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Atlanta’s International Blade Show Brings the World’s Knives from Kings, Cutlers and Hobbiest

 

For those who have always wanted to go to the annual International Blade Show and Cutlery Fair that is held each year at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, this is the weekend for it. The Blade Show starts on Friday, June 6, with an opening at noon and runs through Sunday. Not only does the show bring the world’s knives and bladesmiths to Atlanta, it also brings venders who sell knife-making supplies. These include everything from steels, to belt grinders to exotic handle materials from all over the world.  Not only can you buy the materials to use to make your own knives, you can also attend seminars and purchase books and videos to tell you exactly how to do it.

My most complete coverage of the show was in 2011 when I did a video and two one-hour long radio episodes of “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.” You can  listen to the 2011 and 2012 radio shows about the event at WebTalkRadio.net. I have an overview of the shows, including photos of the knives, at my Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures Radio Show Blog at http://www.hoveysoutdooradventures.wordpress.com. The second hour-long show includes a visit to Buck Knives new facility at Post Falls, Idaho, and an interview with CJ Buck.

Exciting outdoor demonstrations are always a part of Blade Show events.
Exciting outdoor demonstrations are always a part of Blade Show events.

There are also blade-cutting contests, demonstrations, TV personalities, sharpening demonstrations and knives that are thousands of years old at this event. This is a family-friendly event and all are welcome.

My personal in knives is about working knives and other edged tools used for hunting, camping, in the business trades and for all-around utility. I write about knives for magazines like Knife World, have had articles in the Knife Annuals published by Krause as well as blog about them. Most commonly when I use knives it is for hunting and  cleaning up my yard after storm events. I have several videos on these subjects on YouTube. A Google search for “Hovey storm tree”  or  “Hovey knife hunt” will find them.

 

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Shooting and Reloading for the DoubleTap .45 ACP and 9 mm

Initial shooting was to develop loads similar to the large caliber Bull Dog revolver loads of the late 1800s.  Shown are round ball and 200 grain cast bullet loads.
Initial shooting was to develop loads similar to the large caliber Bull Dog revolver loads of the late 1800s. Shown are round ball and 200 grain cast bullet loads. In case you do not recognize it, this is a page from the 1969 edition of the classic reference, “Cartridges of the World” by Frank C. Barnes.

 

My first experience with the DoubleTap over/under Derringer was about two-years ago at the Shot Show when a company then called Heizer Firearms introduced a small slab-sided pistol chambered for the .45 ACP and 9 mm Luger. The company’s ads proclaimed them to be “Aerospace Technology Firearms” that would introduce modern design, technology and materials to make truly modern firearms. The people who manned the booth were quite proud of the fact that they had designed the gun in 30 days. I was interested because I had owned Derringer pistols that were generally variations of the Remington Double Derringer design, including one chambered for the .45 Long Colt.

What I liked about both pistols were their small sizes, easy portability and large-caliber cartridges. The DoubleTap was an improvement in design in that it was more compact in profile and eliminated the external hammer of the Remington design. My first impressions of the DoubleTap sample pistols were favorable so far as their size and trigger pull was concerned. The trigger had a very smooth, relatively soft pull on these pre-production guns. Because of the narrow profile of the grips, I did have reservations about how these light-weight guns would handle chambered for the .45 ACP. I know of people who object to the recoil of the .45 when shot from full-size 1911-frame steel pistols, and I could not imagine how these lightweight guns would feel when shot.

I was sufficiently interested to request one for testing, thinking that I would compare this modern pistol with a new Davide Pedersoli reproduction of an original muzzleloading Derringer. Ultimately the Pedersoli Derringer arrived, and I worked up loads for it. What I found was that this replica pistol shot far from the point of aim and was weakly powdered; but if a man knew his gun and could remember to aim a foot below his intended point of impact and about 6-inches to the right, he could hit his target.  Historical accounts verified this general lack of  accuracy at much beyond an across-the-table range. The DoubleTap offered the potential advantages of being a cartridge gun that could be quickly reloaded, did not need external percussion caps and had two shots in addition to being chambered for much more powerful loads. I did a YouTube video, “Lincoln Derringer Vs. Pizza Zombie,” which may be seen on YouTube at:  http://youtu.be/YHileURpyi34.

Legal and production issues delayed the production of the DoubleTap for about two years. In the meantime the Pedersoli Derringer had been shot and returned. Initial tests by other writers confirmed my expectation that the Double Tap was almost unshootable in .45 ACP. My initial concept in requesting the gun was to reload the .45 with loads that evoked the large-caliber rounds loaded in Bull Dog pistols of the 1800s. When my test gun arrived, I scavenged some cases from a firing range and reloaded them with .454 round balls and some 200 grain cast lead bullets. These loads were successful in that the round-ball  and cast-bullet loads shot into the same general group as factory ammo, with less recoil and costs. In short, here were loads that a person could practice with without causing physical pain, although you did certainly knew that you had shot something with the cast-bullet load. You can see my  video “Taming the DoubleTap Defense” at: http://youtu.be/qzCr1-qDBP4.

