Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grandstaff Flintlock Chunk Gun or Bench Rifle

A Full-Stocked Flintlock Rifle by 
John Grandstaff Shenandoah County, Virginia, circa 1820-30 

In my wide ranging and far flung meanderings through the internet's netherworld, I came upon this beauty. A circa 1820-30 chunk gun. Also known as stump guns, they were frequently used for informal and formal target shooting at blocks of wood.

"The 46 inch octagonal barrel with seven-groove rifling in .42 caliber, brass fore-sight and open rear sight; breech signed J. Grandstaff; left flat with indistinct markings; unusual two-step tang. Engraved lock signed Joseph/Golcher. Double-set triggers. Brass furniture, most components engraved with skip line border; patchbox with three piercings, the finial a simplified scroll and blossom, the engraved lid with button release. Full stock of dark, striped maple, the rounded cheekpiece with fluted lower edge and inlaid with a brass compass star; behind the cheekpiece four brass inlays, one in the form of a pointing hand, the other four circular. With older, and possibly period, hickory ramrod, the lower 12 inches a separate pinned piece. Condition: Very good plus. Barrel with dark patina and some light pitting. Patchbox lid with old repair to hinge. Wood has been cleaned and possibly revarnished; fore-end with several small hairline cracks and one 7/8" x 1/8" piece missing to left side 14 inches from muzzle; small chip to right side of barrel tang, small crack to left side and small chips at rear of tang; repaired chip above rear of lock.

Footnotes Note: Illustrated in Plate 112 of Kentucky Rifles, Capt. John Dillin. In his listing he misreads the maker's name as Grandstatt and notes he was a workman of great merit... Note: John Grandstaff, 1789-1853, Shenandoah County, Virginia. See pages 110, 111 and 112 of Gunmakers of Virginia by John Biser Whisker, for examples of Grandstaff's work. The gun illustrated on page 112 also has the pointing hand inlay motif and a counterplate of somewhat similar form."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Biology on the Bay: Mangroves

Tamp Bay Mangroves and their Biology!
© 2009-2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Biology on the Bay: Mangroves

While goofing around this weekend with Bubby and his pal Ethan, we pulled into one of the many parks that dot the Tampa Bay coastline. Unknown to many even a few miles inland, these parks often offer easy access to the bay for small boat enthusiasts, wade fishing, and in many cases offer picnic areas and scenic walks.

As the boys wandered around, I meandered over to the seawall and looked over the edge. Along with the accumulated trash and seaweed, I saw several mangrove pods, many with sprouted leaves. That’s when I got an idea. "Biology on the Bay," will be an occasional series touching on the different flora and fauna of the Tampa Bay region.
Image Credit: Edgley Cesar

There are four different types of mangroves that inhabit the Tampa Bay estuaries: Red Mangrove, Black Mangrove, White Mangrove and the Buttonwood.

Image Credit: TeeJe
Living closest to the water, the Red Mangrove is the most common of the mangroves and the one that drops the pods that you frequently see floating by when you are fishing. Given the opportunity, a mangrove pod that gets washed up on a shoreline, or gets caught between reef rocks, will throw out roots that will quickly support it. As it grows, the Red Mangrove will produce a maze of aerial roots that prop it in place, and provide structure for all the denizens of the shallow waters. Oysters, sponges, and many types of invertebrates take refuge within the curved and intersected confines of the root system, as well as the juvenile of any number of fish. Along with the grass beds, this is the nursery of much of the Gulf Coast’s fish. 75% of all game fish, and 90% of all commercial fish use the mangrove systems for rearing their young and depend on it.
Black Mangrove Breathing Tubes

The Black Mangrove’s roots are actually an underground network of roots. Inhabiting the area nearest high tide, the Black Mangrove can be identified by the breathing tubes that pierce the tidal flats around the trees. As the Black Mangrove grows, the roots expand, putting up new breathing tubes, and as new seeds drop and germinate, they eventually growing into groves of substantial trees. The Black Mangrove though, is fighting a loosing battle against invasive species such as the Brazilian Pepper Tree, a particularly noxious and difficult to eradicate pest that can withstand brackish conditions.

The White Mangrove grows furthest inland along with the Buttonwood. Both have a more conventional root system. They can be identified from the other species by the shape of the leaves. These are the last to colonize an area, and are on the inside fringe of the mangrove community.

The three types of mangrove work jointly to stabilize shorelines throughout their range.

