Harvesting Wild Roots

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, but I thought I would take this opportunity to write about something that has been occupying my time as of late.

There is something to be said for somebody who can live off the land.  There is also something to be said about somebody who can make money off their land, especially if they do it in a way that doesn’t harm it.  Lately I’ve been on the hunt for valuable roots, specifically ginseng, bloodroot, and yellowroot.  They may go by varying names depending on the region you hail from, but that’s what I call them, so that’s what I’ll refer to them as in this blog.  I will also briefly talk about a 4th option, Mayapple, and explain why I don’t really care to dig Mayapple.  These are all plants that produce roots that can be made into various medicines or supplements, or in my case, sold to a middle man who will pay you cash money, who then sells them to pharmaceutical companies, etc.

Bloodroot is the first one I’ll talk about.  Of the 3 that I dig, it is the least lucrative, bringing $8-$10 USD per pound in my area after it has been cleaned and dried.  It is a plant with a unique shape, and if you know how to spot it, it is, of these 3, the easiest to spot, even early in the year way before it’s time to worry about harvesting the root.  The leaf does however change its appearance slightly as it grows, but retains the same basic shape.  It just becomes more ornate as the plant gets older. Below is a picture of a field of plants, with a bloodroot plant in the middle.  You can see how, if you know what to look for, it stands out from the crowd.
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Now below is a snapshot from a YouTube video of mine.  This is also a bloodroot plant, but it’s a much larger plant.  You can see how it has retained the same basic shape, but has just become more ornate than its smaller self.
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When you dig bloodroot, as with other plants, dig at least 3 to 4 inches away from the plant, because its stalk tends to break off the root easily.  Push your shovel straight down, then lift up the dirt.  This makes it easier for you to pick through and find the root without breaking off the plant and making it hard to locate.  When you remove the root, you’ll know for certain it’s bloodroot if it is red in color.  As far as I am aware, bloodroot plants do not produce any berries or seeds, so when I dig the root, I cut a small amount off the end that is attached to the stalk, and replant the stalk with its now tiny root.  The sap inside the root may dye your hands red for a little while, but it’s not like hair dye, it will rub off on its own probably before you even get home.  The plant may die this year, but the root will continue to live and grow so you can harvest it again in future years.  That’s just part of being a responsible outdoorsman.  You can’t just take take take and not make any effort to preserve or give back, because eventually you’ll find that what used to be a sweet spot for your desired plants or animals has become barren, so always make an effort to preserve the population by leaving a small piece of the root in the ground to continue growing.  Once you’re done harvesting, take it home, use a soft bristled toothbrush under running water to remove any dirt and remnants of roots from other plants that may have gotten tangled in, and then lay it out to dry for about a week.  Once it’s thoroughly dried out, it’s ready to sell.

Yellowroot is the next plant we will discuss.  It’s the middle of the pack in this race; it will sell for more than bloodroot, but not as much as ginseng.  It’s also slightly more difficult to spot unless it has berries.  Below is a snapshot from one of my videos of a yellowroot plant with some berries on it.
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You may not always find plants that have berries on them, even if they are this big or bigger, that’s fine, but if you dig a plant that has no berries, and discover that it has a root large enough for you to keep, then cut the root so a little bit is still attached to the stalk and re-plant it, like I mentioned with bloodroot.  If the plant has berries, simply plant the berries.  Ants will eat the berries occasionally, so size is generally a better indicator of root size than whether or not it has berries, although keeping an eye out for a red berry in an ocean of greenery while you’re in the woods does make it a little bit easier to spot the ones that still have their berries.  When you dig the root, you’ll notice that, like its name, it is yellow, especially if you cut it to be re-planted.  The inside of the root when cut is very yellow.  Follow the same procedure for harvesting this root and preparing it to be sold as you would for bloodroot.

Ginseng is the most lucrative of the 3 roots I look for, but unfortunately, it is also the hardest to find.  Even if you’d never heard of bloodroot or yellowroot until now, all you have to do is buy a can of Arizona Green Tea to realize that ginseng is used in everything from medicine to herbal teas to sexual stimulants.  It sells for about $600 per pound on the low end, and I’ve heard of it selling for $900-$1,000 per pound at times.  Below is a picture of a ginseng plant and its root.
Images courtesy of about.com: http://forestry.about.com/od/alternativeforest/ss/panax_ginseng.htmImage
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A single ginseng plant should only be harvested every 5 years or so at the max, because that’s about how long it takes for the root to mature.  Treat it like you would yellow root when you harvest it.  Plant the berries, or if the berries have been eaten away or have fallen off, then cut the root so a small portion of it is still attached to the stalk and re-plant it, then wash it, dry it, and sell it.

