Arizona Snakes & Rats Bill

Arizona House Bill 2022, the so-called Arizona Snakes & Rats Bill—introduced by state Rep. Jay Lawrence—would make it legal to dispatch certain snakes and pests within city limits using .22 rimfire shotshells.

The measure’s wording would allow residents to use “Rat shot or snake shot that consists of pellets that are 1.3 millimeters or less in diameter and that are loaded in a rimfire cartridge with a caliber that does not exceed twenty-two hundredths of an inch.” CCI produces versions of that load, and their #12 shot slips just under the maximum-size restriction. The ammunition doesn’t generate enough energy to cycle a typical semi-automatic, so revolvers are the preferred delivery system.

I know the serpents play a role in the ecosystem, but after a few close encounters during my search and rescue days in the Grand Canyon state, I’m no fan. That probably explains why my images are limited. I got into the habit of giving them room—and lots of it—after I put my foot down on one while descending a steep and loose scree. In a lifetime outdoors, only two came at me with a terminal case of aggression, and I’m still here, if you get my drift.

Before you think the state is turning back into the wild west, bear in mind those tiny pellets in the shotshell don’t go far. Even if they do they don’t carry much energy. The snake would just about have to be, well, nearly as close as in my picture above. Rep. Lawrence, whose district includes Fountain Hills—where homes are usually acres and sometimes ridges apart—said a constituent pitched him the idea.

I surmise the Arizona Snakes & Rats Bill stands about the same chances of passing as me accepting an assignment to photograph 1,000 underfed and agitated rattlesnakes—in their 100-square-foot enclosure. If nothing else, I hope it increases awareness, because I’ve helped innocent people who’ve been struck by rattlesnakes while getting into their car, when hiking and even in their closet. I understand sometimes you don’t have the financial means to engage a professional removal service the critics suggest or even the time to call.

Which Photo is Better? You Decide.

One of the more interesting facets of outdoor photography—even product photos—is the fact that once you hatch a concept and capture an image you like, there are days when you start thinking the outtakes are much better than the image with soft boxes, snoots, Pocket Wizards and the setup headache. Here’s an example I’m still scratching my head over with a B. Merry Pocket Ulu Knife I was working on for my Fear and Loading channel on

The photo is deliberately simple to highlight the striking knife made in Alaska, providing plenty of detail in the company logo and that gorgeous laminated handle. Strobes are to the right and left, triggered by Pocket Wizards from my Canon 5D MkII. One is working through a soft box (right) and the other is snooted to give something of a spotlight effect. The image was taken in my “studio” and works, but there’s so much separation that the knife almost looks like it was dropped onto the scene with Photoshop. It wasn’t, but I admit there was a lot of Photoshop work, mostly to get rid of some of the dust on that blade.

The next day I worked outdoors on a burned tree stump (below). I like the look of backlighting from the sun, but I needed to get enough light onto the knife that it showed well and prevent the highlights Mother Nature provided from burning parts until the image was ruined. It was to the right, below the camera, and shot through a small Pocketbox to minimize glare on the metal.

So I added a strobe, triggered by a PocketWizard, off the camera to minimize reflection and maximize detail. Thankfully, the magazines and companies I do work for like to have options—so both will be submitted.

I’m still not sure which one I like. I’d love to know what you think, so leave comments if you feel strongly about one or the other.

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I worked in NRA Publications for a decade and still consider everyone there my extended family. Great and decent people, every of them.
That’s why I’m excited about starting a twice-a-week news column for I was editor in chief of the print magazine for many years, nursing along the fledgling website before Ed Friedman and Jay Grazio turned it pro. It’s awesome today, mostly because of their efforts and that of the staff surrounding them. If you’re into firearms, you’ll love what you see.
My first installment takes a look at the Czech Republic’s effort to enhance the ability for its citizens to carry firearms for self-defense. It’s raised a few eyebrows across the pond, obviously, but the people there have a history of taking to arms when needed.