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VOLUMES 149 & 150--------NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014





December 21, 2014

I have some great news to share this time!  (Well, big news to me anyway.)  Barring unforeseen circumstances, something that has been on my bucket list for a long time will finally come to pass.  Ann I will be making a road trip to Las Vegas in January, where I'll be attending the National Shooting Sports Foundation's annual SHOT SHOW.

NSSF, based in Newtown, Connecticut, is the trade association for the firearms industry.  The Foundation's more than 10,000 members are made up of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers.

The SHOT SHOW is: (quoting from shotshow.org)

"The largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors filling booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracts more than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries."

"Attendance at the SHOT Show is RESTRICTED to the shooting, hunting and outdoor trade; and commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement, and tactical products and services ONLY. The show is not open to the public and NO one under age 16 shall be admitted (including infants)."

"Admission to the show requires government-issued photo identification plus documentation demonstrating direct, professional affiliation to the trade.  Show exhibitors and media are subject to different credentialing requirements."

That's quite a mouthful and may help explain why I feel honored to be credentialed to attend and report on the show on behalf of my Shootin', Huntin', and Reloadin' websites.

The show begins on January 20th and runs through the 23rd, with check in for Media members January 18 and 19.  At this point it appears that Ann will not be able to get into the trade show floor, but we'll investigate this further after arrival.  It would be nice for her to be able to see the this extravaganza, but if that doesn't work out I'm sure she can find plenty to entertain her in the city of "What happens here, stays here!"

I have set up a page on jimparman.com dedicated to coverage of SHOT SHOW 2015.  Don't expect any Facebook, Instagram, or any of that Tweet, Trill, Tinkle, Twiddle, or Twaddle, (whatever) stuff.  However, I will try to post updates to the web page at least once a day.  Visit often to see at least a small part of what's going on in the industry.  I've a number of things that I want to check out, and hope you will find some of it interesting as well.

Our late whitetail buck season ended here on November 19th, just like the early season did.  None of the three family tag holders were able to notch them!  This season seemed very different from those of the recent past, at least from our perspective.  While we had seen at least two shootable bucks on the trailcams, most were nocturnal sightings, and nothing nearly as impressive as the buck we saw on numerous occasions last year.  (see November/December 2013)

There just seemed to be fewer mature bucks around during the season than usual, although Ann and I both passed up an opportunity one evening.  A heavy antlered eight pointer hung around west of the house for nearly an hour while we debated whether one of us should take him.  It was nearly time for Rick to arrive from work for the evening hunt so we elected to await his arrival, as he has not shot a nice buck for a few years.

Alas, Rick was late, and by the time we were able to halt his approach along the driveway, it became too dark to shoot and the buck faded into the timber!

One explanation for the lack of buck sightings, may be that the rut seemed later than usual this year.  We are able to see ideal habitat and numerous whitetail deer from any window in the house on a regular basis.  Before and during deer season these sightings are augmented by feedings of alfalfa hay, corn, and apples.  (baiting for deer is currently legal in Washington, but it is rumored that this may change in 2015)

Unlike our past observations, the typical chasing of estrus does in our neck of the woods did not occur until after the first of December.  Even at that, there were still no real trophy bucks sighted.
  The old ground blind set up south of the house did not see action this year.

I did joke about one old doe that hung around the feeding sites.  She was easily recognizable because she had a very narrow face, making the eyes appear much closer together than normal.  I theorized that the bucks felt she was too danged ugly to generate any interest so they avoided the area!

Of course, we could have shot legal deer (any antlered buck) nearly every day, but a couple of the regulars that we named Spike and Sixer, remained off limits.  Perhaps they will be bigger next year!

You may have heard that our Washington state voters passed a 'citizen's initiative' that supposedly creates a 'universal background check' system for firearm transfers.  The law took effect December 4th.  Unfortunately, the definition of what constitutes a transfer is both unclear and misleading.

27 out of 32 County Sheriffs in the state, went on record opposing the measure because they said it was unenforceable as written and would not stop criminals from obtaining guns.  Again, unfortunately, the measure carried by nearly 60%, bolstered in large part by urban voters in the Puget Sound area.

Our local daily newspaper editorialized in favor of the measure, but then admitted in another editorial on December 7th, that the new law was confusing and encouraged the state legislature to "give thoughtful consideration to the ambiguity and unintended effects of the newly passed background check law."

