« Petzal: Timing is Everything | Main | Bourjaily: The Ones That Got Away »

November 17, 2008

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Gun Nut at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut.

Petzal: Some Responses to Comments

Your comments are always interesting, but we seemed to hit the mother lode (not load) with my 11/10 post, “The Rifleman’s Badge of Honor.”

First, to all of you who suggested sources for deer targets, thanks and God bless. I shall pursue them.

To Jack, who asked for a Veteran’s Day post, this comes late, but I hope it strikes a chord. In 2000, when I fished on Midway Atoll, I ran into a retired Marine Lt. Col. who had spent his career as a logistics officer. It had been his job to get bullets and MREs and gasoline and water and everything else to the guys who were doing the shooting. He used to recruit Marines by saying, “If you want medals, go to the infantry. If you want to win the goddamn war, come work for me.”

For everyone who pulls a trigger there are probably 100 servicemen and women who repair gear, or man radar equipment, or work in hospitals, or process payrolls. They get no medals; they work long, hard hours; they sometimes do not have enough to work with; they are usually highly skilled and could make a lot more money as civilians but they stay in anyway. They are heroes.

About John Barsness: Don Polacek, who is president of Wolfe Publishing, says that John and the company had a disagreement about business and that their parting was non-hostile. Polacek says that he still considers John a friend. I asked Polacek why there was no mentiion of John's departure in the first issue of Rifle without his byline, and Polacek pointed out that this is a tradition with the magazine. In the past, when other greats such as John Wootters, Ken Waters, and Bob Hagel have left, there was no mention of their going, either. I think they're going to miss John a lot, but they have other talented people. I've been a subscriber since the 1970s, and will be keeping my subscription.

A blogger named Joe C. objected to my making light of scope cuts, and felt that they are a result of poor training and poor scope mounting. I beg to differ. If you work with horses for any amount of time you are going to get kicked or bitten or thrown no matter how careful you are. If you fish you are going to get hooked, no matter how careful you are. If you shoot enough you are going to get scope cuts, no matter how careful you are. I would be lying if I said otherwise.

True sportsmen are able to laugh at minor misfortunes, and every scope cut I’ve seen qualifies as a minor misfortune. Getting your teeth kicked out or getting a tarpon hook in the eye is not funny, but if you can’t smile at the lesser stuff, stay away from me. I don’t want to hunt with you.

To RJ, who has to learn to shoot right-handed. First, don’t give up on the idea of using a scope. It may be that if you give your right eye some help it can do the job. Get in touch with Decot Sport Glasses (sportglasses.com) and explain your problem. They’ve been around forever, and have seen every eye-related shooting problem there is to see. Try that first. If glasses don’t work out, I would consider a ghost ring rear sight with a big bead up front. It’s the easiest type of iron sight to use, and you can do some very respectable shooting with it.

To Carney, who asked about Susan Casey. As far as I know, Susan has put down her rifle forever. She is simply unwilling to kill. The last I heard she is doing a book on a small group of surfers who are looking to ride rogue waves in mid-ocean—the 70- to 100-footers that sink ships. I wish her all the best. It was a hell of a story, wasn’t it?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Petzal: Some Responses to Comments:



Since you were talking about tarpon hooks: The last time I was in Florida fishing the wind was blowing 25-30, and we were fishing the Indian River. We found a creek and went into it. I was throwing a Mirro-Lure and when a baby tarpon hit it and jumped. I pulled back as a reflex from years of bass fishing, the lure came flying back at me and caught on the brim of my Auburn hat. Both trebles were hanging from the hat in front of my face. Just another reason to wear a hat. I hate to imagine what may have happened had it gotten my eyes.

WA Mtnhunter


Riding mid ocean rogue waves? Now there is a book that will bring fame and fortune.....

Sounds like a career well wasted.


Too bad it didn't drown that stinking Auburn hat! Roll Tide, Roll!

lost my zero

regarding your comments about ramp apes, my last job at usair involved test equipment repair and calibration. the rampies and mechanics ruined much expensive gear, one of which was a set of borescope probes for the rolls ro
yce RB-211 engine used on B757's
my solution was a pelican brand double (2) rifle case. mucho tough item, no more damaged probes. perhaps one would protect yours on trips


When I was in the Air Force, back in the late 70's, I was part of the "tail" not the "tooth". It takes a whole lotta tail to get the tooth where it can bite.The 8th EMS (my unit overseas)was tasked with the dentistry, so to speak.
My job was working on 1st generation Laser guided bombs and tv guided missles (the "Maverick Missile) as well as older Shrikes, Sparrows, Sidewinders and other munitions. We touched up the paint, checked 'em out with test sets then either sent 'em to the flight line or back to munitions storage.I have always described it as boring, dull and dangerous. I served in the ROK with the 8th TAC and considered myself fortunate to have my tour end 2 weeks before Dictator Park Chung Hee got shot by his own security chief. The country went haywire but I was at last safely back Stateside. Everyone who wears the uniform deserves credit for their service,even if they only cooked the chow.



6, goin' on none! It was a fun run while it lasted!

