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Mystery Meat Thanksgiving

Mystery Meat Thanksgiving

Hunters often face the unique challenge of finding unlabeled or missing-label packages of meat in their freezer which are generally known as “mystery meat.” If one is a diversified hunter, this might be deer, wild hog, wild turkey, Canada geese, duck, swan, rabbit, squirrel, or raccoon. Faced with the high price of commercial turkeys this year, I dug deep and found a package labeled “Goose Cooked, 2017.”

This package had to be one of the smaller species of geese. Since it was cooked, this meant that I had cooked several at once and frozen the excess bird wrapped in plastic bags and aluminum foil for some future use. When I dug it out of the depths of the freezer, I decided that its time had come, particularly as my Thanksgiving dinner guest would be Bill Krantz who had accompanied me on a number of my waterfowl hunts in Georgia and elsewhere. 

Thawing, reheating, and cooking a goose that had been frozen since 2017 presented no problems for me as I had cooked a commercial Butterball turkey that had been frozen for over fifteen years a few years back, and it had turned out fine. I also had no doubt that while I was in the Army I had been served birds that had been frozen for decades along with the World War II era C-rations that we were still consuming in the 1970s. As a Geologist and resident of Alaska, I also knew of people eating frozen Pleistocene wooly mammoth meat that was some 10,000 years old. 

Thinking about the potential hunts that this goose might have come from, the possibilities were that this was a speckle-belly goose from Louisiana, or a snow goose from either Canada or North Carolina or perhaps a North Carolina brant. All of these had been memorable hunts done with Mortimer, a flintlock 12-gauge cylinder-bored shotgun made by Davide Pedersoli. I considered that the most likely possibility was that this was a North Carolina snow goose. 

Most reports of snow goose hunting are from the Western states, but significant numbers also work the Eastern Flyway. During very severe winters they may even winter as far south as Central Georgia where I now live, but most commonly do not venture much further south that North Carolina in any great numbers. Of all geese, snows like to migrate in huge flocks and attracting these birds often requires a trailer loads of decoys. The migration of these flocks attracts immediate attention as the cackling birds pass over head, forming the largest flocks of waterfowl that many hunters have ever seen. 

Their numbers grew to the point where they were destroying their Arctic nesting habitat, and Spring goose seasons were opened to help keep their population under control. Although they fly over mountains during their migration across the continent from Alaska and Canada to North Carolina, they feel most at home in the flatland prairies of the Midwest, and the billiard-table flat fields of coastal North Carolina where they will eagerly feed on emerging vegetation, particularly planted crops. 

Outfitters who specialize in this type of hunting take fairly large groups of people to effectively hunt their huge spreads of decoys. A typical tactic is to locate where they are feeding, set up their decoys outside of this area and call the boiling mass of white birds to them using mouth and electronic calls. In the spring the fields are covered in wet, clingy soil that yields deep ruts, and great care must be taken to keep the support vehicles from getting stuck and the hunters from getting so mud-bound that they can no longer trudge out to their blinds in their waders.

Some of the best goose hunting weather is when it is spitting rain or snow, which is not the best for the flintlock water fowler. Flip open or covered blinds may sometimes be sledded out on the muddy fields. Each outfitter is constantly attempting to come up with some means of keeping his sports somewhat sheltered while still providing reasonable shooting opportunities while chasing a constantly moving target as the flocks move around the temporary and permanent ponds dotting the flat landscape. Constant scouting is necessary to find the geese and successfully hunt them.

Snow geese overfly areas where there are permanently position blinds on wildlife refuges, but only rarely will they drop down to shotgun range. If they do not see their fellows in the hundreds speckling the dark fields below, they cannot often be coaxed to descent from their typical flying altitude of one to several thousand feet. Yes, you can see them and you can certainly hear them, but nothing outside of cannon can reach them.

The hunter arrives. He is assembled with his party and the guides after meeting in the parking lot of the motel and everyone is loaded up to caravan out to wherever the guide has picked out for the day’s activities in order to arrive 30 minutes before daybreak. It is blowing and spitting snow, and the cased guns are protected as well as they might be. There are two four-wheel drive pickups for the hunters and guides and another pulling the trailer with the rag, full-bodied, and mechanical decoys which must be all put out before sunrise. While an open landing area is left in the middle of the spread, everyone is given a bundle of decoys to unfold and put out while the guides tow the cockroach-shaped layout blinds into position. Ultimately the decoys are put out, and the hunters are re-united with their guns. They then bed themselves down in their lay-out blinds as comfortably as possible to watch the sunrise that colors the scudding clouds with rose-colored tents as the clouds began to break.