As a young military officer stationed near Alexandra, Virginia, in the late 1960s, I purchased and, in succession, shot most of the world’s 9 mm pistols. These included Broom-handled Mausers, Lugers, Radoms, Browning Hi-Powers, Lahtis and others. I would shoot one for a time, trade it in and get another. What these guns lacked during the day was the availability of anything but full-metal-jacket bullets. I was interested in hunting with them and ultimately progressed to the .38 Super, but was still hampered by the lack of reasonable bullets.  Using hand tools I reloaded for the Super and used Remington’s 125-grain jacketed bullets.

Single-stage press bolted to small reloading bench.
Single-stage press bolted to small reloading bench.

When I received the DoubleTap it also came with a 9 mm barrel,  and I had a nearly full box of  9 mm bullets that I had saved. A problem with my Lyman Tong tool reloading of the .45 was that I could not fully resize the brass cases. However, I also had an old Herter’s reloading press from the 1960s, and I ordered a new set of carbide Lee reloading dies for  9 mm. I found a box of  Winchester 9 mm target loads in a gun shop which would provide me with factory rounds for testing and empty cases for reloading. These target loads are still fairly stout so they can function in a variety of  9mm semi-auto pistols. With the fixed-breeched Double Tap, any load that was sufficiently powerful to throw the bullet out the barrel would work.

Shooting off 15 rounds at stumps revealed that the 9mm barrels shot to different points of impact vertically and also to the left. The 9 mm factory rounds were uncomfortable to shoot, but not nearly so bad as the .45 factory loads. Starting this year, the DoubleTap also has available a rubber over-grip to reduce felt recoil on the hand. Although I did not use it with my initial shootings of the gun, I used it during later bench testing. This over-grip cushions the impact of the pistol’s recoil, but for the next several days my hand was still somewhat stiff. I had my first failures to fire when shooting this factory ammunition. The primers were slightly indented, and they fired when hit a second time.

Although my use of round balls in the .45 ACP a success, loading .350 round balls in the 9 mm cases with 9 grains of FFFg black powder gave very poor accuracy. Unfortunately the first round-ball shot took out my chronograph, ending any possibility of obtaining velocity and energy figures for subsequent shots.  My reloads using the Remington 9 mm bullets and 8 grains of FFFb black powder were much more successful, and these grouped about 4-inches above the impact point of  the Winchester factory loads. I cannot say what the velocities were, but if the factory loads were going at 1000 fps, I suspect that my reloads were doing about 800. There was a marked difference in felt recoil between the two loads. I also loaded 3 grains of  700X, a clean-burning flake powder used mostly in shotguns and to a lessor degree in pistol rounds. This smokeless load about duplicated the black powder load, but was cleaner burning and would not require the soapy water cleaning of the gun and brass cases demanded by  black powder. The number of misfires increased as the testing progressed.

Thinking that a part of this problem might be that residue in the barrels was preventing the cases from being fully supported during firing, I washed and cleaned the barrel. This appeared to help. When I later cleaned the gun I found that one firing pin was jammed in the frame. I tried to free it with alcohol, but that had no effect. Residue from shooting the black powder rounds may have gotten into the firing pin channel and stuck the pin. I mention in the video that perhaps the mainspring was too weak, but on this gun increasing the spring pressure is not an option, as to do so would make an already tough trigger pull almost impossible to manipulate. Because of the gun’s double-action-only design, the trigger must fully compress the hammer spring for each shot. I found I had to take a two-handed grip and pull with two fingers, one on top of the other,  to operate the mechanism.  This is something that I never had to do with any gun that I have owned.  To see the video  “Shooting and Reloading for the 9 mm DoubleTap Defense”  go to: http://youtu.be/KshNUxt3h0g.

DoubleTap's design shown on pistol rug. The trigger is directly connected to the hammer spring and must completely compress it before the gun may be fired.
DoubleTap’s design shown on pistol rug. The trigger is linked to the hammer spring and must completely compress it before the gun will fire.

As this gun cannot be taken apart by the owner, there was no way to access the firing pin to replace it or clean it. In my view this is a serious shortcoming for any self-defense pistol, as all mechanical things will ultimately  fail. The best I could do was to try to loosen the stuck pin with alcohol, but that did not work.

This gun has all of the problems of firearms that are designed by people who are engineers first and only shooters because they perceived a potential economic opportunity. The first requirement for any self-defense gun is that it must work, even under less than optimum conditions with less than perfect ammo. It must be easily operated under stressful conditions. It must also be field repairable. Looks, materials, shape, weight, size and expensive materials are secondary to functionality and reparability.  The retail price of the pistol ($500 and up depending on the choice of an aluminum or titanium frame and options) reflects the high cost of engineering, production and materials; but there are a number of less expensive double Derringers that cost less, are more reliable and are repairable.

