Africa Again

I once described Africa as a drug. A drug administered at the hands of a capable dealer, also known as a professional hunter. With the right dealer you’ll develop an addiction, that while financially debilitating, is emotionally fulfilling. Few things bring with them the wonderment of an African sunrise, and few things warm the soul like an African campfire.

Very soon my son and I will head out for another month long safari in South Africa. For the burglars who think you can sweep into my home while I’m away and haul away all the goodies, if you’re fortunate you will have to deal with a Rhodesian ridgeback that has an affinity for the taste of blood. (She gets very protective when I’m away visiting her homeland.) Maybe those with any doubt about the viciousness of this hound should reach out to Charlie Sisk or Dave Petzal. On the other hand, if you’re unfortunate, you’ll run into my wife. She’ll be well armed, and in a bad mood because her men are gone.

The unwaveringly protective, Whiskey.

This trip is sort of a graduation present for Bat Mann. He’ll start college this fall and his plans are to secure a degree in business marketing. He wants to help companies in the outdoor industry better market their products to media representatives and customers. More specifically—and to quote the un-caped crusader—he told me, “I want Linda Powell’s job.” Those are some big shoes to fill!

Looking to a future in business marketing in the outdoor industry, Bat Mann will spend his summer between high school and college, on his fourth safari in Africa.

More to the point, for the first week of this month long adventure with Fort Richmond Safaris, we’ll be hunting with Gunsite Academy instructor Dave Hartman. At the end of his week of adventure, the Second Scout Rifle Safari contingency will arrive, and it will be made up of five hunters who were a part of the first Scout Rifle Safari last year. They’ll spend the first day of their safari in a rifle tune up class with Dave Hartman and me. Two of the Scout Rifle Safari participants plan to also hunt a buffalo. So, I’ll spend part of that first day prepping them and their rifles—lever-action rifles—for that quest.

Scout Rifle Safari hunters, Bill & Carrie Mazelin, with Professional Hunter Leon Duplessis.

When those fine folks leave, Carlos Martinez of Remington Custom Shop fame, his young son, and Michael Bane and a camera man will arrive. We will spend a week hunting plains game and buffalo with various Remington’s, Marlins, and Dakota rifles out of the custom shop. Again, the buffalo will be hunted with lever-action rifles.

African buffalo–with a lever action Marlins in 45/70!

But, just like on the late night infomercial, there’s more. Before those guys are done with their safari, Justin Sitz from Versacarry will arrive to hunt with Fort Richmond Safaris for his second time. Justin will be there partly for work to field test his new Ammo Caddy, which is a fantastic device for ammo management. He’ll be there for about two weeks, and before he leaves, freelance writer Jay Pinsky will show up for his own, one-week safari to test various rifles, optics, and ammunition.

The amazingly versatile Versacarry Ammo Caddy will be put to the test in Africa.

There will be lots of wonderful folks, lots of cool guns, some new and untested optics, a wild array of ammunition, and enough adventure to pack into an eight-part mini series. I’d suggest you follow us along on Instagram and Facebook, partly so you can be jealous, but also partly because there will be lots of magnificent images—my son will be working again as the official safari photographer—and stories to be told.

Built to mimic the style and look of the high end bolt-action rifles often carried to Africa, this mesmerizing Marlin 336 will be on safari in Africa this summer.

 

 

The Ice Man Cometh

There’s an assault on those who shoot and hunt, or own firearms for recreation, self-defense, and the protection of liberty. Because of that assault, there’s a lot of talk about which companies should be boycotted. Over the weekend there was a chill over YETI coolers—like I’m sure hoards of gun owners were on the verge of buying a $300 plastic box. And, Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods recently pissed off shooters with their decision not to sale certain firearms. This of course made the cliché, “don’t be a Dick,” more relevant than ever.

Having been a “Dick” all my life—I was named after my father and with “Dick” being the nickname for anyone named Richard, after I was born my father became known as “Big Dick.” You can guess where that left me—and I found that offensive. So offensive in fact, I decided to just forget about it, and get on with my life.

And maybe that’s what we all should do. I’m not suggesting supporting companies you feel have betrayed the liberty we hold so dear. What I am suggesting—no, encouraging—is the support of companies who are on our side and not afraid to say it. I’d like to see social media posts about companies who help the NRA. Contact companies you’re considering purchasing from and ask them, “What are your recent contributions to the NRA?” Below is an example of what you can learn if you ask/check:

  • Buffalo Bore Ammunition makes regular NRA donations, and has purchased life memberships for employees.
  • Gunsite Academy provides their clients/students a free annual NRA membership.
  • Andy’s Leather makes regular product and monetary donations.
  • Pelican is currently donating $10.00 per cooler sold.
  • Henry Repeating Arms sponsors NRA events and has donated hundreds of firearms.
  • Galco Gunleather provides direct donations and discounted membership recruitment.
  • MidwayUSA’s Customer Round Up Program has funneled more than 14 million dollars to the NRA since 1992.

