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Summer Camping Fun


Butterfield Lee CkOne of the great things about growing up in Arkansas is living so close to the Ozark Mountains and the great camping trips we had there. Our usual spot was a 1-2 hour drive from home depending on which way we had to go in to the camp.

When I was a kid every summer as soon as school let out and sometimes sooner if we could get away, a bunch of us would hit the woods to go camping. Our fall deer camp doubled as our favorite summer camping spot. We usually had at least 2 Jeeps full of dads, uncles and kids. There were several time we had as many as 15-20 of us camped out.

In the days before seat belt safety we were usually all in Dad's CJ5 Jeep. My dad drove, another dad rode shotgun, our tent, all our gear and 5 kids were all crammed in the Jeep. Three of us had to squeeze in the back of the Jeep on top of our gear, one kid was in the dad’s lap in the passenger seat and one kid rode on center console. We also had the doors off the Jeep. I miss the good old days when we could do stuff like that without getting a ticket.

rock hole

As soon as we reached our campsite, we would pile out of the Jeep and hit the woods or the creek. We usually went straight to the creek if it was running any at all. Our camp was on a high bank above a creek over looking a spring fed hole of water that hardly ever went dry in the summer.

Inevitably one of us would fall in the creek within 5 minutes of getting there which was usually fine, but on those spring and fall trips it was a might chilly.

On the hot summer weekends we usually just played in the creek. Other weekends, especially closer to deer season, we would spend a lot of time squirrel hunting and checking for deer sign or just hiking and exploring.

While we didn’t hike in to our camp, our camping was primitive with no conveniences of any kind. We drove nearly an hour from the main road to our camp where the road ended back then so it was isolated. We used the water from the creek for cooking, doing the dishes and sometimes drinking.

ozark mountains foss

Steaks were our customary Friday evening dining choice. We didn’t bother with anything healthy like vegetables. Just the steaks cooked out over the campfire and had cookies or Little Debbie snacks for dessert. There is something about a campfire steak that makes it taste so much better. The rest of the time we lived off bologna sandwiches, snacks and sodas.

We usually set up a tent and the dads and younger kids would sleep in the tent. My camping compatriots and I usually slept on the ground out under the stars. Bugs never did seem to bother us much when we were sleeping on the ground. Sometimes you would wake up with a spider or some other bug crawling across you face that you just swatted away. Other times the mosquitoes were so bad that you had to sleep with something covering your head to keep them away. The rest of the time we just scratched a few bites and went on. And we loved every minute of it.

copperhead snake resized 600

We rarely saw snakes. I guess we made enough noise to scare them off. But there was one time one of us almost stepped on a copperhead that was about 3 foot long which was the biggest copperhead we’ve ever seen. Most of the larger copper heads you see around here are about 18” long. I helped my friend’s dad skin it out. Even with it's head cut off, that copper head kept striking at us. 

The most fun of all that we had were the vines that grew on the side of the mountain behind our camp. We would find a good thick vine with a clear area down the hill and swing from it. The side of the mountain was steep enough that we could swing out and be really high up. There was only one bad incident with the vines. Early one summer we hit the woods and the first thing my buddy did was run up the hill, grab the old vine from the previous year and swing out. He swung all the way out and just started back when the rotten vine broke. He landed tail first on a pointed rock. I think he might have broken his butt.

Despite some of the minor bumps, scratches and bruises, we all had a whole lot of fun, weekend camping was our most favorite summer past time. I hope a lot of you got to do the same, and if you get a chance take your kids out camping.

What are some of your great camping memories?

You can follow me on Twitter @thejasonparks

Pictures via: Could you spot the copperhead?

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Hunting the Honey Hole Tree



Thompson Center RenegadeMy dad bought me my black powder rifle when I was 12 years old, which was my first deer rifle (before this I had been using a 20 gauge shotgun). We were in the sporting goods section at the store, when I noticed it on sale. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was too good a price to pass up. I ended up with a .54 caliber Thompson Center Renegade.

I got the rifle after deer season was over, and I spent the months leading up to the next muzzleloader season practicing with it. I was extremely excited about hunting that year because it was going to be my first time getting to deer hunt in a stand alone. By the time muzzleloader season arrived, I was a crack-shot with my new rifle.

We loaded up the Jeep and headed to the woods the Friday before opening morning (Dad took me out of school early to go hunting). When we got to deer camp we were greeted with my uncle, Paul, telling us about a bear that came under his tree while he had been bow hunting that morning. He said the bear caught his scent and came right up to the tree he was in then stood up and leaned on the tree on its hind legs and watched him for about five minutes before moving on. After giving the bear time to move on, Paul climbed down and hightailed it back to camp.

There were a lot of hunters in camp that weekend so I ended up hunting with Dad opening morning because all the stands were taken. We didn’t see anything. Paul killed a buck about daylight. He field-dressed the buck, dragged it back to camp then went back to his stand and killed another buck about an hour later. Since he was tagged out, Paul suggested that I hunt his stand that evening. My chance had come.