The value of this series of tests was to demonstrate that users who may have to depend on their self-defense guns to preserve their lives must know their guns and shoot them enough so that their use becomes second nature. One design aspect of the DoubleTap is that the trigger must be fully released between shots or the second barrel cannot be fired. Another design factor is that both the .45 and 9 mm barrels shot to different points of aim vertically and also a few inches to the left at 10 yards.  If you have to shoot someone rushing at you, 10 yards seems very close indeed, and you need to know where to aim so as to have the maximum probability of making a disabling hit. You also do not want to be even momentarily distracted because your hand hurts like hell after you have fired your gun.

 

 

 

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A World Citizen Science Project for Protecting Coastal Wetlands and Cities

A view of the marsh off Ossabaw Island, one of Georgia's "Golden Isles"
A view of the marsh off Ossabaw Island, one of Georgia’s “Golden Isles”

I am a Professional Geologist who has a long interest in coastal wetlands. Not only have I frequently visited Georgia’s coastal areas, but I have also spent considerable time in the Gulf Coast States, particularly Louisiana.  I have launched a Kickstarter  project to raise money to help fund my presentation of a poster at the Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration (CEER 2014) that will be held in New Orleans from July 28-Aug 3. You can see the entire Kickstarter project at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hoveysmith/citizen-science-wetlands-restoration-project or watch the video below:

The purpose of the poster that I will present at the CEER conference is to launch a world citizen science project to investigate various methods of constructing low costs offshore flexible barriers using salvaged waste materials. As an attention-getting example of inert waste materials that might be used to form these barriers, I chose heavy, embossed bottles produced by Louisiana Spirits who distills two varieties of Bayou Rum. These bottles were selected because of their attention-grabbing value when placed on a scientific poster and are used to illustrate only one of a large number of inert waste materials that might be used to make these barriers. Once the barriers are in place, oysters would become established on the hard substrate which would serve to strengthen the structure. In addition, the quieter water behind the barriers would allow sediment to collect and natural vegetation go help rebuild offshore islands and marshes.  Instead of being degraded once they were emplaced, these structures would actually grow stronger because of the growth of native organisms. The more serious nature of this project is to initiate a world citizen-science investigation of potential inert waste materials that might be gathered locally and used to make low-cost flexible protective structures. These citizen scientists would initiate their own pilot projects, study them and report their results to a central database. Then, this information would be made available to researchers in any interested state or nation. I am seeking $2,800 to finance my attending the conference and take the initial steps to protect the project’s intellectual property, design the database and publish the results in a quarterly newsletter. This project will close on May 31, 2014,  and if the funding goal is not met, no one who pledged will be billed. This is my third Kickstarter project. To start one you go to http://www.kickstarter.com/ and there they have a template to take you through the steps of initiating a project. They strongly recommend that you produce a video describing the project as well as a compelling written description. The key steps are the project’s name, purpose, how it will be implemented, when it will be completed, what rewards will be given to backers, when these will be delivered, and the fund-raising goal. If the goal is not achieved, no backer is charged and the project initiator receives no money. This is very much a go or no-go event. I hope that you will not only take a look at this project, but think seriously about how this might be useful to help promote your activities. I would also like to request that you become a backer of my project that will allow anyone to participate in a needed scientific investigation and possibly make a significant contribution to solving the real problem of helping to prevent damage to the world’s coastal lands and  cities. By tapping the world’s brainpower, whether individuals hold university degrees or not, there is the potential of making some surprising discoveries in science and engineering.

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Book, E-Book and Video Win Awards at Georgia Outdoor Writers Association Conference

 

 

Hovey with GOWA prizesMy book, X-Treme Muzzleloading: Fur, Fowl and Dangerous Game with Muzzleloading Rifles, Smoothbores and Pistols  E-book, Hunting Big and Small Game with Muzzleloading pistols and video, With Adirondack Loads, Selden Rifle and Blunderbuss take Georgia Deer, took prizes at the annual Georgia Outdoor Writers Association’s (GOWA) annual meeting at Warm Springs, Georgia, in April, 2014.

X-Treme Muzzleloading took a third place prize at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association's (SEOPA) 2013 meeting at Lake Charles, Louisiana.
X-Treme Muzzleloading took a third place prize at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA) 2013 meeting at Lake Charles, Louisiana.

X-Treme Muzzleloading is a heavily illustrated 8 1/2 X 11-inch 292-page book that was published as a softcover and E-book title in 2012. In its 25 chapters, I discuss the types of muzzleloading guns and my hunting experiences with everything from a matchlock musket to modern percussion revolvers. As in all of my softcover outdoor books, I conclude with 30 kitchen-tested recipes for fish, game and fowl. Last year this book also took a third place book award at  the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA) meeting at Lake  Charles, Louisiana.  In my books, readers find the unusual, the unexpected and much useful information about guns, loads and hunting techniques. The book was published by Author House and is often least expensively available from them.  This title is also available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles, Gardners, and the soft-cover and E-book version is sold by nearly all on-line book resellers.  Or, you may support your local bookstore by ordering X-Treme Muzzleloading  from them. Prices vary, and the softcover editions retails for a little over $20 and the E-book version for between $9-$12.

