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Rabbits – Airgun Hunting with James Marchington [DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 08 July 2010 by Cork Graham

Rabbits reside in the past memories of many as their introduction to hunting. Rabbits remind me of the elation of returning to the US after spending a childhood in South Vietnam and Singapore—where the only ones with guns were government personnel and guerrillas, and most of the hunting happening was of the two-legged variety.

With a 16 gauge Marlin pump handed down to me by my father, who had last used it before he went off to lay down telephone lines across Latin America in the late 1950s, I ventured forth to Arroyo Seco in Los Padres National Forest. As I wasn’t old enough to drive, it meant that it was a family affair and we didn’t get to the forest during the optimum morning times, and left before the best evening times to make it back to the Bay Area before dark.

One day, though, I got lucky. Our dog, that must have been a mix between either a beagle or Spaniel and a terrier, who loved to dig and chase, suddenly got onto a small cottontail that bolted and I shot.

I only hit it with a few pellets, and not knowing how to finish it off with my hands, I simply stepped back and aimed again. Problem was that I didn’t really understand chokes and how I had to walk much further, else turn that small brush cottontail into hamburger.

The experience almost turned me off hunting all together—I still don’t like to hunt small game with a shotgun, but more for not having to pick shot out of my meal. But then the next year, I got a Marlin semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine!

Even with the issued open sights, I could drill a rabbit through the head, wasting none of what would become my favorite meal. No more stray pellets puncturing the stomach or gall bladder, tainting the sweet cottontail meat…like chicken but so much tastier. It’s no wonder that my natural progression in adulthood would be back to the rifle that I was a introduced to shooting with in the first place: a pellet gun.

Without all that “bang” that comes with gunpowder, I’ve come to enjoy the silence of hunting with a bow that in the world of rifles is most imitated by an air rifle. It’s really fun shooting a pellet rifle for a number of reasons: the ammo’s cheaper, it’s quieter, there’s an unlimited amount of propellant (we breath it every second) and there’s no smoke preventing you from keeping an eye on the target.

For this reason the airgun was used extensively during the 1600s and 1700s for  hunting. In war, Napoleon saw the major effect of the quiet airgun, un-affected by rain, against his troops, that he had a standing order that all enemy combatants captured with an airgun in possession be executed on the spot.

My Wyoming huntin’ buddies Gerald Gay (l) and James Rivera (c) and bison taken with a .61 cal air rifle

As a fanatic small-game hunter with a taste for large cottontails, I’ve learned the merits of putting a .22 caliber pellet rifle through it paces. While last year was my introduction to the break barrel offerings of Crosman, this year I plan to put their scoped Benjamin Marauder through a number of hunts!

The Marauder, a rifle that uses an air reservoir much like ancient rifles, is similar to the AirArms rifle that airgun aficionado James Marchington uses on his own hunts for rabbits in his homeland of the UK, hunting in England and the Isle of Skye. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of watching his DVD release (I think I’m even the first one to get it in NTSC, instead of PAL).

As Marchington stated in our interview that follows, technology has come a long way: how much easier it is to teach by producing a DVD as compared to publishing a book. And what an entertaining lesson it is in his production: Rabbits — Airgun Hunting With James Marchington!

Through a number of nicely shot scenes, the viewer is taught how to choose an effective pellet rifle, and type of scope to mount. In the field, some of it shot on the beautiful and very rustic Scottish Isle of Skye, Marchington takes the audience through a number of sighting and shooting sessions.

The topics also touch on clothing (which I especially enjoy because he’s not wearing camouflage, but a good hunting tartan) and go in-depth into the skills of stalking and using the terrain to get close to the rabbit. If there’s ever a DVD to get for a child to show them something they can easily go hunting for, which would teach them to hunt just about every other game, this is it!

So much out there is directed toward the adult, and really doesn’t cover the hunting opportunity of rabbits in a way that I’m sure will appeal to the neophyte hunter, young or adult. Those rifles mentioned are definitely “adult” pellet rifles, and Marchington stresses the important of all types of good woodcraft and rifle stewardship.

Marchington makes a great teacher and yet another reason I highly suggest getting a copy to watch with your son or daughter.

As for the hunting in the field (it’s not all about picking equipment and talking about woodcraft), Marchington mounted a Guncam on the rifle so that the viewer can see exactly what the shooter is seeing as he shoots. Very impressives footage and shows how effectively a .22 pellet rifle can dispatch a large rabbit as quickly as a rifle shooting a .22 long rifle cartridge.

To get your copy visit www.marchington.com

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy James Marchington’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

 Topics:

Track 1: James Marchingon talks about his entry in hunting in the Great Britain, and how much stalking rabbits is a great training aid for learning to hunt large game.

