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.
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.