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  Building the Switch Barrel Rifle
ShootingBuilding the Switch Barrel Rifle
Ed Harmon

This project started as a

Posted by SwampFox on Monday, February 18, 2008 (17:59:11) (14930 reads)
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  Remington 700 CDL in .35 Whelen
ShootingRemington 700 CDL in .35 Whelen

In my continuing effort to plug perceived gaps in my gun collection (at least that

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 (07:54:36) (19472 reads)
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  Decoyed Pigeons In Argentina
Hunting StoriesDecoyed Pigeons In Argentina
Ed Harmon

In June of 2007 we started out late on a Thursday afternoon for a decoyed pigeon hunt in Argentina. This was to be my first decoyed pigeon shoot. I flew from Florida to Dallas, TX where I met the rest of the 8-man group. Our group consisted of the owner of a MS timber business, an ENT Surgeon from Jackson, MS, a MS real estate developer, the Assistant to the Commissioner of the MS State Police, a Drug Manufacturer

Posted by SwampFox on Sunday, January 06, 2008 (04:34:39) (4447 reads)
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  New hunting buddy
Hunting StoriesI had my best hunting experience yet this past weekend (17 November 2007). Or I guess I should say we had one. It was the opening day of white tail

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Monday, November 19, 2007 (17:36:50) (3501 reads)
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  Ruger 77 Compact in .260 Remington
ShootingIn spring 2005 I acquired a Ruger 77 Mark II Compact chambered in .260 Remington. I gave a lot of thought to this rifle and handled it at several gun shows before I finally broke down and bought it. There were several considerations in my choice. I wanted a small, fairly light weight rifle that I could use for deer and maybe varmints too. I wanted it to be pretty weather resistant. I also wanted a cartridge that I felt would cleanly kill deer but not have quite as much recoil as my .280 Remington. I’ll try to explain my thinking as I describe the rifle and cartridge.

First, let’s discuss the rifle. I had decided that I wanted a stainless steel action and barrel with a laminated stock to make it a bit more weather proof than my wood stocked .280. I know that a synthetic stock is even more weather resistant but I just like the looks and weight of the laminated stocks better. I’m trying to walk a fine line between “light for carry” and “heavy to absorb recoil”. I wanted a compact rifle that my daughters could use comfortably should I ever con them into hunting with me. I had narrowed my choice down to a Remington Model 7 or the Ruger. In the end I never saw a Remington exactly like I wanted but I kept bumping into this little Ruger at the local gun shows.

The Ruger 77 Mark II Compact is all stainless with a gray and black laminated stock. This is a rather small rifle. It has a 16.5” barrel and is 35.5” long overall. Length of pull is 12.5”, a bit shorter than usual. This length will be easy for my younger daughter to handle as she is only about 5’ 1” tall. It weighs 6.25 pounds without a scope. Magazine capacity with the .260 Remington cartridges is four rounds. It has a three position safety that I really like. The safety lever moves horizontally. The first position, forward, is “fire”. The second position, middle, is “safe” but you can still operate the bolt for loading or unloading. In the third position, back, the rifle is “safe” and the bolt is locked closed.

One of the concerns I had was whether the rifle could handle the heavier bullets in this caliber. I like the option of a “heavy for caliber” bullet for hunting. Early reports I saw on the .260 rifles said that they wouldn’t stabilize heavy bullets because the twist rate was too slow. This Ruger has a twist of 1 turn in 8 inches, which is faster than earlier .260s and I think faster than the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser. It looked like this would work for the 160 grain bullets that I wanted to try.

I added a Simmons AETEC 2.8-to-10X scope to the rifle. Ruger’s built in mounts always make this an easy job. I did have this scope mounted on “Ol’ Splintermaker”, my Winchester Model 70. The Simmons has a short tube though, and I never did like the way it fit the long action Win 70. However it fits the short action Ruger perfectly. The optics are bright and clear and the zoom range gives me what I need for short range woods hunting or long range varmints. With the scope mounted the rifle weighs 7.5 pounds.

Now let's talk about the cartridge. The .260 Remington is part of the .308 Winchester case family, along with the .243 Winchester, 7mm-08 and .358 Winchester. It was introduced in 1997. Initially it was intended as a target round, taking advantage of the high ballistic coefficients that the 6.5mm bullet have. The “useful case capacity” is 3.32 cubic centimeters. The .264 bullets are available in weights from 85 to 160 grains. The Lee manual gives velocities up to 3340 fps for the 85 grain bullets and 2595 fps for the 160s. I know that a lot of folks use a .243 Winchester for deer but I wanted something that would fire a heavier bullet. Blame it on all those books I read about African hunting. The heaviest .243s are only 105 grains so the .260 gives me a lot more to play with.

To get ready for shooting I placed an order to Midway for Hornady dies and Remington brass. I picked the Hornady 129 grain SST and the Hornady 160 grain round nose bullets for initial testing. I had just bought a pound of Hodgdon H4831SC so I thought I’d try that first. CCI 200 primers completed the first batches of loads. One aspect of the loads that I looked at was the pressure vs. the velocity. I wanted to try some loads that showed a lower pressure to see if I could reduce muzzle blast by any noticeable level.

All cases were sized full length and trimmed to the same length. Case mouths and flash holes were deburred. Every powder charge was weighed, especially after I realized that the powder wouldn’t meter very well through my measure. All of the charges were about at the “Starting Load” level. Bullets were seated a bit long, just short of the lands.

I hit a snag when I started loading the 160 grain round noses. I always run that first cartridge that I finish through the gun before continuing, to make sure it chambers OK. Although it chambered fine it wouldn’t feed worth a flip. In fact not at all! This Hornady has a VERY blunt nose and it kept catching on the edge of the chamber. I decided to load five just to see if they would stabilize. I checked some catalogs and saw that Sierra has a 160 grain “semi pointed” bullet that I might try later. An article I read in “Rifle” magazine said that the premium 140 grain bullets penetrated better than the 160s anyway, due to bullet construction. I’ll have to rethink my strategy here.

The 129 grain SST bullets fed fine. Since I had some cases prepped that I didn’t use for the 160 grain bullets I used them to load some of the SSTs over Hodgdon Varget powder. Varget is supposed to be pretty accurate in this family of cartridges.

I finally got to the range with my new toy. Although the temperature was comfortable the wind was blowing pretty good, swirling through the valley where the range is located. There were some thunderstorms moving into the area. Every gust of wind brought clouds of dust, pollen and debris onto the range. I decided to go ahead and shoot some 10 shot groups at 100 yards to check the velocities because I wasn’t sure when I’d get the next chance. Because we were trying to beat the storm I didn’t let the barrel cool between shots or groups.

The first loads tried were the 129 grain SSTs over Varget. My Chrony showed an average velocity of 2438 ft/sec. Extreme spread was 86 ft/sec and the standard deviation was 23.8 ft/sec. The group size was right about 2” and interestingly enough almost made a “+” sign on the target. I was disappointed with these starting loads and wonder if raising the charge will improve the accuracy.

The next loads tested were the 129 grain SSTs over H4831SC. These averaged 2510 ft/sec with an extreme spread of 64 ft/sec and a standard deviation of 21.3 ft/sec. If I throw out the called flyer I have a 1.4” group. With the flyer it opened up to 3”.

Finally I tried the five 160 grain Hornady RNs over H4831SC. I had to drop each one into the chamber. Average velocity was 2263 ft/sec with an extreme spread of 21 ft/sec and a standard deviation of only 7.8 ft/sec. Figures huh? Naturally they also made the best group, 1.1”. My shooting buddy asked “How fast can you load those one at a time?” I noticed that all three loads shot to the same point of impact at 100 yards.

Shooting from the bench I found that the rifle was very comfortable, even with the shorter stock. The trigger was decent and the recoil was fairly mild. Calculated recoil energy for the .260 was 12.3 ft-lb compared to 18.8 for my .280. I was also shooting a Winchester 94 .44 Magnum carbine that day and the .260 was much more enjoyable. My buddy fired a few rounds too and liked the way the rifle handled. I couldn’t really tell any difference in the muzzle blast between the H4831SC loads and the slightly lower pressure Varget loads. At a later range session I had a young lady in her teens shoot some of the 140 grain bullet loads and she really liked the rifle too.

I was pretty pleased with the H4831SC loads, especially because they were almost literally the first shot out of the gun, there hadn’t been any load tweaking yet. Powder charges were pretty safe so I thought I could increase the velocity some, although 2500 ft/sec out of a 16.5” barrel isn’t too bad. On a later trip to the range I was able to try some maximum loads of the same powder with the same bullet and gained a whopping 30 ft/sec. Group size was the same. Apparently the short barrel is doing about all it can with this combination.

After I started working on this review “Shooting Times” ran two articles, one on the .260 Remington cartridge and another on the Ruger 77 “Frontier” rifle. The “Frontier” is the same rifle I have with the addition of a rib in front of the action that allows a “Scout scope” to be mounted. You can find these in the May 2005 issue.

In the fall of 2005 I finally did some hunting with the rifle. I really liked the way the gun handled in the woods and up in a tree stand. A small whitetail buck became the first live target. One of the Hornady 129 grain SSTs placed behind his left shoulder at about 40 yards turned his heart/lung area to mush and he ran about 50 yards. The only exit wound was found by the BB sized drop of blood on his off-side shoulder.

Over all I am very pleased with my purchase. In fact I like the handling so much that I hope to buy a Ruger Frontier chambered for .338 Federal for use as another “woods gun”. I think the Compact in .260 Rem. would be an excellent rifle for smaller shooters while not giving up much in performance on medium sized game. It is exactly what I hoped it would be as far as something my girls could shoot comfortably. However, they haven’t shot it yet and, you know, I never really told them that I’d bought it for them…

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Saturday, October 27, 2007 (21:22:50) (23934 reads)
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  The Great .308 versus .30-06 Debate
ShootingThe Great .308 versus .30-06 Debate
A chat room discussion got me looking hard at the “.308 Winchester vs. .30-06 Springfield” debate. My contention was that there was no significant difference between the ballistics of the two in hunting situations, or for that matter in any other situation. So let’s examine the ballistics of both cartridges and compare.
First we’ll take a quick look at the history of both cartridges. The .30-06 Springfield started life as a US military cartridge in 1906. It was derived from the “.30 Model 1903” cartridge that was designed to replace the .30-40 Krag. The ’03 cartridge used the same 220 grain round nosed bullet as the .30-40. The ’06 is essentially the same case as the ’03 with a 150 grain spitzer bullet at 2800 ft/sec. The .30-06 was the primary cartridge for the US military until it was “replaced” by the .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO in 1954. The .308’s original load was a 149 grain spitzer at 2800 ft/sec. Both cartridges have certainly been very successful in military, match and hunting use! (Reference “Handloading” by William C. Davis, Jr.)

To quote the Speer #13 manual, “In the hunting field, ballistic differences between the 308 and the 30-06 are negligible.” The .308 was designed to duplicate the .30-06 for military use, but in a half inch shorter package. Both guns use the same 0.308” bullets. These bullets range from 100 grains to 250 grains in various styles. I figured that the .30-06 would have an advantage as the bullets get over 180 grains because its case was originally designed for the heavier bullets.
The most common hunting bullet weights for these cartridges are the 150, 165 and 180 grain. I realize that there are tons of loads for each cartridge but you’ve gotta start somewhere. I looked in the Speer #13 manual and compared their loads for both cartridges. I figure this is a pretty good comparison as loads for both cartridges were fired in the same type rifle, a Remington 700 with a 22” barrel. In each case I took the bullet with the highest ballistic coefficient and the highest velocity listed.

Here is a chart of the muzzle velocities for each bullet for both cartridges, the difference between them (.30-06 minus .308) and the percentage of that difference:
Bullet weight .308 .30-06 Difference %
150 2919 2847 -72 ft/sec -2.5
165 2812 2803 -9 ft/sec -0.3
180 2623 2756 133 ft/sec 4.8

From the chart we can see that the average difference in velocities for the three bullets is 17 ft/sec, or 0.6%, in favor of the .30-06. Now don’t forget that these are average velocities. In a string of shots a cartridge/gun’s velocity can easily have a standard deviation of 1% or more. In other words the normal variations in loads result in a built-in error that pretty much means we can’t count on such a small difference to be meaningful.

So, what does all this mean downrange? We’ll zero both guns at 200 yards and compare the bullet energy there. Let’s also take a look at what the bullets will be doing at 400 yards, which is a heck of a long shot for hunting. I used the “PointBlank” ballistics program to make the comparisons.