 

I asked YETI, and their response was, “Nothing.” That may be enough to justify your boycott. However, according to my source, YETI has, “Bought ads in AH [NRA’s American Hunter magazine] attended [NRA] Annual Meetings as exhibitor and worked with them [the NRA] on preferred vendor program.”

I’m just a simple hillbilly and my mind works in mysterious ways, but I’m reasonably certain if gun owners stop shopping at Dick’s or Wal-Mart, or never buy another YETI cooler, those companies will still be making money—lots of money. But, I’m also reasonably certain if you buy from companies who give to the NRA, every gun owner in America will benefit. All of this is why I’m donating a portion of the proceeds from my latest book to the National Rifle Association. Like me, that donation may not amount to much, but I’ll give a little bit of the little bit I have.

The cold, hard, truth is if I can do that on gun writer’s wages—with three kids, two car payments, and a mortgage—surely major outdoor companies, making lots of money off gun owners, can do as much…unless they really don’t care about us.

Kids & Guns

When I was growing up cartoons only came on TV on Saturday morning. There were no video games, and fun was mostly found playing football, cowboys & Indians, or army. Everyone in my family was a hunter and guns were a part of our life and my childhood. I killed a lot of small game and a few deer before I ever kissed a girl. Times have changed.

In most families both parents work. Many kids spend many hours a week at daycare. Evenings are cluttered with homework, television, sports, and extra curricular activity practice. Weekends are filled with soccer, football, baseball and similar endeavors. As parents make an effort to find a moment of sanity, or catch up on chores, kids often end up watching episode after episode of Sponge Bob or other silliness.

I have four children, two are now adults, the others teenagers. They’ve been exposed to guns their entire life. The youngest three enjoy shooting or being around guns; the oldest could care less. I’m responsible for both the gun interest in the youngest and the lack of the same in the oldest. Let me explain.

Teaching kids about guns and how to shoot is a lesson in responsibility hard to find anywhere else.

When my oldest was five I started taking him to the range with me. He was excited about the adventures – I thought because he liked guns. In reality, his enthusiasm came from the opportunity of doing something with dad. I assumed his gun interests were similar to mine. He learned to shoot rather well, but I noticed he quit having fun. I realized I’d made a serious mistake.

When my next oldest son was four, I got him a BB gun and we cut photos of animals from hunting magazines and taped them to cardboard boxes. We went on hunts in the yard, and it wasn’t long until he’d killed all sorts of paper animals. At five, he progressed to a .22 rifle that was light enough for him to shoot off-hand.

After a few shots on paper, so he could see he was hitting what he aimed at, we graduated to fun targets. With mom at work we’d raid the fridge and steal vegetables. We took crackers out of the cabinet, bought some balloons and lollipops. I even ordered some swinging steel plates. Why, when he shot these targets there was a reaction; sometimes an explosive one. He found this exciting but also demonstrated to him the destructive power of a firearm.

My son Bat with his second deer, taken at age seven on Christmas Eve. He used one of those evil rifles other kids now want banned.

When he turned six a friend who builds custom rifles loaned me one he’d put tougher for a small kid. It was too heavy for him to shoot off-hand but the stock fit, the trigger was crisp, and it was chambered for a cartridge that did not knock his boogers out. I let him shoot a few shots at a deer target and three weeks later he killed a spike buck. It was a heart shot at 60 yards he still brags about.

Since then his interest in guns has become more professional. He’s more eager to learn how they work and anytime he has a chance to shoot a gun like he uses when he plays his Modern Warfare game, he’s excited. Still, I make sure that whenever we shoot its fun. I try to end each shooting session with a game or challenge.

This has had a cascading effect on the other, younger kids. My son runs in the house to tell mom about the cool things we did or how well he shot. Our two girls want to be part of that excitement. They associate shooting with fun. It’s my job to make sure that does not change.

My wife training to protect her family at Gunsite Academy. The mom makes a difference. Where they lead, the kids will follow.

This has even had an effect on my wife. She was not a shooter when we met but she was not afraid of, nor did she have any aversion to guns. Over the last few years our son’s shooting enthusiasm spread to her. She’s been to Gunsite Academy multiple times, she’s hunted in Africa, and taken several deer here at home while hunting on her own.

Here is a lesson for husbands and fathers: Mom’s matter – where the mom leads, the kids will follow.

