Korean War Series: Battle of Pusan.

“We are fighting a battle against time. There will be no more retreating, withdrawal or readjustment of the lines or any other term you choose. There is no line behind us to which we can retreat.…There will be no Dunkirk, there will be no Bataan. A retreat to Pusan would be one of the greatest butcheries in history. We must fight until the end.…We will fight as a team. If some of us must die, we will die fighting together.…I want everybody to understand we are going to hold this line. We are going to win.” – Lieutenant General Walton Walker’s order to the Eighth Army in defending Pusan 1 August 1950

Pusan Perimeter August 1950. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Following Task Force Smith’s delaying action at the beginning of July, the American forces continually arrived in Korea piecemeal. This made any effort to fully stop the North Korean juggernaut futile. The 24th Infantry Division fought a tough battle in mid July near a town called Taejon which resulted in heavy losses and also forced them to fall back.

Continually losing ground to the North Korean forces, Lieutenant General Walton Walker, commanding general of the Eighth Army, ordered the Eighth Army to withdraw behind the Naktong River, and form a defensive perimeter around the vital port city of Pusan. Following attempts to drive into the perimeter around Pusan, the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA), having suffered losses up to this point, withdrew to rest, refit and prepare.

At the outset of hostilities the NKPA numbered around 90,000, a highly mobile mechanized force supported by armor. Fighting hard from 25 June until the beginning of August, NKPA losses were estimated at around 58,000 men plus a large number of their tanks. They began raising units from conscripted South Korean civilians to bolster their numbers. An estimate of what they had available to finish the job at Pusan was around 70,000 combat troops. General Douglas MacArthur, commander of all UN forces in Korea, boasted the UN numbers in Pusan to be 141,808, 47,000 of which were American. Additionally, US and Allied air power controlled the skies, providing support to the ground units.

American soldiers holding the line along the Pusan Perimeter. Photo Credit: ThoughtCo.

General Walker’s order on 1 August 1950 was for the entire UN force to fall back behind the Naktong River and set up a defensive position to protect the port at Pusan. They were to hold at all costs, allowing the remainder of the UN forces to get to Korea. Victory in the eyes of the North Koreans was within their grasp; one more hard strike and they would drive the UN forces into the sea and the whole peninsula would be under communist control.

American soldiers overwatching the Naktong River August 1950. Photo Credit: Alchetron.

On the night of 5-6 August 1950 the North Koreans launched an offensive that penetrated the perimeter at the Naktong River on the western edge of the Perimeter. What would be called the first Battle of Naktong Bulge took place at a bend in the river that was difficult to defend for UN forces to defend. This penetration of the perimeter threatened to expand and ultimately drive the UN out of Korea, so every available man was sent to counterattack and drive the North Koreans out. By 7 August the Americans had secured the line and driven the North Korean 4th Division back across the river.

The Americans suffered 1500 casualties but they held the line. Multiple attacks by the North Koreans took place along the perimeter throughout the month of August and first part of September. Each time the North Koreans suffered heavy casualties and failed to destroy the UN force. In fact the North Korean 4th Division would be so battered that they would fail to be a fighting force for a year after Pusan. North Korea failed in their mission because instead of focusing all of their forces in one portion of the perimeter, they attempted to attack at multiple locations. The Americans were struggling to hold on, using World War Two era weapons, including ineffective bazookas to defend against modern Soviet armor used by the North Koreans.

Marines evacuating a casualty August 1950. Photo Credit: Alchetron.

The North Koreans knew that the longer the allies held out, the stronger they would become. Meanwhile, the NKPA was daily exhausting resources and men. For both sides it was a fight against time. For the UN it was the fact of holding on long enough for reinforcements to change the course of the war; for the North Koreans it was a matter to drive the UN off the peninsula before they could be strong enough to counter attack. As time went on, the tide of the war seemed to be favoring the UN As August turned into September, it wasn’t a matter of if the UN would counterattack, but when and where. Only the UN high command knew the answer to both of those questions.

Sources.

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Pusan Perimeter. https://dpaa.secure.force.com/dpaaFamWebInPusan

Korean War Legacy Foundation. Holding the Pusan Perimeter. https://koreanwarlegacy.org/chapters/holding-the-pusan-perimeter/

Great American Outdoors Act

As of this writing, the US House of Representatives is set to vote on the Great American Outdoors Act. This piece of legislation is very important to the future of America’s public lands and wild places.

This Act has two parts that would be a big win for conservation efforts in America. The first part is full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This fund generates $900 million ANNUALLY from revenue generated by oil and gas extraction in the Outer Continental Shelf. With it’s inception in 1964, the goal of the fund was to generate this money for protecting wild places, taking oil and gas from one environment and using those funds to protect other environments. However, every year Congress has to vote on where the money from the fund goes, and much of that money is diverted away from our natural resources.

98% of American counties have benefited from the LWCF.

With the Great American Outdoors Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be permanently and fully funded, providing a consistent revenue stream to protect our wild spaces. No longer will the money be diverted to other “pet projects” at the behest of those in power, the money will only go towards what it was intended for in the first place. 98% of the counties in the United States have benefited from this fund. Everything from major conservation areas to city parks and pools have received funding from the LWCF.

Another part of the Great American Outdoors Act is $9.5 billion in funding to address the maintenance backlog in the American National Park system. Our National Parks are the envy of the rest of the world. Yet they are all plagued by maintenance backlogs that as the years go by keep upping the cost as more and more maintenance goes by the wayside. The National Park System was designed to protect these areas, but this backlog on maintenance is doing the exact opposite. This money would provide the National Park System with the ability to get back on track protecting our treasured wild places.

All Americans benefit from the Great American Outdoors Act. We should all support what it is set to do, to ensure our wild animals and wild places do not disappear.

The vote from the House of Representatives is soon. I urge everyone to contact their Representative and tell them as their constituent they need to vote in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act. Not to vote present, but actually vote yes. Call the US House switchboard at (202) 224-3121. They will then direct you to your representative where you can tell them to vote yes on the Great American Outdoors Act. Make them earn their place as your elected official. We have our natural resources to lose if we don’t get the Great American Outdoors Act across the finish line.

