Saturday, December 23, 2006

Outdoor Survival - UPDATED

We've now been told that one of these men was found dead, frozen solid, in a snow cave near the summit of Mount Hood. That a sleeping bag and some other equipment was found in another snow cave nearby. That photos show that they weren't as well equipped as had been supposed. That the two who went to get help for their third apparently got disoriented and went north when they should have gone south. That these two may have slid some 2200 feet down a glacier and off the end. This is all very sad for the families involved and they will be in our prayers.

There are many lessons to be learned. Number one is "travel light, freeze at night" which seems self-evident. The other is "what can go wrong will go wrong". Plan for the worst. It makes day-to-day life difficult but sometimes gives you the edge needed to return to your family.

The great thing about life is that God has given us free will and let's us make choices. The bad thing is that we are responsible for making the right choices. Not just for ourselves, but also we must make the right choices for those who depend on us, those who need us. I think it must be terrible dying and knowing in those last seconds that you made the wrong choices.


These 3 men lost on Mount Hood have been in the news this past week. They still haven't been found due in part to the extreme weather conditions on the mountain. Why is this important?

Well, these three (3) experienced climbers went to an area with which they weren't familiar to attempt a one day summit climb during a period of possible extreme weather. When they got into trouble (lost, injured or snowed in, unable to move) one of the climbers attempted to use his cell phone. Now lots of searchers/rescuers are attempting to find and extract them from their misfortune. I don't know whether or not these 3 particular men are of this mind, but it seems that more and more often people put themselves in hazardous situations and EXPECT others to bail them out when the worst happens. They don't plan or prepare for the worst, indeed, they often seem totally surprised that the worst happened. Yet, without fail, they expect immediate assistance.

Yes, we've been conditioned to this at least somewhat because we DO respond to appeals for assistance. Some folks even give their own lives in an attempt to rescue some fool from his/her folly. This doesn't make this particular mindset right or responsible. "But wait" you say, "what about the children?" Ok, what about the children.

Children who wander away from HOME and get lost in the woods, children who wander away from their families on vacation and get lost in the woods, well they both frost my buttons. Not the kids really, but their parents. What in the heck were they doing? Don't you watch your kids to ensure they don't do wrong, improper, or dangerous things? Don't you watch your kids to try to keep them safe. You'd think that this never occured to some folks. How, why, can these parents think this way?

Do accidents happen? YES. Accidents happen. "Stuff" happens. "Murphy" is everywhere. But having a freak snow storm catch you at the base of a mountain in the middle of the summer isn't the same as going up on one of the highest mountains in the country in late fall, the cold season when weather is at best unpredictable even at lower elevations and unprepared/unsupplied for more than one day's outing.

I hope for the best for these men. I truly feel sorry for their wives and children. Risk takers put their families through a lot of worry. I hope these men come home to take care of their wives and children, mothers and fathers. I hope they are well and not crippled by frostbite, not starved and/or not suffocated in a snow cave. I'm pretty pessimistic though. These men did do more than many who find themselves in such a situation. They had left detailed info on climbing route, their equipment and planned time line. But, they didn't anticipate 70+ mile-an-hour winds along with snow.

I hope that you accept your responsibility for yourself and yours when you go into the outdoors. I hope that you will be profoundly thankful of the unexpected assistance of others in the exceptional situation which you couldn't forsee and for which you could NOT have prepared. In other words, I hope that you prepare for your outings and prepare for the expected possibilities of Murphy's influence on your life.

Michael Bane has his opinion as well.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

In Memoriam, Michael Franklin Mays

Let me start by saying that I know that whatever words I utter here will be insufficient to capturing the truth of Mike Mays' life. However, I have to share, even in this poor way.

Mike was a lot of things. He was a loving son, a Marine, a loving & devoted husband and father, a career soldier, an entrepreneur, a singer/musician, an inventor, a pastor and a true friend to many. He was my sometime hunting partner, basketball opponent, running/PT partner, co-worker for many years, a fine man who never failed to do the best he could and always tried to do the right thing. When he died he was 52, nearly 53, but even in illness he hadn't stopped being a good father and loving husband.

Mike loved to hunt. He loved to work out the puzzle of where the game was. He loved to take a new gun and try it on game and he was good enough he most often could. However, I could never quite get the hang of giving away guns like he did. I've known him to do that several times. I finally came to the conclusion that he did it because he couldn't imagine somebody else being denied a chance to go hunting, he had to help. Mike only ever killed one deer hunting with me. I was pleased to show him where to sit and in 10 minutes he'd shot a buck. In truth, he probably could have walked in there and found just where to sit and been successful without me. Still, it was pure pleasure helping him get that deer home.

