Project Appleseed Illinois event at Sparta, IL on 19 April 2014.  At 3 PM there was a volley by all shooters to honor those American Patriots who died on April 19, 1775, the day the American Revolution began.  Find out more about Project Appleseed by clicking this link.


Had a great time in Texas not long ago hunting at Northern Sky Ranch near the town of Jacksboro.  Had great fun with my son!


Had a great time last week at Red Brush Range east of Evansville IN, shooting with the Project Appleseed folks at a KD.  KD stands for Known Distance, where we shoot at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards using the old army qualification test of standing, standing to sitting, standing to prone, and prone.  You fire 10 rounds at each target and have 2 minutes, 55 seconds, 65 seconds and 5 minutes respectively to get your rounds on the target.

Here I am in prone taking my sighters at 200 yards.  This photo was taken off a video camera that had a program to age it so that is why it looks the way it does.

photo (5)

Those Army silhouette D targets look small at 200 yards and even smaller at 400!

We also got to take sighters at 500 yards but with the wind that picked up just before that course of fire I am not sure I learned much other than my come ups from 400 to 500 yards.  I was shooting 69 gr Sierra BTHP bullets in a 1 in 9 twist barrel.  My final score for the shoot was a respectable 28/40.  Not at all bad for my very first KD.  32/40 is a Rifleman’s score.


Here is my scoring target from 400 yards. The guys in the pit take down your target and then mark or score your shooting on a green coat target like this one.  Here I got a score of 5/10.  I had one flyer and had four shots low in the 3, that doesn’t count at a KD.

I am really looking forward to the next KD.  If you love shooting and would love to learn how shoot better and learn some history of the American Rifleman, then Project Appleseed is for you!  For you southern Illinois folks, we have a shoot coming up in April at Marion  You can look here to see about signing up!

Note:  Graphic images included in this post………you have been warned!  

(links in blog below are in bold text, please click on links and check them out)

I was able to live a dream last week south of Houston Texas, going hunting for feral hogs.  But this was no ordinary hog hunt where you sit in a blind and wait for a single hog to come along, nor was it a trophy hunt.  While there were hogs out there that would have been a trophy for some hunters, they were just wild pigs to us.  No, our hunt was with Vertex Aviation Group as part of an aerial depreciation program to eliminate or remove wild or feral hogs in Texas.

Feral hogs in Texas, as well as other parts of the US, are tearing up farm land and residential neighborhoods with regularity.  The damage they do in a short period of time is unbelievable   Seeing that damage from the air is even more incredible.  For those of us who remember having domesticated hogs in pastures, just multiply the wallows and damage by 100X and you get the picture.

My problem has been two-fold:  I wanted to go on a hog hunt and shoot pigs, but I didn’t want to pay out the nose for a “sit and wait” hunt to kill a single pig.  There are a log of hunting clubs and lodges that offer boar hunts for trophy pigs and those didn’t interest me.  I kept reading about how bad the pig problem is becoming in areas of the country and how they were attempting to eradicate them but could not figure out why a hunt would cost so much money and more importantly why you were charged extra if you didn’t kill a trophy.  I am not a trophy hunter.


I had been in contact with an acquaintance and farmer from Indiana who also is a gun writer and blogger, Frank W James, about hog hunts, and he gave me some options.  One of which was Vertex!  After reading about Frank’s hunt with Vertex and seeing their website and comments on their Facebook Page it became pretty obvious that Vertex fit the bill for the hunt I wanted to take.

Why Vertex?  Really it was simple for this farm boy.  The least important but playing a factor was that it was a hunt from a helicopter.  I have never shot out of a helicopter so this shot up the excitement factor by 10x and would also allow me to learn a skill that I might not ever use again, but would allow me to mark it off my bucket list.  Second on importance was that we got to shoot pigs,  the plural of pig, meaning many, without a trophy requirement or penalty.  Vertex supplies the firearms, Battle Rifle Company AR15/M4 platform 223 cal semi auto, and all the ammo as part of the hunt package.  Again I liked this very much!

