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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 49-----------JULY 2006



July 4, 2006

Any time is a great time to celebrate our country's independence and to thank our dedicated Veterans, past, present, and future, who fought, are fighting, and will fight to keep us that way.  Independence Day just means we celebrate more heartily!

For us, July 4th is a special time to remember our Dad, a WWII Navy Veteran, who we lost to heart disease much too early in our lives.  Today would be Dad's 84th birthday.

This time of year also brings fond memories of family get-togethers, home cranked ice cream, and home grown fireworks displays.  Today, families are scattered far and wide, and those with more than one parent are gradually becoming extinct.  Combine this with the fact that some dimwit invented cholesterol, making ice cream unhealthy, and fireworks being illegal darn near everywhere, makes us Hillbilly folk wonder where we fit in anymore!

Hope y'all have a safe and glorious Independence Day, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances!

In last month's newsletter, I reported on the less than successful first use of my new PACT chronograph.  I won't repeat all the details here, but I found the dang thing to be nearly useless when shooting a gun with a sharp muzzle blast.  The unit worked fine when shooting .22 rimfires and a .223 centerfire, but would not read velocities for Ann's little .243 Ruger compact.  (This rifle has only a 16.5 inch barrel, and the muzzle blast is very loud with the loads I was shooting.)

Multiple adjustments of the sky screens, and several calls to the factory reps, finally resulted in receiving word that the unit is sensitive to muzzle blast, and "You sometimes have to put a sandbag on the cables and cover the bench unit with a towel in order to make everything work."

As I told the last guy I talked with, "Son, that's an engineering problem.  I'm not interested in jury riggin' this thing to make it work, so I'm sendin' it back to you!"  (I had already informed the guy that my old Shooting Chrony unit was set up in tandem with the PACT, and it registered every shot!)

To PACT's credit, they do honor their warranty.  My account was credited for the full purchase price within a few days.

I think my next purchase will be an Oehler unit.  It'll hit Little Heifer's bank account an extra $150 above the cost of the PACT, but I'll try and sneak that one through!

We've been avoiding the traffic and fuel costs of the long holiday weekend, by camping in the RVs right here at home.  Rick, Christi, and Jennifer pulled in with their trailer Saturday evening, and everyone slept in air conditioned rigs and ate in the air conditioned house.  We've had mid to upper 90's all weekend.

Anytime we have the kids overnight in the Parman campground, Jennifer insists upon a movie on the 'big screen' in the shop.  Last year I taped, mudded, finished, and painted a 12 by 8 foot section of drywall in the shop for a movie screen.  I move out the vehicles, set up the LCD projector I use for Hunter Education classes, hook up the DVD player, and presto; instant movie theater!

The movie menu included "Eight Below" on Saturday night, "Cheaper By The Dozen 2" on Sunday, and "The Pacifier" on Monday.  (I whined, begged, and groveled, all day Monday for just one John Wayne movie, but was overruled!)  The entertainment was complimented by all the microwave popcorn and soda pop we could eat and drink.

I figure at today's prices for fuel, campground fees, movie tickets, and refreshments, we saved nearly 1000 bucks!  (How's that for justification for buying that Oehler Chronograph?)  Rick ain't gonna' be happy with his electricity bill for his RV air conditioner either.

Well, while many of you have been sittin' home bitchin' about how long 'till huntin' season, I've been regularly killin' game for several weeks.  This is the time of year that young pocket gophers leave the nest to set up housekeeping on their own.  I don't bother them much so long as they 'housekeep' out in the woods, but when they take up residence in or near where I mow grass, the hunt is on!

If you look at the contents table on the Newsletters page on the site, you'll see several references to Gopher Hunting.  For those who are new to the site and my newsletters, here's the short version of how I hunt these destructive little critters.

But first, I should point out, that several years ago our state's urban dwellers, fueled by ignorant propaganda and lots of $ from the likes of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) mustered enough votes for a referendum to virtually ban trapping in the state.  To the 'yes' voter's regret, however, the law made no exceptions for nuisance animals such as moles and gophers!

