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.

Gear Review: STove +

Coleman Website Photo

I've had a Coleman Peak 1 whitegas stove since ~1980 that is still going strong. I use it extensively for backpacking, melting wheel weights into ingots and occasionally boiling water for a Dungeness Crab feast. For those purposes it has served me well.

More recently we needed a multi-burner unit for our outdoor excursions and I reluctantly gave in to the convenience of the disposable propane fueled units after learning they could be refueled. We bought the Coleman PerfectFlow InstaStart stove at Cabelas for less than $50. The unit is lightweight and compact but it opens up to create a roomy cooking surface capable of bringing large pots of water to a boil quickly.

It is easy to light but isn't as instant as the name implies usually taking a few pushes of the sparking button. The Windscreens work well to protect the flame from wind and the stove itself is very stable if a flat surface is available.

The burn time of the propane canisters averaged four meals including heating the dish water - not real economical or practical for regular use but more convenient and cleaner than the liquid gas versions. I learned of a fitting that would allow refilling of the disposable containers from refillable bulk tanks. It is called the MacCoupler and it is also available for ~$20 through Cabelas.

Since we use this stove for more than 100 meals each year I purchased the MacCoupler and found it to work very well. I have found that chilling the "disposable" container in the ice chest before refilling more fully fills the container. Also inverting the bulk tank is important. After repeated refillings the MacCoupler has paid for itself and I am pleased with the purchase.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ruger Single Six

Ruger Single Six (Ruger Catalog Picture)

About the biggest grin you'll ever seen is the moment your son/daughter, nephew/niece (who have the maturity and experience) gets permission to go plinking on their own. Due to the deliberate nature of single action shooting and robustness of the gun a Ruger Single Six a dandy gun for such an occasion. For many of us the Single Six was our first experience with a cowboy six shooter and it didn't matter how old we were, it was fun!

Over the years I've had five of them in barrel lengths of 4-3/4" to 6-1/2". Without exception they were good shooters. For one reason or another I traded them off but always kept at least one.
Meat Makers

Besides being good for inexpensive practice they are good hunting rifle companions. When hunting with a centerfire rifle I typically take the Single Six along to take Grouse I happen upon.

Equiped with the 22 Magnum cyclinder they are capable of Coyote sized critters or bigger in a survival situation. The Federal 40 grain WMR ammo clocks just under 1400 fps over the Chronograph which is better than all but the hyper velocity 22lr ammo out of 22 rifle. A Single Six with both cyclinders and a few boxes off ammo weigh right around three pounds and make a handy addition to the BOB.
Rimfire Cowboys

With most 22 lr ammo the velocity hovers around 1100 fps which is usually between 100 and 200 fps slower than it will do in a rifle.

25 Yard Target

The New Model Fixed Sight version is a VERY nice little six shooter. The grip is smaller but not too small. It is probably the prettiest Single Six ever made.

The Single Six can usually be had for under $300 used and there are a bunch of them out there. The best deals are from guys that prefer to burn through one magazine after another and find the Single Six too slow to reload. I guess they haven't seen my nephew burn through a brick with mine...

Late ADD: Single Six Chronograph Data 4-5/8" barrel
Federal Bulk 37gr HP = 1110 fps
Aguila SE Subsonic, 40 HP = 923 fps
CCI CB Long = 573 fps
CCI Mini Mag 40 grain Solids = 1063 fps
CCI Blazer 40 grain Solids = 1012 fps

CCI Maxi Mag (22 Mag) 1280 fps average
Federal 40grain FMJ 1387 fps

Mountain Bike Scouting

Before I get started on this post I want to thank everyone for the questions and correspondence. I'm amazed by the response my last few posts have generated. I would also like to encourage those interested in Mountain bikes to read The Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle posted over at the Nova Scotia Preppers Network. It is a Terrific series on bikes (and some great gardening articles as well) and their practical day to day use. My experience echoes those in the post and I predict you will find them very helpful.

Back to Scouting on a bike.

Today (and yesterday) I spent some time in the saddle exploring the areas in proximity of my residence. One of the areas I scouted was another big block of State land (this one is managed by the State Parks) that is popular with campers, hikers, geocachers, cyclists and beachcombers. It has been a while since my last visit, mainly due to the amount of pavement I have to ride to get there. I was pleased to have the trails to myself and discover a new trail had been added to the lake.

The topography is more severe but the trails are less technical - even buff by singletrack standards. Again today I came across a variety of wildlife that didn't detect me until I was very close to them. A rabbit feeding along the trail bolted at the shock of discovering there was a human a few feet away. Also I came across deer again and this time I had my camera.
Just as I was exiting the trail onto the reservoir road I saw this little doe as she stepped out onto the road just ahead of me. I stopped and she stood frozen looking back at me wondering what I was. I slowly raised my camera and took a picture, and several more that all look the same as this one as we watched each other over several minutes. Eventually her curiosity got the best of her and she moved closer until she could wind me and then hopped off into the thickets.
In a couple of hours I covered a majority of the trails and gated roads in the nearly 600 acre park, saw a number of critters, got some exercise and learned more about the area I live. They say the best view is "between the ears of your horse..." I would amend that to include another saddled mode of transportation - the Mountain Bike.