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November 11, 2008

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Bourjaily: My Favorite Flashlight

Bear with me. This really is a post about hunting gear.

When my younger son John was still a baby, we took a family car trip east. Right after we drove across the New Jersey line, it became pungently apparent that John needed a fresh diaper.

We pulled into a crowded service plaza to use a restroom, only to find the power out in half the building. When I walked into the men’s room, it was pitch black except for a circle of light bobbing over the changing table. There was a dad at the table, holding a mini-Mag Lite in his teeth to keep both hands free as he put a clean diaper on his child. He finished, saw me and John waiting our turn and handed me the flashlight. “Take this. A guy in here changing his kid gave it to me. Give it to the next guy who needs it.” With that, he disappeared into the gloom.

I was halfway through changing John when the lights came back on. My benefactor was gone. No one else would need the light, so there was nothing to do but keep it. Now, although I own eight or ten better, brighter, higher-tech lights, that blue Mini Mag  remains my favorite. It’s the light I wear on my belt for early morning and evening hunts. John is 14 now, and I brought the light with me on our recent Youth Duck hunt together. It reminds me of how much he has grown, and of the kindness of a total stranger in the dark. 

We tend to think of guns when it comes to hunting gear with sentimental value, but little things --  lights, knives, calls --  can have special meaning, too. Anybody else own some little item that means a lot?


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My 20 ga. A.H.Fox Sterlingworth that belonged to my grandfather. Just a field gun, but the best dog-gone quail gun I've ever had. Points like your finger. My grandfather was an avid quail hunter, and an optometrist by profession. Went left eye dominant in his 50's, and taught himself to shoot that 20 ga. left-handed. I have been truly blessed, and plan to pass on to my son.

WA Mtnhunter


I have a 742 that my father-in-law left me. I have not used it since I got it. The last time it went to the range was after a repair to the Aimpoint sight that he installed. I helped him re-zero it at 100 yards and it darn near cut cloverleafs!

It is in excellent condition, but I just don't use it. I guess I am just not that thrilled with autoloaders. It is a dandy, however.

Paul Wilke

I have a brass pin on compass( might be completely useless compared to my GPS) but its been my hunting and camping companion for 50 years or so.
For the same amount of time I've carried a Case double serpentine muskrat skinner in my front pocket every day of my life. I keep one blade razor sharp and allow the other to get dull enough for day to day usage. I've sharpened two into nothing and am carrying my third, with one in it's original box just waiting. It' skinned rabbits, squirrels, mink, muskrats, fox and coyotes, a few deer and one or two beef cattle.
I wonder if this is called an obsession?

Del in KS

Back in '79 I went on my first goose hunt with a fellow that was a KCMO HS Principal. Arriving in separate vehicles I was amazed when he pulled a rusty single shot 12 guage of unknown brand from the trunk of his shiney late model Cadillac. Then we got in our assigned blind at Swan lake and I decided if a goose comes by let him shoot his shot first then there will be no doubt. Well there was thousands of geese flying and finally about 9 am a single came by low enough for us to shoot. Said Pilgrim raised up and fired to no effect. A moment later my shot connected and my "friend" yelled "I got em". Then jumped out of the blind to claim "his" goose. At that time the limit was one bird so he headed home. Later that morning I bagged one for myself. Never did hunt with that fella again. Anyone else have that "I got em" experience?


I have many items that are of sentimental value, but the one item that immediately comes to mind is the Buck Woodsman belt knife I got for my birthday about 20 years ago. That knife has been on numerous foray's into the wild with me, it has been camping, canoeing, hunting, fishing, backpacking, and through survival school. Now almost half the blade has been worn away from sharpening, and is sitting in a drawer, retired, razor sharp waiting for the day that my daughter will use it to dress her first deer, squirrel, or rabbit with it. I have replaced it with newer knives just for this purpose.

Dr. Ralph

Del that reminds me of every dove hunt I have ever been on. It really pisses you off when it's your kids birds someone else is claiming... Paul you are obsessed, stay away from any and all medications.

Everyone seems to have a knife they have had forever. Mine is a Buck Zipper that has field dressed every deer I have ever shot along with several from my children and friends. It's never been used on anything else and doesn't come out of my hunting pouch unless a deer is down. Pretty much everything I carry hunting I have had for twenty years or more. Knife, compass, flashlight, watch.


Mine is a Stevens 12GA SS with a clearly marked April 20, 1915 on the side. I bought it from an old hunting buddy that bought it from a WWI vet just before he went off to fight in WWII. I was home on leave and two nights before I was to go into rotation for Viet Nam he came to say goodbye. He asked me how much money I had in me pocket and I said something like fifty dollars. He said that was too much and to give him twenty. I had no idea why he wanted it but I didn't hesitate to give it to him. He went out to his car and brought back the shotgun. He said if I didn't pay something for it, it would not have any value. He was wrong.


Still have the knife my uncle gave me when he got back from `Nam - Navy survival type, leather scabbard and ring-leather handle. Stapped to my LC-1 it brought a bit of comfort to have him close during my stint...and it still holds an edge better than most.