Mayapple is another plant you can dig, however I’ve chosen not to pursue this one for one main reason, a horrible cost benefit analysis result, 😛  The Mayapple plant comes up very early in the spring and grows fast, and may even be ready to harvest by May.  Starting in July you may start seeing the plants turn yellow and die, so if you wish to harvest it, don’t wait any longer than that.  The plant’s dried root brings a little less than $5 per pound here, but the roots are huge.  The problem is that it’s a pain in the behind to harvest.  The roots are long, and in a patch of Mayapple, you may discover that 3 or 4 plants are all connected to the same root, forcing you to dig away most of the topsoil so you can remove the entire root without breaking it up into pieces and losing parts of it by just trying to yank it.  If it sells for more in your area, then feel free to harvest and sell it, but for me, that amount of effort was not worth the price I would have gotten paid for it.  Below is a picture of a Mayapple plant from one of my videos.
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Mayapple comes up very early in the spring and its leaves will be folded down to its side, so at a distance it may appear to be some kind of mushroom.  It also produces small apple fruit, which is edible, but only in small amounts because it is poisonous if you eat too much, so at the end of the day I would just avoid eating it altogether.

Now the big question is, who do you sell these roots to?  Well that really depends on your area.  We’ve had a local stock yard here for as long as I’ve been alive, and every Saturday morning you can drive down there and there will be a couple of people with little scales to weigh your roots and pay you for them.  Ask around, post online.  Heck call local pharmacies and ask them.  It’s all about learning your area really, because I’ve never seen a chain store that advertised “We buy ginseng!”.  So I hope you have found this blog at least somewhat helpful.  Good hunting, now get out there and enjoy mother nature, 🙂

Here’s a YouTube video I recorded in pieces of myself in the woods harvesting some of these roots.

Here’s a follow-up YouTube video covering the same thing. As of right now, 12:28 AM 16 July 2013, this video is still uploading, but I’m inserting the link here anyway so that once it’s uploaded you’ll be able to watch it from this blog post.

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Advice: Purchasing an AR-15

I thought I would take this opportunity to offer some advice to people interested in buying an AR-15. If you’re considering buying one, take the time to read some of what I’ve written here, it may save you some time and money. Prices have gone up quite a bit in recent months because of simple supply and demand. So many people are buying them that stores are having to place back-orders to request more, which are then instantly sold.

1) Expect to spend no less than $1,000. There are a few rifles that cost less than that, but if you allot yourself at least that much, you’ll be ok for purchasing a good rifle to get started with. For my Windham Weaponry HBC rifle that I bought in Washington 3 or 4 years ago, after 9% state sales tax and a layaway fee I paid $918, and it’s an outstanding weapon. Look for a well known manufacturer, and look up some video reviews of those rifles on YouTube. If you’re going to drop some cash on one of these, go with a well known brand name, and do some research. I carry a WIndham Weaponry (Formerly Bushmaster), and I’ve put hundreds of rounds through it in one sitting for practice and never had it jam. I’ve seen and used rifles from other manufacturers that were much lower quality. Colt is another big name in the AR world, and still makes rifles for the military I believe.

2) Don’t shop at flea markets. I picked up one at a stock yard today and it was beat up and the guy wanted $1,800 for it. People know that they’re hard to come by, so they’re polishing up theirs, or buying bits and pieces and building them, and then selling them for ridiculous prices at stock yards touting “Never been fired!”. If you want an AR-15 that won’t blow up in your face or jam because the parts are from 20 different manufacturers, then go to a reputable dealer and get a new one.

