The first day of September is hours away and our favorite time of year is just around the corner. Not just hunting season, but an excuse to get out and roam the woods and fields. Up here at 8000 feet we are a few days away from our first hard freeze and maybe 6 weeks away from our first snow. Being from the hills and hollows of Tennessee I enjoy the snow, maybe a bit more than the average bear but I do enjoy it. When the snow is 6 to 8 feet deep and nothing of my house is visible except the chimneys, well, that might be a bit much, but that is not that often.

Our hunting seasons are expected to be good ones all across the country, from what I have read. Heavier snowfall and colder temps are predicted. So that means no snow and a heat wave. Being a weatherman is the only job I know of where you can be wrong 100% of the time and still keep your job, especially if you are a weatherlady and wear short skirts and have bigÖ.well, you know.

Another reason I like this time of year is our HHC (Handgun Hunterís Challenge) is coming up in about a month, October 4 thru 7. It is at the same place, the Wilderness Hunting Lodge in Monterey Tennessee. If you want to join us, consider this my personal invitation to you. Just call Sandy at 931-979-4050 and sign up. I usually book the entire camp which holds 50 to 55 hunters and we normally have 45 to 50 hunters there. A good friend of mine told me once that ďthe HHC isnít really a hunt, itís a gathering of friendsĒ, and that is exactly what it is. The camp is around 15,000 acres in several different plots of land. One is straight up and down, that we call the Canyon. Another is sloping and mostly sloping uphill. Another of rolling grassland. Another is solid woods. And each of these is loaded with game. The game that is there consists of exotic sheep, including Aoudad (the hardest of the sheep species to hunt). If you see one that is doing less than 30 MPH, he is probably dead. They graze at 40 MPH. For these guys you have to be willing to really hunt and mostly uphill. They also have Dall sheep, probably the prettiest of the sheep family with snow white coat and heavy curling horns. Next is the Corsican sheep, a tan and black sheep that had a heavy black mane that sometimes reaches the ground. Next is the Merino, also called the Mauna Kea ram, originally from the Hawaiian islands. Pure white again with heavy curling horns. Where the Dall is a smaller more dainty sheep the Merino is a heavy big boned sheep. Next is the Black Hawaiian, similar to the Corsican except pure black. Next is the oddball of the sheep species, the Asian 4 Horn sheep. These are the freaks of nature and every one is different. Always having 4 horns, 2 sweeping down on each side of his face and 2 others that may go up or down or sideways. A great trophy.

Next is the exotic deer family. First is the Axis deer, a pretty spotted deer with long slender horns, another one that is hard to hunt. Next is the Sika deer, probably the best eating of the deer family, in my opinion, a smallish tan deer with never more than 4 points per side. Next is the Fallow. If you like the wide spread of a mooseís horns, you will love the Fallow with their palmated horns. There are 3 species of Fallow, the white, spotted and chocolate. And great eating too.

Alan, the owner of the lodge usually has a really nice herd of Elk but this time of year they are normally in velvet and not normally hunted for another month or so. If you like a lot of meat for the freezer, check out the Bison, either cow or bull, or the Australian Water Buffalo, or the African Watusi, or maybe the Yak. All basically a cow in unusual clothing.

Another speed demon is the Blackbuck, originally from India. A small animal with long spiral horns and extremely fast. Another one you will have to hunt hard.

If you like African game, Allan usually has some Eland. They are a big animal, about the same size and weight as a Bison but tan in color with spiral horns. Another freezer filler.

And of course the wild boar. They have hundreds of them and in all sections of the ranch. There will be the solid black Russian boar, along with some feral hogs. These are hogs that escaped from farms a generation or two back and turned wild. For the best eating the feral hogs are the way to go. The real wild boar are tuff and rangy and like eating your shoes. But make a great trophy for your den or trophy room.

Another oddity is the Muntjac. This is a little 20 lb antelope that has horns and fangs. The only deer/antelope critter that has fangs. They also bark like a dog and are very aggressive. The one I shot a few years back was chasing a herd of elk barking like a dog. A very unusual mount and trophy.

There will be other critters there that I have forgotten. So the main thing, is call Sandy and sign up. The prices are great and you donít get a lot of hidden fees. If you pay $700 for a hog, that is your price. No charge for staying in the lodge nor is there a charge for a guide or for your meals. All included. And they treat you like you were family. Grab a friend or son or daughter and join us. You will enjoy it.

Letís do a commercial here before we go into other folkís guns. Our new Master Hunter is out and getting lots of attention. Marlin said it couldnít be done but we did it. We are taking your Marlin 1895 in 45-70 and converting it to 500 S&W. And it works smooth as silk, plus lots of power too. Our African Classic series is doing well. This is a bolt action rifle based on the customerís base Ruger 77, Remington 700 or Winchester model 70. We totally convert the gun into a classic African style bolt action. The chamberings are 275 Rigby (which is simply the 7mm Mauser under a different name), the 9.3 X 62, a great strong cartridge and the only cartridge under 375 H&H that is allowed in Africa for dangerous game. Colleen will be using one of these in Africa next April. We also build it in 500 Jeffery and in pretty much whatever caliber you like that will fit the action. Each one built in the classic African big game style. We are still building our custom Ruger #1 rifles in various hunting calibers. It would be hard to find another rifle to beat the classic lines of the Ruger #1.

We are finally getting a lot of our custom Howdah revolvers finished and out to the new owners. These are full custom revolvers built on our own beefy frames, both standard size and the stretch frame. These are custom from the ground up and chambered in your favorite caliber. They come in a soft satin Black Chromex of in the high polished finish and come in the caliber, barrel length, and grips of your choice. You also get to choose your own serial number which can be any wording up to 10 letters.