O Garcia

Now that you mentioned horses, I'm reminded of that excellent article you wrote sometime in the 80's (and reprinted during the 100th anniversary). After reading that, I began imagining all male workhorses to be named "Ole Thunderhead". I strangely forgot the name of the mare, though. I usually don't forget stuff like that.

Dr. Ralph

Some responses to responses to comments... 1) I believe I have previously commented upon Lt. Col.'s being able to procure every and any object no questions asked. 2) God bless John Barsness and Sports Afiel... who? 3) My son hooked himself in the back of the head with a treble hook and he was in the ER for 3 hours. I have been bitten, kicked, stepped on and defecated upon by every domesticated animal. Joe C. get off the couch. 4) RJ close your damn left eye. 5) Carney, Susan is unwilling to kill for food but is more than happy to film humans while they kill themselves... This link is only for official gun nut babe afficianadoes

T.W. Davidson


Question: Is it too officially non-politically correct to nominate Susan Casey as a gun babe? True, she doesn't shoot anymore, but at least she did for a little while. She even has a scope scar on her forehead. Besides, Casey writes beautifully, is clearly bright and curious about the world, and, if I may dare say so, is at least as pretty (or even prettier) than any woman I've ever seen a picture of in Field & Stream or this blog.

I wish Casey would write more stories for Field & Stream. Somebody needs to take the lady fishing so she'll have a story to tell that all of us can read.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

O Garcia

this thing about members of the military assigned to "non-combat" duties being regarded as somehow inferior to the warriors, well, it's been around for a long time. I'm not sure who created this hierarchy, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was some "warrior", no disrespect to warriors.

members of the merchant marine in World War 2 faced the same prejudice. because they were in the merchant marine and not the navies (of US and UK, other allies), it was immediately assumed that they were draft-dodgers, and therefore, cowards. worse, some of their own family members believed this.

what the rest of the world didn't appreciate was

1) the merchant marine boys who manned the "civilian" convoy ships in the Atlantic (to deliver the tanks, guns, ammo and other material that the "warriors" needed), were subjected to the same kind of military attacks that Navy warships expect to receive

2)in fact, because German Navy operations in the Atlantic were designed primarily to disrupt/destroy the convoys, it was the merchant marine boys who were the primary targets of German attacks

3)unlike the Navy boys, the merchant marine boys had no weapons to defend themselves with

4) the highest casualty rate of any military service among the Western Allies was suffered by Britain's RAF 'Bomber Command' with about 50% casualties (mostly deaths, by the way, because airplanes 'fall' to the ground). But even that pales when compared to the casualty rate of the merchant marine services, especially during the years when the U-Boats were dominant.

and they were supposed to be "non-combatants" and cowards.

so yes, spare a kind word for your driver or helicopter pilot or cook. without them, you can probably still fight, but not for long.


RE: Susan Casey = What a tragedy to hang up a gun forever... I didn't think a girl could break my heart these days.

RE: Lt. Col. on Midway and the inglorious reality of what it takes to really win a war = I hope you guys don't mind the following extended quote (the story is true but I don't know who wrote this version...). I used this story in a sermon once, encouraging our people to hang tough and be faithful in the difficulties we were facing. The whole thing was so powerful that people stood up and cheered when it was done. That doesn't happen too often.

"During World War II, when Britain was experiencing its darkest days, the country had a difficult time keeping men in the coal mines. Many wanted to give up their dirty, thankless jobs in the dangerous mines to join the military service, which garnered much public praise and support.

Yet their work in the mines was critical to the war. Without coal, the military and the people at home would be in trouble. So Prime Minister Winston Churchill faced thousands of coal miners one day and told them of their importance to the war effort; how their role could make or break the goal of maintaining England's freedom.

Churchill painted a picture of what it would be like when the war ended, the grand parade that would honor the people who fought the war. First would come the sailors of the navy, the people who continued the tradition of Trafalgar and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Next would come the best and brightest of Britain, the pilots of the Royal Air Force, who fended off the German Lutwaffe. Following them would be the soldiers who fought at Dunkirk. Last of all would come the coal-dust-covered men in miners' caps. Churchill indicated that someone from the crowd might say, "Where were they during the critical days of the struggle?" And the voices of thousands of men would respond, "We were in the earth with our faces to the coal."

It's said that tears appeared in the eyes of the hardened men. And they returned to their inglorious work with steely resolve, having been reminded of the role they were playing in their country's noble goal of pursuing freedom for the Western World."


Thank you David - my point exactly in addressing thanks to ALL veterans, even though I may have been less than artful in saying so.

My father was a MSGT as part of the occupation forces in Germany. His duty - accounting and record keeping for an army hospital, later for a MASH during Korean war.
He never fired a shot except for training.

