Monday, March 26, 2007

food stuff

I was over at Michael Ruhlman's blog where there has been a lot of talk about various polities' ban on foie gras as well as the disavowal of that dish by certain famous chefs. The discussion over there got me thinking a bit about food, perhaps helped along by celebrating a warm weekend evening by grilling some chicken out on the patio.

First off, I have no dog in the foie gras fight- the few occassions when I've had foie gras I've enjoyed it, but haven't found it to be all that wonderful, particularly for the price. Good, but not one of my favorite things. On the other hand, this is a dish which has been prepared for a long time and which American producers have only in recent years managed to develop. Also, this is fairly low-hanging fruit when it comes to battles over food. Foie gras is an expensive item associated with the wealthy. Fatty and rich, I doubt that it is very good for you. Not many people like liver and fewer still are likely to ever eat foie gras. Given all that, the contrarian and food enthusiast in me feels like going straight to Hudson Valley and ordering a terrine, just because an innovative American enterprise is filling a niche. Still, that stuff is darned expensive. Perhaps some magret (the breast from a duck produced & fed up for foie gras).

At least you can see the reason for the expense of foie gras and magret. The birds are handled a lot and fed a lot of good feed. For that matter, the operations raising them seem to be fairly small enterprises. If a person is going to worry about where his food comes from, he might do better to be concerned about his inexpensive grocery store chicken. Such a chicken seems like a bit less of a bargain if the bird spent it's life crammed with a half dozen others in a 2x2 cage. I dislike some people's tendency not to want to know where their meat comes from and get a little nervous about the hypocrisy of my own reluctance to contemplate the source of one of my meals. Nonetheless, I enjoy the occasional chicken and I haven't been able to tell any difference in the quality of "free range" and plain old grocery store chickens, at least on the plate. Perhaps I'll come across some grass fed birds one of these days and find them superior.

While magret duck breast is not prohibitively expensive, I prefer wild duck. Wild birds are much more lean than domestic duck and one of my favorite wild meats, although they can be challenging to a cook well. Wild duck is a good base for gumbo, excellent in stir fry, and best for me when roasted rare. I learned the basics from one of my favorite short stories, which originally appeared in Gray's Sporting Journal and can be found in slightly different form in Russell Chatham's "Dark Waters" collection. Prepare a sauce of equal parts butter, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Rinse the duck well, pat it dry, then put a couple of slivers of the lemon rind in the cavity, or perhaps a wedge of onion. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Roast in a very hot (at least 450F) oven, basting with the sauce. After twenty minutes, remove the duck to a warm platter and tent with foil. In a skillet, saute a little shallot or onion which you have finely chopped in a little butter, add the leftover sauce as well as any drippings from the roaster and duck platter. Reduce by 1/3 or so, then carve your duck. If you place the breast slices rare (bloody) side down in the sauce to cook for a minute or so, you'll take that bright edge off for comfort of the squeamish. Serve with rice, bread and a nice red wine.

So, maybe no magret for me. Perhaps a t-shirt from Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

In the meantime, I'll wish the foie gras producers well. Maybe I'll use some morally ambigous chicken for some chicken liver pate:
Simmer 1 lb. of chicken livers in chicken stock or in water to cover with a (low salt) bullion cube. Once tender, drain and place the hot livers in a food processor with 1 stick of butter, 1 t of cayenne, 1 t of curry powder, 1 t of black pepper, 1/2 t of salt, 2 T of sherry, and 3 T of fresh onion. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Use a spatula to transfer pate to a mold (lining it with plastic wrap will save some cleanup) then chill overnight. To serve, unmold and let it warm an hour or so.

Good (especially once you've balanced the seasonings to your taste) and inexpensive.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I love a raffle. Hope is a wonderful and nearly irrepressible emotion. Anticipation is a close second.

Folks who don't hunt out West may not realize it, but most of us who chase deer, elk, or antelope have to do our planning half a year ahead, even if we live within a few miles of our quarry. I'm not even talking about oh-so-valuable scouting and general familiarity with terrain or game.