Plus Frank’s experience and story did a lot to sell me on Vertex.

But the thing that sold me on Vertex was 40% all the above things and 60% the safety class requirement.

The safety class requirement was what really sold me on this hunt.  No other service requires safety training to hunt with them.  This was important to me for several reasons.  First, it showed that they had my best interest at heart making sure that I didn’t hurt myself, them, their equipment or those on the ground.  Second it also showed me that they were serious about their jobs and about the service they provided to their landowners.  Lastly, it also provided training on how the hunt would go, how to shoot and how to insure that we got the best bang for our paid hunt.  With most of the staff of Vertex being former military, the safety culture is ingrained and is very evident in every deliberate action they take.  I like that very much.  I felt safe, had the up most confidence in Mike and his staff, and felt very comfortable and at ease the whole time I was in the chopper and around the firearms.

There is an art to safely handling an AR/M4 platform from a helo and Vertex covers this very well in their safety class.  The hardest thing for me was the mag changes.  I am very use to getting the rifle up in front of my face or “in my work space” to do mag changes and clear malfunctions.  This is a big no no in a helo.  Keep the muzzle pointed out the door and below the horizon.  So all mag changes and malfunction drills take place on your lap.  So there are a some extra hand movements while the rifle is grounded on your lap.  Being very deliberate in every action insures you do it right and in a safe manner.

I enjoyed the safety class almost as much as I did the hunt.


But I enjoyed the hunt much more!

We hunted for three hours in a dual gunner configuration  taking turns sitting front and back seat.  Mike would fly over the wooded areas and scrub brush around the farm fields and pastures.  The down wash and noise from the chopper would scare the pigs out of hiding and into the open where he would fly along side of them and then put us into position to shot them.  And shoot we did!

Check out hunt videos here on their YouTube channel.

In our three hour hunt we scared up three groups of pigs that made it out into the open.  The first group had over 20 hogs in it, the second group had upwards of 40 and and the last group had 11.  Shooting from a helicopter that is moving at a moving target is hard but as the time went on it became easier to get a handle on.  You are shooting behind the hogs as they run with is counter to how I grew up hunting quail and rabbits where you lead them.   We were not the best shooters from the air by any stretch of the imagination, but we improved as the hunt went on.    Mike, our pilot, coached us along during the hunt as well.  LISTEN TO MIKE!  You get better with every pass on the hogs and it more natural to shoot from the “lag” as it does to lead a bird or rabbit.  After we got the hang of the “lag” we became more effective at putting rounds on target.  As Scott and I recounted on the drive home, we killed in excess of 30 hogs that morning.


As part of our hunt package we also got a “Hero Video” which is a video shot during our hunt.  It should arrive in a few weeks after they edit and sync the different camera angles.  We can’t wait for it to arrive to show it to friends and fellow hunters who have expressed an interest in going down to Houston to hunt with Vertex.  Who knows, I may have to go back real soon and act as a guide for all these Southern Illinois folks who want to go on a helicopter pig hunt!

I give Vertex and our hog hunt three thumbs up out of two, 6 out of 5 stars and an eleven on a scale of 1 to ten for an outstanding lifetime memory!

Love this clip from the Andy Griffith show.  I never liked the color episodes for some reason.  Barney is a bigger kid than Opie and his gang………

Happy 4th of July!

When we went to the NRA convention we rode the metro link train from Scott to the convention center.  Upon sitting down this sign greeted us.

We all laughed.  Something about going to the NRA convention with a train full of gun nuts and seeing a sign like this made us laugh.

Funnier yet was when we left the convention center and got back on the train to Scott.  If I would have had a dollar for everyone that got on the train carrying a gun case they had just purchased I would have had a BUNCH of money.

There were a few nervous looking Metro security guys on the platforms.

Even funnier was I sat next to a guy who was carrying concealed.  Off  duty police officer.  We could tell before he even admitted to us he was armed.

Still funny today, at least to me……..

Some additional thoughts from the NRA convention today as I think about my experience over in St Louis.