My mother was a hunter and shooter, and so are my sister and I.

My wife Drema, with the first animal she killed. A gemsbok that not only fed our souls, but our hunger.

Safety is of course a concern. You need to ingrain firearm safety into your kids. When I was in Junior high school, we were all given the hunter’s safety course. Get this; we even loaded shotgun shells in the gym and shot clays on the baseball field. That won’t be happening anymore but the Hunter’s Safety Course is a great safety education experience for a youngster.

With my son I made sure he understood gun safety, and never refuse to let him see or handle a gun as long as he exercises proper protocol. I also encourage him to call me out anytime he sees anything unsafe. When he does, I listen. If he’s wrong, I explain why and if he’s right, I admit my mistake.

Raised with guns, wicked video games, and as a hunter, Sabastian “Bat” Mann has graduated Gunsite Academy, spent time in Africa hunting and guiding, won his school’s Wendy’s High School Heisman award, and will head to college this fall to become a marketing expert in the outdoor industry. This is the terrible thing guns can do to a child.

Getting kids interested in shooting is really very simple but you have to understand their interest in shooting is driven by different things than yours. A half-inch group will mean little to a seven year old but an exploding tomato will mean the world. Here’s a simple test. If you’re out shooting with your kids and they’re not smiling, you’re doing it wrong.

A Psychologist on Kids & Guns – Samantha Mann

Samantha Mann

Parents employ methods of discipline loosely based on scientific principles of a behavior modification theory called operant conditioning. Any reward, or more specifically a positive reinforcer is defined as any event following a behavior that increases the frequency of that behavior. Therefore, if you are trying to increase the amount of time that your child is shooting, what happens immediately after the trigger is pulled must influence them to do it or want to do it again. The positive reinforcer they experience can come from you, such as a pat on the back, or from the target, such as a dynamic reaction.

Any parent who has given the horsey ride and heard the squeals and the “do it again!” understands this.

 

Guns unfortunately create a loud noise and sometimes kick. Both can lead to a certain amount of anxiety. This relates to a behavior modification theory called classical conditioning. Many children – and even adults – are afraid of guns for that very reason. Introduction in gradual increments is the best approach, and be smart; start with a .22 LR. Remington’s CB loads are a low noise option. When the child asks if the gun will kick or be loud, be truthful; help them prepare for what’s coming. It only takes a single bad experience to instill fear in child. If the fear is strong enough, one instance can create a lifelong phobia.

Samantha on a deer hunt with her father. circa – 1983

If done intelligently, shooting and hunting are excellent activities to share with children. They will learn much more than just how to shoot or how to hunt. They will develop good self-esteem, coping skills, relationships, self-reliance, and independence, while experiencing healthy recreation and an overall philosophy of life and death. This will reduce their risk for delinquent behavior, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and even giving in to peer pressure.

Kids learn things while hunting. Things they cannot learn anywhere else.

 

 

Dick’s and Walmart Never Were Gun Stores

You’ll pay a few dollars more at a real gun shop, but in the long run it will be worth it because you will develop a relationship and qualified source for future assistance.

A lot of folks are outraged about various big box stores like Dick’s and Walmart discontinuing the sale of ARs, or upping the age of purchase to 21. I guess they feel like these monster corporations have betrayed them, and that we should boycott or punish them for not supporting the Second Amendment. Well, um, we should have never started buying our gun stuff there in the first place. We abandoned real gun stores for convenience, and to save a couple dollars, they went out of business, and here we are.

I could care less. In fact, it would not bother me if Dick’s and Walmart stopped selling guns, along with gun and hunting related accessories, all together. Neither have ever been a real gun store anyway. Though I’m sure there are exceptions, those behind the counter are, in most cases, not qualified to sale or even handle a gun. And based on my experience; their enthusiasm for customer care almost equals my interest in cat videos.

How many members of the upper management team at Dick’s Sporting Goods can help you learn to reload your own ammunition. Everyone in upper management at a local gun shop probably can.

When I was growing up there was a local bait & tackle/gun shop about two miles from my house. On weekends—during my paper route—I’d stop there on my bike. The guy behind the counter would let me look at and fondle the guns that interested me, and he even knew a thing or two about firearms…and young boys. I could usually talk him out of some part I needed, that was just lying in the clutter on his workbench. (If you grew up near my hometown—and are older than 50—you will remember Ray’s Bait Shop. I’d rather go back there for one hour than spend a day in Cabela’s.)

