Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The latest addition

Sometimes good things happen without a plan. I had wanted one of these for sometime but never had the jingo when one became available. Now I want another.

I'm a sucker for octagonal barrels and classic lever lines. This is a Mountie size package that weighs a half pound less. Early testing is showing very promising accuracy - this may be the most accurate 39 I've owned so far.

Chronograph data:

Fed Bulk 1264 avg / 36.30 SD (Good Accuracy)
Federal Lightning 1225 avg / 24.83 SD (close 4th Accuracy)
Federal Champion 1204 avg / 16.4 SD (Promising Accuracy, 2nd best so far)
Aguila SE Subsonic 1024 avg / 14.83 SD (report noticeably quieter).
CCI SGB LFN 1235 avg (stated velocity on box) / 18.43 SD (Best Accuracy)
CCI CB Long 686 avg / 20.19 SD (very quiet, Fair Accuracy - worst of bunch)
CCI Mini Mag 1249 avg / 12.04 SD (close 3rd Accuracy)
RWS Target Rifle 993 avg / 14.21 SD (report noticeably reduced, Promising Accuracy)
Winchester Xpert 22 1219 avg / 17.26 SD (Promising Accuracy)

All of the ammo tested would shoot enlarged hole (all shots touching) groups at 25 yards except the CCI CB Longs. Some of the groups were very impressive. Testing at longer range should sort out which of these is the favorite. So far this carbine is not showing any signs of being finnicky.

Friday, November 27, 2009

45 Colt round ball load

I decided to give the .454" round ball load another go in the 1894. My previous experiment produced excellent accuracy but a fair amount of gas blowback through the bolt. This time I seated the ball a little deeper into the case - 1.445" and used a .5cc Lee Powder Scoop's worth of Bullseye powder (USE AT YOUR OWN RISK - ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK RELOADING DATA).

The Sooting on the case and the gas blowback were reduced. The accuracy was excellent with this load too. The average Velocity was 891 fps but had a very wide extreme spread of 96 fps from High 921 fps to the Low of 825 fps.

The round balls I recovered from my dry sand backstop retained their shape for the most part. The rifling engraved on what would be the equator evenly so the they are not rolling inside the barrel. I placed the sprew mark down (south pole) and the balls flew straight and impacted without rotation on the northern hemisphere.

My next trip out to the range with the 1894 I'll test these out at 50 yards and see how they do. It looks like it'll do just fine at least to 25 yards. The Load prints just a little higher than my 255 grain RNFP and my 315 grain WFN loads Silhouette zero.

These loads cycle through the action and would probably make an excellent inexpensive "Cowboy load."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I jumped at the chance to shoot without pouring rain, soggy targets and howling wind... I also wanted a chance to confirm my earlier findings. Here is how it went.

Weather; overcast and calm wind.

Rifle: Marlin 336 Cowboy conversion - Caliber 30-30

Started out at the 50 yard range with a cold clean bore using the SR4756 load (~1400 fps)/ Ranch Dog TLC 311-165 RF bullet to confirm the zero I had established on the previous range trip. The first shot was about 2" high, the next shot was 1" high and the next three made a nice little <7/8" triangle right at point of aim.

I fired another five shot group with the same load and it too shot point of aim but expanded to 1-1/8". Then another that printed POA inside of 7/8". This is the load I will use for for the Levergun Silhouette matches. Using the 5th notch and holding at the top of the back of the 200 yard Rams, it should topple them if I do my part.

Next up was a middle of the road load using the same excellent Ranch Dog TLC 311-165 RF bullet - weighs in at 177 grains with this alloy, lubed and gas checked over Hercules 2400 powder (current versions of this powder are now made by Alliant). Using the same sight setting as the previous load (3rd notch up from the bottom on the elevator ramp) this load printed 5" higher at 50 yards. The first three shots formed a 2" triangle centered on the bullseye. Adjusting the rear sight to the second notch the next 5 shot group printed 2-1/2" above the point of aim into a 2" group. Not exactly the accuracy I was hoping for but well within the realm of minute of Deer vitals out well beyond what I'd take a shot on a critter. Using Veral Smith's formula this load should also penetrate more than 40" of critter minus bones. A quartering away shot through the boiler room and the offside shoulder should produce a dead Deer sized critter within rock throwing distance of the hit.

