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July 04, 2008

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Testing Your Mettle

There are very few things I believe in absolutely anymore, but one of them is, if you want to see what someone is really made of, go big-game hunting with them. There is something about the combination of wilderness, physical effort, the high likelihood of failure, and the constant presence of Murphy (he of the law) that brings out the best and worst in people.

Those who reveal themselves to be prize s***s will usually do so when someone else shoots something really terrific--particularly if that person is a beginner, or inept, or otherwise undeserving. You will see an instant personality change in the prize s**t. He will cease speaking, keep to himself, snap at his fellows, and insult the undeserving nimrod.

"Pure luck," he will say, or "Did you know what you had when you pulled the trigger?", or "You'd never do that again in a million years."

The other condition that turns some people into prize s***s is BEING OUT OF TOUCH, or its corollary, NOT BEING IN CONTROL OF EVENTS. When they discover that their Blackberrys and cell phones are no longer functional, they come unglued. They are the ones who go stomping through the woods, cell in hand, trying to find a few bars, wondering what is going on, and how the earth is managing to spin on its axis without their constant input.

Years ago, Gary Sitton and I were on a trail ride in western Montana, taking in some of the most wonderful scenery on earth. On the horses ahead of us rode two younger men, jabbering nonstop about computers. Gary and I just smiled at each other; we knew we were in the presence of fools.


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Jim in Mo.

Peter H,
Didn't understand your post. Sounds like you've been on some fine trips. Are you talking about another continent? Welcome to the crowd.

Peter H.

To Jim in Mo, No, all my hunting been here in the U.S. LOL 99 percent within a couple hours of my house.

The hog hunting ive done was with some friends who had some spots here in Florida. We used catch dogs and rope. and they butchered the hog later.

Guess i was trying to say i don't have much experience in actual getting away for a few days in the middle of nowhere hunting..actually none. I think it would be cool to do that.

All my hunting has always been not to far from my where i used to live in Michigan. Sometimes frustrating due to the orange army that comes out on opening day. And good hunting spots are just tough to come by unless you pay expensive leases or buy land.

Peter H.

correction..were tough to come by...i dont live there anymore.


One of the worst things I ever did was accept an invitation to a deer hunt on a company lease. The other members of the party never left the camp. They couldn't get that far away from the whiskey, card table, and endless shop talk. (networking) I don't have to drive 300 miles to gamble and get drunk. One guy didn't even bring hunting clothes or a rifle. Pathetic.


Praise be those who understand what the wilderness is and how to disconnect. The first thing that we do when I take students out into the field is tell them to turn off their cell phones, and leave anything else electronic in camp. "Shop Talk" is left for anything ecological and habitat-based. A heavy dose of the benefits of hunting to the habitat and wildlife-management is saturated for the entire outing.

For some kids (college undergrads), it is their first experience and it endures - especially when the dutch oven rolls out in the evening with hot cobbler. Afterwards, it is the quietest night in camp I have heard in a long time. They come back for more in the following semesters.


I was forced by the wife and kids to carry a cell phone hunting, as I have health problems and like to hunt alone, simple solution, turn the damned thing off.
The wife called me once while out archery hunting, dead quiet day sitting under a pine tree listening for the slightest sound of an approaching deer and WHAMO! the phone goes off! Dang nearly jumped out of my skin! Since then the phone gets set to vibrate only at the beginning of hunting season and doesn't get changed till the end of the seasons! Then if it rings at least I don't crap m'self! And just in case I forget to turn it off completely it at least just quietly vibrates, a less shocking way of getting your attention at least!

Dr. Ralph

I suppose we have all been "prize s**s" at one point or another. On one particular occasion I was hunting with a friend and we could see each other from separate tree stands maybe 150 yards apart. I heard him shoot and heard the deer headed towards me and in no particular hurry. I fired and the deer fell. I was ecstatic for about ten minutes until he showed me the huge blood trail leading from right behind his stand. Didn't talk much on the way home. Still hurts to see that rack on his wall...