No, the reason for such early planning is because almost all big game hunting in most of the western states is limited as to the number of permits available. You cannot just buy a license and go hunting, at least on public land. Each spring, the game and fish departments do a census of the game populations and an assay of the habitat and determine how many permits for the various cervids they will release that year. Hunters are provided with the number of permits released for a given area (generally called a Game Management Unit or something similar) and the number of applicants for permits in that area. Generally speaking, hunts are anywhere from 5 to 10 days long in the rifle seasons and from 5 to 30 days long during the archery seasons. Hunts which occur later and permits for cow elk are generally less popular. Later hunts because the animals are spooked and utilizing remote areas and escape cover to the best of their abilities and cow permits because most hunters dream of getting a big bull, at least once.

Because of the limited availability and high demand for hunting opportunities, each of us hunters enters into a calculus balancing the popularity of an area (usually indicating the game population and likelihood of a successful hunt, or at least the likelihood of seeing game) against the chance of drawing a tag. Some hunts are undersubscribed for good reason- finding an elk, deer or antelope in that region will require a lot of work and even more luck. This is where local knowledge or scouting offers a true advantage. I've had good luck, for the most part, putting in for early cow hunts. Most meat hunters seem to favor the later hunts, when bad weather is likely to push the elk down into more accessible country. On the other hand, my best bet for a bull elk, as far as chance of drawing and likelihood of success, is for a hunt which is largely dependent upon a decent amount of snow to push the elk into a series of terrible canyons a bit lower down. Higher up, they aren't on public land. Lower down, serious country protects them but gives a few of us a shot.

Anyway, a short time back I posted that fall is over. Already it has started again in a small way. Now is when hunters talk to partners, add up dollars, calculate vacation time and likely commitments, pore over game management maps and printouts of past success rates, then make our wishes to find out something about the shape of the next fall.

Y'all keep your fingers crossed for us, especially my bunch. Since my poor sister has decided to throw her hat in the ring, we've gone almost a decade (nearly a decade and a half for me) without an antelope tag.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

bobber fishing

I fish mostly with lures and flies, but would not start to claim purist credibility. For that matter, while having a fish strike an artificial lure or fly on the surface is tops for excitement, I find live bait fishing exciting in a quiet sort of way. Sending the real thing down into the water seems like a sure bet. Reality is far from that, but much of the attraction of fishing is anticipation and anything that raised the anticipation level is good.

In live bait fishing, the antithesis of the stereotypical lazy afternoon watching a bobber is the tuna fishing practiced by the sportfishermen out of San Diego. The fleet of charter boats run trips ranging from one day to twelve days or more, seeking albacore, yellowfin, and the occasional bigeye or bluefin (all tunas) as well as wahoo, dorado, and yellowtail. The boats range from thirty-some to over ninety feet long and take anywhere from half-a-dozen to fifty or so anglers.

I've only ever gone on the shorter, one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half day trips made in the summer and fall seeking primarily albacore (the "chicken of the sea"). Depending upon the time of year, those trips have also resulted in some dorado, yellowtail, and bluefin sightings, if not landings. The boats head out in the early evening to run all night down to underwater sea mounts off of Mexico where the albacore use their long pectoral fins to ride upwelling currants to near the surface like aquatic raptors. The fishermen troop aboard with bundles of rods and packs of gear and are checked in, each being handed a clip filled with waxed paper tags imprinted with a number, one through however many anglers on board. All checked in and paid, the boat pulls out and then heads to a bait tender- a series of underwater pens holding live anchovies and sardines, which the bait sellers and crew transfer by the scoop into a large livewell that sits near the stern of the boat. That well stands up from the deck to near chest high. All around the perimeter are a series of shallow wells into which water runs. These are the "hand wells" and are some fifteen or twenty inches long and four or five inches deep. Some boats have a second bait tank up in the bow. Once the bait is loaded, the night captain drives the boat out past Point Loma and heads south beyond the Coronado Islands and down to the fishing grounds. The fishermen all head for the bunks down in the bow to catch a few hours sleep.