Track 2: James Marchington touches on the topics of rabbit game species, air rifle options and new upcoming DVD productions for hunters.

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Venison Curry and Fond Deer Hunting Memories

Posted on 22 June 2010 by Cork Graham

The last deer season on Mindego Hill

The Ziploc read “Stew meat 2008.” I tried to remember the deer from which it was taken. That’s when I remembered 2008 was the last year my good friends, the Caugheys, and I were allowed to hunt the Mindego Hill Ranch.

Though my buddy’s uncle was promised by his father, the Admiral, that he would never have to worry about losing their family’s little bit of heaven on Skyline (now tall and massive, olive trees and fruit trees were planted around the cabin over 40 years ago by the long departed Admiral when he was a professor at Stanford), with an amazing view of not only the San Francisco Bay Area but also the Pacific, the uncle’s mother passed away, and suddenly an $8 Million bill from the state of California arrived: it could only be paid by selling the property.

What a lesson in living trust and wills in California: especially those that were written to guarantee a stress free handing down of land ownership among the middle class…

So what had served as a great source of venison, for at least 25 years—for an Irish/Portuguese-American family that has hunted these San Mateo County mountains since the mid-1800s—was forced out of their hands. Where it ended up was with Open Spaces, which means unless you like to only hike or mountain bike on specific trails—you can’t even walk a dog there—you’re out of luck.

You can already see where the brush—on what were previously cattle ranches and now under Open Spaces ownership—is taking over the feed for the wild animals: in 30 years it’ll all be covered up in non-nutrient brush…the same flora that the local Native Americans had burned over thousands of years in order to keep their venison supply healthy.

Yes, it was a fond goodbye. And though I had hoped to take one of the bruisers that make up the genetic stock of the San Mateo County blacktail bucks, I was happy to get the small forkie.

As I was looking at the bag of stew meat, I recalled how tender those steaks off the young buck were and waited impatiently for the meat to defrost, recalling a recipe for lamb curry that I’ve wanted to adapt to venison.

Cork's Venison Curry with basmati rice, egg and banana slices

Venison Curry Recipe

Ingredients

· 2 lbs of venison stew meat

· 2 large onions, chopped

· 5 cloves of garlic, crushed

· 2 Tbsp olive oil with butter

· 2 Tbsp curry powder

· 1 tsp salt

· 1 tsp black pepper

· 1 Meyer lemon sliced (with rind)

· 2 peeled and chopped apples (I like the sweet apples)

· 4 cups of chicken broth

· One can of coconut milk

· 8 small red potatoes, quartered

· 6 eggs

 

Marinate the venison pieces overnight.

Marinade: grind and mix with 2 Tbsp of olive oil

· 1 Tbsp of coriander seeds

· 1 Tbsp cumin

· 1 Tbsp curry powder

· 1 tsp thyme

· 1/2 tsp salt

· 1/2 tsp pepper

Preparation:

1 On stovetop, brown the meat in a little bit of olive oil in a large pot. Remove the meat from pot.

2 Add olive oil with a little bit of 1 Tbsp of butter to pot, add curry powder, cook on low heat for a minute or two. Add onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Return meat to pot.

3 Add the sliced lemon, apples, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Put pot on stove on low heat and simmer for 3 hours, boiling down until the meat is almost falling apart. In the last 45 minutes remove the cover and put in potatoes and coconut milk. Let the curry boil down to the consistency you like. I prefer it halfway between dry and watery

4 Add eggs in the last 15 minutes (take them out at end, peel and put them back in the curry)

Serve over rice with sides of chutney, banana slices, boiled-egg slices.

Serves 6.

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Hunting Hollywood for a GRATEFUL NATION [Radio Interview]

Posted on 25 May 2010 by Cork Graham

Tim Abell on assignment for GRATEFUL NATION
Tim Abell on assignment for GRATEFUL NATION in Namibia

 

With such a thick anti-hunting attitude delivered in so many films these days, except those written by hunters themselves, such as playwright and screenwriter David Mamet, it’s hard to think that Hollywood was once a hotbed of hunting, fishing and other forms of wildlife management. This was when Clark Gable took David Niven up to Grants Pass for steelhead and then later studio public relations photos of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable often captured them with a string of mallards and snow geese proudly held up to the photographer. In a black and white studio promotional photo, Ginger Rogers lay seductively, with a cane pole and in cutoffs and flannel shirt, like a tomboy on a lush lawn, a full stringer of rainbow trout by her side—probably taken at her 1,000-acre Rogers’s Rogue River Ranch purchased in 1940, that I had the opportunity to see last week on a trip for steelhead and salmon with my friends Paul Winterbottom and Jeff Manuel, in a drift boat loaned by mutual friend, Dave Dedrick. Even interviews of Fred Astaire, included a reporter being told that he was going up to his duck club east of Los Angeles to take care of a coyote problem.