Hunting Muzzleloading Pistols New CoverJust because a writer publishes a book does not mean that he does not continue to work on that topic. To provide a publication for those whose interests in muzzleloaders are more narrowly focused, I started publishing a series of E-book titles on different aspects of the subject in 2013. Five were published in 2013, and the title that won third place at GOWA was Hunting Big and Small Game with Muzzleloading PistolsThis book describes hunts with flintlock and percussion pistols including “Bouncing Bounty” with its 14-inch long barrel, the Howdah Hunter with its two .50-caliber barrels and  Cabela’s stainless steel Buffalo Revolver with a 10-inch barrel and adjustable sights, among other interesting handguns. As usual, I provide detail information about loads and performance.  This E-book is priced at $4.99 at Amazon.com for Kindle and is also available for Nook and all other E-book readers as well as from Apple’s iBookstore.

It is difficult for a guy who runs a one-man show to make videos that can compete with those made by professional video production outfits with budgets of $1,000 per broadcast minute. I submit anyway, and With Adirondack Loads, Selden Rifle and Blunderbuss Take Georgia Deer took second place in the TV-video category at GOWA. Its content was sufficiently compelling to beat one TV episode. Although this is an interesting, informative video that is far better that the usual YouTube videos, a reality check reveals that the only reason it placed so highly was that relatively few GOWA members are producing TV materials. Nonetheless, this was a win, and I am pleased to accept it. You can view the video below and see it on YouTube at:  http://youtu.be/VeWY82B7WJw. This is one of  the more than 300 that I have posted on guns, crossbows, hunting, knives,  bowfishing, cooking and outdoor living.

GOWA is similar to many state outdoor writers organizations in that all have meetings to improve their members crafts, highlight different outdoor activities in their home states and provide an easy entry into professional outdoor writing for beginning writers. Often the membership requirements are very low. Usually, state organizations only require that the candidate publish, for pay, a small number of outdoor articles, photos, videos or  TV shows a year. Once a member of a state organization, it is easier to join regional organizations like SEOPA and the national organizations such as OWAA and POMA  (The Professional Outdoor Medial Association). These higher-level organizations have stiffer membership requirements and periodically review their member’s activities to insure that they continue to meet the organization’s membership standards. A significant benefit is that an active membership in OWAA and POMA eases the acquisition of press credentials for major trade shows, such as the Shot Show and NRA and NWTF national conventions.

 

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Using Controlled Burns to Help Prevent Wildfires at Rural Homes and Ranches

 

Controlled burns help to protect rural homes from wildfires as was done here in Georgia in early April, 2014.
Controlled burns help to protect rural homes from wildfires as was done here in Georgia in early April, 2014.

 

Periodic controlled, or prescribed, burns of woodlands in forested areas are needed to reduce the amount of combustible material on the forest floor and help prevent wildfires that can endanger homes, ranches and outbuildings. In my  case,  a late winter ice storm had caused pine and other limbs to fall which increased the amount of combustible material to the point that a wildfire could endanger my house if  the wind was blowing towards the structure.  I contacted my county office of the Georgia Forestry Commission and arranged to have the burn done in early April before the trees leafed out and the turkeys started to nest.

While waiting for my request to advance to the top of the Forestry Commission’s  list, I had several things to do. These were:

1. Get my well repaired so that I would have a reliable source of water. 2. Clear the debris from the ice storm out from under the trees in my yard. 3. Clear the fallen trees and limbs from my forest trails so that the Forestry Department dozer could safely work. 4. Move my propane tank to the other side of the house. 5. Rake leaves and twigs away from the edge of the house lot and burn them to keep the lawn from catching. You can view a video of the burn below or at: http://youtu.be/IzJdIm60Tyw.

I had only a half-day notice that the burn was to take place. I had nearly completed clearing the trail, and I hurriedly  cut and drug the last few trees back to the house so that I could burn them later.  Then, I strung out my water hoses and started to put down a wet line in the lawn next to the hedgerow where the fire was to be started. The two-man crew arrived with a John Deer dozer that is about the size of a Cat D6.  It had a V blade and a drag-behind plow for cutting water diversion structures. After showing them where the well and septic tank  were in the side yard, they decided to do firebreaks on three sides of the rectangular burn area and use my wet line to protect the grass and clover growing in the lawn.

Because the firebreak was to be cut along a cleared  trail, power line right-of-way and an abandoned forestry road, the plowing went very quickly. The fire was started at about 2:00 PM, and the 20 ac. burn was done by 5:00 PM. There was one small breakout of fire which was quickly extinguished by the water truck. A few stumps still burning three days later, but as everything  around them was already burned, these few hot spots presented no  danger.  Rains on the third and fourth days after  the burn extinguished the fire. One unexpected consequence as that a large hollow  oak caught fire inside the trunk and fell across one of my trails.