Korean War Series: Task Force Smith and the Battle of Osan.

“Advance at once upon landing with delaying force, in accordance with the situation, to the north by all possible means, contact enemy now advancing south from Seoul towards Suwo ˘n and delay his advance.” – Operations Order from Major General William F. Dean to Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Smith, commander of Task Force Smith.

Task Force Smith arriving in South Korea 1 July 1950. Photo Credit: Association of the United States Army.

The breakout of war on the Korean peninsula caught America and her allies by surprise. With all eyes of the world focused on Europe and the fear of Soviet tanks moving into Western Europe, Communist tanks and infantry invading their neighbor in a country no one had really heard of was unsettling.

American policy in regards to Communism became one of containment. When war broke out in Korea, with Communist North Korea threatening to take over the whole of the peninsula under their rule, the American policy faced it’s first major challenge. China had fallen to Mao’s Communist force the year prior, so another Asian nation falling in line with the Red Wave was not palatable. So once again, American forces would be sent overseas, this time however without a formal declaration of war.

The American military at this time was a shell of what it had been during the Second World War. President Truman and his advisors had been focused on the economy and ways to cut costs, which inevitably led to defense cuts. Based on his policy, spending was done domestically first, then whatever was left would go to defense. Cutting the military was done at a time that America was spreading it’s influence throughout the world as it took on its role of superpower following World War Two. In a brief to Truman in December of 1949, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson stated America had expanded it’s role in the world while failing to maintain it’s military might to enforce it’s new role.

The US Army at this time had been reduced to 677,000, far below the 900,000 that was authorized. As tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States continued to rise, the best and more modern equipment was sent to Europe to counter percieved Soviet aggression there. Anti-armor munitions and updated tanks were in Europe to defend against Soviet tanks rolling into Europe.

President Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur.
Photo Credit: History.com.

Following the North Korean invasion of South Korea, the UN voted to assist South Korea. President Harry Truman on 30 June 1950, as the situation in Korea continued to go badly for the Republic of Korea (ROK), ordered General of the Army Douglas MacArthur to send American ground troops to Korea. General MacArthur in turn directed Lieutenant General Walton Walker, commander of the Eighth Army stationed in Japan on occupation duty, to send the 24th Infantry Division to Korea. In turn, Lieutenant General Walker issued orders to 24th Infantry Division commander Major General William F Dean to ready his division for immediate response to Korea.

Eighth Army commander Lieutenant General Walton Walker (left) confers with 24th Infantry Division commander Major General William F Dean (right).
Photo Credit: Pinterest.

The major issue facing the 24th Infantry Division was the fact they had no Regimental Combat Team (RCT) ready for rapid deployment. Without also having enough aircraft in Japan to move such a force, the powers that be determined that they did not want to create an ad hoc force for such a task, as that would take more time than what General MacArthur called for.

Since the logistics of moving the whole division were lacking, the decision was made to send a small force to delay the North Koreans while the rest of the 24th Infantry Division sailed from Japan to Korea. Instead of sending a full regiment, the decision was made to send an understrength infantry battalion, 406 soldiers in all. This force would go forward without the tactical support of an actual RCT, to include no tank support. The commander for this force, Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Smith, was a veteran of the Pacific Campaign in World War Two. This force that would be the first Americans to make contact with the battle hardened North Koreans would be dubbed Task Force Smith after their commander.

Task Force Smith was not a full strength infantry battalion. It was made up of two understaffed infantry companies, Baker and Charlie, and also half of a Headquarters Company. In addition to these three understaffed companies they had half of a communication’s platoon, a 75 millimeter recoilless rifle platoon. This platoon was part of the anti-armor capability however they only had two of the weapons, when the organizational chart of the military said they were supposed to have four. They also had two 4.2 inch mortars, six World War Two aged 2.36 inch bazooka rockets, and four 60mm World War Two aged mortars.

Each man carried 120 rounds of ammunition for their rifles, which were either M-1 Garands, or M-1 Carbines. They were given two days worth of rations to sustain their fighting capabilities. Most of the men were young, with a fraction of the leadership having any combat experience.

General Dean was waiting for Lieutenant Colonel Smith at the launching point to give him verbal orders in person. Dean told Smith to move north from Pusan and stop the North Koreans as far from there as possible. He was to meet up with Brigadier General John Church who was the deputy commander of US Army Forces in Korea to develop a more detailed plan. Task Force Smith loaded up and headed to Korea.

On 1 July 1950 Task Force Smith arrived in Korea. They moved north and arrived in Taejon on 2 July, meeting up with Brigadier General Church, American and Republic of Korea (ROK) officers. There Church directed Smith to take up a position to support ROK forces at a point he indicated on a map. The thinking of Church and other senior leadership was that the mere sight of American forces, no matter how small, would inspire the ROK troops to stand and fight and discourage the numerically superior North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) forces. Never mind that the NKPA forces they faced numbered 5,000 strong supported by thirty-six T-34 tanks. These were two regiments of the NKPA’s 4th Division. They had just routed several ROK Divisions and taken another city. But for some reason Church didn’t mention this to Smith.

105mm Howitzer in action in Korea.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Smith moved north and selected a location north of the town of Osan that commanded the approach he expected the North Koreans to come from. He set his Task Force up and received support on 4 July in the way of a battery of six 105mm howitzers from the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion. It’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Miller Perry conferred with Lt. Colonel Smith on the best place to position his artillery. After arriving in Pusan on 2 July, the six guns and it’s crew had moved north as quickly as possible to link up with Task Force Smith with 1,200 rounds, including six high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. Smith and Perry inspected their location, and awaited the arrival of NKPA forces.

Battle of Osan and Task Force Smith’s positions map. Photo Credit: Wikimedia.

Contact with the NKPA.