Mike helped a lot of people. He gave them money, food, and his time. He did all he could. Of course, Mike believed that one must believe in Jesus to get to heaven, that good works doesn't do "it". If ever anyone believed Mike did.

Now, I'm sure he has to be in heaven. I bet there was quite a group there to welcome Mike home. I hope he'll be there to welcome me when it is my turn.

This is his "official" obituary...
Michael F. Mays – his body is now at Francis J. Collins Funeral Home, Inc., 500 University Boulevard, West, Silver Spring, MD 20901 where they will prepare and shelter it until burial on Dec. 21 in Arlington National Cemetery at 10 a.m.

Pastor Michael Franklin (Mike) Mays, 52, of Mt. Solon, was born March 31, 1954, in Abingdon, VA. After three months of hospitalizations, Mike died of heart failure Dec. 5 in transit from NNMC, Bethesda, to Fairfax Hospital heart unit.

Mike is survived by his wife of 33 years, Ginny Clinedinst Mays; daughter Charity Belle; and son Michael Jason Mays; mother-in-law Hazel Clinedinst, all of Mt. Solon; parents, Rev. Arthur and Myrtle Mays of Staunton; brother, Rev. Mark Mays and wife Rhonda of Harrisonburg; and sister Kathy Hall of Durham, NC; plus extended family.

Mike served as Stokesville Church’s pastor and worship leader. He was an accomplished songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, producing a CD, “Plowman’s Hope,” of 11 original inspirational songs, plus a small CD, “Happy in Heaven.”

He was founder and CEO of Visual Addressing, LLC, having secured patent rights and other patents pending for photo mapping directions at and

Mike served in the Marine Corps at M.C. Headquarters, Arlington, VA. He won the National Service Ribbon and Expert High Shooter Medal. He retired from 19 years in Virginia’s Army National Guard as Senior Nuclear, Biological, Chemical NCO; Marksmanship Trainer; Information Systems Security NCO; Budget Coordinator; Travel Orders Publication Manager; U.S. Army School System Reviewer; and control cell member in Virginia Army National Guard Emergency Operations Center in State duty alerts. His military awards include the Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Virginia State Medal for EOC Operations.

Mike worked at Lowes, Smith’s Transfer as Frontline Breakbulk Operations Supervisor, Pitney Bowes as independent service sub-contractor for upper Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville regions, and U.S. Postal Service, Dayton, VA as rural carrier. He was an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

A service to celebrate Pastor Mays’ life will be held at Victory Worship & World Outreach Cntr., 200 Hammond Lane, Staunton, VA at 7 p.m., Dec. 12. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to New Life Ministries (WNLR), P.O. Box 400, Churchville, VA 24421. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at 1000 on 21 December 2006.

If you can attend SFC (USA, Ret.) Michael F. Mays burial at Arlington, please do so.

It only seems right to note the passing of Mike's son Jason here with him.
MOUNT SOLON — Michael Jason Mays, 36, of 1378 George Walton's Road, died Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Augusta Health of complications following his first bout with pneumonia.

Born March 15, 1976, in Staunton, he was the son of Michael Franklin and Virginia "Ginny" Clinedinst Mays. He was a member of Stokesville Church. His angelic eyes and smile tugged at the heartstrings of the community who came together with area churches to build a handicapped-accessible home for him in 2007. He lived with his mother and sister, received care from Judy Ward, Betty Hevener, residential consultant Amy Harmon of Family Sharing Inc., Deborah Bullard of VCSB and Drs. Richard Elsea of West Augusta Family Practice and Zizette Makary of National Naval Medical Center of Bethesda, Md.

He was preceded in death by his father and his maternal grandfather, Albert "Snooks" W. Clinedinst. Surviving are his mother and his sister, Charity Mays of Mount Solon; his paternal grandparents, the Rev. Arthur Mays and Myrtle "Gertie" Mays of Staunton; his maternal grandmother, Hazel Langston Clinedinst of Mount Solon; his uncle, the Rev. Mark Mays and wife Rhonda of Mount Crawford; his aunts, Kathy Hall of Staunton, Judy Ward of Churchville and Teresa Howdyshell and husband, Jim, of Mount Solon; cousins, Susan Medlin and husband, Travis, Neal Hall and wife, Kristie, Lydia Trollo, Jennifer Inboden and husband, Matthew, Melissa and Luke Mays, Audrey and Anthony Bess, Hayden Hall and Julia and Gabriel Inboden.

