Saturday, November 05, 2011

Upland Hunters Understand That Size Doesn’t Matter

Canadian songstress Terri Clark begs to differ. Enjoy the music while I present an opposing opinion.
I’ve been blessed with abundant opportunities to hunt woodcock the last 17 years. My first gun dog, Bean the American Water Spaniel, was pure poison on the “little russet fellers,” usually giving me a flash point just before he busted in on one deep in the redbush. But of all the retrieves Beanie made back then, and of those Gordie’s made since 2005, I can’t remember any of my hunting companions or I ever describing a particular woodcock as “a real hog.” The woodcock, it seems, are all the same size.

So were the cottontails and snowshoe hares I cut my hunting teeth on in the ‘80s. And although I’ve never hunted wild quail, the ones I see in photos look to be pretty much the same size, too. Quail hunters’ success, I take it, is usually quantified by numbers in both coveys and bags, not by the size of any particular Quailzilla.

Some big game hunters and fishermen approach their game from a different angle. For them, bigger is definitely good, and biggest is lots better. There are all sorts of scoring systems - Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young, IGFA - which quantify the size of a particular trophy. This leads to a friendly competition of sorts to take an animal higher on the all-time record list. Think about it. Who has ever seen a cable TV fishing show when its “star” fish wasn’t also its biggest?

It seems to me that many kinds of critters all weigh about the same in their individual local habitats - think running salmon, or black bears, or schooled yellow perch. Taking an “outlier” - a real hog - ought not be confused with taking an average size animal from a different ZIP code. When I caught red salmon after salmon in 1984 up in Alaska, each fish was bigger than any trout I’d ever caught in NY. But those sockeyes were virtually identical. The brown I caught on northern NY’s Chateaugay River with a #14 Adams was the biggest trout I ever caught in NY, a real trophy, but it weighed 6 pounds less than every one of those sockeyes.

I’m happiest when I can pursue a couple of birds or fish on an almost daily basis in season. That means I spend a lot of time in home waters and fields. There’s a high probability that today’s bag - well, I don’t bag trout any more - will look pretty much like any other day’s, but this doesn’t bother me at all. As Edwin Armstrong probably said, I’ll take frequency over amplitude every time.
Terri Clark is welcome to size up men any way she pleases. But when her contentions are applied to upland hunters, they fall disappointingly flat.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Remington’s STS20SC8 Makes The Roster Of Quality Shotshells

As reported in Cold Duck first here and then there, I’ve been really happy with the uniform quality of Remington’s STS20SC8 shotshell.

That shell was one of several examined in Tom Roster’s “Shot Talk” article in the March/ April edition of Shooting Sportsman. I have come to appreciate Tom’s painstaking gathering of shotshell performance data. I was delighted to read that his dispassionate opinion of the shell’s performance justifies my confidence in it.

Good job, Remington!