24 Feb 2007

Jim Zumbo Wrote a Career-Limiting Blog Entry

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Jim Zumbo was never the equal as a writer, or nearly as famous, as some of the great men preceding him as editors at century-old Outdoor Life magazine. But he had a pretty good career going as an Outdoor writer, serving as Hunting Editor for Outdoor Life, appearing weekly on the Outdoor Channel, representing Remington, and publishing a long series of books and a host of magazine articles, until now.

All that success evidently went to Zumbo’s head, and he recently started throwing around censorious and intolerant opinions on his blog about the alleged lack of sportsmanship of long-range game shooting, and the inappropriateness of using semi-automatic rifles of military style for shooting varmints, like coyotes and prairie dogs.

on 2/5:

Long range shooting

While at the SHOT Show recently, I ran into a guy who complained that too many hunters were taking excessively long shots. He’s an outfitter, and witnessed plenty of people shooting at elk at distances greater than 350 yards. He suggested that that was too far, primary because the majority of those hunters had no clue of ballistics. Most were “Hail Mary” shots. I agree. We read about people making 500 yard shots and more, and that, to me, is ridiculous.

Then at the SCI convention last week, I talked to a guy who bragged that his custom gun kills deer out at 800 yards and better. To each his own, I suppose, but that isn’t hunting. It’s shooting. And I don’t care how great a marksman you are. The risk of wounding an animal at extremely long ranges is high, and where’s the sportsmanship, the ethics, the satisfaction of taking outrageously long shots? I understand there’s a group in PA that shoots deer at 1,000 yards and more. More power to them. Just don’t ask me to support that kind of “hunting.”

and on 2/16

(the url used to be: http://outdoorlife.blogs.com/zumbo/2007/02/assault_rifles_.html – but the post has since been removed.)

Assault Rifles For Hunters?

As I write this, I’m hunting coyotes in southeastern Wyoming with Eddie Stevenson, PR Manager for Remington Arms, Greg Dennison, who is senior research engineer for Remington, and several writers. We’re testing Remington’s brand new .17 cal Spitfire bullet on coyotes.

I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms.

I call them “assault” rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I’ll go so far as to call them “terrorist” rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are “tackdrivers.”

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I’ve always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don’t use assault rifles. We’ve always been proud of our “sporting firearms.”

This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don’t need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the prairies and woods.

A bit over a week later, Outdoor Life has fired him, Remington has severed his corporate sponsorship ties, and the Outdoor Channel has reportedly dropped him.

Thw Washington Post is publishing tomorrow a shocked story on the Unforgiving Response from U.S. Gun Culture.

A firestorm of criticism swept Internet shooting sites, and Mr. Zumbo apologized very profusely 2/18:

I was wrong, BIG TIME
Someone once said that to err is human. I just erred, and made without question, the biggest blunder in my 42 years of writing hunting articles.

My blog inflamed legions of people I love most….. hunters and shooters. Obviously, when I wrote that blog, I activated my mouth before engaging my brain.

Let me explain the circumstances surrounding that blog. I was hunting coyotes, and after the hunt was over and being beat up by 60 mph winds all day, I was discussing hunting with one of the young guides. I was tired and exhausted, and I should have gone to bed early. When the guide told me that there was a “huge” following of hunters who use AR 15’s and similar weapons to hunt prairies dogs, I was amazed. At that point I wrote the blog, and never thought it through.

Now then, you might not believe what I have to say, but I hope you do. How is it that Zumbo, who has been hunting for more than 50 years, is totally ignorant about these types of guns. I don’t know. I shot one once at a target last year, and thought it was cool, but I never considered using one for hunting. I had absolutely no idea how vast the numbers of folks are who use them.

I never intended to be divisive, and I certainly believe in United we Stand, Divided we Fall. I’ve been an NRA member for 40 years, have attended 8 national NRA conventions in the last 10 years, and I’m an advisory board member for the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance which actively fights anti-hunters and animal rights groups for hunter’s rights.

What really bothers me are some of the unpatriotic comments leveled at me. I fly the flag 365 days a year in my front yard. Last year, through an essay contest, I hosted a soldier wounded in Iraq to a free hunt in Botswana. This year, through another essay contest, I’m taking two more soldiers on a free moose and elk hunt.