The family will receive friends from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Bear Funeral Home. Jason will receive a musical tribute at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18, 2012, in Stokesville Church from jazz guitarist Mike Ess of Richmond accompanied by other artists. Jason's life will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 2012, in Sangerville Towers Ruritan Hall. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Jason's family expresses appreciation for the exceptional care and devotion shown by Augusta Health, Rockingham Memorial Hospital and Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad.

Memorials may be directed to The North River Ministerial Association in the hopes that other families might be blessed as we have been by this group's projects. Direct funds to NRMA care of Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church, 372 Kyles Mill Road, Mount Solon, VA 22843 or to Sangersville Towers Ruritans 38 Emmanuel Church Road, Mount Solon, VA 22843.

Condolences may be expressed online at

Mike and Jason will be buried in section 66, 7475.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Colt Lightning Reproductions - UPDATED Aug 2007

Mike Venturino's article on the USFA Lightning carbine in the most recent issue of Rifle magazine inspired me to do some research on the various reproductions/recreations of the Colt Lightning pump action rifle.

The Colt Lightning was made in 3 frame sizes. The smallest was for the .22 rimfire, there was a medium sized frame for the .44-40 and .38-40 and a large size frame for the .45-70 and similar sized cartridges. Various reasons that the gun didn't compete better with the Winchester leverguns have been mentioned. I believe the extractor had a tendency to break, also, the action has to be open to load. Thinking was that the pump action wasn't traditional enough (although the Spencer and Burgess pump shotguns had a following).

Now, with the rise of NCOWS and the SASS all sorts of older, obselescent firearms have had renewed popularity to the point that they are being reproduced for shooting in the timed matches and used by the NCOWS personas. Among those are the Colt Lightning which has had reproductions, some with modifications, produced by AWA, Beretta, Taurus and USFA. All of these are the medium frame size variety. There are .357 Mags (Taurus), .45 Colt, .44-40 and .38-40. There are rifles and carbines, high grade engraved guns and everyday plain blued guns. Prices range from $370 something to well north of $2000.

American Western Arms (AWA) has the Lightning Rifle. Their MSRP starts at $850 and goes up.

Beretta has the Gold Rush. The prices for the Gold Rush are $1450 and up.

Taurus has the Thunderbolt. Taurus MSRP is about $500 but I've seen the guns in shops for $399 and a little less.

USFA has their Lightning in several models this Special Baby Carbine being one. Prices for these start at $1995.

Dixie Gun Works' Lightning in several models such as this carbine are Pedersoli made. Prices for these are in the range of $1100-1300.

You pay your money and take your pick. For me, the only cartridge I'd want in my Lightning would be the .44-40 (aka .44 WCF). The tapered case and more than adequate rim, designed for rifles, unlike the .45 Colt, would likely function best in these truly old style rifles and carbines. Not all of these guns are so chambered. I'd also mount a tang peep as shown on the original above. This would make a fun, functional, even practical firearm. However, not all the copies come in .44-40 so that limits my choices...


Steve Young of Steve's Gunz has this to say about the Taurus,

Over the years I have worked on several of the USFA Lightning pump rifles, and several of the AWA's. AWA was the first to get them out and they did have many problems with their early guns, but both the USFA and the current AWA-USA are good guns, but they are not cheap. That said, when Taurus came out with the "T" Bolt folks that knew I had experience with the puimp guns begain to send people to me that had bought the "T" Bolts. I would say I have had about 20 to 25 of them here for work. Of that number I just couldn't make 5 of them run right. They would double feed from the mag jamming the gun. This was because the poor fit of the action slide to the lower frame. It was so loose the cartridge stop never came up to the same place. I could get it to stop the double feeding but then the cartridge stop wouldn't always allow a fresh round in. Bottom line is I sent them back to Taurus and they did manage to fix most of them but some required more than one trip back to Taurus. I have one gun here now that not only double fed but wouldn't chamber from the carrier. That gun has been back three time and still doesn't work. The really sad part is the quality of the workmanship,too. This was a new gun when it first went to them but now it's beat up, the wood is bruised and scratched up, the screws are buggered and still doesn't work. The last time I talked to them they tell me there is nothing else they can do. So much for their lifetime warranty.
The folks at EMF bought some and have since dropped them from their line. The original Customer service person with Taurus Ron Vogel has left them and the "T" bolt will probably never be mad by them again.
Tycer, think about this. All the other pump rifles start at $800. The Taurus gun is still under $500. I'm betting that's because the quality just isn't there.