We’ve seen the death of the local gun shop. With that, we’ve lost places where real and practical knowledge could be dispensed. Dick’s, Walmart, and others have contributed to this near extinction; they retail firearms so cheap, the local guy cannot compete. (Few realize how small the profit margins are on guns.) What they fail to deliver is service—service before, during, and most importantly, after the sale. And those conducting the sale do not have the experience to get that feeling when someone is trying to buy a gun, with possible bad intentions in mind. (You do realize an FFL dealer can deny a sale to anyone they think might be a danger don’t you? Local gun shop owners take this serious.)

Having problems installing a new trigger in your AR? Who you gonna call? Walmart? If you’d been patronizing a local gun shop you’d have a knowledgeable friend that’s just a phone call away.

And then there’s the knowledge they do not have to share. Local gun shops are operated by folks who are experienced with, and passionate about, what they do and the things they sale. That passion carries over to the customer. The absence of that passion is like a cancer to the gun and hunting industry. It’s why Dick’s and Walmart could care less about your firearms or hunting interests—they have none of their own. It’s also the reason some gun manufactures are struggling; they hired management types from other industries who lack our passion.

Be mad at Dick’s and Walmart if you like, I could care less what they sale. When I buy gun stuff locally, I’m going to buy it from a guy who smells like Hoppe’s #9, a guy who was installing a trigger on a rifle that morning, a guy who closed his shop early yesterday to go to the range, a guy who frequently has a shop full of like-minded folks bitching about anti-gunners, a guy who knows what a pre-64 model 70 is, who Jeff Cooper was, and who actually gives a shit if I hit what I shoot at, or ever come back in his shop again.

Ask the geek behind the gun counter at Walmart to explain this to you.

With the help from Dick’s and Walmart, the local gun shop can once again be real. With all the new gun owners in our ranks, they’ve never been needed more than right now! You think Dick’s and Walmart are a gun stores? Well, bless your heart. You’ve never been in a real gun store have you?

Ask the Gunwriter

 

 

For 2018 there will be a new feature at Empty Cases. It’s called “Ask the Gunwriter” and it’s sponsored by Mossberg. I receive gun or hunting questions every day and I do my best to answer them all. But I realized there might be other folks with the same question, looking for an answer. So now, when someone submits a question—a good question—I’ll crate a video response and post it on the Empty Cases website and on social media. If I do not know the answer, I’ll reach out to other—smarter—folks in the industry for help.

The really cool aspect of Ask the Gunwriter is that if you submit a written question your name will entered for a chance to win a Mossberg Patriot Revere chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor. But even better, if you submit a video question, your name will be entered 10 times! In October, I’ll draw a name and announce the winner. For instructions on submitting a question, click HERE

Submit your question about guns, shooting, or hunting, and you might win a Mossberg Patriot Revere chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor.

But, before this all gets kicked off I thought I’d save some folks some time and tell you what questions not to ask; remember, to be selected your question has to be good.

  1. What’s your favorite cartridge? Not a good question. I had dinner with a group of hunters, writers, and manufactures during the last SHOT Show. The great Dave Petzal was in attendance, and about half way through what might have been the best steak I’ve ever chewed on, someone asked him what his favorite cartridge was. I could not hear Dave’s answer, but in reality it does not matter, because this fascination with the minute differences between cartridges is somewhat asinine. After dinner I asked Dave how many times he’d been asked what his favorite cartridge was. He said, “I have no idea.” What I should have asked him was, how many different answers he had given to that question over the span of his career.

  1. I’m going elk hunting and was thinking I needed to trade my 270 for a 300 magnum. What would you suggest? Don’t be stupid. Spend the money you would pay as part of the trade on ammunition and learn to shoot better. Unless of course you just want a new rifle. If you do, don’t come up with a lame excuse to get a new rifle…you never need an excuse to buy a new rifle! (The key to killing an elk is good shooting.)

  1. What is your advice when it comes to the 9mm? I’m asked this question almost once every week and my advice is always the same: don’t get shot with a 9mm. It will hurt like hell, might make your wife wealthy with insurance money, and free her up to run off with the geek down at the GoMart.

  1. I’ve read several your articles and it seems you don’t like the 30-06. This seems really odd to me. Is this true? And, if it is, would you explain why you do not like what might be the best all-around cartridge? Yes, it is true. And, no, I will not. And, just so you know, I don’t like Pepsi-Cola or Ford trucks either.

  1. My wife complains about me shooting and hunting all the time. And, every time I buy a new gun she throws a fit. She’s thrown my ammo in the trash, cuts up my camo, puts her perfume in my bottles of deer pee, and even joined PETA. What should I do? D-I-V-O-R-C-E, unless your wife is Katheryn Winnick; she’s the opposite of ugly, she’s very wealthy, and might kick your ass. Might I suggest you learn some romance?