When I started blogging, I was told to write my thoughts, expressing my own opinion. The offensive blog I wrote was MY opinion, and no one else’s. None of the companies that I deal with share that opinion, nor were they aware of what I had written until this firestorm started.

Believe it or not, I’m your best friend if you’re a hunter or shooter, though it might not seem that way. I simply screwed up. And, to show that I’m sincere about this, I just talked to Ted Nugent, who everyone knows, and is a Board member of the NRA. Ted is extremely active with charities concerning our wounded military, and though he’s known as a bowhunter, Ted has no problem with AR 15’s and similar firearms. My sincerity stems from the fact that Ted and I are planning a hunt using AR 15’s. I intend to learn all I can about them, and again, I’m sorry for inserting my foot in my mouth.”


All this is very sad, of course. No one likes to see this kind of career disaster befall even a semi-inadvertent victim. But… it is simply outrageous, when gun ownership rights are under continual attack by active enemies outside the sporting community, for someone occupying one of the most honored positions within the shooting sports, for the successor to Jack O’Connor himself, to be so obtuse as to lend aid and comfort to the enemy.

Of course, Field & Stream‘s David E. Petzal, in 1994, got away with endorsing the original Assault Weapons Ban (which he, however, did criticize for being too broad):

Gun owners — all gun owners — pay a heavy price for having to defend the availability of these weapons. The American public — and the gun-owning public; especially the gun-owning public — would be better off without the hardcore military arms, which puts the average sportsman in a real dilemma.”

I certainly felt back then that Field & Stream had no business employing a man with Petzal’s views as Shooting Editor, and I told them precisely that in the letter I sent canceling my subscription, which I had maintained continuously since the late 1950s.

Petzal is more careful today, but he actually has the chutzpah to deny that he endorsed the Assault Weapons Ban back in ’94.

I guess my personal position is that all this should have happened to David E. Petzal back in 1994, and then it wouldn’t be happening to Jim Zumbo today.

19 Feedbacks on "Jim Zumbo Wrote a Career-Limiting Blog Entry"

Jay Davis

What Zumbo wrote re “assault rifles” was so stupid as to defy logic. That he is paying for that stupidity is understandable. The anti-gun crowd use every little thing to further their agenda, and Zumbo handed them a big present.


Zumbo deserves everything he gets and much much more.

Illinois hunter

My life as a hunter and shooter has been greatly blessed by Jim Zumbo, mainly via his TV show. He taught me not to listen to those who say bear is inedible and showed me good ways to prepare it. He taught me to quit throwing back those small northern pike and eat them instead and showed me how to cook them. He is a great man who has erred, repented, and deserves our forgiveness for all he has blessed us with. I would consider it an honor to hunt with Jim – who knows maybe we could zap a groundhog with an AK.


I am a hunter, fisherman, trapper and American. I don’t own “assault” weapons because I have no need for them. HOWEVER, I DO recognize the rights of anyone who has a DESIRE to own ANY weapon to do so.

I have read Outdoor Life for nearly 40 years. I have read MANY of Zumbo’s articles and have agreed and disagreed with him.

Although I disagree with Zumbo’s article, I agree that ignorant public seeing hunters with ‘assault’ weapons does not set a good impression. People programmed to go into fear mode and ‘lock down’ at the sight of a gun see a threat rather than a steward of the land.

Zumbo’s remarks may have insulted many who disagree with his opinion, but now I see THEM being as intolerant as any anti-gunner. I have seen a wolf pack turn on a wounded member and tear him apart. Perhaps this is for the good of the pack. I would hope that ALL gun owners and supporters are better than a pack of wolves.

Remember all that Zumbo has contributed to OUTDOORSMEN over the years. I feel many of those who are unforgiving probably don’t read Outdoor Life anyway.

I disagree with Zumbo on this issue as I have disagreed with him on others. However, I STRONGLY disagree with Outdoor Life, Remington and any other affiliates ostracizing him for an opinion. That transgression is far greater than Zumbo’s.