A load that continues to impress is the 170 grain Oregon Trail Laser-Cast bullet over 5 grains of Red Dot powder. This load produced the best group of the day just over 1/2". Using the zero for the SR4756 load it prints 2" higher and 1" to the right. This load averages 1047 fps.

The Lee C309-113 F "Soup Can" bullet over 2.8 grains (a .3 cc Lee powder Scoop) produced 1-1/8" accuracy at 50 yards and using the SR4756 load zero printed the slightly left (~1/2") of Point of Aim. This load looks like it will be my "Grouse load" for this rifle. At 25 yards it prints ~1" above point of aim, putting the bead at the base of the neck should produce a clean kill with no destruction of the delicious meat. When hunting with this rifle I will have at least a Grouse limit's worth in my pocket. The report is rimfire like and the recoil non existent.

Returning to the SR4756 load it appears the 100 yard Zero is right at or just above the 4th notch. I did not shoot enough groups at this range to confirm that. Using my ballistic software I can estimate that the 150 yard zero is on the 5th notch and the 200 yard zero should be just below the sixth (top) notch.

I also shot two groups worth off hand. The front bead just hangs on the target and I was able to call my shots. It will give me NO excuses in the matches for misses... Good problem.

I am very pleased with the conversion and this rifle is fast becoming a favorite. Can't wait to get it back out to the range.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rant - News Media Ignorance and Sensationalism

I'm not a political pundit type but I can get amped up enough to rant once in a while.

"News" is entertainment now. Coverage is typically biased toward the most sensational and salacious. It is also evident that there is an underlying political agenda mixed in to go along with "journalists" with little if any actual knowledge or experience about what they are reporting on.

Among my biggest peeves are phrases like "cop killer bullets." ABC recently reported that the "alledged" shooter in the Fort Hood massacre used a "cop killer gun." What kind of CRAP is that? Would fewer have been killed if he had used a 'duck killer gun?" Sensationalizing the weapon overstates its importance in the crime itself. The "cop killer gun" could have just as easily have been used to protect those that were unarmed and at the mercy of a deranged murdering freak had they been allowed to carry.

Why not focus on the perpetrator. He alone is responsible for his actions. It was his choice to murder his brothers. His thought process was poisoned. He did not make a rational choice, achieve his desired goal or further his warped agenda. It is more likely his actions are simply another wedge that will widen the gap between his ideal and the reality.

The Main Stream Media (MSM) seems to be more focused on finding ways to excuse his behavior, which appears to be exactly what caused this incident in the first place. The heartbreak of the REAL victims and their families and friends is glossed over. The MSM is bent on spinning this to suit their agenda and bolster their ratings. What seems obvious to me is not reported. Our window to the world is tinted. What we see and what we are told are mearly fragmented truths packaged to shape a distorted reality.

I wonder if the DC sniper execution coverage will mention the hundreds of heartbreaks that he caused? Most likely they will portray him as a victim and a minority of freaks will hail him as a martyr.

Sorry for the rant. This just happened to be the most convenient venue to dump the bilge I've been collecting over the last week or so.

Monday, November 09, 2009

More time with the Cowboy

On my second trip to the range with the 336 CB conversion I had hoped the weather would be better but it was not... More wind and even harder rain... I posted my targets at 50 yards and went to work.

The load that is emerging as the favorite is the Ranch Dog TLC311-165 bullet over SR 4756. The picture below shows three 50 yard groups each on a different notch on the rear sight elevator (2nd, 3rd and 4th up from the bottom). The point of aim was the bottom of the wide black ring. I'm sure the rifle will do better but in the pouring rain it was tough to see the target. I suspect the horizontal stringing was caused by my sight picture and/or wind pushing me around.

Fifty Yards, iron sights, front rested, wind rain ...

The Before Picture - 1976 336 Texan

The After Picture

The Lee 113gr bullet over SR4756 or Red Dot didn't fair as well at the longer range. The conditions may have played a part in that - the target was difficult to see in the low light, at times the rain was very heavy and the wind was strong enough it pushed me around on the bench. I will retest at a later date.