As a writer, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and become friends with those contemporary actors and stars who still shine not only as actors but also as hunters. Some I’ve had a long hunting and fishing relationship with, like my wild boar hunting buddy Patrick Kilpatrick. Some I’ve even had the help and endorsement of, like the dear departed Charlton Heston, who was kind enough to write a plug for the inside cover of my memoir that went to #2 for three weeks in 2004 on Amazon.com. Over the last couple years, I’ve come to know and admire an actor by the name of Tim Abell, who so reminds me of that dashing adventurous actor reminiscent of a time when Hollywood’s elite lived such amazing lives off the set themselves (Errol Flynn, David Niven, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, Audie Murphy, Clark Gable and directors John Ford and William A. Wellman quickly come to mind) that sometimes their film roles seemed to not even come close.

To say that someone like Tim Abell is a military veteran, hunter and member of the Screen Actors Guild is very refreshing. Haven’t you also gotten fed up with actors who are terrified of guns, or prominently tout their anti-gun or anti-hunting status, but hire well-armed bodyguards, eat meat killed by someone else, and make their millions off movies in which they kill people by the truckloads on screen? An ex-Army Ranger, Abell, knows exactly what those real bullets do in real-life. A hunter and solid conservationist, he understands clearly where his sustenance comes from.

One of many of Cork Graham's war memories: Las Aranas, El Salvador; 1986

Cork Graham’s Cold War memories: Salvadoran Navy SEALs — Las Arañas, El Salvador; 1986

Born and raised on the East Coast, near Quantico, VA, Tim Abell learned to hunt with his Marine uncle and even took his first deer on the Marine Corps base. And after reading the book that has inspired so many young American men since the Vietnam War, Robin Moore’s Green Berets (made into a film by John Wayne in 1968), Abell enlisted in the US Army and became a Ranger. While in university, seeking a degree that would offer him the opportunity to try for a full commission, Abell found a love for the arts, specifically theater. And the rest is history as many are oft to say of those who make it in Hollywood.

While putting in his dues, and not finding many willing to speak openly about their affinity for hunting or firearms, Abell’s hunting went by the wayside as he went through the required networking parties and dinners, keeping mum about hunting and shooting. But when called out on the floor about beliefs that don’t fit perfectly with the rest of the Hollywood-types programmed by the anti-hunting industry (PETA/HSUS), or more accurately unwilling to speak up for fear of ramifications to their own employment (doesn’t this remind you of the fear during the McCarthy years?), Abell speaks his mind when asked…even when it might not get him invited again to the same house…

It takes guts to speak up in Hollywood these days, the pendulum swing of the McCarthy Red Communist hunts of the 1950s gone completely to the other extreme: it’s not those who supported the Soviet Union during the Cold War who are blacklisted now; but instead, those who support the 2nd Amendment of The Constitution, hunting as a solid component of wildlife conservation,  the United States’s right (like every nation) to defend itself, and those men and women serving in that military action…Is it truly being patriotic, or military-friendly, when it’s convenient, as so blatantly with the change in attitudes in Hollywood after the recent sweeping win at the Academy Awards of a military movie: Hunt Locker?…It’s easy to be patriotic when the masses are with you; it’s courageous when they aren’t.

…As one who enjoys studying cycles of history, I’m very intrigued by how long it’ll be before that pendulum swings once again away from that anti-hunting, anti-military mass thought, it had swung to in an unnatural extreme during the 1970s and 1980s and back to the pro-hunting, efficient wildlife conservation practices it espoused during the 1920s to 1960s.

Surprisingly, Abell found his way back to hunting while working on his first break as a ex-Marine sniper Benny Ray Riddle on Bruckheimer Productions’s Soldier of Fortune for NBC. As they were filming in Canada, co-star Brad Johnson invited Abell on a hunt into Northern Canada for caribou and black bear. For Abell, the adventure was like breathing fresh air after too long a time submerged. From then on he was part of the small, but proud to be publicly recognized as those in the film business who also hunt and believe in the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution: Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Patrick Kilpatrick, John Milius, Steve Kanaly, Gary Sinise, Adam Baldwin, DB Sweeney, to name a few.

To say Tim Abell became a hunting enthusiast is an understatement, as I’m sure anyone can relate to, who is passionate about hunting, been away from it then once again renewed that bond with such an important part of the human psyche as well, because of fund from taxed hunters, so supportive of all animals. To correct all that anti-hunting malarkey taken for fact, all of hunting taxes and fees go to the buying and supporting lands for ALL wildlife, while most, if not all, of the money collected by anti-hunting groups such as PETA and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) goes to advertising…if these anti-hunting groups actually succeed in wiping out hunting in the world, it’ll be the wildlife that suffers the most!

