VOLUME 96-----------JUNE 2010
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
June 1, 2010
Gonna' start this month with some talk about huntin' and shootin' a new gun. (OK it wasn't really huntin', just taking advantage of opportunities offered when one lives in the midst of good wildlife habitat where it's both safe and legal to shoot)
On Friday morning May 28th, I topped the stairs from the family room, glanced out the living room window, and spied two coyotes meandering up the hill behind the house.
The only firearms readily accessible were two 20 gauge shotguns that were available in case a legal turkey threatened to poop on Ann's patio. (Our spring turkey season closed May 31st) One is a youth size Mossberg, and the other a full size Winchester model 1200; neither suitable for a coyote at 70 or 80 yards.
As Ann watched the coyotes, I dashed down the stairs, punched in the combination for the gun safe, and grabbed the Ruger .25-06. By the time I retrieved the ammo the coyotes had moved on.
Having had similar experiences with disappearing coyotes, I dug a string of predator calls out of a cabinet drawer. They will sometimes return to investigate the simulated squeals of a distressed cottontail. I moved outside and began an earsplitting sequence of dying rabbit sounds.
After waiting what I thought to be an appropriate interval, I saw no coyote and started back in the house.
As I turned, Little Heifer stuck her head out the door and whispered, "One of them came back into the gap when you first called."
This prompted one more try. Another sequence of squalls split the air, and within seconds, a coyote came back into the clearing and stopped; right smack dab behind a tree! After a few seconds pause, further seeking the source of a perceived easy meal brought the animal into the open.
This is rationalizing, but I had just hustled up and down the stairs twice, I was breathing hard, my heart was pounding, and I had only seconds to react. Thus, I had difficulty making the crosshairs in the 6X Leupold settle into any semblance of steadiness. So, my shot placement was not exemplary. But, the coyote went down and the Winchester 20 gauge was used to quickly administer the 'coup de grace'.
Mature female coyote with my size 11 boot for reference
My next 'hunting' experience occurred Saturday morning, the 29th. This time a turkey was the target of opportunity. And, an unusual turkey it was!
We had been seeing this turkey off and on for several days. In fact Jennifer and I attempted to put a sneak on it the same day I killed the coyote. While I have successfully stalked and shot turkeys a couple of times, here at the ranch, I've been busted many more times than not. Jennifer and I were busted that day too!
This time I was able to accurately predict the path the two birds would follow as they fed along, pecking the heads off dandelions, and set up an ambush. The Winchester 20 gauge with a load of high brass #6's did its job.
Unusual turkey? Yes, it was a bearded hen! While bearded hens occur occasionally, they are fairly rare. We have opportunities to observe lots of turkeys, close-up, around here, and I can only remember seeing two or three over a span of several years. They are legal game during the spring season here in Washington. The 2010 spring season pamphlet states that we are restricted to "Gobblers and Turkeys with visible beards."
I've heard it said that bearded hens are not fertile and can't reproduce. According to sources I found via internet searches, this likely isn't true. I've read that these hens raise broods just like any other. In fact, one of the bearded hens I've seen here was followed by a brood of chicks.
So, why shoot a hen that might successfully raise a brood? A couple of reasons; not the least of which, we have way too many turkeys for the available habitat now! Besides that, hens are much better eating that those tough old Toms.
The seasons and limits reflect our game biologists' views about the overabundance of turkeys in this area. Up to three turkeys were allowed during the spring season, plus two "beardless only" during the early fall season, plus one of "either sex" during the late fall season.
As you can see, we have a thin, scraggly beard and no spurs
We have hunter education classes this week, so we'll share a bite or two of this turkey with our students, parents, and volunteers on Tuesday evening. We'll prepare the turkey using a 'slow cooker' recipe you can find in the recipe archives in 'Ann's Corner' of the website.
I finally got the second handgun I ordered several weeks ago via Smith & Wesson's Hunter Education Instructor Program. Smith & Wesson offers a number of their firearms to instructors at substantial price reductions.