Makes a lot of sense for the Spokesman Review to endorse such a measure, and then admit they don't know what it means!  One could conclude that the Editorial Board didn't read and understand the entire measure before making their decision, apparently just like a lot of voters!

A November 19th column by one of the paper's 'liberal' staffers (you'll see excerpts below) prompted me to write a letter to the editor which was published on November 24th.  Here is the text of that letter:


After reading Shawn Vestal, I usually smile, shake my head at his progressive viewpoints, and move on. But I must respond to his Nov. 19 column and his take on Initiative 594.

He makes strong statements about how handing someone a gun isn’t a transfer because a Washington State Patrol spokesman says so. I have read every word of I-594, and it isn’t as clear as Vestal would have us believe.

One example: Section 3: (4) (f) (iv) says in part, that a temporary transfer to a person under 18 years of age for educational purposes is an exemption to the law.

Yet, anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1972 must take a hunter education class in order to buy a Washington hunting license. I’m a certified instructor. Under 18 is very specific. Does that mean I can’t allow students over 17 to practice safe gun handling without a background check?

I-594 is not simply a background check requirement for gun shows and online sales that the big money proponents made nearly 60 percent of voters believe. If that were the intent, it could have been stated within one or two pages.

Courts have overturned laws as “unconstitutionally vague.” We’ll see.

Jim Parman - Newman Lake

The December 7th editorial mentioned above prompted another communication, an emailed letter to the Newspaper's Editor Gary Graham, and the Editorial Board dated December 8th. I asked for this to be considered for their 'guest opinion' feature that appears periodically on the editorial page.

Well, Well!

After editorial endorsement of I-594, and then printing this: (staffer Shawn Vestal’s November 19th column)

“No one is – or ever was – going to arrest anyone for handing someone else a gun. No one is – or ever was – going to arrest anyone for loaning a friend a gun. No one is – or ever was – going to arrest family members for sharing guns while hunting, or gun-safety instructors for passing a gun to a student.

That was never, ever the case, and the people who suggested it was were either lying or woefully misinformed by people who were lying or so devoted to crying wolf that they simply did not care whether there really was one.”
(emphasis mine)

The Spokesman Review now editorializes that I-594 is really not all that clear???,  saying in your closing paragraph of the Sunday edition:

“We endorsed I-594, but lawmakers should give thoughtful consideration to the ambiguity and unintended effects of the newly passed background check law, before moving on to more gun control measures. Otherwise, they will stoke the fears that government intends to ride roughshod over gun ownership rights.”
(again, emphasis mine)

I wrote a ‘letter to the editor’ that was published on November 24th.  As a state certified hunter education instructor, I expressed only one, of a number of concerns that may directly affect the delivery of our Washington Hunter Education Program.  That concern was the narrow exemption for firearm transfers for “educational purposes” being limited to students 17 years of age or younger.

Over the ten plus years I’ve been teaching Hunter Education, we’ve had students ranging in age from 6 years to over 70.  There is neither a minimum nor maximum age for students to enroll in Hunter Education in Washington.  But, if you were born on or after January 1, 1972, there is a requirement that you pass this class (or one in another state) in order to purchase a Washington hunting license for the first time.  Unless my math is off, this means that even some fortysomethings need to do this to legally hunt in Washington.

We can now add some early interpretation from the State Attorney General’s Office, about how I-594 may affect our Hunter Education classes, our instructors and volunteers, and how we teach.  This comes via a memo to instructors from the WDFW Hunter Education Division Manager.

Without detailing all the ‘legalese’ in the memo, I’ll paraphrase what we instructors are being told:

As Certified Instructors under the auspices of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is a “general authority law enforcement agency” we are generally exempted from the law’s background check requirements while in the performance of our duties in the following firearm exchanges:

•    Between WDFW employees and Hunter Education Instructors
•    From one Hunter Education Instructor to another Hunter Education Instructor
•    Between Hunter Education Instructors and Non Governmental Organizations
•    Between Hunter Education Instructors and students

We are further told that student-to-student transfers may be exempt, but if not, we’ll need to change procedures to avoid conflict with I-594.  One change is described as requiring a student to pass a firearm to an instructor, who then passes it on to another student, rather than directly from student to student.