The ecology of the mangrove forests is fascinating. If you were to take a single sprout, plant it, and observe it over years, you would find that by itself, it would have the capability of creating not only its own ecosystem, but in essence bring life to a seemingly barren location.
Image: Eric Vichich
When a mangrove pod takes root, it very quickly stabilizes the adjacent areas. As it grows, the aerial roots that it produces create a tangle that hold debris and detritus that gets caught up in them. As the mangrove accumulates materials, it becomes colonized by any number of invertebrates. These in turn attract other creatures. The falling leaves decompose, are consumed by these tiny creatures, and become the first link in the food chain of the bay. Soon other pods are caught up in the outlying roots of the initial mangrove and a new tree begins to grow, expanding the process.

Over time, as the accumulation increases and the number of animals upon the mangrove expands, the mangrove mangals take on the characteristics of an island. Birds nest in the canopy, carry seeds, nesting material, and leave behind plenty of droppings. Storms bring more debris that gets caught up in the ever expanding ring of aerial roots. Over decades and centuries islands are formed.
High Tide at a Black Mangrove Mangle

Mangroves create barriers that prevent erosion from both wind and water. The interconnected root systems breakup and diffuse the energy of tidal flows and storms, preventing soil, silt, and sand from getting washed away. The oysters and sponges that inhabit the system help filter runoff and do their part in keeping the Tampa Bay Estuary in its great condition.

Next time you are out on the Florida coastlines, take a closer look at the mangroves. Not only are they an interesting part of the landscape with their interesting roots and salt encrusted leaves, but they are an integral part of the life cycle of Tampa Bay.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Blog Rodeo 02/11/12

The Best of Outdoor Bloggers and Posts!
© 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Blog Rodeo for September 5th

Folks, here are my picks for this week's best posts. It's all old stuff that I think is always good to take a second look at! Now I may have missed a few here and there, and if that's the case don't forget to feel free to remind me to add it to the Rodeo!

By the way, if you have a post that you're particularly proud of, or it's an oldie but a goodie like these, then let me know and I'll link to it and put it on TROC.

First up is Deer Impacts: "In many places, deer and other large ungulates are reaching densities that damage ecosystems and create conflicts with people. This blog represents my attempt to monitor deer conflicts and impacts around the world. Tom Rooney: I am a biology professor at Wright State University, and have been studying the effects of deer on forests since 1995." Really interesting stuff and good information on what's going on with respect to the burgeoning deer population.

Operation Idaho 2009 "This blog has been created as an electronic journal of Brandon and Brad's quest to bowhunt Idaho's backcountry in September 2009. The challenge is that neither have done this before. This blog will serve as record of 6 months of planning and preparation: exercise, diet, archery practice, equipment research, purchase and review, as well as any other aspects backcountry bowhunting." Another really interesting blog. I think it's a great concept, and one that I would like to see more of.

Fred's Hunting Blog, "A Bow Hunter's Adventures in Montana I live in Montana and started bow hunting four seasons ago. The bow hunting bug has hit me hard and I spend way too much time hunting and thinking about hunting. I am not an expert and these are merely my experiences and opinions, take them for what you will." Just a regular guy doing what us guys do best. One of my new favorites.

Patrick Grotto on BowHunting. A fascinating read on bow hunting and taking deer. I'm not sure where to begin as it is all very, very good. The subject matter is varied, and I feel like I am being educated by a sage, who is trying to impart wisdom through the direct, and via metaphor. It's a must see.

Over at Rob's Hunting Journal, Rob has modified a deer cam with some awesome results. Here is the mods: Homebrew Trail Cam and here are the results: Moment of Truth. Rob does a great job of explaining what and how he does it, clearly and in a fashion that is easily followed. The results speak for themselves.

Slob Hunters covers an important topic that we all have to consider. Fair Chase gives some thought and consideration to the subject in a well written post.

NorCal Cazadora wrote several articles for her local regional newspaper and is asking us to support the newspaper by commenting on the paper's website. It is imperative that we support one and other, in addition to allies in the media.

PeTA Watch is a group that keeps an eye on the loons at PeTA. I get quite a bit of intell from these folks, and for those of you that keep tab on the animal rights extremists, this is a great resource.

Alright then, these are this week's highlights, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

And don't forget, touch base with me if you would like me to link a story, drum up some interest in one of your posts, or just to shoot the bull. My e-mail is on my profile page.

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Training for the Outdoors: Get Ready for Spring!

Easy way to get in shape for hunting season!
© 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Train Your Way to Better Hunting
Train for Endurance

Y'all remember this post of 2009? I was at 212 lbs, and dragging butt.

US Army Training Center & Fort JacksonImage via Wikipedia

After seeing the Bear at Fort Jackson, I was motivated by the lines of recruits scampered to and fro while being yelled at, their bodies being forged and hammered by their kind and conscientious drill sergeants, and finally drawn and tempered into finely honed fighting members of the United States Army. I'm telling you, it was as if I was reliving my youth as I watched the activities, washing down my slice of stuffed crust, extra cheese, Italian sausage pizza with a Super Big Gulp of Pepsi.