This gun is a model 317 'Kit Gun' in .22 LR caliber. When I first picked it up, I was reminded of the guy in the Staples TV commercials who goes around the store shouting, "WOW, that's a low price!"
In this case, however, I'd be referring to the miniscule weight of the gun rather than price! In spite of the hand-filling synthetic grip, regular size 'J' frame, and eight shot cylinder, it feels like a feather. The aluminum alloy frame brings its weight in at only 11.6 ounces on my digital scale. A cylinder full of .22 LR cartridges adds exactly one ounce to the total.
Jennifer and I shot nearly a box of ammo at an improvised cardboard box target as soon as we got the gun home and cleaned. The rear notch and green fiber optic front sight made for an easily acquired sight picture even in the cloudy, rainy conditions we faced.
Jennifer didn't think the gun was shooting straight, so this may give you a clue that the short sight radius provided by the three inch barrel didn't agree with her.
I don't pretend to be a good shot with a handgun. Ann has always bested me in that category. But, after getting a feel for the trigger pull, I found that I could shoot the little revolver acceptably well. We were shooting offhand, with a two-hand grip, at about 10 yards. Fortunately, the rear sight is adjustable, as I found the gun to shoot a bit to the right for me.
S & W Model 317 'Kit Gun' and ten yard target. The aiming point was the 2 and one half inch circle. The lower two holes were with a 6 o'clock hold. The rest of the rounds were triggered with the front sight covering the aiming point.
With this limited session, I found the trigger pull to be clean and crisp. Although I didn't check pull weight, it felt to be in the 4 to 5 pound arena, single action.
When I get the time and inclination to really test the performance of the gun, I'll adjust the rear sight to move the point of impact to match my sight picture and shoot from a steady rest. (This from a guy who's had a new 1911 for weeks and hasn't even fired it, so don't hold your breath)
Rick turned 47 years old on May 31st. We celebrated with a dinner at Wolf Lodge Steak House east of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on Sunday the 30th, and again at Rick and Christi's house on the 31st.
We think Wolf Lodge has the best steaks in the area, and the 10 oz filets we ate confirmed that. Another feature includes appetizers of breaded, fried rocky mountain oysters. Yum! Even Jennifer snarfs them up, in spite of knowing their origin on the bovine.
The celebration at Rick's house included chili dogs and 'sloppers'. Rick was introduced to sloppers in a restaurant while on a business trip to their Goodrich facility in Pueblo, Colorado. It's basically an open faced hamburger topped with chili verde. (A green chili sauce with bits of pork) Really, Really, Good! This was followed by an ice cream cake for dessert.
Gift opening came after eating. Our major birthday gift was given a few weeks ago when 2009 hunting and fishing licenses expired. We have bought Rick's licenses and big game tags for his birthday for several years now.
Ice Cream Cake and Gift Opening. The gift bag has now been passed among the family for over 18 years. Everyone gets at least one birthday gift in the 'Whoopie!' bag.
As reported last month, Ann and I were preparing to travel to Missouri in observance of our North Harrison High School 50th class reunion. The trip was made without incident, except for generally lousy weather.
We had lots of rain and wind, with some snow and hail mixed in! Fortunately, the wind was mostly at our back, the snow was short lived, the hail was marble size or smaller, and our travel route kept us above any flood plain! We had golf clubs in the trunk that never saw the light of day!
On Saturday afternoon May 8th, we and our classmates gathered in the community room at City Hall in Eagleville. All things considered, we had a good turnout. Out of a class of only 30 to begin with, four are deceased, and we still ended up with 22 at the gathering.
Back Row: Larry Brammer, Gary Brooks, Jim Parman, Roger Gibson, Robert Siddens, Rex Young, Howard Brooks Warr
Middle Row: Lavaughn (Harrold) Grabill, Patty (Bain) Stitt, Carol (Slaughter) Emig, Dale Cook, Marge Offield, Sharon (Ragan) Nelson, Bobby Alley
Front Row: Barbara (Boothe) Kaiser, Josephine (McCoy) Rohr, Daisy (Nelson) Emmack, Linda (Stevenson) Sams, Ann (Hart) Parman, Norma (Hunsicker) Ravensborg
Gary Simpson and Lawrence Purdun were in attendance, but arrived too late for the picture.