Galen Burgett

Testing mettle - complicated topic. Some are up to it, some are not. Take them and leave them, whichever your fancy. Testing mettle - a savage storm has ripped down out of Canada along the front of the range, picking up speed and moisture, blowing steady at 40mph, gusting to 70mph, snow falling at a foot an hour, all tents down, a guide and hunter three miles out from camp and cut off, two of the riding horses have freaked and run off into the storm, temperature went from 60 degrees to 10 above in about 45 minutes. And, the old timer says to me, let's get the cook tent propped up, get some coffee going, and find that deck of playing cards. We're gonna be here for a while. "Yes Sir", I said.


I shot a muscled 165-point buck the first time I went hunting, when I was 18. Both of my buddies that day had been hunting since they were 11 and had never even seen a rack and body that big.

Ever since, I've always remembered that sometimes you just catch a break. Conversely, sometimes -- despite your hard work and accumulated experience -- you don't. Enjoy a break when you or one of your buddies catch it, and enjoy the scenery and good company when you don't.

And for goodness sake, leave your Blackberry at home.


Some of my friends are deeply into muzzleloading; with a little struggle, they've moved to BPCR for a little something different. They like the old way of doing things.

Funny thing, BPCR really didn't last *that* long; it was a time of rapid growth and innovation, technological advancement that was anything but a "simpler time."

Some of the technology makes it a little easier to get away, and still keep commitments without disappointing.

SOMETIMES it is because someone is a control freak, or someone takes umbrage at another person's good luck... or it could have been bad news that they got through being so "connected."

Good to avoid being distracted from the pleasure of such a journey. Better not to be an *ss; best not to second guess the other guy (NOW if I can just do that when I'm stuck anywhere near a jerk in traffic...)


I think I understand where Dave is coming from, having been born before cell phones. Some of us spend too much time making someone else rich. We have less and less time for ourselves to hunt or enjoy the day. So I turn mine off

As for the s***s, maybe I was one until my son started to shoot and hunt. A shot in the bull for him is as good as one for myself. When I began to enjoy his success I began to enjoy my own more, as well as that of others.


Dr. Ralph brings up a good point. Who "gets" the deer when the first hunter makes a "telling" shot, but the deer still runs 20 - 100 yards and falls after being shot by a second hunter? When I was a teenager, I was hunting with some other friends and shot a deer through the lungs with a .270. I shot and hit the deer four more times. Another guy fired also, and the deer fell before going 20 yards. Then he started yelling, "I claim the rack! I claim the rack!" Now, the exit wound from my .270 round was about two inches in diameter, and the deer wasn't going to go very far. He was also a 10-pointer. I didn't think my friend had any right to "claim the rack," as mine was the first and telling shot. What say all of you? By the way, that incident pretty much ended a friendship. You're right, Dave--big game hunting really brings out the best and worst in people!


that guy wasn't your friend, just someone you knew who was willing to take advantage of anyone in order to satiate his lust for the trophy.
Things like that bring out who they really are. When you shake a glass of water and it spills onto the table, the reason there is water on the table is not because you shook it, but because that's what was in the glass. When people are shaken by their circumstances, what's inside of them comes out and spills on the ground for everybody to see. That's what testing the mettle is all about. It's easy for anyone to put on an act for awhile when they're not under stress. But someone crosses them and/or blocks what they are focused on, lusting after, the real person, their real character comes out and then you begin to really know them. Often times it's enough that you don't want to know them any better. Same can go for just about any difficulty in life. What seems bad to you, may not be the same trigger for you. We each have a different threshold for being tested.
That's why you get some WWII veterans who love their old army buddies almost as much, and sometimes more than blood family. They have been tried and tested by the very worst of hellish situations and still held it together. Those guys know each other better than their families ever will. And many still keep in touch. They've had their mettle tested.


On account of the fact that it took me 5 years of trying just to knock down my first buck, I am more than happy when someone else's dues are less than what I had to pay!

However, there is a mature responsibility that comes with taking the life of an animal. If youth, inexperience or just plain imbecility factors in to make the killing a waste through loss of meat or trophy -- I say we give the goofball a good stomping!

All in love of course, as good stompings improve the mettle.