I got in Paul’s stand about 2 o’clock that afternoon and settled in to wait. I didn’t see anything all afternoon, and I had watched like a hawk due to that bear being around. The sun started to dip down behind the top of the mountain behind me, so I decided to call it a day. I removed the cap, tied my string to my rifle and started lowering it out of the tree. My rifle was about halfway down when I heard a noise. I looked up and saw a spike coming down the trail towards me.

shooting tce muzzleloaderI have no idea how that deer didn’t see or hear me trying to get that rifle back up the tree. However I did it, that spike kept coming at me. I jammed a new cap on the nipple with trembling fingers, drew down on Spike and dropped the hammer. Smoke and fire blew out the end of the barrel as the rifle boomed, and I couldn’t see a freaking thing because of all the smoke. I heard the deer running then a crash.

I reloaded with shaking hands and probably spilled half the powder then hustled out of the tree. After a little bit of looking I found him. He had run about 30 yards down the bench and keeled over. I had killed my first deer with a perfect heart shot.

About 5 minutes later, my dad came walking down the bench from the direction the spike had come. Dad had pushed Spike along the bench ahead of him on his way to get me. I am not sure who was more proud, Dad or me.

Three bucks were taken from that tree in one day that year and that was how the legend of the Honey Hole Tree started. That may not sound impressive compared to where you hunt but that never happens hunting in the Ozark Mountains, where a deer camp of 10 men might tag 2-4 deer on a good Opening Morning or sometimes all season depending on the year.

We killed more deer out of that tree over the next several years, but never again so many in one day. We don’t hunt in that area anymore, but one of these days I plan on going back. Those memories are some of my most treasured.

How old were you when you first went hunting?


You can follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonparks and Instagram @jason_parks_brothers_farm.

Second image via


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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Shooting handguns with my brother.


 My youngest brother came to shoot at a pistol match with me. He has some experience shooting a pistol. It’s not very much. He does need to learn more of the fundamentals of how you handle it tactically. But he is very enthusiastic to learn.

 I have my 92FS for him to use at the match. We shared it. I don't own any other 9mm handguns to use. What a great weapon for him to learn with. All the safety features that you can't go wrong with when teaching gun safety. He followed every step. It was about 22 degrees out that day in the middle of January. And the 92FS worked flawlessly for my brother as a first time shooter in that weather.

 The first stage of the match was shooting 6 steal plates at 11 yards. You shoot as many rounds as it takes till all 6 plates are down. Rules are that the first magazine is to hold only 11 rounds. All other magazines after that are 10. I have seen as many as 20 to 25 used. But there are some shooters who do so well that they only use 6 to 8 rounds.

 They let me shoot before my brother so he can watch how it’s done. When you load the first round with the 92FS, you can take the safety off before you holster the weapon. But the hammer has to be forward. Then when you draw to shoot the first round, it will be double action first pull. It was cold and I usually never get the first plate on the first shot. So this time, when I drew the weapon and raise it up to shoot, I cocked the hammer manually. The first plate went down with the first shot. It took me less time to do that then to take the time to waste the first shot on double action pull. I plan on doing that every time from now on. No more wasting that first round.

 SAM 0388

This is a picture of my brother shooting for the first time ever for a competition. They allowed another shooter between us so we can have time to change over the weapon from my hip to his. And during that time I can answer any of my brother’s questions. What is best about the people I shoot with is that we all get along great. Anybody and everybody there is willing to help eachother. Its the best part of being there. After that it came time for my brother to shoot. He never competed before. His experience shooting a handgun involved just plinking. Mostly aiming at the general direction of the target and shooting for fun. This was his first time ever where every round counts and thats it timed. Now, I love my brother. But I honestly was a little worried how he would do. I thought to myself. “Please don’t waste a lot of ammo”. “Please don’t miss”. “Please don’t go to fast”.  “Please don’t break a rule”. To my amazement, and everybody else’s, he did great. He even manually cocked the hammer for the first shot and hit the first plate like he has done it before. The norm is usually to try to shoot the plates down in less than 1 magazine. With eleven rounds in the first magazine, he did it with ten. The first 3 plates went down with his first 3 shots. Then he took 7 more shots to take down the other 3. I think he started rushing it. But he got the right idea. After that, the other stages were like nothing to him. He paid attention to everything and shot groups like he was a natural. I am very proud of him.

 My brother talked a lot about how much he loved shooting the 92FS. Still does. He had so much fun that I foresee him coming out to compete more often. He even talked about how interested he is on possibly purchasing his own handgun. Until then, I would proudly allow him to continue to use my Beretta. 

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

What A Weekend!

By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

Hunting season!  I had the pleasure of spending the weekend chasing dove with a great group of guys. My younger brother is getting married in a few weeks so myself and a few of his friends put together a bachelor weekend at a friends ranch just outside of Weesatche, Texas.  There was great food, clay targets, shotguns, rifles, pistols, a decent number of dove, and an all around great time with some good people.