With the 150 grain bullet the .308 has 2093 foot-pounds of energy at 200 yards while the .30-06 has 1985 foot-pounds. Out at 400 yards the .308 will have dropped 20.9 inches, and still has 1512 foot-pounds. The .30-06 will have dropped 22.13 inches and maintains 1428 foot-pounds. The .308 shows 5.9% more energy at 400 yards.

Then with the 165 grain bullet 200 yards the .308 shows 2202 foot-pounds versus 2187 foot-pounds for the .30-06. At 400 yards the .308 drops 21.90 inches and has 1645 foot-pounds. The .30-06 drops 22.06 inches with 1633 foot-pounds left. At 400 yards the .308 has a tiny 0.7% energy advantage.

Finally we take the 180 grain bullet, which should give the biggest advantage to the .30-06. At the 200 yard mark the .308 will have an energy of 2143 foot-pounds and the .30-06 will have 2379 foot-pounds. The .30-06 has about 11% more energy. When we get out to 400 yards the .308 will be 24.64 inches low and still have 1647 foot-pounds while the .30-06 will be 22.10 inches low and still carry 1840 foot-pounds. That means that at 400 yards the .30-06 has an 11.7% advantage in energy.

Now I’m sure that folks will look up their favorite of these two and “prove” that it is better in some manual or another. I looked in some other manuals too and found varying velocities. One thing I noticed in one manual was that, with 250 grain bullets (yes, that is two hundred and fifty grains), there was only 100 feet per sec difference in the velocities of the two cartridges. That particular manual doesn’t give any barrel lengths though.

Just for giggles I also looked at the .270 Winchester and .280 Remington loads in the same Speer manual. With a 22” barrel and a 150 grain bullet at 2907 feet per second the .270 has 2170 foot-pounds at 200 yards and 1648 foot-pounds at 400 yards, while dropping 19.98 inches. The .280, with a 24” barrel and a 145 grain bullet at 2975 feet per second, shows 2209 foot-pounds at 200 yards and 1689 foot-pounds at 400 yards, while dropping 18.83”. So, both of these cartridges “beat” the .30 caliber rounds in energy and trajectory.

When it’s all said and done does either the .308 or the .30-06 really have any ballistic advantage over the other? I’ll concede that an 11% difference in energy with the 180 grain bullet is an advantage but I wonder if a deer on the receiving end tell the difference between 1647 and 1840 foot-pounds of energy? Considering the overall differences and performance of both cartridges I’ll stick to my assertion that there is no SIGNIFICANT ballistic advantage with either cartridge. Now just pick which ever you like and enjoy shooting it!

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 (18:29:48) (37872 reads)
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  Leupold's Laser Rangefinders
MiscLeupold RX Series Laser Rangefinders

I’ve long been interested in getting a laser range finder. What with shooting, hunting and battlefield touring I could see a lot of potential use for a toy like that. These devices work by bouncing an invisible laser off of the target and either timing how long it takes to make the round trip or detecting a phase change in the signal. The details are a little too deep for me to write about!

The accuracy of the measurement is dependent on the reflectivity of the target and the atmospheric conditions at the time (read that rain, fog, smoke, etc.). A bright colored target bounces a stronger signal back than a dark one. Fog or rain weakens the signal by dissipating the laser light. Those are a couple of factors to keep in mind when you’re using them.

One drawback I’ve seen on all of the laser rangefinders around up to now is that they only give you the Line-of-sight (LOS) distance to the target. If you are shooting up or down at a steep angle this can be misleading. If you remember your geometry you see that you are using the hypotenuse measurement of a right triangle while what you really need is the true horizontal or base measurement from you to the target. Gravity only acts on the bullet for this horizontal distance. For example, if the LOS measurement is 400 yards and the target is at an angle of 40 degrees above or below you the horizontal distance between you is actually 335 yards. If you held for 400 yards you’d shoot high.

So, what does all this have to do with anything? If you use a laser rangefinder and you need to know the actual “shooting distance” to your target you have a couple of options. You could carry the rangefinder, an inclinometer and a calculator, and then calculate the correct distance to your target. Or you can buy one of the new Leupold RX Series rangefinders and let it figure it for you. Leupold calls it the “True Ballistic Range” or TBR for short. It’s just what the doctor ordered, especially for anyone hunting in mountainous terrain.

There are four models in the RX Series. All have a focusing eyepiece, choice of 13 different reticles, built in thermometer, Yards/Feet/Meters mode, scan mode and LOS measurement. The RX-I and RX-II have 6X magnification and are “weatherproof” while the RX-III and RX-IV have 8X magnification and are “waterproof”. The RX-I is the entry level model, lacking a number of the bells and whistles the other models have, including the TBR. Starting with the RX-II the TBR is a standard feature. Other features, as you go up in model, include “Rain mode”, digital compass and various targeting modes.

While wandering through Bass Pro Shop a while back I saw an RX-III in the display cabinet. The price was $400. This model has all the features except the built in compass. It is 4.6” x 3.5” x 2” and weighs 12 ounces. The battery life is 2000 activations. The useful range is from 3 to 1200 yards. You should note that 1200 yards is the maximum range using a reflective target. The instructions say that for a deer type target the maximum effective range is 500 yards. Since I had some gift cards I just HAD to use I felt it necessary to purchase it. At least that’s what I told my wife…

One of the wonders of modern electronics is that they have LOTS of features and options to choose from. That sure can make them a pain to set up! The Leupold uses a “Quick Set Rotary Menu” to allow you to scroll through the options. Choosing some options turns off others so make sure you read the instructions.

A list of features for the RX-III follows:
 Match 13 Reticle System – Choice of 13 different reticles.
 Long range mode – ON or OFF. ON only reads objects over 150 yards away.
 Rain mode – ON or OFF. ON helps prevent false readings due to rain, fog, etc.
 1st Target mode OR Last Target mode OR neither. See explanation below.
 Yards OR Feet OR Meters reading.
 Fahrenheit OR Celsius OR LOS reading.
 TBR – ON or OFF. Also activates the inclinometer reading.
 Ballistic Group Selection – A, B, C, AB, AC, BC and ABC. Offers a choice of eight groups of cartridges/loads for use with the TBR. The groups are listed in the instructions.

I set the unit to show measurements in yards. I naturally selected TBR mode and also have it show LOS and the angle of inclination in the lower right hand section of the display. Another option is the selection between “1ST Target Mode” and “Last Target Mode”. If there are several objects in view the rangefinder can sometimes give you an average distance for all of them. “1ST Target” gives you the range to the closest target and ignores anything in the background. “Last Target” ignores the fore ground and gives you the distance to the farthest target. I’ve initially set mine for “Last Target” thinking that while hunting I’ll probably have to range through light brush, trees, etc.

You can select which information you want the TBR to display. Your choices are BAS, MOA or HOLD. BAS is the actual horizontal distance to the target. To use HOLD or MOA you have to specify a “ballistic group” of cartridges and zero your rifle at a specific distance, explained in the instructions. For example: a .280 Remington with a 140 grain bullet at 2990 fps would fall into ballistic group “C” and would be zeroed at 200 yards. Then HOLD will give you the inches of holdover/under and MOA will show the minutes of angle for holdover/under. Since I plan to use this thing with a number of different guns I chose the BAS mode.

The rangefinder couldn’t be much easier to use after you’ve set it up. Look through the eyepiece at the object you want to measure and press and hold the power button. A reticle will appear to help you line up on the target. Center the object in the reticle. The display mode and the distance will start blinking over the reticle. Release the power button and the distance will be displayed for a few seconds. The display can also be lit by pushing the “SET” button. Then the unit will power down to save the battery.

At this time I’ve only done some limited testing. I measured some distances around the house; to neighbors’ houses, mail boxes and such. I also took the device to the range and measured some known distances and the measurements were dead on. One of the first things I noticed is that it’s hard to hold steady on a small target at any great distance. The unit has a threaded hole in the bottom for a support such as a monopod or tripod. If I was going to try to use it on distant groundhogs or prairie dogs I’d keep that in mind.

So far I’m pleased with my purchase. When deer season gets here I’ll use it for determining the distances of certain landmarks from my stand locations. If I know that a certain tree, for example, is 130 yards from the stand it will help me place my shot better when that deer wanders by. Of course, if time permits, I’ll be able to measure the distance to any deer seen directly. Some time next year I hope to use the rangefinder on a trip to Gettysburg. Just exactly how far is it from the “sniper’s den” at Devils Den to the top of Little Round Top?

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Sunday, October 07, 2007 (17:07:19) (11134 reads)
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  Is newer reloading information “wimpier” than the older stuff?
ReloadingIs newer reloading information “wimpier” than the older stuff?

Every so often when I am talking to folks about reloading I hear that the loads printed in current reloading manuals are much milder than the loads in older manuals. The most common reason given is legal liability, that the various companies have “wimped out” due to legal pressure. Since I had a variety of manuals on the shelf I decided to check some loads for myself to see if there really was that much difference. Also, if I found differences, I wanted to try to understand why there was a change.

The oldest bullet manufacturer’s manual on my shelf is a Speer #8, printed in 1970. I also have a Speer #14, printed in 2007. Obviously these would be a good place to start as they come from the same source and use the same bullets. I picked two very common cartridges to use for comparison, the .30-06 Springfield and the .45 ACP. The procedure was pretty simple. I just went through both manuals, found the loads using the same powder and bullet weight in each and wrote down the maximum recommended load. Then I determined the difference between old and new loads, both as grains of powder and as a percentage of the load. I did not list any muzzle velocities because different guns, with different barrel lengths, were used in the tests and I didn’t want to muddy the water with that variable.

I took the .30-06 first. I used three different bullet weights: 165 grain, 180 grain and 200 grain. I found five powders that were used with those bullets in both manuals. The results are in the table below.
.30-06 Springfield
Powder Bullet 1970 2007 Difference % Difference
H414 165 58.0 56.0 2.0 3%
H414 200 52.0 53.0 -1.0 -2%
IMR4064 165 51.0 50.5 0.5 1%
IMR4064 180 50.0 50.0 0.0 0%
IMR4831 180 59.0 59.0 0.0 0%
IMR4831 200 58.0 56.0 2.0 3%
IMR4350 180 56.0 56.0 0.0 0%
IMR4350 200 53.0 54.0 -1.0 -2%
IMR4895 180 50.0 47.0 3.0 6%

When you compare all the loads you see that the older ones averaged about 0.6 grains more powder, a difference of 1.1%.

Switching to the .45 ACP I picked two bullets, the 200 grain lead SWC and the 230 grain FMJ. I found five powders that were used in both manuals. The table below shows the results.
.45 ACP
Powder Bullet 1970 2007 Difference % Difference
Red Dot 200 4.5 4.5 0.0 0%
Red Dot 230 5.5 5.3 0.2 4%
Bullseye 200 4.0 4.6 -0.6 -15%
Herco 200 6.2 6.0 0.2 3%
Unique 200 6.0 5.4 0.6 10%
Unique 230 7.0 6.5 0.5 7%
700-X 200 4.3 4.2 0.1 2%
700-X 230 5.0 5.1 -0.1 -2%

Again comparing all the loads the older ones averaged 0.1 grains more powder, a difference of 1.2%.

We can see that, while there is a small difference between the older and newer data, it’s not significant. There are a couple of things that can account for the changes. Different lots of the same powder will vary a little. You’ll note that sometimes the older charge weights are higher; sometimes the new ones are higher. I think another likely reason for any changes is that we now have better ways to measure the actual peak pressures. Electronics give us more accurate pressure readings than the “crusher” systems that were used before. To quote Alan Jones, editor of the Speer manuals #12, #13 and #14, “Sooner or later the old crusher system will be obsolete. We started the transition from crusher to electronic pressure measurement with the handgun cartridges in Number 12. Now we are converting the rifle data as time permits.” All Speer loads are kept at or below the standard industry maximum pressure.

It looks to me that the recommended loads today are no “wimpier” than the old loads. They should be safer, given the better pressure measuring equipment now available. One thing I would like to say is that these reloading companies have much better equipment than we do measure the pressures for the various cartridges. Personally I think it is foolish to try to exceed the maximum loads they have printed. I won’t risk the chance of damaging a gun, or me, to try to boost my velocities by a few feet per second. Let’s enjoy our hobby of reloading but keep it safe!