I have a whitetail rack that my great grandfather shot in 1952. It is only a 6 point, but it also has 2 hooves curled up to hang a gun or a couple of hats on it. He died when I was 8 months old so I don't remember him, but it is nice to have a piece of my hunting heritage.

Jim in Mo

Del, hard to imagine adults doing that with birds but they do. But harder for me to understand is shooting a mortally wounded deer that another man is going to track just because its near their stand. And then they actually think they deserve it.


If you guys want to get serious about this stuff, my favorite "Take hunting with me thing" would be my 1985 Rem 700ADL in .308. No matter how many rifles in the rack, I always reach for "ole faithful". This rifle has never missed or made me shoot twice. I wouldn't know what to do without it...

Del in KS

My last year in the Army was at Ft Wood. That year I shot my best buck. While I was at the checking station a Sergeant Major came in mad as a wet hen. He shot a 12 point buck through the chest and it ran off to die. When he followed blood to the deer he also found 3 guys from St Louis with guns casually pointed his way standing over the buck. They took his deer and called him a liar when he got the law involved. That is why I often shoot to immobilize not just kill. A high shoulder shot will do the trick just about everytime.


My Dad bought a Savage model 29 B pump .22 for $15.00 in about 1955. I used that rifle hunting rabbits out west of the Great Salt Lake 50 years ago. I still have it. Great memories.


Mini Mags are something indeed, I must have 5 of the things, with about 1/2 of 'em converted to LED. One lives in the Jeep, one in my coat pocket etc. I holster one when I go camping beside my knife. I also have the big "D" size and the "C' size but it is the AA minimag I go for most often.
I have about 3 Buck knives, one (I've forgotten which model it is, perhaps the "Pathfinder" or something) I got at the BX at Lowry AFB before I shipped out to Korea (In 1978). I had at least 2 of the folders..Lost one and had one stolen, I also had a Buckmaster "Survival Knife" with saw teeth on the spine and a hollow handle with a compass inside. Thing was 1/4 inch thick, as I mentioned in another post I gave that away to a young proto-Marine on his way to Parris Island (with instructions not to take it out of storage till he was out of Boot Camp). I haven't heard back from him recently but he was certain to go to the sandbox, and I felt he might need it.

Jim in Mo

I'll be honest I can't afford those shur-fires but mini's are nothing to sneeze at, come thru in a pinch.

Walt Smith

I know I posted eariler about my dad's rifle, so I thought I'd add a knife. My ex-brother in-law who is just simply my brother- right after my divorce gave me a matched set of Estwing's, a knife and a hatchet. The hatchet is a tool of beauty and the knife is the nastiest edge holding, high upswept point, deer gutting, peice of 6 inch fixed blade steel ever created as far as I'm concerned. Now that he works out of state we don't see much of each other and when we do - It's a party!, Brother if you read this I'm thinking about ya and wish you were Sat. the 15th in Michigan!!!

zak in mn

for me it is the a winchester model 1912 built in 1918. its the best handling shot gun i have ever used it as my great grandfathers and it has been passed down to me i am 19. the stock was cut 2 inches shorter and has a 30 inch barrel. favorite shotgun ever used.


I carry mini mag lights when out in the woods, on fishing trips, or even when traveling, but One old light that I use whenout is the old Army angle head flashlight. Not the best to carry when walking, but is handy around a boat or camp. Can clip to your belt, Strap to a tree , hang from a bucket or boat seat.


You wrote "I,ve up graded it to the new ledtype bulb", does yours work OK?
I got one too, the 2 AA Mini Mag, and it's been a piece of crap, the light keeps going out if you bump it, move it or look at it funny. Frustrating, never had this much problem with a mag lite before, and the 2 D cell LED seems to work fine, and the batteries seem to last forever too! Just wondering if this is a wide spread problem or I just "Got Lucky" with getting the one dud in a case of lights.

Jim in Mo

A handy feature of the mini mag is that lanyard type loop on the end cap. I've taken fishing line and hung it inside the top of a tent and on wide beam it works great, makes finding gear much easier.


Zermoid you might check the front lens assembly. I had one do that all of a sudden and it turned out that the lens and reflector weren't seated properly. A good way to tell is to shake the light when it is off. If you hear or feel any looseness in the lens section then that is probably it. I took it (the lens section) apart and re-seated everything and that resolved the problem.


I had a mini maglite that I took everywhere, but lost it, they slip out of the belt sheath very quickly. I stared using a lanyard made by EK Ekcessories, it has a detachable clip that has a sturdy ring, great for a mini mag. or a swiss-army knife, etc. And they are USA made.


Re: Mag Lite LED Conversion

Now that it's been mentioned a couple of times, I remember reading about the LED concersion kit for the AA MagLite but I've misplaced the info. Anyone out there know where to find them? Thanks in advance for the help.


Flip, Walmart has the LED kits Easy as changing bulb.. I'm sure the Local sporting good stores carry them..


Good post, RJ...

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