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Feeding Cancer 2

February 29, 2016

In our last episode, you remember, a Supreme Court Jester, surrounded by guns, died peacefully (God willing) in his bed on a Texas ranch.

Wait. Surrounded by guns?

As was appropriate: he who assured the shooters of America that they have a Constitutional, irregulable and ungovernable right, given to them in their creation mythology by their Founding Fathers, to pack any heat that is commonly packed, because they might need it in defense. No one had understood the Second Amendment that way until 2008. It took an exceptional judicial imagination.

Accordingly, now cometh by invitation Jester Antonin Gregory Scalia, on or about the 13th day of February, 2016, by private plane to Cibolo Creek Ranch, near Shafter, Texas, owned by billionaire John Poindexter, to join a shooting party convened by the Knights of St. Hubert (extant Austrian male secret-society founded in 1695 by Count von Sporck) for the purpose of sacred fellowship and service to the glory of God in the shooting of boxed birds and other such wild flyers of the West recently taken into captivity, as pheasants and grouse.

Not being one of the cognoscente, of course I had to ask, what, prey tell, is a boxed bird? I found a super informative article (illustrated with a shooter from the Empire) by Chris Batha, author of The Instinctive Shot (sort of zen).

And since this novel is wanting of dialogue, here’s a spirited explanation with commentary, originally in the form of email exchanges on shooter sites (I’ve changed names and improved sp) among aficionadi and admirers:

Inquiringmind: I’ve been watching some Youtube videos on Columbarie and that looks like an outstanding sport. Very interesting the way the boy pulls some feathers off the pigeon and flings it into the air kind of like a spinning discus thrower. When he lets go of it, that pigeon is moving fast and irratic. Judging from the videos, these matches appear to be held in various South American countries. I’ve heard there can be large sums of money to be made at one of these events, not only from the match itself, but the side betting as well.

Wishful: It is a great sport and is the grand daddy of clay shooting. A good shooter can walk away with alot of your, or my cash! At one shoot, the top gun drove a new Cadilac CTS home. The little town’s airstrip in a rural midwestern town had a number of private jets parked there all weekend. There were a number of million dollar motorhomes in the area, too. It is a deep pocket sport, for sure.

Shallowpockets: I went to one once. As others have said it cost me a load of money, over four figures. It’s one of those sports if you have to ask what it costs, it’s not for you. While I did have fun, I probably won’t do it again. I’m a bird hunter but was slightly on the bloody side and the fun vs. cost ratio was too much. It’s damn hard too, much more difficult than I imagined. If the wind is blowing, the difficulty factor increases dramatically.

Cogno: Boxed Birds: Entry into a shoot…called a “race” is invitation only and about $500 for a 30 bird race.

There are usually 3 rings and 5 birds are attempted at each one. If you keep all 5 in the ring, you must “slide” back one meter for the next ring.

There are large “review of guns” or Calcuttas and each shooter is bought….owner wins 85% of prize money and the shooter 15%. It is customary for the owner to offer the shooter to buy back 50% of himself. I have seen Calcuttas approach $90K. Prize money is split 50/30/20 and ties divide.

Steady: It’s legal in Missouri and I’ve played the game a few times at a local ring, by invitation, with select acquaintances. It’s low key, normally $150 for 20-25 birds, side bets available but not mandatory.

Proud One: I’ve never been but I was invited (which in and of itself is quite an honor). Knowing something about it I knew to ask about the entry fees. $3,500. Purses over $50K. This one was in South Carolina.

The feint of heart need not apply—as you put up your own money and M class SC shooters and AAA trap and skeet gods are chumps to the good pigeon shooters. These guys shoot for $$$ and are cold as ice under pressure.

Notsofast: 3.5K is pretty hefty but it’s sort of in line with the cost of some driven shoots. I’ve seen videos of pigeon shoots where some guy acts like a cricket pitcher and flings birds up into the air. What’s curious is that there’s secrecy about all this. Do they really use captured city “statue” pigeons?

Proud One: Now, this is purely hearsay, so take it for what it’s worth. I read somewhere that Bob Brister (long-time shooting editor for Field & Stream and outdoor editor for Houston Chronicle) paid for a very nice house with winnings from various Columbaire shoots.

Cogno: It’s an extremely challenging game, especially as you start to move back in yardage. You begin at 34 yards and move back from there. Two shots mandatory on each bird, even if it’s dead on the first one. The heavy loads can be punishing so I stick 1 1/8 oz. of 7 1/2. Best I’ve ever done was last fall with 17 out of a 20 bird race, great shooting for me but nowhere near good enough to play with the big boys even if I had the $$, which I don’t.