Task Force Smith finished digging in and getting their defensive positions set around 3:00 in the morning on 5 July 1950. It rained during the night, so as the sun rose the men were dirty, tired and soaking wet. Lt. Colonel Smith told his men that they needed to hold for 24 hours and that help would arrive. Unfortunately for Task Force Smith, there was no plan to relieve them as the bulk of American forces were still enroute to Korea via ship. They were on their own.

Task Force Smith soldiers engaging NKPA tanks with their 75 millimeter recoilless rifle.
Photo Credit: History Central.

Around 7:30 am eight NKPA T-34’s were spotted heading right towards Task Force Smith. When the tanks were within 4,000 yards Lieutenant Colonel Perry’s battery opened fire, and everyone watched as the rounds bounced off the armor of the tanks. Remember they had only six HEAT rounds meant for tanks, and those had been deployed with the forward most howitzer.

When the unaffected tanks were within 700 yards of Smith’s positions he ordered the recoilless rifles to open fire, and once again they failed to destroy the tanks despite several direct hits. Even the 2.36 inch bazookas got in on the action, however they also were no match for the tank armor. The more modern bazookas, the 3.5 inch, were deployed in Europe to face off with Soviet armor. An unfortunate oversight for Task Force Smith. Even when fired at point blank range of 15 yards the smaller rockets just didn’t pack the punch to destroy the tanks. A second lieutenant named Ollie Connor fired a remarkable 22 bazooka rounds at close range, without destroying a single tank. A scary sight to see these iron monsters absorb everything you threw at them.

Bazooka Team from Task Force Smith engaging NKPA tanks.
Photo Credit: War History Online.

The tanks began to return fire on the American positions, sending some men scurrying for cover. The two lead T-34’s were knocked out, likely from the HEAT rounds of the 105’s. The surviving tanks rolled on, with Perry’s gunners knocking out two more. By this time they had expended all their HEAT rounds, and return fire from a tank disabled one of the howitzers. The eight lead tanks were followed by twenty five others, approaching in intervals. The NKPA commanders must have assumed that the Americans were an advance force and not the main force, so they stayed buttoned up and pushed on through. This thrust had killed or wounded 20 Americans, including wounding Lt. Colonel Perry.

An hour later a six mile long column of NKPA troops, led by three tanks, appeared, clearly not having been warned of the American’s presence by the lead element. The total amount of troops was 5,000, clearly a numerically superior force to the American defenders. They remained mounted in the vehicles, victims of a lack of communication from the lead element. When they were within 1,000 yards, the entire American force opened up on them.

The three tanks closed the distance and fired on the American lines with their main guns and mounted machine guns. The enemy dismounted and engaged and a three hour battle ensued. The communication wires between TF Smith and the howitzers had been cut by the lead element of tanks, so the fighting was between TF Smith and the NKPA troops. While TF Smith inflicted heavy casualties on the North Koreans, eventually they were flanked and close to being surrounded.

Lt. Colonel Smith realized the best way to save his unit at this point was to withdraw before they were surrounded and wiped out. At first they withdrew in good order but withdrawing while in contact with the enemy is always dangerous. They were exposed now to enemy machine gun and mortar fire while in the open. The bulk of the casualties suffered during the Osan battle happened during the retreat that quickly developed into a route. Members of the Task Force left their weapons behind and ran. They even left behind two dozen wounded comrades. When the North Koreans came upon the wounded, they bound their hands and executed them.

The artillerymen disabled their guns before retreating, using their vehicles to make good on their escape. They picked up any infantrymen they encountered and made their way south. Many of the infantrymen had taken to the rice paddies and fields in their hasty retreat and if the North Koreans had chose to pursue them, they would have annihilated the entire force. Thankfully for them, the NKPA continued on their mission to capture Pyeongtaek.

Survivors of the Battle of Osan would straggle into the headquarters area for days after the battle. The losses suffered by Task Force Smith was 150 infantrymen and 31 artillerymen and officers killed or missing, a loss of 40 percent. Much speculation has been made as to the reasons why and who was to blame. What isn’t disputed is the fact that facing overwhelming odds, 10-1 to be exact, TF Smith inflicted casualties on a numerically superior force and delayed them for six hours. They accomplished this all by using less than adequate anti-tank weapons and no air support due to the weather. Despite their efforts, the NKPA drive south continued, driving ROK and now American forces ahead of them.

Sources

Fontenot, Gregory (Colonel US Army Retired) & Swain, Richard (Colonel US Army Retired) Korean War Echoes in Today’s Challenges Association of the US Army. 9 June 2016 https://www.ausa.org/articles/korean-war-echoes-today%E2%80%99s-challenges

Soodlater, Ron. Rush to Disaster: Task Force Smith. History Net. July 2014. https://www.historynet.com/rush-disaster-task-force-smith.htm

Korean War Series: 25 June 1950. Cold War Turns Hot.

Shattering the Land of the Morning Calm

Stars and Stripes announcement of the breakout of war in a nation few had ever heard of prior to 25 June 1950.

Seventy years ago, in the predawn hours of 25 June 1950, North Korea launched their invasion of South Korea. The attack started with a massive artillery barrage, followed by 100,000 North Korea People’s Army (NKPA) troops, backed by Soviet built T-34 tanks pushing across the 38th Parallel. North Korean leader Kim Il Sung sought and gained approval from Soviet leaders to invade the South back in January of 1950, in an effort to unite the peninsula under his communist regime.

During the establishment of South Korea in 1948, the North undertook a campaign aimed at inspiring communist uprisings south of the 38th Parallel in an effort to prevent a democratic South Korea from coming to fruition. Additionally they also conducted cross border guerrilla attacks aimed at keeping the South Koreans from effectively countering the uprisings. The North failed in this venture, because South Korea became a nation with Syngman Rhee as president in August 1948. While the North’s strategy failed in preventing a democratic South Korea, they succeeded in hampering the South’s ability to create a strong, well trained military. In the beginning of 1950, American advisors working with the South Koreans stated that less than half of the South Korean military units were ready for a war. It can be safely assumed that North Korea had this intelligence as well.