Posted by Pumpkinslinger on Friday, October 05, 2007 (04:06:41) (5381 reads)
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  Some Reloading Statistics
ReloadingHere are a few statistical numbers we arrive at when reloading and using a chronograph .. Most chronographs compute these figures for you , but they are nice to know how they are arrived at and what they mean .
For this example and to keep it brief we will use a 4 shot string instead of ten shots which gives you a much better set of numbers ..
Hv : the highest velocity recorded in the string
Lv : the lowest velocity recorded in the string
Es : Extreme Spread of the string
Av : Average velocity of the string fired
Sd : Standard Deviation , a measure of how close each shot will be to the average ...
Also I'm throwing in how to calculate ft lbs of energy and Taylor Knock Out Value , as well as number of loads per pound of powder

OK here we go with our 4 shot string

1. 2990 fps
2. 3010 fps
3. 2996 fps
4. 3004 fps

Hv = 3010
Lv = 2990
Es = 20 fps , the difference between the high and low velocities
Av = total of each velocity divided by the number of shots fired 2990+3010+2996+3004/4 or 3000fps Av
Sd is derived by multiplying the square root of the average velocity by the number of shots fired , and deduct it from the squares of all shot velocities -1 and then take the square root of this figure ..
[(2990sq+3010sq+2996sq+3004sq-4x3000sq)/(4-1)]sq= SD


Sd= 8.54 fps , or each shot will be within 8.54 fps of the average ..

FtLbs of energy is derived by the following :

velocity x velocity x bullet weight / 450240

For a 405 grain bullet at 2500 fps it will look like this

2500x2500x405/450240 = 5622 ft lbs

Taylor Knock Out Value is derived by the following formula :

bullet weight x velocity x diameter/7000

405 x 2500 x .458 / 7000

TKO of 66

Number of loads per pound of powder
There are 7000 grains in one pound of powder , so simply divide 7000 by the charge weight you are loading

Lets say you are loading 80 grains of powder in yur .17 souper mag ele slayer

7000/80 =87.5 loaded rounds per pound of powder ..

Posted by GroovyJack on Monday, July 23, 2007 (03:42:19) (11347 reads)
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  The 357 Max Rifle
ShootingThe 357 Maximum Rifle
Ed Harmon

My experience with the 357 Super Mag or the 357 Maximum, as Remington renamed the cartridge, started prior to the existence of the cartridge itself. Many members of the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) were and are great believers in the accuracy and overall performance of the heavy 357 caliber bullet. A number of silhouette shooters were trying to lengthen or "soup up" the 357 magnum about the same time that Elgin Gates actually developed the 357 Super Mag. Elgin silver soldered a length of 357 brass to the end of a 357 case to make the first cartridges.

I still recall, very vividly, the first announcement in the Silhouette (the IHMSA monthly paper) about the new cartridge and the guns for the new cartridge, then under development. The 357 afecianados loved the heavy bullet concept of the 357 Super Mag. The cartridge was conceived as a platform for shooting heavy bullets propelled by cylindrical powder. Of course, it took the gun writers, Remington, and the gun builders, all who knew nothing about shooting steel and who would not listen and could not understand the concept, about 90 days to pretty much, trash the whole project by trying to push a 125 grain bullet at the speed of light, in a revolver, with ball powder. We will not go into the myrid of mistakes made by well intended folks with limited knowledge of the intent and reasons for the development of the cartridge.

Now that we have the who shot John, re-hashed, one more time, let us get to the real meat of this story. The 357 Maximum shines, like a very bright star, when loaded for and shot in a single shot, short barrel rifle. The cartridge concept and its design are for a pistol. However, the use of the cartridge in a short barreled carbine is an absolute natural application.

If you look around, you will not find many rifles offered that are chambered for the 357 Maximum. So if you want to have a copy, it is pretty much a build it to suit yourself, sort of thing. Why a 357 Maximum and not the 357 Magnum? How about a little short rifle that puts a 180 grain spire point bullet out at 2,200 fps VS a 180 grain bullet at 1,700 fps? Sound interesting? Do you need a short range, under 100 yards, gun? Do you need a deer rifle or medium sized game rifle for a youngster or lady to hunt with?

Right now, the gun pretty much needs to be a breech-loader and most probably a single shot. The 357 Maximum is too long to feed through the lever guns designed for the 44 mag or the 357 magnum. In addition, the 357 Maximum cruises at 50,000 pressure so the lever guns with the old style or standard lockup, will not meet the pressure requirements of the Max cartridge for extended use. The barrel should be limited to 16 to 18 inches and should be fairly large in diameter to lend a little bit of recoil absorbing weight. Using a heavy, short, barrel, makes the little rifle very comfortable to shoot. Meet the criteria and you have a very handy, deer or hog gun with a real punch. The bonus is that you can, if need be, shoot everything from 38 Special to the Super Mag in the gun.

Our subject gun is based on a .310 Martini Cadet action. Supposedly, you can not build a 357 Maximum Martini Cadet. However, the "ya can't do that" is based on the use of pistol bullets in the Martini. When you load the Max with a rifle bullet, the ogive of the bullet, when the bullet is seated properly, allows the loaded cartridge to be chambered with ease. The empty case will extract and eject from the little Martini action without a problem or modification. The 357 Max is also available in the Encore or Contender carbine barrel and makes a very handy carbine.

Back to the Martini; most folks do not realize that the Martini action (designed for black powder) is a 55,000 PSI action. The Martini actions were designed and built prior to 1898. The significance of that fact, besides the pressure qualification, is that the majority of the guns do not require a yellow sheet as they are black powder guns, even when rebarreled! That is a nice feature for the individual buyer. The thread pitch for the Cadet is 1-14 and the threaded portion of the barrel or shank is .500 in length. The major diameter is .745 and the minor diameter is .697. The Martini Cadet is a fairly easy conversion from a crusty old military trainer, to a sleek little Bambi buster.

Very important, make sure that your proposed barrel has at least 6 inches of straight steel in front of the action, before the taper starts. The straight area will be drilled and tapped for the forend and is also where you will drill and tap for the scope mounts.

The barrel cut for the extractor looks complicated but in fact is easy. In this order: 1) Remove the old barrel and the extractor. 2) Then re-install the internal parts group, in the action, without the extractor. 3) Measure from the bolt face to the exterior front of the action shoulder. 4) Thread the new barrel shank and cut the shank to the length you have measured from action shoulder to bolt face. 5) Tighten the new barrel into the action, making sure that the bolt will close properly, it should just barely wipe the butt of the barrel. 6) Mark the exterior bottom of the barrel with a center punch to correspond with marks on the action's front shoulder. 7) Remove and chamber the barrel so that the factory rim of a cartridge is flush. Cool Screw the chambered barrel back into the action, open the bolt, look inside and you will see two notches, one on each side of the barrel a little over half way up from the bottom, mark the top of the notch on each side of the new barrel, with a scribe. The notches are the frame recesses for the extractor. 9) Remove the barrel. 10) Cut from mark to mark, the width and depth of the extractor arms. 11)With a 45 ACP slide file, duplicate the side cuts of the old removed barrel. The 45ACP file cuts on the side and not the edge or on the edge and not the side, depending on how it is turned. 12)Dress the chamber with the reamer, by hand, when finished, to remove any burs.

The new forearm is attached to the barrel by drilling and tapping two holes in the barrel, then drilling two corresponding holes in the wood. In this order: 1) With the forearm still flat, sides and bottom, cut the barrel channel. 2) Cut the rear off square. 3) Wrap sand paper over the action’s bottom front and sand the back of the forearm by rotating it back and forth, to fit the action. 4) Drill the forearm to match the barrel holes. 5) Glass bed the forearm to the barrel using the screws to clamp the barrel solid. 6) Shape the forend to fit the action and barrel channel. Metal escutcheons for the forend screws can made from cartridge cases, cut down, drilled and counter sunk. Hint, do not shape the sides, of the action area, of the forend until bedded and the wood is attached with the screws, mark the back of the wood along the action sides with a pencil and cut the wood down to the pencil marks. You can not free float the barrel so a firm solid mount is the next best solution. When you drill and tap the barrel for the forearm, drill and tap the barrel for the scope mounts at the same time. Hint, the Remington model 541 scope bases will fit perfectly on the Martini barrel contour.

The lever is perhaps the most difficult part of the custom Cadet rifle to build. You must heat the leaver to cherry red, reverse the "military" bend and shape the new curve to fit the new stock. The stock should be in the stage where the rough sanding has been done but not the final sanding or finish. The secret here is to get the curve of the lever close, put the lever into the gun, with the stock in place, heat and bend the lever to the stock. Draw file the four lever surfaces so that the edge looks nice and straight, with a graceful curve. Cut the milled locking portion of the tip off so that approximately .25 inch sticks down below the pistol grip.

Polish and blue the pieces and parts and you are done. Note here, using 300 to 500 grit paper for metal, on a belt sander makes short work of the frame sides and keeps the edges and lettering sharp.

Several companies make semi-inleted stocks for the Cadet action, including Wenig Custom Gunstocks. Either English walnut or a highly figured Maple will make a nice stock for the little carbine. Make sure to put a good recoil pad on the butt. A 200 grain bullet at over 2,000 fps will, talk to you, in this little package.

When mounting a scope, pay particular attention to the length behind the adjustment knobs and the objective diameter. I would suggest a 40mm or no more than a 50mm objective and a target style scope, with a long body.

As the scope is barrel mounted, the rings will have to be high or super high rings.

Is there any problem with the Martini as a hunting gun, well yes. The rifle does not have a safety so must be carried unloaded or with the lever down. I hunted with the gun for one year without a problem, but safety must be stressed with anyone that would carry the little package afield.

Some Loads

Martini / Rem / 205m / 18" 1-12 barrel
200 Remington Round Nose
H110 / 23.5 / 2,003fps / .50 group
24.5 / 2,087fps / 1.5 Max load

180 Hornady Spire Point Rifle
H110 / 20 / 1,947fps / 1.5 group
24.5 / 2,140fps / .70 group Max Load *

*Excellent deer load

2nd Rifle I built for my hunting buddy

The 357 Max cartridges made up for a Martini Cadet rifle with the 357 Mag for comparison

My personal 357 Super Mag gun.

Posted by SwampFox on Tuesday, May 01, 2007 (19:33:23) (33496 reads)
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  9 Year Old Girl Takes Record Book Brown Bear
Hunting StoriesIf the "biggest bear" is determined as a ratio of the size of the bear to the size of the hunter, Fern Spaulding-Rivers is probably setting records that will never be broken. The 10 year-old from Talkeetna, Alaska has already harvested great trophies of most of Alaska's major game species, and she is a handloading fanatic as well. Fern's larger caliber rifles have a muzzle brake and a recoil pad and she also wears a custom-made padded shooting vest from McCoy Shooting Armor to help her withstand big bore recoil. Fern was carrying her Remington 700 Stainless chambered in .375 H&H while brown bear hunting on the Alaskan Peninsula with her father and mother on May 10th, 2006 (when she was 9 years old).

As the day progressed she and her father saw 11 bears. At one point, they were charged by a pack of wolves, and they had to dispatch some with the nearest at only 8 paces! Later, they spotted a big bruin in a gully at 32 yards. With all the excitement of the day beginning to show, Fern asked Larry to hold her legs steady while she shot because her knees were shaking. Fern rolled the bear with her first shot, but the bruin regained it's footing and tore off across the tundra. Shooting again from a prone position, Fern dropped the behemoth for good with a second 270 grain Barnes Triple-shock at 112 yards. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service measured the bear's hide at 11'4" from nose to tail. The skull has been officially scored at 29 1/16" Boone and Crockett.

What does Fern think of bear hunting? "Do you know how big an 11' bear looks at 30 yds? It's kinda scary! They are about the size of a Volkswagen bus and when they swing their head to look your way they remind you of a T-Rex in Jurassic Park!" Her trophy brown bear now puts her in an elite class. Fern is a tremendous example to young hunters everywhere, and she is a great hunter regardless of her age.


Posted by DallanC on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 (23:46:01) (17433 reads)
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  Elk Hunting In The Rain - 2006
Hunting StoriesFriday, October 6th. 2006

I loaded up my hunting gear and food in the pick-up and Dad and I were on the road a little before noon. After arriving at my Dad’s house (in Chama), we unloaded our gear and Dad got his house “up and going.” Because Kevin had left his horses and trailer from when we scouted last week, they were running loose on my Dad’s place. I caught the horses and put them in a pen so they would be easy to catch in the morning. I hitched up the horse trailer and got everything as ready as I knew how for the next day. Kevin and his son Timmy arrived late afternoon. We brought the horses up to the house and saddled them to get things like the gun scabbard, saddled bags, etc. adjusted on the saddles. It’s easier to do it in the daylight than in the dark at 4:00 AM. After that we all loaded up and went into town for our customary pre-hunt Bar-Be-Q supper meal. After supper we drove out to the designated camping area on the Humphries Wildlife Management Area to see if there were any other hunters camped out. To our surprise, there was not a sole there. After that we went back to Dad’s house, we talked about how the weather might effect the hunt, because it had been raining off and on (more on than off) for the last couple days and tomorrows forecast didn‘t look too good either. There was a 60% chance of rain on Saturday (opening day) and a 75% chance on Sunday, and then the system was supposed to start to slowly move out of the area.