In was painfully obvious that some companies/brands/booths were very busy and some were not.  Granted I didn’t hit every booth but I did walk the entire exhibit hall once because I knew I wasn’t coming back for a second day but still in my hurried canvas of the expo hall some were covered up and some were not.

Those companies that were covered up seemed to have two or three things going on.  First was color.  In a world of black rifles, cammo and “tactical” colors, the booths and companies who were bright with color were busy.  Blue, white, red and yellow seemed to attract the most attention.  For what ever reason color seemed to be a magnet.

Second was the representatives on the floor.  Those busy folks were busy because they knew their stuff and wanted to talk about their stuff.  I found that a lot of the folks working some of the booths were not sales people but were from manufacturing, assembly and also development.  I liked that.  I liked talking guns with the guy or gal who either built it or developed it and also uses it.  The not so busy booths were staffed by mostly sales people it seemed.

Last those working the floor worked the floor.  When I walked up to a booth I was greeted and asked what I was looking for, interested in or wanted/needed info on.  They were seeking out the public.  The other less busy booths seemed to be talking to their friends and not really interested in engaging the public.

ATTENTION LOUISVILLE FARM SHOW EXHIBITORS:  Take note above……the last few times I have been at Louisville you have acted like its a chore for me to ask a question or inquire about a product.  Plus your all sales people, get the real people out on the floor would you.  Those that know the product, built it, developed it and use it.

If there was a disappointment in anything it was in one booth I visited.  A company, whom will not be named, of whom I have and use a lot of their products, seemed to be staffed almost by kids, (granted I am now mid 40′s so I find myself saying kids to anyone who looks younger than me, a sign that I am getting old) of whom were more interested in talking to each other and handing out an occasional “sticker” than in talking about their products.  I was almost shocked.  I stopped by there to see what was new, what was up and coming and what might be new to add to my collection but not only did they not have much to see they had even less to talk or hear about.  Epic fail…………..

ATTENTION LOUISVILLE FARM SHOW EXHIBITORS:  Take note above……Last year I went to two different manufactures of the same type product to investigate buying their products only to be greeted by KIDS who didn’t know squat about what you made……………and I didn’t even get a “sticker”.    Pull your heads out of you rear ends and get with the program.

I found all the NRA staff that I recognized to be extremely friendly and kind.  I also found all the big “stars” of shooting TV who were there to be very friendly in the booths.  I noticed that when they left the booths they made a b line for the door and while still nice they were pretty short on fanfare.  This I think was to be expected.  I assume that they were under contract do just what they did in the booths or companies for which they were being paid and couldn’t do any extra for “free” for those that stopped them in the hallway.

Another thing I noticed was that the booths with the scantly clad ladies signing pictures and letting those who wanted to take pictures with them do so were busy but there was little interest in the actual products that said ladies were standing besides.  Just proves that you can draw a crowd but without something substantial you cant hold them.

Last but not least……..

Being a farmer, and a joke that all farmers and ag businesses understand, I have never paid for a ball cap.  We farmers always get a “give me” cap.  For the record I have purchased ball caps, I purchased my Glock hat several years ago, my Rock River Arms hat and also my Knob Creek hat.  But the other 100 or so hats on the hat rack are give me caps from various ag companies.  Those caps I have purchased are of good quality.  Again the joke is that you cant give a farmer a “cheap” hat and expect them to wear it.

Matter of fact there are only certain brands that we will wear because they will hold up to the abuse we give them.

Smith and Wesson was giving away hats when I was there.  Nice hats. Very nice hats.  Good quality hats.  I would have to guess that those hats cost them about $5-$8 wholesale at the volume they were giving them out.  Having bought give me hats to pass out for the soil testing company I know what a good hat will cost.  Smith and Wesson were giving away a quality hat worth the money.

Kudos to them for doing so.

Now that being said a lot of the other companies were selling hats so that you could get the “star” or “expert” they had speaking in their booths to sign them.  Some of these hats they were asking $15 for or more.  And they were CHEAP hats.  Cheap hats that a farmer wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.