Tried a couple more loads.

2.8 grains of Bullseye under the Lee c309-113F averaged 828 fps with an extreme spread of 87 fps but was quite accurate at 25 yards - didn't try father.

17.5 grains of Hercules 2400 (Lyman & RCBS data)- I have a few pounds of this left... - under the Ranch Dog TLC 311-165 RF averaged 1854 fps with an extreme spread of less than 10 fps for the (short) string. The accuracy looks promising but won't know for sure until I can shoot at longer range. There was some minor leading evident. I suspect it was inadequate lubing - a (too) thin coat of Liquid Alox...

I'm having fun with this rifle. Just wish the wind and rain would let up.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Cowboy (conversion) goes to the range!

My curiosity always seems to get the best of me and I couldn't wait to get the new Marlin 336 Cowboy Conversion out to the range. Every cast 30 caliber bullet I could find in my reloading supplies was loaded and taken to the range. Here are the results (DOUBLE CHECK ALL DATA! USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

The first bullets down the barrel were the Oregon Trail 170 grain laser cast .310" RNFP bullet. A load that has proven accurate in all (five) of my 336's is 5 grains of Red Dot powder did in fact prove be accurate in the 336 Cowboy Conversion too. Averaging 1047 fps it produced the best group of the day. This was also the only bullet in this session that was NOT gas checked.

The next load tested was the Lee C309-113F ("Soup Can") over 10.5 grains of IMR SR 4756. I use this charge in my 45 Colts (Ruger and Marlin) and has a dedicated powder measure with that charge. 30-30 data shows I'm well under max pressure and used it as a starting point. The load averaged 1652 fps and also hinted at promising accuracy.

The "Soup Can" bullet was also tested with 3.3 grains (.5cc Lee powder scoop) of Red Dot Powder. At 30 yards the accuracy showed promise measuring .740" under less than ideal conditions, sitting position, poor light, wind and rain. The velocity averaged 856 fps.

My expectation for the Ranch Dog TLC311-165RF was high. It too has proven to be an accurate bullet in my Marlins and it proved to be so again. The weather limited the range I could shoot but I suspect this will be the bullet of choice for Hunting and Silhouette.

My 30-30 silhouette load for my other Marlin 336 Cowboy is the 10.5 grain charge of SR 4756. The new Cowboy conversion averaged about 50 fps slower than my original Cowboy but looks like it will be equally as accurate - perhaps more so, I'll have to tell you when I go 10 for 10 on the 200 meter rams The average velocity was 1402 fps. For those who buy into formulas, using the Veral Smith wound channel estimate for this load gets almost .80" - not bad for a soft shooting load. Shot selection would be critical for adequate penetration - probably stick to archery angles. Ideal would be 1" up to 1.25" wound channel for fast anchoring of delicious deer sized wild critters.

I also use the Ranch Dog bullet over 5 grains of Red Dot for Grouse loads as it typically shoots very close to full powder Jacketed bullet hunting loads out to 50 yards or so. In this rifle it averaged 944 fps which makes for a nice soft recoiling and quiet subsonic load. At 30 yards the group, including the flier was a little over 1/2". Throwing out the flier the group printed into one enlarged hole. It should make easy work for Grouse - still have till the end of the year to try it... - and it is a fun inexpensive plinking load - the gas check and the primer account for most of the cost but I still end up in under ten cents per round, or $2 a box.

Other observations:
-My eyes appreciate that extra 4" distance on the front sight.
-That 4" is noticeable maneuvering around the house, meaning less than ideal for HD. We'll see how that translates in the field later this month.
-It does feel heavier than my 20" 336's. Nice for target shooting, might not be so welcome after walking around with it for a few hours.
-No leading was detected while cleaning the rifle afterward.
-The throat is a bit tighter than my other Marlins - except for the SDT (now owned by Pine Cone). The driving band on the Soup Can bullet does engrave on the rifling.
-Octagon barrels look cool.
-I expect this rifle will do well at long range. There is plenty of sight ramp left to reach out to 300 yards and maybe beyond. Balistic calcs indicate I should be able to hold right on out to nearly 400 yards with the top notch setting using the "soup can" load. That doesn't mean it will but generally they aren't far off.
-To get the estimated wound channel I want for deer hunting using the Ranch Dog bullet I need to find a load that will get me over 1800 fps. That will be the focus of my loading the next batch of RD bullets.
-So far I am very pleased. Marlin returned a rifle that is beautiful and more importantly accurate.

