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Ann's Corner

VOLUMES 135 & 136-----------SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013



October 18, 2013

Hello again everyone!

As I write this, we are one week into our early whitetail deer season in GMU 124.  To date, no one has fired a shot here at the ranch.  Too much other 'stuff' going on to mess with dressing a deer I guess.  What with Jennifer's cross country races, us 'old folks' medical appointments, and playing vintage country music with the Taco Trio at the Elks Lodge every Tuesday night, we just haven't taken the time to shoot any deer!

We feel no need to get excited at this juncture.  We have plenty of does, yearlings, and fawns within sight of the house every day, but the mature bucks have not made their annual appearance seeking romance at this point.  (In thinking about it, no spikes or forkhorns have been around for a couple of weeks either.)  The trail cam is not yet showing any nocturnal buck activity, so the time just hasn't arrived.

Ann, Jennifer, Rick, and I all drew second deer permits this year, good for any antlerless whitetail.  Ann and I purchased our second deer tags a couple of days before the season opened and the price reminded us why some game departments in the northwest are crying about licenses not selling.

As I recall, a resident second deer tag sold for $12 or $15 when we moved to Washington nearly 30 years ago.  Now the same tag goes for $68!  (For most all Washington hunting and fishing licenses, figure ten times the amount of a resident license for non-residents.)

Washington, Idaho, and Montana have all substantially increased license fees in the last couple of years.  While Washington spread the pain to residents and non-residents alike, both Idaho and Montana put the burden almost exclusively on non-resident fees.  As a consequence, neither state has sold out their heretofore very popular big game license quotas for the past two years!  This in two states that had previously required drawings for those coveted big game tags with many unsuccessful applicants shedding tears when they weren't drawn!  Obviously there is a price point where some hunters say, "It just ain't worth it!"

As reported in the last newsletter, Ann bought a Savage 'Lady Hunter' along with a Redfield 2 - 7 X scope this summer, so it only stands to reason that she use this new .308 for her deer slaying activities this year.  Therefore, sighting-in was in order before season opening.

At the same time I decided to break out a previously unfired rifle in the safe that I bought back in 2012.  This is the Browning BLR lever action in .270 Winchester.  This rifle was still sans scope, and that situation needed a remedy so I could include it in the sight-in session.

A scope for the Browning, was awaiting only a switch that I had been planning for awhile anyway.  We use a little Ruger .243 bolt action, which no one shoots anymore, as a demo gun in our Hunter Education classes.  This rifle had a $400 Leupold 2.5-8 X scope on it, and I finally asked myself, "Why risk having a student drop and damage the Leupold when there is a $40 Bushnell in a box on top of the cabinet above the reloading bench?"

Consequently, the Ruger now wears the Bushnell and the Browning, the Leupold.

Browning .270 and Savage .308, wearing their new scopes

I'm usually the one to check scopes and sight-in rifles for Ann and I before each deer season and, like most, this session provided some interesting thoughts and issues.

First of all, I continue to be amazed at the precision of the Laser Lyte bore sighter.  My standard procedure is to place a rifle in a cradle in the shop, some 45 feet from a wall, insert the Laser Lyte along with the appropriately adjusted spud, and then tweak (that's tweak, not twerk for y'all with the dirty minds) the scope reticle to appear about an inch above the projected laser dot on the wall.  This process seems to always get the first shot on the paper at 100 yards so final adjustments can be made.

Using Winchester factory ammo with 150 grain Power Point bullets, I first fired three shots from the Savage.  They grouped at two inches low and four inches right.  The quarter inch increments on the Redfield should require 8 clicks elevation and 16 clicks windage to move the group to the aiming point at the 100 yard distance.

Three more shots printed a nice 1.25 inch group on line for elevation but eight inches to the right of the aiming point, almost off the edge of the target!  You guessed it! The ol' Hillbilly must have a problem reading the little R and which way the arrow points.

Reversing the previous 16 clicks and adding 16 more put me back on for windage, and 4 more clicks up put 3 shots in a 1.5 inch group, centered one inch above the aiming point at 100 yards.  The 'inch high at 100 yards' sight-in is ideal for our usual 75 yards or less deer shooting here at the ranch.

The Browning was more straightforward than the Savage since I turned the adjustments in the correct directions at the outset.  First group, 2 inches left.  Second group, after adjustments, 1 inch high and one half inch right.  Both these three shot groups were right at 1.5 inches.  Two clicks back left, and the final shot was right where I wanted.

