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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 53-----------NOVEMBER 2006



November 2, 2006

Got a phone call this morning asking me to be a guest on a Spokane radio show next Saturday morning, November 4th.  Chuck DeBruin, a local outdoor writer and media personality hosts a live show called "The Outdoor Guru" every Saturday morning from 8:00 to 9:00 AM.  The show airs on KJRB talk radio, 790 on the AM dial.  I was asked to talk about Hunter Education and Metallic Reloading.  The show's format includes call-in questions and/or comments from listeners, so you might want to check it out.

The early deer season in our area ended on October 27th, with elk season beginning on the 28th.  Early deer ended with nary a shot fired here at the ranch.  Even though Rick and I both drew tags for a second deer (antlerless only) we elected not to try and fill them until the late deer season begins on November 6th.  Then we'll still have two more weeks to fill tags.

In past years the second deer tags had to be used during the early season only, but are valid during both seasons this year.  Since the rut usually doesn't begin here until early November, we elected to leave the live females around to attract the big boys when they start getting amorous during the late season.

Filling an elk tag is not terribly likely here at the ranch, although we buy them every year.  We have seen elk here a couple of times, but never during open season.  Even though either sex is legal game in this area, it is more to avoid landowner depredation complaints than to control an over abundance of elk!

We do have permission to hunt a neighbor's property that shares our infrequency of elk sightings.  Rick and I walked that property on opening day, and observed some old tracks that could have been either an elk or a small moose.  (The tracks were too old and ill defined to tell for sure, but moose are more frequent visitors here than elk)  Our best hope is that hunting pressure elsewhere will push animals onto the properties we can hunt.

Washington state does have substantial numbers of elk, but where most abundant, the hunting pressure on public land is much too much for my taste.  Rick and I hunted in the Ellensburg area a couple of times years ago, and saw way more people than elk!

I suspect my gopher hunting is about over for the year.  The pocket gophers should be preparing their underground homes for winter, with expansion into new territory postponed until spring.  Last week though, I did manage to eliminate one that would likely have contributed to the annual population explosion next spring.

I thought I had the dang gophers eliminated from the lawn area and around the buildings several weeks ago, but then discovered fresh activity behind the old shop building.  It took me about 3 weeks, but I finally got the little sucker!  I shouldn't say "little" because this old gal was one of the largest specimens I've seen!  I'm sure a litter or two of her offspring will not be migrating to my lawn next spring!

As is the case with most animals, when these gophers get older and bigger, they become more difficult to hunt successfully.  Young of the year are usually quick and easy as compared to the older ones.  The smaller ones will usually try and plug their burrow entrances fairly soon after I open one, while the older, bigger ones can be quite unpredictable.

When I started the war with this last old sow, she would leave the hole open for two or three days, and then fill it with a huge amount of tightly packed dirt, usually in the overnight hours.  I was checking the hole nearly every day, and would dig it out again each time I discovered it plugged up. At one point the hole was left open for a week and a half before further activity.

One warm day last week, I was thinning trees on the hill behind the house and was either walking or driving the tractor past the den site on numerous occasions.  For some reason, the gopher's behavior changed radically that day.  The course of the morning saw the hole dug out by me and refilled by Ms gopher three times.  I finally caught her in the act on the fourth occasion, and a load of #6's from the .410 barrel on the T/C Encore ended her career!  (If you are interested in more information about the Thompson/Center Encore or my gopher hunting methods, see previous newsletters)

In my June and July 2006 newsletters, I described the trials and tribulations of the first use of my new PACT chronograph.  I found that the new unit was susceptible to sharp muzzle blast and would not "read" the speed of bullets from Ann's .243 Ruger M77 MkII Compact.  The short 16.5 inch barrel on this gun does make for a muzzle blast that makes one appreciate good ear protection!  After being told by the factory reps, that this is a common problem that can "usually" be corrected by "sandbagging the wires, and covering the bench unit with a towel."  I returned the unit and got my money back!

I decided that my next chronograph would be an Oehler.  Even though they cost about $150 more than the PACT, I've never heard of any problems with them working properly.  So, a few weeks ago I visited the Oehler website to begin the ordering process.

A note on the site informed me that the company has stopped making the unit I want.  They say that supplier problems for materials and parts for the models sold for reloader's use, along with increases in business for their industrial ballistics equipment just didn't make it feasible to continue with the small units.  I guess for me, it's back to the drawing board on this one.

Oehler does continue to make and sell what they call their Model 43 Personal Ballistic Laboratory.  This unit connects to a laptop computer, and will perform all sorts of ballistic voodoo, such as measure velocity, measure chamber pressure, calculate time of flight, calculate the ballistic coefficient of bullets, and a bunch of other stuff I don't understand either!

Take a look at the Oehler website and you can view a sample test report from a shooting session using the Model 43.  The web address is: www.oehler-research.com (Talk about information overload)

Of course we must then face the interesting part!  What does it cost?

The base unit with software is $1,200.  Then we need the Chamber Pressure starter kit with 5 gages, tools, adhesives. and incidentals for $250.  Next we need the acoustic target at $900.  The acoustic target requires the Downrange amplifier with 110 yard cable, which is $225.  Extra strain gages (package of 5)for pressure measurements on different firearms runs another $55.  My adder brings this to $2630!

It'll require some fancy footwork to get that kind of expenditure approved by Little Heifer!  Probably ain't gonna' go that way!

I did read about another new chronograph hitting the market in the latest edition of Rifleshooter Magazine.  This unit is made in Germany and is supposed to have the fastest "clock" available to measure bullet passage through the screens.  This unit also has its own light source, and can be used either indoors or out.  It sells for just under $800.

Fortunately, I still have my old Shooting Chrony.  It is a bit unhandy to use, and requires very precise aiming of bullet passage over the screens, but it does tell me how fast the bullets are traveling.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from another of those internet jokes, this one from the humor page of my ISP's website.  (Again, with proper modification)

A census taker was performing his duties in the back country hills of Missouri.  He knocked on the door of a little shack in the woods and was greeted by a little old hillbilly lady.

The government man said, "First, I need the names and ages of all your children."

The lady replied, "Well, there's the twins Florence and Rufus, they're 36.  Then there's the twins Penny and Jenny, they'll be 28.  Next would be the twins Billy Bob and Jim Bob they'd be. . . .

"Wait a minute!" interrupted the census taker.  "You mean to tell me you got twins every time?"

"Oh no sir," said the little old hillbilly lady, "Lots of times we didn't get nothin'!"

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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