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Stove Fodder

The Editor

Captain Jim's Revenge

You'd think being the editor of a black powder e-zine would be fun. Least it was supposed to be fun. I was suppose to have a chance to shoot, hunt, etc. and only pay penance once in a while, usually just before the deadline. Well that was what I thought when I joined this outfit.

You see I had these visions of spending hours with a rifle in my hand. Visions of testing all the new guns on the market. Reviewing new products. Reading great articles. Getting to go to all of the gun shows. Reality has set in.

There are no perks here, except staring into a monitor instead of across a set of sites. On second thought maybe there is one, I get involved in a lot of arguments. I don't mean those little, every day, unimportant arguments over second amendment rights or whether China should be a trading partner with the United States. No -- I mean important arguments over whether to use a round ball, a conical or a bullet to knock down next year's trophy or for that matter this summers wood chuck.

You see I am blessed with "friends." Now I don't mean friends. I mean "friends." How do I know that they are "friends?" Well, who else would find new ways to torment you with the English language? I'll bet you already know these guys. Drop one into the X ring and it's luck, drop the second one in and it's, "Wow, flinched twice the same way. You always were lucky." Those are the kind of "friends" I have.

So the other day I'm out shooting with one of my "friends," Capt. Jim. We call him Captain Jim because he is the only one of the group that owns a reliable boat and I think he was in the Navy at some time in the distant past. Since the boat is his, he's Captain. He gets all the privileges that go with the rank. If the motor messes up it's his fault. If the weather is bad, it's his fault. If we don't catch any fish, it's his fault. You get the idea, maybe that's why he's so cranky all the time.

Anyway last Saturday Captain Jim and I are busily drilling our targets when I catch a whiff of bacon. Now seeing it's about 10:00 a.m., I've been up for four hours, operating on two cups of McDonald's coffee and no food, my stomach kicks into extra grouchy. I give Captain Jim one of those, "If you didn't bring enough for everybody, you shouldn't have brought it" stares. Looking my way he catches my glare and says "What?".
"You got food over there," I reply trying to look past his shooting box. "You know it ain't polite to eat in front of others. Didn't your mam teach you no manners? Where's mine? "
"I ain't got nothin here but my gear. You know I left home right after I got up."
"Well I smell bacon. Smells like that special stuff your brother-in-law makes. Come on where's the sandwich, I want my share." Captain Jim shoots me one of those hurt puppy dog looks of his and then starts laughing.
"You mean my patch lube."
"No, I mean that sandwich you have stashed over there," I growled, moving to the other side of his shooting box, looking for the sandwich.
"Too bad, all it is, is this tin of bacon grease."
Sure enough that's all it was.

Dejected I went back to loading trying to figure out why he was using bacon grease for patch lube. Probably just wanted to get my goat, just like Ol' Bob did when he used garlic powder for filler during one of our famous pistol matches. "Okay, so what's with the bacon grease." The guys down at the shop got you convinced that you'll get an extra 25 yards out of that rifle gun of yours." (Editors' note: Every once in a while the editor has a lapse and actual utters phrases such as rifle gun and smoke pole. The editor wishes to apologize to those with a sensitivity to such phraseology and promises to make a special effort to correct these deficiencies in the future.) "No, it's nothing like that. Just something I wanted to test."
"Here we go again," I thought. This is just like the time he watched "The Last of The Mohicans," there wasn't a piece of silk that was safe for three miles. "Won't help!!" I offered.
"Probably not."
"Well, if it doesn't do anything to help, then why use it?"
"I didn't say it didn't help. You said it wouldn't help."
"True enough. Okay so what gives?"
"Well I just had to test out a theory I had," the Captain said with a grin.
"Which is?" I replied
"Just want to see how long it would take you to notice I was using bacon grease."
"And why would you want to do that?"
"Well, I was hoping to pull the wool over someone's eyes."
"I see," I said, figuring that he had already succeeded. I went up to the line and let one fly at the target. At least all this hadn't spoiled my aim, --yet.
"Whose eyes would you be trying to pull the wool over now?" Captain Jim just got a funny look on his face and started to chuckle. "He's cooked," I thought. "Whoever this guy is, he's a goner." Once Captain Jim starts plotting, you're as good as gone. "Well who is it?", I pleaded.
"Bob," I repeated. He just nodded.

