VOLUME 87-----------SEPTEMBER 2009
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
September 1, 2009
Wow! Looks like I got diarrhea of the keyboard this month. Guess that means there should be something for everyone.
I'll start this issue with a few words about some companies that still seem to know the meaning of customer service and satisfaction. Then we'll move to a short 'Guess Who' segment and follow-up on the custom rifle discussion we started in August. We'll cover some other recent news as well. Sit back, relax, and read on.
As you may have read in the August newsletter, Jennifer received a .22 rimfire rifle for her birthday, continuing a tradition of 13th birthday rifles into a third generation. After some difficulties in getting her scope mounted properly, (we had to remove the rear sight and insert a dovetail blank in the vacant slot) I pulled out my Laser Lyte bore sighter. Somewhere in the interim since last use, the .22 caliber spud that centers the device in the bore had gone missing.
After perusing the company's website and determining that parts are available, a phone call to Laser Lyte headquarters in Arizona was made. A helpful and pleasant lady, whose name I disremember, answered the phone.
Somewhat contritely, I said, "I've lost the .22 caliber adapter for my Laser Lyte, and would like to order a replacement."
Without hesitation, she said, "Happens all the time. I'll send you a complete replacement set at no charge if you'll give me your address."
I was speechless, and that's unusual for me! I had already decided to order what is called a 6 pack accessory kit, which includes a special reflective target, a scope leveler attachment, and a full set of the regular adapters. So, after recovering my ability to speak, I did so.
Our discussion continued with a question about whether the .17 and .20 caliber spuds would fit the Laser Lyte model I have. I told her, "My model will go into a .20 caliber barrel, but of course the .22 adapter won't fit. I think the .20 caliber adapter might make it work with my .204 Ruger."
"I know your model won't work in a .17 caliber, because I've tried that," she said, "But, I don't know if anyone's tried it in a .20 caliber. I'll send that kit with your order and you can give it a try."
In a few days the Brown Truck Guy dropped off the package. Not only did I get the 6 pack I ordered and paid for, but the box included the .17/.20 caliber kit and another complete set of adapter spuds at no charge.
Thank you Laser Lyte and the lady whose name I wish I could remember!
Another customer service issue was resolved by a completely unrelated business who had done work here at the ranch. In September 2008 we had our asphalt driveway sealed by C & H Asphalt Sealing. The same people had done the driveway several years earlier with no issues at all.
This past spring the sealant began sloughing off several areas of the driveway. After inspection, Dale and Kip couldn't pinpoint a cause. Speculation abounded, but the damage was so diverse that a single reason couldn't be found.
The supplier of the sealant also inspected the site, and they collectively concluded that the supplier would furnish another tank of sealant and C & H would re-apply. After a thorough pressure washing, the new sealant was applied at no charge. So far, everything looks good. Again, exemplar customer service!
Now, let's do a bit of 'guess who.'
WHO AM I?
The year is 1909. My son and I have disembarked in Mombassa, British East Africa (now Kenya) to set out upon what will be an eleven month journey traversing nearly 4,000 miles of the dark continent. We will travel by rail, boat, horseback, and shank's mare in our quest for specimens for the Smithsonian Institute.
At times our entourage will be comprised of upwards of 250 people. We will cross British East Africa to Lake Victoria and venture into Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) before being joined by my wife and daughter in Khartoum. From there we will proceed by boat down the Nile River to Cairo.
My son and I will collect 512 animals during our Safari. A few will be retained as personal trophies, but most will be added to the Smithsonian's fledgling collection. Among other species, our take will include 17 lion, 11 elephant, and 20 rhinoceros.
The first portion of our African journey will be by rail. To the south in neighboring German East Africa (Now Tanzania), Mount Kilimanjaro looms as Africa's highest point at 19,340 feet above sea level. When we leave the rails and skirt the south and eastern shores of Lake Victoria we will be down river from the famed Serengeti Plain, home to some of the most varied and plentiful wildlife in the world.
I suspect you had my 'guess who' pegged as Theodore Roosevelt before the end of the first paragraph, but why was I reminded of this remarkable journey and these world famous African landmarks at this particular time?