With the sun and increased visibility, the level of noise increases as flocks of snows, seen as boiling white clouds, noisily rise and settle down again. Anticipation grows and the electronic calls are started and the mechanical decoys activated. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Will they fly this way?” The answer is “Patience. We will get at least some geese. Let the flock build before you shoot. Don’t shoot until I give the signal.”

Mortimer, now out of its case, primed with FFg black powder for maximum damp resistance and with the lock covered by a mule’s knee is loaded and ready. My load consists of 1 1/4-ounce by volume of HeviShot which is averaging about a no. 4 in size contained in a plastic wad sitting on top of a charge of Cream of Wheat, a felt, and card wad propelled by 100-grains of FFg. This is the most weather resistant load that I have developed for this shotgun that has proven successful on larger geese and swan. This gun and load know each other. They have killed before, and can do so again – even from a cylinder-bored gun.

Will the geese come? It is now full daylight, and no geese yet. Finally after a number of false starts a flock of some 50 birds or so rises, gain altitude, and heads towards us. “These may work,” the guide says. “Don’t anybody move.” The flock dips, readjusts, makes a quarter turn, and then strikes out towards our spread. Me and Mortimer are ready. We have been ready for more than an hour. The unfamiliar confines of the lay-out blind and cold have stiffened my entire body. A welcome shot of adrenalin pulses through my body as the birds approach. I purposefully do not look up.

Finally, the much anticipated command comes. “Shoot.”

The birds are milling, churning, and rising as gun barrels probe the air looking for a target. The problem is too many targets. Which one? Which way is it flying? Where is it going to be when my shot reaches it? Most hunter have to resist the impulse to blast away to exhaust their unplugged magazines as quickly as possible with the apparent expectation that some shot has got to hit something somewhere.

With one shot, I don’t have that option. One shot. One bird. In Manitoba, Mortimer had taken four snow and one blue goose with as many shots. It had also taken a limit of two speckle-belly geese with two shots. It was once more time to do it again.

Spotting movement on the ground, the flock milled and clamored to gain altitude, with each bird seeking its own path to safely. I sat up, freed the long barrel from inside the blind, picked out my bird, cocked the gun, pulled the brown barrel until the ivory bead was past its neck and head, and pulled the trigger. The flint scraped hot metal off the frizzen as the pan opened and the red hot fragments impacted against the waiting powder grains flashing the pan. A jet of flame burst through the touch hole into the powder sub-chamber which now propelled burning fragments into the rest of the charge starting the shot column down its journey through the 38-inch barrel.

More powder ignited along the way building pressure until ultimately the wad column cleared the muzzle. The heavy shot with its added momentum now pulled out of the shot cup as the lighter lagging components fell behind. The shot hit the goose and it fell dead in the air. Shooting continued on both sides of me. While they shoot, I cleared the gun and using premeasured charges stored in plastic tubes reloaded Mortimer to get ready for the next flight. This sequence will be repeated several more times during the hunt, but we have done it. Mortimer and I have shot North Carolina snows.

Once again, I eat, and remember the origin of this Thanksgiving dinner shared with a friend.

If you live in the East you can contract with guides and hunt snow geese in North Carolina and Virginia in both spring and fall. These guides hunt every day they have parties, and now is a good time to contract for a spring hunt or perhaps book a January hunt when ducks, swan, and snows are all in season. However, they must be hunted under the usual waterfowl regulations with plugged guns, manual calling, etc. For more information about these hunts refer to my books “X-Treme Muzzleloading” and my e-book, “Hunting with Muzzleloading Shotguns and Smoothbore Muskets” which is available from and other electronic book outlets worldwide.

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Press Releases for Books and Movies

Writing a press release for a novel or movie is different than producing one for a newspaper. To have its largest impact, the press release should in one page tell the reviewer exactly what he, or she, needs to know immediately and not waste time with fluff about the author or production company. The reviewer wants to know what the work is all about and less about the author and the company that is sending out the release. Both have necessary parts to play in a press release, but the release is about the work; not the people who made it.

The following is a press release about my new novel.