Bob and Captain Jim have been locking horns as long as I can remember. Bob usually is the short term winner, but over the long-run Captain Jim usually ends up on top. The last time they locked horns, Bob convinced Capt. Jim that the only way to get his deer was to rub fox urine scent on the butt of his hunting trousers. Made sense to Capt. Jim, and Bob, figuring for the Captains "If a little is good, more, a lot more, is better." theory of life, had a good laugh. In fact all the way home he kept giggling to himself, thinking about how Captain Jim's wife was going to react to the new car perfume that Captain Jim was at that moment anointing the front seat of her new Blazer with.

"So I suppose this is revenge for the fox urine deal?"
"You bet, and I'm going to get him where it hurts."
"Where is that?," knowing he wouldn't answer and went on shooting.

You see I have learned, from years of association with my "friends", the best bet is to stay out of a Bob and Captain Jim conflict. Though the best part is being there when the trap is sprung.

Now as the designated story teller I have to let you know that Bob's wife has him on a strict diet. It seems he went in for a cholesterol test about four months ago. Apparently when the doctor read the results Bob got the award for highest reading of the month, possible the year. That is according to Miss Sally, his wife. So Bob had to give up the high life. Personally I felt for him. Bob doesn't drink, never smoked, hates gambling and loves food. In fact he once said that there was not a glob of fat he didn't love. So with the new diet, cooked up by the doctor and his wife Bob, only had one other vice left, shooting black powder guns.

I always tell Bob is doubly blessed because Miss Sally is such a meticulous house keeper. She has the nose of a blood hound and is as fussy as any Grandmother I have ever met. He is constantly in dutch for tracking something or another into her kitchen or living room. You should have heard her the time she came home early and caught us frying fish in her kitchen. That would be the kitchen from Good House Keeping seal of approval. She claimed she could smell fried fish for months.

Captain Jim was set, Wednesday evening he showed me his preparations for Saturdays match. He had his special "Bacon Grease Patch Lube" ready. He had made up a special brass tin and old "timey lookin" label for the presentation to Bob. I don't know how he did it, but that bacon grease must have been from the best bacon his brother-in-law ever made. I mean it smelled so good, you wanted to lick patches. All Captain Jim had to do was wait for our next informal match.

When the day final came, Captain Jim was even better prepared than I imagined. We set up the usual targets and proceeded to shoot them full of holes. Typically we don't pay much attention to what the other guys are doing unless it is something special. Well Captain Jim manages to produce some fantastic targets, which he just causally mentions. (That means he making so much noise about them that you'd have to be deaf not to notice.) Well I'm suspicious, but that's my nature. But Bob is a trusting sort and wants to know just what Captain Jim is doing to produce these "great groups." Course Captain Jim just smiles and moves up wind of Bob. A couple of shots later you could smell the bacon grease at twenty yards. Course Bob can smell it, making his low cholesterol stomach growl and his mouth water. Stopping in his tracks, he watches Captain Jim make an elaborate display of applying the bacon grease to his patch. After watching Captain Jim for a couple of shots, Bob reaches over and picks up the little tin of bacon grease.