In mid July I was in Kalispell, Montana on a quest for a custom rifle. One of my inquiries would be directed toward Serengeti Trading Company and their line of rifles built around a modified Montana Rifle Company Model 1999 action and stocked with fine walnut crafted via a patented laminating process.
A telephone conversation with one of Serengeti's owners, Larry Tahler, revealed that the company's status was in transition, and nothing further could be released at that time. Larry promised to let me know what was happening when he was free to do so.
True to his word, Larry emailed me this information on August 3rd. He said, in part, "Serengeti sold the assets to a company called, Kilimanjaro Rifles, headquartered in Hawaii. They will sell both the Serengeti line and a line called Kilimanjaro." A link was included to a website for Kilimanjaro which, at this writing contains only a homepage with some contact information. A complete website should be available soon. www.kilimanjarorifles.com
There you have it! How could rifles called Serengeti and Kilimanjaro not conjure thoughts of Africa's rich history of hunting safaris, the firearms used, and those like Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt who experienced and wrote about these fabulous adventures.
An email to Kilimanjaro resulted in a response from owner, Erik D. Eike. His interest in Serengeti Rifles originated by virtue of having purchased some 15 or so rifles from them over the past few years. A lengthy telephone conversation and subsequent emails tell the following story.
Erik obviously has high regard for the rifles he has obtained from Serengeti, saying, "I treasure the fine rifles that were handcrafted for me — both for their exceptional performance in the field, and the simple joy of admiring their beauty and elegance in between hunts. Over the last five years, Serengeti has been recognized as making one of the finest rifles in the industry, and unique in its ability to provide the full figure and beauty of high-grade walnut in a stronger and more stable laminated stock. Its selection of best grade Turkish Walnut, attention to detail, proprietary lamination, and exact wood to metal fit is simply unsurpassed in the industry."
About a year ago, when Serengeti was struggling with difficulties that were delaying delivery of orders, Erik entered the picture and began a research and development effort geared toward bringing Serengeti back to viability as well as introducing a new line of full custom rifles. This effort has resulted in "Kilimanjaro Rifles!"
Again, in Erik's words, "Kilimanjaro has purchased the Serengeti name, model lines and patents so that we can continue the fine tradition of Serengeti and Jaguar rifles in addition to the new Kilimanjaro Rifle. Serengeti’s founders will serve as technical consultants to Kilimanjaro, and Serengeti’s Master Gunsmith, Gene Gordner, will continue to oversee rifle production for Kilimanjaro in Kalispell, Montana."
In response to a question about why the new company will be called Kilimanjaro, Erik said, "The name was originally suggested to me by Serengeti founder Rod Rogers. It is intended to capture the spirit of the African safari where many of our rifles are destined to be used, as well as to reflect Kilimanjaro’s continuation of the Serengeti tradition."
So who is Erik D. Eike?
Well, I found early in our conversation that we are both native Missourians. Erik picked up on my oldmissorihillbilly email address to peg me as guilty of a Show Me State heritage, while noting that he grew up in the Kansas City area. So, we share Missouri roots, but based upon some dates he gave me in discussing his background, I'm guessing my birth on Missouri soil occurred some 20 or so years before his!
Erik graduated from the University of Kansas in 1980 with a degree in Philosophy and with three and a half years towards his degree in architecture. Finding the job market for architects rather tough at that juncture, he elected to continue school but direct his education toward a law degree.
Erik then joined a Kansas City law firm, representing employers in labor relations matters. In a couple of years an opportunity for a move to Honolulu, Hawaii became available. Specializing in Construction Law representing major construction companies, backed by his architectural training proved to be a match that would launch and nurture a very successful career.
As they say, "The rest is history!" Intervening years have brought about a thriving law practice, a wife and family, and a love of guns, hunting, and travel.
A recent trip to New Zealand and Australia resulted in several trophies, including some taken by Erik's 13 year old son, William. Red Stag, Feral Goat, Axis Deer, and Blackbuck were included on the trophy list.
L to R: Erik with Blackbuck; Erik, Isabel, Kwang, and William with Feral Goats; Erik with Red Stag; Isabel and William with William's Feral Goat (I'm told that 'Kwang' is a nickname given Erik's wife by her parents. It means 'deer' in the Thai language.)