Steve Young, 23 August 2007

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Hunting, Chainsaw Day

No hunting, but I was carrying while I used the chainsaw to remove the "foundation" plants at Mom's house. The landscaping was once small but due to lack of trimming, a belief in natural growth firmly ensconced in Mom's mind, they finally got so big that they were a liability deserving of immediate action which even Mom couldn't/wouldn't oppose. It took all afternoon to get the back of the house. Next time it will be the front of the house and will take twice as long. Bless her heart, Mom "helped" but at 73 and missing a lot of muscle on the left side of her body after her radical mastectomy, she couldn't do much but stand in the way... So, I'm a bit beat and may not go back for work until Thursday.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where I've been in the US

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

I saw this elsewhere and I just thought it was indeed neat. I've missed 3 states. I'm ashamed. I've also been to Great Britain, France, Japan and South Korea.

The Brush Hunter by Lewis Ballard

The brush hunter:

1. does all his hunting before he shoots

2. won’t buy a $2,400 Steyr Scout rifle

3. will buy a $240 .30-30 that does the same job

4. knows that size really does matter

5. knows that velocity really doesn’t

6. thinks a softball trajectory is just fine

7. wishes Winchester had called the Model 95 chambered in .405 Winchester the Theodore Roosevelt "Big Stick" Commemorative

8. reminds everyone that the .45-70 was heralded as a flat-shooting, long range cartridge in 1873

9. reminds everyone that the .30 Winchester Center Fire was heralded as a flat-shooting, long range cartridge in 1895

10. reminds everyone that the .30-06 was heralded as a flat-shooting, long range cartridge in 1906

11. doesn’t think the last hundred years or so have changed the .45-70, the .30 WCF and the .30-06 into weak sisters

12. thinks shooting at 300 meters is just fine on the Marine Corps KD range

13. would rather spend an hour stalking before the shot then twenty minutes walking after it

14. knows that "out where the ranges are long" you need to get closer

15. thinks most cartridges introduced since 1920 have been a step backwards, if not pointless

16. is willing to make an exception for the .444 Marlin and .44 Magnum

17. doesn’t "get" the magnum craze

18. thinks he gets the .350 Remington

19. definitely gets the .375 Holland and Holland

20. wants to get into Cowboy Action Shooting

21. reloads his own ammunition because it’s fun

22. knows Peter Paul Mauser designed a couple of pretty good rifles

23. also knows that John Moses Browning was a freakin’ genius

24. understands that Uncle Elmer banged away at that elk with his revolver, way out past Fort Mudge, only because the elk was wounded and his rifle was dry.

25. fantasizes about Cape buffalo and lion

26. would love to hunt boar with a spear

27. pretends his 12 gauge side by side is a double rifle, when no one’s looking

28. doesn’t much like variable scopes, or any scope much above 9x

29. doesn’t understand why you’d collect a gun you wouldn’t take to the field

30. likes having the choice between a Marlin Guide Gun and a Winchester Timber Rifle in .444 Marlin

31. wishes Winchester would introduce a .338-06, call it the .338 Keith, and start a .270/.280-style war with Remington’s .35 Whelen

32. thinks the single shot rifle is, like Obi-Wan’s light saber, a more elegant weapon, from a more civilized age

33. knows the .45-70 hits harder at 100 yards than any .270

34. knows how to use a shooting sling

35. likes tang sights

36. thinks the 270 grain .375 Holland and Holland is a good "light weight, high velocity" load

37. doesn’t feel especially "handicapped" or "primitive" with a muzzle loader

38. hunts with a muzzle loader during regular seasons

39. would really love an eight bore double rifle

40. thinks a hot-loaded 1886 .45-70 is a superb rifle for African game

41. is tired of gun magazine articles on shooting at game at (or past) 500 yards

42. is also tired of gun magazine articles on custom .45 ACPs that aren’t single-action revolving pistols

43. wishes there were gun magazine articles on custom .45 ACPs that are single-action revolving pistols

44. has a spare .45 ACP cylinder for his .45 Colt Blackhawk

45. is glad Bill Ruger came out with the Blackhawk, the Redhawk, and super Black- and Redhawks, the Number 1, the Red Label and the 77 International

46. wishes Bill Ruger would come out with a good $500 double rifle

47. believes in complete penetration

48. trusts sectional density more than energy figures

49. wishes the standard bullet weight for each caliber was about twenty grains heavier

