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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Darn Good Hunting Knife

A few months ago I took my soon to be seven year old son Isaac to a gun show. As we were walking around he asked me if I'd buy him his first pocket knife. I thought about it for a bit and figured it would be alright. So we looked around for the "right" knife. I wanted him to have something small and easy to operate, a knife which would lock in the open position so the blade wouldn't fold on his finger. We found a little locking folder for $6. I handed Isaac a $5 bill and told him that if he could convince the man to sell him the knife for $5 he could have it. 3 1/2 seconds later Isaac returned with that knife and a huge grin on his face. He loves that little knife, and I have created a monster. He loves knives as much as I do. Everytime I show up with a new knife he wants to know if he can "borrow" it.

While I was at a trade show in 2006 I came across the Blade-Tech booth and was very curious to see a sample of one of their Professional Hunter knives. I love well made knives and I own a lot of them. I have Randall, Emerson, Case, Benchmade and others including some "one off" customs. The Blade-Tech Professional Hunter model designed by Tim Wegner is really the best quality production knife I have ever owned. This knife is clean, tight and very well made. The screws don't loosen up, the liner lock spring stays put, nothing on the knife has given me a bit of trouble in almost 2 years of constantly carrying it. I have field dressed numerous game animals with it from whitetail deer in Oklahoma to critters in Africa. It holds an edge and works every time. The knife has a remarkably flat profile so it carries great in any pocket. It is one knife Isaac may not borrow...yet.

Blade-Tech also offers a number of other knife designs including the Ganyana and the Mouse. Smaller than than the PH, both are solidly designed and built and are perfect pocket knives.

I met Tim Wegner at the Safari Club Convention this year when he came by the TJSafari booth and I showed him the PH knife I carry everyday. It turns out it is the same knife he was carrying. After chatting with him about some upcoming projects Tim decided to donate some knives to the NRA Women on Target Hunt we are sponsoring in South Africa this year. Tim had his crew make a knife for all the participants and the PH's on the hunt then threw in some for the trackers and skinners as well. It was a nice donation to a great cause.

Tim Wegner is a good guy and Blade-Tech makes a "darn good hunting knife". - TJR

Todd J Rathner

Monday, July 30, 2007

Humane Society of the US tries to damage hunting in Africa

The Humane Society of the United States has always been anti-hunting and they have done what they can in the US to foil hunting at every turn. They have also submitted reports and comments to foreign governments such as those in Africa to ban many forms of hunting. Now they are using stealth tactics try to stop regulated sport hunting in countries around the world. They have instructed anti-gun Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY, NRA Rated "F") to insert language in a US House report which would ban the use of funds from the US Agency of International Development (USAID) to support any type of hunting anywhere in the world. This is part of a Report on H.R. 2764 (Foreign Operations Funding Bill).

USAID dishes out billions of dollars each year to developing countries. Some of this money goes to African countries in particular to support regulated sport hunting as a means of sensible, science based wildlife management. Namibia's conservancy program comes to mind as recipients of aid for hunting programs. These programs will collapse without this aid. The direct result will be an increase in poaching and other unregulated killing of game animals. And regulated sport hunting in places like Namibia may become a thing of the past.

Wildlife species in Africa have literally been saved by regulated sport hunting. Even the World Wildlife Fund wholeheartedly supports regulated hunting throughout Africa. They are the primary impetus behind programs to reinstitute hunting in Kenya which was banned in the 1970's. Since then elephant populations have plummeted in Kenya due to rampant poaching and a lack of funds to manage wildlife properly. In Tanzania where hunters spend millions of dollars every year on hunting, elephant populations have soared because the government and the local people have an incentive to control poaching. If all the trophy animals are poached for meat then the money from sport hunting will dry up. It is simple economics. Unfortunately HSUS is so blinded by their hatred for hunting and hunters that they are willing to sacrifice healthy wildlife populations for their narrow world view.

The NRA/ILA staff is working hard with pro hunting Senators to stop the US House report from drying up funds for these important hunting programs.