Now, back to the future for Kilimanjaro and Serengeti under Erik's leadership.
The company will feature four basic rifle lines. The Serengeti, the Jaguar, the Kilimanjaro, and 'historical rifles' will be offered.
The Serengeti will continue with the patented laminated walnut stocks, while the Jaguar is basically a light weight version utilizing either Stiller Predator or Serengeti metal and a synthetic stock. These rifles will continue to be built around the 'Serengeti Action,' a modified version of Montana Rifle Company's Model 1999, unless otherwise directed by the customer.
The Kilimanjaro will be the flagship line. This is where most of the past year's R & D has been targeted. The rifle will be stocked using the Serengeti laminating process, but with a higher grade of Turkish Walnut. Checkering will follow the same 22 lines per inch standard as the 'deluxe wraparound' on the Serengeti, but in a more elaborate 'diamond fleur' pattern.
Standard barrels will come from Lilja, the Plains, Montana barrel maker. In spite of conventional wisdom that barrels having cut rifling are the gold standard, Erik told me that the button rifled Liljas simply bested the competition in their extensive testing.
When I asked about the standard action for the Kilimanjaro, I was a bit surprised at the answer.
Erik replied, "We will build the Kilimanjaro on any action the customer chooses, but based on our R & D, we settled on the Sako 85 action as our standard."
Some of their reasons for choosing the Sako included its three lug locking system providing a roughly 70º bolt lift, the simple elegant design of the bolt along with Sako's version of 'controlled round feeding' and the detachable box magazine. The abbreviated bolt lift, as compared to the Mauser inspired two lug system, theoretically better accommodates the larger scopes we tend to perch atop our rifles today.
Other recommended actions, if the Sako is not your cup of tea, include the Weatherby Mark V, Stiller Predator, or the Dakota.
As a southpaw, I was interested in the availability of left hand actions for the Kilimanjaro. In response to this query, Erik said, "We don’t yet have availability of the Sako 85 or Weatherby Mark V in the left hand action, and recommend the left-hand version of the Serengeti action instead."
The fourth Kilimanjaro line is what Erik refers to as 'historical rifles'. For example, if you feel your gun safe is not fully equipped without a Remington rolling block residing therein, Kilimanjaro will have the answer. They'll simply build you one. Choose nearly any other want or wish in an historically significant firearm; same thing applies. The only requirement is money.
Speaking of money. Knowing the price level of Serengeti rifles under the previous ownership, I was eager to get an idea of the cost of these rifles from a company whose stated philosophy is "All Custom, All The Time!" In fact, Erik told me, "We intend each and every rifle to be unique and custom-tailored to its owner’s specifications and desires. We expect that no two rifles that leave our facility will be exactly the same."
My questions were answered, and, as expected, a Serengeti or Kilimanjaro is not likely to be in my future. Financially, Little Heifer and I would be considered of comfortable, if somewhat modest means, and starting prices for a Serengeti at $9,000 and a Kilimanjaro at $12,000 will likely keep us out of the market at that level. But, hell who knows. I might win the lottery next week!
The morning of August 15th found me lying abed while Ann was standing in the kitchen waiting for the coffee maker to do its thing. Three deer were standing in the front yard behaving strangely. They were staring toward the brush and trees to the west, when the object of their stares came meandering into view. The deer ran.
Little Heifer came into the hallway and said something I didn't understand, but she sounded excited so I got up and grabbed my glasses to see what was happening.
"Did you hear me say there's a coyote out front?", she asked as I came from the bedroom.
As I responded, "No.", I tried to get my sleep fogged brain to remember where, or if, a gun was ready to go. Of course, there wasn't, so I went downstairs, punched in the combination to the safe, and retrieved the Ruger No. 1, .25-06. Next stop; a cabinet in the reloading room for a partial box of varmint ammo. When I made it back upstairs with the rifle, no coyote could be seen.
Not to worry, I'll just dig the predator calls out of the drawer and see if I can entice another appearance. The next minute or so found me outside by a corner of the house, in pajamas and barefoot, sending dying rabbit screams into the peace and quiet of a still, sun drenched morning.
