Monday, December 29, 2008


"There are two times to hunt ruffed grouse: ordinary times, and the second week of October." -Aldo Leopold

Grouse - Tasty, abundant and fun to hunt. They are hunting's equivalent to Bluegill fishing.

2008 - a good year for the Mountie

2008 saw several days afield with the 39A Mounties. Scouting, rimfire cowboy silhouette, hunting, plinking, targets ... Sometimes just going for a walk. Many happy memories were made. It was an excellent year for me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Add some Spice / Comparison

I recently acquired a Ruger 10/22 compact - Laminated stock, 16" barrel. Nice little carbine. Shoots pretty well with its preferred ammo - Federal Champion, 40 gr LRN. I'm not an auto-loading enthusiast by any stretch but I will admit that these are fun little rifles.

After a few days of getting familiar with the Ruger I decided to do a little side by side comparison with my Marlin 39A Mountie.

Ergonomics: The Ruger is youth sized so using the factory sights comfortably is a bit of a challenge. The Mountie is better proportioned to an adult. Operation of the Safety and magazine release on the Ruger is easy and intuitive. Less intuitive is the Bolt Lock, it required me to actually to read the manual to understand how to operate it.

Firing: One thing about auto-loaders is that once a shot is fired there is another ready to go right behind it. With the Levergun I can fire a shot and then manually lever one in once I am ready. I found that I needed to consciously slow myself down to get good groups with the 10-22. A little pause and a few breaths relaxes and sharpens the eyes and keeps the Heart Rate down.

Despite using the 10-22's preferred ammo I was unable to match the performance of the Marlin using the inexpensive Federal Bulk ammo. I suspect that the diminutive size, heavier trigger and familiarty played a part in that. Still, the Marlin impressed me and reinforced my appreciation for this fine firearm platform more than 110 years old.

Other notes: The Ruger weighs in at 4 lb. 9 oz. vs. the Marlin at 5 lb. 14 oz. The 20" barrelled Marlin gets over 70 fps faster out of the Federal Bulk ammo, 25+ fps more out of the Federal Champion ammo and the CCI Mini Mags.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Yonderosa

We were blessed in 2008 to find "The Yonderosa." It is a great place to walk around with a Marlin and there are many nearby recreational opportunities for outdoors minded folk. The place is truly beautiful and we feel blessed for every moment we've been able to stay there.

We've started building a little retreat there. You can follow the progress at

Cowboy Silhouette

There probably isn't a more enjoyable form of shooting competition than Cowboy Silhouette. Shooting leverguns, offhand at reactive targets at various ranges is great fun. It is quite challenging too. Hitting a 'Ram' that is about as big as a sheet of paper isn't easy at 100 yards - but is sure is satisfying.

I'm no expert at this game by a long stretch - I manage a little more than half per round. The physical part is easier to master than the mental. I find that pacing is key for me - pausing between shots, resting the eyes for a few seconds, taking a few breaths before raising the rifle, aiming and squeezing off another shot.

Next year I plan to equip one of the Mounties with a Skinner Peep Sight for this competition. My half century old eyes are challenged by the factory open sights. I'm hoping the Skinners will get my score up into the thirties.

Long overdue update

This blog format wasn't user friendly enough for me so this blog went neglected. I'll give it another go and see what happens.

The Mounties have a good bit more mileage on them now - hunting, scouting and rimfire cowboy silhouette. I am very pleased with their performance, reliability and precision. I will elaborate as I can in this entry and in subsequent posts.

Hunting/Scouting- During the Fall 2007 Grouse and Deer seasons my most recent Mountie accompanied me on a number of excursions. Rather than using a sling I found the Kifaru "Gun Bearer" works very well with the Marlin Mountie while carrying a pack. The carbine is held securely and easily removed when the opportunity for a shot presents itself. Carried this way my hands are free to use maps, GPS, compass, binoculars, calls and steady myself when footing is trecherous or steep. The short barrel of the Mountie does not overly obstruct my field of view nor does the forward position get hung up in branches or brush.

Our game laws allow for the use of rimfires to harvest Grouse and the Mountie is more than up to the task. Base of the neck and head shots are easily accomplished at the Grouse stalking range. Even a center mass shot does less damage to the meat than shot from a shotgun blast.

Grouse hunting tactics are simple - Forested areas with openings near water often contain Grouse. Walk slowly, observe and listen for movement. More often than not I will hear them or flush them before seeing them. They don't often fly a great distance once alarmed. Pay close attention to the direction and you will likely be able to find them again. It is common for one or two to flush and more to remain nearby in cover so don't abandon the area and chase the flushed Grouse until observing the area they flushed from. Glass with your binoculars. If you are unable to locate them walk slowly though the area and then move in the direction they've retreated. You may hear or see them running along the ground or you may flush them again. They will typically hold still believing they are invisible (and they sometimes are) and not move until they feel threatened again. If in a tree they are more likely to hold. On the ground they are more likely to run if they sense you are stalking them. Stalk into easy range and shoot them at the base of the neck This preserves the delicious meat and makes a quick clean kill. The feathers make excellent fly tying materials and are quite beautiful.

Though not as sporting as a wing-shot with a shotgun it is challenging and will test your riflemanship. I would also like to note that careful consideration should be given to what is behind as the bullet will not stop even if it hits the grouse perfectly. I've passed on many more shots than I've taken on Grouse because they were 'skylined' or I didn't want to risk a richochette.

Grouse season usually opens several weeks in advance of Deer and Elk Season. Hunting Grouse affords you the opporunity to scout Deer and Elk hunting areas which is as close to multi-tasking as I am capable of.