As I looked down at my extended midline, I was reminded of the fact that hunting wild game can be an athletic adventure, and I should plan on getting myself in shape before the season starts. Quite frankly I'm in decent shape, my blood pressure is low, cholesterol is low, and overall I'm pretty good. But my endurance is not what it once was. And endurance is what determines what physical demands you can place on your body.

Image: acetosa
I spend a lot of time behind the keyboard when I am at home, and I spend a considerable amount of time sitting while driving and while at work. I'm sure many of you do the same. I did a little research and decided it was high time I not only got back in shape, but make a change in the way I have been leading my life. No I am not going vegetarian, nor am I going to give up calzones, lasagna, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and big hunks of red meat. What I am going to do is get regular exercise, and moderate my intake of food.

The goal is to design a program that will reflect the needs of a hunting sportsman, build up endurance, and tone up the muscles. Remember we are not looking for gains in size and large increases in strength, we want endurance.

Repetition and time are the key ingredients of endurance. But how are we going to go about it?
Image: MoonJazz
Rules of the Game:
You have to have a modicum of discipline.
You must think before you act.
It helps if you have a partner that's willing to support you.
Write down your plan of action.
Then get started!

First things first. Decide you want to do this. If you can't make even a small commitment to the regimen then forget about it. You must decide you are going to make time every day to get yourself back in shape. Decide if anyone else is with you on this. The truth is it is easier if you have someone that will do it alongside you.

So where are you now? Don't even think of going out there and doing a Rocky in the Russian mountains or anything like that. Let's think before we act!

If you've been on your rear end for the last nine months, then a little walking might be the way to go. Get a decent set of hiking boots, if that is your proclivity, but wait a while before you lace them on. Let's start with sneakers or walking shoes. You will also need a watch that is easily read, or a stopwatch.

Find a place where you can walk undisturbed and proceed to take a brisk and invigorating walk. Go from point A to point B and time it. Use that as your initial marker. Now try to do a little more a little faster every day. Once you are motivating for thirty minutes at a good pace, switch to those hiking boots. Make sure you have good socks on and that the boots fit is correct. I recommend Darn Tough Vermont socks which are by the way the Official Socks of The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.

Make sure you do some moderate stretching before you start, each and every time it really does help prevent injuries.

See if you can find a piece of 1.25 or 1.5 inch black iron pipe that's about 3 foot long. Nice to carry a bit of weight in your arms to simulate that rifle during season.
A great tip I picked up is the 5 repetition push-ups during those moments between TV shows, or between desk and door. It's not enough to make you sweat or get out of breath, but it is enough to help you gain strength. You can increase them little by little over the summer and into the fall. I'm up to 25 reps, and I do them 3 to 5 times per day. It takes less than 20 seconds, and considering I started at ten sloppy ones a few weeks ago, I'm pretty pleased.

The other exercise I recommend is the good old sit up. Abdominal strength is the key to core strength, and ultimately determines factors like back strength and alignment, and hip alignment. These factors help with your balance and help prevent and minimize back injuries.

Wedge those feet under a piece of furniture, keep your knees bent, and fold your arms across your chest. Don't pull your chin into your chest as you lift, just bend it modestly as you start to lift off. Suck that gut down to your spine as your shoulders leave the ground and continue the lift in a controlled manner. Go back down in the same controlled fashion. Do what you can with proper form, and add to it as your strength increases. Sit ups are my evening exercise and I try to do as many as I can the first time, and follow it up with a set or two more, doing as many as my abs will allow.

Back in my Army days we used to "slap our boots." Basically we would squat, back relatively straight, until we could swat the top of our boots. This is a great exercise that you can do at any moment, quickly, and with great effect. It works your quads well, and helps with balance. I do ten reps whenever I remember. You can do them slow, or pick up the pace when you're in a hurry.

I thought of this a little while ago. We tend to stick to things we like. Don't fall into the trap of only doing what you like or are good at. Try to work on every part equally! Legs, abs, upper-body, they are all equally important.

That's my current regimen; walking, push ups, sit-ups, and squats. I do other odd-ball things as the mood or opportunity strikes me like pull-ups, chair dips, arm raises, and jumping jacks. Anything at anytime that is convenient. The key is to be doing something constructive and healthy for your body.

Stop and think for a moment how much time you spend doing a good job for your employer, or how much time you spend keeping that car or boat in great shape, or blogging. Don't you think you deserve the same care and consideration?

Repetition is the key to endurance. Keep adding repetitions as you gain in strength and endurance and before you know it, even the Mrs will notice the improvements in your physique...