Quantum Discovery 

Announces new Sicilian Adventure-Romance 

Bravery, blood, and bullets mixed with lust and love are features of Until Death Do You Part: An American Family Meets Their Sicilian Cousins when a Louisiana family’s vacation in Sicily turns deadly when they arrive on Monday and are informed that their two sons are to be married on Friday or none will leave the island alive. A potential Mafia war has caused Luigi, The Claw, to want to get his daughter and niece out of the country, and a chance visit of this American family with unattached sons provides the opportunity to send them to the United States. Frank, a divorced Marine Captain with PTSD and his failing artist brother, Roger, agree to wed “two of the fairest flowers of the island” and accept 100,000 euros a year to support their new brides They have second thoughts when they discover they are marrying into one of the most powerful Mafia families in Sicily. As they visit Sicily’s historic sites, they are attacked by a rival mob. Wanting out, they accept a plan hatched by an Irish priest and their gay uncle to be seen by their prospective brides naked in bed with two gay strippers in hopes that the women will call off the wedding.  This wedding has also captured the attention of the FBI and the Italian Anti-Mafia Association who are watching the situation to possibly prevent a union between American and Sicilian Mafia families. Lust ultimately yields to love, and the Americans agree to continue with the wedding, however brief their wedded lives might be.  

Prize winning author Wm. Hovey Smith is a Professional Geologist noted for his 20 outdoor and business books. He developed this novel after five years of research including a trip to Sicily where he gathered much of the information used in the novel. He employs his knowledge of geology, architecture, art, history, business, and the outdoor world to create a novel that not only tells an appealing story, but also highlights Sicily’s 3,000 years of history and culture. He has also completed a screenplay which is being marketed to Hollywood.  

Quantum Discovery aids authors in self-publishing and marketing their books to traditional publishers, TV, and movie industries. For additional information contact agent Calvin Frost.  

                                                                                                             Quantum Discovery 

                                                                                                            501 W. Broadway, Suite 800 

                                                                                                             Sanj Diego, CA 29101 

                                                                                                             (888) 755-6875 

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After Five Years “Until Death Do You Part” Is Now Available in Softcover, E-Book, and Audiobook

Good novels, particularly those with a variety of domestic and international settings require time, sometimes years, to research and write. In the case of “Until Death Do You Part: An American Family Meets Their Sicilian Cousins,” the germ of a story originated five-years-ago when I met a family of Sicilian origin in Louisiana who had just returned from Sicily and a visit to other members of their family, some of whom had historic Mafia connections. Subsequently, I met a family in Mississippi who had attractive sons who were having martial difficulties. While working on my line of outdoor books, I mentally tossed around a plot that would combine these two families’ experiences into a single story.

It would not be much of a story if I told a travel story about where they went, saw the sights, and returned. For a novel to happen there had to be factors regarding motivation, characters, crises, some climatic event, and a resolution. Ultimately some 70 characters were involved in the story, but initially I had only the Louisiana family that I knew nearly nothing about. I had to make the family diverse, which they turned out to be. One of the sons I decided would be a Marine Captain, an ex-flying officer who had been retrained as a forward observer and deployed during the second Iraq War where he participated in calling in an air strike and was exposed to some horrid sights. Then he experienced a mortar attack and when he was e-mailing home, he found a Dear John letter. His wife had left him for another man.

That gave me a back story for one of the characters. His younger, and slightly smaller, brother was an artist who had taken up painting using old pigments such as used in the 1400s. He was a perfectionist and could never finish anything, although he had talent. As the book opens we find him in San Francisco being thrown out of an apartment that he shared with his girlfriend because he could never make rent money. These events brought both of the adult brothers home, unattached, so they could join their parents, gay uncle, and sister on their trip. Roger, the younger brother, nurses an old Scout II, The Busted Beast, across the desert to Louisiana after having a series of interesting encounters with a transvestite named Dixie Crystal, two bare-breasted nuns and a giant of a guy that he thinks is going to leave him dead in the desert.

With the family thus assembled and on their way to Sicily what could I think of that would add interest to such a book? They had to meet some difficulties that were other than the ordinary things like losing passports, getting robbed, missing their flights, etc. I would need some device that would put them in mortal danger. The Mafia is a useful tool for that. What if both of the guys had to get married to two women they had never met or everyone in the family would be killed? My novel in set in 2004, and not the 1400s, how could I make this happen, and make up a convincing story as to why two women would ever agree to marry two strange men?

