Unfinished Business: Finished

The road goes on forever and the party never ends” – From the song, “The Road Goes on Forever,” -Robert Earl Keen, Jr.


Maybe with growing older comes the realization that Robert Earl’s words might not relate to the life we live in this world and that here, the road does not go on forever. Some things come up during a walk through this life that just need to be done. This idea, I guess, was the inspiration for the very popular movie, “The Bucket List,” starting Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. This months article is about just one simple thing on My Bucket List.


After World War II, there were a lot of military surplus and captured weapons placed on the market by the US Military available at modest prices to the general public (oh, how times have changed). Dad bought up a pretty good pile of these rifles through the NRA and sporterized them over the many years that were to follow.


He re-barreled an 1898 Large Ring Mauser to 30-06 and whittled out a very nicely figured American walnut plank into a very serviceable rifle for my older brother, Harold. Dad checkered it on the grip and forearm in a traditional pattern and Harold went on to shoot a number of whitetails with it around the Black Hills after he got out of the US Navy and Korea, and before he moved his family to Las Vegas NV to work at Nellis AFB until he retired. I do not know if the ’06 ever saw any action out west, but I think not as pressures of family and a whole new world diminished or stopped Harold’s hunting. Nevertheless, the rifle served its purpose and put venison on the table.

For my next older brother, Jim, of whom I have written from time to time, Dad worked up a 1917 Enfield 30-06 with some nice relief carvings of deer on the walnut stock. Jim, too, put down several whitetails including one old grizzly buck that was the talk of the Hills the fall of his Jr. year at Rapid City High. Until their house burned down in 1988, that picture of Jim in his “R” Letter Jacket holding the 191

7 and that buck had a place of honor in the living room.


Dad fashioned for himself an 8 mm with a full length Mannlicher Stock, also carved in relief with whitetail deer running on the butt stock. The rifle was fitted out with a full buckhorn sight that Dad used as a peep, as the rifle bolt handle came through the receiver rear ring and would not permit either a scope or a traditional peep sight to be mounted. Dad was not a horn hunter so while he did shoot some bucks, he also would shoot the first doe that moseyed past the stump where he might be sitting. W

e never went hungry for venison if the old 8mm spoke.


For me, he took a 1903 Springfield and put a beautiful cherry wood stock on it. The cherry plank, according to Dad, came out of the South Dakota State House when it was replaced during a remodeling project that Dad was involved in as a carpenter / cabinet maker. On the Springfield stock, he departed from the deer motif and carved a mountain lion on the butt stock, a bobcat on each side of the fore end and then embellished the underside of the stock from the grip to the tip of the fore end with a vine and leaf pat

tern. Then he took a common nail punch and stippled the entire background with little circles from the end of the punch. He fitted it out with a high quality Williams peep sight and gave it to me when I was about 5 years old.




















The rifle served to really increase my already high desire to get old enough to join the hunt. In South Dakota in those days, a 9 year old

who had passed hunters safety and was in full presence – and by that I mean, no more than arms length away- could hunt with a parent or legal guardian. Dad reasoned correctly that a 9 year old and the recoil from a 30-06 might not be a good combination so he re-barreled the rifle with another Springfield barrel that he had cut down and chambered to the then-popular 300 Savage. He also took up reloading cartridges about that same time and began making light recoil loads with home-cast bullets with gas checks.


Dad and I spent several winter evenings in the basement pouring and sizing bullets, lubricating them and putting on gas checks. Then we loaded up I don’t know how many shells with some 1800 fps recipe.


I turned 9 in April and by the time the weather had warmed up, Dad had me out shooting the Springfield in our back yard out in the Hills. The stock was a little long for me and it was kind of heavy for me, but we got through that after the first two or three hundred rounds. I got where I could shoot it quite well and Dad apparently decided that I was ready. I took a Hunters’ Safety Class in September and in October, Dad and a friend of his named, Earl, began to take me along when they went “scouting” in October.


Dad had suffered a debilitating heart attack a few years prior and while he could do a lot of stuff, he had to take it easy. This suited him fine for deer hunting as he had concluded long ago that Stump Sitting was the best way to get a whitetail anyway. Dad, Earl and I confirmed fresh deer activity in the area of the Hills the older men liked to hunt. It was not very steep or gnarly so the old timers could handle it without any particular threat to their health.


That first year, and for the four to follow, we hunted more or less in the same area. I think Dad and Earl got deer every year. I did not. I was, and still am, a very bad fidget-er and drove Dad nuts. Even though the law said “arms length” Dad elected to put me on my own stump several yards away, with enough cove r between him and the trail he was watching so as my fidgeting would not screw things up.


I had a hankering for a rifle with a scope on it so Dad altered a 1903-A3 from the same purchase period as the other rifles mentioned above. He gave it to me pretty much as issued except for having turned down the bolt handle and altered the safety so it was Safe in the Up position and on Fire in the Down Right position (instead of the Down Left as issued). I polished up all the metal and Dad blued it. He then gave me a $9.95 semi-inletted Fajen stock ordered out of Herter’s catalog.


The resulting 30-06, which I have named Meat in the Pot, has gone on to serve me well, taking countless whitetails and mule deer, a dozen pronghorns or more, a black bear and an Ontario moose. You do not want me shooting at you with Meat in the Pot unless your life insurance is paid up, believe you me.


The fall I finished Meat in the Pot, I put the 1903 Springfield 300 Savage on my gun rack. (Remember when we used to be able to put our guns out proudly on display instead of having to keep them locked up in a gun-safe in the basement?) Dad decided that my passion for deer hunting as a Stump Sitter might be waning so he hooked me up with some of his younger co-workers and Dad and I never hunted deer together again. He got to where he didn’t go at all anymore, about that time. He was never in the woods with me for the harvest of a deer. I will mention, however, that Dad and I did share two great pronghorn hunts and several successful pheasant hunts so all was not lost. Just never did get deer together.