Epilouge: It helped that I have been in Afghanistan for some time now, but at home I stay at about 185 lbs. That's without watching what I eat, other than from the plate to my mouth. I do moderate the amount of ice cream i consume, and I pretty much avoid soda pop, but other than that I don't limit myself much. I walk everyday, bicycle as often as possible, and knock out a few push-ups, sit-ups, and the occasional motivated run up a couple of flights of stairs to keep the weight in check.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Free Fishing Lures from Fish Creek Spinners

You have until the tenth of February, only two days, to enter into Fish Creek Spinners lure give-a way!

How It Works:

Leave a comment, any comment on the contest post, up to 5 entries per angler so enter as many times as you want - you cast more, you catch more fish.

Help promote the drawing, Twitter it, Facebook it, or feature it on your blog! Better participation = more and better prizes!

What's this mean to you?

More Comments = More Entries = Better Angler Odds

More Anglers = Better Prizes (more spinners) and more Winners

So if you're feeling lucky, spread the word. More anglers in drawing = more winners and more spinners for the winners.

After reaching 24 anglers, each time the number of 'anglers' in the drawing exceeds the next multiple of twelve, another winner and spinner is added to the drawing. The more anglers that enter, the more winners and spinners in each winning set - up to twelve spinners for 10 winning anglers.

OK then, let's double check we got it all correct!
How to Enter Drawing

To enter just click the blog title: Happy Birthday Noise on the Line and then enter a comment to the Comments section at the bottom of the post.

Each comment you enter (that includes unique identifying info) becomes an entry number in the 2/11/12 drawing.

Each comment increases your odds of Random.org choosing one of your numbered entries.

Some anglers choose identifying information when they comment, others use Anonymous. Just leave something, anything that we can track back to you! Hate for you to win, and we don't know who you are, where you are, or any of the other W's that might identify you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Range Reviews: RedRam Merino Thermal Underwear

 RedRam Merino Wool Thermal Underwear Review!
© 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Superlative Merino Wool Products for the Outdoorsman!

Wool, as you know, is an outdoorsman's best friend. Though it is capable of absorbing and holding one third its weight in water, its structure allows it to retain your body heat. I was invited to test a set of RedRam Merino Wool Thermal underwear, which I gladly took with me to Afghanistan for the winter.

But first, lets talk a little about RedRam, Icebreaker their parent company, and sustainability. RedRam is part of the Icebreaker family. It was in 1994, that Icebreaker pioneered the merino outdoor clothing category when its founder, Jeremy Moon, saw the opportunity to make natural performance garments when everything else around was made from synthetic fibers. Icebreaker designed and invented the world’s first merino layering system, and it was the first outdoor apparel company to source merino directly and ethically from the growers.

Sustainability has been a huge issue with me and something that I have been studying for some time. If we don't change our behavior, attitude, and our desire to desire, we will see an end to those things that we take for granted, but that are the most important things in our lives.

Luckily many companies, like Icebreaker, are taking these matters seriously and to heart.

My first impression of the RedRam Merino Wool Thermal Underwear was that it was really soft, not like my old Woolrich MacGregor tartan blanket that accompanies me everywhere. It is fine wool fiber with a softness that compares favorable to any nice fleece material.

Here is the information and specifications from their website.
  • Breathable: I want you to be perfectly warm, not hot and sweaty. That's where RedRam shines. Merino thermal underwear stays drier because it naturally absorbs perspiration from your skin and releases it into the air.
  • Natural Fibre: I like people warming, not global warming. So RedRam couldn't be more natural. The ingredients are grass, water and sunshine. I grow it and it's woven into your thermals. Unlike polyprop underwear which is made from petrochemicals.
  • Stinkiness: You can ski, hike, or fish all day, or run up and down the sideline, whatever the weather. No matter how active you get in your RedRam, it won't get smelly. Synthetic fibres stink to high heaven but Merino is far more efficient than other fibres at releasing sweat and moisture.
  • Comfort: Put on a silky smooth, super light merino garment and you'll enjoy the warmth of a heavy sweater. But you'll have none of the bulk. That's because of merino's finely crimped fibres, which create millions of air pockets to capture your body heat.
  • Sustainable: No use making men's and women's thermal underwear if there's not going to be a world left to wear it in. Fortunately RedRam merino wool is renewable and biodegradable. We merino are shorn each year, then we return to the mountains to grow more underwear. Merino is biodegradable and unlike cotton and synthetics it uses very low-energy production processes.
  • Pure Merino Wool: I am pure merino. And we merino spend our days roaming high in the spacious Southern Alps of New Zealand. Our coats are designed to naturally handle all extremes of weather. And that can mean -20 degrees Celcius in winter. 

