VOLUMES 139 & 140--------JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
February 28, 2014
Still awaiting those two rifles I have ordered. I haven't checked in with Cooper Firearms for a while, but I suspect we'll be several weeks out yet. The most likely scheduling problem with this one is getting the case coloring done on the action and Talley scope rings. Cooper's case coloring is done by Doug Turnbull's gun works back in Broomfield, NY. I was told that could cause some delay as Turnbull is much sought after for their case coloring work and very busy. I'll drop Mike Hudgins an email next week for an update.
The Browning Medallion was scheduled to be here late spring 2014, and Chuck Ray, my ordering dealer had heard nothing different from that as of last week.
So, how much fun is becoming more mature? (I thought that sounded better than ‘getting older’)
Well, how about being unable to clearly see the front sight when shooting a gun with iron sights?
Or, how about osteoarthritis destroying a shoulder joint to the point you have trouble sleeping and can’t raise your arm above your head?
I don’t think of myself as being all that old, but my body has begun to tell me differently.
Let’s start with that pesky front sight that insists upon being blurry no matter how I squint, change glasses, or switch firearms.
As most any shooter knows, the ability to shoot accurately with iron or open sights depends upon the eye attempting the impossible. That is, focusing on the rear sight, front sight, and target all at the same time. We all know that is impossible, but young eyes have the ability to change focus so rapidly that it seems as though focusing on three things at once is a reality! As one ages, not so much.
But, whether young or old, the ability to shoot accurately with iron sights depends upon keeping the front sight of the firearm in focus, even while the target and rear sight may appear a bit blurry. Keeping the front sight in focus is always the mantra of firearms instructors.
Of course, like most shooters today, I shoot nearly all my hunting rifles with telescopic sights, which is a boon to eyes, whether young or old. It is not so much the magnification of a scope, but the phenomenon of a properly focused scope placing the reticle and the target in the same focal plane that makes a scope a good choice. Most of us shoot more accurately when the eye is not trying to focus on multiple distances at the same time.
In the fall of 2012 I decided it was time to kill a deer with one of my Ruger single action revolvers. I had already harvested an animal with a Marlin Model 1895 rifle in the same .44-40 caliber, so decided the Ruger Vaquero shooting that cartridge would be the choice. The ammo I was shooting in both rifle and revolver consisted of handloads with a 200 grain cast RNFP bullet loaded to about the same ballistics as the original black powder loads in this caliber. No scope on this gun, so the rudimentary iron sights would be used; top-strap groove rear and half-moon blade front.
When I took the Ruger to the range for some practice prior to season opening, I discovered that I simply could not see that front sight sharply! I’m near sighted, so normally see things pretty clearly within arm’s length whether wearing glasses or not. Uh-Uh, not this time! I tried with no glasses, with progressive bi-focal glasses, and prescription shooting glasses with no bi-focal, all to no avail! I simply could not bring the front sight into sharp focus.
In spite of the slightly blurry front sight, I could still place my shots on the target such that they would be in the vitals of a deer at the short distance I’d be willing to shoot with the Vaquero anyway, so I sort of forgot about the issue.
Little Heifer and I have our annual eye exam and checkup with Dr. Gary Fillmore at Eye Consultants every December and 2012 was no different. At this visit my vision had not changed appreciably but I did report that I could see a small black ring seemingly hanging in space when looking at a white wall with my left eye.
Dr. Fillmore’s visual examination with that bright blue light resulted in seeing a tiny irregularity that he said he probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not mentioned the anomaly. This prompted a scan of the left eyeball that showed no irregularities.
We discussed the possibility of a floater like those I have in my right eye as is pretty common with aging eyes. But, that was deemed unlikely since the spot did not appear to move.
The little black ringed circle did not interfere with my everyday activities so no more thought was given to it except to occasionally notice that it still remained in the vision of my left eye.
Then came October 2013. Ann and I both were going to shoot new rifles for the upcoming deer season, so I mounted scopes and spent a few hours sighting in those new boom sticks. This process involves shooting the rifles from a bench rest in front of the shop at a target 100 yards down range.
To avoid walking to the target after each shot string to evaluate results, a high powered spotting scope was mounted on a tripod to observe from the bench. I’m left eye dominate, so that’s my scope eye. No matter the twist of the focus knob, I couldn’t make the scope’s image focus sharply when looking at the holes in the targets!
Ah Ha! That pesky little thing in the eyeball! Because the exit pupil of the spotting scope is so tiny, I could not compensate by, in effect, seeing around the little sucker as I obviously do when going about my regular activities. This also brought about the realization that this might be the cause of my blurry front sight on the Vaquero!