While the South Korean military was weakened and ill prepared for war, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung had been building and strengthening his military. The North Korean high command modeled their armed forces after the Soviet Union’s. Heavy emphasis was placed on mechanized and mobile forces, including the previously mentioned tanks. While the Soviets provided arms and armament to the North Koreans, the Chinese released Korean veterans from their People’s Liberation Army (PLA), following the recent victory of Mao’s Communists in the Chinese Civil War. These battle hardened Korean veterans made up the officer Corp of the North Korean military, whose experience gave them a decided edge over their southern counterparts.

North Korea People’s Army troops headed south. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
North Korea’s advance into South Korea.
Photo Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica

Following the massive artillery barrage in the early morning hours of 25 June 1950, two North Korean Corps burst through the 38th Parallel. The NKPA I Corps pushed south on the west side of the peninsula, with the goal of capturing the South Korean capital of Seoul. The NKPA II Corps pushed south in the eastern sector of the peninsula following the east coast road. Backed by tanks, led by combat veterans from the Chinese Civil War, supplied and trained in the Soviet model, the 100,000 plus NKPA force smashed their South Korean adversaries. The Republic of Korea (ROK) forces of South Korea had little to no anti-armor support and few tanks. They put up as best of a defense as they could but they were no match for the force of the NKPA.

News reached the American government of the invasion in Korea, threatening the American policy of containment against the spread of Communism. President Truman went to the United Nations Security Council for help instead of a declaration of war, worried that time was of the essence in Korea. The United Nations sent a formal declaration insisting that the invasion halt. Truman also ordered General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the United States Far East Command based in Japan, to provide air cover and munitions for the ROK troops and also to evacuate American civilians from the peninsula. The American military at this time had seen drastic drawdown following World War Two. The Eighth Army was stationed in Japan, which made it the closest American force for potential involvement in Korea. That being said, they were underequipped and undermanned for what was coming. There will be more on that in an upcoming blog.

United Nations Security Council voting on providing military assistance to South Korea. Photo Credit: Quora.com

On 27 June 1950, US delegates at the United Nations pushed their counterparts to support a resolution to provide military assistance to the ROK. The resolution passed, which coincidentally took place while the Soviet Union, who has veto power, was boycotting the UN in protest of the UN not admitting Communist China as a member nation. President Truman announced that US air and Naval power would be sent to help stem the Communist tide in Korea. Congress approved and supported American military involvement in Korea along with most of the American public.

North Korean troops entering the South Korean capitol of Seoul.
Photo Credit: Pinterest

On 28 June the NKPA entered and captured Seoul, missing their goal of capturing Syngman Rhee’s government and destruction of the ROK army. The ROK troops, while out gunned and out manned, retired in good order and took up defensive positions south of the Han River. Also on the 28th, as the situation in Korea was rapidly deteriorating, the UN Security Council again met. This time they voted to approve UN use of force in Korea. The Soviet Union was still boycotting and thus didn’t use it’s veto power on such a measure. This last measure meant UN (and US) support for South Korea would go beyond just air support.

Given the amount of military draw down that took place following World War Two, the forces of the United States were woefully unprepared for such a conflict as was taking place in Korea. The active duty American military as a whole was far below it’s wartime manpower requirements. The same powerful American military that defeated two empires just five years prior were now low on manpower. On 30 June 1950 President Truman gained congressional approval for calling up the military reserves to supplement the depleted active duty units. Coinciding with this, president Truman agreed to give General Douglas MacArthur two divisions for use in Korea. The Nationalist Chinese offered to send troops to support the US effort in fighting the Communists in Korea, but presidential advisors spoke against that, citing that if Nationalists joined the fight in Korea, Mao would most certainly get involved. In just a few short days the Land of the Morning Calm erupted into full scale war which had the potential to bring the two main superpowers, the United States and Soviet Union on opposing sides. A war in a nation few had ever heard of seemed to be the spiraling towards a third world war.

First Public Land Turkey Hunt.

Last year, my good buddy Ben and I applied and were drawn for spring turkey permits here in Illinois for a State Natural Area. We hunted it with no success for a few days, but the whole experience was an amazing time. Ben and I had lunch following the morning hunt of my last day available to hunt, and as I drove out of the parking lot of the restaurant we were at, I was already planning our trip this year. Ben hunted one day longer than me, without success, but the amount of walking we had done throughout our three days of hunting gave us the knowledge to try and hunt it again this year.

As luck would have it, we applied once again as a “party”, and once again drew the same SNA. So this spring we will be trekking through the woods looking for thunder chickens. As I impatiently wait for that weekend in April, I am reminded of how I even began this whole journey of public land turkey hunting.

In 2018 Ben and I applied for the first time for public land turkey permits. Ben had convinced me to apply to a few public hunting land areas he had deer hunted with other friends, since he knew the area. Well we applied but unfortunately Ben didn’t draw but I drew one for the Winston Tunnel State Natural Area. Now, we would have liked to have had hunted it together, but the parks are closed during the turkey seasons until 1pm to everyone except permitted hunters. So that meant he couldn’t go with me.

But Ben, a true good friend, offered to take me out there and show me around, to get a lay of the land and help me scout for turkeys. So at the end of March, we set out and spent the day wandering the woods. The terrain there was very hilly and wooded, and it definitely was going to be a challenge to hunt with gear on my back. But we looked around and came up with a game plan I could follow when I came out solo. We marked spots I could use for calling locations on my onX Hunt app on my phone, and even though we didn’t see any turkeys, we saw some sign that looked promising.
The time between our scouting trek and my season was passed by me getting my gear organized, and most importantly, working on my calling. In our turkey hunts of the past, Ben did the calling. Well when I learned I had drawn a permit and would have to hunt solo, I got some diaphragm calls and began (much to my neighbors’ dismay) practicing all the time.