Let me comment on the preceding. Breathability is an inherent characteristic of wool and is what makes wool such a wonderful insulator. Natural fibers, sustainable, and pure Merino wool, are all great aspects of the material and production ethics of Icebreaker and RedRam. Comfort is as comfort does, and these are comfortable. They run true to size, at least on me they did, and they are soft and warm. As to stinkiness, I didn't allow myself the privilege of testing that particular aspect of the RedRam Merino Thermals... having said that, the official socks of The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Darn Tough Vermont Boot Socks, are also made of Merino Wool, and are advertised as stink repellant.

Speaking of which, washing you wool garments require a bit of care if you want to make them last longer and retain their best characteristics. Use a soap product, not detergent. Use cold water. Wash them by hand or in a gentle cycle. Line dry them, do not use a drier! I of course broke every one of those rules while on base. Except the cold water rule. My socks and the RedRams have survived through it all.

Ok now for the nuts and bolts.

They are comfortable and they keep you warm. Temperatures varied between the high teens and low forties, with rain, sleet, snow, and bitingly cold clear days. My body and legs were comfortable; I never noticed the cold bothering me there. So that tells me they work, and work well. In the end, a tool that works well, is one you don't notice until its absence!

I rate the RedRam Marino Wool Thermal Underwear a definite buy.

RedRam Marino Wool Thermal Underwear
Retail prices:
Long sleeve shirt $57.99
Short sleeve $47.99
Long pants for $57.99
Boxers for $29.99.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:  Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained Capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Making Caviar with Hank Shaw and Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook

How to Make caviar with Hank Shaw of Honest Food Net!
© 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

How to Make Caviar!

"Caviar, the delicacy of Kings, Princes and Commissars. Think of gold, diamonds, Champagne, Ferraris, and what else but caviar. The finest caviar was from the Caspian Sea, from sturgeons that could weigh over 900 pounds and reach ages greater than we humans. It was carefully harvested, delicately salted to preserve it, and sent all over the world in sterling containers carefully packed in ice. Beluga was the most famous, and Ostreca and Sevruga were also revered by connoisseurs." (From Great Cooking)

As usual, for reasons that I don't quite remember, and who's torturous path through my synapses I can't even begin to fathom, I wanted to know how to make caviar.  Don't ask, I have no idea why, it's not like there are any fish in Afghanistan.

Well, there are some, but they real good at spotting an Afghan with an RPG. Seriously they shoot at trout with RPGs to collect them. Here.

Anyway, I started checking out caviar making, and lo and behold Mr Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook did a whole write up on preparing salmon roe so you can on your way to making caviar.

"Caviar has always had a hold on me. It is a mysterious ingredient, almost otherworldy; the individual eggs look like jewels from an alien planet. Caviar tastes briny and vaguely floral, and the textural surprise of the pop in your mouth has led more than one writer to liken it to Pop Rocks for adults." Hank Shaw, How to Make Caviar

I would be remiss if i didn't mention the food photography by Holly Heyser; it is phenomenal!

 Photo credit: Holly Heyser
Makes you want to lick the monitor screen doesn't it?

So there you have it folks, another project for all of us to give a shot at come fishing season!

 If you have already tried it, please let us know how it worked out. We have substantial shad runs in Florida, and I am curious as to the possibilities of making caviar.. More research is in order!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:  Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Scouting for Hogs the Chronicles Way!

Scouting for Hogs the Chronicles Way!
© 2009-2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
How to scout for hogs! $g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

"It looked bad, but it wasn’t like I was bleeding all over the place and in danger of imminent death."
You can only just make out the scars now, it has been that long.
DumbAss Credit: Albert A Rasch
Sun, wind and weather have faded them to faint lines on my forearm. The splintered end of the branch had skewered me but good. About four inches of it had stabbed through me, just under the surface of the skin. It had, by sheer luck and happenstance, missed going through muscle, artery, or tendon. I pulled my impaled arm off the branch cursing and sputtering deprecations at anyone and anything I could think of. I had already dropped my rifle anyway so my free hand instantly wrapped around my forearm as it cleared the spearlike point of the broken branch. All I had time to see was the bloody splinter sticking out of my forearm before I pulled my arm off, and now my hand was clamped onto my arm and threatening to cut all the circulation off to the other hand. It’s as if it had a mind of its own.

Image Credit:
I had been scouting for hogs that morning. As usual, my route took me right up the railroad tracks going through the local ranches. The track maintenance crews use a mechanical, one-armed, articulated monster with a three-foot diameter circular saw on the working end to hack back the encroaching trees and brush. Among the shredded remains of the plant life are an innumerable number of branches that are left jagged and splintered, Punji stake like, waiting for an unwary idiot like me to impale himself. Which is exactly how I was now to be found.

