Sometimes things just rub off of one person and attach to another. An outstanding outdoors person and very good friend, Mike Weber, of Scenery Hill, had an article published in the Pennsylvania Outdoor News. It is a well-written piece about Dick Bortmess and his rifles that were built in Florida, Eighty Four and Scenery Hill. After all of those years dating back to the 1980s, there seems to be a renewed interest in the Bortmess high-quality rifles built under the name Eighty Four Rifles and listed in the newer Blue Book of Gun Values. I have received calls asking about the history of the Eighty Four Rifle from as far away as Texas.

Reading Mike’s article brought to mind a couple of local companies producing some products still used by hunters or anglers. I don’t know if Old Pal Canoes are being made now, but E.R. Shaw is still making rifle barrels at their Bridgeville Plant.

Travelling north on Rt. 28, if one exits the highway between Freeport and Butler, you will drive through a little town named Cabot. I must admit that I know nothing about this dot on the map except it is the home of a high-quality handgun built on the old 1911 design. About a year ago, it was given a good review by the NRA and featured in the American Rifleman Magazine. If it weren’t for the handgun, I, in all probability, would never know there was a town called Cabot.

One must not forget the largest of all the local firearms makers. That is, of course, Lesleh Precision, which manufacturers working parts and receivers for Henry Arms. When I first met the owner of Lesleh Precision the plant was under the Speers bridge of Interstate 70. It didn’t take them long to outgrow the space and Ron Heisel bought a building next to the Rostraver Airport. Along with the building, new equipment was put into place and things went along pretty well for Lesleh Precision.

Why mention these manufacturing plants? First and foremost they offer good jobs to their employees and these jobs are filled by loyal workers. Therefore, we should support them.

On Thursday, Heisel, the owner of Lesleh Precision, will be at the Dormont-Mt Lebanon Sportsmans Club. Lesleh, which is now located at 430 Jonathan Wiley Road in Belle Vernon, will be at the club in the form of Heisel. Ron will be there from 6-8 p.m. when the monthly club meeting takes place. He has promised to bring a few rifles for showing, and if all goes well, a little shooting before the meeting. I hear there will be good food and, if time permits, Heisel might speak at the monthly meeting. Members, I ask you to come meet the man who took a chance and has done very well. Oh, and bring a friend.

  • Fall can be a frustrating time of year. The Steelhead start showing up at the mouth of the Erie Tributaries about now and the unofficial start of hunting season has begun with goose and squirrel on the agenda or soon will be. It’s also going to be archery season when the trees will be laden, not with apples, but instead with human beings in masterful disguises pretending to be bark.

It’s that time of year again when there is so much to do that some things are forgotten. So it is with one of the state’s largest of trophies: the muskie. It is this time of year when the biggest muskies are caught. The fish attracts the self-torturing angler to drag a large spinner behind the boat for not just hours but sometimes weeks just to get a strike. There is no doubt that this is the big game of fishing and fall is when most of the big ones are hooked. Locally, muskie can be caught in the Monongahela River and some local creeks and rivers. The mouth of Ten Mile Creek has some. However, I prefer some of the lakes up north. The state record was caught many years ago and the lake is still fishable. It is a favorite of mine and that is Woodcock Lake, located just north of Meadville.

The young and adventerous might catch a record Muskie fishing Cussewago Creek as it flows under the interstate in Meadville. This makes for an interesting float trip. There are a lot of waters in the north part of the state that hold muskelluge or muskie and the same can be said about Ohio. While the angler might be doing little more than washing lures he might just hook into this largest of game fish. This is the right time of the year.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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