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VOLUME 85-----------JULY 2009

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

July 10, 2009

Another Independence Day has come and gone!  I'm going to start this month by quoting from the opening paragraph of last year's July newsletter:

"We should give thanks every minute of every day for the wisdom of our founding fathers and for those who have fought and died to make and keep our country free and independent.  Unfortunately, we go about our busy lives and require a National Holiday to remind some of us to do so."

On July 4th we quietly remember and celebrate Dad's birthday.  He left our world prematurely in 1974, at age 52.  If my mental math is working correctly, that would have made this his 87th birthday.  Dad was a Navy veteran and member of "The Greatest Generation" as described in Tom Brokaw's book of that title.

I reported in the January and February newsletters that Rick had completed his requirements for a BA degree from Eastern Washington University.  Since the University only holds one graduation ceremony per year, he had to wait until June 13th to wear the cap and gown and 'take the walk.'

Jennifer, Christi, Ann, and I sat in the grandstand under a blazing sun for the more than three hour ceremony.  I know we were hot, so I'm sure those on the football field in their black gowns were even hotter.  I saw no graduates or faculty succumb to the heat, but did observe paramedics treating one elderly spectator who had collapsed.

Our view of the press box at EWU's stadium

I did not get an actual count of the graduates but there had to be a thousand or more on the field.

Rick is in the left group directly behind the speaker box on the stand in front of us

Finally, the time came for the presentation of Rick's empty diploma holder.  (The actual diploma was received in the mail last February)

Rick finally graduates!

On June 16th, Rick helped me with a Reloading class at Center Target Sports in Post Falls, Idaho.  Center Target is an indoor shooting range and gun shop catering to everyone from law enforcement personnel to recreational shooters.  www.centertargetsports.com  We had 12 attendees.  Most were either new to reloading or considering getting into the process.

Owners Ed and Peggy Santos asked me to do the class based upon inquiries from customers.  Seems that the increasing scarcity and prices of factory ammo in recent months has more people interested in reloading.  Ed tells me he plans to begin stocking reloading supplies and components if and when they again become available.

In addition to operating the range and retail operation, Ed Santos is an instructor and author on defensive handgun shooting, among other specialties.  Ed has more instructor certifications than I can name, including being an approved instructor for students to meet requirements for a Utah Concealed Carry permit.  (The Utah permit is available to qualifying non-Utah residents and is currently recognized in 33 states; a coveted item for those with a desire for effective self protection while traveling)  I'm enrolled for Ed's August 6th Utah class myself.

On June 20th Christi held a graduation party for Rick at their home.  Some 40 or 50 friends, relatives, and Rick's coworkers enjoyed Longhorn Bar B Q, beverages of choice, and camaraderie.  The food and drinks were located in Rick's shop building with most eating and visiting done outside under mostly sunny skies and moderate temperatures.

   

Inside food line and outdoor eating

We've probably all seen champagne fountains, but this may be the only Jim Beam fountain in captivity

Figuring that a college graduate with Hillbilly roots should posses a 'Hillbilly Briefcase,' Ann set about making Rick one patterned after a sample sent home with us by my brother Ed from our recent Missouri trip.

   

Rick with his 'briefcase' and its accoutrements

Dang gophers are at it again!  About the time I think I've eradicated the pocket gophers from the lawn area, they gradually move back in.  I've written about our gophers on numerous occasions in these pages and continue to 'hunt' them when they show up around the house.

I've tried poison pellets, gassing them with vehicle exhaust, and using allegedly lethal smoke bombs, all to little or no avail.  I don't think I've actually ever killed a gopher with these methods.  The only thing I've found to be 100% effective is to shoot the little buggers, and that only works when I have the patience to outwait them, shoot at exactly the right time, and at exactly the right angle!

Again, I'll borrow from a book title, this time from Robert Ruark.  "Use Enough Gun."  Now why would I use these words in conjunction with shooting a varmint somewhere between the size of a big field mouse and a Norway rat?  Well, because it sometimes matters!

