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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - September/October 2009 > Outdoor Indiana - September/October 2009 - Feature Stories Outdoor Indiana - September/October 2009 - Feature Stories

Friendship in the Valley
Hoosier Outdoor Experience
Bowhunter magazine
American snout butterfly

Friendship in the Valley

Traditional guns & values live on in southern Indiana
By Ben Shadley
Photography by Frank Oliver

Ron Young fires his flintlock muzzleloader at the primitive range during the spring National Championship Shoot at Friendship in 2009.The U.S. Census declared the American frontier closed. The fur trade had been over for decades. Buffalo were all but extinct. Sitting Bull was killed.

The year was 1890. The transcontinental railroad had been complete for two decades. Automobiles and machine guns had recently become reality.

The country was headed to uninterrupted modernity, no looking back.

Mostly. Forty-one years later in the Ohio River valley, a shooting match between obsolete guns of a bygone era unexpectedly ignited an international movement that lives on today. Based in the southern Indiana town of Friendship, population 49, the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and its hometown serve as center of a culture characterized by its devotion to history and its laid-back style.

According to the organization’s fact sheet, the whole thing started with a friendly challenge between two shooters and the calling of a bluff, probably with regard to accuracy. To settle the matter, a shooting contest promoted by Oscar Seth, president of the Norfolk and Western Railway, was held in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Shooting contests, then as now, were not unusual, but this one was with muzzleloaders, which in 1931 were technologically past their prime and popularity. In a broad sense, during the late 1800s and early 1900s firearms, like so many other devices, quickly became modern, leaving muzzleloaders behind. 

Accurate and reliable bolt action and semi-automatic rifles, automatic shotguns and pistols were not uncommon by that year. Legendary rounds such as the .30-06 Springfield, .45 ACP and .38 Special had been invented. Instead of the muzzleloading technique of having to load powder, patch and ball down the end of the barrel separately for each shot before affixing a percussion cap, the newer cartridges were self contained.

The new guns of that era also featured the relatively recent invention and refinement of smokeless gunpowder as opposed to the black powder needed for muzzleloaders. Smokeless powder is much more powerful and cleaner burning than black powder.

With respect to ballistics, reliability, ease-of-use, loading and availability, these new guns eclipsed muzzleloaders in nearly every respect. After the almost 1,000-year history of firearms, you could finally purchase a gun that could be shot often, cleaned relatively infrequently, and almost always fire when you pulled the trigger.
 
Ron Young fires his flintlock muzzleloader at the primitive range during the spring National Championship Shoot at Friendship in 2009. The anachronistic sticker on the side of his gun denotes whether the firearm is a rifle or musket, which constitute different competition classes.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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Hoosier Outdoor Experience

Kayakers navigate the lake at Lincoln State Park this past summer.Outdoor recreation was once a staple of regular family activity, but participation in traditional outdoor pursuits has declined in recent years. That means future generations could miss the vast educational and health benefits of outdoor experiences.

Many have seen the studies, read the books and even joined the movement created by Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” But talk won’t get people outdoors. So this fall, the DNR will do something new to get kids, and their families, outside. It is the inaugural Hoosier Outdoor Experience, Sept. 26-27. 

The Hoosier Outdoor Experience is modeled after programs in other states and uses the planning resources from Weatherby Foundation International. Using this guidance and local expertise should yield a wonderful family event at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis.

What exactly is the Hoosier Outdoor Experience? It’s three days of fun, free hands-on outdoor activities designed to introduce students, families and anyone who is uncomfortable or inexperienced in the outdoors to the joys and adventures available across Indiana.

It’s not another trade show, sport show or commercial event. It’s an experiential opportunity for each participant to try outdoor activities and skills like hiking, hunting, fishing, wilderness navigation, wildlife management, mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, guided by experts and local partner groups. Participants should leave familiar with the Hoosier state’s outdoor offerings and a knowledge of who can help them develop their new interests.

More than 100 conservation and recreation groups from across the state have pledged volunteers, financial resources and program assistance to the Experience.

Although there is no charge for the event, please register at hoosieroutdoorexperience.IN.gov to attend. This will help the staff prepare for this first-time event.