The idea that I had never used the Springfield 300 Savage to take a deer began to eat at me a few years ago. It became one of those things that just seemed like it needed to be done. Each time I dug into my gun vault to get out something for whatever hunt I was about to go on, I would think about the 300 and the fact that it had never fulfilled its purposed.


I thought about breaking it out a few times but my right eye, my shooting eye, is not able to be fully corrected anymore no matter how much glass the optometrist uses. And, I am left-eye dominant. Using a scope helps me be effective with both of those shortcomings. The peep sight on the Springfield 300 Savage and I are no longer made for each other.


In anticipation of this fall’s deer season, I made the decision that the next deer I would shoot would be with the 300 Savage. Period. I dug out the old girl and scrubbed the bore – which did not need to be done as I had cleaned it thoroughly before I put it on the wall, and later into the gun vault, and periodically wiped a rag through it over the years. Always putting it back into the dry dark place without shooting it.


I rooted out my stash of cartridges for it, took it out and sighted it in – it had moved over the past 50 years, but not a whole lot. I figured out that if I were to have a chance at all, I would have to shoot left-handed or more particularly, left eyed. So I did a lot of practicing bringing it up and achieving a left eyed sight picture for the last two months,


Last Saturday, the gun deer season opened in Wisconsin and the 300 and I were out there. I missed a doe. I was happy to get a shot with the rifle but must confess I was pretty disheartened that I did not get the deer. An hour after shooting light on Sunday morning, however, a small buck made the mistake of trying to sneak through a thicket of heavy cover about 75 yards in front of me. With my left eye and the peep sight, I was able to see his head clearly so I drew a bead and touched her off at what I thought would be its shoulder. The deer did not move. I put in another shell and did it again. This time the deer started walking but showed no sign of a hit. Once again it stopped and lowered its head as if he were following a doe. This time when the 300 spoke, the buck did an acrobatic jump then disappeared.


Pretty soon, my pal, Slip Bobber, happened along so I directed him to the spot I last saw the deer when he saw the blood trail and called to me, I got down out of the tree stand and walked toward the Bobber. He soon hollered out that the deer was down,


Sure enough. What has been Unfinished Business for about 50 years is now Finished. I looked at that rifle and thought about how Dad’s handiwork, if not he, himself personally, was there for my First Buck with the Springfield 300 Savage rifle he whittled out of a cherry wood plank all those years ago.


The big smile came easy that day. I think I may plan to take another deer or two with it now that I know I can get the job done left-eyed.

One of Those Days

Saturday, October 27 in Ziebach County, South Dakota was one of those days that a hunter remembers forever. Two Dogs, The Outdoorsmen’s resident storyteller, and I took three English setters and a Labrador retriever afield and experienced an unforgettable pheasant and sharp tailed grouse hunt. As we were West River, the day started at 9 AM MT. It was cloudy, right at the freezing point with fog rolling through intermittently. There was no wind remarkably; the cold 25 mph winds of the three previous days’ hunt were gone. These high winds had made for tough hunting with precious few shooting opportunities and poor shooting. Our 12 gauge Benilli M1s with 2.75 #5 shot had deserved better results. The bird dogs had hunted well, had worn themselves physically especially the pads of their feet. They wanted to see birds fall from the sky and bring them to hand. Things were about to change for Daisy, Dolly the lab, Lizzy and Floss. Their dreams would come true.

The hunt began on a meandering wooded draw separating two section-sized wheat stubble fields with loose grain everywhere. The previous day on the same draw had seen lots of wild flushes and no realistic shots. We had hunted from the gravel road to the neighbor’s fence line where the birds had disappeared unscathed. This day we took Daisy my six-year old experienced setter and Dolly Tom’s one-year old Lab with little wild bird experience. We swung out into the stubble about a quarter mile from the draw and walked toward the neighbor’s fence to drive the draw toward the gravel road. Halfway there we discovered a prairie pond holding water, about the only one we had seen in four days of hunting. 14 sharp tailed grouse came up from grass about the water and flew to the neighbor’s just like the day before. Rather than chasing after the grouse, the dogs wanted to follow a grassy run towards our draw, but we pushed on to the fence line and then swung over to the draw.

Daisy and Floss worked the dry, rugged draw methodically. They lazily busted an owl and a blue heron as they had been trained. All four of us hunted slowly and silently, Tom and me on either side of the draw about 40 yards apart with the dogs working back and forth between us. About the draw midpoint the dogs’ energy levels rose—tails pumping, noses up then down, small circles looking for scent vectors in the light wind. They disappeared into a large brush pile formed about a tree downed across the draw. I moved toward the dogs, got a fix on Tom’s position, moved the Benilli to the ready position, and extended both arms to gather some clothing slack about my arms, and then waited. A rooster pheasant burst from the brush pile trying to escape down the draw toward the neighbor’s fence. I let it clear Tom, pushed the gun toward my trigger finger and squeezed off a shot as the bead cleared the pheasant. Tom shot simultaneously and the rooster crumpled to the ground. Two more roosters burst out 180 degrees to my right. As I swung back they separated. I followed the roster flying left to right with my natural leftie swing and fired a second shot about the time it had gained about some altitude. It was instantly dead and hit the ground with a great “whump.”

As I walked toward the dead pheasant, Daisy came out of the brush pile for a retrieve. She was on it instantly. I pushed two more shells into the magazine and scanned the draw ahead for more flushes. A sharp tailed grouse came up about 75 yards ahead on Tom’s side of the draw and chose an escape route directly down the draw towards us and the neighbor’s fence line. I dropped to knee-level in the grass. The sharpie saw Tom and veered toward me with a full head of steam about 30 yards high. I took it incoming firing over its head–nothing happened. The sharpie veered right a bit. I led it two bird lengths, fired and again nothing. With my third shot and four bird lengths, the grouse cartwheeled from the sky, falling near Daisy and her captured rooster.