My first day to hunt had to be cancelled because my wife, who never gets sick, got sick. So I had to stay home with the boys so she could recover. My next available day found me driving the two hours west from my house early in the morning. Between the podcast I had playing and running through my plan in my head, the two hours flew by.
There had been snow overnight, something I hadn’t thought would happen, but that’s what happens when you draw the first season. My anxiety level was a bit high, because I wondered if I was going to run into the other permitted hunter for the area. Your see, the quota for each season was two permitted hunters for that area. As I descended the big hill that at the bottom held the parking lot for the hunting area, I was unsure how exactly I would handle running into another hunter.

This was my first full on experience hunting public land, and from what I’ve learned in articles and on podcasts was that the interaction can be 50/50 at best. Some people can be abrasive, treating the land as if it was there’s alone, even though it belongs to everyone. My plan was that if someone else was in the parking lot getting ready, I would ask them what their plan was and where they were headed, and I would alter my strategy accordingly. I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, and from the scouting me and Ben did, I had a few spots picked out that would make adjusting possible. I didn’t want my first public land experience to be marked by confrontation.

As I reached the bottom of the hill and saw the reflective marker that marked the entrance to the parking lot, I turned in. My headlights hit an empty parking lot, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s not that I didn’t want to share this area, I was just glad to avoid the potential of conflict. I parked my truck, and noticed I had arrived a bit earlier than I had planned, and since no one else was here I was able to take my time getting ready. I took my camo face paint out, and applied it. I chose that route over a facemask because I am not a fan of using facemasks because I feel they can become a hassle. They obstruct my view and generally I don’t like using them.

Once I got my makeup on, I opened the door of my truck and stepped out. Remembering the lessons I had learned from my dad, who in his younger years was an avid turkey hunter, and from what I read and heard from podcasts about shock gobbling, I slammed my truck door. Now, shock gobbling is a term used to describe tom turkeys gobbling at any loud noise during the breeding season. The list of noises that can cause a shock gobble is endless, but one I witnessed in those hunts with my dad when I was young was the slamming of a vehicle door.

When my door slammed, it seemed the whole area around me came alive with gobbles. I was pleasantly surprised to hear it at all, given that it had snowed overnight. I thought that they would be silent, spending the night in the cold weather. Inspired by the shock gobbles, I opened my back driver’s side door and hurriedly got the rest of my gear ready. I uncased my shotgun, and, taking the box of turkey loads out of my pack, loaded three shells into it. I threw my pack over my back, grabbed the two decoys and slung them, and for good measure I slammed this door too.
Once again the surrounding area came alive with gobbles. One of the locations that I could make out where gobbling was coming from was north of me, and it sounded near a spot I had marked on my onX app as a potential location. The plan Ben and I had developed from our scouting mission called for me to climb a large hill that held the old now defunct train tracks and call from there trying to locate some turkeys. But the gobblers I was hearing were north of that and since I could make out where I thought they were, I hoofed it to that spot. The snow on the ground made everything a bit more slick, but I made good time and snuck into place, the toms gobbling here and there during my 15 minute walk. I placed my two decoys about 20 yards in front of me, and sat against a tree.

I figured sitting on a hill adjacent to the hill the turkeys were making all their ruckus from was a good plan as I could see the surrounding area well. Plus, the snow would help me spot the turkeys better.
The turkeys were gobbling on private property, and I was within 200 yards of the boundary between the public land and that private land. I sat there, listening to them gobble from their roost. My anticipation was high, as I expected with how vocal they were, they were surely looking for some companionship.

Well that anticipation soon dwindled, because I heard the toms fly down, and then followed their dwindling gobbles as they made their way along the ridge they were on and didn’t come towards me. Despite my plaintive calls, I caught a glimpse of the pair of toms once, on the same adjacent hill they gobbled from, following it to the east. They stopped gobbling after I saw them, so I climbed the hill I was on, trying to maybe head them off.

When I reached the other side of the hill I was sitting on, I gave up trying to cut them off. If I was to I climb down this hill, an even steeper snow covered hill still awaited me. There was no way I could beat them, and that was if they were even still headed that way. I hadn’t heard from them for a while, so they literally could have went anywhere.
The rest of my time there that day was spent looking for turkeys all over the State Natural Area. I saw some tracks in the snow, and tried to follow them, calling here and there. But other than the birds chirping and crows calling, the only bird I didn’t hear was a tom turkey. When 1 o’clock came around, which is closing time for turkey hunting in Illinois, I headed to my truck. On the drive home I decided to head straight where I had set up that morning in a few days when I could get out next.

Two days later I was back in the parking lot, which once again it had snowed overnight. I got ready in a similar fashion as before, and when I slammed my truck door, all that met my ears was silence. Well this isn’t a good sign, I thought as I walked from my truck to the path. I trudged along the path in the freshly fallen snow, and came upon a bobcat track that had to have happened in the last three hours, since that’s when the snow had fallen.

My first time seeing a bobcat track, and it was definitely a fresh one since the snow had started a few hours earlier.


I got set up back where I had been a few days before, this time working closer to the property boundary. My hope was that those same toms would be roosting in the same spot. I got my decoys set out, and backed myself into the base of a tree. I heard a few toms gobble from the roost, but nothing like the other morning.

Once the sun was fully up, I saw a turkey fly from the ridge across from me, headed right for me! My heart jumped thinking, damn it’s gonna land right on top of me! When it got close I could see it was a hen, which are off limits during the spring season. She landed up the hill behind me and looked at me and then made her way up and over the hill. I hoped that the toms saw where she went and decided to follow her.

Well, they didn’t. I sat for a few hours in this spot, and then began to wander around, exploring, looking and listening for turkeys. I would hear a random gobble here and there, and would head in that direction, but they seemed to always be sitting on private property. I hiked back up to finish my day on the train tracks, since it was a high spot I could call from and look around. I set up and called once, listened, then began walking down the tracks. I was checking the woods that dropped off each side of the tracks in that rough country, when a flurry of movement on the tracks ahead of me caught my eye.
It was a turkey! It was running away from me at about 50 yards! I could have taken a shot, but with it’s back to me I couldn’t tell if it was a hen or a tom. I hid in the brush along the tracks and tried to call. I peeked out and the turkey was gone. So I walked ahead and tried to pick up it’s tracks in the snow. I found them, and tried to follow them, constantly looking ahead to see if I could find the bird.

