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Alligator Assists Completion of “Hunting with Muzzloading Revolvers” Book


Revolver book cover 4

In my new e-book, “Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers,” I explore the possibilities of using muzzleloading revolvers to take small and large game in guns that range from .22 to .45-caliber. One adaptation that these guns underwent was the conversion of the cap-and-ball operating system to cartridges which mostly occurred in the 1860s and 1870s. The cartridge conversions allowed more rapid reloading, better weatherproofing of the arm, and were generally less expensive that buying the new cartridge-shooting Single Action Army Peacemaker revolver from Colt or the top-breaking Remington revolvers.

Because I was more interested in improving the hunting characteristics of this class of arms than in historic authenticity, I had no reservations about modifying the guns to make them more effective. These sometimes included a black non-reflective nitride finish, optical sights, and using the longest-barreled versions of the guns, whether they were authentic or not. I had the good fortune to have purchased a Ruger Old Army stainless revolver years ago. During the writing of the book I learned that Master Gunsmith Dykes Reber  in North Little Rock Arkansas could install a 14-inch barrel on my gun and fit it with rails so that I could mount it with a scope sight. To me these were obvious improvements, and I had them done to my  Old Army. In the meantime I developed improved loads for the gun using Hodgdon’s Triple7even powder and Kaido Ojamaa’s Keith-style elongate bullets. I successfully used this modified gun to take deer which supplied an appropriate chapter for the book.

It seemed logical to conclude the book with a hunt using a conversion cylinder in .45 Long Colt. Although I had reloaded the .45 ACP since the late 1960s, I had never reloaded the rimmed Colt cartridge. I shortly after also started reloading for the .44 Remington Magnum, and since guns in that cartridge were readily available in both single shot and revolver versions, I saw no need to own any  .45 Colt revolvers. Yes, they were authentic, moderately powerful, etc. etc., but as I already was working with more powerful cartridges such as the .44 Magnum and lessor ones like the .44 Special and Russian, I had no need for guns chambered for the .45 revolver cartridges (the Colt .45 was not, and is not, the only one).

Among Kaido Ojamaa’s new bullets was a 255-grain version that was sized properly  for the Ruger Old Army’s percussion cylinder which could also be used in .45 L.C.  Since I now had access to new powders and more effective bullets, that made my purchase of a conversion cylinder almost inevitable. The heavy, strong components of the Old Army also supplied the best available platform for testing these cylinders, and my improved pistol with its better sights and longer barrel  was obviously an appropriate platform.  I already knew that the Ruger Old Army with its 7 1/2-inch barrel would hunt, because I had already taken alligators and deer with it, so there was no reason to suspect that the gun with a .45 L.C. conversion cylinder would not do as well.  Consequently an old Hurter’s single-stage reloading press and dies were purchased along with some new brass, to reload for the cartridge.

As the black-powder editor for Gun Digest for the previous ten years, I had gotten out of practice for reloading pistol cartridges, and many of my  powders were decades old. My Unique and 700X still worked, as did the newer black powder substitutes like Hodgdon’s Triple7even. I quickly found that I could not exactly replicate my Triple7even load in the percussion cylinder which propelled the 255-grain bullet at about 900 fps. in the cartridge cases, because the cases would not hold sufficient powder. However, I did approximately match those ballistics with 700X which meant that I did not have to re-zero my gun for the cartridge loads. Both loads shot close enough to the  point of aim to be ethically used on game.

Shooting to the point of aim is a significant factor, because I find that in the rush of making a shot on a moving piece of game, it is difficult to remember that you must hold seven inches low and four-inches to the right as might be necessary on the fixed-sight Colt percussion revolvers. Some percussion revolvers, although they functioned, were given up on in the past because I could never get them to shoot close enough to my target to be useful on small animals like squirrels. If I could not reliably squirrel hunt with the guns, I saw no need to own them.

If I write about something, I believe in “proof of concept.” Rather than present as an absolute fact ballistic and drop figures and say that this load can do thus and such, I prefer to actually test the loads on game animals. The hunt on Ossabaw Island, Georgia, provided a suitable opportunity, which with the unexpected assistance of an alligator, led to me successfully taking a wild hog with the .45 L.C. cartridge load shot from the conversion cylinder in the Old Army. This even provided an appropriate ending chapter for the book and enabled me to wrap-up a project that was started in 2013 in January of 2020. You can see a video of this hunt at:

This book will only be available as an e-book and advanced orders may now be placed on for delivery on January 15. It will also shortly be available on other e-publication platforms worldwide including B&N, Gardner’s, Apple, etc. The price of the e-book is $4.99. Although perhaps not immediately, this book will also be available as an e-book check-out from your local libraries. No softcover or hardcover versions of this title is likely because of the small numbers of black-powder revolver hunting enthusiasts. If you wish a paper copy, print  out the e-book.









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Father of the Grooms: A Collaborative Novel, Screenplay and Movie Project

You can receive chapters of Father of the Grooms as it is written and a chance to collaborate in the four-year project of writing the screenplay and producing the movie. This is an opportunity for you to help make the next Godfather-type movie at all levels of participation. I will need help in writing an authentic book, and you can be a part of it by supplying your experiences, stories, and knowledge about the places and events that I describe.