SAM_0010After collecting the three birds and moving no more than a hundred yards, Daisy and Dolly got cranked up again and began moving out into the wheat field toward the small water hole discovered earlier. We turned them around with the tone beepers on their electronic collars. Daisy crossed in front of me, obviously on a scent trail. Within a few steps of the bottom, she locked herself into motionless point. Dolly plowed past and jumped into the bottom, and three roosters flushed flying for their lives toward the water hole. I dropped the first one instantly and the second one about 20 yards farther out with another great “whump.”. Tom killed the third on his side. Three more roosters, with three shots.

After gathering the birds and getting pictures with Daisy and Dolly, we proceeded a few miles south to a half-section of unpicked sunflowers in search of one more pheasant and some sharptail. Ripe sunflowers are a magnet for every grouse within miles of the field. After the combine flattens the sunflowers the sharptails return to their traditional cover. In the wind we had flushed about 150 birds from this field the first day of the hunt. The flushes were wild without much result from dog or gunner.

Two Dogs and I took Floss an experienced 2.5 year old and Lizzy a 1.5 year-old also with a lot of wild bird experience. This brace is a couple of speed merchants; Floss and Lizzie can cover a half section in three or four minutes if left to their own devices. Their training with electronic collars allows a single beep (tone) to turn them 180 degrees on a dime. Tom and I took sunflower rows about 60 yards apart, beeped the dogs when they got more than 30 yards forward, and then beeped them to cast side-to-side about half a gun range past each of us. Within 200 yards of the start Floss and Lizzy had the script down. All four of us moved through the sunflowers quickly without any noise. Shotguns were held in the ready position as sunflower shooting is quick, without dog points, and just at the limit of our shotgun shell lethality. Luckily sharptail tend to get up sequentially allowing a second shot frequently. On the first rise each of us bagged a bird. Tom shot a pheasant rooster a short while later, then a singleton sharptail. Finally about a 3/4 mile from the starting point, there was a second covey rise from which we each again dropped a grouse. No misses in the sunflowers. The dogs found all six birds. We had two limits of grouse and two limits of pheasant and a day to remember forever.


I don’t like admitting when someone is better than me at something. I know pride is a sin, but it’s one I’m pretty good at harboring. So, when I’m with someone who has worked harder, practiced more, studied more, or just has an innate ability, my competitive nature kicks in. It goes for work, sports, and alas, hunting.


Most of us have a chosen few with whom we’ve spent time in the field, enjoying the days and hoping for success. My dad has had a number of men he’s traversed North America with, two of whom are named Jerry. I literally have eight friends named “Scott” programmed in my phone, and I value friendships with them all. But one of my friends named Scott stands out the most.


Scott Holder, who my dad refers to as “Gator,” grew up in Marshall, Texas on the eastern side of the state, just across the border from Shreveport, Louisiana. He was born into a family who valued time outside more than anything else. His childhood was spent chasing everything with fins, fur, and feathers on the family lease, and running the swamps, bayous, and backwaters in their boats. Life among the cypress trees instilled in him a sense of fearlessness that I think most kids could use today.


According to one story he told, he and his dad were cruising along in one of the flat bottom boats when they spotted an alligator. Scott’s dad eased the boat closer while Scott leaned out over the bow and caught the alligator bare-handed! Of course, when Scott told me this story I immediately called B.S., but he was adamant it was true. In a private conversation with his dad, he also confirmed that the event occurred.


Scott has always seemed to have more luck in the field than me. I’m not sure why, and it gets my competitive juices going. In nearly 15 years of friendship, we’ve managed to cover a lot of territory, from East Texas to Canada to Colorado and had a great time. However, it seems like he always comes back a little more success than me.

When we first started hanging out together, we’d run trot-lines in the summer. I remember carefully lifting the hook-laden twine hoping to see an eating sized catfish emerge as Scott had just done moments before. Instead, when I lifted the hook, I was surprised by a decent sized alligator gar fish. That’s my luck. Scott got a keeper catfish and I got a gar.


Scott's-WhitetailA few years later, we hunted deer on his family’s place. I spent the day in the blind reading and enjoying the solitude, and just before sundown, a nice buck and two doe came out of the woods. I shot the buck and he remains one of my prized trophies. Of course, two weeks later at Thanksgiving I woke up and checked my email and saw a pic of Scott with a much bigger deer that he’d killed. His deer would have eaten my deer for breakfast.


The next fall, we went dove hunting with some friends. As we traipsed across a small field of tall grass and the occasional cedar tree, we scanned the skies for dove. Suddenly, a lone a dove came in low, straight at us. My mind had barely registered that it was a dove, when Scott shouldered his shotgun, swiveled his body, and killed the bird. As he said, there was no thought to the series of events. He’d just been hunting that long that it had become instinctual.


Finally, a friend of ours with some land had been seeing feral hogs everywhere. We got the invitation to come out after work and sit in a ground blind where the pigs had been coming into a field at sunset. Because I was there, nothing came in and my primary memory was how underdressed I was when the temperature dropped at sundown. But the next day after work, Scott had sent me a picture of the pigs they’d killed that very next afternoon. And that’s how it goes. I’m there and don’t see anything. The next day I’m not there, and Scott kills 3 hogs.


Scott's-NilgaiPerhaps because Scott has spent a lifetime outside chasing things that he’s much more practiced and attuned to what’s going on than I am, and thus that makes him a better hunter, fisherman, and sportsman than I am. Maybe he just has better luck. While that may be true, I’ll never admit it. I will also never admit that I’m jealous of the pictures he sent last week of a huge 300 lb. nilgai (a type of Asian antelope) that he killed. Instead of being mad, from now on I’ll just make sure I’m invited to his house to enjoy a dinner of whatever he’s killed recently and savor all of his hard work.