Sometime in the early morning hours while it is still dark, the engines change from a steady throb to a low rumble as the boat drifts and the most avid fisherment head up to try a bit in the dark. The captain watches his sonar and depth finder, looking for schools of bait and tuna. Soon the light comes up a bit and the boat begins to troll. Four heavy rods mounted with big Penn reels are clipped to the stern rail and the deckhands set plastic or feather squid and cedar plugs to riding in the wake. Many boats also troll a "boat line", which consists of a rope with a heavy (five pound) weight attached trailed by a very heavy line, all tied directly to a section of strong bungee and then to the rail. That lure follows the boat more deeply and is used as a hand line. The fishermen are assigned to the four trolling rods on a rotation based upon the number they were given on their tags and each rotation spends a half hour waiting for a strike. As the boat trolls, a deckhand sits on a seat up on top of the big bait tank. From there, he keeps a few baits in each of the hand wells and occassionally flips a sardine or anchovy into the wake. Every so often, the captain will mark a school of fish and will take the boat into a tight turn above them while the deckhand flips more bait into the wake. The tuna see the bubbles from the wake and investigate to determine if they are a school of bait. The live anchovies thrown into the wake add versimilitude and the trolled lures further attraction.

Once a fish strikes one of the trolled lures, the cry of "hookup" is raised and the captain kicks the boat out of gear. As it begins to slide to a stop, anglers come boiling out of the galley and from resting places around the stern, grabbing rods and then baiting their hooks with fresh baits out of the handwells. Meanwhile, the anglers on trolling rotation bring in the trolling lures, stowing those rods and getting their own baits into the water while the deckhand chums out more anchovies to try to get the school of tuna in close to the boat.

The boat will turn and drift broadside to the wind, so once you manage to grab a sardine out of the handwell, you either hook it through the vent, gill plate, or its hard nose and head for the lee corner of the stern. There you cast the bait out and start slowly stepping toward the upwind corner, keeping your line as straight in front of you as possible and letting the bait swim freely, leaving the reel in freespool and feeding line out to match the bait's pace. If a tuna takes the bait, you will feel an instant accelleration of the line. When that happens, you wait a short bit, then throw the reel into gear and set the hook. Once you have a fish on, you have the right of way and pass over or under other anglers on the rail. A fish hooked and lost will frequently escape deep, taking the school with it. If you don't get a bit, once you get to the bow of the boat you reel in, release your tired bait, then head down the lee side of the boat to the bait tank to get a fresh bait and cast out once again. By each fisherman keeping his line out straight in front of himself, tangles are kept to a minimum.

For this type of fishing the normal gear seems to be a seven-foot rod with a conventional reel. Typically, albacore call for twenty to thirty pound test line. Hook size is determined by the size of the bait- anchovies call for #1 or #2 hooks, sardines can carry a 1/0 or even bigger. Generally the hook is tied directly to the line without any shock leader. Sometimes a 1/2 ounce rubber-core sinker is added a couple of feet up the line to take the bait deeper.

Once the hooked fish is tired and worked to the surface, a deckhand will gaff it and hoist it on board. It is then dropped into a box to keep it from thrashing about on deck. The deckie takes one of the numbered tags from the lucky fisherman and staples it to the fishes' gill plate. Once a trolling "stop" is over, that is to say the school has left, the anglers all reel in and the deckhands lower the fish into a refrigerated hold where they are cooled by a chilled brine spray. The trolling lures are set out and the search resumes. Occassionally a "kelp paddie" a mat of floating kelp, will be spotted. The captain will troll near it, for such paddies harbor bait and attract dorado, yellow tail, and sometimes schools of tuna.

Trips out of San Diego have resulted in numerous whale sightings along with the experience of seas anywhere from three to fourteen feet. Despite regular mal-de-mer, few fishing experiences have matched the thrill of feeling a sardine become frantic and pick up speed just before the spool on the reel starts to blur as a tuna takes off with it.

Purist credibility will probably have to wait a while.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Afternoon at the club

I recently spent an afternoon at my local gun club. The reason I went out there was to sight a new rifle scope in. For those not familiar with shooting jargon, that is to adjust the telescopic sight so that the crosshairs rest at the point where the bullet will strike at a given distance. This particular scope is replacing an ancient Weaver variable resting on a Remington bolt action .22 (a 541S). When I came up to the range, the bay with the most room had one other shooter, whom I joined. Once set up, I walked over to chat and wait for him to hit a stopping point so that I could go downrange and set my targets. This gentleman was shooting a couple of cap and ball revolvers as well as a pair of short flintlock muskets. I asked him about one (decorated with tacks and brass cut outs, it was pretty clearly a trade gun replica) which turned out to be a replica of a shortened Charleville musket. The other piece was new to him and was a copy of a civilian made ship's musket built on a Tower lock- it was something an 18th Century ship would have carried in its locker. I asked the caliber and load for that and he enthusiastically told me that it was 72 caliber and that he loaded it with 95 grains of black powder. Then he said "you have to try it!"