3) Pay attention to the caliber markings. Make sure what it is marked for. Some are marked for only .223, and some are marked for 5.56 / .223 . Even though the 5.56mm NATO round was derived from the .223 Remington, there IS a difference. A 5.56mm round uses minutely thicker brass, causing it to have slightly higher internal pressure than a standard .223 Remington round when it goes off, and rifles chambered only for .223 have a shorter lead between the chamber and the rifling, so a 5.56mm round in a rifle only marked for .223 could come into contact with the rifling of the barrel before it actually goes off. All of these things mean that if you put a 5.56mm round in a rifle that’s not marked for 5.56 / .223, you could cause an excess of pressure and damage your weapon. If your rifle is marked for 5.56 or 5.56/.223, it is perfectly safe to fire either of those rounds through it, but if it is only marked for .223, do NOT put a 5.56mm round in it.

4) Buy ammunition in bulk, if you can find it. If you plan on buying ammunition in 20 round boxes, expect to spend about a dollar a round, the same as you would spend on much higher caliber rounds. I tend to buy the overflow 5.56mm green tip NATO rounds from Federal in the steel cases, which gets you 420 rounds for usually around $170.

5) Pay attention to your state regulations. Some states have regulations banning threaded barrels and such. If that is the case in your state, you may find that your flash hider has been tack welded into place so you can’t put anything else onto the end of your barrel, or that your “collapse-able” butt-stock has been frozen in one position. On Windham Weaponry’s website you will see they have several rifles listed as “California” compliant with modifications made to the rifle capabilities or what it ships with to conform with differing state laws. Research availability and applicable state laws so you know what you’re allowed to have on your particular rifle.

6) Be aware that the military M4/M-16 and the civilian AR-15 are functionally identical. They can share magazines, accessories, and ammunition as long as your rifle is marked for 5.56/.223 and not just .223. The civilian AR-15 is missing the military fire control group, so you will not have “Burst” or “Full Auto”, only semi-auto, but outside the fire control group, most civilian AR-15s are built to military specifications. So if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, bought your own magazines but didn’t want to give them to the supply guys when you came home because you paid for them, then you can use those magazines in your personal AR-15.

7) Make sure your rifle comes with some sights on it. I’ve seen a lot of AR-15s that just come with bare rails along the top. If you buy one of these rifles with no sights attached, expect to drop another hundred or so on a decent set of iron sights or an optic of some kind. I highly recommend putting on some flip up iron sights even if you plan on using an optic, just so you have some backup sights.

8) There are AR-15 style weapons chambered in other calibers. I’ve seen them in everything from .22 LR all the way up to .308, so if 5.56/.223 isn’t your cup of tea, but you still want an AR style rifle, you do have options.

9) As always, when you’re shooting, whether you’re just zeroing it in or hunting coyote or whatever, always make sure of your target and that you have a good backstop. A 5.56mm round is a fairly light projectile, weighing in at only 55 or 62 gr, but it comes out of the barrel at 3,000 feet per second, and will completely penetrate most living things and keep going. If you’re using a round that has a green tip, then the core of that round is made of steel and it will punch through at least a half an inch of steel inside of 100 yards. So when you’re shooting, make absolutely sure of your target, and make absolutely sure that whatever is behind your target will stop the bullet when it comes out the other side.

10) Always wear ear protection when shooting. A 5.56mm round, especially for it to be as small as it is, is LOUD, especially in a confined space like a range, because you’re basically putting a .22 bullet in front of a .30 caliber charge, which causes it to break the sound barrier before it exits the barrel. In my experience, it always seems much louder when I let somebody else shoot my rifle and I’m standing beside it than when I’m actually the one behind it pulling the trigger. Always wear ear protection, and even if you go hunting, take a pair with you, put them in your shirt pocket, and if you’ve got a second to do it, put them in before pulling that trigger. Your ears will thank you, 🙂

Hope some of you find this advice helpful.

Here’s a YouTube video of me shooting my Windham Weaponry AR to break it in when I first bought it.

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Self Sufficient Survivor

One of the most important things you can do in life is to be self sufficient. There is nothing wrong with depending on other people, we have done that for the entire existence of our species. We’ve evolved to live in communities and to work together for a greater good. However, in today’s world, more and more people are becoming acutely aware of the delicate political climate, and are becoming what many people refer to as “preppers”.

