Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For December 5th, 2008 Edition.

I'd probably have to look far and wide to find anyone who is not acutely aware of the fact our national and state economies are in a sad state of affairs. However, there is one small segment of our economy that is (pardon the pun) going great guns! And that segment is the firearms and ammunition industry. Gun owners and second amendment supporters are flocking to gun shops and sporting goods dealers to buy those two commodities before Washington D.C. is completely taken over by the proponents of change.

The sudden surge in firearms and ammunition purchasing is a direct result of promises, or perhaps "threats" is a better word, by the liberal left, which will soon be in total charge of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Folks from all walks of life are buying out of fear that more restrictive and expensive legislation pertaining to firearms and ammunition purchases may be coming down the pike in the near future.

In my discussions with the general public I've been somewhat mystified to discover the vast majority of our citizenry have little knowledge as to where the bulk of the money comes from for most conservation and environmental programs. Simply put, the vast bulk of the money comes from sportspersons, hunters, anglers, campers, and the like. Those groups pay millions in taxes on the sporting equipment they purchase, license fees, special permits plus the big bucks they spend at fund-raisers such as Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and many other wildlife and environmental support groups. So - the recent surge in firearms and ammunition purchases is a good thing in that lots of "extra" money is piling up for use in worthwhile conservation programs. Hopefully the surge will not be short lived!

State Departments of Natural Resources all across this nation are feeling the crunch in their budgets not only because of the recent downturn in our economy but also because of an ongoing decrease in sales of fishing and hunting licenses. Those two sports are slowly losing participants due to a multitude of factors, most common being simply a change in our ever-changing lifestyles.

For example, it is stated that for every 100 hunters who drop out of the sport, mainly due to death or advancing age, only about 70 new hunters are taking up the sport. This drastic drop in hunter numbers will and is having a huge impact on the amount of money flowing into DNR coffers. Most states have attempted to compensate for this drop in numbers by increasing the fees for outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing licenses. This in turn causes others to shun the sports because of the higher and higher fees. What's the answer? Personally, I have none.

Shifting gears for a moment, as I sit typing this article the date is November 26th, the 5th day of Wisconsin's present twenty-three day gun deer season. (I'm including the 10-day muzzleloader and the 4-day anterlerless seasons that follow the traditional nine day rifle season.) And although the season is in it's early stages, I already have reason to rejoice, as three "younger" hunters that are "members of my hunting companions" have been successful. And that is a good thing as success breeds the desire to continue the sport. Ask any state game manager if hunters are an extremely important ingredient in maintaining a healthy population of most any wild game species and they will answer with a resounding "yes!"

First time deer hunter Luke Tilkens bagged a nice sized six-point buck on opening morning of the Michigan deer season. Grandpa Tom was present to witness the event and later stated, with a smile on his face, "the torch had been successfully passed to the next generation." There is a great deal of wisdom and meaning in that simple statement, as "passing the torch" is an important aspect in perpetuating traditions from one generation to the next. And sadly, we humans currently do not do enough torch passing.

Third year teenage hunter Josh Stoeckmann ran his opening weekend buck streak to "three for three" with a fine fork horn opening day. And finally, the gang's youngest female member, a ten-year veteran, Lisa (Clemens) Keller, bagged her third career deer opening day. Congratulations to all our young hunters and those who helped pass the torch.

Another subject dear to my heart is the "Hunter Safety" and "Firearms Safety" courses now available to young and veteran hunters alike. I got in on the ground floor of Wisconsin's program in the 1960s and continued as an instructor up until four years ago when I passed the torch to a group of "new blood" younger and more energetic instructors. I must say I have nothing but fond memories concerning my experiences introducing beginning hunters and firearms users into the wonderful world of sport shooting and hunting.

I recently read an article that claimed every state now sponsors firearms/hunter safety programs for not only beginners, but also for the veterans who might wish to be updated and refreshed on the subject. These programs have drastically reduced the number of accidental firearms related injuries and deaths nationwide. The courses are frequently being upgraded and expanded and I'd say that is a good thing. West Virginia has recently passed a bill providing for "firearms safety" courses in its schools! However, in my humble opinion there is at least one additional important facet concerning firearms training that is still lacking, and it involves a bit of firearms and cartridge history.

For persons to fully appreciate any subject, some basic information and facts about the history of the subject should be included in the content of the course. (I'll admit that as a former history teacher I'm a bit prejudiced on the topic.)

In talking to young shooters and hunters I find very few of them have much knowledge concerning the basic history of let's say for example, rifles and rifle cartridges. During the many years I assisted in teaching firearms/hunter safety I always inserted a half-hour of basic firearms/cartridge history and my students seemed to enjoy the information and often asked additional questions concerning the topic. (Examples follow.)

Prior to approximately 1900 firearms ammunition was powered by black powder, a highly corrosive and smoky substance when fired. Rifles of that era were chambered for popular cartridges such as .30-30, .38-55, .45-70, .32-20 and many others. The first number, a decimal, is the diameter of the bullet in inches and the second number signifies the grains of black powder in the cartridge casing. Even after the advent of modern smokeless powder the original designations continued, but most young hunters have no idea what the numbers signify.

The popular .30-06 was so named as it is a 30-caliber cartridge developed in 1906. The .250-3000 is a 25-caliber cartridge that produces a muzzle velocity of 3000 feet per second. The .257 Roberts was named after its developer. Etc. etc.

European rifles and cartridges use metric designations. For example, the 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser fires a bullet that is 6.5 millimeters in diameter and the metal casing is 55 millimeters in length.

Examples could go on and on, but I've made my point, a little history goes a long way in helping to pass the torch.

Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin.   Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean,  both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide.   Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email:  or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.

Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here

Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger

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