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Paul Smith: Red wine and red dots

The simple solutions sometimes provide the best solutions.
Iron sights are for young eyes. — Paul Smith photo

I like simple things that work well. If you are a wine drinker, you are likely aware that there have been patents registered, marketing blitz campaigns, and much cash spent, on all manners of devices for pulling corks out of wine bottles. Need I point out the over engineering around many of these wonders of wizardry?

I mean really, popping a cork should be simple I think. I prefer the corkscrew that folds out from my Swiss army knife. I set the point concentrically, twist the steel worm an inch or so, and then I just pluck out that cork with a quick purposeful tug. It works and it’s in my pocket for all vino tinto emergencies. I might even open a bottle of white in a jam.


I had a tough time finding this rail, had to order online. — Paul Smith photo
I had a tough time finding this rail, had to order online. — Paul Smith photo

You know what? I cannot source a pocketknife or multi tool that has both a good quality file, a corkscrew, and scissors. I need the file mostly for touching up fishing hooks, the scissors for cutting fishing line and fingernails, and corkscrew needs no further explanation. So, if you can help me please e-mail. Are you listening Leatherman and Victorinox?

Over Christmas at my sister-in-law’s place, we decided to open a bottle of red wine. So, I was handed this wonderful piece of mechanical ingenuity. Of course, I had a simple corkscrew in my pocket, but hey, why not give the gadget a go. Well, you know what? That cork came out with almost no effort, mechanical advantage, laws of the lever, and all that sort of physics stuff in motion. I was momentarily impressed, despite the unwieldy dimensions of the beast. It would take up excessive space in a kitchen drawer, let alone fit in a pocket.

Like always, then came the usual letdown with too complex corkscrews. What fiddling and poking with my fingers I had to do to free the cork from the worm. I guess the wannabe rocket scientists didn’t think of that, or test it out. Who knows? But I won’t be buying one.

The best lever type corkscrew I think is the proven waiters’ variety. It fits in a pocket and levers out the cork without that big dangerous tug required with an army knife. It just takes a bit of getting accustomed to. One of those days I’m expecting to smash a bottle of wine on our dining room tile floor with the Swiss knife. I’d best master the waiter’s way.

More simplicity

Ah yes simple things, like iron sights mounted to a good old lever gun. I shot my fair share of moose with iron sights on a lever gun. My Savage 99 in .308 Winchester was mighty fine. But I got tempted by complexity, moving on to bolt-action magnums with big scopes. Actually, it was more than just frivolous lust for better guns, or more complex weaponry. In reality, iron sights are dandy for young eyes. I know full well I’d miss those shots today, the tricky ones I made long ago over an iron notch and blade. I recognized my vision limitations brought on by decades, and pointed my muzzle through optical glass.

For moose hunting I’ve been exclusively aiming with glass for many years now. It’s all good, but for the weight and size of scopes. I like shooting with scopes. They are so much more precise, for long shots, and level the playing field between aged and youthful shooters. Great stuff. But I still long for the good old days, back in the 70’s and 80’s, toting around a lightweight rifle with no big chunk of metal and glass attached at the top.  Modern scopes are smaller, but they still bloody well ruin the esthetics and function of a lightning fast lever rifle.


I chose the Vortex Venom, but there are other similar products out there.  — Paul Smith photo
I chose the Vortex Venom, but there are other similar products out there. — Paul Smith photo

You can have your cake and eat it, too

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it also. I must beg to differ. I have found a tiny optical sight, not much bigger than the original irons, but it will place my bullets much better than my once youthful eyes. I just received it in the mail a few days ago, so stay tuned for the final verdict, although I am very optimistic. It is a wonder of modern mechanical, electronic, and optical technology, very complex to engineer and build I’m sure, but oh so simple to use. Let me tell you.

I bought myself one of those relatively new-to-the market red dot scopes. Red dots have been around for quite a while now, but this one is such a small physical package. It’s absolutely amazing.

Look at it in the photo, no bigger than a metallic peep sight. All you need to do is place the red dot on your intended target and pull the trigger. Although developed primarily for military and tactical use, these sighting systems are catching on quickly in the hunting world.

They are quick, simple and accurate.


This is sleek and tidy. I love it so far. — Paul Smith photo
This is sleek and tidy. I love it so far. — Paul Smith photo

I won’t be hunting moose with my red dot this season. I’m just testing the system out. I bought a Browning lever action in .223. That way I carry it around this winter for target shooting and maybe a little coyote hunting. I’m using the Vortex Venom red dot, which attaches to a Weaver or Picatinny rail. I attached the rail to rifle myself using supplied screws and a little thread lock liquid. The sight itself simply locks in place on the rail with one screw. It’s a dandy simple system. I’m going back to my youth. And there’s no parallax scope error. I’ll explain that another time.

If you have any experience or advice to give please e-mail me.


Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at  or follow him on twitter at @flyfishtherock  


I just don't like a big scope on a lever-actioned rifle. — Paul Smith photo
I just don't like a big scope on a lever-actioned rifle. — Paul Smith photo


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