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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 75-----------SEPTEMBER 2008



September 8, 2008

I guess I just can't win this battle!  I have so many excellent excuses and am performing so many services of great benefit to mankind, that you would think my closest relatives would have some empathy!  Alas, it is not to be!  My brother and my wife are again exchanging emails plotting various harassment techniques to get me back on schedule and get my September newsletter posted.  So here goes!

Rick, Jennifer, Gary Hamil, and I had another shooting session on August 17th.  Gary had developed some new handloads for his Tika 7MM-08, and Jennifer and I had put together some new deer loads for the little Ruger Compact .243.

We tried to strike a delicate balance between shooting early enough to beat the heat, but not so early as to get the neighbors bitchin' about being awakened on a Sunday morning.  I guess we met our benchmarks, since no one got heat stroke and we received no hateful phone calls from the neighbors.  I'm glad we didn't wait until later in the day, as we set an all time record high of 103 for the date!

While we apparently didn't disturb the neighbors, we were disturbed by a mama moose and her calf.  The moose were first observed taking advantage of the salt lick on the hill behind the house.

Soon Mama left the little one to munch on a birch tree in the draw just behind the house.

Mama's last stop was a plum tree between the shop buildings.

This moose business was spread over two or three hours.  Much of the time, one or another of us was shooting a high powered rifle.  Mama hardly paid attention.  I'm still wishin' my moose tag was good for this area!

The handloads we assembled for the .243 were an effort to improve upon its performance on our smallish whitetail deer by changing to a slightly more frangible bullet.  A few years ago we lost a small doe that Ann shot with a 95 grain Barnes XLC bullet.  (The deer was found by ravens and magpies several days later.  It had run several hundred yards with a bullet hole through the chest cavity, leaving no blood trail we were able to find.)

Last fall Jennifer punched a 100 grain Nosler Partition bullet through both lungs of her deer with the same rifle.  We soon found that one, but not before it had run into some of the thickest brushy tangle to be found here on the ranch.

Yes, we had succumbed to the hype of pundits' testimonials about those so called "premium bullets" just like many of our peers.  The concepts of "deep penetration" and "controlled expansion" are great if you are shooting at high velocity into something tough enough and thick enough to provide the resistance which would allow the bullet to perform as engineered.  But, lacking one or more of those conditions might result in little expansion, a tiny hole through your animal, minimal hydrostatic shock, and not much in the way of a blood trail to follow.

In my view this leaves some practical problems using premium bullets for deer when shot from the little Ruger .243.  Because of the short 16 inch barrel, a 100 grain bullet of any brand can only be safely boosted to around 2600 feet per second at the muzzle, and our local whitetails, even a mature buck, are neither very thick nor very tough!  (Well yeah, a shot at the South end of a Northbound deer would make one thick enough, but can't we agree to try and avoid that?)

I know, thousands if not millions of deer (and larger animals) have been killed with the .243 Winchester cartridge and it is entirely appropriate for those of slight stature, the recoil sensitive, or for that matter, the "I just want to" crowd.  All I'm saying is, at moderate velocities, a traditional "cup and core" lead, jacketed bullet may kill deer quicker and leave a better blood trail than the more expensive "controlled expansion" type.

With this in mind, we set out to develop a .243 load using Hornady's traditional 100 grain spire point, cup and core bullet.  Hodgdon's 2008 annual reloading manual and Hornady's latest manual were perused for data.  These are good references for this project as they both provide data for traditional length rifle barrels, as well as loads developed for 15 inch handgun barrels.  (Remember, the Ruger barrel is only 16 inches)

We settled on charging new Remington cases with Hodgdon's H414 powder over Federal 210M primers.  As always, I won't print specific powder charges, but we ended up at one grain shy of the maximum load recommended by the Hodgdon manual for a 100 grain jacketed bullet.

As an example of velocity differences by virtue of barrel length, Hodgdon's data shows identical maximum loads of H414 generating nearly 3000 fps from a 24 inch barrel, while the 15 inch handgun barrel clocked at under 2700 fps.  We chronographed our loads at 2525 fps, on average.  As a bonus, the rifle grouped these bullets on par with the best varmint loads we've developed for it.  (Sub one inch three shot groups at 100 yards)  With 25 rounds of this load in the box for additional practice and one round for her monster buck, Jennifer should be ready to go.