We made plans on exactly when and where we wanted to be. Kevin had marked our trail on his new fangled GPS and assured me that he could get us where we wanted be no matter how dark it is.

I set the alarm for 3:45 AM., and I fell asleep listening to the rain on my Dad’s tin roof.

Saturday, October 7th. 2006

Opening day of a five day Elk season! It was still raining but not too bad, just a steady gentle sprinkle.

I got up when the alarm went off, woke up Kevin and Timmy, brushed my teeth (what few I still have), started a pot of coffee, and brought up the horses. We got the horses saddled and loaded in the trailer, went in the house and got a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito, and were on our way at 4:45 AM. It stopped raining about the time we left Dad’s house.

It took us about 30 minutes to get to the parking area on the “Humphries Wildlife Management Area” and when we got there, my heart fell. There were at least three different guides with horses already saddled up and ready to go. One guide had seven horses the other two guides had five horses each, and every horse had a rider. Everybody was leaving as we started unloading our horses. The first thought I had was, “everybody will beat us to the place we want to be and will either spook the Elk or start shooting before we can get there.”

As it turned out, when it got light enough to shoot, there wasn’t anyone in the area we were in. I don’t have a clue where everybody went, but we were right in the middle of a large amount of Elk, and they weren’t (tee hee hee).

We tied the horses up on top of a ridge overlooking a large open valley. When it was light enough to shoot, we eased down the top of the ridge to a point overlooking herd of about 45 to 50 Elk in this big open valley. There were about 10 bulls that looked to be 5X5”s, maybe that many bulls that were smaller, and about 20 to 30 cows and calves. Oh, did I mention there was a very nice herd bull in amongst the cows? Well, there was! He would have scored somewhere around 300 Boone & Crocket points. Very nice indeed! Problem was, he was about 600 yards from us, out in the middle of this open valley and he had all those cows to warn him if anything got to lookin’ funny. He was too far away to try a realistic shot.

I saw a small stringer of trees that went out into the open some 30 or 40 yards and I tried to sneak closer to the herd bull by way of that stringer of trees. Didn’t work! A cow saw me and took off and the whole herd went with her. They went up a header draw that lead in to this big open area.

Out in the middle of this open valley was a small mound with a couple trees on it. Because there were bulls bugling all around us, I reasoned that maybe there might be a few elk in the area that would take the same route as the herd mention above. So, I took off out to the mound and got set up to where I could see a long way in just about any direction.

That’s when I heard him, it had to be a big herd bull bugling and grunting not very far from where I was. I waited and listened and he seemed to be coming closer and closer. Then it seemed that he wasn’t getting any closer, but he was still tootin’ and a grunten.’ After a while, I just couldn’t take it any longer and started to sneak toward him. I went about 200 or 300 yards to the east before I spotted him. He was about 6 or 7 hundred yards away from me and just at the edge of this large open meadow. He was chasing cows trying to get a good smell and chasing off smaller bulls and was not paying any attention to anything else. He was huge!!! I could see that he had a lot of cows with him. I mean a LOT of cows! There must have been as many as 6 or 7 satellite bulls that were respectable 6 by’s, probably as many as 20 or maybe even 30 smaller bulls ranging in size from spikes up to 5 by’s in amongst all the cows. Did I mention that the herd bull was huge? Here is how I judged how big he was - I was looking at him through a 6 power scope, and when he was turned away from me I judged how many times you could fit the width of his rump inside his rack ......... at least two maybe two and a half. When he was standing broadside to me, I judged how tall his rack was by comparing it to how tall the bull was at the shoulder. There would have been at least 18 inches above his back if his rack were sitting on the ground. This guy was huge, I’m telling ya! His rack was very symmetrical. Each side of his rack was a carbon copy of the other side. Six points to a side. This guy would no doubt make the record books, If I were to guess what he would score, I would say around 375. Like I said he was huge!

Problem was, like before, there was no way I could get any closer with out going across a lot of open space. I tried but it wasn’t long before the cows started getting nervous. Now here is where I did something dumb! I got down on the wet ground in a prone position and took as steady of an aim as I could. I put the cross hairs about a foot over his back and fired once at him. I missed. Of course, all the Elk took off, but they were going around the mound I mentioned earlier, so I took off running back to the mound, hoping to get another shot. That didn’t happen because I slipped and fell face first into the mud while running flat out. I landed really hard and my gun took a hard hit as well. The barrel was plugged with mud, the scope had a lot of mud on it, and the stock had a lot of mud on it. So, I just watched the Elk run off. I probably couldn’t have gotten another shot anyway.
Kevin and Timmy brought the horses down off the ridge while I cleaned up my gun as best as I could. When they got to me, they told me that they figured there were at least 100 Elk in that herd, maybe more. I agreed.

After cleaning some of the mud off my gun, I figured that the fall had knocked the scope off too bad to continue hunting, and it was starting to rain again, so we called it a day. We rode out to the truck, and when we got there, one of the guides (the one with seven horses) was loading up his horses. They only had one tag and had filled it with a scrawny little 5X5 bull. They said that it was the only Elk they had seen all morning. They wanted to know if we had seen anything and if so where. We told them that we hadn’t seen a thing, and we had been all over the area and hadn‘t seen much sign either. (I didn’t want to tell everybody where the Elk were, let them hunt for them like we did.) After they left we eat our lunches, loaded the horses up and headed back to Dad’s house.

When we got to Dad’s house I cleaned up the .06 and by then the rain had let up for a little while. I set up a target at 25 yards and checked how bad my scope was knocked off. Pretty bad! It was about 3 inches low and about 2 inches to the left at 25 yards. No telling how bad it would have been at 2 or 3 hundred yards. I re-sited my scope to where it was 3 inches high at 25 yards, hoping that it would be dead on at two hundred yards, maybe even a little high.

It started to rain again so we decided not to go back out. We hung out there at Dad’s house, made new plans for the next day, had supper and went to bed around 9:00 PM.

Sunday, October 8th. 2006

The alarm went off at 3:45 AM. It had rained all night long and was still raining. Raining pretty hard, in fact, so hard I decided not to go hunting. We all slept in, had a lazy sort of day. Sometime around 3:00 PM., the rain stopped. The hunt area I drew out on is split between the Humphries and the Rio Chama. The Rio Chama is a lot lower in elevation than the Humphries and is usually a pretty good place to go late in the year after the snow has made the Elk go to lower country for better foraging. I also knew that there is a small resident herd of Elk in that area. I got the bright idea to run down to the Rio Chama area and hunt the rest of the afternoon on foot. We could always get the horses later if needed.
We drove out to the Rio Chama, parked the truck and started hoofing it looking for any sign. Mud, mud everywhere! Stuck to my feet so bad that at times I probably was 7 foot tall. Anyway, we did find a few fresh tracks but come dark, we hadn’t seen nor heard any Elk. We loaded up and went back to the house, had supper, made our plans for the next day and called it a day around 9:30 PM.

Monday, October 9th. 2006

The alarm went off at 3:45 AM. I woke up Kevin and Timmy, started a pot of coffee, and brushed my teeth. It had rained most of the night but wasn’t raining when I got up. When I went to go get the horses, it started to sprinkle. By the time we had the horses in my Dad’s garage ready to be saddled, it was raining pretty good. I told Kevin that we might as well lay off one more day, I didn’t want to get the saddles wet. He told me that he had to get Timmy back home tonight because he had to be in school on Tuesday morning and when he and Timmy go home they were taking the horses with them.
Oh great! I thought we had until Wednesday night. Well, it’s today or never. We loaded up the horses and headed out. The rain wasn’t getting any worse, it just wasn’t getting any better.

When we got to the parking area, there was not a sole around. They either filled out or got rained out. We unloaded the ponies and headed out at 5:00 AM. Come shooting time, I wanted to be on the East side of the valley where we had seen the big herd on opening morning. At 6:45 AM we were almost to where I wanted to be when we heard a bull bugle pretty close to us. We just stopped and waited until it got light enough to see while listening to several bulls bugle. It was still raining and it was foggy. About 7:00 AM., Timmy says “look there’s some Elk” and pointed out into the big open meadow. Sure enough, about a hundred yards from us was 6 or 7 cows munching away on the grass. We were still horse back, so I told Kevin and Timmy to ride real easy toward the tree line to the north of us about 30 yards. We did and it didn’t spook the cows, they watched us until we were in the trees then they went back to eating. We dismounted, tied the horses up and I sneaked back out to where I could see the Elk again. That’s when I heard him .............. again! I could tell that the “Big Guy” I had seen on Saturday was somewhere not far away. I could tell by the way he bugled and grunted that it was sure enough him. Just where the hell was he?? The valley was literally crawling with Elk. This was for sure the big herd we saw on Saturday. I tried to find him by glassing with my scope. My scope was getting fogged up on the end closest to my face and the other end was getting rained on. Couldn’t see a damn thing! I tried to clean the lenses with my finger, and that only made it worse, I unbuttoned my shirt and used my tee shirt to clean the lenses. That was better but wouldn’t last very long until it needed it again. I kept glassing the heard until I found him. Yep! It was him, the “Big Guy” and he was about a half a mile to the north of me. This time I could duck back into the timber and pull a sneak on him that would get me within shooting distance. I did this and every so often I would peek out of the timber and relocate him to make sure I was doing the right thing. It was working, he wasn’t moving very much and I was gaining ground on him. I was still having trouble keeping my scope cleaned off long enough to find him. When I had gone as far as I could in the timber, I stepped out beside a pretty good sized Cedar tree and started looking for him. After cleaning my scope several times I located what I thought was him. It was kinda hard to tell for sure because of the rain, and the fog was getting a little worse too. I waited a few minutes just listening and watching. Pretty soon the “Big Guy” starts to bugle and grunt some more. Yep that’s him! He is somewhere around 350 and 400 yards out, so I take careful aim about 2 or 3 inches over his shoulder and pull the trigger. That is exactly where I hit, about 2 or 3 inches over his shoulder, I know this because I saw the mud kick up just over his back. He jumps and runs about 10 yards to my left and stops. I jack another round in the chamber and try to get another shot. The scope has now fogged up from the heat of the first shot, so I clean it off again, find the bull and aim right behind his shoulder and pull the trigger again. This time he drops like someone hit him between the eyes with a 16 pound sledge hammer, well maybe more like a 180 grain slug out of a 30-06. I just watch him for a few minutes to make sure he didn’t get up again. He didn’t, so I start out toward him.

On my way out to him, I am amazed that although I was a little frustrated about the scope fogging up, I never got excited or had to deal with “Buck Fever” at all.
When I was about a hundred yards away from him, I look through the scope at him and thought to myself, “man, that is a real nice bull.” About that time here comes “The (real) Big Guy.” He trots across the open about a hundred yards from me, stops and looks at me while I look at him through the scope. He made the bull I had laying on the ground look like a school boy. For a couple seconds I was dumb-founded. What in the world happened? Then I instantly knew what had happened. The bull I took was a satellite and the Big Guy had slipped behind the only two or three trees in the valley somehow without me seeing him do it. Probably while I was cleaning the fog off my scope. The one I took had been exactly where I had seen the Big Guy earlier. With it raining, and the fog and the trouble with my scope, I just thought the one I shot was the Big Guy.
For just a split second, I thought about taking the Big Guy and somehow dealing with the fact that I would have an untagged bull to deal with. Would one of the other hunters that had been unsuccessful want him? If not would he tell the Game Warden on me? It just wasn’t worth it, so I just told myself that I had a very respectable bull and I hadn’t hurt the gene pool any. And I was happy with that decision, it will give me something to look forward to next year. I watched him for a bit longer until he winded me then he took off with the rest of the huge herd.
I went up to my bull and looked at him and almost had a heart attack. The way he went down, he buried two of his antler tines on one side in the mud and it looked like I had a 6X4 rack. I turned his head and was relieved to see that he was a very respectable 6 by 6.

I started to take care of the field dressing just as the rain started to let up. This year I tried a new way of dressing out my Elk. A method I had read about on a neat web site called “HuntingNut.Com.” The article is called “The Gutless Field Dressing Method.” Works pretty good too!

I didn’t want to pack out bones except the head. So, I removed both rear quarters and a shoulder then it became apparent that I could use some help. Oops, I had forgotten that Kevin and Timmy were waiting back at the horses for me. I left the Elk and started back to the horses and then it dawned on me just how far I had gone while sneaking up on this guy. About three quarters of a mile! Anyway when Kevin and Timmy could see me they started in my direction, so I turned around and headed back to the Elk. After we got back to the bull, we finished de-boning the meat, put all the meat in 10 gallon sized zip-lock bags and loaded all the meat into the saddle panniers on one horse.