At that particular point, I could have cared less if Britney Spears was prancing by me nude, naked, or disrobed. I was on the job, scouting for hogs, and now I was out of commission. Well, I might be curious why Britney was there and what brand of mosquito spray she used, or if she put on enough sunscreen and maybe needed some help making sure she had enough on, but that’s about it.

Scouting for hogs, or any animal for that matter, requires a bit of thought. When you are out their looking for hogs, you have to start by taking a broad view. I mean that both metaphorically and physically. Step back a moment and considering the hogs needs first. Then making calculated decisions based on your observations.
Image Credit: Mape_S
Let’s say you are scouting an abandoned farm or grove that you now have access to. Hogs move from cover, to feed, to water; that’s pretty much their routine. Throw in a wallow at the local mud hole and you pretty much got it. They tend to move early in the morning to their feeding areas, then quench their thirst with the regulars at the watering hole, and move into heavy cover before the day warms up too much and makes them uncomfortable. Breeding is a year round affair so there is no rut to contend with. But a sow in heat will attract every willing male in the county. Regardless, the first thing to do is determine if they are making regular forays into the property and why.

Image Credit: Stile di Pallanti

A great tool for pre-scouting or familiarizing yourself with an area is Google Earth. Back in the day we had to buy topographic or aerial photographs of the area in question. Now you can get all sorts of whizbang satellite imagery! My biggest issue is that I can’t seem to figure out how to save a screen shot or print it out. So I’ve used shrink-wrap and fine tipped markers to trace the terrain and landmarks directly on the plastic while on the screen and then transferred it to paper. Maybe someone will take pity on me and explain to me how I can do it on the computer.

Image Credit: Retro Traveler
Maybe if I had taken a better look at an aerial view, I wouldn’t have jumped off where I did, and found myself looking like an Hors d'oeuvre on an oversized toothpick. My arm was throbbing under my cold, clammy grip, and I could tell I was suffering from a mild case of shock. My face felt cold even though it was the middle of summer. I sat down, took a couple of deep breaths, and quickly decided what I should do. First thing on the list was: Get a better map… Hell, get any map! Next on the list is a shot of Bourbon, for medicinal purposes of course. Time to get a flask…

There’s a lot you can learn from an aerial or topographic map. The overall lay of the land is better understood from the vantage point of a satellite or airplane. You can see how land, vegetation, and features make natural corridors and lanes, which will guide any kind of traffic including air movements. You can see where thick vegetation may be, and how it might be accessed. It gives you a starting point for your scouting and helps you visualize the context of what your feet are standing on when you are there. Now you can see the forest and the trees!

Image Credit: Lucycat

Now that you have a broad view of the property, let’s look for the specific needs of wild hogs. Is there a food source for them right now; if so what is it. Food sources that are constantly replenishing themselves will have the hogs visiting regularly while the food is available. For instance, when nut trees ripen and drop their mast, it is over a period of time. Hogs will visit for the time that the trees are dropping their bounty. Once the nuts stop dropping, the hogs stop visiting, except by happenstance if they happen by to see if they can glean a few more nuts out of the ground. Old orchards will also be attractive to hogs for the same reason. Grain crops have a narrower window depending on the amount of grain and the size of the predation. Once millet or corn is ripe, it’s all ripe and that’s it. A hungry boar can chew up and destroy a substantial amount of acreage in a night, but when the food is gone, it is gone. Wild pigs will also graze and root for vegetative matter. In the spring time hogs will graze new growth and in the fall they will use those bulldozer noses to rip out tubers and roots.
Image Credit: Valeriep
One thing to be aware of is that rooted up areas are a sign that hogs were there, as in past tense. They are unlikely to be back in that general area. They’ll find another area to root up the following night, sometimes far away from the one you are looking at. It is a good sign that the pigs are in the area, but nothing more.

I hadn’t seen any sign like rooting, but I knew that there were plenty of hogs in the area. I thought I would scout out what looked from the ground to be a promising area, after crossing the overgrown right-of-way. Now I was sitting there like a dummy. I screwed up my courage, let go of the arm, and took a look at the carnage. It looked bad, but it wasn’t like I was bleeding all over the place and in danger of imminent death. So I took the water bottle, poured some over the holes and poked at it with my dirty fingers. The pale jagged edges of the punctures looked like I had tried to use a drill on my arm, and where the splinter had run me through, the flesh was bruising and full of dark blood. I washed it with more water, pulled the now famous do-rag off my head, and proceeded to wrap up my arm.