45 Colt Moose

Saw this over at the Ruger Forum.
"I picked up that SS NMBH at a local gunstore, used. I sent it off to Clements Custom 'smithing and he installed one of his taller custom front sights and replaced the rear sight with a new one. I then installed a Belt Mountain base pin and a local 'smith installed a stronger, albeit, uglier set screw to keep it in place.

The load is Starline brass, WLP primers, max load of Lil'Gun pushing the Cast Performance 335 gr WFNGC to 1150 fps. The shot was taken at 15 yds. He didn't go more than 15-20 yds."


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Marlin "Cowboy Conversion"

My Cowboy Conversion just arrived!
This was the rifle I had converted. A 1976 vintage 336 Texan

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Range Report - 336 SRC w/ Lee "Soup Can" loads

The Rifle= 60's vintage Marlin 336 Saddle Ring Texan, 20" barrel.

The ammo= Lee 113gr RNFP Gas Checked bullet cast from Wheel Weights, Winchester twice fired Brass, Winchester Large Rifle Primers. OAL 2.330"

Conditions, overcast and very windy.

Powder (Use at your own risk. ALWAYS double check loading data with reliable sources!)

1) Red Dot powder - 5 grains (.7cc Lee Scoop) This was the only load that I shot plain based (no gas check). The load averaged 1140 fps, 1116-1148 spread. It was the least accurate of the loads tested. I may try to reduce this load further and see if it improves at all before giving up on it.

2) IMR SR 4756 - 10.5 grains. This load averaged 1604 fps, with a very narrow spread between the high and low for the ten shot string, 1597-1610. It was also impressively accurate, sub 1" group at 50 yards (throw out the flier and the best group was less than 1/2"). It prints ~ 2" lower than the "PapaJohn Load" at 50 yards with the same sight setting. The third notch up from the bottom on the rear sight elevator is POA = POI with this load. Each indent above and below = ~ 2" in Elevation at 25-50 yards.

3) Hercules 2400 17.5 grains. This load looks promisingly accurate too. The spread was a little wider 2013 - 2033. This load heated up the barrel pretty quickly, this rifle tends to start vertically stringing the groups when it gets hot and it was evident in the groups.

The conditions were less than ideal. The wind was blowing hard enough that it pushed my body around. Still this bullet looks like it is as accurate as its reputation.

If I get the chance I'll test it at longer ranges. I'm not sure what I'd use the load for other than "cheap" shooting (you get 60 of these per pound of lead). It would probably make a good Coyote load but is lighter than I'd want on anything bigger. The recoil is very soft with the first two loads and even the fastest load it was hardly noticeable. I'll have to let you know if it will tip over a 200 yard steel Ram silhouette when I get the chance to try it.. There was no leading evident.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


"Those that believe Whitetails are smart have never hunted Blacktails"

Generally I would say that is true, except during the rut...

We are blessed to have Mule, Whitetail and Blacktail Deer in this state. The Mule Deer is probably the most pursued inhabiting many of the popular hunting areas. Cougar predation has reduced their numbers and Mule Deer hunting regulations are the most restrictive - most areas requiring 3 points (western count) or better. Whitetail range is expanding and generally overlaps most Mule Deer range, especially in farming and more developed areas.

The Blacktailed Deer's range is on the west side of the Cascades, some say the only true (non-hybrid) Blacktails are west of I-5. Their habits are secretive and seem less adaptable to human development than the Whitetail. They haunt the thicker rain soaked forests and appear to thrive in younger mixed stands created by burns and clearcuts.

Yesterday while herding my neighbor's escaped cows I kicked up a nice 4 x Blacktail bedded down with a doe. I've not seen him before though I suspect I've seen his dad, grandpa and great grandfather in years past. All were beautiful specimens that usually met their demise during the rut.

After the cows were back where they belonged I went home to get my camera - I didn't have permission to hunt the property... so pictures will have to do. I went back to the area I saw him and sure enough he was still focused in on the doe. I got within rock throwing distance before he noticed me and stood up. He was a very cooperative photographic subject.