We are working on a special purchase of parts to build our own 1911 pistols. No more info on these yet as we are still working on the details. We received several large deliveries of slides and frames, all still in about 80% finish but are still working on the details on the small parts. More on this as we go along.

We have had to up our delivery times a bit due to being swamped with orders. Plus the firearm parts manufacturers are experiencing heavier than normal orders and some parts are back-ordered for weeks at a time. This puts all gun manufacturers behind on delivery, including us. We are currently running 6 to 8 month turnaround in most cases.

Lots of new items out for this hunting season. Some new and some just revisions of an older gun. Ruger is always at the top of the list of new or newly revised series. Their have re-worked their Mini 30 in blue with a nice hardwood stock. Makes it more like a real hunting rifle and not just a semi-assault rifle. The Ruger #1 is coming back out in 475 Linebaugh. Several new revisions of current Ruger pistols also for the concealed carry use. Their new PC rifle is doing very well for them. It is currently only in 9mm but hopefully the 45 and 10mm are in their future line up.

The age-old AK-47 has a new look and new caliber. It is now available in 308, a much better cartridge than the 7.62 X 39 and a much better hunting cartridge. It is being put out by the Kalashnikov Concern, a fairly new company. The new rifle has a solid and strong scope mounting system, a polymer forend and folding stock. It comes with a 20 round magazine. This should shift a lot of semi auto rifle lovers in their direction this fall.

Glock, always updating their new stuff has released new 24 round 9mm magazines.

Something I found unusual is air guns for big game. A company called Airforce makes large caliber air rifles in calibers up to elk taking calibers. What amazed me was that several states have now legalized air rifles for big game. These states include Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia. It has to be at least 30 caliber, shooting a minimum of 150 grain bullet at at least 800 fps and have a minimum of 215 lbs of muzzle energy. This should make a lot of air rifle freaks happy. For more info, if your state is listed, call your game and fish department.

When Trump became president, the gun world went bonkers. Instead of us having 100 to 125 orders in our order book, we now have around 300. A sigh or relief was heard all over the country as folks that had been getting ready for a civil war now felt they had a large weight listed off their shoulders. I donít think the danger is completely gone but has eased up a bit. This past week Israel announced that they were easing restrictions for their people to buy more guns. This, I think, is past due. They are a small country surrounded by a lot of large countries committed to destroying them. So it is about time. An armed citizenry is the main thing that keeps the wolf from the door. During WW2 Japan thought about attacking the US with ground forces. Someone with a wiser head talked them out of it saying the Americans were too well armed, that a man with a gun was behind every blade of grass. Which brings me to another thought. A lot of folks are selling their AR-15s and other same type rifles now that Trump is in office, thinking that the chance of bad things happening is over. That is not a good idea as I have said before on here. If and when a Democrat gets in the White House again the Schlitz could hit the fan. So hang on to that AR. It doesnít eat a thing sitting in your safe.

Sort of on the same subject Winchester has come out with a whole new line of personal defense ammunition called the Defender. This includes rifled slug and buckshot for your shotgun, centerfire rifle and centerfire handguns ammo. All specially designed for self defense.

Small compact break open shotguns are making a comeback these days with Midlandís little folding single barrel shotguns. They come in 20 and 12 gauge and fold up to half their length to fit nicely in a backpack. They have an internal hammer which makes it nice without that hard to pull back hammer of the other single barrel shotguns on the market. It has a hidden compartment in the stock for necessities like M&Ms and such. The good part is they run about $150, which ainít bad any way you look at it. Whether for backpacking or just to have around the house for the nighttime varmints or to start a youngster out, they are worth the money.

ATI has come out with a hybrid handgun. I really hate the term Hybrid as it conjures up the image of a little blue haired old lady in her hybrid vehicle doing 20 MPH under the speed limit and when I honk my horn at her, all I get is half a peace sign out the window. But I digress. AtI has a new hybrid 1911 in 45 ACP called the FXH-45. A polymer frame is what is new. It is an 8 round normal 1911 except for the polymer frame. And priced around $500 so that canít be bad.

More and more AR companies are coming out with revised AR-15 type rifles in handgun calibers. Most use Glock magazines which is a good selling point and most are fairly compact and run about 5 lbs. Another upswing in the AR line up is more and more companies are chambering their ARs in large calibers. The 450 Bushmaster seems to be the favorite. When we started building ARs in 450 Bushmaster a year or so ago we evaluated each of the large calibers and the 450 Bushmaster was by far the best way to go. Several companies are making special ammo for these rifles, including Remington with their Accutip ammo.

Most folks know I really really hope I never see or hear about a 6.5 Creedmore again. I am so tired of hearing about a mediocre cartridge being billed as the best cartridge to hit the shooting ranges. 95% of the praises and claims about the 6.5 Creedmore are pure BS being hyped by gun writers, a claim told to me by a good friend who is editor of one of the finest gun magazines around. Now, thank the LORD, Hornady has come out with their own 6.5 cartridge, the 6.5 PRC, that beats the 6.5 Creedmore in every way. Itís 143 grain bullet is ballistically superior to the Creedmore and good for larger game than the Creedmore. Now letís see some gun writers eat some crow. Steve Hornady is a good friend and one of the finest gentlemen I know and he wouldnít put up with the crap the 6.5 Creedmore has been said to be. So let the Creedmore step aside and let the new kid in town take over.

Now that I have pissed off some 6.5 Creedmore lovers, thatís it for this month. If you can make it, join us at the HHC October 4 thru 7. I would love to meet you and we will have a lot of new guns there on display. Until then, when you go hunting or shooting this fall, take a youngster or lady with you. They are our future.

Til next month, God bless,

Gary