Now for the issue:  The Browning is exhibiting some initial resistance to opening the action after firing.  It requires a quick jerk on the lever to start the breach bolt on its backward journey.  Since I'm firing factory ammunition, (Hornady Custom with 130 grain SST bullets) I doubt that excessive pressure is causing the sticking.  While an occasional lot of factory ammo is recalled because of manufacturing errors that cause high pressures, the occurrence is extremely rare.  I'm noticing no unusual recoil or muzzle blast as often occurs with over pressure loads, and the fired shell casings exhibit no glaring excess pressure signs either.

At this point, I'm thinking the 'newness' of the rack and pinion lever action with interrupted thread bolt head, just doesn't have the camming leverage of a typical bolt action, and the issue will ameliorate as it is broken in and the action smoothes out.  I would be more concerned if primers were showing signs of leaking or becoming loose in the primer pockets, but that's not the case either.  Time will tell and I'll keep you posted.

Another issue mirrors some I've described during past shooting sessions at our range.  Four small deer were hanging around the  shooting lane as I began my preparations by removing the shooting bench from the shop with the tractor and loader.  Placing the bench in shooting position had no effect on deer activity.  Moving the backing board and targets to the shooting stand provided the same result, even though I was walking within a few feet of the little varmints.

Finally, as I was about to begin firing the .308, one little button buck decided the clover was really best 30 feet in front of the bench, directly in line with the target stand!  I actually had to go out and shoo him away from my line of fire.  That accomplished, I figured my little friends would vanish into the woods at the first shot.  Not so!  Those little buggers did no more than raise their heads as each shot was touched off.

You might have noticed that I do not often use the term 'deer hunting' when talking about shooting deer here at the ranch.  We freely acknowledge  that much of what we do is more in the interest of population control rather than exemplifying the challenge of the hunt.  We make no apologies for this.  The deer that we kill and don't personally consume, go to such worthy entities as the Union Gospel Mission, or other charities.  I'd much rather see the deer utilized in this way rather that becoming 'road kill' and rotting on the shoulder of every county road and highway between here and Spokane!

The older mature bucks can be a different story.  This sometimes requires sitting in the ground blind or a brushy fence row on high alert, not to mention freezing one's buns.  These guys don't tend to stay in sight very long and you must be ready.

Somewhere in the shuffle of all these activities I had another Birthday roll around.  For the forty days between September 20th and October 30th each year, I must listen to the "You're older than I am!" refrain from Little Heifer.  I keep telling her that, in spite of our nearly 52 years of marriage, she can be replaced, but it doesn't seem to change her behavior.

Rick treated the families to a birthday dinner at Texas Road House in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on Sunday the 22nd of September.  My choice of venue, as I like it that they bring out a saddle on a wooden frame for the birthday person to ride while the staff does their happy birthday ritual.  YEEEE HAWWW!!!

Ride 'em Cowboy!

While we were enjoying the run-up to this spectacle, a couple across the aisle from us struck up a conversation.  The guy was probably a few years my junior, and wished me Happy Birthday along with all the rest.  The couple left shortly thereafter.  When our waitress brought Rick our check, she informed us that the guy across the aisle had paid for my dinner!  How's that for a random act of kindness?

An after dinner dessert stop at our house provided cake and ice cream to finish off the day.

Jennifer lights the candles

And I blow them out


On a sad note, my Aunt Elaine Pritchard passed away down in Colorado, so Ann and I made a quick trip to Grand Junction for her memorial service.  This trip required a postponement of our planned appreciation night for those who volunteer with our Hunter Education classes.  Alternate plans are in the works, and we'll report on that later on the Hunter Education pages.

Speaking of Hunter Education, Rick, Dr. Steve Belknap, and I attended a membership meeting of the Hauser Lake Gun Club on October 10th.  Our purpose was to present a donation check of $700 to the Gun Club in appreciation of their contributions to our Hunter Education programs.  For more details and pictures, visit the Hunter Education page on the site.

Still anxiously awaiting the two rifles I have on order.  The last word on the Browning X Bolt was that it is still scheduled to come out of the factory around March 2014.  The Cooper was ordered in June and they strive for a six month delivery.  However, because my rifle is scheduled for case coloring of the receiver and Talley scope mounts, the time will be longer.

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, I plan a 'shoot off' between the Browning and Cooper, and hoped to add a true custom rifle to the mix for a three way contest.  In a recent contact with Erik Eike of Kilimanjaro Rifles, I asked to obtain one of their custom jobs of similar caliber on loan for evaluation.  I was informed that they are extremely behind in their orders, are struggling to make enough sample rifles for the upcoming show season, and. in short, I will not be able to obtain a sample rifle.  I'll try some other sources as time draws closer to delivery of my rifles.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from an unknown author:

"A Positive Attitude may not solve all your problems . . . But it may annoy enough people to make it worth the effort!"

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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