GRATEFUL NATION

Abell's succcess .338 RCM on wild boar on GRATEFUL NATION

Tim Abell’s succcess with a new .338 Federal on wild boar on GRATEFUL NATION

For many the idea of having combat veterans out in the field, hunting with a firearm, may seem out of place. As a combat veteran who attributes my own healing of four years in the Central America War, through the immediately following experience as a subsistence hunter, living with and learning from a Native community in Alaska, I am thrilled that people are beginning to get it…again.

Until the Vietnam War, hunting was an activity that a majority of combat veterans participated in upon their return home: it’s one of the reasons that the bolt-action and semi-auto rifles took over as the hunting rifles of choice in America after WWI, from the previously preferred lever-action-many of those returning young men were introduced to bolt-action rifles in the military (explains why presently so many black rifles have become hunting rifles with so many hunters introduced to firearms an assault rifle). The surge is what led to the megamillion dollar surge in business for hunting, fishing and camping products manufacturers from 1920 to 1970. As a combat veteran myself, I noticed how being in the woods with a rifle brought up memories of war that I was able to confront on my time as compared to a sudden sideswiping PTS (post-traumatic stress) flashback or nightmare.

corkalaskahunting

Cork Graham healing war memories as a subsistence hunter in Alaska, circa 1990

Later, as a counselor specializing in helping veterans and other types of trauma survivors dealing with PTS and the symptoms of what I prefer to call the PTSR, I truly understood how going into the field, carrying that firearm, much as might have occurred only weeks and months before in battle, but now instead hunting game for the table, creates a new subconscious imprint, in the healing of the wilds, on an activity that if not dealt with, comes up weeks, month or even many years later in an uncontrollable event.

For some this uncontrollable event can be as benign as becoming completely overcome by a seemingly uncontrollable mega-wave of sadness and guilt, for others it can manifest as an uncontrollable rockslide of rage that ends in someone getting killed. For many though, especially those who’ve drunk the Kool-Aid disseminated by anti-hunting groups, the fact that hunting can actually help a trauma survivor confront and overcome the contemporary effects of conscious and subconscious memories and interpretations of the past trauma seems so contrary to what many think.

That Orion Multimedia, LLC. produced Federal Premium’s Grateful Nation was brave. That ESPN2 would broadcast a program that touches on the controversial subject of putting a firearm in the hands of a newly returned combat veteran (much less anything that brings the reality of a war nearing 10 years long into American public’s living room in addendum to daily news), and have them go through a form of healing and self-awareness spurred on by the host’s questions, on camera is amazing!

The premise of Grateful Nation is very simple and like we used to say when deep in a fierce fight: the quickest path to victory is a forward-moving straight line—keep it simple, stupid (KISS). Invited out on a hunt, the combat veteran is followed by the camera crew as Abell asks the right questions at the right time to open up a world that the majority of the viewing public have only learned of through the images and words, often distant from those combatants actually being reported on, to support a news producer’s theme.

Abell makes this much more personal, which actually might turn off many because of the graphic description. Personally, I’m very much for it. There has been a great avoidance in the world about dealing with the realities of the world, much of it starting with children led to believe their hamburgers and fish sticks come from a cellophane wrapping machine, instead of a steer getting a cattle prod to the brain, or a salmon a metal club to the top of its head and a quick evisceration.

There’s something very honest about knowing where your meat comes from, and knowing what your sons and daughters are getting themselves into when they go off to war. Do I think this stops war? No. Even with all the news stories, books, and broadcast over the last 50 years, there are more wars happening around the world now than there were during the Cold War. My hope is that the American public gains a better awareness of what a combat veteran has gone through and recognizes it, and lets them deal with it in a healthy and effective manner (and not only offer politically correct, and often, ineffective options) during their homecoming.

For those of us who remember vividly how unjustly military personnel, and especially Vietnam veterans (takes a lot of mass harassment for a veteran to not even be willing to mention military service on their job resume—the case for many returning Vietnam veterans, a historical fact forgotten by many), were treated in those 15 years after the fall of Saigon, Grateful Nation is a media and cultural waymark long overdue…something to ponder as we come upon Memorial Day, an annual event meant for remembrance of those we’ve lost in war, either those right next to us in combat, or far off in a distant land.

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Tim Abell’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

 Topics:

Track 1: Tim Abell talks about Grateful Nation and next production at Flying B Ranch.

Track 2: Tim Abell reminisces about first times hunting, enlistment in the US Army and achievement of Rangers, paying dues in Hollywood, and return to hunting.

Track 3: Tim Abell chats about pro-2nd Amendment/hunting Hollywood players, and upcoming film projects he’ll be participating in.

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