Doesn’t seem to bother when I’m using a telescopic sight on a rifle though, as my notched 2013 deer tag will attest.
Now to our December 2013 visit to Eye Consultants. After reporting on my experience with the spotting scope, Dr. Fillmore said, “We have a new machine this year that should show us what is going on.”
Sure enough, the Carl Zeiss lenses on that new machine showed a tiny speck that is stuck in what shows as a white line in the vitreous humor, directly in line with and almost centered over the lens in the left eye.
Now we need to talk about PVD. According to Wikipedia, “posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a condition of the eye in which the vitreous membrane separates from the retina. It refers to the separation of the posterior hyaloid membrane from the retina anywhere posterior to the vitreous base.”
How’s that for a mouthful?
I learned that the condition is common for older adults and over 75% of those over the age of 65 develop it. It is apparently not all that uncommon even in those in their 40s and 50s. It is normally not a condition that requires treatment, but simply part of the aging process. A classic symptom of the condition is the appearance of ‘floaters’ within one or both eyes
In my case the PVD apparently occurred in my right eye some years ago and the occasional ‘floater’ that goes with this condition has been present off and on all this time. Floaters appear as dark colored pieces of ‘fuzz’ that move around as the eye moves. However, they normally fade with time and become less and less noticeable. Several have come and gone in my right eye, with only one pesky critter that showed up more than a year ago still visible but slowly fading away.
So what is that little spot in my left eye? Well it appears that PVD began in my left eye and stalled out about midway through the process leaving the vitreous membrane about midway in the vitreous humor. Dr. Fillmore’s explanation, “The little ring you’re seeing is actually a floater, but it is caught in that membrane and thus doesn’t move. Unfortunately, it is hung up directly in front of the center of the lens.”
The good news is the floater that doesn’t float doesn’t cause problems as I go about my normal day to day activities. It is only when concentrating on a specific small spot that the interference occurs. i.e. front sight of a gun, specific figure on an eye chart, or looking through a scope with a tiny exit pupil.
I’m told that no treatment is indicated at this point. The PVD will likely continue with time, and the membrane may continue to move and allow my little speck act like a normal floater. In any event, as long as it doesn’t interfere with everyday activities, an attempt to correct the problem could create others that are worse.
The scan shows the tiny white spot which is the floater caught in the vitreous membrane almost directly in front of the center of the lens.
Now to that arthritic shoulder joint: Well, half the joint is still there, but the ball end and upper portion of the humerus is now cobalt steel! Had the surgery on January 8th, so am now just over seven weeks into rehab and recovery. Dr. Russell Vanderwilde of Northwest Orthopedic Specialists did the work.
Dr. Vanderwilde is reputed to be one of the best shoulder Docs in the area, and we have high hopes for a successful outcome. I’m sure looking forward to less pain and better range of motion, but have weeks and months of physical therapy to look forward to before that can happen.
Jeff Hart of U District P.T. is putting me through a torture chamber, also known as physical therapy. I see the surgeon next week, and my twice a week p.t. sessions are then scheduled to continue through March. I’m sure further torture will be indicated as this is normally a several month process. I have informed all the medical people involved in this that I’m playing golf as soon as my home course opens, even if I must do so with only one arm!
Here is my new shoulder addition. This is called a 'short stem' procedure, with the stem being the shaft that is inserted inside the humerus bone. The socket holding the ball, is original equipment, just smoothed out a bit.
I’ve been pestering my brother Ed for some pictures of the results of the annual deer hunt headquartered out of his back 40 huntin’ shack. (I’m sorry, I meant to say ‘Hunting Cabin.") (For pictures of the Cabin, navigate back to the January 2011 newsletter) It has only taken 3 or 4 months, but I finally received some pictures of a small sample of the harvest.
This is Mel Schmitt. He and Ed are known as the 'Tribal Elders' of the group. The rest of the hunters are about the ages of Ed's boys.
Coby Richeson, a college friend of one of Ed's boys. The drop tine on this buck is very unusual for the area. Let's hope he passed on this genetic trait before becoming table fare.
Don't know who this one belongs to, but looks like an old boy with character in those antlers.
Ed's eldest son Jason. (You might note the outhouse in the background. May be the only privy in the country with a glass door!)
This months hillbilly wisdom comes via Charlie Pfeifer, an Elks friend and fellow music maker at Tuesday Nite Tacos. Charlie says he heard his dad back in North Dakota say this many times:
“A fartin’ horse will never tire, a fartin’ man is the one to hire.”
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!