But it was long gone. And it was getting close to closing time again. So I began walking back to the parking lot, calling every so often in the off chance I stumbled upon another turkey.

One of the spots I set up. Since I didn’t have snow camo, I used the rock as a backdrop since my camouflage clothing blended with it better.

I got back to my truck, snapped some pictures of me with the park sign and my gear and loaded everything in the truck. While I didn’t bag a turkey, I had a great time in my two days I spent there. I got to enjoy our state public land, and had it all to myself. This experience is why Ben and I have now made it a tradition to hunt these lands in Jo Daviess County. Hopefully this year is the year that we will be successful, but it will be fun regardless, getting the chance to hunt Illinois public land.

Trophy Hunting

“In a civilized and cultivated country wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wild life, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”
Theodore Roosevelt (Outdoor Pastimes of An American Hunter)

Every few months, seemingly in a cycle, social media comes alive with pictures of well to do Americans and Europeans posing with an endangered species, and animal rights organizations as well as average citizens blast these people for “killing an endangered species and contributing to their reduction.” Calls of “how can they smile while they contribute to the destruction of a species?” combined with “rich white people killing off protected species for sport” are leveled online. These hunters end up getting death threats, wishes of harm towards them and their families, and just generally harassed to the point they have to almost go into hiding. They are treated as heartless criminals, and vilified online and in the media.

This is all done out of pure ignorance and propaganda on the behalf of anti hunting groups. If those that report and repost articles blasting these hunters took the time to educate themselves they would see that the actions of these hunters actually benefit not only the endangered or threatened species, but also the local populace. In our modern society however, research beyond headlines is more work than most deem necessary to become Facebook experts on subjects.

Trophy Hunting – What Does It Mean?

Theodore Roosevelt with a Cape Buffalo he killed on one of his many African Safaris. Photo credit: Harvard College Library.

“Trophy Hunting” has become a moniker that has been shunned by society and has led some in the hunting community to shy away from and omit from usage. The term conjures up images of white hunters in Africa shooting various animals only to bring back the heads to hang in their homes. It wrongly creates the image of “wanton waste”; where the hunter cuts the head off and leaves the rest of the animal to rot. The animal is seemingly only viewed as a decoration to the hunter, something to be taken for sport.

The average person who has zero context into hunting will hear the term “trophy hunting” and automatically have a negative opinion of it based on the image that is created from the examples above. Popular hunting media is rife with examples of “trophy class animals” seeming to be the focal point of every hunt. The hunting community has done this damage to ourselves but thankfully in the last few years there seems to have been a shift in that.

To a first time hunter that takes their first animal, that’s a trophy. It may not be the biggest animal, but to that hunter, it is a trophy. A parent who spends time in the field to get their child their first harvest may consider whatever animal their child takes as a trophy because of the experience.

Trophy is truly a relative term.
There are hunters that target bigger animals, because generally those animals are more mature, and thus tougher to hunt. For example, a bigger elk or deer got that way because they learned to survive and have thus gained experience at avoiding danger, more so than younger animals. They don’t take the same risks, and have an almost uncanny ability to avoid hunters, making them a challenge to target. These animals also have spread their good genetics throughout the population, and in some cases they are in the decline of their life span. Generally speaking, hunters targeting these types of animals have a respect for their survivability and do all they can to ensure the animal meets a quick death by their hands.

Untruths about Trophy Hunting.

Endangered Black Rhinos.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, every few years there is perceived outrage as a rich hunter takes an endangered species in a hunt they paid top dollar to go on. If one doesn’t take the time to look beyond the surface and how things “appear”, this looks terrible. Hell, most ethical hunters would be vehemently against such action. But like most things on social media, the truth lies below what the popular narrative is. Anti hunting groups play on the fact that most people on social media will not take the time to research beyond the “information” that is presented.
The money that is spent for these well to do hunters to take one of these animals is used for conservation efforts for that and other species. Most African nations do not have the financial ability to carry on conservation programs to the degree that the United States does. Many species in Africa conflict with the indigenous population, which leads to killing. Then there is the poaching aspect, where certain animals are killed by profit seekers, who then take whatever commodity off of the animal (tusks, skins horns so on) and leave the rest of the animal to rot. These poachers know no bounds, they will pursue animals into protected parks and do horrible things to the animals because money and not the benefit of the animal is their main motivation.

African elephant killed by poachers for it’s tusks and left to rot. This is poaching, not to be confused with legal hunting. Photo credit: WUNC.org.

Poachers are not hunters. They are not even part of the same social fabric, or have the same mindset as hunters. Sometimes people uneducated in hunting consider them one in the same, and that is just unfair and incorrect. Those trophy hunters who spend the money to pursue certain species know that their money is going to benefit the species.

The amount of money some of these hunters spend on these hunts is more than those same people who complain about it will make in their lives. This large sum is a benefit to the species, especially in places whose infrastructure cannot support the conservation efforts needed to help those species. In the case of the black rhino, which is a very endangered species, this money helps combat poaching. The animal selected for the harvest was an older male who no longer conducted breeding, but also chased off those who could. While it can be difficult to think this way, when an animal is a detriment to the overall health of the species, that individual needs to be removed from the population. This isn’t a case of spending a lot of money to get to shoot what you want, it is a case of paying high dollar to cull an animal, with the money spent going to further conservation efforts.

I tire of seeing people blast these hunters who are doing more for conservation and preservation for these animals than those who are complaining ever would in their whole lives. The fact that these animals are a revenue source for many nations that would otherwise not have any interest in protecting them is why “trophy hunting” is an important conservation effort. Hunting is not for everyone, however I urge those who have taken part in blasting hunters for these high price hunts to look past the emotionally driven headlines and see that in fact these actions are helping conservation efforts. This may be a hard thing to read, but those hunters who have the ability to spend money on high dollar hunts to pursue endangered species have done more to protect and preserve those species than those who sit in the comfort of their home and blast these hunters from behind a keyboard.