Not wishing to be rude, I replied "thanks!" and watched with some trepidation as he poured a substantial charge down the barrel, topped it with a felt wad, then proceeded to pound a tight-fitting lead ball down the bore. My trepidation increased a bit when he handed me the musket and then poured a generous-seeming but unmeasured portion of powder into the pan, closed the frizzen, and suggested placing the front sight just to the right of the tang screw in order to hit a gong some thirty yards downrange. Now, this musket had a nice wide brass buttplate, which was good. Nonetheless, a near-golfball had been literally pounded down the bore, giving a fellow raised on modern rifles and storied of bulged shotgun barrels more than a little pause. Further, I discovered last fall that any charge over 90 grains of black powder in my .50 caliber mountain rifle meant a significant amount of recoil. So, all this going through my head, along with the notation that this piece was made in India (and he hammered the ball down the barrel!) I lined up to give it a try.

And flinched my fool head off. I flinched so badly that I almost had time to recover from the flinch and get back on target. I still managed to miss the gong by a good foot, an embarrassing performance to say the least, particularly given that the lock time was amazingly quick given what I'd heard of flintlocks (about like an air rifle, I would say) and the recoil negligable. What embarrasment.

Nonetheless, the afternoon passed pleasantly and I was able to help my fellow shooter pull a stubborn stuck ball later on. The little bit of knowledge and experience picked up at random at the range seems to me to be more typical of that place than not- the shooting community (at least off line) tends to be friendly and helpful. For every jerk, I've run into at least a dozen true gentlefolk, knowledgeable and eager to help or share. The ratio strikes me as more favorable than that life generally proffers.

The rifle that I was sighting in is my primary grouse gun. Here in the Southwest we have mountain (blue or spruce in the books) grouse. When flushed, the birds will fly for some distance and then light on a tree limb. A hunter limiting himself to head shots with a .22 rifle picks no lead from his meat and offers the birds a sporting chance. More sporting still is to hunt them with a .22 pistol. Once again limiting attempts to head shots, collecting grouse becomes very challenging. Sometimes the birds are humiliatingly tolerant of bad shooting. More than once I've made half a dozen attempts at heading a bird strutting back and forth on a horizontal limb twenty yards away, the bird not willing to fly but too nervous to stand still, the hunter increasingly hurried, frustrated, and inaccurate. Since I started off embarrassing myself, I will close in the same vein.

Nearly twenty years ago, my father and I were walking down a shallow draw in SW Colorado one afternoon during elk season. We were about 200 yards apart with a narrow band of quakies running down the center of the draw between us as we headed for steeper timbered slopes further down. Right off my boot toe a large male grouse startled out of the sage, running some ten yards before me then rapidly picking his way toward the bottom of the draw. I slung my rifle, drew my pistol, chambered a round, then proceeded to try to get a decent sight picture of a grey-blue grouse head against grey and grey blue sage. The bird complicated things by never holding still- he never ran really hard, but he never stopped. Finally, as he stepped from behind a clump of sage, I tried a shot. Then another, and another. Steadily we worked our way down the draw, both scurrying through the sage, our progress punctuated by the "pop" of my pistol. At one point, hunting through a pocket for more rounds, I looked up to see my dad watching our progress with his binoculars. Soon, we hit the thick aspens, the bird quickly walking between the white trunks (which provided a better sight picture but more cover) and I heard a "pop" from my left to see my father leaning against a tree making his own try. After a humiliating number of shots between us, I looked up from re-reloading my magazine to see my father doing the same. I had hoped he had quit because he had gotten the grouse. "Do you see the bird?" I asked, only to hear "No, do you?" We searched a bit but he had distanced us and was laying low. He had walked right out of our lives.