Thos. B. Fowler

A big amen for Carney...I was raised a shooter before I was a pastor, and I find myself using a lot of true illustrations that hit home with the men, but that the ladies endure. "We were in the earth with our faces to the coal"---fitted my Dad, in the Army Medical Corps, as a Surgical Tech, on a troopship, the USS Seacat. He always downplayed his contribution to the war effort, as a 'bedpan commando'. God bless the steady worker, at his lonely post, doing what other men are too 'good' to do. He praised the Merchant Marines who ran his troopship, by the way.
God bless the soldier who has to hold horses, or stand guard beside the baggage.
God bless the sportsmen, who refuse to poach game, and to take risky shots. Heroes come in small, unlikely packages. And, may God bless the man who takes his children hunting, including his daughters. Those are days during which he will not grow older.

Tom Fowler

WA Mtnhunter

To all Vets

Your service to our country is commendable at the very least.

Like a football team, it takes more than the 11 guys on the field to win. From the team nutritionist to the trainers to the the doctor to the communications tech to the waterboy, it takes them all to make the team function.

God bless each and every veteran.


Beeing Retired from the service, I saw many people doing jobs that some thing of lesser value , but it takes all people to complete a mission I began as a mechanic in the Air Force in 1962, imediatly after high school. Later being the Battalion Communication NCO for a combat Engineer group. Two things I learned are 1). when the big Abrams tanks go as far as they can go, blocked by a "tank trap" or Perimeter not being able to advance, The Engineers are called forward,(From the rear, back where it's safer, etc. ) to go ahead and open the perimeter, or clear the mine fields and tank traps, depending on each other no matter how small they seem to get those big guys going again. The Merchant Marines, It takes a brave man to go forward deep in the bow every day knowing that if they hit a mine, it's usually their area. I thank all service personel for their service.


sorry, should have proof read before post, in a hurry, deers are waiting and snow flying...


Good stories, one and all. I'm having trouble keeping my eyes dry right now. Guess I'm getting sentimental.

Joe C.


Hail to the vets who did not see shots fired in anger. My Dad was a radio technician in WWII. He was not in the half of his platoon that went to Iwo Jima.
Dad was also the guy who showed me how to NOT get scope cuts.

I highly recommend a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA. It's exhibits include flags from Tarawa and Iwo Jima. I was told the museum has seem 1 million visitors and is just two years old. It's an outstanding representation of Marine Corps pride.

As for hunting with Mr. Petzal, I have done that and it was unremarkable.

Joe C.

Excellent post Dave, please keep writing.


Great post Dave!
A quick word of thanks to our present and past servicemen and women.


Super post, Dave. If Susan Casey doesn't want to kill anything, why don't you try to get her interested in target shooting? To paraphrase Jim Carmichael, the most elusive prize in all of shooting is not a 30 point buck; it is a target with one single caliber-sized hole in it, through which five bullets have passed. Send her to anything from a Sporting Clays tourney to a 3 position air rifle match for the kids. Send her (TAKE her) to a CMP match. Let her see a sanctioned benchrest comp., a Cowboy Action tourney, an IPSC event, whatever. If she can't make up her mind which one sounds best, send her to all of them. It'd be good for her education, and her subsequent articles (on how she perceives the shooting world) would be good for ours.

Mark Clement

Yeah been kicked, been ringed , been hooked. Finally got throwed,
5 broke ribs and 11 vertebrae.
uch worse than being ringed. hooked or kicked.

O Garcia

To Sarg,

Great post on the role of engineers and sappers in mine-clearing.

T.W. Davidson


RE Barsness--while flipping through the newly arrived American Rifleman magazine today, I observed that John Barsness is now listed as a Field Editor. An article by him was in the mag on how to properly mount a scope.

Eyeball--Excellent suggestions and ideas regarding Susan Casey getting back into Field & Stream again.

DP--I think I can take a small leap of faith here and say that 98% of the people who read this blog and 98% of the people who read Field & Stream would heartily agree with the following suggestion: Field & Stream should hire Susan Casey as a staff writer. Give her an endless stream (pun not intended) of interesting and eclectic assignments--perhaps a series of articles about wolves, for instance, and a through analysis and debate of all sides of the issues involving wolves, pay her well, and turn her her loose to do her thing. Everyone who reads Field & Stream would be excited and interested, blog activity--e.g.,raging debates--and magazine sales would rocket upwards, and both the magazine and its readers would benefit.

Flip and WA Mtnhunter (or anyone else who might be interested)--in reference to an earlier blog, if you would like to see the loading data I've developed over the last couple of years for the 257 AI and 257 Roberts (in four different rifles, one M-77, one M-70 and two M-700s), or talk with me about it, let me know. I'm happy to share it.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

WA Mtnhunter


Thanks for the offer. I have a couple of .257 Roberts loads that my M-77 and M-70 Win shoots very well and I am working up some loads for 100 gr, Barnes Triple Shocks. I have had good result with H380 and am working with Ramshot Hunter right now in my limited spare time. Goose season is on!

Re: Susan Casey: Just what we need - another non-hunter telling us how it is..... I could care less how well she writes, if she can't bear to take game or fish, she doesn't belong in F&S or OL.


DEP - Great piece in OL on Mr. Carmichel (sp.?). I read it without reading the author, I was impressed and then found the byline - I'll say again, well done.

Our Blogs