The 'all school' alumni banquet was held later that evening and we were able to visit with some old friends from other classes.
After a few days visiting with relatives and coercing my brother into helping install a new air conditioner in my mother-in-law's apartment, we began our return trip.
We elected to travel a more southerly route than usual for our return home. The two main items on the agenda were to visit the Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet, and see the Grand Canyon.
We traveled through some god-awful desolate country to Four Corners, only to find that the monument itself was closed for construction and we couldn't even get close enough to see it!
We did find that the Grand Canyon had not been moved, although some of the hiking trails along the south rim were, you guessed it: CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION!
I had seen the Grand Canyon once while on a family vacation at age 16, but Ann had seen it only from 35,000 feet as we flew over it last July. It is still an awesome sight!
Here are some random views of the Canyon from the south rim. The Bright Angel Trail is the one taken when tourists ride mules to the Canyon bottom. You can see the trail's beginning to the left and below the sign. More of the trail further down is visible just to the left of the sign. We understand you must make reservations a year in advance to reserve a saddle. (Maybe next time)
You thought you would get by without reading any words from my soapbox, didn't you? Well, wrong again!
Some recent observations along with the constant crying from all levels of government about their lack of funds brought on by the recession, has helped me better understand the fervor of those who are advocating voting out every incumbent politician.
The last session of our Washington State legislature resulted in lawmakers "temporarily" suspending a law created by citizen's initiative, limiting their ability to raise taxes. (They could legally do this because the initiative is more than two years old) They just could not bring themselves to adopt a budget that fit into projected revenue.
In other words, they couldn't fund all the programs that were put in place when tax dollars were flowing freely in a booming economy, so they found a way to raise or create additional taxes to the tune of 800 million dollars.
Another example was brought to mind when I recently sent a check to renew the license for our travel trailer. When we moved to Washington, the cost of vehicle licenses was based upon an excise tax formula having to do with the value of the vehicle. Whatever the formula, vehicle licensing was much more expensive than surrounding states, and one of the highest in the nation.
A citizen's initiative, several years ago, eliminated the excise tax and made vehicle licensing a flat $30 for passenger cars and light trucks. So far the legislators haven't had the nerve for an outright repeal of that law, but have found ways to increase licensing revenue anyway.
We now have additional fees based upon the weight of the vehicle rather than its value. We also must replace our license plates every seven years whether they need it or not. Cost $24. If you want to retain the same license number; another $20. Filing fee, $3. Plate reflectivity fee, $2. Hell, there's even a 75 cent fee to "support the computer system used to provide the licensing services."
Stupid, wasteful spending is not limited to Washington State. Beginning in 2006 my native state of Missouri decided to place mile markers identifying the highway and mileage every two tenths of a mile on every Interstate Highway in the state! I guess the simple numerical markers every mile just weren't enough.
Now let's see? Missouri has 1,181 miles of interstate highway. Placing a marker every two tenths of a mile would add four markers between each existing mile post. Is my math correct? Four times 1,181 is 4,724 additional posts and signs. But wait! Just adding an extra 4 signs each mile wasn't enough! Every one must have a large section on top with the familiar Interstate Highway emblem and number identifying the road.
Dang, now the existing mile markers don't match the new ones, so they must be replaced. We now have a grand total of over 5,900 new signs, posts, and installation labor!
Oh Gosh! I forgot that these Interstates run two directions, so let's just double the number for the signs on the other side of the road! Gettin' close to 12,000 ain't it? I can't even get my mind around the millions this must have cost!
Do you get the idea that our elected officials think we voters are stupid? Well, they're right! We keep re-electing the damn fools don't we?
I think I'm startin' to buy into the idea of votin' 'em all out!
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from an unknown author who quoted Dakota Sioux tribal wisdom as advocating:
"When you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." Instead, when managing a business or running a government entity, other strategies with dead horses are often tried, including:
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!