Here we are, deep underground in the Wild Cave Tour in Mammoth Cave National Park (L-R): me, son-in-law Dusty, son Kyle, nephew Luke, nephew Matthew, nephew-in-law Matt, and son-in-the-faith Jared

“I’m not a fan
Of the one gun man;
I want to be good
With as many as I can.”


Living in and loving the outdoors…  it’s a legacy passed down from my grandfather (the last of the Appalachian mountain men), to my father, to me, and now to my own sons, grandsons, and sons in the faith.

I’m not a pro but here are some things:

I am the creator, sole researcher, and developer of the .400 Prairie Fire wildcat cartridge, regardless of the few “men” who either tried to suggest loading data (a braggadocios arm chair reloader whose name I don’t even know), or who stole one of my Contender barrels along with it’s scope and ammo (his initials were HS and he was a ‘big shot’ in the shooting sports), or who told me in very rude, unmanly terms that he didn’t have time for it (his initials are JDJ).  Funny thing about that last one.  My .400 Prairie Fire equals his nearest competitor, and I can do so more efficiently in every way, in both my Contender and Marlin 336.  His pal was HS.  Now, I’m not accusing but it’s too coincidental that HS claimed that when I sent him the barrel under specific terms, he in turn gave it to someone else.  Sounds pretty fishy to me.  Of course, being the good researcher and scientist that I am, I had kept all of our correspondence, made copies of his written offer to me that he would “test and write up” the barrel, and send it back.  Never happened.  He stole it and handed it on to a friend, then told me he couldn’t get it back.  I suspect that the barrel wound up in JDJ’s hands.  Oh, and I have the paperwork, so whoever has it, don’t try anything.  But I would like to have the barrel, scope, and ammo returned.

I have three guns chambered for the  .400PF:  two Thompson Center Contenders (14″ handguns), and a Marlin Md. 336 rifle (22″ barrel).  Both the handgun and rifle versions have been used successfully for deer and coyote hunting.  However, another Contender barrel was stolen in a charade of pretense by a ‘pro’ who assured me that he would write it up in a national gun magazine and return it.  He didn’t and it cost me the barrel, a new Redfield 2x handgun scope, and three boxes of ammo painstakingly loaded by me.  So if you see a Contender barrel out there stamped 400PF, let me know.  I want it back.  (I speculate that this guy sent it to another guy who previously refused to be part of the design and was very rude in telling me so; but my cartridge beats his in every way and I’m guessing he’s still stewing over that.  Notice that I didn’t call them “men.”)

If you were to ask me the three items you should always have outdoors (and yes, I’ve been asked), I’d recommend a knife, a sarong, and a water bottle.  But don’t forget cordage, fire-making, and a New Testament.  A flashlight might be handy, too, but God’s Word is all the Light you need.

If you were to ask me the ONE firearm I would have in my possession above all others (and yes, I’ve been asked), my answer is a sturdy, reliably repeating .22 rimfire rifle.  With just a little practice, a man can do nearly everything he needs to do with this one gun.  My choice:  Marlin Model 60, stainless steel, laminated stock, sturdy scope (but also open-sighted).  I might opt for my vintage Remington Model 12 with Lyman R12 aperture sight because it is tried and tested.  Hmmm…  now I’m in a pickle.  GO HERE!

Marlin Md. 60

If you were to ask me the one gun maker to NEVER own, that would be Ruger.  I’m not even going to update my spellchecker with their name.  The old man was a foul-mouthed braggart, and their products then and now (sans a rare few) are junk, in my opinion.  I’ve returned more NEW Rugers to the factory for repair than other makers combined, and I’ve owned a lot of firearms.

If you were to ask me the most important skills every man should learn, here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

  • Learn to build a fire without matches or strikers, but start with those.
  • Learn the edible wild plants indigenous to your area and area you visit.
  • Learn how to properly sharpen a knife on a whetstone and steel.  Forget those crummy ceramic sticks, and please don’t use a grinder unless you are reshaping the edge – even then, learn how to do it correctly!
  • Learn orientation (compass, maps, and navigation) – the real stuff, no technology.
  • Learn how to plug a punctured tire.
  • Practice fasting.  It’s a notable spiritual discipline as well as a practical physical discipline in the event of lean times (like a weather emergency, outdoor crisis, unexpected travel, health crisis (i.e., “nothing after midnight”), etc.
  • Learn how to approximate the time of day by the sun’s position in the sky.
  • Know and practice the many uses of a sarong (a real man’s sarong like that used by manly men in Asia and the Pacific Islands, and other parts of the world).  What in the world?!  To see what I mean, just go to Actual uses for my sarong.
  • Know how to handle yourself around water:  swim, rescue, fish, boat, purify, etc.
  • Learn to tie (and untie) as many kinds of KNOTS as you can.


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