2014 West River Upland Bird Hunt

Seven hunters, seventeen bird dogs, and three pickups from Minnesota and Wisconsin attended the South Dakota nonresident pheasant opener and stayed for the next three hunting days, West River in Dewey, Ziebach, and Meade Counties. The hunters were the usual suspects including Tom Hayes The Outdoorsmen Magazine’s resident storyteller and Jason Gooding proprietor of Good Go Ing Kennels the source of all accompanying dogs. The quarry was ringneck pheasant, sharp tailed grouse and gray partridge. All pickups were Ford F-150s. We spent our nights and ate our meals in Faith at the Prairie Vista Motel and the Branding Iron Café respectively. The hosts at both establishments welcomed us with hospitality and offered a sense of belonging. The South Dakota Game and Fish and Parks department and contracted land owners provided equally good treatment through the hunter Walk-In Area program: the bird dogs, English setters/English Pointers/Labrador retrievers, flushed afield about 175 pheasants, 70 grouse, and 90 partridge. 2014 was a good year with almost complete rebounds in pheasant and partridge populations after the catastrophic 2013 October blizzard and with marked improvement in the grouse population.

sunflowersThe sunflowers were near ripe and held almost all of the flushed sharptails and partridge. It is possible that another 10 days ripening would have produced even more sharptails. Typically, we have flushed several hundred grouse around the second weekend of pheasant hunting—all in completely ripe sunflowers. The pheasants were in thick cover–sloughs and prairie grasses near sunflowers. All three species were scarce away from sunflowers either in hay, small grain, prairie or even standing corn. Corn harvest had not begun during our hunt. The roads, prairie, and croplands were dry making for easy hunting; however everything was green with abundant water in the sloughs. There had been regular rainfall through the spring and summer. Usually, scarcer water near crops concentrates the birds. In 2014 it was sunflowers near sloughs, not water.

The author’s best hunt was the fourth day with my five-year old English setter bitch Floss and her mother eight-year old Daisy. Both have been the feature of several hunting articles over the past few years. Accompanying us were Tom Hayes and Lady Jane. The latter is a three year-old daughter of Floss. The previous three days’ hunting had caused most of the pheasant and partridge to flee from the best hunting spots. We chose a section of sunflowers with a damp slough on the west boundary encompassing about 80 acres. A shallow lake about a quarter mile long in a stand of prairie grass was directly across the gravel road which formed the east boundary of our sunflowers. This field had produced a handful of grouse flushes the second day but there had been no shooting; the slough and lake areas had not been hunted.

tomoutstandingTom and I arrived at the field just after 8AM prepared to hunt grouse only until pheasant hunting opened three hours later. We hunted into the wind from the north side of the field. The weather was sunny, about 45F, with a slight wind out of the south. Sharptails live in the prairie grass and move to feed on ripe sunflowers beginning not long after daybreak. They are in modest flocks and tend to feed near the tops of small rises facing east to experience good sunlight. The mile of sunflowers before us held two such hills, and we hunted across the east-facing slopes about 200 hundred yards apart. The sunflowers were in rows spaced 40 inches and were about chest high—perfect for walking and for shooting over the tops. Going south, Tom and I were walking perpendicular to the sunflower rows. We moved slowly giving Floss and Lady Jane plenty of time to traverse the rows ahead of us. Each dog stayed in gunshot range going 50 yards west then 50 yards east, never getting more than 30 rows ahead of us. Tom and my spacing was such that the bird dogs had little interaction with each other. The field was very high with prairie stretching down and far to the horizon in all directions. The sky blue dome above was enormous and held us in place in the lofty sunflower perch. It took almost two hours to cross the field and return to our truck.

faithIn the first hour Tom and Lady Jane flushed 8 pheasants to the east toward the small lake. Later atop the first precipice they flushed 3 grouse which flew to the second precipice after a failed two-shot salute from Tom. Lady Jane had become excited (birdy) when she got in the vicinity of both the pheasants and grouse. She slowed, pointing nostrils side-to-side and moving left and right trying to concentrate the scent vector, and pumped a white tail faster than all 4 legs could ever move. Her inexperience had not allowed a closing on the birds to render them motionless for Tom’s approach and subsequent shots. When Tom and Lady Jane got within a couple minutes’ walk of the second precipice, she got the scent again, but the already-spooked sharptails flushed well out of range. There were no birds sighted on the return trip across the sunflowers. At 11AM the same four crossed the road east to hunt high grass about the small pond. Floss and Lady Jane were birdy throughout the half-hour hunt. Some empty points were made by both. However, the erstwhile pheasants did not flush for any of the entreaties by mother and daughter English setters.

Tom and I had bananas, breakfast bars, and water in the truck. The temperature was up ten degrees to 55F or more, the wind to almost 20 mph. Left to hunt was the 80 acre slough on the back side of the sunflowers. Daisy, the grandmother, was up to the task. Our plan was to hunt the heavy cover along the west fence line into the wind, then the jagged east edge of the slough abutting the sunflowers back to the truck. Daisy was immediately birdy on the fence line making several solid points moving forward from each to the next upon my release command. There were no flushes; pheasants must have been running ahead. About 2/3 way across, on her last fenceline point, a large coyote bolted from the cover immediately ahead and ran for the sunflowers. Farther, at the corner near the end of the fence line where the slough reared up to the sunflowers, Daisy made another solid point next to a stand of cane, a rooster cackled skyward, and my Winchester Model 23 rose to shoulder, fired once, and the pheasant fell with a thump. Farther out a second rooster and two hens flushed. Daisy fixed on the thump, made a fine retrieve. Tom, Daisy, and I made the return with wind on our backs. We hunted silently, our movement was muffled by the wind on the grass and sunflower stalks, our scent diluted by the high wind. Daisy got birdy but the pheasant flushed out ahead before she could pin it to the ground. She slowed a bit, became more methodical, and then locked up for the day’s final point. I moved in front of Daisy, a roster rose for an escape with the wind, and at the bird’s apex the Model 23 fired a second time. Another thump, another Daisy retrieve. Finally, late in the day twenty miles to the west on a 1500 acre alfalfa field, Lady Jane pointed a sharptail for Tom. Her nose was too good, it flushed out of range.