The only place the fire escaped was one small area between a power line and the road.
The only place the fire escaped was one small area between a power line and the road.

This entire process was quickly done and quite successful. In Georgia, the landowner pays for the costs of fuel and transportation, which is my case was less than $300 for the 20-acre burn. If a person had to hire a dozer to do the same work, charges could easily be on the order of  $100s of dollars an hour, depending on the size of the dozer, time to get it to the site, etc.

 

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Turkey Hunting Tales and Tails

On this hunt I was ultimately successful in taking a tom from my food plot using an antique 14-gauge Brunswick smoothbore musket.
On this hunt I was ultimately successful in taking a tom from my food plot using an antique 14-gauge Brunswick smoothbore musket.

 

As it turns out turkey tails very often figure in my turkey hunting stories and so the title “Tales and Tails” is appropriate to what I have been doing lately. In preparation for the 2014 Georgia turkey season I have extracted stories from my “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” radio show and repurposed them as the audio tract for a series of  four YouTube videos. The visual portions of these videos is composed of still photos which may or may not be directly related to the subject material, as I will explain later. The first story up is “Charlie Elliott’s First Turkey.” Elliott was a long time writer for the magazine “Outdoor Life,” a professional forester and the head of Georgia’s Dept. of  Natural Resources where he participated and promoted the restocking of turkeys and deer in Georgia post World War II. For a time he even published a state fish and game magazine. I knew Charley when he was in his 90s. When we met, we talked about aspects of the outdoor writer’s life, story telling and very often, turkey hunting. Charlie lived to see the construction of the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield, Georgia where his office was recreated. He had the opportunity to record messages about some of the objects that are shown and about his hunts. The cartoon character “Mark Trail” was modeled after Elliott and, although fictionalized,  captured something of Charlie’s love of the outdoors and desire to teach others about it.

 

“Thunderball Turkey” uses natural sound to help construct an audio recreation of a hunt where I take a turkey with a flintlock Brown Bess musket during a violent Spring thunderstorm. I have the good fortune to be able to hunt on my own land just by walking out of my house. On this particular hunt I was a mile from my house and sheltered in a built-up deer stand to keep from getting more drenched that I already was.  Strange things happen sometimes in the turkey woods, and despite the weather, the wet gun and a cautious bird some interesting events occurred.

 

Not all of my turkey hunts end successfully. “Catch and Release Turkey Hunting” consist of two hunts where the turkeys got away, although not without leaving something behind. In both cases I am trying out some new equipment and things do not go quite as planned.

 

“Turkey Dance with Feathers Chimes and Cannon” was recorded as if I was in a Southern bar at closing time and the only people there was the bartender and “Fred” who was passed out and snoring loudly. This video is for the multi-taskers  in that the visual portion is a “How to hunt turkeys” slide show with text over-prints, while the sound tells an altogether unrelated story. If the visuals bother those among you who are strongly afflicted with the “neatness gene,” just close your eyes and visualize the story within the story as it unfolds. As with all of my materials, this story, including the voices and sound effects was produced by me.

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Free How To Be An Outdoor Communicator Seminar at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on March 11, 2014

Charlie Elliott, friend, mentor, writer, conservationist  and turkey hunter.
Charlie Elliott, friend, mentor, writer, conservationist and turkey hunter.

 

The Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center was founded to honor the long-time writer, conservationist and Georgia game official Charlie Elliott. Constructed before he died in 2000, the center contains a replication of his writing office and many of his books, trophies and personal effects. Many of these items were used in his Outdoor Life articles and in the numerous books that he wrote or edited. This center is unusual in that it was built before the author died, and he had the opportunity  to record comments about his hunts and the part that these objects played in them. These recorded segments are activated by pushing buttons in front of the exhibits that highlight objects and initiate the recordings.

Charlie was also the mentor for many outdoor writers, including myself. I had the opportunity to interview him at his home and at the nursing home before he died. This seminar is designed to pass on some of this mentoring function to a new generation of would-be outdoor communicators and update it to modern times. Up to the time that he died, Charlie was still pounding out copy on a typewriter. When he started writing, writers were only responsible for the written text of a story.  Somewhat later, writers also had to supply their own photography. Nowadays, not only must outdoor communicators be able to furnish written materials but are they are often also expected to supply complete high-quality photo spreads, videos and sometimes even TV-quality recordings of their experiences.  To sell in today’s market not only does the new writer have to be able to consistently supply fresh story material and photos, but there are also varying requirements for supporting materials that must fit pre-determined editorial calendars.

An example of this new kind of content is a turkey hunting video about using turkey decoys that I filmed during a quota hunt at the Clybel WMA  which surrounds the Wildlife Center.  The WMA also offers deer and small-game hunting.

Opportunities that Charlie did not have that are available to present writers are low-cost blogs, videos and E-books which enable modern writers to test market areas, become their own brand, accumulate a following and partly, or largely,  work independently of commercial book and magazine publishers.  These are some of the possibilities that will be discussed in the seminar. I will be assisted by Bob Borgwat who will present additional materials on the editorial side of magazine publication. Borgwat  has been associated with several magazines for the past 25 years and is currently the acting editor for  hunting and fishing publications in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Mississippi.