Preparedness is a good thing, not just for a SHTF (Shit Hit The Fan) situation, but for day to day life. Everything that you can create and provide for yourself is something that you don’t have to depend on somebody else for. Look at your day to day life, and the things that you consume on a regular basis. Let’s say that all of a sudden there was another terrorist attack, and all of the grocery stores and fast food joints closed for several days, would you be able to feed yourself until things returned to normal? What if a winter storm hits and your power goes out for 3 or 4 days, would you be able to keep yourself and your family warm and fed until the power came back on?

When I think survival and prepping, I also try to think about what could “reasonably” happen. In real life as we know it today, it is much more likely that you will experience an earthquake or a winter storm than an alien invasion. Depending on where you live, make sure your bug out bags, get home bags, etc., contain items relevant to that kind of environment, and items that would be useful in the most likely emergency situations. You can probably leave your shark repellent at home if you don’t live near the beach.

Here’s a real life story of how prepping made my life easier. I was stationed at Fort Lewis, WA and lived in Lakewood, WA, I was active duty in the US Army. A big winter storm hit the area, and we lost power for a little over 4 days. It was shortly after Christmas, and for the holiday that year we had bought a real tree. When we took it down, instead of just throwing it in the garbage, I cut it into logs for firewood, including the needles and small branches, because pine trees burn like gasoline, especially the needles when they’ve had a chance to dry. When the power went out, I immediately built a fire, put blankets up around the living room to hold the heat in a smaller area, retrieved my bug out bag, and moved our bed material into the living room floor. We turned on an old radio we had and found out that they were expecting the power to be out for several days. After we heard that, seeing as how there was a foot of snow outside, we moved all of our food out of the refrigerator and into coolers on our back patio and filled those coolers with snow to keep our food cold and fresh. We got a phone call from a friend asking if we needed help with anything and to let us know that they were going to the gym on post to keep warm. Think about that for just a second. A hundred years ago, electricity in the home was pretty rare, and in a relatively short amount of time we’ve become so dependent on it that without electricity in our homes, most people are not able to take care of themselves or their families, and child protective services will take your kids if you don’t have it. After about a day and a half I started running low on firewood. I grabbed my bow-saw and started driving around cutting trees out of the roads and loading them in the back of my truck to take home as firewood. At night I took the battery out of our car, brought it in the house with a 400 watt power inverter and operated a lamp, an alarm clock/radio, cell phone chargers, etc., and used a multimeter to keep track of the life of the battery so I could make sure it still had enough juice to start the car in the morning. We limited the amount of water we took from the tap and had enough hot water to take a quick shower every morning for about 3 days before the hot water heater finally emptied. After about 4 days of my family living in relative comfort, and actually learning to get along without Facebook to take our attention away from each other, the power came back on and other soldiers were able to leave the makeshift homeless shelters set up in the gyms on base and back into their apartments. This is a story of how I, being prepared for real life possibilities, was able to make what was a bad situation for most people in the area, a fairly comfortable one for me and my family, and we didn’t have to rely on anybody but ourselves and the equipment we already had. Keep in mind, I did not live in some far flung, out of the way area, I lived in Lakewood, WA, a town that runs right into Tacoma, WA and not that far from Seattle, with millions of people including several thousand soldiers living all around, so things like this can happen to anybody.

You need to be able to provide for yourself and your family. What can you do in and around your living area to do that? If you live in an apartment you can start a flower pot garden and grow some fresh vegetables. It won’t be enough to feed you all year, but you might be able to grow some things that are hard to find in the stores, and maybe have enough to feed yourselves for a couple of days in the event of an emergency. Do you know how to make your own soap? You’d be surprised how easy it is, and you could create your own custom scented soap that does wonders for your skin. Make sure you have a propane stove/grill so you can cook if the power goes out. Make sure you own at least one gun and some ammunition for it, and that you know how to safely operate and maintain it. You can use it to hunt for food, or in a worst case scenario, to defend yourself from other people who notice you are more prepared than they are and try to rob you. Remember, in most emergency situations, it’s easier if you’re already producing, or able to produce many of the things you will need to get through those first few hours, so you’re not scrambling to the stores before they lock the door to get last minute items.