Trophy Hunting is a moniker that carries a negative connotation. In today’s instant gratification culture, it is very easy to push a narrative that trophy hunting is bad, that high dollar hunts are just another example of rich people doing what they want. It takes a willingness to look beyond this oversimplified version to see that in fact these types of hunts can, and in many cases do, benefit species that in many parts of the world would hold no value otherwise. This lack of value in many nations would lead to an unwillingness to protect these animals, which then leads to them disappearing from the landscape. Think of these simple facts the next time there is social media outrage over one of these hunts.

Korean War Series: 17 January 1950: Kim Seeks Invasion Approval.

“The people of the southern portion of Korea trust me and rely on our armed might. Partisans will not decide the question. The people of the south know that we have a good army. Lately I do not sleep at night, thinking about how to resolve the question of the unification of the whole country. If the matter of the liberation of the people of the southern portion of Korea and the unification of the country is drawn out, then I can lose the trust of the people of Korea.”
Kim Il Sung 1950

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Leader Kim Il Sung.

On 17 January 1950, during a luncheon with Soviet and Chinese officials in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Il Sung spoke of reunification of the Korean Peninsula. This luncheon was hosted as a farewell to Ri Ju-yeon, a DPRK ambassador who was heading to the Chinese People’s Republic. We have accounts of what took place during this luncheon from a Soviet diplomat who was in attendance who sent a telegram to the Soviet government two days later detailing the conversations had.

The description of the overall feeling of the luncheon was one of a friendly atmosphere by those in attendance. Kim spoke highly of Joseph Stalin, who he credited with the liberation of the Korean people from the Japanese. Keep in mind, the Soviets declared war on Japan on August 9th 1945, shortly after the first atomic bomb was dropped. They rushed into the north of Korea to accept the surrender of the Japanese there while the Americans did the same in the southern portion. To the Communist mind of Kim Il Sung, however, the Soviets truly liberated the “real” Korea. Turning to the Chinese trade delegate in attendance, Kim discussed the victory of the Chinese Communists over the Nationalists in October. Using it as an opportunity to push his own agenda, Kim discussed the “liberation” of his own nation. He stated that with China liberated, it was time to liberate the south of Korea. Obviously emboldened by the United States Secretary of State not listing Korea as part of America’s Pacific Perimeter during the 12 January speech at the National Press Club, (covered in a previous blog) he told those in attendance the following:
“The people of the southern portion of Korea trust me and rely on our armed might. Partisans will not decide the question. The people of the south know that we have a good army. Lately I do not sleep at night, thinking about how to resolve the question of the unification of the whole country. If the matter of the liberation of the people of the southern portion of Korea and the unification of the country is drawn out, then I can lose the trust of the people of Korea.”

Soviet Union Leader Joseph Stalin.
South Korean President Syngmann Rhee.

Kim told the Soviet officials that Stalin had told him in order to attack the South Korean forces, Syngmann Rhee would have to have been the aggressor. Kim further explained that he knew his forces were stronger than Rhee’s, so an attack from Rhee was not likely. Kim expressed that he felt he would lose the support of the Koreans in the southern portion of the peninsula if he continued to wait for Rhee to attack. He wanted to liberate the south the same way Mao’s forces had liberated China. Kim felt that he needed to go back to the Soviet Union and meet with Stalin again to gain approval for the liberation. An interesting aspect of this was Kim’s declaration to the Soviet delegates that since he was a communist and a disciplined person, he would not act unless Stalin gave the go ahead. He solidified his idea by stating if he couldn’t meet with Stalin, then he would meet with Mao, securing at least Mao’s approval in lieu of Stalin’s.

Chairman Mao Zedong of the People’s Republic of China.

The two Soviet delegates tried to shift the conversation but Kim was persistent. He proposed attacking the Ongjin Peninsula, on the western portion of Korea, a short distance from the South Korean capital of Seoul. Kim stated that his forces could take the peninsula easily and secure Seoul in three days. The Soviet delegates advised against this, citing the need to seek counsel from Stalin first. The delegates told Kim that they would secure a meeting with Stalin for Kim in which they could discuss Kim’s plan. This seemed to please Kim and to the Soviet delegates it seemed he had been formulating this conversation for quite some time.

This was the first open discussion of Kim Il Sung’s plan of “liberating” all of Korea to foreign officials. This conversation thus became the starting point of weeks of telegrams and messages between Kim and the Soviet and Chinese leadership concerning a North Korean invasion of the South. Kim would persist, wanting to use the might of his Soviet trained and equipped military to bring all Koreans under the flag of Communism. By early spring 1950, Kim had secured support from Stalin and Mao for his plan of liberating South Koreans.

Void the FOID: House Bill 4067

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

– 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution

A line of people waiting for their turn to purchase legal recreational marijuana in Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Chicago Sun-Times.

In this state (People’s Republic of Illinois) we have seen the legalization of recreational marijuana usage (despite the continued federal prohibition on it) and it was celebrated by many. I’ve seen this first hand both on my social media feed and also by seeing the long lines outside of local dispensaries.

Also in this state, we are required by the state to posses a Firearms Owner Identification card (FOID) to own or purchase firearms and ammunition. In order to exercise a constitutional right; one protected from infringement by the government by our founders when they crafted our constitution, we have to pay money and possess a piece of plastic. If you understand the purpose behind the second amendment, this should strike you as extremely absurd, flying in the face of it’s intended purpose.

The FOID system is broken. The state of Illinois has 5, yes FIVE individuals handling FOID applications as well as conceal carry applications in Springfield. Wait times for renewals for each of those have gone over what lawmakers promised us it would take. I know a few coworkers who have applied for their cards and have waited close to 120 days for their new card.