Something horrible had to happen. An innocent had to die. I felt bad about it because Davide was a handsome young guy who worked at the equivalent of an ice-cream shop and was beloved by all, including Cecilia, one of the brides-to-be, who was going to marry him. Davide takes his own life to end a 200-year-old vendetta. This tragic act convinces the women that they would be willing do do anything to leave this island of seemingly endless blood and death.

Now some characters are need to stir up the plot. I invented Luigi, called The Claw, who lost a hand during World War II and ultimately became an enforcer for one of the Mafia families. Because he had assisted The Resistance to the German occupation, he was given a job as an artist working for an American team during salvage archeology after the war. Luigi is the father of Cecilia and Uncle to Angelica,. He had raised them both since they were children. Because he fears another round of Mafia wars he wants to get these women out of the country, and by happenstance two Americans are to visit the island who are at the moment unattached. After some persuading, the two women agree to entertain the idea and he and Donna Carlos, the wife of an arrested Mafia Don, are already booking spaces and having the women’s dresses made before the American’s arrive.

Everyone is shocked when the men in the family are informed on Monday that the weddings will take place on Friday. He adds an annual support of 100,000 euros a year to sweeten the pot, and the men reluctantly agree to meet the two women who are described as “two of the fairest flowers of the island.”

As the novel progresses, ties of blood, lust, respect, and bullets bind the two parts of the family together, despite the determined efforts of Apachee, a rival Mob member who supervises several attempted shootings, a bombing, and poisoning. The family’s successful extraction from the island enlist the aid of a wild boar slain with a flintlock musket by one of the grooms, an Irish priest who has become overly fond of Grappa, two gay strippers, the FBI, Italian Antimafia Association, and the U.S. Air Force.

After the outline of the novel was mentally running through my head, I made an 11 day tour of Sicily to gather site information, gain a feel for the food, and have a good look at the island. This trip was of considerable aid in enriching the book with the essence of Sicilian culture. It helped me considerably when I was able to add Sicily to the locations in the book that I described. I have a series of YouTube videos that I took on my Sicilian trip.

This book is now available in softcover and e-book from and other sources worldwide, and as a 7-hour audiobook from Amazon and many other outlets.

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Interview On The Author’s Show

About two weeks ago Don McCauley did an excellent interview with me about my new book, “Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age” on “The Author’s Show.” We had done an unusually through pre-interview interchange which enabled me to mentally prep for the show.

This was excellent because my book is unlike any previous business book in that it presents a method of self-generating business concepts, selecting which to act on when, and then goes through the entire process of starting a business to do what you need, or want, to do at the time. There is always a danger when producing a non-conventional book that it will not be appreciated by those who have deeply ingrained opinions of what a business book ought to be. Kurkus, the international book review firm that is known for giving critical reviews said that, “This is a worthy book for the newbie entrepreneur,” which is high praise indeed.

In their opinion I succeeded in producing a business book that is suitable for non-business majors containing excellent information that the average person can use. Some chapters, like the one on patents, they liked better than others, but they also liked the fact that I gave coverage to the entire business process as might be done by everyone from teens to seniors in a scant 150 pages.
That business need might be to raise immediate cash, develop a side-hustle while you work for someone else, or select a business that you really enjoy doing to bring in some extra money during your retirement years. The need to self-generate income has never been more pressing than now when the entire economy is readjusting from the impact of the Corona Virus. There is an undeniable degree of security to be gained by having your own business running, even if on a small scale, so that you can have a source of income that you control.

The variety of businesses that might be selected could be inventing and making a physical product, specializing in retailing some particular type of goods on a worldwide basis, selling knowledge, something creative in the arts, or assisting others by founding a non-profit organization to full an unmet need. Nor is it required that you select from any one of the above. The recommended program is to plan for your new business, execute it, evaluate it, and move on to the next thing if the previous concept did not work out so well. Be observant, be flexible, take risks, learn from your failures, and have fun doing it.

These and other concepts were presented during the interview which we enjoyed doing. Both of us have sat on both sides of the microphone many times before, and we appreciated each others’ work which made for an unusually informative and enjoyable program.

If you want a good listen, Google “The Author’s Show” and look for my name Wm. Hovey Smith and the book’s title “Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age.” If you happen to miss the show today, it will be archived and you can catch it some other time or listen to it more than once. You can use the URL to connect to the show at any time.

“Make Your Own Job” is available as a softcover, e-book, or a 7-hour audio book from and other sources worldwide.