At this point I want to turn the clock back a few years and re-tell a brief version of how our Granddaughter taught me to call coyotes!
Several years ago, at age 6, Jennifer was here when a lone coyote crossed the clearing by the shop building and headed into the woods. I grabbed the .25-06 and went outside in case he decided to reverse course.
At the time I had an old predator call that I’d tried dozens of times over the years, and never saw hide nor hair of a coyote! Jennifer brought out that old call and started makin’ some of the most god awful screeches I ever heard! As I was tellin' her to quit before she scared the coyote away, he came back into the clearing, saw us, and hightailed for the woods.
A few weeks later I bought some new varmint calls with an instructional video in the package. The first thing on the video, the maker demonstrates how NOT to blow a predator call! Yep, you guessed it; sounded just like I blew the old one for 35 years! When the "How to do it right" part came along, it sounded a lot like what Jennifer had been doing. Finally, I knew why I'd been scarin’ coyotes away for years!
After about 15 seconds of making sounds like Jennifer would do it, I paused, just in time to see Mr. Coyote trot into view just west of the house. A high shoulder shot with the 85 grain Ballistic Silvertip from a Winchester Supreme factory load put him down for keeps.
As a matter of note, I would not recommend this ammunition for anyone desiring to salvage a marketable hide from a coyote. While we won't picture the destruction, I can tell you, there was a big hole in the opposite side.
This guy and his kin may explain why several of neighbor Larry's cats have gone missing
Ann doesn't think this is the same coyote she saw earlier that morning. She told me, "The one I saw was bigger and darker than the one you shot."
OK, the .25-06 will be ready if and when the other one shows up!
August also saw a weekend trip with our travel trailer to Wallace, Idaho. Wallace is the home of the 'Sixth Street Melodrama,' a small theater where plays are performed by local talent. Most of the plays feature plots that include the villain, the defenseless maiden, and the archetypical handsome hero. Audience participation is encouraged with booing, hissing, cheering, and applause at appropriate times.
Ann and I traveled to Wallace on Friday. Rick, Christi, and Jennifer joined us in their rig on Saturday and we all attended the Melodrama that evening. A good time was had by all.
We also had our final Hunter Education class of 2009 the Week of August 17th. We graduated 21 students. I hope to have further Hunter Education news next month as Rick and I are considering starting a new instructor team under the sponsorship of the Northwest Sportsman's Club. www.northwestsportsmansclub.com As I reported earlier, Ann and I joined the NWSC a few months ago. Rick and his family became members last week.
We did have some scary happenings a couple of Saturdays ago. Rick was on his way to a golf tournament when a woman he was meeting lost control, took out a mailbox, crossed the center line, and crashed into the side of his car. Fortunately, everyone walked away relatively unhurt.
Rick's 2008 Buick Lucerne was just under a year old and the insurance company totaled it. Here's a picture of the damage.
2008 Buick Lucerne
The Buick was replaced August 31st by a 2009 Lucerne that was finally found at a dealership in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Here's the new car with an added roof ornament showing off her new haircut. Same color but a bit fancier with a V8 engine instead of the V6
The last bit of news at the ranch is good news! Inland Power and Light is replacing the power grid in our area with underground lines. Even though Inland does a pretty good job of keeping dead trees and 'leaners' away from the lines, heavy snow and lots of timber cause more than our share of power outages anyway.
We have equipped ourselves to handle these outages with a 6500 watt generator that can be connected via a transfer switch to provide power to essential items. We can run the furnace, water pump, and satellite TV, so what more could one want?
When a line goes down the crews usually get on the problem right away, but if a major outage occurs it can take a while. After our big 1996 ice storm, we were out for 16 days! I remember running about $300 worth of gasoline through the generator even at 1996 prices. It'll be a major relief to get rid of those overhead lines!
I took some pictures as the crew and supervisors were burying lines near our house, and just couldn't resist this one.
One guy running the Ditch Witch, and four watchin'
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from the winner of a contest sponsored by Texas A & M University. The annual contest asks people to define a contemporary term. This one was 'political correctness.' (Our nephew, Chris Zimmerman from Tucson, gave me the heads up on this one)
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: (as defined by R. J. Wiedemann LtCol. USMC Ret.)
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end".
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!