Self sufficiency is important not only for survival situations, but for day to day life. Maybe it’s just me, but I take a certain amount of pride in being able to survive without having to depend on other people. Yeah, a McDonalds double cheeseburger is nice once and a while, but if this country went into a state of civil war right now, or if all of the power went out, I would be able to survive comfortably and feed myself and my family. Can you say the same? Take a look at your environment, and make a plan to improve your ability to operate independently in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, even if it’s only a temporary one, and I guarantee you’ll find a sense of satisfaction in knowing that there’s at least some things that you don’t “have” to depend on somebody else to give to you.

Below is a photo of a campfire my wife built on one of our recent camping trips.  We regularly go camping, hunting, etc. and use those activities to hone our survival skills.  Even my wife can go out into the woods and build a nice hot fire to keep the bugs away and keep us warm, 🙂

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Gun Ownership

Since I have yet to make a statement on this issue here, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to spill my thoughts and opinions about gun ownership for you guys to read and enjoy. I hope to accomplish a couple of things. First I want to give you some background on myself so you know where I’m coming from. I also want to debunk some myths and rumors about guns and gun ownership, that those of you who don’t dabble in the gun industry much may not be aware of. I also want to make my case supporting the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. You don’t have to agree with me, but I want to take this opportunity to make the best case I can using what I know and what I’ve experienced.

Up until about 3 months ago, I was an active duty soldier. I deployed to Iraq, did my thing, and came home. I received an honorable discharge because I had fulfilled my contractual obligation, and chose to come home and be a father to my son instead of running all over the globe and being gone from home for long periods of time. During my service, I became political. I didn’t necessarily attend protests, but as a soldier, an employee of our federal government, I began to become increasingly interested in our government, the decisions they make, and I began to read the history of our government, and of other governments as well. I grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky, which is where I now live again now that I’ve finished my service. Growing up here, we always had several guns for various purposes. We would use them primarily to shoot vermin such as snakes, destructive or invasive species, and on a few occasions we used them to shoot violent dogs that showed up on the property. Owning and carrying a gun was nothing new to me, it was not a big deal. At 5 years old I was given my first BB gun. At the age of 10 I was allowed to carry my dad’s .22 rifle with me when I went into the woods by myself. At 16 I was given a 12 gauge shotgun, which I still own to this day and use for hunting certain types of game like squirrel, grouse and turkey. At no point during my childhood, and for much of my adult life, did owning and carrying a gun ever seem like a big deal to me, or like something that should be considered newsworthy. Where I’m from, everybody has a gun. My father paid very special attention to make sure I was trained to safely carry a weapon, how to shoot accurately, and how to disassemble our weapons and clean them.

In recent years however, something caught my attention, and made me pay attention to our 2nd amendment rights more than I did before. Maybe it was a gradual thing that occurred as I moved away from home and experienced life in different places, or maybe it was a news story or a political decision. Either way, I found myself looking around at the rest of the country, and at the people that now surrounded me and wondering, “What in the world is going on?!” Upon returning from Iraq I went to a gun store in Washington state and bought my first pistol. Since I did not have a license to carry a concealed pistol in Washington, I had to pay for the weapon, then come back a week later after a thorough background check had been done, and then I could pick up the weapon and leave. Since that day, unless I am specifically entering a place such as a federal building where doing so is illegal, I have never let my pistol out of reach.

I think, now that I’m talking about it, what may have sparked my interest and motivated me to start doing research on the topic, was a shooting that took place in Washington where a couple of cops were having coffee, and an ex-convict had been released, and for some reason transported to Washington state, which he was not a resident of, where he proceeded to find a gun and kill the first two cops he found in revenge for his jail-time. After that I started doing some digging, and researching, and educating myself on the subject. I was surprised to find out just how many people actually want to ban guns outright. To believe or say something like that where I come from would be considered borderline treasonous.

I am of two minds when it comes to the whole gun control “issue”. First of all, I believe whole heartedly in the right of good citizens to keep and bear arms, without question, and without stipulation. However, I also recognize that there are bad people in the world, who will do bad things, and guns make it a bit easier for them to kill more people.