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Audio Book of “Make Your Own Job” Complements Print and E-Book Versions

Click on image to order book.

Listening, instead of reading, has considerably increased the versatility of Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age, by making it accessible to commuters and drivers through their internet connections as a downloadable audiobook. If inconvenient to listen to on a laptop or tablet, the book may be downloaded on a phone or thumb drive that plugs into your vehicle’s sound system. Other advantages include being able to increase the listening volume for those whose hearing is not as sharp as it once was.

I selected LisenUp Productions of Atlanta to do the audiobook because it was convenient to me here in Central Georgia as well as to promote another industry in the state. I had the opportunity to audition three readers, and I selected James Edward Thomas as the reader, rather than recording it myself. Recording a seven-hour book requires a sound-insulated recording room, high quality mikes, editing skills, very much patience, and a voice that remains consistent over time. While I possess some of these items and personal qualities here at Whitehall, I lack others. Another very considerable problem is distribution. It may be well and good to produce an outstanding reading of a novel or piece of music, but the challenge is putting it in the hands of the distributors who market it to individuals, public libraries, business firms, etc. Some large public libraries, for example, will buy only through a particular distributor. Not only does ListenUp produce audio books, they also market them to all of the major distributors of audiobooks including Amazon, the elephant in the room.

Another beneficial result of the audiobook is that it also drives sales of the companion softcover and e-book versions. While listening is wonderful for getting an overview of the contents, Make Your Own Job is designed to be used, as it describes a unique method of conceiving of and selecting among self-generated business concepts that most readers would want to reference from time to time. The print version also allows the user to quickly look up materials on say, trademarks, without having to re-listen to an entire book to recover this information. With a novel the easy location of textual material would not be so significant, unless readers wanted to check back to see if the author pre-shadowed a significant clue earlier in the text. Unless they were avid fans, they would not likely lay out significant cash to buy a physical copy of the book.

Although business books have the reputation of being long, dry, and boring, listeners will find that Thomas’ reading of Make Your Own Job to be entertaining as well as informative.


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What To Do If Your Camera Fails While You Are Shooting Videos

Hovey the Hulk captured with my Cannon VIXIA HFR 800 Video camera. 

What to do if you are in the midst of shooting two videos and your camera fails, and cannot be repaired?

  1. Order another of the same model on line. – Done. Received. 
  2. Do what you can to salvage the videos in progress. –  Done. (See Hovey Smith YouTube Channel 01/27/2021 about Bon Richard getting ready for squirrel and small game hunting.)
  3. Get your Covid-19 Vaccine at your local VA. – Done.

Fortunately I had made an appointment at the VA in Dublin, Georgia, five days previously.  I got up at 5:30 AM so that Hector and I could reach the hospital by 10:00 AM, and we arrived about an hour early on a rainy, overcast day. Unusual for appointments, the signage at the hospital directed me to the auditorium which was on the second floor of the Administrative Building.  After checking in just beyond the entrance doors, I was escorted upstairs to fill out paperwork and checked  in again before being asked to wait for a nurse to check my blood pressure and temperature. For the second time I was asked if I had any symptoms of the virus. All but a few chairs had been moved out of the large room and I was asked to wait until my number,  number 6, was called. Then I was escorted by a nurse into a draped exam cubicle and she gave me the shot in my arm. She also filled out a card that I had been given telling me that I had been given the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine and recorded the date. After the shot I was asked to wait for 15 minutes while sitting well apart from anyone else in the room. After that I was checked out before I left the auditorium and given a return appointment for the booster shot at the end of February.  As I write this the following day, I have no adverse symptoms except for a slight soreness in the arm where the shot was given.  Hector, my Lab, was waiting patiently in the truck when I returned and we had an uneventful return trip through some modest showers going home. Being a vet, I have had many vaccines and shots before without any ill effects, and expect none from this one. 

The Dublin VA was one of the first institutions in Georgia to receive the vaccine, and I was fortunate that I received some of the last of that initial shipment. That shipment is now completely allocated, and they will again accept veterans that they regularly treat when they receive a fresh supply. Other VA institutions in Central Georgia that have been giving the vaccine are Georgia Veteran Education Career Transition Resource Center (VECTR) in Warner Robins  and the Macon CBOC.  Contact your nearest VA facility for information on where and how you may receive the vaccine if your are a veteran signed up for treatment at the facilities who is a health worker or over the age of 65. 