By this time the rain had stopped and the fog was lifting pretty good so I had Kevin take a few pictures. We loaded the head on the second horse and hung our packs and rain gear on the third horse.

Then we started out. It was a long walk because it was in the mud, the kind that sticks to your feet and there is nothing you can do about it. It took a hour and a half to get in on horse-back in the dark, it took some three and a half hours to walk back out in the daylight.

As I get older, I think the mountains are getting taller or something. It just takes more out of me than it used to, that’s for sure. We were some tired puppy dogs when we got back to the truck.

Anyway, when we got back to the truck there were three hunters in the camping area. There also was a truck and horse trailer that belonged to a feller that packs out game as a side line of work, parked in the camping area too. We unloaded everything, and sat down to eat our lunches when I noticed one of the hunters had a rack sticking out of his pickup. I walked over to the pickup and looked at the rack. It was another 5 by 5. He said that he had taken it the afternoon before and had called in the professional packer to get it out for him.
I don’t know if I would want to eat the meat because he had killed it almost 24 hours ago and it still wasn’t in a cooler yet??

He ask if he could look at the bull I got, I said “sure” so he went to look at it. After he looked at it he said that he thought it was pretty respectable. I didn’t even tell him how I let a “really” big one get away. He probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

After a while we loaded the horses and headed out to my dad’s place, packed up all our gear and headed home. I dropped the meat off at a meat processor in Espanola then went home.

When I got home, Julie (my wife) met me at the door and wanted to see this bull, when she saw it, even she was impressed. I had held true to my word about not taking anything unless it was a better rack than the last one I got four seasons ago.
I went to bed that night a very tired but happy Elk hunter.

Friday, October 13th. 2006

Last entry in this year’s journal.
I had a bunch of work stacked up on me while I was hunting, and just today had time to finish up this journal.

I couldn’t help it, I sent my old hunting buddies, Ken and Charlie an email with a couple pictures so that they would know I had been living the good life.
The meat is in my brand new freezer, and life is good.

After my last hunt four seasons ago, I kicked myself for months and months over letting a monster get away wounded. I still think about it.
This year however, I will be haunted by the fact that I came this close to putting one in the record books. ................. It’s a lot better feeling this year.

I sure miss my old hunting buddy, Big John.

Posted by RRFSELKMAN on Monday, January 29, 2007 (21:24:50) (4160 reads)
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  Caught ya'll sleepin'....
Misc Here's the February submission, for your inspection. This story introduces Uncle Burley. I hope you enjoy it. Uncle Burley is the first of a cast of reoccurring characters that reside in Posey, a small town near Tumble Creek... which meanders through my imagination.

Caught yall sleepin'...

...'an slipped in again.

Some years after Uncle Slim passed away, I got hooked up with Uncle Burley, (Mom's side of the family was real colorful). Uncle Burley invited me on a camping trip over to the County reservoir, since I had a truck an' no DUI's.
I picked Uncle Burley up an' we bought a bunch of campin' supplies...couple cases of Bud, fifth of Ol' Stump Blower, and Uncle Burley insisted on some Ripple in case we run across some hot wimmin...bag of ice, sardines, one mustard, one hot sause. I asked about gettin' a little bait but Uncle Burley said weren't no use wastin' good money on bait, we could find plenty at the lake...made sense to me. Then we ran by Sears, picked up a refrigerator box, Uncle Burley never saw the need to waste money on a tent neither. Any way, we're off.

The plentiful bait theory didn't pan out. I reckon there's lots of thrifty minded folks hereabouts. All the rocks were turned up, kinda reminded me of Stonehenge, 'cept all these rocks are worn slick from bein' rolled over. Uncle Burley wasn't worried though, after all, even if we didn't catch a fish, we brought plenty supplies...which were already down about a half a case.

Did I mention hot wimmin? Must be something about a dusky evening, a camp fire, and an A M truck radio that brings 'em out. Two of 'em came wanderin' down the shoreline (there's always two in case one has to go to the bathroom).

The big one was Lo'...rayne, not Lorrine, not Larain, but Lo'...hesitate, rolled her tongue...rayne. Lorayne, uh, I mean Lo'...rayne, was blessed, REALLY could tell right away 'cause she was wearin' a tank top, said "Meet Me In St.. and you really had to look for the ..Louie". Uncle Burley's eyes lit up like a fire truck (all red an' blinkin), well that left Squeeky. I didn't call her that because of her voice, she was so skinny that her panty hose kept slippin' down, and since she was a little knock kneed, all the slack kinda gathered up there and made that funny little noise as she walked.

These was local gals and since this lake was pretty far out I guess all our "supplies" had some appeal...especially the Ripple. Wasn't long before the Ripple was all gone, Uncle Burley was half gone an' I found out that Squeek had a gold tooth...right here!
Somewhere near the low water mark on the fifth, our camping trip had turned into a party...AWRIGHT!!! Seems Uncle Burley and Lo'rayne were both musically inclined, Uncle Burley found a station on the radio that you could actually hear music over the static, an' Lo'rayne started singin' key...loud,proud and unabashed!
That leaves me 'an Squeeky. She's drunk and I'm an oppurtunist, so I cut the good knee out of her panty hose, wrapped a hot sause sardine in it, tied on a big ol' A C spark plug for weight an' hoisted 'er out a piece. Boy howdy, we're campin now!

By now it's gettin' a little late but the party is in full swing. Uncle Burley is "likkered up" and trying to Moonwalk. Looks kinda Johnny Cash. Especially since Uncle Burley only has one leg (didn't lose it in the war, just lost it. Went on a bender, came was gone). "...because you're mine" hop, hop, hop (backwards)..."I walk the line"... hop, hop, head over "heel" into the campfire ( most of which went down the back of Uncle Burley's pants). Did greatly improve his Moonwalk though!
All this must have made an impression on Lo'rayne 'cause after we all peed on the fire, (had to put him out, his cheeks were turnin' red, face was kinda flushed too), first you know they was dancin'. Looked like two beagles ridin' a pogo stick, what with Uncle Burley's one leg an' all. Did I mention Lo...rayne was blessed?

By now Uncle Burley is gettin pretty romantic, kissin Lo...rayne on her neck, tellin' her how much he likes nibblin' around that little rose tattoo...probably wasn't the best idea for Lo...rayne to tell him that it wasn't a tattoo, it was ringworm.
While Uncle Burley was throwin' up, the Conservation Officer came. He had his hair tied in a pony tail and didn't care one whit for Johnny 3 a.m. "We got married in a fever..."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY, I'm gettin' a bite!!! so I start runnin' down the bank toward my pole. I swear I didn't hear the CO say anything like halt...heard the warnin' shots though. It's real hard to get a decent hook set when you're layin' on your stomach in the mud. I gave 'er a mighty heave though. In the excitement, I missed ol' whiskers but here came that big ol' A C and 4.0 O'Shaunesy...WOOWAH, WOOWAH, WOOWAH, hook, plug, hook...WOOWAH, wip, wip, weep...wrapped ol' pony tail up like a Goucho, slingin' a bola. Now folks I BELIEVE in catch 'n' release, so after taking a few pictures, and tossing all his ammo in the lake, we turned him loose. He stomped off up the trail mumblin' something about backup. He was kinda hard to understand, what with the swellin' where I'd lipped him 'til we could get the hook out. Well we kinder decided to skitter on outa' there, since the ruckus had probably scared off all the fish anyway. Gonna miss them gals, they were a lot of fun.

Me an' Uncle Burley stayed pretty close to home for a few days (lights off, shades drawn). Never heard nothin' though. Guess ol' pony tail thought it over and decided them pictures we took might be a little embarrassin'. Embarrassin' part is though...the pictures didn't turn out. Squeeky's gold tooth bounced the flash back an' every thing got overexposed.
Now if anybody asks about this camping trip, I tell 'em it never happened. I'd 'preciate it if you'd do the same.

Posted by 4rum on Friday, January 26, 2007 (19:21:54) (4258 reads)
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  Uncle Slim
Hunting StoriesUncle Slim...

...he wasn't...he probably weighed well over 300 pounds, and I'll never forget the day I introduced him to helgramites. Uncle Slim called, wanted me to take him fishin', I was 12 or 13. He showed up with a pinto bean can with half a dozen or so little gray sewer worms...dug from his yard.

On the way to one of my favorite fishin' holes, I asked Uncle Slim to stop at a bait shop and I would buy some helgramites for bait as I didn't have time to catch any. Uncle Slim asked "what are hilderbites?" (Uncle Slim talked kinda funny). I just told him that they were good to fish with, but already I began to anticipate their first meeting. Boy was I in luck, the bait shop had just gotten in a fresh batch of those big ol' red headed lookin' critters, the ones that just glare up out of the cup at you and dare you to touch 'em. Well I capped the bait cup off pretty tight and we were on our way.

The spot I chose was in a good turnhole, and on the bank an old home made wooden river jon boat was tied off to a willow tree. I had permission from the boats owner to sit in it and fish so I graciously offered Uncle Slim the rear seat (the one sticking farthest out into the water). He reminded me of a high wire walker making his way back there...both arms stretched out...bobbin' an' aweavin'...leeetle bitty steps, heel to toe...300 pounds!...( the bottom of that big ol' jon boat must have been 4 or 5 feet wide but I reckon Uncle Slim didn't have much in the way of sea legs). Anyway, we got set down, rigged up and ready for bait..."Jimmy Joe"...(don't know why Uncle Slim called me Jimmy Joe, my name is Sam)..."Jimmy Joe", he says, "gimme one of them hilderbites". So, I handed him the cup.

Somewhere in Uncle Slim's past, I'm sure that there is a background in ballet...finer pirohuets I have never seen...not to mention various squats, and what appeared to be an allemand left!...all with that big ol' red headed helgramite hangin' onto his left thumb...grinnin'. Well, with one last YEEEOOOOWWWW!!!, Uncle Slim raced past me (having found his sea legs) and up the bank, grabbed a good sized rock and began pounding the helgramite...and his thumb (by now it was hard to tell which was which) to a bloody pulp.

Once extricated from the helgramites grip, Uncle Slim stomped to the truck, crawled in and slammed the door. Since all the rest of the bait, and most of our tackle had been knocked overboard during Uncle Slim's debut, I figured this fishin' trip was pretty near done. I didn't want to walk home so I gathered up what I could quickly and joined Uncle Slim in the truck. Conversation on the way home wasn't altogether "family oriented" so I better leave off here, an' I swear this fishin' story is mostly true...mostly.

Posted by 4rum on Monday, January 15, 2007 (20:08:22) (3050 reads)
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  In The Wood Stock Finish
Ed Harmon
The polished stone looking finish found on high end professionally finished stocks is the result of a process known as an “in the wood finish.”

Before you start: Make very sure that your hands are clean, anytime you handle a stock while it is being finished. Never handle raw wood with oil, grease or water on your hands. In the summer, be careful while leaning over a piece of raw wood and watch for beads of sweat. These things stain wood and the stain must be sanded out.

After you are done with the 220-grit paper on the last dry sanding of your stock, wet down the stock with a clean, moist piece of non-linting cloth. Using a hair dryer or heat gun, quickly and carefully dry the wet stock. Don't scorch the wood. This damp mop and dryer process "whiskers" the wood, leaving filaments of wood fiber sticking up from the surface. These fibers are important and are the material that will form the base of the wood filler that is so important in the method of the stock finish known as “in the wood” finishing. Set the stock aside to dry for 24 hours before applying any oil.

There are a number of good liquid stock finishes on the market. Each seems to produce an excellent and durable “in the wood” finish. I prefer Pro Custom Oil from Brownell's. Pro Custom Oil is a combination of Tung Oil and Polyurethane. I have used other stock finishes with this process, including True Oil, with excellent results.

IMPORTANT! Dilute the finish as it comes from the container. THE RATIO OF ONE PART FINISH TO TWO PARTS MINERAL SPIRITS is required. An empty pill bottle works well for the small amount of liquid needed.

The 1x2 solution is flooded over the stock surface with a small natural bristle brush until the wood will not accept anymore of the solution. The entire surface should be shiny wet. Be sure there are no dull patches, especially at end-grain areas. This first step ensures deep penetration of the liquid into the wood. Hang the stock and let it dry for two days. When dried, the “whiskered” wood fibers are hardened and standing on the surface. Now the “in the wood” finish process can begin.