Friday, March 02, 2007

more gear

Hunting as art?
Maybe as craft. I'm thinking about the line between ethics and taste in the gear that we use.
Last year I took up black powder for the first time, lured by early elk season and the (illusory, as it turned out) prospect of fewer hunters. I chose to use an Austin Halleck cap lock mountain rifle, which is, generally, a copy of the rifles produced by the Hawken brothers and others for fur trappers and other western explorers. The rifle has fixed sights and, cosmetically, could pass for a 19th century piece of tech from a distance. However, it isn't entirely authentic. The barrel is modern steel, of a length and heft designed for a modern foot hunter rather than a horse riding mountain man, and it is rifled in a twist designed for modern conical hunting bullets. For that matter, I loaded the rifle with a modern black powder analogue to make cleaning a bit easier and corrosion less of a problem. Those choices represent a compromise on my part in a series of aesthetic choices. Within the regulations of my home state, I could have used a telescopic sight on a rifle indistinguishable from a modern bolt action, except for the limitation that powder and projectile would have to be loaded from the muzzle end. Modern muzzleloading rifles have made the sport more popular and extended the range at which the arms are capable of reliably and quickly killing game from 100 yards or less to 200 yards. In addition, stainless steel, along with modern breach designs and ignition systems have made the rifles less subject to corrosion and less subject to misfires.
Over the course of the short season, I didn't see another hunter using a traditional muzzleloader.
I could have gone further, though. First, I could have chosen a flint lock, perhaps more authentic for a mountain rifle and certainly requiring more care in handling and use. I could have chosen a rifle with a barrel designed for a patched round ball, definitely more authentic to the pre-Civil War era and less deadly, particularly at longer range. I also could have used black powder. For that matter, I could have dressed in period dress, buckskins and linsey-woolsey. The latter would have felt too much like play acting to me. As for the rest, I wanted something which a hunter in 1840 would have recognized and even perhaps used and, within that limitation, I wanted the most deadly combination in order to most limit the chance of wounding my prey rather than killing it quickly.
I think that choice is typical of many that I make in hunting. While I admire fine double shotguns and own a perfectly decent over/under, I carry a gas operated semi-auto with a military-type finish and a plastic stock while duck hunting. The gas gun has much less recoil and you don't wince when it bangs off of a rock or takes a dunking. It is a tool, albeit a favorite one. On the other hand, the plastic stock on my primary big game rifle will probably have to go. It is ugly, of course. Practically, it is not that comfortable, a bit noisy, and cold to the touch. I would prefer to replace it with a laminated wood stock. Those stocks are still fairly ugly, so far as grain goes, and they almost as much synthetic (glue) as wood, but they are warmer and quieter than plastic, without being subject to the warping, softening, or as much chipping as wood.
I find the choices people make in how they go about choosing their gear for hunting and fishing nearly always interesting and the contrasts in gear fascinating. I'll end with a couple of thoughts. If one ever wishes to see an example of gear being unable to substitute for practice, head to the San Juan River in New Mexico, a famous and crowded trout fishery, in summer. There you will see guys walking around with a thousand dollars in rod and reel, more in flies and peripheral gear, with little idea how to use them. Next, if you want to have fun getting dirty looks or are just generally in a contrary mood and you are familiar with the San Juan tailwater or are good at tailwater trout fishing, go up there with one of the old automatic reels on your fly rod and proceed to catch fish. The only thing that lessens the fun is that the automatic reels are getting old enough (or enough people are so new to fly fishing) that a lot of folks don't realize what they are seeing. That's ok, there will be a few older fishermen who will whip their heads around when they hear the ziiiiip! of the automatic line take up. Bonus points if you use a fiberglass rod!

On guns and hunting

This is inspired by the whole Zumbo thing and the current flap of "hunters vs. shooters". More specifically, this is inspired by a post at Bodio's Querencia by Matt Mullenix, see here:
Before I get right into my thoughts, I'm going to digress. One of my stated goals in trying to write a blog was to improve my writing. As anyone who has ever suffered through correspondence or conversation with me knows, one of my weaknesses is for digression. Nonetheless, I will digress and preface what I say here by noting that anyone reading this should go right to the Querencia blog and read it. Bodio doesn't publish enough books (which can be said of any great author) and doesn't do book reviews for Gray's or Fly Rod & Reel anymore, but you can tide yourself over with topical bits of his writing at the blog. On top of that, his co-bloggers are unusually articulate and interesting, making the whole thing very worthwhile. The blog is particularly good for the naturalist hunter, as the bloggers are extremely well educated and two of them are falconers, a group I hold in considerable awe. Falconry requires so much dedication just to get to the point where you can get into the field to hunt and then injects so many variables into the hunt that I am amazed by those who practice the sport. Without being familiar with the falconry community (my knowledge comes from reading about them) I generally believe that most falconers speak with considerable authority when it comes to the ethics and aesthetics of sport. Bowhunters using self bows and hard core primitive hunters using period gear and dress are the only other groups which seem to me to compare.

