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VOLUME 65-----------NOVEMBER 2007



November 1, 2007

Last month, on October 3rd, I reported that Jennifer finally got her turkey.  Mine was bagged the next day on October 4th.  The flock that had been hanging around here made the mistake of returning.  I could see no Jakes in the crowd, so picked out the biggest hen I could see for the pot.

I have to acknowledge that the taking of that hen was a very painful experience.  The turkeys were feeding across the South lawn toward the West, and I was peeking around the Northwest corner of the house.

Now, picture this  ol' hillbilly southpaw trying to shoot that Winchester Model 1200 from my left shoulder, from that corner of the house without stepping out so far that I'd be seen by the turkeys.  You're right.  Can't be done!

So, I did the next best thing I could think of at the moment.  I touched off a 12 gauge magnum turkey load from my right shoulder.  Actually, there was little rational thought put into that decision!

My right shoulder is the one that had arthroscopic surgery in the Spring of 2006, the right bicep muscle was torn years ago and didn't heal properly, and, in the excitement, I didn't hold the buttstock firmly against my shoulder.  Two days later, the purple, green, and chartreuse bruise extended nearly down to my elbow!

We showed that old hen though!  The next day she was part of the chow at the Wheelin' Elks RV club pot luck.  Little heifer found a crock pot recipe that sounded good, so she cooked 'er up, de-boned the meat, and included that as one of her pot luck dishes.

It'd be nice if she would share the recipe with y'all in Ann's Corner on the site, but if memory serves, she ain't updated the corner for a year now!  (This comment may get me injured when she proofreads this.)

The early deer season for our unit opened on October 13th.  As usual, the hillbilly procrastinator didn't have sufficient ammunition of the right type loaded for all the firearms that might be used for shooting deer!

Now that Jennifer has become a 'hunter' we have four deer tag purchasers in the family.  Added to the fact that Ann, Rick, and I all drew additional antlerless permits this year, we have a total of seven tags that could potentially be filled.

This could require numerous guns, right?  I thought you'd agree!

The ammo loading gave Jennifer and I an opportunity to give the PACT powder dispenser a good workout.  I ordered the PACT dispenser along with their latest chronograph nearly two years ago, but had only used the dispenser a couple of times.  (After determining the chronograph didn't work like I thought it should, I returned it to the factory for a refund.)

PACT Dispenser and Digital Scale Combo

For more details about the chronograph and dispenser, see the March, June, and July 2006 newsletters.

For starters I wanted to work up a load for my old Remington Model 700 7MM Mag, using Hornaday's 162 grain SST bullets.  With Jennifer's able assistance we resized, deprimed, and prepped some once fired Winchester brand cases and, using Alliant's Reloader 22 powder, loaded some test loads.  As always, I'll not report specific powder charges here, but you can find the appropriate data in Hornady's latest reloading manual.

After setting up and calibrating the equipment, dispensing the various charge weights was as simple as punching the numbers into the key pad, hit enter, and press dispense!  The called for charges were nearly all thrown to the exact one tenth of a grain, and the couple that weren't, were not off more than one tenth.  Considering the charge weights we were using, plus or minus one tenth is such a small deviation it makes no practical difference.

We loaded three rounds each with four different powder charges and I ran them over my old Shooting Chrony chronograph.  I chose to use the second hottest load tested, which was well below the maximum load listed in the manual.  The load gave me an average velocity of 2725 feet per second, which was about 175 fps below what Hornaday's testing showed for an identical bullet and powder charge from the same model rifle.  Just one more example of the fact that rifles are individuals, and may react very differently under similar circumstances with similar loads.

This load was grouping three shots in the neighborhood of an inch and a half at 100 yards, which is about as good as I can hold from the bench any more.  (I'll tell you how good I can't hold, offhand, with this rifle and load a little later.)  We completed loading 30 more of these rounds for my deer hunting.  I'm bettin' a deer won't be able to tell the difference between that 2725 and 2900 fps!

Next item on the agenda was reloads for Rick's .41 Magnum.  Rick has owned a Ruger Redhawk revolver in this caliber for several years and added a companion Marlin Model 1894 Lever Action when they made a limited run in that chambering three or four years back.  With a doe tag in hand, Rick allows he's gonna' fill it with the Marlin this year.

We've found this particular rifle to be a bit temperamental about the loads it will shoot accurately.  Early groups with factory loads, cast bullet loads, and some Sierra jacketed hollow points ranged from dismal to worse!  Finally, we tried some Speer 210 grain Gold Dot hollow points ahead of a stiff charge of Alliant 2400 powder, and things improved.  While the accuracy is still not exemplary, it's certainly capable of 'minute of deer' at 50 yards or less.  The velocity of this load is 1650 fps from the rifle barrel. 

Alas, when we inventoried the ammo supply, only five rounds of this load could be found.  After a three shot group to confirm zero, this didn't leave much room for error!  Since I had the components on hand and the brass was already prepped, I soon had another 20 rounds ready to go.

The ammo inventory also revealed a shortage of cartridges for Ann's Remington 7MM-08.  Again, Jennifer helped me remedy that by putting together another 20 rounds of Ann's favorite 139 grain Hornaday SST's over a charge of Hodgdon's Varget powder.

Grandma's little Ruger .243 is being 'borrowed' by Jennifer, and she allows that the four rounds of 'deer medicine' left in the box from her earlier practice sessions will be plenty.  (At this point, she's holding out for a nice buck, but we'll see how firm that resolve stays as November 19th approaches.)

So, with numerous guns sighted in, and reloading done, early deer season ended for the adults, on October 26th with no deer on the meat pole at our house.  As I've often said in these pages, the dang animals and birds read the newspaper and the hunting regs, and they know exactly when the seasons open and close, and what is or is not legal game!