The following is a press release about the event which may be distributed to any person, publication, school or university department that might be interested.

Sandersville, Ga. A free all-day seminar, “Becoming an outdoor communicator,” will be held at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on March 11, 2013. Hosted by Georgia author Wm. Hovey Smith, the potential for selling traditional outdoor-related materials to newspapers, magazines, radio, video, and TV markets will be discussed in addition to emerging opportunities in social media including blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest,  E-book publication, personal appearances and stand-up comedy.

Smith sold his first magazine articles in the 1970s and has published 15 books, 9 E-books, 300 YouTube videos, made many TV appearances, produced the “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” podcast radio show, and thousands of newspaper, magazine and outdoor-blog articles. He is now the Corresponding Editor for the Gun Digest Annual covering blackpowder guns and regularly appeared on the “Welcome To Our North” TV program.

His hunting adventures have taken him all over North America and trips to Europe and Africa. His books include Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound, Crossbow Hunting, Practical Bowfishing and a new 8-book E-book series on muzzleloading guns.

The Seminar will begin at 10:00 AM at the Discovery Center at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. A wildlife cooking demonstration will be held at noon. Indoor events will resume at 1:00 PM with the formal presentations concluding at 4:00 PM. Informal discussions with Smith and other outdoor writers and videographers will follow at the campfire. The Center also has 27 motel-style rooms for overnight guests which may be reserved by calling (770) 784-3152.

To sign up for the seminar and receive an advance copy of the handout materials, send your request to hoveysmith029@gmail.com.

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YouTube Videos Reach the 1,000,000 View and Blog the 500,000 View Thresholds

This was the most recently posted video when the 1,000,000 viewer threshold was passed.

While it is possible for a cat or celeb video to bring in 1,000,000 views overnight, outdoor content videos do not do nearly so well because they are intended for  a relatively small part of the U.S. market. Active hunters are only about 7 % of the U.S. population, although this number is differently reported by various organizations. Working this market segment, it has taken about 1.5 years for my 299 videos to reach the 1,000,000 view threshold. The comparison between the videos and blogs reinforce that the U.S outdoor market is becoming more visually oriented, particularly so far as Social Media is concerned. Although there are about the same number of entries, this blog has had about 500,000 views over about 2 years – roughly half of the YouTube views and it took a longer time to achieve them.

For the younger segment of the population, YouTube videos are becoming a favored search engine. Not only do the searchers want the information, they want to see it and have it told to them, rather than having to read it. Blogs do have a considerable advantage in that text passages may be printed out, material can be covered more completely in a blog and it is logical to link blog, video, book and radio together. This approach allows the user to get the author’s information in visual, print or audio form in whatever depth he desires.

In comparing blogs and video outreach, YouTubes have the advantage if generally costing little or nothing to produce or maintain, may be replaced at any time, have no recurrent costs, are available for an indefinitely long period and return a small amount of money as ad revenue. My blog, although one of the highest rated WordPress Blogs, has not attracted the 500 views a day which is the apparent threshold value to garner advertising revenue from Google-placed ads. Obviously, I need to expand my presence in this area by producing more blog entries. Even with Google ad revenue derived from both sources, it is obvious that this income of some few thousands of dollars a year will not be sufficient to support a writer.

For those in the outdoor market, blogging and video production are best viewed as methods of advertising a paying product or service. YouTube videos have allowed me to place my book ads in front of 1,000,000 people at little costs, cost me nothing to maintain and they will continue to be seen and bring in ad revenue for decades. This is the case of, “Write, or produce, it once and get paid for it often.” While this approach of being simultaneously active in the print, radio and video/TV markets is not suitable for most writers or sustainable for any writer for very long (including me). However, using the YouTube video component along with one or two other outdoor activities is an effective and low-cost way of attracting potential paying consumers.

On March 11, 2014, I will be presenting a free all-day seminar on Becoming an Outdoor Communicator at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center which is located near Mansfield,
Georgia. During this event I will outline the outdoor communication possibilities in the print, audio, video/TV and personal appearances markets with some practical information about potential income possibilities. Topics will include newspaper writing, book writing, E-book publication, radio production, photography, video production and stand-up outdoor comedy as income-producing possibilities.  There will be a pre-seminar E-mailing of the course outline. To receive it request a copy at:  hoveysmith029@gmail.com.

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Fire Control for Rural Clean-Ups After Ice Storms and Other Weather Events

Lawnmower is used to drag a cart of small broken limbs and tow a group of fallen pine limbs to the burn piles.
Lawnmower is used to drag a cart of small broken limbs and tow a group of fallen pine limbs to the burn piles.