Best wishes to Jim Zumbo

dan barton

It’s a shame that a fine man like Jim Zumbo has had to submit to ‘re-education’ by punks like Ted Nugent. Jim is right that we gunners have to be image conscious if we want to keep our Second Amendment rights. Ted Nugent, with his macho posturing, is a better advertisement for the anti-gunners than Sarah Brady.Jim can also be excused for not knowing that the AR type rifles are now in common use by varmint hunters. It’s taken gun cranks thirty years to get these thing accurate enough to knock off small varmints. In the meantime Jim has been hunting his own way, and serving American hunters and shooters with integrity.

Roger Powell

I was not aware of Jim Zumbo or his comments until I read Ray Shoenke’s opinion in the Washington Post today which prompted me to research this further. Mr. Zumbo’s firing from Outdoor Life and the immediate withdrawal of sponsor support of his TV show along with the hateful attacks by NRA members has done more harm to the second amendment cause than his comments. This fallout is indicative of the lack of tolerance and reasonable debate in today’s hyped up political arena.

The general public (non NRA members) will view the hunting community and the NRA’s response to Mr. Zumbo’s statements as just a bunch of yahoos with a strong political lobby who care for nothing but the 2nd amendment. The potential to be publicly torn apart and ruined financially by those Mr. Zumbo has worked so hard for decades does not speak well for hunters or Americans in general.

Harold Rinko

To Jim.

Don’t let the bzzzzzzzz get you down. Bigger
men than you have stuck their foot in their
mouth and have been forgiven. Life is all about trying, erring, and forgiving. Hang in
there. You are a good person.

Bob Creekmore

Jim Zumbo made a serious mistake unforgivable to some I can forgive his unfortunate statement as temporary laps in good judgement however I will never forget and as bad as it is for him I have to say he got what he deserved he was in a position to promote AR-15 rifles and there use as a hunting arm and instead lead his readers to believe AR owners are Terrorists.Gun and hunting writers need to think before badmouthing any type of hunting or firearm.

Ryan Acree

I am deeply sadden to hear that Zumbo has made such a ignorant comment. I have followed him since I was a child. I am and hopefully will always be an AR owner. But I hate the public perception of the weapon. Now we have someone like Zumbo make negative comments about a weapon that he himself admits he knows nothing about, he has just unknowingly given the anti-gun nuts the best ammo they have had in years. I do not believe that Zumbo’s apology is (was) sincere. I believe that he is sorry that his comments got him in so much trouble, but not that is not his true belief. Unfortunately this is the opinion of my people his age which is very unfortunate. I have many (older) people look at me like I am crazy when they see my camo and scoped AR just because they are ignorate to the gun.

I just watched the Zumbo/Nugent show where Zumbo tries to make up for his blunder by shooting an AR. This also does not seem sincere to me. Sorry.

Also while I’m at it Jim, todays professional hunter do not hunt in blue jeans and black cowboy hats so while you are trying to salvage your career you might want to hit up your remaining sponsors for some pants and a hat. IMO.

Ryan Acree
NRA Life Member and a so called “terrorist gun owner”

And proud of both

Tom Price

I sure would like to hear all of you people’s reaction, if some one tried to stop you from expressing your personal opinion on any matter. Jim has a right to his opinon. Some people just don’t understnd free speech. Seem to me if someone disagrees with Jim, they will take their ball and go home. GET A LIFE PEOPLE, FREE SPEECH.

Missouri Boatride

Mr. Zumbo is certainly entitled to his opinion; in all honesty, can’t say as I had really heard of him before this. I was literally raised in the woods behind a rifle,and have hunted and shot all of my life; a combat veteran, later trained as a gunsmith, etc. Outdoor writers are just that…writers. They are not gods, and in fact quite a few of them know little more than the average guy that’s been in the woods for the whole of his life. They are often found behind guides and often meet with success in the woods; we all would if we had that much time to hunt. So to me, he’s just another guy with an opinion that I don’t agree with. His words aren’t going to change anything in the world.

I have to admit to being thrilled by the outdoor magazines as a child, but they ceased to interest me much by the time my teen years were upon me. Not because of girls so much as the fact that my years and experience in the outdoor life were generally light years ahead of most of the articles that I was reading…there was little education to be found; I thank my Dad for that. As years went by, I would pick one up now and again, but they seem to be little more than advertisements for many things that most people really don’t need in order to be successful afield. Each to their own.