Namibia: New Policy for Tourism And Wildlife Concessions

The Namibian (Windhoek)
Brigitte Weidlich

A NEW policy has been drafted to regulate the granting of tourism and trophy hunting concessions on State land, which includes game parks, protected and communal areas. Cabinet recently adopted the document. "Some problems occurred because of the lack of standardisation in procedures, concession agreements and insufficient monitoring of compliance with applicable terms and conditions with the existing legislation in place," the Cabinet briefing paper states. "A new concession policy was accordingly developed to serve as basis of new legal provisions concerning concessions that are to become part of the future Parks and Wildlife Management Bill which will replace current legislation."

The new Policy on Tourism and Wildlife Concessions on State Land lays down clear objectives and principles for the granting of concessions, including empowerment objectives for the communities living in those areas. At the same time, the policy ensures that such concessions do not result in environmental impact or management conflicts. It also establishes a transparent and objective process for the awarding of concessions and provides comprehensive guidelines for its implementation.

The old Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975, as amended by the Nature Conservation Amendment Act of 1996, allows the Minister of Environment and Tourism to authorise individuals or companies to conduct specified business activities in proclaimed protected areas. This authorisation also allows the use of indigenous animal and plant resources belonging to the State. The old legislation does not provide guidance on the methods or criteria to be used when granting concessions. The new policy provides better protection to communities from possible exploitation by concession holders and joint venture partners.

"The Ministry will ensure that objectives in awarding a concession are properly achieved (inter alia) through ensuring that a realistic business plan is developed (and) in a transparent way and clearly shows the level of investment and projected levels of income as well as profit over time."

The new policy provides for the establishment of a special concession unit in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to oversee the tendering process for concession rights and a concession committee. It will operate on fulltime basis via a secretariat. The committee will consist of representatives of the following ministries: Environment and Tourism, Justice, Finance, Agriculture, and Lands and Resettlement. Additional members will be from the Regional Councils and "where appropriate, representatives of the private sector and civil society." The Minister of Environment and Tourism will appoint the chairperson of that committee. The concession unit in the MET will further advise communities on legal and policy issues regarding concessions. The unit will undertake feasibility studies once applications have been received for concessions.

According to the policy paper, the need for an economic valuation study was identified "to determine the economic and other non-economic values of concessions." In future, traditional authorities, regional councils and communal land boards will have to be consulted throughout the process to ensure that wildlife concessions complement regional development objectives. Government further considers transferring specific responsibilities with regard to these concessions to regional councils. Tourism and wildlife concessions can in future also be acquired through a tender process or on auction, in terms of the new policy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Follow Up On Zeiss Rifle Scope

While I was training at Gunsite back in May I experienced a failure on a Zeiss rifle scope which I wrote about when it happened. You may remember that the reticle snapped after firing a few boxes of cartridges through my .308 Kimber rifle. At the time I shipped the scope to Zeiss for repair.

I am happy to report that the scope was returned to me repaired under warranty. It looks perfect.

I do however have a criticism or two. I was never contacted by Zeiss when I sent the scope in. Numerous phone calls and voice messages were not returned. The only reason I knew they received the scope was because we sent it FEDEX and tracked it. There was no communication from them whatsoever. That is a little frustrating when you send a company your $1,500 scope for repair.

The experience with Zeiss would have been better had they simply sent me an email or called to let me know they had my scope and when it would be shipped back to me.

Having said all that they did repair it in a bit over 30 days which I think is acceptable. - TJR

Monday, July 16, 2007

Book Review - The History Of Safari Club International

As a life member of Safari Club International (SCI) I have volunteered with my local chapter as chairman of the banquet committee, and as a chapter board member. Our local SCI chapter has raised money for a number of youth projects and in support of shooting ranges as well as a number of other valuable projects. I think that a number of SCI's programs are excellent and I participate in some of them. For instance, we are participating in the SCI "Blue Bag" program on our upcoming trip to Africa.

While I was a chapter board member I met SCI founder C.J. McElroy on a number of occasions at chapter functions and various events. I remember a barbeque he attended and told stories to the assembled group. It was a slice of SCI history literally in our backyard.