The weekend looked like it might have been a wash in all literal sense of the word.  Friday night and Saturday morning was an ongoing rain event that dropped 2-5" of rain in the area.  Saturday afternoon the rain came to a halt and the timing couldn't have been any better.  We were able to get a few rounds of skeet in before we all went out in the field to put a minor dent in the Texas dove population.  The final tally of birds in hand was 9 mostly due to the birds being spread out from the weather.  We stayed out until dusk and then made the short drive back to the barn.

Upon arrival at the barn we found that my dad, the cook for the weekend, had carved up the brisket that had been on the pit for about 12 hours as well as 6 beer can chickens accompanied with a pot of beans.  One thing about Texas country boys, WE CAN EAT!  Within an hour all the food was devoured, cold beverages were being consumed, washers were being thrown, and college football was on the big screen.  It was definitely the absolute best bachelor weekend I have ever been lucky enough to attend.

I'm dedicating this post to my brother.  Jared, I hope that your marriage is filled with good times and an eternal bond with a wonderful woman.  You are a hell of a man and I am thankful to be able to call you my brother.  I am extremely proud of you, and I love you.

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube


This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Top 10 Reasons I Hunt

By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

As a new hunting season approaches there are a ton of things that run through my head in preparation for what is to come in the next few months.  Is the boat ready to go?  Are the decoys rigged up?  Did I make all the repairs on equipment that needed to be made?  Last week I was out in the garage answering all these questions.  I pulled out my old blind stool and sat down in it and started thinking about things.  One question that kept coming back to me was WHY?  Why do I go to the extents that I do to chase fowl?  Why do I spend the amount of hard earned money on this sport?  Why do I wake up at 3:00 AM to run a boat for 30 minutes in 30 degree weather, trounce through marsh mud that rivals some of the deepest quicksand around, and then spend 45 minutes setting out decoys just to shoot some waterfowl?

Here is my top 10 reasons I do what I do to chase waterfowl.

10.  The smell of gunpowder at sun up as a group of greenwing teal buzz the decoys.

  9.  I have a chance to be out on the water. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I have saltwater running through my veins!

  8.  Seeing a bird crumple in mid air after I pull the trigger on my Beretta A400 Xtreme!

  7.  Watching my yellow lab, Aeva, charge hard after that bird that just crumpled.

  6.  Enjoying a hot cup of coffee and a blind breakfast during that first lull.

  5.  Because duck breast, jalapeno, and cream cheese all wrapped in bacon and grilled tastes Mmmmmm Mmmmm GOOD!!!

  4.  Knowing that I am in GOD's country and I am doing what he intended for me to do.

  3.  I am able to share that blind with some of my closest friends.

  2.  I can spend time with my kids that I cherish so much.

And the number one reason I do what I do to chase waterfowl:

Passion!  I have a passion for the outdoors and everything that it stands for.  I have passion for sharing those times with my kids and friends.  I have a passion for what God has graced me with.

I take this time to be thankful for those ten things and many others that I am afforded in this great nation and have been so graciously given by the Man upstairs.

So what is on your top 10 list?

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube


This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Passing the Torch: Freedom to Fire Part 2


By Austin Selph –Guest Contributor

(Part 2 of 4)
As I mentioned in part one of the Freedom to Fire series, I didn’t grow up with guns in my household (a tragedy, to say the least). Luckily I had some outside influences in the form of extended family and friends to help push me in the right direction.

Generally (and hopefully), most people don’t just stumble upon a firearm and try to “figure things out.” At some point in time, the majority of us have had a specific person or group of people to mentor us in to the world of firearms.

So, let’s talk about being a mentor. This is the guy or gal who teaches you the dos and don’ts of what being a gun owner and operator is all about. Almost every gun owner had a mentor at some point, and most have or are in the process of passing along their tips, tricks, and experience to someone else.

So here’s my story:

I grew up in the concrete jungle of suburban Dallas. Believe it or not, the cul-de-sac is not the most appropriate location for a kid trying to squeeze off a few rounds. Go figure! My parents weren’t gun owners and the few friends I knew, who grew up with guns, didn’t have parents willing to put a firearm in my hands. Can you say rough life?

My mentor, cousin Jeff
Then, one fateful day, my family took a trip to Arkansas to visit a few extended family members. This is where my journey begins. My cousin Jeff (well, second cousin if we’re getting technical) took me out to some family land to do some shooting. I truly felt the freedom that comes with a single pull of the trigger. It was an experience like none other that left me hungry for more. Since then I have taken every opportunity to hit the range or get in the deer stand, even when other activities should probably take priority!

Over the last 15 years, Jeff has mentored me in areas of gun safety and protocol and continues to pass on the multi-generational firearm and hunting experience that his father passed on to him.

The mentor/mentee relationship builds a lifelong bond through a passion for firearms. It almost sounds silly to say that guns bring people together but, trust me, it works!

And... one question: who mentored you? Or who are you mentoring? Remember your skills are only one generation away from extinction if you don’t pass it on. Find someone to mentor!

Austin Selph is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Twitter or Facebook.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitter or YouTube


This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

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