Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors
Dec. 24, 2008
Election Sparks Spike In Firearms Background Checks
Background checks on the sale of firearms reached record levels during the
month of November, resulting in a historic spike in sales following the general
election. Also read this week about legendary bluesman Eric Clapton’s love of
shooting and hunting, as well as the plans for the first Tennessee elk hunt in
Record Gun Sales
Firearms retailers across the country reported increased sales of many types of
guns and accessories following the election of Barack Obama on November 4. Most
attribute the spike to fears that an Obama White House and Democrat-controlled
Congress will reinstate the so-called "assault weapons ban,"
prohibiting the sale of certain firearms and high capacity magazines.
Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
indicated a 42 percent increase in November firearm purchaser background checks.
A total of 1,529,635 checks — the highest monthly total ever — were reported for
the month, up from 1,079,923 in November 2007.
Federal law requires FBI background checks on individuals purchasing
firearms from federally-licensed retailers.
It should be noted that there is no national data source that captures
actual individual firearms sales by month.
Mirroring a nationwide trend, retail sales of firearms in the
President-elect’s home state of Illinois skyrocketed in the weeks since
Election Day, reflecting a 38 percent increase over the same period in 2007.
According to the Illinois State Police, 24,076 background checks were conducted
in November 2008 — up from 17,363 in November 2007 and 17,249 in November
Illinois gun dealers report that sales remained brisk throughout the
Thanksgiving holiday weekend with many customers acquiring several firearms at
a time along with sizeable quantities of ammunition.
Clapton Rocks With Guns, Hunting
In a recent interview, legendary bluesman and rock guitarist Eric Clapton says
he credits shooting and hunting with helping expand his social activities.
"I’m not really that gregarious," the 63-year-old said in an
interview with The Art Newspaper. "And shooting with groups of people up
and down the country has taught me a lot about how to get on with my fellow
Clapton, a longtime supporter of “The Countryside Alliance,” Great Britain’s
most active political force defending the hunting and shooting sports, is also
the co-owner of “Cordings,” one of the London area’s premier hunting, shooting,
and fishing gear outfitters.
While Clapton’s store may not be up to par with “The Sportsman’s Guide” here
in the U.S., that’s OK; to our knowledge, Gary Olen didn’t ever record “Layla,”
The seminal musician also divulged how he has become a passionate collector
of fine firearms. He admitted to paring down his collection two weeks ago, when
he auctioned 13 custom made shotguns for nearly 400,000 pounds ($270,000 U.S.).
"It is following the same pattern as when I collected guitars — I get
obsessed, then engulfed and finally narrow the collection down," he said.
Rock on, Eric.
Six Arrested For Illegal Deer Trapping, Sales In Texas
Game wardens in the Special Operations Unit of Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department’s Law Enforcement Division arrested six men and executed two search
warrants last week as part of a yearlong investigation into the illegal
trapping and trade of whitetails in Texas.
The arrests were the culmination of “Operation Texas Shuffle,” an organized investigation
into the black market deer trade in the Lone Star State.
"Our focus here is stopping two main areas of criminal activity: deer
being brought illegally across state lines, and wild deer being illegally
laundered into deer breeding facilities," said Col. Pete Flores, Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement director.
Deer breeding is a legal and growing business in Texas, estimated by one
breeder organization to be worth about $650 million per year for the state
economy. It is illegal, however, to capture or obtain wild deer and place them into
breeding facilities. Breeders must obtain captive, pen-raised deer from other
permitted breeders. There are currently 1,099 permitted deer breeders in Texas,
holding 86,989 deer in 1,161 facilities. The vast majority of these are
whitetail deer, and the rest are mule deer, the two native species in Texas.
"Money is driving the illegal trade in wild, native deer," said
Capt. Greg Williford with TPWD Law Enforcement Division’s Special Operations
Unit. "A captive-raised breeder buck can sell for tens of thousands of
dollars. So, catching deer in the wild seems a lot less expensive, until you
Plans Underway For First Tennessee Elk Hunt
In 150 Years!
The details for Tennessee’s first elk hunt in nearly 150 years are expected to
be finalized during the January meeting of the Wildlife Resource Commission,
with a hunt tentatively scheduled for October 2009.
The hunt would signal the successful culmination of a 10-year restoration
project in East Tennessee.
"We started looking at this back in the early 1990s and then in 1996 we
visited all the states in the East that had elk herds to see what their programs
were like," Greg Wathen, chief of wildlife for the Tennessee Wildlife
Resources Agency, told the Tennessean newspaper. "We basically came to the
conclusion that Tennessee could support elk."
A recommendation is expected to call for the establishment of a five-day elk
hunt during the second or third week in October in the North Cumberland
Wildlife Management area, which is located north of Knoxville.
Wathen said only five permits are expected be issued for the initial hunt.
Four will be awarded through a public quota random computer drawing and one
would go to a nonprofit wildlife conservation organization so that it could be
raffled off or sold at auction.
"This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for some very lucky
hunters," said Wathen, who estimated that about 15,000 hunters would apply
for the drawing.
A $10 non-refundable application fee is required to enter the drawing.
Tennessee residents would be required to purchase a $27 elk permit. The permit
for out-of-state residents is $300.
The last documentation of an elk being shot in The Volunteer State was in
1865 in Obion County.
Quote Of The Week
"I envy not him who eats better than I do, nor him that is richer, or that
wears better clothes than I do; I envy nobody but him, and him only, that
catches more fish than I do."
“The Compleat Angler,” 1653
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at