Del in KS

Chev Jim,

I know what you mean. Back in '89 a friend shot the deer of his life a 13 pointer on the Ft Leonard Wood Army reservation. The buck went about 100 yds with a 12 ga slug hole thru the chest. When he got to his deer he found 4 guys from St Louis standing around his deer with guns all pointed in his general direction. They didn't even shoot but they took his deer and tagged it. Later at check station they called him a liar when he reported them to the law. That same day I shot my best a 17 pointer. Best rack killed on the base that year. Ever since then I shoot to break both shoulders if possible.

Bill White

Berlin, Germany -- A Jew with a history of mental illness has been arrested in Berlin, Germany, after attacking a wax likeness of Hitler at Madame Tussaud's wax museum.
The figure, which depicted Hitler as exhausted and taxed in the last days of the German resistance to communism and German world rule, was considered less "powerful" than the energetic young Hitler depicted at Madame Tussad's in London, but had been hyped as "controversial" by the Jewish owned German press, which despises all mention of the man who German and European resistance to world Jewish communism and capitalism during the middle of the 20th Century.

The homosexual Mayor of Berlin, whose decadent rule has been approved by Jews, in contrast to the growing support resurgent National Socialism finds in Berlin's less decadent and urban areas, had cautioned museum officials not make the statute a "cult figure".

The Jews fear renewed resistance to their internationalist schemes in a Europe where nationalist and racialist movements have been winning ground against Jewish economic slavery and exploitation, and see figures of Hitlers and the symbol of the swastika, the traditional symbol of the Aryan religion, as potential points around which such resistance may rally.

The mentally ill Jew who attacked Hitler was charged with property destruction and the wax figure will be replaced.

Pete Jefferson



it seems that, once again, the small minded faction has interrupted our once convivial intercourse. Unfortunately, the new topic brought up has nothing to do with what we have been discussing, (not surprising since most of these losers cannot follow a simple train of thought, as they are driven by primal urges which have been blunted through poor genetic selection resulting from ancestral indiscretions)
I believe everyone has a first amendment right of free speech. We, however, also have the right to disregard what they say as the garbage emanating from these Darwinian losers deserves to be heard only to remind people how sublimely pathetic is the small-mindeed faction's total disregard for the principals described in The Constitution.
Now, if can we get back to the topic at hand, anyone have any cogent thought?


stop feeding the trolls.


Sorry, This was what spilled out when my glass was shaken( see my previous post), I have been chastened.


I am a very fortunate man, in that my occupation allows me some great hunting trips, several to Alaska, Canada and the American Rockies. I have met some wonderful guides and fellow hunters. I felt like the retired guide "Dick" above might have been speaking to me when he said it takes a few days to get to know a client. This relationship between guide and client is a delicate dance. From my perspective, I want to immerse myself in the hunt and all aspects of it, with a decent chance of success, participating in chores/work, etc. With that said, I hate being micromanaged...and bristle after the dose of "do this, don't do that" gets too strong. I carry a Sat phone to stay in contact with my wife. I try and have business otherwise handled, and will not interfere with the guides scheduling. Once on a sheep trip I really screwed up with the guide. I killed early and called the air service to let them know to put me on the list to come out early. Flying had been precarious because of smoke from fires, and we had all been delayed several days, and I thought that the sooner the service knew the better. Well he was waiting for me when we got back to base camp. His flight was unexpected at base camp and really gave everybody problems, especially the horses! I'll be more careful of that forevermore!

Walt Smith

Hunting is about getting together to see old and new friends and enjoying a common pastime. Everyone should be happy and congradulate those who have the luck that year. Those that don't are truly missing the grand picture of what it's all about.

Jim in Mo.

It really does take a few days to acclimate to the outdoors after a year doing the daily grind. By day three I feel good and actually normal.

Paul Wilke

When someone I'm with makes the shoot or hooks the prize, I'm overwhelmingly jealous. I take every opportunity to praise his or her accomplishment and lament the fact that that this glorious prize isn't mine. I've done this for a 3 inch Bluegill and an 8 point buck.
I've noticed that proud as they may be, my actions puff them up just a little bit more.
Thats what companionship is all about.

Clay Cooper

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm,
and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

-- Thomas Paine

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