Image Credit: BamaWester
Water plays the most important role in animal movement, and of course affects how and where you scout. If there is a scarcity of water, it makes sense to concentrate your efforts on waterholes, streams, and rivulets that will attract a thirsty pig. Again, when scouting, look at the big picture. Where are the avenues from potential feeding areas to the water? Hogs will follow established paths to their preferred drinking areas. If you can determine how they get there, you are close to bagging your hog. Now if you don’t have access to the areas with water then your plan must by force, look elsewhere. In other words you must look to the food and shelter aspects.

Image Credit: Paul Voskamp

My preferred method is to find the wild boars’ travel corridors, and lie in ambush. Usually it is either from a bedding area to a feeding location, and these can vary according to season, or from the watering holes to the bedding areas. In Florida, during the wet season, food sources are the easiest areas to locate and prepare for. Water can be everywhere down here! But during droughts and the dry season it is very much like those pictures you see from the Serengeti plains. All animals go to the limited water.

What I had seen from the railroad tracks was what looked like an open corridor through the scrub and palmetto. It was hard to tell from the roadbed, which is why I had jumped into the right of way in the first place. I picked my .308 Mauser up out of the dirt where I had dropped it and climbed back out of the ditch. I could feel my forearm starting to swell, and I had to force my hand to make a fist. I knew I was in for an uncomfortable night.
Image Credit: Zedaxis
Look for corridors, natural or man made, that hogs travel on

Narrow or wide corridors create edge avenues that animals exploit for movement or even feeding. Animals will use the edges to move adjacent to the corridor, and then possibly feed in the open areas if they are grazing, or cross at certain points to access other routes or feed locations. Hogs in particular will move along the overgrown right of way, adjacent to fence lines, and on the edges of wooded areas, before stepping out or crossing into an area where they might feed. Look for a depression under the wire where hogs have scooted under, and also check out low spots on stone walls for places they have gone over.
Image Credit: Markeveleigh
My suggestion to you, and this works for any game animal, is to concentrate on how the animal gets to and from its food sources and water. Start with aerial views to help you narrow potential areas of interest, and then put in the footwork that is needed to confirm your hunches. Look for fence lines, hedgerows, timber edges and corridors that guide or funnel animals from one area to the next. Remember to minimize any disturbances. Don’t walk on game trails, keep your distance. Don’t push into bedding areas, skirt around them. Mind the air currents. Try to get out early, preferably before dawn, find a vantage point based on what you have determined, and observe what is going on. Keep a sharp eye out, and listen intently; wild pigs can be noisy! Many birds also sound the alarm and scold animals moving through.

Most importantly, go out there and enjoy what you are doing!

As for me, by the time I got home, I could no longer close my fist. I mean it hurt! I stuck the arm under the kitchen faucet, turned on the hot water, and proceeded to scrub the wound with dish detergent and a wash cloth. I grabbed my first aid kit and jeweler’s loupe and went to the table where the light was better. After a thorough examination, it looked like it was debris free, so I pushed some anti-biotic cream into the holes, stuck a couple of band aids over the holes, and poured some Bourbon over ice.

A few days later it opened up and left me with an angry, nasty, open gash, but it started healing right away and after a couple of weeks I could finally use that hand again.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

More great hog hunting tips!
How to Bait Hogs!

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Key words: Scouting for hogs, how to scout for hogs, hog scouting, how to scout for wild pigs, wild pig hunting, hog hunting, wild pig hunting, scouting, wild boar, wild boar hunting

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fish Creek Spinners: New for 2012

New spinner baits from John Delaney and Fish Creek Spinners!
© 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

My good friend John Delaney at Fish Creek Spinner sent me some exciting news on an expansion to his already phenomenally successful line of spinner baits. He has plenty of new fishing stuff to look at, and i would like to share the news with you my readers. Also see the contest for spinners at the end of this post!

First off he has expanded the Armadillo line, filling in some weight gaps and creating a larger metal skirted version that is sure to be a huge hit with lunker Largemouth bass.
Here are the specs:
  • 1oz in weight - biggest one yet
  • 7 inches in length with skirt - skirt is removable and can be changed out!
  • .051 inch heavy stainless wire - this wire is tough
  • All Nickel body beads and friction discs - Noisy ring on this one.
  • Baked Powder coat in 14 colors -
  • Double Super Willow blades on a single clevis for added Noise
  • 53 strand 8 inch Silicon Starflash Skirts - 20 varieties to choose from
  • Duolock clasp attached #1/0 brass treble hook - Quickly switch hooks or change skirts

This is a tough duty spinner for all big fish. Here are a few pictures

For you crazy Ice Fishing fanatics, John has put together a new glow-in-the-dark spinner, the Depth Charge!