We had mature does, yearlings, fawns, and small bucks within sight of the house nearly every day until a week before the season opened.  Now all we regularly see are Bam, Crap-Head, and one extra who hasn't yet been named.

Bam is a little doe fawn which, along with a twin, we speculate was orphaned by archery season or automobile season.  (Unfortunately, automobile season is open year-round in these parts.)  Bam's twin has since disappeared, but has now been replaced by a larger buck fawn that we call Crap-Head.

Crap-Head is a slight revision of the name he was given the morning Ann ran him out of her rock garden, where he was thoughtfully pruning a shrub for her.  Jennifer isn't allowed to say the original name so Crap-Head it became.  The un-named one is another doe fawn that is yet a little larger than Crap-Head.

I don't believe any of these creatures realize that they are, one and all, legal game around here!  Instead, they think they're part of the family!  We saw evidence the other day that one or more had meandered into the shop building to steal apples when the overhead door was open.

Last Sunday, we actually witnessed such an occurrence.  Rick, Jennifer, and Gary had just returned from a scouting expedition for elk on Inland Empire Paper Company property in the Thompson Creek drainage, and I was on the tractor dragging deadfall from the woods to the burn pile.

Gary came out and was hooking choker for me, when we noticed that Bam was still in sight but Crap-Head had disappeared.  As we returned to the woods for more deadfall we drove to an angle that allowed us to see through the shop door.  Sure enough, there stood Crap-Head beside my car!

With some slight modifications to maintain decorum on our PG rated website, I said to Gary,  "Let's sit still and let him wander out of there on his own, 'cause if that little sucker panics and jumps on my new Cadillac, I'm gonna' get very upset!"  Fortunately, he did, and I didn't.

Speaking of Gary:  This is our friend and Rick's co-worker who was featured in the September 2007 newsletter when we discussed developing and shooting lighter recoiling loads to begin working our way out of a flinching situation.

I mentioned that one alternative to avoiding harsh recoil, is to buy another rifle.  At that time the purchase of a 7MM-08 had been considered, but the idea had been abandoned.  Well, the idea resurrected itself I guess, because Gary showed up here the other day with a new Tikka bolt action in 7MM-08 caliber!

We mounted his new Leupold 3 - 9 X variable scope on the new rifle that night, while cussin' the fact that the Tikka factory scope mounts that came with the rifle, uses screws requiring metric hex wrenches!  Oh, they included a 3mm allen wrench all right, but we had to torque the screws by 'feel' for lack of a proper size bit for the torque screwdriver.  Don't you just hate that?

I understand the problem with the scope mount screws is being solved.  One of Gary's friends told him about a scope shifting under recoil in some of those Tikka mounts, so we'll soon be replacing the originals with a set of Leupold bases and rings.  I do have the tools to properly torque those.

I mentioned earlier, Jennifer says she's holding out for a mature buck.  According to her Dad, her patience has already been sorely tested.  We have my ground blind set up at the edge of Larry's pasture and  Rick and Jennifer have spent several evenings sitting in the blind for the evening hunt.  Rick says that an opportunity for a little antlerless deer at 30 yards, had Jennifer in a serious debate with herself, up to and including a good, steady sight picture and a thumb on the safety, before she decided to pass and wait for a bigger one.

I also said earlier that I'd tell you about my disappointing marksmanship with the Remington 7MM Mag.  One afternoon last week I walked over to neighbor Paul's timberland, to see if the deer we hadn't been seeing on our place were hiding out over there.  No such luck!

However, when I started toward home just before dusk, I crested a little rise, and surprised a large bobcat in the trail.  (Maybe the same one we saw behind the house a few weeks ago?)  The cat ran 100 yards or so, and took a hard left along the power line easement.  I hotfooted to the power line, and was about 10 steps from a pole I intended to lean against for a rest.  At that point the cat moved into an opening, and stopped to look at me.  I'd guess the range at 75 to 80 yards.

I was sure I didn't have time to get to the pole for a steady rest, so I quickly shouldered the rifle and fired offhand.  The cat jumped three or four feet in the air and hit the ground running!  He dived into the brush on the left side of the power line, as I chambered another round.  Suddenly the cat streaked back across the power line opening, and I fired again as he disappeared into the brush on the other side.  I called that shot well behind his afterburners.

I searched for any sign of a hit, but found nothing before it became too dark to see.  Next morning Ann and I went back to the scene and reconstructed the events.  I had mentally marked the cat's location at the first shot, and the spot where he entered the brush after re-crossing the power line opening.  We found one tiny tuft of hair where the initial shot occurred.  A couple of hours crawling around in the brush in the cat's direction of travel provided no further evidence.

I suspect the first bullet tickled the cat's underside enough to cause that high-jump, and cut off the little tuft of hair, but the way he was movin', it didn't hit anything vital.  I'll bet the next time that cat sees a human, he'll run like the dickens and won't stop to look back!

As I write this, we have 3 more days of elk season, but I'm not huntin' very hard.  The chances of seeing an elk within walking distance of the house is pretty slim, although it has happened.  (Never during open season though.)  I've been carrying the Kimber .338 Ruger when I've been out.  Even though the bolt is on the wrong side for me, the Kimber weighs about two pounds less than my other elk caliber rifles, and I'm finding that weight matters more as I get older.

Our late deer season opens on November 5th and runs through November 19.  These dates should encompass a good part of rutting season, so the bigger bucks should start moving around by then.  We'll wish Jennifer luck for that big one!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a sampler for sale in one of Ann's catalogs:

"Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you, no one would believe it."

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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