Rural residents who do not have access to curb-side pick-up of limbs downed by storm events are sometimes faced with the problem of disposing of a ton or more of broken limbs and downed trees. By using two small-diameter burn piles in the yard and mostly hand tools, it is possible to clean up this debris by yourself, save money and simultaneously obtain a large amount of productive physical exercise. I have, like most retirees, limited income and must do what yard work that I can by myself. The past 30 years have included several hurricanes and ice storms which provided large amounts of woody materials and ample opportunities to perfect my disposal techniques.

Fallen limbs under pine.
Fallen limbs under pine.
Significant factors to consider are what types of trees or need to be burned, the broken branches’ position on the ground or hung up in the trees, the wetness of the soils and the amount and directions of wind. With proper fire management some burning may be safely done under almost any conditions, but not everything can, or should be, burned every day. For example, on windy days leafy limbs that may have red-hot leaves carried aloft by the hot air rising from the fire that can set fire to other parts of your yard or nearby woodlands. However, the same conditions may be ideal for combusting green hardwood branches which have no leaves. Limbs from broad-leafed trees, like magnolia, should only be burned when conditions are wet. Assuming that the storm brought snow, ice or rain, these broad-leafed limbs are the first things to go on my burn pile. You can see a video of this progressive burning process at: http://youtu.be/HOnMjJMpexk.

If you are a farmer, have a front-end bucket on your tractor and a nearby plowed field; you can scoop up everything, put it in a huge pile in the middle of the field and burn it all at one time when conditions are damp enough to insure that the fire cannot get away from you. My tractor is a Snapper lawnmower that I convert to a limb-pulling vehicle by removing the mower deck. The mower’s large-diameter wheels and comparatively light weight do much less damage to my lawn than my pick-up. Although, I use the pick-up and a heavy log chain to pull things that are too heavy for the lawnmower to manage. Chain saws are a necessary item for any rural landowner. I have several, but prefer to do much of my initial chopping with hand tools and pull the larger limbs to one place. Once I get the saw/s started, I cut through the entire pile at once. I also put the chain saw and related materials in a plastic cement-mixing tub and tow it around the edges of my lot to cut blown-over trees.

Cutting the side limbs off the branches will allow the size of the fire to be kept small and result in more efficient combustion.
Cutting the side limbs off the branches will allow the size of the fire to be kept small and result in more efficient combustion.

Recommended Progression of Work

1. While the storm is in progress move your vehicles, if you have not already, out from under trees and put them in the middle of open fields or your yard.
2. When the storm is abating, gather your tools, sharpen them and plan out what you are going to do.
3. Select an area for two burn piles about 20 yards apart. This is the site where everything will be towed. You do not want to have burn piles at different places in your yard because of the difficulty in keeping an eye on all of them at once. If the fire starts to catch in your lawn or elsewhere, you need to be ready to put it out immediately.
4. While conditions are still wet, rake up and carry anything near your burn piles to the piles and burn this up. The area near the piles needs to be kept as clean and leaf free as possible, including cleaning up around them after each day’s burning.
5. While the ground is still saturated, drag up by hand, if possible, any branches that have leaves on them.
6. Cut the branches into fairly straight lengths who that they will lie as flat as possible on the pile for better combustion efficiency. If necessary use paper and waste oil or gasoline to start the fires and began to build up a bed of coals.
7. Hauling to one pile and then the other keep both piles going until all of your leafy material is safely burned.
8. As the coals accumulate you can start to put limbs as large as 4-inches in diameter across the fire to start them burning.

Small branches periodically added to the piles will encourage more rapid combustion of green wood.
Small branches periodically added to the piles will encourage more rapid combustion of green wood.

9. When burning green, wet wood it may be necessary to put a cart-full of small dryer cuttings on the fires to keep them going. You may need to add a cart-full between every load of green wood or after every two or three loads.
10. About two hours before you are going to end your day, concentrate on fire management and cleaning up around your burn piles.
11. Allow the fire to burn down to coals and place some large leafless limbs on the fire to burn overnight.
12. Three times during the night check on the fire, and push the limbs closer to the middle of the bed of coals as they burn through.
13. The next morning resume your burning by placing more materials on your coals and “sweetening” the fire by adding a cart load of dryer materials to catch everything up.
14. As you drag up your larger limbs with your lawn tractor or pick up, tow your mortar tub behind it and fill it with smaller limbs and twigs from the site where you are working. This will provide more smaller material to put on the fire between the larger limbs and speed combustion.
15. As needed, sharpen your tools and chain saw blade. Cutting is much easier on green wood than dry wood. As a consequence, you want to cut as much green wood as you can.
16. Know your tools and how to use them. With hatchets and axes, cut away from you wherever possible. When chopping down, spread your legs so if the ax blade goes through the object that it is cutting it will go into the ground, rather than through a foot. God gave you five toes on each foot, and you very likely want to keep them.

At the end of the day you want your fire to be completely burned down and the area around it raked clean.
At the end of the day you want your fire to be completely burned down and the area around it raked clean.