Can you imagine the number of tears I shed over these city pukes' complaints about the proliferation of the holes and dirt mounds in their lawns and golf courses?  How about, the exploding urban coyote population resulting in cute little Pomeranians and Pekinese becoming doggie snacks?  Boo-hoo, right!  Wrong!

Oh, but there are exceptions if you have enough pull!  A few months ago, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, paid a professional trapper to trap 'possums, 'coons, and coyotes around the Governor's Mansion in Olympia to protect Governor Christine Gregoire's Pomeranian!  After this revelation became public, the outrage was loud and clear!  In response, Gregoire finally reimbursed the state for the trapping, out of her own purse!

A few years, post ban, the legislature did vote to change the law to exempt the nuisance animals, but to get support of rural lawmakers had to include some exemptions for predators when protecting livestock or pets.  Of course Gary Locke, who was then Governor, vetoed that!

So, we've continued the standoff for several years.  The rural legislators continue to block any changes that do not include exceptions for predator control.  Right on country folks!!!!!

See what you made me do?  I digressed and ended up on a soapbox again!  Back to the gopher hunting.

Our pests here at the Ranch, are northern pocket gophers.  They dig tunnels, eat roots and tubers, (read lawns and flowers) and push their excess dirt out on top of the ground into unsightly mounds.  Beneath the mound, the burrow is packed tightly with a plug of dirt.

While these critters very, very rarely show themselves above ground, they do have one vulnerability.  If you can find the tunnel under the dirt mound and dig out the dirt plug, they will eventually return to the opening and re-plug the hole.

My hunting consists of opening a burrow and observing the hole until the varmint begins pushing dirt up to close the opening.  At this point he or she is met with a dose of number 6 lead shot from a 3 inch .410 shotshell, straight down the tunnel!  Folks, that ain't trappin', but it's darned effective!

The following pictures include my latest 'gopher getter gun', a large mature specimen of the breed, and a smaller one with its cheek pockets filled with grass.  The gun is a Thompson/Center Encore with a barrel chambered for both .410 shotshells and .45 Colt cartridges.  Click on the pictures for a larger view.


The gopher with the grass filled pockets is the only one I've killed that was actually outside his burrow when shot.

This is my third season of gopher control by the .410 method.  While I no longer try to keep an accurate count, I have to be nearing the elimination of 50 or more of these little suckers.  My personal best for one day was about a week ago when I got 4 of the little devils in about 5 hours!

This is also our first gopher season since the passing of Pearl, Ann's old gray cat.  We've concluded that may be the reason we are having more gopher encroachment into the lawn, along with a plethora of mice in one of the shop buildings.

Finally, another issue of Outlook Magazine came out last week.  This one was about a month late.  I authored 3 of the articles in this issue.  One is a story about a new program sponsored by the NSSF, (National Shooting Sports Foundation) called "First Shots."  This program is being used to introduce new shooters to the sport in a comfortable, socially acceptable atmosphere at modern shooting ranges throughout the country.  "First Shots" biggest selling point is that it's free!  You can learn more about the program by visiting the website at: www.firstshots.org

I continue to be a nuisance to the boss, about getting the Outlook Magazine website fixed.  The site hasn't been updated for over 3 months, so the .pdf files of the latest magazines that I've been saying you can download, aren't on there yet.  After some apparent contractor problems, Joe tells me he will now be doing the website himself, so hopefully the situation will be rectified soon.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from another of those internet jokes that make the rounds.  At my age, I can particularly appreciate this one:

A wealthy old lady decides to go on a safari in Africa, taking her
faithful aged poodle named Cuddles along for company.
One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.
The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep doo-doo now!"  Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard!  I wonder if there are any more around here?"
Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look
of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!",
says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"
Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard.  So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.
The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"
Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?",  but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says:  "Where's that darned monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!"
Moral of this story...
Don't mess with old farts - age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill!

BS and brilliance only come with age and experience!

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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