Using 320 grit wet-or-dry paper backed by a squared rubber eraser (cut paper with scissors into 1 1/2" squares), the stock is wet sanded with the same 1 to 2 solution of the finish liquid. The wet sanding produces a paste filler of fine wood powder and finish oil combined into a slurry. The filler paste is the secret of this process. Fine details like stock fluting, shadow lines, rollovers, etc. are sanded utilizing backing devices such as dowels, pieces of rubber tubing with a dowel inserted, wedge shaped wood blocks, etc.

The very first (and each subsequent) sanding takes a time period of about 30 minutes. Wet sand the stock over every section with scrupulous attention to detail, using plenty of solution. Sand with the grain or in a circular motion, do not sand across the grain.

Now go back over the entire stock, using the two first fingers of your hand, to re-wet the entire surface with solution. Set the stock aside for five to eight minutes, allowing the surface to get a little tacky.

Next, rub the filler material into the pores of the wood. A brown paper towel (the same towel usually found in men's room rollers) is excellent for this. Crumple up 2 or 3 lengths about a foot long and, using a circular motion, rub the surface until the filler material has been rubbed into the pores or off of the stock. Do not polish the surface of the wood.

After the first application, the surface will appear dull. However, after two or three more applications, you should start to see dramatic results, as the wood pores fill in more and more.

After each application, the stock is hung to dry for 24 hours. The surface will not be sticky enough to attract airborne dust.

The third wet sanding with the 320 grit paper may fill the pores. However, each piece of wood has its own characteristics, so if after careful examination under a bright light, there are still unfilled pores, additional sanding with the 320 grit will be required. The sanding process should be continued until all pores are filled, each sanding coat separated by 24 hours' drying time. I have had some stocks require as many as 12 coats to fill properly.

Repeat the process with 400 grit wet and dry paper, allowing 24 hours' drying time. Once the 400 grit process results in a smooth surface, repeat the process using 600 grit paper. When you go to 600 grit paper use a soft cotton cloth instead of paper toweling and instead of rubbing in a circular motion, rub with the grain, until all trace of the filler mix is removed. The stock will now have a fine, hand rubbed sheen.

Subsequent rubs with rottenstone and oil may be required if you prefer a high gloss finish. If you go past the 600-grit finish, apply two coats of oil with your fingers, allow the oil to dry for a week then use rottenstone and paraffin oil on a medium weight felt pad (about 1-½ inches wide x 2 inches long). Smooth the finish with the rottenstone, being very careful not to cut through the finish to the wood. If you do go through to the wood, clean the surface with mineral spirits and start again with the 400 grit wet sanding.

Once the oil finish is done, apply three coats of Deluxing Compound. Deluxing Compound is a combination of fine paste waxes and 800 grit rubbing compound. It gives a durable wax coat to your stock and can be used to increase the sheen if desired.

This sounds like a lot of time and work, which it is. The finish is not meant to be a production finish. However, for custom pieces, the finish is spectacular.

Posted by SwampFox on Friday, January 12, 2007 (16:19:48) (17866 reads)
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  Creating a Custom User Photo Album
Website FAQ's and Tutorials
Here at HuntingNut we have a large selection of categories for people to upload pictures into. However there are times when users may want to have a special place for their own pictures and images. This is easily supported.

Registered users can create custom albums that only they can upload pictures into, and manage. This is useful to organize pictures by Hunt, Year, species etc etc.

Step 1: Enter the Photo Albums

Step 2: Select the Album Management section by clicking the "Create / Order my Albums" link.

Step 3: Enter a name for your new album

Step 4: Thats it! When you choose to upload a picture, your new album will appear in the Albums list at the bottom. User Album Names are prefaced with a "*" character.

Only the user that created an album can upload pictures into it. The owner of the album can delete pictures, delete or edit his own albums etc etc. These will only be visible by other users.

Thats it! Very simple, very easy to manage. Play with it and let us know if you have any additional questions.

Posted by JohnnyDoe on Saturday, December 02, 2006 (01:23:35) (18353 reads)
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  How to Post a Picture in a Message
Website FAQ's and Tutorials
The ability to post images in message is very fun. It can help tell a story, show off a successful hunt as well as be able to convey details not possible through plain text. It can be confusing to new people but in reality, posting pictures is very easy. Be careful posting images that do not belong to you however.

To post an Picture in a message, it must first exist on the internet somewhere. Physical computers that hold the images are called "Hosts". is a free image host for hunting, fishing and other related pictures. Some people choose to have their pictures hosted on personal webhosts, paying a monthly fee or choosing any one of the free hosts that exist.

To upload an image to be hosted on, see our Hosting Pictures, a Quick Guide

Once the picture is hosted somewhere, it will have an address called an "URL". Url stands for "Uniform Resource Locator" which is a fancy way of saying its an internet address. You can right click most pictures that appear in a web-browser and get Properties and see the URL of the picture. That is its physical address that is used by the browser to get and display the image. The URL of an image is also called a "Link". Posting the address to an image in a message is called "linking" the picture.

From here I will assume the picture you wish to post in a message has been successfully uploaded to HuntingNut. Lets continue.

Step 1: Enter the Photo Albums

Step 2: Select the Category containing the picture

Step 3: Select the Album containing the picture

Step 4: Select the Picture you wish to link to

Step 5: Scroll down to the Picture Information section

Step 6: With your mouse, drag and select the Pictures URL. Copy this url

Step 7: The url or link address to the image should now be in the windows copy buffer. You can now paste this inside of the message you wish to post the image in.

Posting the link however is not enough in most forum softwares. You need to give it a command that tells the website to display the picture itself, and not display the url only. This is done by using two special commands: [img] and [/img]. Note the 2nd command has a "/" within it.

When you post a message to a forum, the software quickly looks through the message for any codes and handles them specially. Bolding, italics, font size changes or font colors are all processed at this point. This includes linked images.

When the software encounters a [img] command it then reads all of the text until it reaches a [/img] at which point it stops. It then takes the text it read between the two commands and uses it as a picture image to display.

To recap, in order to get an image to display in a post it needs a
[img] command before the URL, the URL itself pointing to the image we wish to display, and a ending command of [/img]. Thats it! Very easy!

Step 8: With the image properly added to a post, click the Preview button of the post and see if it displays. If everything was linked properly you will see the image!

Trouble shooting: If you see the standard windows "red X" icon it means one of two things. 1) that the url is incorrect and the web browser cannot find the image or 2) that the image itself is protected from being linked to.

If you dont see a picture but you see the url being displayed, check the [img] and [/img] command tags to make sure they are correct. If everything checks out and it still wont work consult the help of the forum software you are using. Most softwares universally use "[img]" and "[/img]" as image display commands but there are a few forum softwares that use a different standard.

Give it a try! Its easy and fun. Feel free to email us if you cant get it working.

Posted by DallanC on Friday, December 01, 2006 (23:28:59) (27395 reads)
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  Hosting Pictures, a quick guide
Website FAQ's and Tutorials
Posting pictures is very simple, if you are nervous about how to post, dont be! This guide is meant to quickly and easily explain how to post pictures from your computer, to for free hosting. The nice thing about having your pictures hosted online, is they are available on any computer with an internet connection.

This guide is to teach new users how to get their pictures hosted on the internet. It uses the standard Categories that are already set up. If you wish to create your own album to contain your own personal pictures, please read the Create Your own Photo Albums guide.

Lets begin. First start off by locating the picture you wish to upload. Make sure its under 2048KB in size. Also make sure its largest dimention is under 2048 in size. Microsoft has a free tool to aid in resizing images if you need to reduce them for internet use. The tool is available at:

Simply right click any image and select the resize option and wala, it magically creates a copy of the image in the selected size. Pretty spiffy. Ok assuming your image is of the proper accepted size and dimentions, lets move to the actual uploading steps.

Step 1. Click the Photo Gallery link from the Main Menu on the upper left side of the website.

Step 2. Click the Upload Picture link

Step 3. Click the Album "pulldown" list and select the proper category your picture falls under.

Step 4. Click the "Browse" button. This then opens a popup window allowing you to browse to the image stored on your computer.

Step 5. Browse to the image you wish to upload, click "Open"

Step 6. Enter in a Title for the image, a description if you wish, and any keywords that describe the picture (optional: these words are used if someone preforms a search for specific picture types).

Step 7. Double check the entered fields that all your information looks correct, title, description... even the image name. When it looks accurate click the "Upload Picture" button.

Step 8. Thats it! You should now see the following message if everything worked correctly. Your newly uploaded image will be approved and activated shortly by administrators. Content is only rejected if its of a pornographic or otherwise offensive nature.

Pretty simple overall. Give it a try! We'd love to see your pictures.

If you wish to create your own albums to host your own hunting pictures, see the Create Your own Photo Albums guide.

Posted by DallanC on Friday, December 01, 2006 (22:26:21) (23081 reads)
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  The Longest Minute
Hunting StoriesThis article was emailed to me with the pictures. I do not know who the original author is

We all have read about or seen movies entitled, ‘The Longest Day’, ‘The Longest Yard’, or ‘The Longest Mile’. Well, I am going to tell you about “The Longest Minute” of my life.

Reed Thompson and I had been hunting hard for five days. The day was Thursday, September 7, 2006. The weather had turned from beautiful sunny skies to gale force winds and the blasting rain that comes with fall storms. Never has the weather dictated hunting time to us, so out we ventured into the Alaska bush. Not seeing a single bull for several days, we decided to hunt an area downstream that had always produced one.

Late in the evening, we were walking down a raised half mile long finger of ground that was full of grass and alders. This turf was slightly higher than the swampy tundra on either side of it. We had slogged across the swamp as quickly as possible, during a sudden deluge, to get to the downwind point. Our hope was that our passage would not be observed with the sudden increased wind and rain. About halfway down the finger, Reed turned to me and said, “I think there is a moose up ahead. It looks like two white sticks in the grass. It would surprise me if it was not a moose.” I glassed the area about one hundred yards ahead and to the left. With Reed’s help, I zeroed in on the two white sticks and watched them for several minutes. With the slightest movement, the two sticks transformed into a white paddle and then back to the two sticks. The bull had moved his head ever so slightly.

I moved my scope out to ten-power and focused in on the two white sticks as Reed moved about ten yards further down the high ground. Then as Reed focused on the white points, I moved to his location for a better shot. Reed began moving toward our quarry as I watched for movement though the scope. With nothing solid or high enough to rest my rifle on, I was forced to aim free-hand. When Reed had taken a few steps, I saw the horns rock to the right and then back to the left. The big boy then stood up and was looking directly our way. Even with the forty mile an hour winds blowing directly at us, he sensed our presence. I squeezed off a round from my Browning .338 and felt good about the shot, but the bull took two or three steps to my right and disappeared out of sight behind some alders. Reed could still see him and shouted, “Do you want me to shoot him?” I yelled back at him to go ahead because I did not want the bull running too far. I heard his shot as I was scrambling forward to get a better look. After a thirty yard hustle, I was able to see the huge fellow still standing. I put another shot into him and watched him drop. We both hesitantly, but with great excitement, approached this giant and realized that he was dead. This was a mature bull with a beautiful rack and the biggest body mass I had ever seen. The fun was definitely over; now, the real work was ready to begin. After consulting the GPS, we noted that we were a half mile from the slough and boat. It was decided that both of us should return to the boat to discard unnecessary items and return with the gear needed to prepare and pack out the meat. We placed red and blue handkerchiefs high in an alder bush so that the sight could be located from the adjacent high ground. This was the easiest half mile hike of the day. I was pumped up and excited beyond explanation.

At the boat, we left our heavy rifles. We gathered our pack frames, game bags, ropes, and knives. After Reed repositioned the boat, to compensate for the upcoming low tide, I asked him, with hand signals, if he remembered to get the handguns. He did not understand my award winning charade performance, but I let it pass after observing his revolver strapped to his chest.

Upon returning to the moose, we were hot, sweaty, and wet. The rain had abated for awhile, so we removed our rain gear and hung them in a small tree about five yards perpendicular to the moose’s belly. Reed removed his revolver, hung it on a branch opposite his jacket, and brought to my attention that it was hanging there.

With darkness approaching, we decided on removing the top front and rear quarters, tie them to our pack frames, gut him out, and then roll the behemoth over to cool through the night. We would return in the morning to finish up. Two non-spoken traditions when hunting are: whoever pulls the trigger 1) does the gutting and 2) hauls the horns out of the woods. After removing the two quarters, it was time to remove the internal organs. After cutting, tearing, and ripping, I had removed all but the heart and part of the esophagus. Darkness was settling in pretty fast and I could barely move my arms. At this point, Reed said that he would trade places with me. Instead of moving up behind the moose, I just scooted to the rear leg area and watched Reed crawl up inside the gut cavity. After a couple of cuts the ordeal was over. As Reed pulled the heart out and tossed it behind us, a loud “HUFF” snapped us to our feet. Turning around, we saw standing before us, on his hind legs a large, chocolate brown grizzly bear. The next minute seemed to last an eternity. The term surreal is so over used, but the next minute was dreamlike, bizarre, fantastic, and unreal.