50. wants a power formula that includes caliber, bullet weight, bullet shape and (what the hey) velocity

51. is proud of himself when he passes up a shot he doesn’t feel good about

52. sights his rifle in at the bench, and then mostly shoots from the kneeling, sitting and other field positions

53. knows its called hunting, not shooting, the same way it’s called fishing, not catching

54. is pretty sure that, 100 years ago, using Krags and Winchesters, hunters lost less wounded game than hunters do today

55. thinks a Ruger 20-guage Number 1 with a rifled barrel for shooting slugs would be just keen

56. always wanted to rechamber a 16-gauge double shotgun to .45-70

57. likes putting rifled choke tubes into his side by side and shooting slugs

58. knows you can’t miss fast enough to bring down game

59. will admit that, if we were just being practical, we would all shoot Remington or Winchester .30-06s

60. is glad he’s not entirely practical

61. thinks that a .358 Savage 99 with a 1.5-5x scope is a pretty hot rock setup

62. wishes that you could still buy a factory .358 rifle

63. wishes you could still buy a new Savage 99 with a rotary magazine, or even a Savage 99

64. wonders if Elmer Keith would pack a .44 Magnum, a .45 Colt, or a .475 Linebaugh today

65. would secretly like to have a Westley and Richards takedown .303 single shot

66. would rather buy three Rugers than pay $1400 for a new Colt

67. still finds himself thinking about the Colt

68. is proud of the fact that nostalgia plays a role in his firearms taste

69. wishes he shot a little better

70. is a member of the NRA, even if he thinks they’re a bit wishy-washy

71. is secretly in awe of people who pick fights with Cape buffalo, even with a .475 Linebaugh

72. would like to have a Freedom Arms .45 Colt and a Dakota Arms .338-06, but gets along pretty good with his Super Blackhawk and .308 Ruger International

73. likes shooting guns that have been "obsolete" for about a hundred years

74. secretly thought the "Win-Tuff" laminated stocks looked pretty cool

75. would much rather finance a hundred year old H&H than a new BMW SUV (ten percent down, 0.9% financing for four years)

76. thinks that Hummers should be available all stripped down, with a winch and snorkel, without carpet or stereo, for about fifteen grand

77. knows that time has not stood still, and that today’s powders, primers and brass, not to mention bullets, are the best that have ever been available

78. is enough of a sissy to wish Ruger would come out with a Number One .45-70 "Tropical" rifle

79. can justify having otherwise identical Ruger Bisleys in .45 Colt and .44 Magnum

80. really likes the Ashley Outdoors peep sights

81. is selfishly sad that Finn Aagard was called home

82. thinks that the .270 is a good long range cartridge

83. would still like to stoke up his .45-70 with black powder and thump a big pig

84. believes that, objectively speaking, a .30 WCF Winchester or Marlin is a much more dangerous weapon than an AK-47

85. knows that it is the man, not the tool, that is the operative and determining factor in almost all shooting

86. doesn’t mind at all that Marlin copied Jim West’s Co-Pilot when they brought out the Guide Gun

87. doesn’t see any real advantage to the new .450 Marlin over the .45-70 loaded stout

88. thinks the demonization of guns in modern society is a sad, sad thing

89. has a crazy mad love jones for single shot rifles

90. doesn’t have any real need for a 12" barreled Winchester 92 .44-40, but is intensely annoyed that he can’t buy one

91. resents being called a "slob hunter" just because he shoots a .30-30

92. for the life of him can’t figure out why people didn’t flock to the .358, .307 and .356 Winchesters

93. thinks the world really needs wildcats in .33-08 and 9.3x52mm (9.3-08)

94. has a good time hunting, even if he doesn’t see any game

95. doesn’t think much of synthetic stocks, while admitting their advantages

96. would rather put a laminated stock on his rifles than a plastic one

97. thinks the cartridge case heads inserted into the stocks on the Remington 14 and 14 ½ pump rifles were pretty neat-o

98. got funny looks that time at the range when he put up a silhouette target at 100 yards and whanged away with his .45-70, pulling eight out of ten head shots from kneeling or thinks hunting the Big Five back in the days, with a single shot muzzle loading rifle, when you were a month’s journey on foot away from "civilization", took an awful lot of intestinal fortitude

99. is a little bit puzzled that no one makes a modern hunting rifle as slick as a Krag

100. Knows that the best shooting accessory is practice.

Thanks to Jim Taylor for multiple reposts of this.