      4.  Work on your webpage. 

As I am a writer I had started a webpage in 2007 and updated it periodically as I had written new books and done other activities. I named it after myself www., as this seemed the easiest way for people to find me. Over the decades, I added information not only about my growing number of books, but also other activities such as my radio shows, knife-building efforts, international speaking, and most recently my business books. The last is Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anyplace, At Any Age which is available in softcover, as an e-book as well as an audio books. As it turns out, age is not only working on me, it is also working on my website. I was informed by a technician  that the coding on my old version of the program would, in some cases, no longer work with the newer generation of browsers. The remedy, he said, was to purchase a newer version of their program.  That brings up more talk, because the update might require that the entire website be redesigned and all of the information reentered or discarded. Among the several pages linked to the site there was an order page with a single entry for my first book, but I could not add anything to that page. The remedy I derived was to post the written descriptions and instead of doing a text-wraparound the image, centered the image above the text and placed a link beneath it to and ListenUP Audio Books where they may be ordered. You may view the results at: www.hoveysmith. com. 

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New Audio Book Provides Detailed Instructions For Selecting and Starting Your Own Business

A business book for the non-business major, Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anyplace, At Any Age, provides detailed instructions on how to select the best business opportunity at the moment, how to grow that business, and how to investigate longer-term business possibilities while you are still employed or running your own business. Life is not static. Business opportunities may arise at any time that can be taken advantage of provided that a person has the tools to recognize, evaluate, and take advantage of them. Pre-Covid-19, the worker had only the problems of having their jobs exported overseas, being automated out of a job, downsized out of the company, having their products become obsolete, being replaced by younger workers, or having to leave a job because of injury or disability. All of these dangers to workers still exist, but have been overshadowed by the virus outbreak, which has accelerated these trends and closed all but essential business activities in entire cities and states. Although vaccines have been developed, full job recovery is not anticipated to occur until 2024 by which time companies will have become more automated, relying more on at-home workers, and consolidated many job functions. The only way workers can protect themselves from these uncertainties is to develop their own means of making a living which is by starting mini-companies or companies to insure short-term and longer-term income for them and their families. This book is designed to show how to recognize and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

To avoid the high failure rate of new business ventures, the author details how to systemically rank potential opportunities into short-term, medium-term, and longer-term possibilities and selecting the best option for fulfilling one’s immediate economic needs , while simultaneously considering longer-term prospects. Not all businesses fit the needs of all people all the time.The ultimate objective is to discover a business that is so appealing that you would work at it even if no one paid you, but which will also satisfy your goals and aspirations, which will change over the decades. This new venture may be as simple as selling or exchanging something you already own at swap events or on barter websites, or it might require advanced college degrees or technical training.

Although opening a store-front business may be the first thing that comes to mind, internet-enhanced or based businesses are usually less expensive to launch, have less fixed costs, and can very often be done from your home or apartment. Such businesses may involve selling goods, services, knowledge, the fine arts, or writing. Many of these alternatives are illustrated by Smith’s life experiences in the book.

The book was released on January 12 and is now available from, and will soon be available from audio book suppliers worldwide. A softcover version of the title is also available from


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Why Can’t I Kill Deer at 200 Yards with my .45-Caliber Seneca?

Friend Roger Kicklighter, shown above with a deer he shot yesterday with a .270 Winchester wanted his picture taken with what he has hopes of being one of his favorite muzzleloading guns. The rifle is a long-discontinued Thompson/Center Arms Seneca rifle which was designed to be a small, light-weight gun that could be used in the U.S. National Muzzleloading Rifle Association’s Seneca Match. This is a move and shoot event where contestants run from station to station and shoot at pop up targets as they appear at different ranges. Like the Olympic biathlon, the match is scored based on a combination of time and hits on the target. Hunters also purchased the gun in both .45 and .36 calibers for hunting turkeys and small game. After many had been using the much heavier and longer barreled Thompson/Center Hawken rifles for their deer hunting, (about 9 lbs. vs. 6 lbs.), they wondered, “Would not the handier Seneca Rifle do as well?”