The counter argument from the state is that “as long as you applied prior to your expiration date you are fine as long as you have the documentation proving you did so.” The state requires us to have FOID, yet their system is broken and behind, oh and money that was generated for the FOID act has been diverted by our beloved elected officials in Springfield for “other uses”. I cannot use the excuse that I left my FOID card at home, yet the state can take as long as they want issuing one.

We are supposed to take it seriously, yet they abuse and misuse the funds, have long wait times and use the FOID as a punishment to gun owners. The whole FOID Act has become a joke at best, at worst it is an unfair hurdle for people to exercise gun rights in Illinois. The long wait times negate the whole purpose (and I use the term purpose loosely) is to ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns can’t get them. Law makers have threatened to up the cost, promising things will change with FOID. These are lies.

State Representative John Cabello of the 68th District, author of House Bill 4067. Photo credit: 23 WIFR.

So my rant ends like this; legalization of recreational marijuana was seen as a shining moment in the People’s Republic of Illinois, celebrated by most. There is a bill to be presented to the Illinois house (House Bill 4067) to remove the FOID card from existence. It should have never been created in the first place; it is a revenue stream for the state paid by people looking to exercise a constitutional right.

The system is broken and abused by the very same lawmakers that celebrated circumventing federal laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. If this doesn’t strike anyone as hypocritical, I can’t help you. You are either willingly blind or willfully ignorant. It is time to contact your representatives and tell them to support the repeal of the FOID Act, with the same passion many did with supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana. I’ve contacted my representatives, telling them I will be watching how they vote on this piece of legislation.Constitutional Rights should NOT be only available to those who can afford them.

Korean War Series: 12 January 1950 “Pacific Perimeter”.

“So far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack.”
Secretary of State Dean Acheson

Secretary of State Dean Acheson delivers his speech to the National Press Club 12 January 1950. Photo Credit: Teaching American History.

A speech delivered to explain America’s foreign policy in combating the spread of Communism has come to be seen as a tipping point in North Korea’s decision to invade the South. During a speech on 12 January 1950 to the National Press Club, Secretary of State Dean Acheson was asked about America’s Asian policy. Keep in mind, America and the Soviet Union had both withdrawn much of their forces from the Korean Peninsula by this time. The “two Koreas” each felt their form of government, the Communist version of North Korea and the Democratic version in South Korea, were the legitimate government of all of Korea. When asked about America’s defensive posture in the Pacific region, Acheson gave an outline of it, which included Japan and the Philippines. He left our Korea, however, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by North Korea. Acheson stated, “So far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack.”

Historians and critics of Acheson’s speech point out that his exclusion of Korea in the American Pacific perimeter gave North Korean leader Kim Il Sung the “green light” to invade the south six months later. Kim didn’t need any such go ahead from American policy, he had wanted to invade and conquer the south since the establishment of the DPRK. He just needed to convince Stalin and Mao that America would not intervene. This portion of Acheson’s speech seemed to prove that.

Critics look past the rest of Acheson’s speech, seemingly to only focus on the Pacific Perimeter portion. Later in the speech, Acheson mentioned continued administrative and economic support for the South Korean government, to socially combat the spread of Communism. In Acheson’s and President Truman’s view, the spread of Communism arose only out of economic hardship in target nations. By supporting South Korea economically, helping them firmly establish a democracy, the United States would not have to support the South Koreans militarily. This was the Truman administration’s answer to the post war world and the rise of the threat of Communism. While a good idea to avoid open conflict with the Soviet Union, only time would tell if this strategy would pay off on the Korean Peninsula.

Impeachment; What it Truly Means.

“Which is better, to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or three thousand tyrants one mile away?” Mather Byles.

Impeachment passes the house (Democrat Majority). Not surprised.

Impeachment has little chance of passing the Senate (Republican Majority). Not surprised.

What did this accomplish?

Those that think Trump is the worst president in history, is literally Hitler and should be out of office will still think that way.

Those who think Trump is the second coming of George Washington and think he can do no wrong, that the Democrats are out to get him, will still think that way.

So it will ultimately accomplish nothing.

Well actually it will accomplish something beyond the removal or validation of a president.

How I feel the founders look right now while watching us destroy what they created because we are a lazy society.

Those same career politicians on both sides of the aisle who sat on television and said they voted the way they did for “the good of the country” and in the “defense of the Constitution” could give a shit less about either. Hell, those articles of impeachment are but the first part of a LAUNDRY LIST of things members of Congress have been guilty of their entire career.

We have members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who have been in office LONGER THAN I HAVE BEEN ALIVE. Some of them are running for president! If that doesn’t bother you then you are part of the problem.

If you believe either side is looking out for the best interest of the country and Constitution, you are either foolish or lying to yourself. Members of Congress abuse their power all the time, using it to line their pockets and further their party’s cause. They also obstruct Congress all the time, because they are constantly fighting amongst themselves, trying to sell to the American people how “evil” the other side is, while doing NOTHING to actually help the nation.

It’s easy for the electorate to sit back and pick sides in this impeachment show because there is ZERO accountability for us. The president is one man, his power is limited (BY DESIGN) and ultimately he can do very little to impact your life. The ones who can and do, continually ensure the divide between average Americans remains strong to take light away from their ineptitude and corruption. They do this with fervor in the run up to elections. This impeachment hearing, show, circus whatever you want to call it, is proving that. It’s like a magic trick, hey look at this hand, never mind what the other hand is doing.

The same founding fathers both sides cite in this debate are collectively screaming from the afterlife at what we have allowed to happen. They never meant for this system to become what it has. They never meant for political office to be a lifetime career. They never meant for us to just vote for someone based solely on if they have an R or a D by their name. We have allowed the parties to divide us so they don’t have to answer for what they do.

At the end of the day, the impeachment means nothing because it will not change anything. It will be a date in the history books, but one that had little impact. We as the electorate should be ashamed we have allowed our nation to become what it is. Ultimately the failures of our nation is our fault, because we were too ignorant and lazy to care to change it.