First, I’ll discuss my views on gun control. I don’t believe that there should be any limits on the types or capabilities of small arms (Any gun that a human can hold in their hand and fire) that civilians should be allowed to own. There are already tons of laws in effect that limit the availability of certain types of firearms, and many of those who are advocates of gun control seem to be blissfully unaware of the facts surrounding gun crime or the legislation already in place. For example, in order to purchase any weapon that is fully automatic (fires more than one round with a single pull of the trigger), there are several things you have to do. You have to pay for a federal tax stamp, you have to submit a request for a particular type of license, a background check is run that is more thorough than if you purchased a regular firearm, and if you get denied, you cannot re-apply. If you get approved, you still have to actually find and pay for the firearm you want, you must buy a certain type of safe that meets requirements set forth by the ATF, and the ATF reserves the right to inspect your home, your safe, and the weapon at least once annually. I’ve been in many gun stores in my day and I’ve never seen one that had fully automatic ones hanging on the wall for sale, I guess you would have to special order one from a manufacturer and have it shipped to a licensed dealer. Of all gun crime in the United States, very few of them are actually committed with weapons like the AR-15, which seems to be what anti-gun legislators are trying to ban in the wake of this school shooting, even though footage from that day clearly shows police pulling the rifle out of the trunk of the shooter’s car hours after he had been apprehended, and initial reports cited the use of two handguns instead of a rifle. Most gun crimes are “committed with cheap hand guns” (quoted from Obama during one of his debates with Mitt Romney). I do however concede that there needs to be some measures in place to prevent guns from falling into the hands of those who should not have them, but in my opinion, most of those measures are already in place, and just need to be more rigorously enforced and monitored. There are bad people in this world, there always will be, and they will continue to do bad things. The shooter at the school in Newtown, CT told his psychiatrist that he was thinking of doing something like what he did, a report was filed with the police, and yet nothing at all was actually done to prevent it. We, or at least certain administrators in our government agencies, need to be allowed to compile data on mental health history and use it as a basis for denying access to guns or ammunition. I don’t mean soldiers with PTSD, most of us come home from deployment with some degree of PTSD and turn out to be huge patriots and good citizens. However, if somebody files an official report because an actual threat of violence was made, something should be done to prevent that individual from carrying out that plan, yet in this case, the perpetrator was able to purchase a ton of ammunition online and kill several children. My point is this, we need to re-think our mental health care “system” in this country. Everybody is a little bit crazy, and I don’t think that people who have sought help for issues should be instantly banned from buying weapons; but if they have a history of violence, whether against themselves or other people, or if they have made threats, or if a reasonable person believes they would be a threat to themselves or others, then that should be taken into consideration for preventing them from having access to firearms, regardless of the fact that they have not actually committed a gun crime yet. I also think we need to eliminate “Gun Free Zones”. I walked into a local bank to open an account, and on their door they had a little sticker indicating they did not allow weapons, concealed or otherwise on the premises. I went back, placed my concealed pistol under the seat of my truck, went in and took care of my business. While there I made a statement to the woman that their sticker made me laugh. When she asked why I said, “Because if I was here to rob the place, all that sticker tells me is that nobody in here is armed, I’m not going to throw up my hands in despair and go look for a different bank to rob.” Gun free zones do nothing but ensure the law abiding citizens within that area are incapable of defending themselves when somebody does decide to show up and target practice on our kids.

There is also a lot of inconsistencies across the country when it comes to gun laws. In Washington I bought a concealed pistol license. There was no training requirement and the process was not very complicated, I filled out a form, came in and paid a small fee, and in a couple of weeks a section of the form had been cut out, laminated and mailed to me as my concealed pistol license. In Kentucky you have to attend an 8 hour training course, where you must demonstrate competence with the weapon, including demonstrating your ability to dis-assemble, re-assemble, safely operate, and accurately fire the weapon on a range, and when you get your “Concealed Deadly Weapons License” as it is referred to in Kentucky, it’s not just a laminated part of the form you filled out to get it, it’s an official state issued photo ID. This is a prime example of the inconsistency of gun laws across this country. I own an AR-15 with several 30 round magazines. If I were to move to New York, California, or one of several other states for work, then I would have to make several changes to my rifle, including disposing of the 30 round magazines, before I would be allowed to keep it. In my opinion, these gun laws that limit the capabilities of a weapon, capabilities which have little if any effect on its ability to inflict damage and only attack guns that “look” a certain way, are unconstitutional.