The bear was standing next to the tree where the pistol was hanging. We both started shouting and waving our arms back and forth, as we moved somewhat to our right, toward the tail end of the moose. The bear came down off his back legs, onto all fours, and started circling to his right -- toward the head of the bull. My only thought was to get to the gun so that we could scare him off. I sensed that he charged us from the head of the moose as I broke for the gun. Reed commented later that the bear vaulted over the moose and went straight for him. Halfway to the tree, I tripped on a fallen log and went down on all fours. From my peripheral vision on my right, I saw the bear going after Reed, who had moved into the tall (5 foot) grass. It appeared that the bear had knocked Reed down and was standing over him. My worst fear was that my friend was being mauled. I did not know how I would get him back to the boat and then home.

I grabbed the holster but was unable to remove the revolver, regardless of how hard I tugged. As I looked up, I saw the bear charging toward me. I started backing up as I continued screaming and hollering at the bear. I was frustrated that the pistol would not break free from the holster. With the bear almost on top of me, I fell over another log. I did a back drop and felt him grab my left leg. His huge head was above my lap, just out of reach of my holstered club. I tried to hit him with the pistol but a crazy thought entered my mind that I could scare him into thinking I was going to shoot by waving it back and forth. Unable to remove the pistol from the holster, I tried to shoot through it, but the strap held the hammer down on the single action revolver. Just when I thought all was lost, the bear rose up, pivoted 90 degrees to his left, and was gone. The grizzly had charged back in the direction of Reed as he had jumped up and yelled once again. Later, Reed stated that he had seen the bear knock me down and thought he was mauling me. The thought entered his mind that he was toast. He was alone in the grass with no weapon. I was down and I had the gun. When the bear started moving toward him, Reed dropped back down into the low wallow area where he had fallen during the initial charge. Reed saw the bear’s face about a foot from his own. He could hear the bear trying to sniff him out. At that point, the bear stood up, pivoted to his right, and charged back to me.

When Reed distracted the bear from its attack on me, I had time to concentrate on the holster. I saw a buckle with a strap running through it. I could not figure out how it held the gun in place, so I grabbed the buckle and attempted to \rip it off. To my surprise, the buckle was actually a snap and the strap peeled away. As I pulled the revolver out, a sudden calm came over me, and I knew everything would be fine. I looked in the direction of Reed only to once again see the bear charging at me. He was about ten feet away coming up and over the initial log that I had tripped over. That was when I pointed the revolver and fired at center mass. The .44 magnum boomed in the night and the boar fell straight down, his head three feet away from where I stood. As he fell, he bit at the ground and ended up with a mouthful of sod. I stood in a dumbfounded stupor. I had no expectation that the pistol would kill the bear. My hope was that the shot would sting the bear and help scare him away along with the flame and loud report. As his head sagged to the ground, I shot him three more times in quick succession, out of fear and anger.

My next sensation was hearing Reed’s voice ask if the bear was dead. I answered, “Yes”. He then yelled at me to save the rest of the rounds because we still had to walk out, and he did not have any more bullets with him. The minute was over. We hugged each other for a long time, before packing out the two quarters.

Sorry the pictures aren't too good.

Posted by DallanC on Thursday, October 26, 2006 (23:14:55) (11814 reads)
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  Study Says CWD Spread Through Blood, Saliva
Field Dressing / Animal CareStudy Says CWD Spread Through Blood, Saliva

FORT COLLINS, CO—Researchers at Colorado State University released the results of a new study last week they say identifies blood and saliva as the carries of the proteins that cause the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) among deer and other ungulates.
The study results appear in the journal Science, and indicate that CWD might spread from animal to animal through mosquitoes and ticks, as well as when animals groom and lick each other.

“This might explain why the disease transfers so quickly,” said Colorado State University Professor Dr. Ed Hoover.

Hoover led the study in which saliva was taken from wild Colorado deer known to have CWD and placed into the mouths of three healthy domestic deer at a Colorado State University research center. Hoover says the domesticated test animals all became infected with CWD. Hoover says another deer that was given a single transfusion of CWD-infected blood also became infected with the disease.

Because blood is found in virtually all organs and tissues of deer and other ungulates, Hoover says he recommends that all elk and deer killed by hunters in known CWD areas be tested for the disease before being consumed.

To date, there continues to be no known cases of CWD being transferred to humans.

Posted by rrogacki on Saturday, October 14, 2006 (16:16:33) (6854 reads)
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  Targets and Scopes
ShootingTargets and Scopes

By Ed Harmon

Did a thought ever occur to you, while shooting on paper, that your target was not quite right? If you had that thought, join the crowd of about 90% of scope shooters in the world. Most paper targets are simply not designed for serious scope shooting. The targets look like they should work OK, but in actual practice; they do not work that well at all. The diamond is not right, nor is the bull’s eye circle. The crosshairs printed on paper is not correct either, nor is any combination of the above target designs.

I ran a range for over 20 years. During that time I observed shooters dragging all manner of targets to the range. I finally decided to put that experience and over 20 years of competitive shooting into harness. So, several years ago, I set about designing a target just for crosshairs and red dots, not one but two very different targets. I also ran tests with various power scopes to determine the best power setting for very accurate shooting on paper at 100 yards. The intent was to develop a target that gave the shooter confidence in the results of three shot and five shot groups, primarily for load development. The idea was to also have a good idea about the group size looking through a spotting scope.

I think I shot on just about every target design printed both for sale and in books. None of the designs worked that well. It was always difficult to tell with clarity, one shot from the next, exactly where your crosshairs were positioned in relation to the exact aim point. The group size, estimated from 100 yards away, was a pure guess, mostly wrong.

What I first designed was a 1-inch square, with heavy lines for sides. The idea was to shoot the corners using the vertical and horizontal sides to position the crosshairs on the corners of the square. That was Ok, but when you tried to focus on one set of lines, the crosshairs, the lines became difficult to acquire and maintain focus upon. Next I increased the lines of the square in width. The result was better but still not quite right. Then I created a solid black square, walah, it worked like magic. Next the size of the square was worked on. It was found that a 2-inch square was perfect. The idea is to hold the crosshairs just off the corner so as to create a very narrow white line between the crosshairs and the sides of the square, vertical and horizontal, corner to corner. You duplicate the line, shot after shot. The scope is always kept on the vertical and horizontal plane in relation to the square itself. You eliminate the effects of the great scope bug-a-boo, canting.

How to improve the square, well I created a grid that is comprised of 1-inch squares with the 2-inch black square super imposed in the middle. When printed together and shot upon you can immediately tell the approximate group size. You can also tell over, under or horizontal adjustment. The grid permits you to get sighted in with just two adjustments and no walking. The shooting square upon square is attached, life size for copying. The square on a square target was created using Microsoft Word. You can convert the target back to word using Adobe Acrobat or you simply print the target on your printer.

Next we attacked the real problem and the one that there simply are no targets for, the red dot sight.

I experimented with a fellow in the 80s on circle sights, front and rear. The idea is to create concentric circles of the sights with the target in the middle. Your eye aligns the circles and the point of impact is the center. The sight system works real well, it just takes a bit of time to align the sights from shot to shot, for real accuracy. We worked on this project for about a year and a half after work.

The reason I have gone into the explanation is so that you have an idea about the source of the inspiration for the red dot target. The target is a black circle of such size that a red dot fits into the circle with a white ring around the dot, between the red and the black. The effect is three circles that your eye will align, shot after shot. This allows load development with a red dot sight at 50 yards, without any magnification. Does it work? We have used the target shown to shoot .100-inch groups at 50 yards. The target attached is designed for a 4-minute dot at 50 yards. The circle can be created and enlarged with most word processors. The dot target itself was created with Microsoft Word and converted to a photo file. If you have Adobe Acrobat you can reverse the process and create a word document from the jpg file.

A secret to sighting in dot sights is to turn the power down as low as possible to still be able to see the dot. The outside of the dot becomes clear which allows for good definition between the black circle and red dot. If you turn the power up to far on a red dot sight, the edge of the dot gets furry or blurred.

Scope power for shooting paper at 100 yards should be a minimum of 12x in order to achieve the very best groups. Groups can be shot with less power, however the process is a strain once you try a 12 or more power scope.

Last but far from least, while you are on the paper you should also test your windage and elevation adjustment to see what they actually are. Rarely will an advertised ¼ minute adjustment actually produce ¼ inch adjustment. Many ballistics programs today will allow a click adjustment print out to be run, based on your actual velocity and bullet BC. I keep a small font print out on all of my scope bells from 200 to 600 yards in 50-yard increments for the bullet and load I am shooting.

Posted by SwampFox on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 (16:54:27) (14436 reads)
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By Ed Harmon

The Swedish Mauser barreled action is perhaps the most desirable of the "small ring" Mausers of the type 95 series. PO Ackley regarded the Swede as a very desirable small action, primarily due to the firing pin collar and the gas port on the side of the action. P.O. stated in his "Handbook for Reloading" that Swedish Mausers have been converted and re-barreled to the 22-250, a 65,000-psi cartridge, with little or no problems from pressure. However, P.O. stated that the practice could not be considered safe or advisable. Old Hodgdon loading manuals list loads for the 140 grain 6.5 bullet, in a 6.5x55 model 96, at 3,000 feet per second. The foregoing information is mentioned to give the reader some sense of the versatility and quality of the Swedish Mauser.

The three Swedish Mauser models, 94, 38 and 96 have basically the same action. The bolt handles on the 94 and 38 are shorter than the 96 and bent. The 96 is the most desirable of the three models for conversion, due to the long straight bolt handle. The 96 handle can be bent and shaped to taste.

What is required in the way of tools for the home craftsman?

A pair of safety glasses A small hammer
A medium flat ***** file A screwdriver
A fine fat ***** file A Dremmel drum sander, router bit, cutoff wheel
A flat wood rasp A palm sander
A propane torch A few sheets of 100,120, 180 & 240 sandpaper
A hacksaw A caliper
A set of punches A mallet, rubber, plastic or leather
A roll of Duct Tape A small sanding block
A pair of narrow pliers or forceps A vise
A 3/4 inch dowel A pair of leather jaw covers for the vise
A hand drill A ¼ inch metal drill bit

Supplies you will need to buy:

Acraglas acra-gel kit Timney trigger
Paste wax Richards Micro fit stock
Walnut stock filler True oil stock finish
0000 Steel wool Sling Swivel studs, one set
Left side Mauser safety Quick release sling swivels
Burris Scope base, one piece Sling
Scope rings to fit base Scope

Gunsmith Work:

Taper Barrel Forge or bend bolt handle
Crown Barrel Polish metal parts (320 grit except bolt @ 500)
Remove step at rear of action Blue metal parts except bolt body & extractor
Drill & Tap for scope base

A word of caution; when working with wood or metal, work slowly and carefully, if tired or frustrated stop, come back to the project tomorrow. Measures twice, cut once and always keep in mind that when removed, metal or wood cannot be replaced.

The very first step in doing a conversion is to determine what you have to work with. Clean the rifle thoroughly, inspect the exterior and interior to make sure there are no bad dings, dents, rust or corrosion that will inhibit a good conversion. Then take the rifle out to the range. With factory ammo, make sure that the barrel is in good enough shape to be used. The rifle should shoot at least 2 inch groups with factory ammo in "as issued condition." If the rifle will not shoot, you may have to replace the barrel. Shilen makes 6.5 X 55 chambered barrels, already threaded and tapered. The barrels are available from Brownells. However, the Swede has a twist of 1 in 7.5 inches (aprox conversion from metric) and US standard twist rates are 1 in 9 inches.

Once you have determined that the rifle will shoot and that it has no project ending defects you can begin. Starting with a model 96 Mauser, first disassemble the rifle, completely, including the rear sight, floor plate retainer and bolt release. Under the rear sight blade you will find a screw that appears to hold the sight base to the barrel, remove the screw.

Now cut the barrel off behind the front sight. You should allow ½ inch more in length than the desired finished barrel length. Make sure that the cut is fairly square and not off at a sharp angle. Hint; Insert the bolt and with the bolt closed, measure the barrel length with a cleaning rod and tape measure, from the bolt face to the muzzle. Once you have the total barrel length, mark what is to be removed by measuring back from the muzzle. Do not forget the ½ inch.

Next, heat the rear sight base with a propane torch until the sight base releases, the base is soldered onto the barrel. Hint, tap the base towards the muzzle with a mallet, as you are heating the base, until the base comes free from the barrel. You will not hurt the barrel or the steel by heating the sight base in this manner.