Let me describe how this can be an issue with respect to just one element of teaching firearm safety within a hunting context.  An important aspect of safe hunting is the ability to deal with obstacle crossings when in the field.  To teach this, we use real firearms and ‘dummy’ ammunition.  We do these exercises for real in a field course, and also practice them in simulation in the classroom.

For example, when approaching a fence, a hunting party of three will all unload their firearms and secure their dummy ammo.  Then, one person will hand off their gun to another and cross the fence.  The guns are then passed over the fence, and the process is repeated until everyone is safely across, all while maintaining safe muzzle control of the firearm.

After the guns are back in the hands of the hunters they are reloaded and hunting resumes.  Students are closely monitored by instructors, and by WDFW policy, a student fails the class if their gun is pointed at another person during the exercise!

Inserting an instructor in the middle of these firearm handoffs would not only inhibit the learning experience, but is totally useless and counterproductive except for meeting a meaningless requirement of I-594!

Any competent evaluation of the effect of Hunter Education training tells us that hunting and firearm injuries and deaths have plummeted as a result.  For a citizen’s initiative to be written so as to potentially interfere with a program like Hunter Education is a tragedy and an insult to the over 700 volunteer instructors in Washington who freely and generously contribute their time and talents to make the program work at little or no cost to the taxpayer!
As you point out in your December 7th editorial, the problems and ambiguity go much deeper than how this Initiative may affect Hunter Education.  Examples such as the museum firearm collections and the technicalities of dealing with the legalese involved when someone dies, leaving firearms in the hands of a surviving spouse are also very troublesome.

Let’s talk about that “never, ever” and “lying or woefully misinformed” part of Mr. Vestal’s column.  Wow!  If the AG’s office is narrowing the circumstances to this extent in the Hunter Education arena, perhaps Mr. Vestal’s assertions should be re-thought?

Another thing that we need to understand, despite their protestations to the contrary, the people who supported and wrote this initiative have impeccable credentials when it comes to wanting no guns, no way, no how, in the hands of civilians.  Should it really be a surprise that they tried to make this adversely affect as many gun owners as possible?

Michael Bloomberg surrogates wrote I-594, and got Bill Gates and other billionaires to fund the flooding of news media and post office boxes with misleading propaganda.

This newspaper editorialized for passage of I-594 and now apparently realizes that it really goes far beyond background checks for gun shows and Internet sales.

One of this newspaper’s staffers wrote a column that emphatically makes misleading, if not downright false statements about what I-594 does and doesn’t do.

In light of these factors, should it come as a surprise that Johnathan Gruber's 'stupid voter' comments with regard to the passage of Obamacare might also resonate with regard to the passage of I-594!

Jim Parman - Newman Lake

This letter received no reply or acknowledgment from the newspaper, and obviously has not been considered for a 'guest opinion'.

So, let me recap a few things about this law:
  • We have the chief law enforcement officers of 27 of 32 Washington counties saying that the law is unenforceable and won't keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
  • We have Washington State Patrol spokesmen saying that WSP doesn't consider handing a gun to another person without a background check a violation, and observed this happening repeatedly in a recent mass demonstration at the State Capitol without arrests.
  • We have supporters and authors of the Initiative publicly stating that, despite what is says, the law wasn't really meant to make it illegal to hand another person a gun.
  • We have Eastern Washington's most prominent daily newspaper endorsing the Initiative, then admitting it is unclear and has unintended effects.
  • We have the Washington State Attorney General's office telling us that their literal interpretation of the Initiative's language may make it illegal for our adult Hunter Education students to hand one another a gun while in training.
  • We have everyday law abiding gun owners like myself, who read the literal wording of the Initiative as potentially making us convicted felons if we are prosecuted for inadvertently violating the transfer provisions.
Seems to me these contradictions reiterate the truth of those 'stupid voter' remarks from Johnathan Gruber's speeches, and makes it imperative that either the legislature clean this up so that it makes sense or the courts declare it to be 'unconstitutionally vague' and enjoin its enforcement.

Sorry, that was a long trip to the soapbox.  Now on to some huntin' stuff!

As I reported last time, my Brother Ed and his two boys, Scott and Jason, were recently on a guided moose hunt in Newfoundland, Canada.  They were accompanied by Coby Richeson, a friend who has hunted deer with the boys out of Ed's cabin in Northwest Missouri for years.