When it comes to gun ownership, I am very passionate. Personally I think every American citizen should own at least one firearm, know how to operate it and take care of it, and have at least one magazine of ammunition for it. Whether or not they choose to carry it is on them, but we are quickly becoming a nation of sheep. I see gun ownership as not only an inalienable right, but a responsibility of every sane, law abiding citizen that wants a safe environment to live and work in. There are 3 key reasons I believe gun ownership is important:
– Hunting
– Defense against criminals
– Defense against one’s government

As the man of my house, it is my responsibility to ensure that my property and my family is protected from harm. If an armed man broke into my house at night, and I had no guns, and we called the police immediately, the police would show up just in time to identify our bodies. There will always be bad guys out there, and disarming the prey does nothing but make the job of the predator easier. You cannot save the antelope from the cheetah by cutting off the antelope’s horns.

I am a hunter, as are millions upon millions of people all over the world. Firearms made hunting more efficient than it ever has been in the past, and not just for the hunter. If I shoot a deer with a 30-06, the show is over. Death comes instantly, or in a matter of seconds at most. This makes my job easier, and reduces the amount of suffering on the part of the animal I hunt for food. I have seen licensed and certified slaughterhouses that employ gruesome methods of execution for the poor animals they farm that no hunter would dare use on any animal. With guns, we can choose the type of weapon and caliber that best suits the environment and animal we are hunting so that we can effectively kill the animal in a way that maximizes the amount of food we can retrieve, and minimizes the amount of suffering the animal has to go through.

Finally, I believe gun ownership is of paramount importance for defense against one’s government. If history has taught us one thing, it is this, per Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that will sacrifice a little freedom for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” The 2nd amendment has absolutely nothing to do with hunting, it is there to ensure the people can defend themselves against their government. Any government official that tells you in order to be safe we have to give up some freedoms is both insane and unfit for the office they are holding. Ask the native Americans how trustworthy the United States government is, how good they are at keeping promises. At wounded knee, at least 150 Lakota men, women and children were murdered by US soldiers attempting to disarm the Lakota people. Think about that, they were more prepared to murder 150 people with machine guns than they were ready to allow them to keep their rifles, and that is one of many atrocities committed by just the government of this country, let alone around the world. Time after time throughout history, governments have grown too large, too powerful, and it’s regular guys like me and you who stood up and said, “Enough is enough” and fixed the problem. If you do not have the means with which to “actually” fight back against your government, then what motivation do they really have to actually listen to you? If they have all the guns, and you allowed yours to be confiscated, then what is keeping them honest? Your words? Those can be easily ignored. Our current administration has already made it a crime to protest the government without first requesting permission from the government. It is the right to keep and bear arms that protects all of our other rights and liberties, and without our right to bear arms in defense of ourselves, our families, our property, and our country, then we are not even citizens, we are just subjects to the will of those in political office.

It’s up to us, as the citizens of today, to stand up and defend these rights, so that our children may also enjoy the freedoms and liberties I know are possible in this great nation. It’s up to us to stop our government from slowly and gradually eating away at our rights and liberties. Today it’s 30 round magazines, tomorrow it’s public protests, if we don’t stop it now, then we won’t be able to stop it later. As gun owners, you need to take this issue to heart, educate yourself, become part of the conversation. Help us make meaningful changes that prevent gun violence but protect our rights and liberties as citizens. Teach and train your children on how to safely handle a firearm, if they’re old enough. It’s really up to us guys, we cannot, we must not fail.

Here’s a photo my wife took the other day of me and my son walking in the woods. He knows not to touch my guns, but by exposing him to them, and letting him see me carry them, I hope to remove the stigma that so many of today’s children have. Maybe when he’s 16 he won’t shoot himself on accident playing with my gun while I’m gone to work because a gun will not seem to be some mysterious, magical thing he’s only seen in cartoons or movies. I take fatherhood very seriously, and I take this issue very seriously. Thanks for reading.