Here she is with some of those practice rounds.  The only thing missing here is the portable ground blind from Cabela's that will hide us when the actual hunting begins.

On the evening of August 27th Rick, Christi, and Jennifer arrived at the ranch driving a new 2008 Buick Lucerne.  We accused them of 'copycatitus' as the red Buick is a near match for our red Caddy.

2008 Buick Lucerne with non-factory accessory poking through the top

Two more scouting trips have been made to the Game Management Unit where my moose hunt will take place.  August 26th found Ann and I in the Eagle's Nest Motel in Priest River, Idaho, with a planned early morning venture into the high country around Pend Oreille County Washington's Bead Lake the following day.

A good overnight rain provided relief from the dusty conditions we experienced on our August 6th scouting venture.  While there was relief from the dust, there was no relief from the rough, potholed roads.  If anything, these roads were in greater disrepair than those we traveled earlier in the Cee Cee Ah and Mill Creek drainages.

Jim Hogan and Don Metz, my Tuesday morning golfing partners, got a chuckle out of Ann's names for some of the roads we traveled that day.  She christened one "Hemorrhoid Highway" and one with really jarring potholes, "Titty Twister Trail."  We again saw lots of big country but have no moose sightings to report.

We just returned from our most recent scouting trip.  This time Rick, Christi, and Jennifer joined us.  We pulled our travel trailers to Marshall Lake RV Park on Friday, September 5th, spent Saturday traveling the back roads, and returned home on Sunday.  Again, no moose sightings, but we remain optimistic.

Even though this was primarily a scouting mission for moose, bear season opened in that area on September 2nd, so we did bring along rifles and bear tags.  We stopped for some shade and a cold drink break between No Name Lake and Cook's Lake.  A gated Forest Service road branched off at this point, so Jennifer and I left the others resting and took a short hike up this overgrown road looking for a bear.  Jennifer carried Grandma's 7MM-08 for her bear gun.  I was unarmed, along for moral support only.

Ann took this picture of Rick and Christi while Jennifer and I were bear hunting

We did not see a bear, but I did experience an example of the difference between hunting with Jennifer the girl versus hunting with Rick the boy at that age.  As we walked the trail, Jennifer spied some moose poop and we discussed its probable age.  A few steps further, the poop was a little fresher, and that was commented upon.  Pretty much the same type commentary Rick would have provided at age 12.

A bit further up the trail Jennifer stopped, bent over, and the 'girl' part kicked in.

"Oh, Grandpa!" she exclaimed, "Look at this little tiny pine cone, isn't it cute!"

So much for moose poop and bear huntin'.  Pine cones are important too!

Jennifer also took her fishing gear along on this trip.  She fished from the dock with artificial lures and jigs on Saturday evening, with nothing to show for her efforts.  We did have another 'girl' episode though.  The results of someone's fish cleaning came floating along side the dock.  As I retrieved the remains to see if I could determine the species, we were treated to a 'World Record' in exclaiming the word "EEEWWWW," both in terms of rapidity and number of repetitions.  Fishin's fun, but don't show me no guts!

On Sunday morning Jennifer decided on one more fishing expedition, so Rick and I caught her some grasshoppers for bait.  The live bait produced one little bass about 6 inches long.  This "catch and release" was done, of course, without touching a grasshopper or touching the fish!


Dad performed these duties.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from the "Jokes" page on my ISP's website.  (I thought it particularly appropriate since Jennifer is playing softball on her school team.)

At one point during a softball game, the coach called one of his players aside and asked, "Do you understand what cooperation is?  What a team is?"

The little girl nodded in the affirmative.
"Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose together as a team?"

The little girl nodded yes.
"So," the coach continued, "I'm sure you know, when an out is called, you shouldn't argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him a jerk.  Do you understand all that?"

Again the little girl nodded.
He continued, "And when I take you out of the game so another player gets a chance to play, it's not good sportsmanship to call your coach a jerk is it?"

Again the little girl nodded.
"Good," said the coach.  "Now go over there and explain all that to your grandmother!"

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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