The heavier Hawken had the advantage of a longer barrel so whatever powder charge was used, it would generate more velocity and energy. The heavier barrel is also rated for a larger maximum powder charge which was reported in the 1975 edition of the Lyman Black Powder Handbook as 110 grains of FFg with a .440 patched round ball vs. 90 grains for the Seneca. Out of the Seneca, Mowry, and other similar guns of the period, I often shot 70 grains of FFg out of the these lighter-weight guns. This charge, combined with the longer barrel, generated more velocity and energy at the muzzle than the 60-grain charge of FFFg from the Walker revolver, that many have demonstrated over the decades will also kill close-range deer. If you are interested in this aspect of muzzleloading hunting I have an e-book Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers that is available from and other e-book sources worldwide. If the Walker can do it, why can’t the Seneca?

The answer is that the Seneca can take such deer provided that the shots are at close range and you have reasonable bullet placement. While in hunt camp, Roger asked me about the Seneca’s trajectory at 200 yards, saying that if he saw a big deer at that range, he would try for it. I asked him could he estimate at least 20 inches of hold-over and windage at that range. He replied that he could. When I got back home I looked up the drop table in the Lyman Handbook and found that the drop was more like 40-inches than 20, but there was an even more significant problem – energy loss. By the time that that round ball got to 200 yards it had only 163 foot pounds of energy, assuming that it was launched at 2,000 fps. With the 80-grain charge of FFFg that he was using. this is in the energy range of the .32 ACP. A deer might be hit at 200 yards, but no rational person would recommend a .32 ACP for deer for anything else than a point-blank shot into the brain of a downed animal.

The round ball gets off to a reasonable start, but runs out of steam in a hurry. Assuming a 2,000 fps. muzzle velocity, it has 858 ft./lbs. of energy at 25-yards, 621 at 50, 448 at 75 and 333 at 100 yards. The desirable number of foot pounds usually recommended for killing deer is 500 ft./lbs. This makes the round-ball load out of the Seneca at 2,000 fps. about a 75-yard gun – a far cry from 200 yards. Can’t you load more powder? You can load another 10 grains of powder, but the recoil increases and the added velocity brings the energy figures at 75-yards to 554 ft./lbs. which drops to 397 ft./lbs. at 100 yards. The added powder does not result in a significant increase in killing power for these inefficient projectiles.

Using a patch round ball and 70 grains of FFFg, Jon LeCroy, took five shots to kill this wild hog using the flintlock Thompson/Center Hawken rifle that I lent him. I recommended that he load with 85-grains, but the combination of his shooting with a less powerful load with a flintlock rifle at a moving target resulted in a series of not particularly well-placed hits that ultimately killed the animal. In this case the animal was close enough for a stronger load (and a harder cast bullet) to have been effective had the first shot been appropriately placed.

A load of 85 grains of FFFg and a patched round ball dropped this Georgia buck with a neck shot , and it was finished off with a .54-caliber round-ball load from Young Blunderbuss. I have videos about hunting with both guns and tell of their exploits in my book X-Treme Muzzleloading. This shot was delivered on this deer at 40 yards, broke the spine, and the deer went down instantly. Had I wished, I could have finished the deer with a knife. If you own or inherit a .45-caliber muzzleloader and you wish to take deer with it, remember it is not just hitting the animal that is significant. Not only do you need to put the bullet in the right place, you also need to do it at a range where the round ball can do its magic. Shoot reasonably well and keep your shots within 75-yards and round-ball loads will effectively kill your animals. Try to stretch the range to try for that huge deer, and they will wound, but not seriously disable the animal who may die days or weeks later.

Roger’s adventures with the Seneca go back over a decade. He bought the gun with a rusted barrel, had a Green Mountain barrel installed, but due to a low front sight, could never get it sighted in. At Hunt Camp he shot the gun, now equipped with a taller front sight, with both .45-caliber MaxiBalls and patched round balls. Within a few shots he had the gun zeroed at 25 yards with a load of 80 grains of GEOX FFFg and round ball. Now satisfied that this is a 75-yard gun, he is ready to hunt with it and showed his Seneca what sort of results he expects from in. My gun, Bon Richard, a .69-calliber Model 1777 French flintlock musket that I built from a kit, and the Seneca are in competition on who can score on a deer first. Bon Richard has been out more than 10 times and not shot at a deer yet. As Roger did, I am showing what I expect of him.

You can see a video of our hunt camp restoration process at: You will need to cut and paste this into your browser to bring up the video.