This is a particularly large specimen.  Most are a lot smaller than this one.

I've learned over the years that there's a big difference in the behavior of these gophers, usually dependent upon their size and, I assume, age.  The bigger the gopher the less you'll see of him or her.  I'm not sure whether this behavior is instinctive in some gophers or is learned over time, but I'm guessing it makes a difference in how long they live before such predators as neighbor Larry's cats or I get them.

You can review the links and table of contents page for references to 'gopher hunting' for more details about how I eradicate these nuisances, but here is a brief synopsis:

Find the hole beneath the dirt pile that the gopher pushes above ground from his excavating.  Dig the dirt out of the way, remove the dirt plug, and leave the hole open.  Eventually the occupant of the burrow will come up and refill that hole.  This is their vulnerability.  If you are patient enough, and quick enough on the trigger, you can shoot them while they are in the act of repair.

Ok, what about enough gun?  Well, as mentioned above, the bigger (older?) gophers tend to just push dirt in front of them and rarely show themselves, (If you do see fur it's in very quick bursts) while the smaller (younger?) ones will sometimes stick their heads out to assess the damage for a second or two.  Firepower I've used ranged from .38 special shot shells, which worked not at all, up through .410's and 20 gauge shot shells.

A 3 inch .410 works most of the time, but will not penetrate nearly as much dirt and remain lethal as will the 20 gauge.  I use #6 shot in both.  When one of those suckers just pushes dirt and never shows himself, the extra firepower of the 20 gauge is more effective for blasting through said dirt as it is pushed out the hole.  You still need to be quick on the trigger and make the shot angle directly down the burrow even with the 20 gauge!

In June I wrote about my paternal grandmother, Amy Karis, (Lesan) Parman, and promised to post an example of her writings this month.  We found some of her "Prose and Poems" in a box of 'stuff' while searching for some other now forgotten item.  Grandma was born in Ringgold County Iowa in 1893.  This story was written around 1923 and describes events circa 1900-1901.  I've scanned and posted the pages of this story as .gif images so you can see them as actually written and punctuated.  They are a little blurry in places, but still readable.

You may also remember that I promised to post some of my early writing.  Here is a piece of 'Cowboy Poetry' that I wrote one night in a hotel in Kalispell, Montana.  This poem was published in 1998 in a volume called "Traces of Yesterday" by the National Library of Poetry.

The poem was inspired by an 'over a beer' conversation with a Montana rancher who was in town to pick up his girlfriend at the airport.  She was flying in from California.  He had driven to Kalispell early that day and stopped to visit with friends who owned the local rodeo arena.  During his visit the conversation turned to a bucking horse that was developing a reputation for being hard to ride.  Of course, one thing led to another, and they had to run the bronc into the buckin' chute so my rancher friend could try him.

You knowed it!  He was thrown, landed badly, and screwed up his back.  He was moving very gingerly and considerably worried that his lady friend would not find his current disability all that amusing!

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

I’m just an ol’ cowboy . . . Too durned ol’ to ride

Without enough sense . . .To just give up and hide

I still wanta’ ride . . . The ones caint be rode

Oh yes, you knowed it . . . I always get throwed

 

I notice the young ones . . . That caint make the eight

Always land on their feet . . . Right dang near the gate

Now, an ol’ cuss like me . . . Caint ride ‘em that fast

When I get bucked off . . . I just land on my ass

 

Y’all know what that does . . . To the ol’ tail bone

It’ll dang near make anyone . . . Cry, beller, n’ moan

Well, then I get up . . . Swear, “Never Again”

Rub my tail, shake my head . . . Hell, I’ll never win

 

But, next week or next month . . . Shot n’ a beer with a friend

You’ll see my fat butt . . . In the saddle again

Yes, I’ll spur him up high . . . Yell, “This time I’ll  win”

Two jumps n’ a heartbeat . . . ON MY ASS AGAIN!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote by former diplomat and writer, Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944):

"Only the mediocre are always at their best."

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
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