Bag totals for our 26 man-days of hunting were 36 roosters, 6 sharp tailed grouse including a prairie chicken, and 10 gray partridge. 2014 was a very good bird hunt by any measure for both dogs and humans.

Attached photos were taken by Jerry McAllister.

What is a “WWII Theatre Knife”?

If I mention the words “Theater Knife” at gun show or in a casual conversation many experienced knife collectors or Military guys know instantly what I mean but just as many people look at me and say “What is that”. Well, for all the novices, I’ll try to describe the knives and explain the name used for these knives.

First of all the word “Theater” doesn’t mean a stage production it refers to a region or area used by the military in a war such as Pacific theater or European theater so named in WWII. That is the war most of this style knives were created in and are the most collectible of all hand made and or altered knives. I have seen about any theater knife you can imagine, some are of the highest quality and others were made very crude. They can be huge or medium down to very small, each maker had his own idea. Some were made with a single edge that simply resemble a normal hunting knife. Many were made with a dagger style blade with double edge or single edge and a lot of them were more simple designed like a butcher knife.

voth-dec-14-1     My own personal favorites are the larger pieces designed to resemble a Bowie style knife. I have even collected quite a few of this style over my many years learning about and collecting knives. Handle materials varied greatly. Stag, wood, micarta, aluminum, steel, die cast metal, different styles of bone and one the favorites used was Plexiglas such as air craft windshield material and all kinds of colored Plexiglas. A lot of this material was found on downed air craft and ships along with whatever material was available where the soldier was stationed. Some had acces to bakelite found in old electric boxes. Many had liners or spacers in the handles. They used about anything, copper, brass, aluminum, silver, thin slices of bone and wood and leather of course. It is just amazing the imagination and creativity these men had. The blades were often made of stock available on ships, or again downed air craft, files were used and many were made from existing knives they remodeled to suit the soldiers own likes and needs. One of the favorite blade making materials were captured and broken swords and bayonets. Not only did these soldier make or have someone do it for them. Many many people at home in the USA also devoted much of their time to the war effort in many ways and one was making knives for their family and friends in the military.

Voth-dec-14-2)  Among the highly collectibles are knuckle knives. This is a knife made with a handle the hand would fit through for hand to hand combat, such as a brass knuckles. Some of the more famous independent makers were Randall, Scagel, Eck, Murphy, Richtig, Morseth, Nichols, Murphy, Moore, Warther and Anderson. These are only a few that come to mind. Of course, all the good knife companies turned all their production to making knives for the military.

I knew one old fellow who worked for the Western company. Not only did they make war knives all week but he and his coworkers would go down to the plant on the weekend and build many knives sent to soldiers with no Western stamp on them. Usually using reject or second parts. These were mailed over seas to their friends, family and acquaintances. Therefore, many of the theater knives were professionally made in a factory with no name stamped on it and possibly a completely different style than the ones produced in the factory. Many were made in the machine shops on ships on those long voyages by expert naval machinists. These are a rare collectible find. Everyone with any knife making talent was put to work building and sending knives overseas. Not only are the knives amazing in the quality but many of these had wonderful leather sheaths. Some of those leather sheaths didn’t hold up very well in salt water and jungle conditions etc. A number of the knives ended up in factory made green plastic or fiberglass scabbards. In a real pinch some had wood ,metal and aluminum scabbards. Many were carried as boot knives but most were belt knives.

Always a great find is to get hold of one where the soldier carved, embosed or wrote on the sheath his name where he had been etc. These are great to collect because you rarely see two the same. Many of the factory knives that were supplied by the U.S. government were modified, both the blades and or handle, reground and shaped blades along with many redone handles. These knives are also very interesting. One of the most interesting I have is a captured Japanese bayonet that was cut shorter or broken off than ground into a different blade style. The most interesting part of this one is the handle which was told by the owner to be made from a Japanese soldiers leg bone. This was not the only one of these I have seen or heard of. After all it was war. Even though most of these knives are now in collections but they still surface occasionly now 70 years later. I have added a couple photos showing Bowie style Theaters and Knuckle knife designs also. Good collecting to all!   Paul

Fall of 2014! One to Remember

Some falls are better than others for an old hunter-gatherer like me.

2009 was a year that was difficult from before its start, with the death of my loving sister on Dec 26, 2008. That, getting laid off work at age 61, and having to put my two Labs down, one in the spring and the second one at the end of September, took away all my interest in hunting, and almost everything else, for the next two years.

I have a tattoo on my left forearm that reads, “This, Too, Shall Pass.” I had it put there during a trying period in 1999. I have never regretted it. I have shared it with friends and family from time to time in hopes of helping provide encouragement. They say it helps them. Maybe it does or they are just being kind to me for my effort to be helpful. In 2008-2010 I read it often. But, I was so self centered and feeling sorry for myself that the dark days just could not Pass until I could move on to an outward focus.

2014 was one of the very best falls in my memory. This year my activity calendar was jam-packed with outings, notably hunting excursions, which kept me getting ready for the next one, even before the present one was under way. I am a planner/organizer and I was in my height of glory. I am trying to overcome a shooting problem, waning eyesight in my right eye, so decided this was the year to start shooting left handed after over 60 years. Not a bad idea but I should have practiced. I did get a few birds but sent a lot of shot to never-never land, too.