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First Draft of Novel, Father of the Grooms, Published on

Wm. Hovey Smith’s first novel which has the working title of Father of the Grooms was published as a First Draft Edition on the first day of Spring on as an e-book. This novel has the subtitle: Murder, Marriage, and Mafia: An American Family Meets Their Sicilian Cousins which will be the title of the softcover edition. The next stage of this project will be the production of a screenplay, which will be followed by the softcover edition and perhaps ultimately a movie that might be started in 2024.

Writing the novel was a nine-month process following a five-year gestation period and a fact-finding trip to Sicily. Inspiration for the novel followed a chance meeting with a family of Sicilian origin who lived in Louisiana and another family who lived in Mississippi whose sons were having difficulties in getting or staying married. In the novel the fictional family makes a trip to Sicily to reconnect with their heritage after being absent for three generations. Going on the trip are a mother and father, their two sons, sister, and gay uncle.

Over the years the family has kept up a correspondence with the Sicilian side of the family and has been invited to return for a visit many times, but now, it seems, this is the opportune time to go. One of the sons, a Marine Captain, has two months leave, and the other son has returned home after being kicked out of a San Francisco apartment by his girlfriend, and the uncle and sister can leave their hairdressing shop for a week. The father makes a joke that perhaps his sons would do better if they married “the old-fashioned way” with an arranged marriage.

In order to safeguard the lives of two young women, the Sicilian side of the family elects to take this suggestion more seriously. When the Americans arrive on Monday, they are informed that the weddings will take place on Friday. Should they refuse, the entire family might have “an unfortunate accident” while on their tour of the island. A plot is hatched between the uncle and a transplanted Irish priest to create a circumstance where the would-be-brides would call off the wedding. Additional complications arise when another Mafia family makes several attempts to kill one or more members of the family, and members of the Italian Anti-Mafia police and FBI become involved.

The First Draft Edition of the novel has all of the plot elements, settings, and characters needed to craft the screenplay. Writing the screenplay, which is much more dialog driven, will enable the author to refine the dialog, perhaps add segments that are not presently in the novel, and ultimately complete the book at some future date. In the meantime, the First Draft Edition can draw attention to the project.

The book may be ordered from and other e-book retailers worldwide for $4.99. If you do not have an e-book reader, apps will allow you to read the book on any computer or tablet and on many smart phones.

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First Draft of Father of the Grooms Completed!

After months of thrashing through my Father of the Grooms book project, it gave me an immense degree of satisfaction when I wrote the words “The End” finally, at long last, on the page. My novel has grown from one word to 325,000 words, which is well and good, but the book is still a long way from being completed to publication standards.

Yet to be done is the sometimes maddening job of going through the entire manuscript word by word and punctuation mark by mark along with items like making sure the characters are consistently referred to throughout the novel and that the elements of the plot and subplots are properly resolved. I do not want a reader who may have self-identified with one of my characters to suddenly discover that his character has somehow disappeared between the pages and is never heard from again.

I best do such reviews by printing out a copy of the manuscript and going through it by reading it line by line while running a straight-edge down the page. This is a slow way to read, but that is exactly the point. This method makes me look at every word, and not only that discover the missing words that should have, but did not, appear in the sentence. Such careful reading also allows a more careful look at the many English homonyms to make sure words like “sense vs. since ” appear in their proper context.

This stage is also typically when footnotes are added which are first positioned where they need to be at the ends of chapters or at the bottom of the pages. Having them at the end is certainly the easiest way to handle them from a mechanical point of view, and these days are the more common way that footnotes are published. Although footnotes loose something of their immediacy of having them at the bottom of a page, as it makes readers turn to the end of the chapter to discover more details about a topic that may have provoked their interest. Increasingly, these are on-line references or perhaps one of my own books or videos.

Once the First Draft corrections are made in the manuscript, I plan to take the unusual step of publishing a First Draft edition of the book as an e-book title. Such a publication will provide several advantages: 1. The draft edition will provide a platform from which to derive a screenplay. 2. This unusual publication will put an inexpensive first-draft novel on the market that can be used as a teaching aid in a novel-writing course, without having the students write their own books, and during editing them during the following semester as is commonly done. Using my First Draft book allow instructors the much easier task of everyone working on one book, rather than on a entire class’ creative compositions. 3. Feedback from readers will allow corrections to scenes and episodes in the book to more nearly reflect real-life places and events.

In approximately two months I expect to have the First Draft Edition of Father of the Grooms available on as an inexpensive e-book. Anyone who makes a significant contribution in upgrading the book to publication-ready status will receive a credit in the book.