Besides what good is a hat that is signed by someone?  You would never wear it would you?  Hats are meant to be worn and worn out then thrown away.  You wear a hat until it isn’t recognizable and then you go to the closet or hat rack and get another give me hat and go on.

I will wear my Smith and Wesson hat with pride until it wears out.  Thank you S & W!

No, I didn’t buy a $15 cheap hat either.

And no one signed my hat.

Hats are made for wearing.

Leave it to a farmer to go to the NRA Convention and talk about give me hats.

Took Friday off, it ended up raining anyway, and went over to St Louis to the NRA convention.  This is the first convention I have been to. I thought as a new life member I should take it in.  I have to say its the equivalent of the Louisville Farm Show for guns……just LOTS and lots to see and none of it work related.

First off I must apologize for the quality of the photos.  I used my phone because I didn’t want to take my camera and have an extra device to keep track of.  That was a mistake.  First, my phone camera had dust on the lenses from planting on Thursday and second, my battery died about half way through the day.  There were so many thing I wanted to take pictures of that I just couldn’t after the phone died.  Oh well.

So squint a little bit and maybe the pictures will be in focus……….

First I got to meet Frank W. James.  Frank is a now retired farmer and gun writer from northern Indiana.  His blog is one that I frequent pretty much daily and the link to it is here.  Great talking with Frank and making the introduction.

I hit the Rock River booth, makers of AR platforms and my favorate AR platform for a visit and fondling of the new products.

I also hit the Smith and Wesson booth and got to fondle the new (or new to me) M&P .22 pistol.  I am really leaning towards one of these if I can’t get my hands on a Tactical Solutions .22 conversion for my Glock.  I visited with the fine folks at Tactical Solutions on the Glock conversion and got to fondle it as well and I like it.  Trouble it no one has one to sell………….??  Back orders.

A quick stop by the Glock booth to see the Glock 20 10mm hand cannon and I got to see R Lee Ermey or “Gunny”.  The line was long for an autograph and picture so I snuck this one just before my camera went dead.

I grabbed this qucik picture of Ronnie Barrett designer of the infamous Barrett 50 cal rifle just as my phone went dead.

As withe Louisville Farm Show, you can’t see it all in one day or in one sitting.  Plus there are all the “special events” going on at each booth its hard to make it to them all as well.  I got to see bits and pieces of Tom Knaff talking, the boys from Shooting USA talk and sign stuff, Maj John Plaster and the those guys from that swamp people show.  But then again I didn’t get to spend a great deal of time at any one place to see exactly what they were saying or doing either.

All that being said, I enjoyed my first NRA convention thoroughly.  Well worth the worn out back and feet at the end of the day………I will be going back to another on real soon.


Started planting corn today.  Field I was in had been deep tilled in January when it was so dry and it also has tile.  It was dry and worked like a lettuce bed!  Best working ground we have had in years.

I ran the autosteer but for what ever reason it kept loosing GPS fix in one place in the field so I ran with the markers down and it was good to see that the competing technologies matched up!

One thing that always amazes me is that coyotes are not scared the least bit of farm equipment.  And it always amazes me that I never have a firearm when these events happen………

Lately I have seen a lot of discussion on Mossbergs new 464 “tactical” lever action rifle.  Frankly the discussion goes all over the place and most of it (discussion) is about useless.  I look at it and say why?  I mean is there really a market for that?

I have yet to think I needed a lever gun with a muzzle break, picatinny rail fore grip and a M4 style stock.

Then again I went to a recent gun show with my friend Randy and he spotted a double barrel shotgun with a picatinny rail under the barrels.  I didn’t even look at the thing let alone find out who made it.  Really?  A picatinny rail on a side by side coach gun?

What Cowboy Action is now shot in low light?

Again I don’t get it.

I guess I do get it, I mean in the age of marketing “tactical cool” you need a rail on everything.  I am sure there is somewhere an espresso maker made to mount on the rail of an M4.  If one where a true “operator” then I could see the need for such.  Rail, not espresso maker.  Yes I can even see the need for a light on a rifle or pistol but not all the other junk that folks hang there.