But none of that “made” this fall so great. There were all the great days afield with friends, both 2- and 4-legged.

Back in September, the season started off with the Freedom Hunt for that bunch of friends who can use a little extra help from the gang for a great pheasant hunt. As I reported in the October 2014 issue of The Outdoorsmen Magazine, it was just like a family hunt, now after 8 of them.

In late October I joined up with a good friend on his place in central SD for a couple of days of tromping around for pheasants with our Labs, eating my best culinary efforts and generally just having a great bonding time. On the first day of my arrival, he had two other friends from “back East” (Wisconsin but east of my home) who were bunking with him and hunting mostly Walk Ins. He had been “saving” his food plot and slough for when he could take the three of us, plus 6 dogs through it. It was a spectacular October afternoon: cool but not cold, breezy but not windy, brightly sunny.

We took a few roosters. I was talking with one of the “eastern Wisconsin” guys, the father of the father-son team. Less than three weeks before, he had finished up radiation and chemo and was out there giving it his best shot. He got several shots and also collected an old Buck Pheasant with a tail feather 4 ½ feet long.

How could I feel bad about not being as good left-handed as right-handed?

Jerry McAllister, fellow Outdoorsmen Magazine contributor, introduced me to a good friend of his back in 1974, Carl Rogan. Over the ensuing 40+ years, I have grown to know and care for Carl, as have many of my friends. Most often these friendships have grown out of fishing trips to Canada and pheasant outings to South Dakota. To a man, my best and most valued friends agree that they like Carl more than they do me, since he is not given to sarcasm and tormenting or others.

Carl and this sighting target. Good shooting Carl!
Carl and this sighting target. Good shooting Carl!

Carl is a fantastic chef and is always up for a kitchen adventure. Several years ago, Jerry and I offered him venison, which he readily accepted with gratitude. He has been battling a loss of vision, now, for over 40 years. In spite of this, he does hit a golf ball solidly and with help from his spotter-partners, can hold up his end of the game. He also can drill the occasional rooster pheasant or sharp-tail grouse.

Last November (2013), Carl and I were butchering up a deer for his freezer and he mentioned that he would like to try the “next step” in the process. To my question about what that would be, he said, “Shooting one.” That inspired my planning/organizing soul and so it would be in 2014.

A great mutual friend offered us a place to hunt nearby on his property, Jerry McA loaned us a 12 ga Rem 870 slug gun with scope and I provided shells and support, etc.

As things worked out, we had time for only a one day try at a white-butt deer. Carl was facing another round of eye surgery on Tuesday so we decided on Sunday, the second day of Minnesota deer season this year, as our hunt date.

Carl and I got out in the country to shoot the slug-gun a few times and make sure he could pick out the right spot on a deer to aim. The scope really made it work.

Sunday came and we holed up in a blind on Slip Bobber’s place to whack us an “any deer.” I had envisioned having one on the ground by 8:30 am, skinning and cutting it up by mid-afternoon, and having Carl and his deer meat, cut and wrapped, delivered home by sunset.

Oh, contraire, Mon ami. A doe would finally present Carl a shot about 4:15 p.m., but venison in the pot was not to be that day. Carl shot low and grazed a few springs of white hair off its tummy. Fortunately, it was still quite daylight so I was able to confirm, easily, that we did not have a gut-shot deer to trail into the night! But, at the same time, we were rapidly loosing the opportunity for Carl to lay in his winter supply of venison. We did see two more deer at just about dark but he did not shoot.

Carl’s surgery, a known high risk deal that had potential to leave him completely unsighted, went very well and he said the specialists are very optimistic about his recovery, even to the point of him possibly being able to regain his DRIVING Privileges!

When I asked him about going after a deer in 2015, he said, “Heck, yes! Now that I will be able to see, why wouldn’t I?”

What a great fall!!! And I owe it all to the courageous fellows at the Freedom Hunt, a guy from east central Wisconsin, and most of all to my dear pal, Carl.

Too much Good thing Can Be Bad

A warm sunny day can bring a lot of warmth to people, especially those of us who long to be outdoors after a long cold winter.

I know you have heard the old saying “too much of anything is not good for you!”

That holds true when it comes to spending too much time in the sun.

Sure, a good tan looks nice, but there is a thin line between a tan and skin cancer.

If you do not take some precaution too much sun can a life-changing event. It is a no brainer, as too much sun can and will lead to skin cancer!

I know what you are saying; skin cancer is something others get but not me. Do not believe it, because it can happen to anyone at any age.

When a patient hears the word cancer, it will scare you to death, literally.

Death was the first thing came to mind when they said I had skin cancer. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had gone in for an annual physical, thinking I was home free when a dermatologist stopped in to talk with my doctor.

He recognized me since he had seen our television series. We talked about hunting, fishing and the show. He asked how things were going and I told him things were going very well and during that conversation, he indicated if there was anything, he could do for me to let him know.

I mentioned there was a spot on my lip that had been there for some time. It was not a big spot, it did not hurt, just a spot that would break open from time to time.

He looked at it, talked with my doctor and told me he thought it was “Cancer”.

Of course my first thoughts were, I must have not heard him as my hearing isn’t the best, so I asked him to repeat it, the next words out of his mouth were “Cancer” and we’d better get a biopsy on it.

Say What, I thought, this can’t be as it’s been there forever, since I was in Viet Nam, it never really hurt and really hadn’t gotten any larger, at least on the outside.

I thought he had to be mistaken, but when he ordered me back in a couple of days for a biopsy, I really started to worry.

Wow, I was in my mid 40’s, thought that I’d lead a pretty clean life, never really did anything wrong, treated people the way I wanted to be treated, this just couldn’t be happening to me.

A few days later, they performed the biopsy and I spent the next couple of days worrying about what the results might be.

Several days later, the phone rang and the doctor informed me that it was what they thought to be Melanoma skin cancer.

