweight mountain rifle. The scale was making a botch of this reloading session. Not good.

(One of the Over the Hill Gang asked me, “What, exactly, are you practicing FOR?” Yes, it’s true my days of rifle hunting in the West are probably over, but I can still daydream while stalking ghost mule deer and elk on the back 40 of my farm, shooting at a paper target in lieu of a 10-point mulie in the Rockies. All my fantasy hunts are one-shot kills, off course, but I may shoot 10 or 15 phantom deer and elk in the course of a morning, and I don’t want the rifle’s recoil ratting my teeth. Hence the less powerful ammo.)

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Posted in Hunting Rifles, reloading, Rifle Shooting, Rifles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Three steps toward reducing firearm violence and fatalities

semi-auto pistol

Three steps toward reducing firearm violence and fatalities

Proposals for gun control, for the most part, are ludicrous.

Not because the intentions of the “gun control” advocates are unworthy. To the contrary: reducing the number of firearm homicides is an eminently admirable intent, and decreasing the threat of mass shootings – especially school shootings – is a goal that every right-thinking citizen supports.

It’s just that many of the “gun control” spokespersons have no clue how to achieve those worthy goals. Not the slightest hint.

After each mass shooting that involves an assault-style rifle or a semi-automatic pistol, the calls go out for legislation to ban the sale of these military and police weapons, or at least to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines and “bump-stocks,” and to require the purchaser of a firearm or ammunition be at least 21 years of age. None of these restrictions will advance us toward the goals of fewer firearm homicides or mass shootings. They cannot even advance the cause of safe and ethical use of firearms.

It is as if the list of “gun control” proposals was compiled by the NRA for the purpose of sidetracking the real issues, and making any meaningful action politically impossible. These proposals are screams to catch the mouse in the room while ignoring the elephant.

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Posted in Firearm Safety, Firearms Legislation, Gin Control, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments