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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 41-----------NOVEMBER 2005



November 2, 2005

Early deer season is behind us, and elk season opened October 29th.  Although we have seen the occasional elk here at the ranch, it has never happened during open season.  Ann, Rick, and I all purchase elk tags each year, but have yet to fill one.

Moose are more frequent visitors here than elk, but a moose permit is a low odds drawing affair for this area, and none of the family's hunters have been so blessed in spite of applying each year.

Rick and I have permission to trek around two of our neighbors' properties this week, in search of the elusive Wapiti.  There are substantial areas of Washington State land, as well as a local paper company's holdings to the north of our location that will receive heavy hunting pressure.  Hopefully, this will push, or has pushed, some of the elk onto the private land we'll be hunting.  Time will tell!

Little Heifer was the only family member to draw an antler-less whitetail tag this year.  That tag is only good for the early season, and she did fill it on opening day.  She and I then skipped the rest of the early season, as we made a road trip back to Missouri and Iowa to visit relatives.

We try to get back to see our Mothers about once a year, and fit in visits with other relatives and friends as time permits and everyone's schedules allow.  We left home about noon on Wednesday the 19th, and returned the afternoon of the 28th.  That's a lot of miles in a short time, but we held up pretty well for old folks!

Speaking of age, we were able to have a joint birthday celebration for Ann and my sister Carol, on Saturday the 22nd.  Carol's birthday is October 29th and Ann's is October 30th.  I won't further discuss actual ages here, except to say that Ann is younger than I, and Carol is NOT an older sister!

My brother Ed, and his wife Nancy, were kind enough to open their home to the clan for the little celebration.  In all, about a dozen relatives from four generations were in attendance.  To avoid cooking chores, an area Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise was called upon to furnish the victuals.  Of course, my Mother couldn't resist baking a couple of pies!  (Glad she didn't resist!)

Ed and Nancy own substantial acreage just northwest of the little village where Ed and I grew up, and they built a new home there a little over a year ago.  Since Ed, and sons Jason and Scott are avid deer hunters, I doubt it's an accident that their place is in the heart of some of Northwest Missouri's prime trophy whitetail habitat!

Looking out over the Oak, Hickory, Walnut, and other hardwoods surrounding the nearby lake is not only easy on the eyes, but nearly shouts its excellence as deer, turkey, squirrel, and other wildlife habitat!  Heck, even the cows and horses like it a lot!

Ed and Nancy's Backyard

Even though the fall colors were beyond primetime, this is still a pretty nice view from the back deck!

The past month found me spending some time at the shooting bench, making sure that some of the rifles were still shooting where they were pointed, in preparation for deer and elk seasons.  Sighting checks were performed on Ann's Ruger .243, the Remington .338 Ultra Mag, and my old Remington 7MM Mag. 

The .243 is still shooting both the 100 grain Nosler Partitions and the 95 grain Barnes XLCs to the same point of aim and grouping acceptably well.  This rifle will shoot 58 grain Hornady V-Max bullets a bit tighter than the heavyweights, but they can't (or shouldn't) be used on deer sized game.

The .338 Ultra Mag with factory loads featuring 250 grain Swift A Frames still does what its always done.  It prints the first two, nearly touching with number three out about an inch.

The 7MM Mag wasn't fired last year.  The Leupold 2 to 8X variable on the Remington, had been in for repairs, and had not been sighted in after remounting.

This year, a quick session in the shop with a LaserLyte bore sighter had the rifle shooting about an inch to the right at 100 yards with the first three shot group.

I was shooting some handloads utilizing 175 grain Nosler Partition bullets and H4831 powder.  These were loaded several years ago in preparation for a black bear hunt, and run about 2700 fps over the chronograph.  Minor adjustments with the minute clicks on the Leupold had the next group right where I wanted it.

Ever notice how some rifles just seem to want to shoot, and others have to be cajoled or coerced with different bullets and loads?  (Hell, sometimes that don't even work - I'll talk about Ann's 7MM-08 in a minute!)

This old Remington 7MM Mag was purchased in the late 70's or early 80's, not long after left hand Model 700's became readily available.  It doesn't seem to matter what you poke in it; factory loads or handloads, heavy bullets or light; it just groups well and prints them all near the same point of aim!

After the scope adjustments described above, I fired four shots for group; four shots because number three was a called 'flyer' that I just plain yanked off point of aim.  The other three were well under a half inch!  After this bench session, I managed to dig up a few old targets with 100 yard groups shot from this rifle.  Here's what some of them looked like:

Clockwise from Upper Left: The group I described above with 175 grain Noslers, fired 10/14/05; 160 grain Speer, 8/6/89 (Yes, that's 3 shots); 175 grain Nosler, 8/6/89 (These from the same box of reloads as the 10/14/05 group); 160 grain Sierra, 9/16/89

Incidentally, this old Remington is NOT for sale!

I'm also still working with Little Heifer's 7MM-08, and still not satisfied with the way it groups.  I was hoping things would improve when I free floated the barrel by removing the pressure bump in the barrel channel.  This did shrink the groups with the 139 grain Hornady bullets to 2 to 2 inches, but did nothing for the 160 grain Sierras I'm using.

As reported before, I'm using H414 powder in the 160 grain Sierra loads.  H414 is highly recommended by several of my loading manuals for 7MM-08 loads, but I continue to experience wide velocity variations with this powder.

I've tried the H414 in both .243 and .25-06 loads and have had the same problem.  Using magnum primers as recommended by Speer manuals for this powder didn't seem to help, nor did applying a firm crimp to loads with cannelured  bullets.

So, my next move is to change powder.  I purchased a pound of Ramshot 'Big Game' the other day, and will try that next.  Ramshot powder is distributed by Western Powders in Miles City, Montana, and I've been reading good things about their products.

Ramshot is said to have a characteristic similar to Hodgdon's line of 'Extreme' powders, in that, air temperature changes have little or no effect on velocity or pressure.  Loads that were developed at 80 F should perform the same at 0 as well.  Western Powders will also provide free, pressure tested data for their line of powders upon request. ( www.ramshot.com )

Some of my writing is still being published by the good folks at Outlook Magazine here in Spokane.  The magazine's website ( www.spokaneoutlook.com ) has recently been updated so that all the articles from the latest issue are available online.  The issue dated September 30, 2005 is currently featured.

We're all looking forward to the late whitetail deer season, which opens November 7th.  The late season runs concurrently with the beginning of the rut, so we usually see lots of bucks moving about here at the ranch.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from an email story that was sent to Ann.  You may notice that I've made one minor change:

A Missouri Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work.

As she got to one little hillbilly girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."

The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

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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