He did not think it had spread much, but they had to put me under the knife to see how far it had gotten.

When the day arrived for the surgery, a plastic surgeon was called in to help with the operation, as they didn’t know how much of my lower lip would need to be removed until they started cutting.

Well to make a long story short, they took a big chunk of my lower lip as well as a sizeable piece along the inside. Fortunately, it did not appear that it had spread any farther than in that area.

The results came back indicating that it was cancer, but squeamish cell and not Melanoma, they had thought that they had got it all, but I would have to come back in for regular checkups to run tests to make sure it had not come back.

After several years of checkups, I am now cancer free and a whole lot wiser.


When it comes to the sun and skin cancer, been there, done that. That's why I wear UA-UAB long sleeve shirts; sun gloves, sunglasses and sunscreen, trying to prevent a reoccurrence of the disease. (Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Photo)
When it comes to the sun and skin cancer, been there, done that. That’s why I wear UA-UAB long sleeve shirts; sun gloves, sunglasses and sunscreen, trying to prevent a reoccurrence of the disease. (Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Photo)

As many of you know, I’ve always been an outdoorsmen, hunting, fishing trapping, outside all the time and I knew the sun could give me problems, but I never really took enough time to protect myself.

When I was guiding and fishing tournaments, I did not use much, if any sunscreen because I worried about getting scent on my hands, something the fish could smell, affecting my ability to catch fish.

Which is STUPID? So what if I catch a few less fish on a trip, if I get skin cancer, I’m going to catch a lot less when I die at an early age from not protecting myself from the sun.

Now days, I worry about skin cancer as you should, if you spend much time outdoors. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and one that is easy to prevent. There are three types of skin cancer with two most common types being basal cell and squamous cell cancer. Basil cell is the one that most common cancer. That a doctor removes by freezing or burning it off. Look for it to be on the head, face, neck, ears, hands and arms. It too can be dangerous and spread if not taken care of in its early stage. Squamous cell is more serious as it may spread quickly if not taken care of and needs is surgically removed. Melanoma is more dangerous as it can spread all over the body quickly, but it is less common.

Believe me, anyone can get skin cancer, but it is most common in people who:

  • Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned
  • Have light-colored skin, hair and eyes
  • Have a family member with skin cancer
  • Are over age 50


Over a million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed every year in the U.S. and the incidences are rising.

What is unbelievable, as many of these cases are preventable by simply avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, which is tough when you are into the outdoors as I am.

What we can do is to take preventive measures, such as protecting our skin with sun protecting sunglasses and clothing: UA UAB Sun Protecting long sleeve shirts, Sun Sleeves, Neck Gaiters, Extreme Sun Gloves and a broad brimmed hat or cap. Most mass merchandisers, Scheel’s, Cabela’s and Bass pro Shop as well as many sporting good dealers have sun-protecting clotting.

One of the big things is to use sunscreen, to protect your exposed skin with sunscreen.

You can bet there’s a huge difference between sunscreens, you want one with a Sun Protection Factor SPF of at least 15, one offering both UA and UAB protection, that‘s waterproof as well as sweat proof.

Apply sunscreen liberally thirty minutes before going out into the sun. It is a good idea to reapply it every 15 to 30 minutes after that. Reapplication is important when it comes to applying sunscreen.

Your nose, ears and lips really need to be protected because they are hanging out there and will receive the most sun.

For your lips, use one that has a SPF of 15. You will want one that not only keeps your lips moisturized when you are in the sun; you will want one that is going to protect them from the harmful effects of the sun.

Like other sunscreen products, you will want to use lip treatments that offer a minimum of 15 SPF.

If you’re an angler and worried like I was about getting the smell on your hands, There are several companies such as Dermatone that make Ultimate Sunscreen for Fishermen that’s fragrance free and one that won’t degrade your fishing line.

I was lucky, but I wouldn’t want to rely on luck when it comes to getting skin cancer, so that’s why i war long sleeve shirts, broad brimmed caps and sun protecting gloves in the summer as having skin cancer once is more than enough for me.

Do not let cancer stop you from enjoying life and the great outdoors! Cover up, apply sunscreen, avoid excessive exposure to the sun and your outdoors experiences will be those you can enjoy for years to come and a lot more enjoyable.


Gary Howey, originally from Watertown, S.D. who now resides in Hartington, Neb. is a former tournament angler, fishing and hunting guide. He is the Producer/Host of the award winning Outdoorsmen Adventures television series, seen on KTTM/KTTW- Fox TV, Sioux Falls/Huron, S.D. 6:30 am Saturday and on the MIDCO Sports Network Thursday at 5:30 pm and Sunday at 10:00 am. He and Simon Fuller are the hosts of the Outdoor Adventures radio program on Classic Hits 106.3, ESPN Sports Radio 1570 in Southeastern South Dakota and Northeast Nebraska and in Northwest Iowa on KCHE 92.1 FM. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out www.outdoorsmenadventures.com and like Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook.


NRA Publications announces debut of new web property, NRA Family

NRA Publications, your leading source for news and information about firearm ownership and the shooting sports, is pleased to announce the debut of its newest web property: NRA Family (www.nrafamily.org). NRA Family, previously known as NRA Family InSights (www.nrafamilyinsights.org), is a free website updated daily with articles, blogs, videos and news. NRA Family is designed to cater to the unique needs of American families that own guns, with realistic how-to advice on topics such as safe firearm storage, introducing new shooters and hunters to the sports, outdoor family destinations and entertainment, personal protection tips, historical firearms and figures, gun and gear reviews, news for NRA families, Olympic shooting sports and more.

“NRA Family was created to serve the millions of NRA families in America,” states Doug Hamlin, Executive Director of NRA Publications. “Rather than addressing a specific sport or interest, we’re adopting a holistic approach that includes the needs of mothers, fathers, kids and grandparents who are both eager to learn, and to pass their knowledge on to the next generation.”