What this stuff?, Bob asks the Captain.
"Why my special bacon grease patch. Next best thing to bear grease and better than that synthetic stuff your using. I been fooling with it lately thinking I might be able to sell a few tins."
"Bacon grease??," Bob asks, eyeing the tin and nibbling at the bait.
"That's right, I came up with the idea when I was reading about some old timer shooting some fantastic score using bear grease."
"Right," I over heard Bob say.
"You don't believe me? Just look at this target." Captain Jim handed Bob a target with four shots that you could put a nickel over. "How's that for offhand? Before I started using bacon grease the best I could do was a half dollar size group."
Bob wasn't buying so Captain Jim up the anti a little. "Let me finish this target and you can walk out and look." When we got to the target board Captain Jim's target had another slightly off-center nickel sized group.
"See," smiled Captain Jim.
"Got some I can try," Bob said looking both wide eyed and hungry.
"For you my friend, of course."

Meanwhile, I'm trying to stay out of Daniels Boone's way as he walks into the lions den. On the way back, Captain Jim gives me a wink as he embellishes his bacon grease story with some theories on ball rotation and inertia. I honestly thought Bob was smarter, but I figured the smell of the bacon grease had dimmed his mental facilities.

Captain Jim demonstrated the best way to use the new lube. He reached into the can with one of his fingers and wiped the grease on the patching material. This left a coating of bacon grease on Captain Jim's fingers which he deftly licked off. When Bob's turn came, he couldn't lick them off, cholesterol, so, just as Captain Jim figured, he wiped them on his shirt and pants, along with all the other hand dirt for the day. Smiling they both went back to shooting.

Along the way Captain Jim explained to Bob that the real "old timey" way to use the lube was to melt it down and soak the patches in it. After they were saturated the patches had to be baked in a warm oven for fifteen minutes at a low heat. Enough to bring them almost to smoking. After that you let them cool and packaged them.

After a couple of hours we called it quits and started to pack. Captain Jim gave Bob his own tin of grease, complete with written instructions. Bob managed to leave first, so I had a chance to ask Captain Jim about his bacon grease joke.

"Seems your bacon grease didn't phase Bob at all."
"Wasn't suppose to," the Captain said with a grin.
"Then what was the point?"
"His wife."
"Okay I'm lost," I said.
"Remember how she's on him all the time about his diet?," he asked.
"And remember the fried fish episode?," he asked.
"How could I forget." "But what's that got to do with patch lube?," I asked the acknowledged master of deceit.
"What do you think will happen when he gets home?" "I give what?," I asked. "Bob is going to go into the house, find Sally and give her a hug and a kiss.," he explained. "Then Sally's going to get a whiff of that bacon grease and accuse Bob of not following his diet."
"But Bob will just claim that you gave him some bacon grease to use as a patch lube," I said. "Yeah I know, but Sally won't buy that, so Bob will have to spend the rest of the day convincing her that he wasn't out eating bacon sandwiches.," he explained.
"Oh," knowing there was more I waited patiently for Captain Jim to continue.
"Tomorrow morning while Sally is asleep, Bob will decide to make up some patches for next week."
"Okay??, so she'll get excited over the smell of bacon in her house and chew him out?," I offered.
"No, she'll get excited over the smell of the fox urine I laced his patch lube with and really chew him out," he said starting to snicker. "By the time the day is over, he will have promised her a night out, flowers and dinner. You know Sally, " he said with a laugh, "He won't live this down for a month."
"Kind of an expensive joke? Isn't it.," I asked.
"Yeah, but not as expensive as getting the upholstery in my wife's Blazer cleaned."
"Oh, just one other question."
"Yes, my son."
"Just how did you manage to shoot those targets? They looked like they were shot off a bench."
"I can see now why your ma called you sonny," he said smiling. "That was easy. All I did was stash some targets under my sighter target and switched then when you guys weren't looking."
"Oh, but even so that was pretty good shooting, even from a bench."
"Those weren't shot with a gun from a bench. They were shot with a drill press last night."

And so it goes, my "friends" are probably the most amusing part of my life. This months Black Powder Journal brings you some interesting articles from Hank Strong, Eileen Kindig, James Kyle and Cooper Jerret. 'Til the next time.