That being said Matthew and I went shooting Sunday for a while and we took our “tactical trail gun”.  The old short barreled Winchester 94 Trapper in 38/357.  No rail, no espresso maker, no light, no nothing.  Just fun to shoot.  And it didn’t even intimidate the cows in the background!  The old gun is a shooter.  I traded for this gun some 15 years ago.  I had a Smith and Wesson 617 9 shot in stainless with a 6 inch barrel and the other guy had this gun.  He wanted what I had and I wanted a Winchester 94.  I miss the old S&W 617 but have got more use and had more fun with the 94.

For a trail gun it works for us.  Its light enough to carry on a hike, can be loaded with bird shot or magnum loads and it sure seems quieter than the 617 when you shoot it.  And with out a rail and such it doesn’t look tactical………meaning it doesn’t draw much attention except for the few guys who slobber over it because its a 94.

I guess I will just take my lever guns plain, no “tactical cool” please.

“The more complex the mind the greater the need for simplicity of play.”  Capt James T Kirk

Its been a few days since I have had time to update my blog so I thought I would do so with a long post so “be warned those who enter here!”  With the level of activity and constant variety of jobs to be done I feel the need for simple play but there is no time right now it would seem.  Nor is there anyone who wants to play either.  This rain would normally indicate a time to stop and rest, but rain isn’t welcome right now because of the list of things that must be done is not getting any shorter.

The new shed/warehouse/shop has a concrete floor now.  The final pour happened yesterday and it looks truly beautiful.  Concrete will be a welcome departure from rock and asphalt.  The heat in the floor will be a welcome wonder for winter work that doesn’t seem to get done now because of the cold in the other shed.  There is still a lot of work to be done on the shed but its getting closer.


I got in one good day of soil sampling on 2012 ground this past week before I had to pull out and head to a Pioneer meeting.  The ground is sampling nice for the most part but is kind of funny in a way for March.  With the lack of snow and shallow freeze/thaw that we get here in southern Illinois in a normal winter the ground is very “fluffy” in a lot of areas.  That is dependent on if there was fall tillage done, but there is a good 3-4 inches of fluffy ground on most fields I have been on.

Everyone says they are ready to go to the field and plant corn, or so they say.  Yet I can gather that most don’t have their seed corn yet and they keep forgetting that its March and not April.  This very mild winter has got everyone mixed up and if it keeps this up till April I suspect we will see a lot of corn go in the ground sooner rather than later.

I did manage to slip in getting another field chisel plowed yesterday evening after I got back from my meeting.  The ground is hard in these wheat fields and its no wonder why.  The wet conditions last summer resulted in ruts from wheat harvest, double crop bean planting and from the bean harvest.  Its ground is packed tight!

A side note is that while the big tractor is working in the field, out of no where come these seagulls.  I have no clue where they came from. They are not hanging out around the farm anywhere, and the lake is several miles away.  Yet they seem to show up within minutes of the tractor going to the field and disappear just a quickly when I shut it down.  They don’t hang around.  Strange birds for sure.


BTW in case I didn’t gripe enough its week 2 without any acetylene yet………….

If all that wasn’t enough, we have also been trying to get details on the new business finalized.  That also isn’t getting done as fast as I want but it is going forward and we will be ready to go live soon, I hope.  I guess if I wasn’t so busy with everything else I could get that done as well.

Speaking of simple play. What has happened to my “gun” shows on the outside channels?  I mean even my favorites are not worth watching as of late on TV.   It seems that every show is now doing the same topic week after week.  I mean come on guys show me something new or original, not the same thing program after program with the same bad “experts” talking about and using the trendy words or latest fad in “tactical cool”.  I have no interest in hanging an espresso maker off my AR’s rail.

Worse yet some have fallen into this “prepper” mentality as well.  All I need is another show with the end of the word being  preppers or bunker preppers or salt and preppers or what ever, with some gun play involved.  First off your guys don’t have a clue, second you make gun owners look bad and three you can’t be for real.  I mean anyone who is so scared of the EOTWAWKI would not be on national TV or even a gun show showing the world what you have laid in for an emergency.