I was always vaguely familiar with the history of SCI but I never really knew the "whole" story. With SCI's recent publication of The History of Safari Club International by Bill Quimby a lot more of the story is revealed. The book traces the history of the organization from its first steps when it was a small hunting club in California to the world leader it has become today. The History Of Safari Club International is remarkably candid. It describes not only the history of an organization but it discusses the personalities of its founders and contributors. Every organization of stature has its personalities associated with it. They all go through "growing pains" as they develop. Often those growing pains are kept under wraps by the organization to put a good face on things. Not so in this book.

Anybody who ever met "Mac" knows he was a colorful guy with a strong personality who had his way of doing things. The book makes this eminently clear. It exposes a number of the internal struggles that occurred in the forging of the organization.

I have served a number of years now as a member of the National Rifle Association's Board of Directors and I have seen first hand that it takes strong personalities to run political organizations. There is no doubt that SCI has had them and "Mac" was chief among them.

To me the candid style of the book is refreshing.

I also think it is important that the book recognizes those that have worked hard to make SCI what it is today. From the board members who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to save the International Wildlife Museum, to the artists and gun makers who made the original conventions so successful. I have to admit that I am a complete rifle nut so the chapter that describes the "Big 5" series of rifles is fascinating to me. Not only were record amounts of money

raised with those rifles but, the standard in custom rifle
building was elevated to never before seen heights.

For example, the elephant and leopard rifles made by David Miller Co. surpassed any rifles built to date. The work that David Miller and Curt Crum did on those rifles set the rifle building bar pretty darn high. They transformed rifle building forever. The leopard rifle sold for over $200,000 which was a record at the time for an American rifle. It raised critical funds for SCI and it made headlines which also elevated the SCI convention to a level unsurpassed by any other hunting convention.

If you are interested in the history of SCI or are just a member who enjoys the many benefits of your SCI membership you will find this book fascinating. - TJR

The History of Safari Club International is available from Safari Club International Publications: Email: Lorie-Anne Peltz lpeltz@safariclub.org or call 520-620-1220 extension 244

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dehorning of Rhino Halted in Zimbabwe

The Herald (Harare)
27 June 2007

Harare- The rhino dehorning exercise that started last month has been temporarily stopped owing to logistical complications, national wildlife veterinary surgeon Dr Chris Foggin said yesterday.

Dr Foggin said the operation stopped early this month after they had dehorned about 30 rhinos, mostly from the Save Conservancy. "The exercise is a noble one because it seeks to protect our rhino population in private conservancies around the country. "Unfortunately, we are not able to continue with the exercise at the moment because we were having problems in ensuring we had a helicopter all the time, adequate human resources and drugs," Dr Foggin said.

He said the money used to fund the exercise was coming in batches and the team was now waiting for part of the money to be channelled to Zimbabwe. Dr Foggin said much of the money that is expected to fund radio transmitters was coming from Save Foundation Australia while various other international donors concerned about protecting the endangered species in Zimbabwe were also chipping in.

"We are only concentrating on the dehorning exercise at the moment and will do the planting of the transmitters on the rhinos later this year. "Zimbabwe has a population of around 800 black and white rhinos placed in intensive protection zones. The dehorning exercise, which some wildlife experts said was critical, is expected to curb poaching of the rhino for its horn.

Last year the Parks and Wildlife Authority uplifted close to 200 rhinos to a conservancy in Matabeleland South following reports of poaching of the endangered species. The World Wildlife Fund a few weeks ago briefed Environment and Tourism Minister Cde Francis Nhema on the poaching of the rhino in the country. They indicated that at least 40 rhinos had been poached in the last three years despite efforts to rid the country of commercial poaching activities. In an interview, Mr Kit Vaughan, WWF advisor, said Zimbabwe needed to come up with vibrant wildlife management policies and also ensure their effective implementation.

"There is need for practical and professional solutions to the wildlife management challenges. "Interventions should also come in various forms, which include entrusting wildlife management and utilisation of conservancies to people trained in that area," Mr Vaughan said. He said the rhino population went down in the world owing to lack of resounding anti-poaching strategies and lack of seriousness by governments when it comes to conservation issues.

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