The Doe was similarly unconcerned and continued to feed but didn't feel like posing for any pictures.

As the photo session progressed I spotted another set of headgear strolling through the brush.

And then another.
The 4x is easily the nicest blacktail I've seen in a few years. He's got good body size - for a Blacktail - and he has a beautiful symmetrical rack with some nice brow tines.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Sunday morning I was enjoying the view out of my cabin window when this dude strolled by.

He was in no hurry so I had time to grab the camera and take a picture through the window - the flash on the glass washed out a lot of the color but I did capture his image.

I believe he is feeding on the Turkeys (Merriams) that frequent the property. I've found a lot of fly tying materials thanks to him. I suspect he may be the reason we didn't see any deer on the property this trip.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Grousing around - insanity?

Grouse hunting - is there a better way to spend a beautiful Autumn morning? I don't think so.
I hate to admit it but there is a Grouse that has eluded me on a regular basis. I know where he'll be, I know where he'll go and every time he manages to escape...

In a thicket, just up from the creek is the home of a Grouse that manages to outwit me on three consecutive hunts. I know right where he'll be. I even hear him rustling in the dry leaves - yet he is invisible until I move in... then he erupts into flight and escaping before I can even bring my rifle to my shoulder.

As I've written before, Grouse are hunting's equivalent of Bluegill fishing. Generally easy to add to the game bag and mighty tasty table fare. For some reason this one has proven very slippery. Perhaps after years of culling the stupid Grouse a super Grouse has evolved... Perhaps this one takes pleasure in my frustration, knowing that I'll come back, scan the area for relentlessly, eventually conclude he's not there and then have him thunder into the sky within feet of my muzzle and zig zags through the forest to the next hide, to which I follow him and repeat the strategy only to suffer the same result...

Honestly, I enjoy every second of it, even though it means admitting that I've been outsmarted by a creature with a brain the size of a pea. Yesterday was no exception and I fell for it again, hook, line and sinker. I can imagine him blogging about the hunter he's outwitted on at least three occasions... and how he'll do it again.

I'll be back there in a week to duel with him again. If you see a picture of him in the frying pan and some flies made of his feathers you'll know I won. If not, he's won again...

Actually, anytime I'm in the woods with 'my favorite Marlin' (model 39A Mountie) is a good day - even when the Grouse elude me... When the game is scarce or elusive I can always plink, which is nearly as much fun. This Alder leaf took three shots, offhand and was the only trophy I bagged this day. Not Boone and Crocket nor worth field dressing but was part of another happy memory of another happy day in the field with my Marlin.

Insanity = Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bob's 2009 Bear photos + Rufous' Bear story

Bob's Bear as he found him.

Back at Camp

Rufous wrote about the Bear he tagged:
Well, I think I got him. Not certain that he is the biggest bear using the area but there was lots of big piles of poop in the area I took this guy.

I called in this male bear this morning in SE WA just east of Walla Walla where I live. He came in to about 10 yards away but I was not sure he was the big boy I was after (based on all the big piles of bear poop in the area). He got nervous and ran off but I was able to stop him by calling again at about 75 yards. After looking at him some more through my binocular I decided he was big enough and shot him with my 45 Colt revolver using the Beartooth Bullets 345 grain hard cast lead bullet. I hit him behind the right shoulder and the bullet exited. He only ran about 25 yards. I found him dead. He measures 65" long and has a 45" girth. His front pad measures 5" wide and his neck has a girth of 27". His teeth are pretty badly chipped. His 4 legs weigh 81# (my pack weighed 98# including my other gear). His live weight is approximately 275#. It was a mighty hard climb up a steep slope and through a bunch of brush and nasty, thorny rose bushes but I made it. Rufous

Rufous said he pushes that bullet to about 1200 fps using H110 (which should NOT be used in Colt or replica style single actions).

He has posted more pictures and details at the Hunting Washington Forum.

BUSH LIVING by Sharron Chatterton

Sharron eloquently puts into words the primal connection we have for wilderness. I hope this resonates with you as it did with me. Brilliant bit of writing.

