Squirrel Tactics

A couple months back I rambled at length about how stupid it is to buy tactical weapons and gear.  This post:


At the time, I had instead bought a very reasonable Remington 870 Express 12 gauge; then added a buttstock ammo holder, glow rifle sights, and a light mod vented choke.  I considered them to be all rather reasonable upgrades.  But one must walk the walk to verify such claims, and so I sauntered off into my favorite hunting grounds to partake in some sciuridae slaughter.  It was also an attempt to get Joe to shoot something again.

My Remington alongside Joe’s Maverick. In his defense, he didn’t buy it for hunting. I don’t think he ever expected me to keep dragging him off into the woods.

The woods were pretty devoid of hunters.  I don’t know if the pandemic had something to do with that, or if they’ve just moved on to other grounds (2 years ago the woods were packed and no one was getting anything), but it certainly made it nice for us.  And as it turned out, my shotgun choice and modifications (and selected ammo: #6 birdshot, high velocity), proved extremely effective.  I was able to take shots at a distance my old break action 20 gauge could never have handled.

The 870 takes all kinds

Joe didn’t get one, but he did see one and manage to raise his weapon.  Small steps.  1 or 2 more sessions I think.


This time, I pan seared the legs and use the rib sections to make a sauce.  It was much better, though the sauce needed some work.  Still, it was good enough that everyone ate it this time.

Mmmm, free range

Now let’s see if I can get some rabbits this year.



I have a strong disdain for anything marketed as “tactical”.  Here’s why:  tactical = meant for harming people = not meant for anything reasonably practical that you might actually use the item for.  Are you really prepping for the inevitable murder, or just making too much money that drugs and hookers aren’t doing it for you anymore?  Here’s some tactical examples:

Tactical firearm = AR-15.  Not practical because you can’t hunt with it (and you sure as hell shouldn’t).  A .223 is good for shooting people and some varmints, and if you hunt the latter, be a little more sporting and get a bolt action rifle.

Tactical knife = anything with serrations or an aptly-named tactical point.  Good for stabbing people and opening field rations.  Not effective at skinning animals or carving wood.

Tactical flashlight = overpowered and strobe function.  Too bright to maintain night vision and extraneous modes not useful for anything beyond blinding people.  And my favorite–the hard nub on the butt meant for bashing skulls.  I can’t even stretch my imagination on that one.

So, is there any reason to actually buy something tactical, if you’re not military/police?  I will tell you: probably not.  To do so is to believe that a weapon’s primary function should be to shoot people, presumably under the belief that doing so will become necessary under a societal collapse, and that roving bands of raiders will come to take your food.  I argue, however, that you’d be much better off buying a weapon whose primary function is to shoot animals (you know, to acquire food), with the understanding that it can still be effective for defense situations (are you really going to get off 12 shotgun rounds?), and can even be modified for that purpose were the need to arise (swap barrels/magazines).  See?  Survival first requires you to feed yourself, and a tactical weapon therefore will be of much less value.  If you don’t have any food to steal in the first place, no one’s going to come gunning for you.  And if they do and you shoot them, you still don’t have any fresh meat (cannibalism aside).  Sure, you might now point out that all your prepping supplies preclude the need to hunt, and you might be right, at least for the short-term.  But thinking long-term, you still need to hunt.  And thinking short-term, you’re not going to be able to defend yourself against a band of much younger men with more guns just because you bought the tactical variant.

Although, if you plan to be one of the roving raiders yourself, tactical weapons make more sense.  Then by all means, buy tactical, you sociopath.

I’m guessing we have video games to thank for the tactical obsession, because for a lot of people that’s their first encounter with a gun, albeit virtual, and so don’t know otherwise; and the fact that most shooting in games is of the people variety; and modding guns in games with tactical loadouts is just plain fun, too.

Google “tacticool” for more examples.  Yes, there’s an internet community of people laughing at you and your gun.

Okay, I had to get that out of the way.  Thanks for listening.  Now for the real post: I bought a gun.

Specifically, I bought a Remington 870 Express Ultramag.  12 gauge, wooden stock (no tacticool synthetic).

They grow up so fast

Why did I buy this?  Well, because I hunt.  The old single shot break action 20 ga. that dad bought me when I was 16 has certainly bagged its share of woodland creatures, but it did have some limitations.  Range was one of the bigger ones (I’ve been know to sprint across open clearings to make a shot).  Using anything smaller than #6 was pretty ineffective beyond 10 yards, and steel shot was nigh impossible.  #7 1/2 works for skeet, but squirrels don’t shatter if you accidentally drop them.  I also considered trying some waterfowl this year too.  So in order to be effective as well as humane, I wanted something more powerful.

I also wanted Remington over Mossberg.  Personal reasons there.  I won’t get into that flame war (I don’t care if the US military uses Mossbergs.  I’m not shooting people, remember?  Also, the military’s decision to use a particular weapon design doesn’t necessarily equate to reliability.  See the early deployments of M-16s in Vietnam, for instance.)

But I admit, I did mod it.  I didn’t tacticalize it, but I did make some additions.  Hunting-related additions, not tactical additions, to be clear.

Buttstock shell holder
Rifle glow sights
.715 vented choke

And tacticality aside, I keep it stored with 00 buck, so I can still shoot roving raiders if needed.


The Bridge Hath Been Forged Anew

It had been a while since we took a John Bryant trip.  I had taken Joe fishing there last year as part of another forced manly right of passage, with limited results.  But much of the good fishing always lay on the far side of the river, and the bridge which crossed it had collapsed some 10 years ago, before Alana had even been born.  As evidence, I just so happen to have an old photo of a successful catch, former bridge in background:

Dated 5/27/2010

I recall the bridge being high and rickedy.  It was unsettling to cross and I wasn’t surprised when it collapsed.  But every time I fished there after, I checked the bridge status, and every time, it was simply chained off.

Then, Dad visited for the 4th of July weekend, and as per tradition we went to the river.  And surprisingly, a sign on the trail announced the new bridge!  Good fishing would be open again at long last!

This is how I imagine Jimmy Buffet looks currently

Anyway, here’s some fish!:

New bridge in background

A lot of bluegills and rock bass.  All that sweating wasn’t for naught.



A few years back I “fondly” recalled my parents’ compost pile.  That was during the Texas years.  It wasn’t fun.  I vowed to never force the experience upon my own kid.

And I have indeed stuck to that principle, though I’ve admittedly since started composting anyway.  But in fairness, there’s a lot of organic waste that needs to be disposed of, and why fill up the trash bins with it?  And we have gardens.  So fine–there are advantages.  But I won’t go crazy with it.

No, I’ll create a quaint and reasonable compost pile.

Right side: last year’s yard waste

Plus, I have a tiller to mix it up, so no manually turning with a pitchfork.

And so far, I’m impressed with how well it’s breaking down.  As new kitchen waste gets added to the pile (something I do make the kid take care of), I simply pile leaves on top from the edges to keep the stink down.

Apparently it’s possible to do these things non-obsessively.  Who knew?


Lux Aeterna

Beams alight from broken sky
Hallowed ether to the ground
A vacant plot of reclaimed land
A moment’s pause it doth demand
Breaking free from worlds on high
To pierce the gloom without a sound.

I hate winter.