The shooter stands 29m from the boxes and the boxed are 16 m from the fence (in a sort of oval)….the bird must be brought down in the ring and stay there to count as a “dead” bird. Each bird can be shot at twice…1.25 oz loads w/ 3.25 to 3.75 dram loads (this is subject to local rules though).

Columbaire: Hand thrown birds 10, 15 or 20 bird races….bigger ring and bird must simply land in it. Same guns but choked 10 and 40 usually. The thrower can influence the race with the way he throws the birds.

In boxed birds, most people who participate will shoot 16-20 birds out of 30. On a windy day 25/30 will win, and on a calm day it can take 29 or 30.

Slickcity: Cogno, I am shooting Boxed Birds. Here in the East I have never heard of any Columbaire shoots, I could just imagine the ability one needs for that type of shooting.

The birds here are released from Barnabee traps, they sort of catapult the bird up about 4-5 feet and then the bird starts moving.

I do realize eveyone has their own style.

Why do most box bird shooters prefer the K gun and the pirazzi over a SxS winchester 21?

Tech: I go to alot of shoots and was wanting others’ input on choke and load selection. I shoot IM in my first barrel and full in the top. Browning Broadway with briley chokes. Would I be better off shooting fixed chokes?

I have patterned WW super pigeon 3 1/4 dr 1 ¼ oz of 7 1/2 shot. It seems to me that my patterns are tight. Would I be better off with a more open choke in my first barrel. Am I leaving myself too small a gap of error, shooting the tight choke in the first barrel?

Is lead better than copper coated or nickle plated. I shoot in PA where the feathers might be a little thick in the later part of the year. Would I be better off with 8’s in my first barrel backed with a 3 3/4 dram in my second barrel?

Cogno: Tech, your load choice is fine and the choke is OK but Mod in the first Barrel would be better, with IMod or full in the top. This depends on where you are shooting from (handicap) if you are up close light Mod will work in the bottom but keep it tight IMod or Full on the second barrel. Copper is great but nickle is better as far a dense patterns go.

An old friend of mine by the name of John Hall once told me smack the bird hard enough on the first barrel to stop the wing beats and then use the second barrel to make the feathers go poof. Hold into the wind and on the bottom of the trap, watch the bird’s head, and good luck.

Funner: A local club to me required a buy in at about $250.00 for a 25 bird race, with a manditory minimum of 150.00 in options. There were many options to choose from, so the shooter was able to bet on himself based on his ability in that crowd, that day. Lewis class was always available, as was long run out and in, 5’s, 10’s, etc. If you played everything, your chances of getting something back were actually better than if you played the minimum.

One is advised to come well heeled, if they wanted to play. A bird shooter on a budget is an oxymoron…or just a moron I suppose.

It was a lot of fun, on practice days. On game day, you had those that came to shoot, and those that couldn’t or wouldn’t shoot came to make money on those that could. Then there were the card games, lots going on there, too.

Sociable: Years ago myself and some fellow shooters shot some box birds just for the experience, not a match, and thought it was great. Our host even had his two daughters chase down the cripples as if it were a real match setting. It’s my understanding these bird boys and girls can receive large tips from the shooters for chasing down and catching the cripples that land inside the circle because the captured bird will count as a kill towards the shooter’s score. I know these two girls were going “all out” to show us how they do it in a match.

Cogno: These shoots are held in Texas, Colorado, all over, but you don’t just drive up and spectate. They are on private land and ranches, you need permission, or an invitation to attend – the way it should be. Otherwise, you have the antis driving up and blowing air horns and screaming and banging, just the way they try to disrupt public land hunting in my state. I’ve yet to see them out in the dead of winter delivering oats and hay to starving, emaciated overpopulated deer and elk. That speaks volumes!!! Just like, who has captured birds in the city and freed them in the country?? But they poision them here, and they stagger around on the sidewalks scaring children, like a dog that has licked antifreeze.

Lofty: Guess this is the appropriate forum for this post. I have long been keenly interested in the Columbarie and box bird pigeon shoots. Unfortunately in today’s “PC” world with organizations like PETA, etc., these shoots are not publicized and information on them is difficult to find. But after all, this is the genesis of our trap shooting heritage.

Bigtime: Getting invited to a pigeon shoot in the Houston area is not hard. You just have to know the right people. We are always looking for new shooters. It is a very addicting sport. Worse than crack. All it takes is one time. I throw anywhere from 15,000-20,000 birds a year. I guess you could say I’m addicted also. There is nothing better than beating a shooter on his tenth bird when he is nine straight. Thats what makes it so fun. As for the tree huggers……if they would just stick to trees, their life would be a whole lot more simpler. (SCREW THE TREE HUGGERS)

Thoughtful: I am trying to understand the negative attitude that some sportsmen have with live pigeon shoots. Do people not know that every major city has pigeon eradication programs where tens of thousands of birds are trapped for disposal. Pigeon shoots purchase the birds from contractors involved with these pigeon eradication programs. Birds used at the shoots were already doomed for the incinerators. This illustrates the hypocritical nature of our society.