Remember, these broken branches are not going anywhere, so there is no need to over extend your physical abilities by attempting to do everything during one day. Wear gloves, boots and glasses to protect your hands and other body parts. When you start to get tired, wind things up for the day. EXHAUSTED PEOPLE MAKE FOOLISH MISTAKES. Keep in mind what you are doing, and what a sudden gusts of wind might do to your fire. If you are going to let a portion of the fire burn overnight, make sure that there is absolutely no leafy material in the fire or around it. Then add your limbs and let them burn. Check on your fire several times during the night and shift the limbs around to make sure they completely burn by the next morning when you can resume the process.

It may be necessary for you to request a burn permit from the state forestry authority or other agency before lighting your fire. Work slowly and be safe. As is often said, “Fire is a good servant, but a bad master.”

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Building a Super Colt Walker Revolver from a Uberti Kit

The Super Walker revolver with Weaver sight rails, expanded frame for loading conical bullets, modified loading lever and nitride finish.
The Super Walker revolver with Weaver sight rails, expanded frame for loading conical bullets, modified loading lever and nitride finish.

As the author of a forthcoming book Hunting with Percussion Revolvers which is No. 6 of my Muzzleloading Short Shots series of books on muzzleloading guns, I obviously needed to hunt with the most powerful percussion revolver that was available. This gun is the 1847 Colt Walker pistol designed for the U.S. Mounted Rifles. This is a huge handgun that is 14-inches long and weighs 4 pounds. It can take a service charge of 60 grains of FFg black powder and a round ball and has proven its effectiveness on smaller species of big game, although I had reservations about it. When writing about muzzleloading rifles, I had often stated that the usual energy requirements for deer guns were loads that developed about 500 ft./lbs. of energy, which the Walker could not muster with black-powder loads.

Correspondence with others and subsequent work with lesser guns, such as the Remington 1858 stainless steel Buffalo revolver that is made by Pietta and imported by Cabela’s, demonstrated to me that these guns could effectively be used on smallish deer and hogs with round ball and Triple7even Powder, which develops more energy than black powder. These experiences convinced me to try the Colt Walker platform again, but there were a series of issues about the gun that I needed to overcome.

Issue 1. Was the gun powerful enough to be used on big game? With the new Triple7even powder it appeared that this gun could be made at least as effective as a hot .44 Special cartridge load, particularly if loaded with new bullets such as were being made by Kaido Ojamaa.

Issue 2. The primitive notched hammer and front blade sights on the Walker often did not shoot to the point of aim. If I am going to seriously hunt with a gun, I want it to hit where I point it, not some six inches high and left.

Issue 3. Two previous Walkers that I had owned had the habit of dropping their loading levers with nearly every shot, making this effectively a single-shot pistol. If I am going to use a single-shot gun, I am going to use one that can shoot 100 grains of powder and a 370-grain MaxiBall from a similar-weight handgun.

Issue 4. Black powder and Triple7even are corrosive to gun steels and it would be nice to have a finish on the gun that was more corrosion resistant.

Colt Walker boxedTo solve issues 2, 3 and 4, I purchased a Uberti Walker kit from Dixie Gun Works. As I was going to have the gun refinished anyway, there was no reason to start with the more expensive blued pistol. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the interior action work was already done, and the pistol had a smooth action and excellent trigger pull out of the box. Master Gunsmith Dykes Reber of North Little Rock, Arkansas, had for years put Weaver sight rails on Walker pistols, modified the gun to take a design of loading lever retainer such as was used on Colt’s Dragoons and later pistols and enlarged the frame so that elongate bullets could be loaded. Although I had arrived at these needs independently, I was pleased to discover that Reber was already doing this modification and sent the gun to him. I did a video of the initial disassembly of the gun which you may see at: http://youtu.be/mS333R2CrQI. .

Fit and finish of brass.
Fit and finish of brass.
While Mr. Reber was working on the gun, I finished the rough cast brass trigger guard and also started to work on the grips. After the gun was returned, I finished work on the grips by sanding them to the gun’s frame which you may see in another video at: http://youtu.be/4OaJ-d6q4G8. .
When that step was completed, I completely disassembled the gun separated the springs out and sent the steel parts to H&M coatings of Akron, Ohio for a black matt nitride finish. When the gun was returned I reassembled it and did a third video that may be viewed at: http://youtu.be/5jP3MuvM-hM.

Parts organized in groups ready to assemble.
Parts organized in groups ready to assemble.

The completed Super Walker revolver.
The completed Super Walker revolver.
Now that the gun is completed, I will select appropriate optical sights for it and work up some effective round ball and conical bullet hunting loads over the Summer so that the Super Walker will be ready to hunt in the Fall. If you are interested in doing something similar the cost of the initial kit gun from Dixie is currently about $340, Reber’s gunsmithing work was $195 and the nitride surface treatment would run about $200 (You must disassemble the gun before sending it in and reassemble it when it is returned.)

My experiences with this gun will be published in 2014 in Book 6 of my Muzzleloading Short Shot series “Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers.”