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Packing for Camping

Packing for Camping

Getting everything packed up for my camping/hiking/mushroom hunting/exploring trip tomorrow, and thought I would show off some of the modifications I’ve made to the AR for an overnight stay in the woods. Family and friends have seen a lot of new predators moving into the area in recent years that didn’t used to be here. The local game officials killed off one herd of wild hogs, but I’ve seen signs of another group. People have seen mountain lions moving in and out of the area, and even had their dogs killed by it. I figure my AR-15 is the perfect outdoor survival rifle for this area. Because of the hills and the forest on our property, very rarely does a shot ever present itself at more than 200 yards, and even at that distance it’s not really an immediate threat, so I went with a 16″ barrel instead of the full 20″. It’s small and light enough to carry around all day without much issue, and the round is powerful enough to kill the things I’m worried about, but not so powerful that it knocks me down, so if I’m in danger and I miss with the first round I can continue firing until the threat is neutralized without tearing my shoulder to pieces. The rifle itself is a Windham Weaponry HBC model AR-15. I added rails to the fore-end in place of the regular A-2 style hand guards, added a foregrip, a light that’s bright enough for me to see down the iron sights in the dark (I prefer iron sights), and a plastic muzzle cap to prevent any rain from falling down into the barrel. The rails I bought at a gun store in Washington state, I don’t even remember the brand, but the top rail comes all the way back and makes contact with the rails under the carrying handle, so if I ever add optics to the top I don’t have to worry about there being a gap between the front and rear rails. The fore-grip I used on my M249 in Iraq and just brought it home with me. The light was actually given to me by my uncle and came with his airsoft kit, but it just so happens that it fits on a set of real picatinny rails as well as just the airsoft gun, and to run on only 3 AAA batteries it’s actually pretty bright. The magazine is a standard capacity Magpul PMAG.

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Made in America

Just posted this on a forum I frequent in response to a story about “Made in America” making a comeback, according to Wal-Mart execs.

I make a conscious effort to buy American made products for two reasons.

1) China has very little regulation in most of their industries. One such example is that your “leather” goods from China could be made out of anything from dogs to rabbits with thick fabric laid underneath it to make it feel like it’s high quality leather. I have personally researched this, I’m not talking out of my ass. Foxconn factories even put nets around the bottom floor of their buildings to stop employees from committing suicide by jumping off the roof. Instead of improving working conditions, giving them more time off, or higher pay, they just put nets around the building to catch them.

2) A little bit of patriotism.

Even the “cheap crap”, that is made in America, has to abide by our laws and regulations, and is subject to inspection. In my experience, even our “cheap crap” is of a higher quality than cheap crap made in China. The problem is that almost nothing is made here any more. I went into a western store to buy a good pair of boots the other day. I picked up a nice looking pair of boots that had a $500 price tag on them, and normally when boots are priced that high it’s because they’re made in America. I looked inside, and they were made in China. So in other words, the work has been outsourced to China, but the prices haven’t gone down. Even the “John Deere” boots were made in China. I left without a pair of boots. I wanted to buy a Red Ryder BB gun a month or so ago, and they too are made in China. You know, the American icon of BB guns, the Red Ryder, the one that was in the movie about the little turdhead whose parents kept yelling, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”. Those, of all things, are now made in China, and it shows because the one I picked up had a loose part somewhere inside it rattling around.

I just want my fellow countrymen to start “making” things again, and for major retailers to start carrying those goods.

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Hit My First Deer

So earlier this evening, about 8 PM eastern time, I was driving to town to check the mail in our post office box.  As I was driving down the road I was going about 35-40 mph and a small cat ran across the road in front of me.  I tapped the brakes to give the cat a chance to get across the road.  He jumped into a thicket on the right side of the road that came right up to the side of the road.  As soon as the cat disappeared into the thicket, it must have scared a deer because a deer jumped right in front of me.

I saw a piece of plastic go bouncing over my windshield, but the car “felt” fine.  There were no mechanical problems, so I drove to the nearest driveway and turned around.  My intent was to shoot the deer since I hit it in the head, neck and shoulders, and assumed the injury would be near fatal, and I didn’t want it suffering in a ditch.  As I walked around the car, I realized the damage was a bit more extensive than it felt immediately after the impact.  I walked up and down the road with a lantern and didn’t see any signs of blood, or of the deer, so I guess it just shook it off and ran away.

This is the first time I’ve ever actually hit a deer.  I see them all over, but I’m usually pretty good at avoiding them.  This one just appeared, and did it so fast that I didn’t have time to react.  I wasn’t scared or anything, in fact my first thought was just, “Ummm, OK, that just happened.”  Anyway, just thought I’d share, 🙂

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