BUSH LIVING by Sharron Chatterton
[Intro by Cliff Jacobson -- included in his book "Camping's Top Secrets
-- a lexicon of camping tips only the experts know"] "Sharron Chatterton
is a retired wilderness canoe guide, college instructor, and writer who
lives a contemplative life in a lakeside cabin near Teslin, Yukon,
Canada. Here she explains how the solitude and demands of bush living
shape the personality of those who live and work in wild places."

"The wilderness promotes traits that encourage survival. Surrounded by
the unpredictable and beyond rescue, wilderness travelers safeguard
unknown outcomes against disaster. Their goal is safe arrival to their
destination, not arrival by some time or date. Some "great feats" are
simply their cautious journeys."

"Wilderness makes an individual self-reliant -- able to function alone,
to perform all tasks independently, and to know the adaptive capability
of every tool. To the bush traveler, rescue is an urban myth -- there
are no buffers against irresponsibility! Wilderness dwellers accept what
is, not what was or ought to be. They plan carefully and they don't take
chances. Actions are purposeful; tasks are always completed. To use
energy on valueless projects or to leave important work undone is
unthinkable. There is too much to do to get bored."

"Long periods spent in silence creates an ease without talk, value for
the understandings that flow without language, and a need for silence.
Silence conserves energy, frees ones attention for more important work
and, lacking confrontation, creates gentleness. Simple wisdom breeds in

"Wilderness travelers become hyperalert and observant. The land exhibits
what happened, is happening, and might happen next to the ears, eyes,
nose, and skin. These sensors function in overdrive, constantly
receiving information. "

"Some believe that wilderness living breeds antisocial behavior. In
truth, the wilderness man or woman becomes asocial -- he or she has a
lingering love of society but little need for it. The wilderness, not
the nation that manages it, evokes their allegiance. This alienation
from political boundaries and reassociation with the natural world
defines the "wilderness heart."

"Survival is the hidden foundation of bush morality. It is what allows
one to kill animals to eat, blaze trees to mark a return trail, or
sidestep a slipper orchid. An experienced bush dweller learns never to
interfere with another. To pass without offering help is a cardinal sin.
To solicit help unnecessarily is another. Survival encourages
cordiality among neighbors -- you might have to depend upon one for

"There are deeper effects of wilderness than those on human personality:
There is a growing need to reduce belongings, to hunt and gather, and to
be nomadic. Nature -- not other humans -- controls the routine. There
is a growing intimacy with animals and with death. Consciousness passes
old barriers and metaphysical experiences occur. Wilderness rearranges
behavior, reconfigures mental constructs, and transforms the inner self

"Yet personality change is what we first perceive in committed wilderness
travelers. We see it in epic soloists, long-distance trekkers, and in
those who work in wild places -- guides, researchers, and itinerant
wanderers. In fact, all of us, even we who paddle a simple slough alone
or walk a dog along the bluffs -- even farmers, loggers, and deep sea
fishermen whose wilderness experiences we consistently deny -- have
personalities deeply marked by wilderness."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 Season underway

As I mentioned in my previous post the 2009 season is underway for Bear, Grouse, Archery Deer and Archery Elk. It is proving to be a season to remember.

My sister tagged a fork-horn Whitetail over at her property to go along with the Bear her husband harvested which by the way was delicious!

Bear Backstraps!!! A little salt and pepper and you have yourself some fine eating!

Not everyone realizes how good Bear is as table fare. For those who haven't tried Bear before you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the best beef you've ever had and a properly prepared Bear steak. The sausage is also VERY good. No need to add a bunch of pork fat either, this time of year they come with plenty of their own.

While out scouting our place I came across a lot of bear sign this time. There are at least two bears - one of which is very large based on his scat (I'll spare you the picture) , tracks and witness accounts. Their eating a lot of Kinnikinnik right now which I guess is pretty fattening. Lewis and Clark described Kinnikinnik as a insipid and I would tend to agree though the First Nation's people ate them.

A very common plant in this area.

I spent a few hours each day scouting and hoping to get a shot at some Grouse. Anytime I was near the creek I would kick up one or two but never had a good shot. It is obvious that the gene that made them only fly a short distance to nearby cover has been culled out of them by my efforts in previous years. These guys would flush and not land until well out of sight or ear shot...