First a little background:  Ed built his hunting cabin many years ago, and added a substantial addition a few years back.  The cabin is located on the backside of Ed's property, and has housed friends, acquaintances, and relatives for the mid November Missouri deer season.  Needless to say, the place is 'rustic' with no electricity, running water, or other of our taken for granted conveniences.

Ed's Hunting Cabin November 2015

The guys who have hunted the property decided to gift Ed with a guided hunt in appreciation of his generosity and accommodations over the years.  After investigating numerous possibilities, Ed decided upon a moose hunt in Newfoundland, Canada.  Sister-in-law Nancy also made the trip with Ed, but no farther than the last real motel available before the men headed off to hunting camp!

Here's the story in Ed's own words, though, with permission, I have taken some editorial liberties here and there.

Nancy and I drove the pick-up from here to Deer Lake, Newfoundland.  Total round trip of 5513 miles.  We took a couple of "side" trips to visit friends and relatives on the trip up and did a short detour to Niagara Falls.  That total mileage also does not reflect the distance traveled over and back from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland via an 8.5 hour "ride" on an ocean ferry.

We were so fortunate to make both crossings during a  "Nor-easter", which is Canadian for Atlantic hurricane.  The ferry was not a small vessel but it got tossed around like a cork.  Thankfully, we had reserved a cabin for both "cruises" and were able to sleep most of the travel time.  (when you could stay in the bunk!)  The bad  weather had a terrible effect on our hunt, also.

Jason, Scott and Coby Richeson flew to Deer Lake, NFL and we met at the Deer Lake Motel to hook up with the outfitter.  Nancy stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Deer Lake for the week while the boys and I were in the "out back".  Jason didn't get to Deer Lake on the same day as the rest of us and nearly didn't make it into base camp.  Weather and other considerations entered into that situation.  Anyway, he did get flown in by helicopter in very questionable flying conditions the next day after Scott, Coby and I had been flown into camp.

Coby, Ed, Scott, Jason

It took an hour and a quarter to fly from Deer Lake to the base camp.  Needless to say, we were way out in the boonies.  Access to base camp was either via helicopter or float plane.  There was absolutely no overland access.  So, if the weather wasn't decent for flying, you were screwed.

Base Camp consisted of a pretty nice "cabin".  There was running water, hot and cold, and electricity provided by a gas generator when needed.  There was a man and wife and 2 guides at camp.  The couple took care of camp management and the lady was the cook.  The food was excellent and was served in HUGE portions.  We had a hot breakfast  and  supper on the days that we hunted.  When we went out to hunt, we were provided a sack lunch.

Base Camp Cabin in Newfoundland

Interior of Base Camp Cabin

The next day after Jason got there, he, Coby and one guide hiked to a "spike camp" which was about 8 K from base.  Because of the ruggedness of the terrain, it took them the better part of 7.5 hours to complete the trip.  They stayed at the spike camp until the day before we were scheduled to fly back to Deer Lake and it took them most of that day to get back to base.  Foot travel (the only kind you could do) was pretty difficult.  More on that later.

Scott and I and our guide hunted the area around the base camp.  Hunting consisted of leaving base camp, located on a lake shore, and hiking about 1/2 mile of tough walking up a ridge 500 to 700 feet in elevation.  When we got to the top, we would then sit and glass for moose.  I looked though my binoculars so much that my eyes got sore!  The process was supposed to be that once a moose was spotted, we would then set out on a stalk to try and get within shooting range.

You could see about 10 to 15 (or more) miles from where we were glassing.  But, the terrain was very deceptive and did not look as rugged as it actually was when you started to walk through it.  The country had "hills" of varied elevation and length.  Most were at least 500 feet above the lower areas.  Those lower areas (which looked deceptively smooth and level) were actually "bogs".  They would be called swamps if they were southern Florida, and were pretty much hundreds of years of dead grasses floating on water.  It was like walking through 4 to 8 inches of mud.

The whole country was densely populated with small bodies of water and little creeks flowing between them.  You had to follow existing moose and caribou trails across the bogs.  Even then, you would occasionally sink in nearly up to your knee.  It was damn tough walking.

As a real bonus, when you made it across the bogs, you were faced with climbing to the top of another ridge.  If the ridge had taller trees around the base, you had to detour around them because they grew so close together, you absolutely could not go through them.