NRA Family is available to anyone at any time, free of charge, by accessing www.nrafamily.org. For added convenience, readers can opt into a free three-times-per-month digital newsletter to alert readers to the latest site updates here: www.nrafamily.org/sign-up-for-updates. “We welcome readers to interact, give us feedback, and share their own family’s stories by ‘liking’ NRA Family on Facebook and Twitter,” continues Hamlin. “This will be an experience in which the whole family can participate together.”

About the National Rifle Association
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Five million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and is the leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military. Visit http://nra.org.


Across North America, we’re in the dead middle of summer. Fishing can be good, or it can be tough. If it’s tough though, it generally doesn’t need to be. There are some things we can do to catch more fish right now. Following are some of those things.

Many of us have a tendency to fish memories. Maybe a month ago in mid-June, we were catching walleyes on jigs in shallow water, or we were catching crappies near logs along shorelines, or we were catching largemouth bass in the rushes all day long. Now in the end of July or August, we’re fishing those fish in those same places using the same techniques and our success isn’t so good. It’s not because the fish aren’t biting, it’s because they’re probably not there in the numbers they were earlier in the year. We need to adapt: We need to look for the walleyes and crappies and bass in different places, and we probably need to use different baits.

This largemouth bass was hanging around a school of bluegills but eagerly inhaled the gaudy colored bait that Sam Amsbaugh was throwing.
This largemouth bass was hanging around a school of bluegills but eagerly inhaled the gaudy colored bait that Sam Amsbaugh was throwing.

Weather can be a factor. Just a few days ago I was in northern Minnesota fishing for largemouth bass. A severe weather front had gone through. Air temperatures dropped twenty degrees overnight, the skies were clear, and the bass didn’t want to eat. However, northern pike were very willing to smash our spinnerbaits. They weren’t real big pike, but they were fun to catch. When weather conditions change, if we want to be successful, we need to switch species or switch techniques, or maybe even switch to a different body of water. Oftentimes, river fish won’t be as affected by weather conditions as lake fish.

When fishing conditions are good, meaning the weather has been stable for a few days, a faster presentation will often be productive. A faster presentation enables you to cover water quickly, so you can show your bait to more fish. Summer fish are often hungry, so the more fish you show your bait to, the more bites you’ll get, usually.

There are a lot of baitfish in the water in the summer, so the predators have lots of choices of what to eat. Some anglers subscribe to the “match-the-hatch” theory that we should use baits that resemble the baitfish that are abundant, and that idea works. However, there are a good number of anglers who like to give the fish something completely different. It’s kind of like people: When we eat cheeseburgers for several days, eventually a piece of pizza looks pretty good. A walleye that’s been eating perch for the past few weeks might prefer something that looks completely different. I don’t know how fish think, or even if they do think, but I know that sometimes a bait that looks nothing like what lives in the water can be very productive.

In many bodies of water, a variety of fish will live in the deeper water in the summer. There will still be shallow fish, but the depths will hold the numbers of fish. Many anglers that are fishing deep water won’t even put a bait in the water until they see fish on their sonar. Many of today’s sonar units draw an amazing picture of what’s below the surface of the water. They show baitfish, big fish, vegetation, whatever is down there will be revealed. I started using Raymarine sonar units this year and have been so impressed with their ability to show me walleyes hovering right above the bottom. We don’t always catch them on the first trip to the location, but we know they’re there, so we keep coming back during the day to see if we can make them bite, and usually, eventually a couple will open their mouth and take our bait.

Summer is a great time to be fishing. If you keep these ideas in mind, you’ll have an even better time because you’ll catch more fish.

PHOTO CAPTION: This largemouth bass was hanging around a school of bluegills but eagerly inhaled the gaudy colored bait that Sam Amsbaugh was throwing.

To see all the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, go to fishingthemidwest.com If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing related things.

ANGLERS, SDGF&P wants your input…

Dear Angler,

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission recently proposed new rules in response to Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) concerns. These rules are designed to slow the spread of AIS to additional water bodies in South Dakota. Outlined below, are the proposed new rules and we want to hear what you think of them prior to the GFP Commission meeting on March 5-6, 2015, in Pierre.

The proposed new rules would require you as an angler or boater to:

1.  Drain all livewells and remove all plugs from boats when leaving a body of water. Anglers would be required to remove all drain plugs when leaving waters or properties managed by GFP or other government agencies.

2.  Require those who transport harvested fish or bait (in water) to use no more than 5 gallons of water in a container to do so. Anglers could transport harvested fish in a livewell on property managed by GFP or other government agencies. However, they would be required to drain their livewells before leaving the property. Anglers who take bait or fish from the property where their boat was launched would be allowed to do so in a container holding no more than 5 gallons of water; except when leaving AIS containment water bodies (Angostura Reservoir, Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam).

3.  Prohibit anglers and boaters on Angostura Reservoir, Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam from transporting harvested fish or bait (in water) away from the water body or the property. Anglers could transport harvested fish in a livewell on property managed by GFP or other government agencies. However, they would be required to drain their livewells before leaving the property. When leaving AIS containment water bodies (Angostura Reservoir, Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam), anglers would not be allowed to transport bait or fish in a container holding water away from the property.

We understand these are big changes for you and other South Dakota anglers and boaters. We hope you take the time to view and provide input on these proposed rules as they will be finalized at the next GFP Commission meeting on March 5-6, 2015, at the RedRossa Convention Room in Pierre.

These proposed rules can be viewed in their entirety online at http://gfp.sd.gov/agency/commission/default.aspx. Written comments can be sent to 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501, or emailed to wildinfo@state.sd.us. To be included in the public record, comments must be received by 12 p.m. CST on March 5 and have your full name and city of residence.