I didn't see the bachelor group of Whitetail bucks I've seen regularly earlier this year. I did see an Whitetail doe with a fawn and a spike that may have been her previous year's fawn browse through near the creek. I have not seen many Mule Deer in the area. Perhaps the Cougar cleared them out of the area last year. I found three Cougar kills on the property last year, all Mule Deer does. Two of them had fawns so I suspect they didn't make it either.

This is one of the kills I found. I had noticed the drag marks through the brush the previous month but it didn't occur to me at the time that it was a Cougar kill until I found the other kills the next month. When I went back I found another Deer, mostly complete skeleton, the coyotes had unburied it and they, the birds and the bugs had it mostly consumed by then.
The weather was quite warm, even at night the temperature stayed above 50*F. The daytime temps reached the upper 80s. Summer-like. I suspect when it begins to get colder many of the patterns I observed will hold. Still it was very enjoyable to get out and have a look around.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bears - part 2

Around here the First Nations people revered the Bear for his strength and learned humility. They are prominently featured on totem poles, sculptures, jewelry, masks and in stories passed from generation to generation as part of their oral tradition.
Bears are considered masters of the forest and their connection to humans is highly respected. When a Bear was killed he was taken to the house of the Chief and treated as a guest of honor. Eagle down was sprinkled on them in a welcoming gesture, dances and prayers were offered to honor and thank the Bear's spirit.

My exposure to this culture both as a boy and now within my family has influenced my appreciation for the Bear. To see one in the woods is good medicine. Harvesting a Bear is a spiritual experience. Respectfully utilizing its gifts (hide, claws, bones) and consuming it pays homage to its spirit and enriches my own. It is a part of hunting that is difficult to explain to those who do not hunt. Hunting isn't about the kill, its about life and living it. I can think of no other venture that more clearly illustrates our connection to and appreciation of nature than hunting. The First Nations people knew it and it is integral part of their culture. Those of use lucky enough to have been exposed that perspective experience hunting in a way that seems as natural and important as breathing.

The artwork posted here was inspired by the original art of the Haida and reproduced here in honor of that nation and the Bear it represents.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bears Down!

This has been one heck of a season for Bears! Brent, Tony, Bob, CT, Pasco, Bull (Idaho), Lewy, Cory ... Am I forgetting anyone?

Bob just got his yesterday on his way out to his Deer stand. It looked like he might of had a mind to do some camp raiding - headed straight for camp - and Bob put an arrow right where it goes. Didn't go 20 feet before expiring. Big fella too. Hopefully I'll have some pictures soon.

Tony anchored his too with his 300 Win Mag. The problem was he was alone and the bear was downhill. By his account it was vertical... My guess is he's exaggerating but that country is plenty steep - especially dragging a critter with no handles on him. The story gets even better though... He was on his bike so he loads the bear head over handlebars, front feet tied together ahead of the headset and ended up using pillow cases he had to secure the rear feet behind the saddle... Then saddled up on the bear and ROAD HIM HOME!!!

Cory took his with a bow too. After 9 hours in his stand he had given up and was on his way back to the truck when he hears a grunt on the trail ahead of him. He stops, knocks an arrow and a cinnamon colored black Bear appears twenty yards in front of him and he delivers the arrow right through the boiler room.

CT shot one near a campground and when they gutted him he was full of hotdogs and Kraft singles...

Pasco was calling (rabbit call) trying to get another Bear into range when another came in behind him. Had just enough time to knock an arrow and put a good shot in him.

I've never called Bears before but I've heard or a number of guys having success with it this year. Just remember to watch your six!

Looking forward to lots of sausage this year!

Friday, September 04, 2009


Saw this at Troutrageous.

I love to fish little skinny water but rarely get the chance. I may have to try this next time out. I would also be an excellent technique for emergency fishing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Other Hunters

While out scouting I came across another hunter. He was so intent on his quarry that at first he was oblivious to me. I watched the pursuit as he chased young squirrels out of their den and down the stump. As they were about to be captured they would leap off of the trunk and down to the ground. There they were either caught and mortally wounded or retreated back into the old snag and then pursued again. This repeated until the hunter was satisfied the den was cleared of its occupants.