As for ‘assault rifles’, I carried them in the Army for President Reagan. I do own an AR, one of the high-precision models that is capable of groups that most production bolt guns can’t muster. It never wears more than a ten-round magazine, as I simply do not need it; nor do I want to run a lot of rounds down the barrel and prematurely eat up a very expensive match-grade barrel. I use it for predator calling, bobcats, coyotes, small animals like that. Anything larger and it’s my .300 WSM. I have owned AKs in the past, as they are fun to shoot at the range and ammo is cheap. I have nothing against guys that own them simply to put lots of rounds down range, although I would prefer they not do that when hunting.

As for them being ‘terrorist weapons’, I suppose that next he will speak of the nitrogen fertilizer and diesel fuel found on farms in the midwest. Not to mention the powerful ‘sniper rifles’ that he himself carries to the woods. Truth be told, while I do not want to be shot at, I would much rather be shot at with an AR or an AK than with my 300 WSM. I shouldn’t have to explain that to anyone that shoots. But as we know, so far as the uneducated squealing masses go, it is all about perception; Zumbo has not helped that perception. He probably didn’t know that the same company that bought Remington bought Bushmaster Arms and others, and that an AR would soon be wearing Remington’s brand. oops.


well done, dude

Nathan Smitchko

Jim Zumbo is a piece of sh!t!! There are certain things that you just can’t take back after you say them. Zumbo said plenty of the sort. I refuse to watch him on TV, read his articles or be a part of any organization that supports him.

Tom Somrak

Your detractors are mental cases all!
I’d gladly hunt any day with you while most of them are armchair hunters. An opinion is just that, and any hunter with an opinion regardless of flavor, is still a far more valuable friend and compatriot, than an anti-hunter or neo-nazi! You’d be a welcome guest at my fire or home anytime. I’ll not patronize the gutless few who’d treat a fellow hunter so poorly. You’ve a great past to be proud of supporting us, and you’ve a great future as your fellow sane hunters continue to support you! Cheers!

Hunter 57

Success can definitely go to people’s heads, especially when they are sportsman. As you get older I think you start wanting more out of people and expect them to abide by your rules. If a person want’s to hunt that way and it’s legal let them. I think Zumbo has a right to his opinion, but I don’t think he should be so critical. I always liked him as a writer, I just hope he doesn’t go overboard on a topic such as this.


Freedom of speech bitches. It was his opinion and you know it so leave him alone. you dont need to use an ar or ak to shoot a deer with to much ammo being shot!

Clay Cooper

Crossbow debate?

Who are we going to crucify this time!

Imagine that!

projectile dysfunction

“Free speech” protects you from government interference in speech (with exceptions- for example inciteful speech isn’t protected) not from being called out on making stupid remarks. The first amendment isn’t insurance against being ignorant and out of touch. If you are dumb enough to proclaim your fellow hunter “terrorists” because they use black pistol-gripped semiautos instead of Remington 7400s you get what you deserve- especially when your main sponsor happens to be owned by a company that builds these “terrorist guns.”

Everyone defending Zumbo here realizes he’s being a hypocrite, right? Writing all ARs off as “military weapons” ignores the fact that anyone who uses a Remington 700, Remington 870, or Mossberg and Benelli shotguns is also employing military hardware to hunt. Same for anyone who shoots .30-06, .308, .223, .45-70, etc- those calibers all have a military origin. This goes to show you can’t arbitrarily separate guns into “hunting” and “TERRORIST NUN-MURDERING” categories, especially based only on appearance. Why wasn’t Zumbo calling out Mini-14 or Mini-30 owners? They’re functionally the same as an AR or AK, but I guess they don’t look scary enough to be terrorist weapons? These AKs and ARs aren’t automatic weapons, they’re semiauto only. Automatic weapons have been regulated since 1934 in the US with the passage of the National Firearms Act.

DP Whitaker

I like AR and AK RIFLES! That being said I feel Jim Zumbo has a right to to his opinion but would have been better to keep it to himself as he now realizes. My late father who was a Korean war veteran felt the same way Mr.Zumbo does.
I can forgive Jim and would hunt with him any day. I hope we never lose our right to free speech.


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