Free tickets, which will ease entrance into the venue and include special offers, will be distributed around the state. The locations and updated information will be listed at hoosieroutdoorexperience.IN.gov and also available at (317) 562-1338. 

Kayakers navigate the lake at Lincoln State Park this past summer. The 1,747-acre park has 10 miles of hiking trails, rolling forested hills and two scenic lakes. 

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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Bowhunter magazine

Point of origin
By Brandon Butler

M.R. James walks to his home with his dog Fancy in May 2009. On Bob Schisler’s first day of employment in 1966 with Magnavox Electronic Systems in Fort Wayne, he sat next to Don Clark. Like many rookies on their first day, Schisler reached out to find common ground.

“One of the first things I asked Don, I mean within minutes of meeting him, was ‘Is anybody around here interested in bowhunting?’” Schisler said.

Clark opened his desk drawer and pulled out a handful of archery magazines, including Archery World, Bow & Arrow and Ye Sylvan Archer. These magazines printed occasional hunting articles but focused on how-to pieces on field archery and shooting techniques.

Schisler and Clark, both engineers, worked at the manufacturing facility. Little did they know that across town at the Magnavox business office were two kindred spirits—M.R. James and Steve Doucette. James was communications director for government and industrial affairs; Doucette was a graphic designer.

James’ writing and Doucette’s layout and photography skills professionally complemented each other, but their friendship, rooted in mutual interest in bowhunting, led them to team up on freelance articles on their avocation.

The combination worked. James had a photographer to document his adventures; Doucette had a subject through which he could keep his art in print. Together, the pair published articles and photography in hunting magazines of the day, such as Outdoor Life, Fur-Fish-Game and Sports Afield.

Clark learned of James from a 1965 Archery story titled “Beginner’s Luck,” in which James wrote of the first deer he killed with a bow. Realizing James was a local writer, Clark took the initial step of bringing the four together.

“I started asking around to see if anybody knew this M.R. James fellow from Fort Wayne who was writing bow-hunting articles. And wouldn’t you know it, I found out he worked for Magnavox, too,” Clark said.
 
James remembers the first time he spoke to Clark on the phone more than 40 years ago. 

“I had made this flyer for a management meeting at Magnavox. It had an archer on the front shooting an arrow at a target, and read ‘Don’t miss the next management meeting,’” James said. “Not long after I sent it out, Don called me.”

They began hunting, shooting and traveling together, often doing all three at the same time.

“We were making our rounds at most of the archery tournaments in the region,” Schisler said. “The four of us became friends and hunting buddies long before we went into business together.”

That business was the culmination of their dream - Bowhunter magazine.

For nearly four decades, those who pursue game with bow and arrow have enjoyed this international publication’s combination of entertainment and education, but many, even in Indiana, probably don’t know of its Hoosier bloodlines.

M.R. James walks to his home with his dog Fancy in May 2009. James is president of the Pope & Young Club and a member of the Archery Hall of Fame. He co-founded Bowhunter while working in Fort Wayne with the magazine’s other pioneers.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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American snout butterfly

(Libytheana carinenta)
By Brandon Butler

American snout butterflyFluttering from flower to flower, few creatures exude a warmer, fuzzier feeling than butterflies. A classic staple of summer, and often the target of children armed with insect nets, butterflies tend to remind us of all that’s good in life.

It may be easy to tell the difference in colors from one butterfly to the next, but distinguishing among the 20,000 species in the world is more difficult. Knowing location can help you find roughly 150 species in Indiana.
 
The American snout is one of eight documented members of the Libytheidae family. Characterized by its obvious snout, scientifically referred to as palpi, this butterfly ranges throughout the eastern and southern United States, and Central and South America.

Widely recognized in Texas, these migratory butterflies sometimes travel in clusters so thick they nearly black out the sky.

Scientists believe the long palpi of the American snout has evolved as a defense mechanism. When this butterfly rests on a limb or stem, its snout resembles a leaf petiole, or stalk, and its closed wings resemble a leaf. This provides excellent camouflage from predators.

Adult butterflies have six legs, two in the front and four in the back. The forelegs of the male are significantly smaller than the hind legs. On females, all the legs are nearly the same size. Adult butterflies have four wings (a front and back on each side) that are covered in scales. A butterfly’s body is divided into three segments: head, thorax and abdomen.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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