A short tailed Weasel in pursuit of a young Douglas Fir Squirrel.

I was not aware Weasels were such skillful climbers or that they hunted prey as large as a squirrel. I was impressed how adroitly and methodically he hunted. He was relentless and fierce even made a threatening gesture to me when I moved in to take pictures. I did not wish to interfere with his hunt, but my curiosity drew me closer.

Witnessing nature in action is fascinating. Through my human emotional filter the method seemed cruel (but effective), plus it was obvious he was unlicensed, hunting out of season and was not concerned with limits. He was hunting for his own survival and if I were to intervene could result in his death.

Nature is indifferent. Death benefits the living - whether that is a tree that becomes a snag or a juvenile squirrel becomes a meal for first the weasel and the leftovers are consumed by the bugs. The circle of life, unbroken. Those that thrive require the demise of others. Witnessing this happen reminded me that we too are part of that cycle - it was good medicine.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Taurus 1911 / Crimson Trace - Range Time

I am not a big auto-loader fan nor am I a fan of Taurus firearms but the Taurus PT 1911 is a winner. To be honest, the difference between it and the Kimbers I've owned is negligible except for the price - the Taurus being hundreds of dollars less. All things being equal I'd still take the Kimber but man, this Taurus is really winning me over.

So far I have not found a round the PT 1911 won't feed. RN, FP, TC, and SWC styles seem to cycle through with ease. The accuracy is on par with the best 1911's I've ever shot. It has a very good trigger and some "extras" like beaver tail, ambidexterous safety and 8 shot magazines.

Another extra that didn't come stock on the gun but was thrown in on the deal was the Crimson Trace laser grip sights. The sights are VERY easy to use, simply grip normally and they are on. A small sensor button under the bird finger triggers the laser. Sighting in is easy - simply sight in the pistol with the stock sights, then move the dot to point of aim with the micro allen wrench provided. Both 200 and 230 grain loads print point of aim in this gun. The laser dot is easy to pick up out to 25 yards in sunlight and even beyond if your eyes are good. Out beyond 15 yards the POI begins to drift off of POA but only slightly. If you do your part the bullet will impact within an inch of the dot.

7 yard Targets
Left with CT - 8 shots
Right with Irons - 5 shots

View from the firing line

The laser won't overcome poor technique but inexperienced and infrequent shooters will have an easier time hitting the target with the laser sights.

As a 'control' I shot a five shot group with my Ruger New Vaquero. Had four of em in the enlarged hole before sending the flier outside the group. I think with practice I could improve the PT 1911 groups but at the moment I still shoot the RNV better than anything else I own.

Wanting to get a little silhouette practice I brought the Mountie. I was playing with some new ammo Federal Lightning, a high velocity 40 grain LRN bullet that was the first brick of 22lr I've seen in months... so I gave it a try. So far the Cheaper Fed Bulk ammo has proven better but I need to give it a few more trys before I'll post a verdict.

Of course since I had a 50 yard target out there I had to punch a few 45 caliber holes in it. The RNV again was able to ventilate the bullseye quite impressively with even the fliers still solidly in the vitals. I was also not able to resist busting up some clays on the berm ~ 65 yards away. Dang that is fun.

View of the 50 yard target

The new 45 Colt load = a north of the border charge of Red Dot under a 255 grain RNFP cast bullet prints a little higher than my SR 4756 load in the RNV. I'll do another batch or two before commiting to a new load but it does show a lot of promise. 255 grains at nearly 950 fps is comfortable to shoot and doesn't exibit any drop out to 50+ yards - just put the post at the bottom of the bull and squeeze. It would be mighty fun to tip over some steel critters with that gun...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August 2009 Cowboy Silhouette

The Cool way to arrive. I'm sure in some parts of the country seeing bikers with rifles would generate some 911 calls... Here the good guys can still have guns too

Good turn out for the morning rimfire session.

Commence Firing!

R and W putting the hurt on steel. Notice the bullet holes in the barrel - sometimes they shoot back ;^)

Match director and Great guy A hammering the Rams. Al tied for first in both matches but was edged out in shoot-offs.

100 year old Winchesters still on the job - contending and winning matches.