It is odd that so many shooters are anti-shooting and anti-hunting. Shooting a pigeon is hardly worthy of any disdain or criticism. It is far more ethical and painless to the bird (a bird considered a nuisance and a varmint in many areas) than any commercial chicken or turkey processing operation. Subsistence hunting vanished a long, long time ago.

Ben There: No one turkey hunts, pheasant hunts, or quail hunts to stay alive. What is a “driven” shoot? Paying 25 pounds or so per pheasant that was pen-reared, released, and beaten towards you by 8-10 pheasant beaters just so you can shoot it? If it was the meat U.K. shooters were after, they could save a lot of time, money, and hassle by just grabbing the bird in its pen.

Thoughtful: Save me from the ethical brow-beaters that claim that their load of shot into the bird of their choice is any different. To the anti people, any man that kills a bird with a load of shot is the enemy. Be they thrown from boxes, flushed by beaters and flown over a line of shooters or forced into flight from in front of a dog or snatched from the sky at some incredible distance. To those that oppose us, we are all the same.

The anti people don’t care how far you walked, how well your dog is bred, how much your gun cost, who makes money from what you do, etc. To these people, we are ALL cut from the same cloth. We kill birds with shotguns. Our methods matter not to those that would stop us.

Patriot: Here, in the USA, we have rights to privacy. We have many other rights, also, which allow us to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. It matters not what you or any others with “prying eyes,” misguided emotions and ideals believe.

Here, in the USA, we don’t have to go to the north-east corner of a dirty little park on a Sunday morning to speak our mind like in UK. Here, in the USA, we say and do what we want, when we want, regardless of those with “prying eyes.” UK has Trafalgar Square for their pigeons, and Hyde Park for their “free speech”—we have private property for our pigeons, and a Constitution and Bill of Rights for our free speech. Come onto our private property with your “prying eyes” and you will learn in very short order how we can “stage a live pigeon shoot away from prying eyes.”

God bless the USA, and thank God for the vast ocean between it and Britain.

Intox: I just love it! Man I could just talk about shooting live pigeons all day long!!!! I went to my first shoot since childhood (a week ago), and I couldn’t sleep for the next three nights!!! What excitement and fun!!! I shot mostly hand thrown birds, and kicked ass!!! It was fast and furious, but with the rinky dink little 17 yard cage around the box birds, I couldn’t get better than 3 out of 5 at a time without the little rascals falling outside the line!! I do use a K gun, because its the finest, most balanced, and sweet shooting gun ever!!! I also used copper coated federal premiums in the 3 1/4 x 1 1/4 x 7.5’s and they had the feather penetrating power that put my other shells to shame. I also went from mod and full, to IC and IM and did much better. What a great and powerful sport!! Can’t wait till my next one.

Pumpaction: Well…now for some of us live pigeon shooting is when a couple or so of us go out by the silos and barns and someone rousts them “flying rats” out of said silos and/or barns and we try to thin the population down some with the ol’ shotguns. Pigeons are often poisoned, trapped, gassed, etc. To get wound up over pigeon shoots is nonsensical.

“Support our troops; we’ll need them to overthrow our government.”

Tex: Hey, you guys remember that Scalia dude? Italian. Always joking. Heard he died in his bed on the night after a great shoot! Guy knew how to live!

“Our prentice Tom may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel master’s shoes
For now he’s free to sing and play
O’er the hills and far away.”

–     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –

I still don’t understand, but I’m not much into aristocracy, even American. (And yes I invented Tex, but nothing else, including the quoting of poetry.)

But btw, the next St. Hubert gathering for “Ordensbrothers” and guests is an “investiture” March 10 in Charleston, SC. Maybe you can get an invite.

I’m starting a rumor that my man Dick was among the shootists at Cibolo, which might explain something.

[ Update, later that day:  Justice (“Clarence is come, false, fleeting, perjured Clarence”) Thomas has spoken from the bench for the first time in 10 years, and his subject was the 2nd Amendment, Scalia right to own a gun–in this instance, asking whether it is constitutional to deny gun ownership to a person who has been found guilty of domestic violence.  Is he angling for an invitation from St. Hubert?


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  1. Feeding Cancer | tomkoontz
  2. Diary 3-3-16 | tomkoontz

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