In the post referenced above, Mullenix (one of the falconers) offers a view of former Outdoor Life editor Jim Zumbo's recent blog post decrying "terrorist rifles", defined as those with actions based on the AK-47 or M-16 (known as the AR-15 in the civilian, non-automatic, version) and calling for their ban from hunting fields. That post created a storm of commentary and invective on the internet, losing Zumbo sponsorship and, ultimately, his job. Scroll down a bit and I express an opinion on the whole thing.
Mullenix notes that he views the post as mostly expressing an aesthetic point of view that AR and AK or other military-style weapons do not belong in the hunting field. He then includes some correspondence with Bodio regarding his question of "what did Zumbo say that was a big deal?" In the comments, other folks note that this dispute has been picked up by the mainstream media, with predictable inaccuracy or misunderstanding.

As is probably clear from my earlier post, I don't see things the same way Mullenix does. I think that Mullenix's view could be summed up by his question "He [Zumbo] was stating, essentially, an artistic opinion. Right?" Adopting that view, though, I would say that one reason that folks got so upset over the blog is that Zumbo's argument (that "those guns have no place on our prairies and mountains) nearly inevitably leads to the conclusion that "those guns have no place".
Although the Second Amendment doesn't mention hunting, for decades "sporting use" has been used as a measure of the legitimacy of firearms ownership. More importantly, a new "assault weapon" ban, much more sweeping that the version which passed in 1994 and expired in 2004, has been introduced in Congress. See It leaves with the Attorney General wide discretion to ban manufacture of many firearms and would place limitations on the private sale or transfer of guns it designates "assault weapons". Here is one provision of that bill, a catch all provision placing under regulation "[a] semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General. In making the determination, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any Federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event."

It is almost impossible to find a semi-automatic weapon which is not based upon a design for military or law enforcement use or used by either of those groups. Back when most of the semi-automatic actions were designed, the big bucks were in military sales. Even if a pistol or rifle wasn't marketed to the military or law enforcement, it saw use by them.
I will provide an example. Take the Remington Model 8 (, which was designed for hunters. The U.S. Border Patrol bought a few and used them for years, particularly on road checkpoints. Some were used by airmen in WW I before the rapid escalation of the war in the air led to Lewis guns being employed. Under the new bill, a century old, funky hunting rifle, (look halfway down the page), could be designated an "assault weapon unsuitable for sporting use". After such a designation, you would only be able to transfer (that is, give or sell) your great-uncle's old Model 8 to your son or daughter by going through a federal firearms dealer in a recorded transaction, likely paying the dealer a fee for his trouble and paperwork. If your son was under 18, you couldn't do it at all without committing a felony punishable by 10 years in prison. The same thing could happen to the Remington Model 11 shotgun (, also known as the Browning Auto-5 and beloved by millions of hunters, but used by lots of police and, occasionally, as a trench gun. Now, I would hope that the presumption that these two guns are not suitable for sporting use would be easily rebutted. However, I wonder who will invest the money in the lawyers to take the case to an AG who decides to declare them "assault weapons". The manufacturers? I know the Model 8 hasn't been made in decades, I don't believe Browning's humpback (the Model 11) is under production. I know I wouldn't have tens of thousands of dollars to throw at it.
In other words, expressing the opinion that a given firearm should be prohibited from a particular use, particularly when the person expressing the opinion has a significant voice, cannot solely be an artistic opinion given our long-running cultural battle over guns and over hunting. Now, stating that such and such a firearm or technique has no place among ethical sportsmen and that only an ethically and aesthetically challenged dolt would employ such, that will get you a lot of flak but no cries for blood. Well, maybe not.