Mason County News
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Outdoors Outpost
Win Some, Lose Some
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 • Posted June 21, 2013

The problem, as I see it, is that my Keen boots have worn slap out. At least, that’s the story I’m going with. When you need an excuse for failure, you grasp at whatever straw is closest, not necessarily the most logical one.

Last year, at the Shannon Sporting Clays Media Shoot, my partner, Ed Probandt, and I won first place. Granted, Ed did the heavy lifting, but I figure I did my part. Whenever others were shooting I coughed and sneezed and, when I thought I could get away with it, shouted, “Look, there’s Angelina Jolie!” If you don’t distract the competition they’re liable to make you look bad.

So Ed and I came away with the ‘traveling trophy,’ which, suitably adorned with our names, traveled to Ed’s office in San Angelo, and then to the West Central Wireless office in Mason. I never, personally, laid eyes on the trophy until I showed up at this year’s media shoot at the San Angelo Claybird Association range, but just knowing it was out there somewhere was nice. When I remembered it. Which wasn’t often.

At this year’s shoot I was paired with Boomer ‘Boomer’ Kingston, a DJ type fellow at KGKL radio in San Angelo. This was actually a much more equitable arrangement than me and Ed had been. Boomer and I have a very compatible style of shooting, a sort of humane outlook toward the clay birds. It’s kind of a ‘boom without the bust’ approach.

Boomer and I were both shooting Remington 870 shotguns, but you can’t blame our lack of success on the 870. I’ve tried that, and it didn’t work. The 870 is the most popular shotgun in the history of the world, and with the correct choke screwed into the barrel (not the choke Boomer and I used) it’s as good a trap and skeet and sporting clays shotgun as any, despite what you may hear from people who actually know something about shooting clay birds.

Most of those people use special shotguns, which cost about what you’d pay to have an artificial hip installed, including the maintenance plan. These are two-barrelled guns, some of which have special stocks and levels and plumb-bobs and such. These guns are really pretty, but at my skill level, shooting such a gun would be like driving an Abrams tank to work. It will do more than what I would ever use it for.

Incidentally, those fancy guns, and the people who shot them way back in the old days, are why we have to have a plug in our pump and automatic shotguns these days when we hunt migratory game birds. When pump shotguns started to become popular, with tubular magazines capable of holding several shells, the two-barrel owners claimed the extra ammo capacity gave the pump guys an unfair advantage. So they were required to install plugs that restricted the magazines to two rounds, and that rule applied to hunting, too.

It’s pretty silly, but now we have a law that keeps us from being allowed to legally utilize our equipment to its full potential, and all because of some snooty deceased whiners who got their ascots in a pinch a hundred years ago. The commissioners of the Texas Parks & Wildlife & Antiquated Laws Dept. should change that rule, but they won’t. And I’ll tell you why they won’t. Because you and I don’t complain about it. Well, I complain, but no one listens to me.

Anyway, Boomer and I didn’t exactly set the woods on fire with our clay bird prowess, but since I can’t blame by shotgun for my poor performance, I blame my boots. They’re good boots, made by Danner, substantial and comfortable and durable, but I haven’t had them long enough to get them properly trained. I miss my old Keen hiking boots.

The Keens were fantastic boots, waterproof and breathable, and were actually comfortable, really comfortable, the first time I put them on, with no break-in period. They were as comfortable after an all-day hike as they were when I put them on in the morning, and never gave me a blister. And they looked nice enough that I could wear them hunting or to a football game or to church or a wedding or funeral or whatever. Well, not according to my wife, but still.

So I wore the Keens pretty much all the time for over a year, until I wore them pretty much plumb out. They’ve got holes here and there now in the uppers, although the soles are still in pretty good shape. They’ve climbed mountains and floated rivers and hunted deer and varmints and birds with me, but they’re done. So I had to wear the Danners, which aren’t broke in yet, and caused me to shoot poorly.

The Shannon Sporting Clays Benefit Shoot will be held July 19-20, and they’re raffling off a Sig 1911 .45 pistol and a Sig AR .223. They’re also auctioning off a replica of the Quigley Down Under Sharps rifle, signed by Tom Selleck, who might come to the shoot. AirMed1 and the Shannon Medical Center depend on the shoot to raise funds for a lot of the programs they offer that benefit West Texas year round. Put the date on your calender, and go have a good time for a worthy cause.

And wear Keens. You’ll shoot better . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who misses about half the clay birds on purpose, to make sure there are plenty of little skeet next year. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

For more information on the Shannon Sporting Clays Benefit Shoot call 325.657.8343 or go to

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