Where there were no trees around the base of the ridge, there was a low growing evergreen "hedge" that was from waist to chest high and very gnarled and intertwined.  The only way through them was to again follow an existing caribou path.   Even then it wasn't a stroll in the park.  Most times you had to just force your way through.

Moose Hunting Terrain From The Air

Moose Hunting Terrain from Terra Firma (or not so firma)

The weather was absolutely terrible nearly the whole week of our hunt.  Cold, windy, foggy, rainy and not fit for man nor beast.  The locals said it was the worst weather for that time of year that they had seen in the past 30 years.  Just our rotten luck.  We actually had about 3/4 of one day that the conditions were fit for hunting.  Needless to say, when the weather was miserable, nothing was moving but a couple of dumb hunters.  Us.

We did see a moose on the first day we hunted but it was too far away and moving fairly rapidly.  No chance for a stalk.  On the one day of  half way decent weather, my guide spotted a cow and small bull that were about 4 or 5 miles from our position.  We set out on a stalk that took about 4 hours and traveled about 4 and a half miles.  When we were getting within a few yards of shooting range, the wind did a 180 and poof, went the moose.

I quickly realized that moose hunting is for a much younger person than I, especially where we were.  The biggest problem with the long stalk is you have to get back to where you started from.

If you are lucky enough to shoot a moose, they quarter and  bone out all the meat, put it in bags,  mark the position by Gps and the helicopter flies in and picks it up.  Jason was successful in his hunt and shot a cow.  Where he and Coby were was apparently even more rugged than where we were located.

Jason's Moose

We were somewhat concerned the day before we were to fly out because the weather was horrible.  And, when the weather is bad, no flying.  The next morning dawned bright and beautiful.  Actually, the best weather we had experienced.  We flew out via float plane and on the trip back, we spotted all kinds of animals out and moving.  Again, our rotten luck.

Ed, Scott, and Jason Heading Out

There wasn't a lot of different wildlife to see (especially when you couldn't see 3 feet in front of you).  We saw more caribou than we did moose but caribou hunting was not legal in our area.  Also, saw a couple of black bears from the plane.

Yes, it was a heck of an experience.  Some good, some bad, but memorable in many ways.

We brought 240 lbs of moose meat and split it 4 ways so nobody went without.  I forgot, Scott didn't hunt and went primarily to take pictures.  But mostly, he took care of his Dad.  And, I am so very thankful he was there.  He carried my rifle part of the time and the guide took pity on me and carried my back pack most of the time.  If it hadn't been for Scott and our guide, I would not have been able to hack it.

Wouldn't have missed it for the world but sure as hell wouldn't want to do it again.

As mentioned before, the return ferry to Nova Scotia wasn't a lot of fun either.  About 20 minutes out of port we were blessed with another nor-easter.  The vessel we were on was not a small item.  It had 4 decks of autos and pickups (about 300 total) and 2 decks of semis.  Plus, there was a full deck for passengers on top.

Ocean Going Ferries

When we finally arrived at North Sydney, Nova Scotia, it was raining.  About 150 miles down the road, it started snowing hard.  We didn't go much farther until we got a motel for the evening.  Fortunately, the next day, it warmed up and the rest of the trip home was very pleasant and uneventful.

So, that's my story and I am stickin' to it.

I know this is getting lengthy, but I do need to put in a short blurb about the 2014 Missouri deer hunt.  Here again in Ed's words:

I guess you could say that deer season was pretty successful.The guys all saw a "ton" of deer this year.  The weather on opening day was pretty good and the deer were in heavy rut and moving all over.  One of the guys saw and had an opportunity for a shot at a "monster" (18++) points but decided to let him go for future seed.  I guess we are getting pretty spoiled around here, if we pass on the really big ones.

Five Happy Hunters With Their Northwest Missouri Bucks

We had another birthday in the family in December.  Seems like these things keep occurring every year whether one likes it or not.  Christi turned 49 on December 10th.  I didn't ask if I could publish her age, but when I add the picture of her 'birthday pie' there won't be much doubt.

Opening Gifts

Birthday Pie (No Cake Wanted)

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote that Little Heifer picked up on krexy.com

"You should appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Don't forget to check in late January for SHOT SHOW coverage!

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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