These will undoubtedly be a go-to item in every ice fisherman's box.

This weight will create quite a churn as they're dropped. The larger propeller causes the metal head and eyes to spin in the opposite direction (maybe they should be called Regan's - remember the Exorcist?). As you can surmise, while being jigged, they'll spin, in addition to clacking at the bottom of your stroke. Notice the eye silhouettes against the glow background at rest. Nice target for a trout under ice.

Six glow colors available in the Ice Fishing section of the Fish Creek Spinner Web Store Stay tuned for Assortment pricing.

Happy Birthday 'Noise on the Line' Blog! - Free Spinner Drawing

It's time to launch the Fish Creek Spinners monthly Spinner giveaway drawing for 2012 and celebrate the Blog's first birthday! Drawing to be held 2/11/12 on the anniversary of the first FCS post! Just go to: Free Spinner Drawing and put in a comment!

Fish Creek Spinners, an American company making American products, creates some of the best new spinner designs for fishing in the nation. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, they have the "fishy" qualities that make them catch fish where others fail, and his service, attitude, can do attitude, and reasonable costs make him the "go to" guy when it's time to buy gifts for your fishing friends. He has with out a doubt, the best quality, American made, spinner lures on the market! I highly recommend him and will continue to purchase from him.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Best Boar Hunting Rifle Calibers: Part I

The Range Reviews: Sterling Knife Sharpeners

Great field sharpener at a great price!
 © 2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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A Chronicles Redux! Two plus years in Afghanistan, and a Sterling has accompanied me throughout. It has been a great help in touching up and sharpening countless knives, machetes, hatchets, and kitchen knives throughout the theatre. It continues to hang opposite a cigar cutter ready for use when needed!

What's more dangerous than a sharp knife?

Every outdoorsman knows the answer to that question: A Dull One! In an emergency, a dull knife is next to useless. Even in a situation that's not an emergency, a dull knife is an exasperation that one can do without.

With the Sterling Knife Sharpener, sharpening a knife is easy, and a dull knife is a thing of the past.

The Sterling Classic and American Flag

It has two precision made tungsten carbide cutting bits mounted precisely to give a twenty degree edge. Weighing a touch over 1/2 an ounce, you won't even know it's in your pocket. It has a lightweight two piece aluminum body, riveted in four spots, two of which secure the carbide cutting blades. There is a lanyard hole which works equally well as a key ring hole, and one can easily carry it in a wallet if need be.

On a set of keys...

Carbide cutters...

There are no special skills required in order to bring a knife up to razor sharpness with the Sterling. And there is no need for oils or lubricants; so no mess to clean up. That's a big confidence boost to new sportsmen who may not have acquired knife sharpening skills.

Ready to sharpen...

It is also available in several colors: Sterling Classic (anodized red), Digital Camo, American Flag (My favorite!). In addition, they can custom print, anodize and laser engrave anything on the sharpener. Anything.

A small sample of what can be done!

Draw the knife through several times...

Using it is easy. Remember not to cut your fingers! Best results are obtained by resting the sharpener on a secure surface. A stump, block of wood, or truck tire will do nicely. Place the edge of the knife into the carbide "V". Smoothly and firmly draw the knife through the "V". You will feel the proper pressure to apply as you draw the knife through. A few passes and your knife will be hair shaving sharp. Dull knives will require a bit of effort to draw through. Pull it through as many times as needed. Patience will reward you with a razor's edge. Fish filleting knives are the easiest, they sharpen up in a few passes.

Razor sharp!

It works equally well on any type of knife, machete, hatchet, axe, and broadheads too.

This is one of those must have tools that you have in your go bag. It will put a sharpened edge on any knife whether kitchen, table, field, or combat. With a street price of $11.00 to $15.00 it is another definite buy. I'll have one with me from now on while hog hunting, fishing, or camping.

A couple of recommendations. Get two; when your Father in Law sees it, he will want it and you'll be out your sharpener if you didn't get a spare. Put a lanyard on it right away so you don't misplace it out in the field, shop, or garage. Lastly, hide it because the kids will want it, the Mrs will need it, and like I said, in-laws will demand it!

For those of you in business and looking for a small practical gift, Sterling has very reasonable prices for engraved sharpeners in orders as small as ten units! Call and ask for Ms. Bonnie Sterngold 800-297-4277.

The Sterling Sharpener has been in production since 1977! The folks at Sterling are so confident of their Sterling Sharpener that they stand behind it with a Lifetime Warranty.

And remember, it's made in the USA!

Sterling Sharpeners

MSRP: $15.00

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member:  Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch, Hunting in Florida

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained Capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

More great posts on Hog Hunting!
Best Hog Hunting Calibers Part I