The novel relates how a Louisiana father whose sons have yet to have grandchildren makes them agree to go to Sicily where they will meet their new brides. They will be hosted by their Mafia relatives and married off to two beautiful, and for their own reasons, willing ladies. The week before they leave, two major members of the Mafia family in Sicily are arrested. They are told to come anyway. The father his wife, the two sons, their sister and gay uncle make the trip and are shown the family’s vineyards, estates and the sights of their never-before-seen native land. Their activities are shadowed by the FBI and Italian authorities. They arrive on Monday, and the wedding is on Thursday. The brothers get cold feet and want out, and ask their uncle to help. He hatches a plot with the transplanted Irish priest who is to perform the ceremony to have the girls call off the wedding. The plot fails, and the wedding is still on. If they do not go through with it, none of them will leave Sicily alive. The day arrives, they are brought to the church, but in the final resolution of the novel they manage to escape in a manner that does not put them under a death threat.

This will be a panoramic novel that will mainly feature Sicily, but will have significant segments in Louisiana, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Rome and Iraq. I will be making a trip to Sicily in May to gather materials and shortly after will began the book. Participants will receive the first publication copies of the book when it is printed in addition to the chapters as they are written. Depending on your level of skill and interest, there may be opportunities to assist in the movie’s production or appear in the film.

Credits will be given in the book and movie for those who participated. Provided that the script is funded and produced, there may be a small cash payment to those who participate in the movie’s production.

Book Chapters as written and completed book when finished.

The book chapters will be produced at a rate of about one a month and the book will be sent to your mailing address when completed.


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Recommendations for Reducing Depression While Recovering from Potentially Deadly Accidents and Diseases


Interesting, exciting and productive intellectual work can help reduce feelings of depression and lessen the need for drugs while undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

A former U.S. Marine and fellow outdoor writer who always prided himself with being a self-sufficient individual, let a foot infection go untreated for too long. The result was a life-threatening infection that will result in amputation of the foot and a recovery process that will take months.

I have had several near death experiences, some of which I describe in my book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. I also had a serious accident where my wife and I had significant injuries. Although not directly caused by the accident, I also looked after my wife, Thresa, for a year while she suffered and ultimately died of pancreatic cancer.

My involvement with health-related issues had begun years before when as an independent journalist, I covered the first four International Conferences on AIDS and met hundreds of people who would later die from the disease. I wrote four editions of Plain Words About Aids, which were among the first books published on the subject.

My writer friend did a Facebook post where he took responsibility for his unwarranted pigheadedness which kept him for seeking treatment. Part of the reason for not having his foot treated was because, he thought, those who knew him would belittle him for not being manly enough to take a little pain and get through it. This post stuck a cord with me when I thought about all those who, “had a little chest pain,” or “had been feeling a little strange” and did not seek help for what turned out to be a heart attack or stroke. This was a soul-searching examination of his life, which is always a difficult thing to do. I replied to him as follows:

We who are now of “a certain age,” to borrow a term from the French, have earned the right to live our lives as we damn well please; and you have too. Yea, something sometimes is going to get us all. Hang in there, and do what you can when you can. This recovery business is not easy, but we writers have an advantage. We can, and should, express ourselves as you did so eloquently in your post. That is good writing guy, you still got it. Do your writing, do your hunts and adapt your methods as needed; but get things out there.  

You are not alone, and you do not have to be; however macho that might seem to be. Learn to accept help with grace, and thank people for it. Ask strangers if you need to, and that is going to be particularly tough for you. Don’t give a hoot about what other people might think. Life is not a graded exercise. It is about you giving help to others when they need it, and accepting help when you need it without being shy about it. You are going to go through a painful hard time, but hang in there. Keep fighting and tell others about it. That is what we writers do after all. We write about our lives to help people get through their own typically far worse problems. At any stage you will not have to look far to see people who are in far worse shape that you are. We live, we strive and we die. That is common to all of is.

The trick in getting through this is to somehow satisfy ourselves in the process. Do that and you can make it through pain, therapy and recovery to get back into the woods and fields where you belong.

I have a specific writing-related suggestion that might help. This surgery-rehab period is the time to start on a long writing project that is interesting enough that you will look forward to working on it. For example, have you written a novel? If not, now is the time to start one. Your recovery might even be in it through one of your fictional characters. How about song writing? Ever done that? Poetry? Plays? A screenplay? It makes no difference what in particular, but take on something that is new, exciting and has you looking forward to working on it every day. The more different it is from what you regularly do the better.

My recommendations for him to use this period to stretch his intellectual horizons were for someone who was already an established writer. What I suggest for others is to consider starting their own businesses, regardless of their age or wherever they might be. With the Web anyone with access can investigate and actually start an on-line business and sell products and services worldwide.

This activity provokes intellectual excitement, research, perhaps restarts interests in something that fascinated the person decades ago, but he never got around to doing more than, “Someday I would like to do that.” Now is that “Someday.” When laid up for some time and needing something productive to do, take on some challenging intellectual work. Do something other than watching depressing news stories on TV and worrying about the potential consequences of an illness.

My most recent business book, “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife,” shows how to select a business that can be done from hospital bed. This business can provide income, entertainment for you and in various ways help others with their lives. All of us have something of value to offer to others. This may be our childhood toy collections, our ideas or our life experiences. Or, perhaps you can conceive of a new product, process or invention while in bed. Anything is possible and will keep you mentally stimulated and less prone to the physical and mental downsides of depression.

My book is available in softcover from or your local bookstore and as an e-book from electronic booksellers worldwide or by using the PayPal box below.

Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife

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