Nothing on TV at all anymore.

Simple is what I need, simple play.

Today was a rat race from the word go.  Quick stop at the church office for some committee work then off to the bank.  The bank was a mistake.  I forgot that Monday was a holiday and it was crazy in there.  Took longer than I wanted or had time for, you know you have to visit, but it was a good visit and I got my business done.

Then a quick run to get planter parts so I can start on the planter rebuild just as soon as I get everything else done…..haha!

The rest of the day was occupied with either shed “issues” or with phone calls.  The shed issues are really nothing that doesnt go along with any building project.  But they are all things that have to be done.

So this evening just before closing I went back to C N C gun shop here in Benton to discuss the issues I had with the Ruger LCP.  Danny was pretty insistent that I was the only one with an issue and as we discussed it became apparent that he was right.

First problem was that we were not shooting with the laser on because it was so bright in the sun.  We were using the iron sights.  Apparently they are just for show….and tonight with the laser on I was hitting soda cans at 25 ft (~7 yards) pretty easy.  Matter of fact I was grouping them about the size of a tennis ball.  Much better than just barely hitting paper at the same distance on Sunday with the iron sights.

Second problem was that we were shooing at about 12 yards with the open sights.  Danny pointed out that the gun was designed for 7-12 yards with the laser as the sighting device.  Again with the laser on and at 7 yards it was no problem to hit a soda can.

Last problem was the tightness of the gun.  Tightness as in slide action and trigger pull.  The double action trigger pull is horrid compared to other double actions I have shot.  Again most all DA pistols I have shot have been pretty well “worn in” or “shot in”.  As Danny said the gun just needs rounds run through it to loosen it up.  That I can take care of!

So we will run a few boxes through it and see how she does…….with the laser of course.

But its still not even close to Glock………. or a good DA S & W revolver.

The barn crew worked on our shed again today and we are now 3/4 roofed and 1/2 sided.  The mud is a problem for the lifts, but I hope that with a few more days of work that they will get it buttoned up.  Then the mud wont be an issue.  The biggest issue today was the wind……it picked up 10 sheets of roofing and knocked it off the lift and bent it.  New roofing wont be here until Wednesday now.


Over the weekend we got to shoot a Ruger LCP, the little .380 with a laser sight on it.  Man was I disappointed.  You can skip the laser because it is pretty much a belly gun at best.  I mean at best that’s all it is.  We had a terrible time hitting paper at 7 yards.  The double action trigger pull was horrid as well.  I guess I am spoiled with my Glock.

Got the new hitch put in the truck and got a new trailer on the way for the soil sampling rig.  Will have to make some mods when it gets here……but that being said it will be a very nice addition to the fleet for this summer.

I didn’t get to the farm show at Louisville this year but it seems like everyone else did…….. wasn’t able to get much accomplished last week work wise.  From what I hear, there was all kinds of expensive stuff there this year… its a good thing I didn’t go!

Now that the meeting schedule is pretty much down to one here and there I want to get cracking on soil testing work and getting equipment ready for farming the next few weeks.  My hope is my “to do” list gets a lot smaller the next seven to ten days!

Instead of the “Year in Review” recap that is typical this time of year, how about something different…….

My Top 5 Blogs of 2011

#1  ICCA Board works to kill off CPAg Certification

#2  Combines, Grain Bins, Grain Trucks and Bush Hogs

#3  Harvested Nitrogen Plot Today

#4  Corn Harvest Begins for Some

#5  My New Bag Phone

My Top 5 Categories Viewed in 2011

#1  Cutting Board Portable 

#2  Soil Testing

#3  Field Scouting

#4  Ham Radio

#5  Guns

2011 was a record year for

Almost 27,000 unique visitors who made 77,000 visits this year with 835,000 page hits while they visited.  December, November, September and May were the biggest months for visitors and page content viewed.

Thanks for visiting!  Thanks for commenting!  Thanks for telling your friends about us!

We are going to try and ramp it up a notch for 2012…….stay tuned!


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