Once the sight base is removed you will find a small hole drilled into the top of the barrel where the screw you removed went through the sight base. The hole is not threaded. Take an 8 penny common nail, without any coating on it, stick it into the hole and then cut off the nail about 3/16 of an inch longer than the depth of the hole. Once the nail is cut to length, hold the nail with the pliers, drive the nail into the hole with a small hammer. Brad the nail into the hole. Once the nail is fully expanded into the hole and fully braded over, remove the excess metal with a medium file (file the nail down until level with the barrel). Do not file the barrel. The nail should be expanded into the hole without leaving a space around the nail. If the hole is tapped and a screw plug inserted, the screw will leave a ring. You can also remove any excess solder from the barrel at this time, with the file.

The next step is to remove the cocking knob from the rear of the bolt. With the bolt removed from the rifle, mark the firing pin-sear extension even using the back of the bolt sleeve as a guide, all the way around. Disassemble the bolt. With the firing pin and cocking piece-sear together, cut off the cocking knob with a Dremmel cut off wheel, just leave the line you have previously made. Break the edge of the cut with the side of the cutoff wheel or a fine file and smooth and square up the flat of the cut, working slowly. Assemble and disassemble the bolt until you get the desired look and fit for the firing pin. The cut will be polished later.

The knob on the end of the bolt handle is very big and not aesthetically pleasing. The shape of the knob can be altered with just a little effort. The knob is round which facilitates its reshaping. With the Dremmel Tool, and a sanding drum (course sanding drum), reshape the knob into a tear drop shape by grinding away the inside of the knob (towards the bolt body) from the center of the knob to the bolt handle like so ( from =O to = < ). Do not grind the inside of the knob below or smaller than the diameter of the bolt handle. Work slowly until you get the look you desire. You can reduce the diameter of the knob as you work, if you wish. Hint, hold the bolt body in the vise and work the reshaping strokes towards you, like carving soap with a knife, again work slowly. When you have the look you want, clamp the handle in the vise, center punch the end of the knob directly in line with the handle. Drill the knob, in line with the handle. Use a ¼ inch drill bit and drill approximately ¼ inch deep. Now you have a knob that looks more like a commercial rifle’s bolt knob. The knob and handle will be polished after being forged (heated and bent). Hint, when the bolt handle is bent down, it should also be slightly raked backwards towards the butt of the rifle.

There are two areas at the rear of the action that require attention. The step up where the stripper clip or charger clip goes into the magazine well, on top of the action, should be ground down until it is even with and level with, the area directly to its rear. If you have a belt sander, this can be done at home with a 200 grit metal cutting (dark gray color) belt. If you have a belt sander, clamp the belt sander in the vice by the handle, sanding area up, pull the trigger and press the trigger hold button. You now have a small table sander. The trick is to hold the surface of the action parallel to the sanding surface and roll the action back and forth as you cut the high surface down to match the height of the lower surface and the lower surface contour. If you do not have a belt sander, ask the gunsmith to do the removal for you. This should be a 3 minute operation for a well equipped shop.

The second area for attention, at the rear of the action, is the end of the tang. The tang should be thinned, top to bottom at its end, to a point just below or even with the grove for the sear. The metal should be removed in a straight slope from the top of the tang at the very rear of the action to a point approximately 2/3 of the distance to the rear of the action. This cut can be done with the belt sander or a large file. The removal of this metal will allow the stock to be formed to the top of the tang's height so that the sear does not strike the top of the stock at the end of the tang when the bolt is drawn to the rear. Note, if you reduce the thickness of the tang below the sear grove, you will also need to shorten the tang stock screw so it does not stick up above the surface of the altered tang. Hint, measure from the rear of the tang to a given point and mark both sides of the tang with a straight scribe line, cut down to the line on each side which will keep the cut level and straight.

The magazine follower can be left as is, or the rear of the follower can be sloped and polished to allow the bolt to go forward on an empty magazine. Commercial bolt action rifles do not have a bolt open feature.

The trigger guard on the Mauser is strong but it is perhaps the least attractive feature of the rifle. Determine how wide you want the trigger guard to be, 1/2 inch looks good on the Swede when finished. With the calipers, measure the width of the trigger guard, divide the width by two. Reset the caliper to the half measure. With one caliper blade on the side of the guard, make a mark down the center of the guard with a pointed scribe or object. Now, deduct 1/4 inch (.250) from the setting on the caliper and make another mark on the guard from the exterior edge on each side of the guard. You should now have a center line and a line on each side of the center line. The two outside lines should be exactly 1/2 inch apart and parallel. You may scribe a curve from the base on each quadrant to the outside lines. With the Dremmel tool and the course drum, remove the metal from the outside of the lines, leaving the 1/2 inch wide trigger guard, with sloped edges at each end. Just barely leave the scribed line. You are now ready for the alteration that will make the most difference in the aesthetics of the trigger guard. Slope the exterior surface of the trigger guard from the center line to the edge like so (]. Make very sure that you leave an edge that is thick enough to be seen but thin enough to be pleasing to the eye, about 1/16 of an inch. Hint, taper the guard by running the drum lengthwise, its full length for each cut, pulling the drum to you. Do not put a lot of pressure on the drum. Also, be careful while you are cutting the surface so that you do not cant either edge of the drum. You do not want the edge of the sanding drum to dig into the contoured surface. A gouge will be difficult to remove.

Remove the Timney trigger from the package, mark the trigger itself 1/4 inch from the tip of the trigger with a line parallel with the top of the trigger body. Cut off the bottom 1/4 inch of the trigger with a cut off wheel and the Dremmel. The stock trigger is too long to fit when the trigger guard is installed into the stock.

Install the trigger, reassemble the bolt with the new safety. Close the bolt, the sear should be engaged by the trigger, if not, adjust the engagement screw, per the instructions in the package until the sear is held in a cocked position by the trigger. You can turn the action upside down and look through the opening as the parts make contact. Next, push the safety up into the safe position. If the safety will not rotate into the up position, you will need to taper the leading edge of the engagement surface of the safety so that it will enter the firing pin notch as it turns. The mechanics work like a screw. When you have the safety engaged, pull the trigger, release the trigger and then rotate the safety to the fire position. The sear should be caught by the trigger. If the firing pin drops, adjust the surfaces until the leading edge of the sear is engaged by the trigger, after the safety is disengaged (rotated downward).

Now you are ready for the gun shop. A few instructions or recommendations. Have the barrel tapered from the first step in the barrel, near the chamber, to the muzzle. Taper the barrel just enough to eliminate the second step in the barrel. Do not alter the first step.

Have the barrel crowned on the lathe with a target crown, recess the center, leaving an outside rim aprox .125 thousands thick. The rim should be .125 to .150 thousands high, to protect the muzzle. The outside and inside of the rim should be broken to prevent finger cuts. Do not break the edge of the cut at the bore, leave it square and sharp.

Have the bolt handle forged or bent to accommodate a scope. This should be done with forging blocks, a heat sink and paste to prevent scaling. After forging, the handle and bolt body should be high polished to help prevent rust, the higher the polish, on bright metal, the less porous is the surface.

Have the step removed from the rear of the action, if you did not remove the step yourself.

I have always favored a one piece scope base made of steel. The Burris standard one piece base is inexpensive, yet very rugged. The base should accompany the action for proper fitting and finish. The action must be drilled and tapped to match the scope base. The rear of the action is lower than the front of the action, so a correct base is a must.

The metal polish should be a medium polish of a 320 grit. This polish will look clean when blued, but will not be like a mirror. If the finish is to be a hunting finish, bead blasting the surface and Parkerizing will result in a tough durable metal surface. Black Parkerizing looks great. Just remember to have the scope base and rings done to match.

Now we return to the house for the stock. If you decide to go with wood, I can not recommend the use of Richards Microfit stocks too strongly. They have a "seconds" stock that makes a real nice looking stock when filled and finished. Most of the seconds have a crack, knot or pinhole. The blemish can be filled with the stained bedding material when you glass bed the barrel and action, so do not be concerned about a small blemish. I recommend the dual grip stock with recoil pad and thumbhole. If you decide to go with a synthetic stock, pick one with the sling swivel studs preinstalled.

For the wood stock: Set the action into the stock, trace around the barrel and action with a pencil held vertically. Remove the excess wood to the pencil line with the Dremmel tool and router bit. The barrel channel must be opened up to allow the barrel to be inserted and free floated. The bolt stop front edge should be marked with a pencil held vertically. The excess material can be removed with a fine bladed saw. The tang and trigger guard areas should be marked along the inside with a pencil held horizontally and the material removed down to or just above the line. You will fill the excess gaps around the parts with Acraglass. However, the lines should be straight along the sides of the metal. To straighten the barrel channel, use the flat wood rasp in the channel. Then to fine tune the cut, use the 3/4 inch dowel wrapped with course sandpaper. Be careful not to cut the area on the right side of the action, recessed for the ejection - loading port, so that the top of the wood is below the metal of the port. This error can not be repaired. Hint, when it comes to wood, if in doubt, leave more wood until the very end, then adjust with the last and final sanding.

The trigger guard should be *****d to the bottom of the stock much the same as the action, with one exception, do not remove any material from the bottom of the recess, only remove material from the sides, until the trigger guard fits. Once you have relieved all of the areas so that the action and trigger guard fits into the stock, it is time to prepare for the bedding.

Remove all of the attachments to the action, and to the trigger guard. Put at least two layers of duct tape along the length of the barrel from the first step to a point beyond the end of the stock's forearm. Coat the entire action, barrel and trigger guard, all external metal parts, with paste wax. Allow the wax to dry then apply a second coat, do not polish. Make sure that the inside of the action, as well as the trigger guard is coated with wax. Stick the trigger guard screws, threads and all, into the paste wax. If you are doing a synthetic stock, put masking tape on the top edge of the stock. Go around the interior sharp edge of the fiberglass with the back of a spoon, pressing hard enough to cut the masking tape. Leave the tape on the top edge. Apply tape over the outside surface of the stock. If using a synthetic stock, make sure not to get any bedding compound on the outside surface of the stock. Any sanding on the outside of a synthetic stock will ruin the finish of the synthetic stock.

Mix the Acraglas per the instructions, make sure that you add color to the mixture, to closely match the color of the stock. Hint, slightly darker works better than lighter. With a tongue depressor or Popsicle stick, put bedding compound into the stock by scraping compound from the flat of the paddle using the interior edges, all around the inleted cavity. Place bedding compound within the stock at the bottom of the action, around the recoil lug and behind the recoil lug. Place the action and trigger guard into the stock and tighten the screws until snug. The compound should flow out all around the edges of the action and trigger guard area. Hint: If you sharpen the edge of the paddle you can use the wood paddle to cut off the excess at the recommended time. Do not use a metal or a knife to remove excess bedding material with the action and barrel in the stock, you will ruin the finish on the gun's metal.

Once the bedding material has set, remove the trigger guard screws. While holding the forearm in one hand, strike the underside of the barrel, covered by duct tape, with the mallet until the barrel and action breaks free. Pull the barrel and stock apart by holding the barrel in one hand and the forearm in the other hand. Using the wood dowel as a punch, remove the trigger guard with the mallet. Place the wood dowel on top of the rear of the magazine well then drive the trigger guard straight out the bottom of the stock.

Note, Acraglas when fully set is almost as strong as steel and sticks to steel like it has been welded. Make very sure that you do not allow any bedding compound to flow over the parts to be removed. Make very sure the metal is coated with wax wherever the bedding compound might, not just will, come into contact with the metal.

Once the bedding material has fully set, the remainder of the stock work is rough shaping with the rasp and sanding with sand paper. Just make sure that you sand and rasp with the grain. Do not sand across the grain. The palm sander and rough sand paper comes in handy to quickly shape the stock. Hint, sand the recoil pad and stock together as a unit to produce a perfect wood to pad fit.

When you get the stock shaped and sanded as you want, wash the stock down with a rag and a degreaser like acetone. Do not use mineral spirits. Rosewood caps or ends should be washed, several times, to remove the rosewood oil from the surface. Next, apply the stock filler per the directions on the bottle. Once the filler has been applied and has been cross grain wiped and has dried, the stock should be finish sanded and wiped clean. Apply the bottled True Oil with a soft cloth pad. Sand the surface with fine paper and reapply the True Oil until you get the desired finish. The aerosol True Oil can be applied as the final coat for a gloss finish or the surface can be rubbed with 0000 steel wool and then waxed for a satin, hunting finish. Hint, apply the True Oil to the inside, exposed wood surfaces to seal them against water penetration.

Install the sling swivel studs per the instructions that come with the studs. Make very sure to drill the holes straight and with the proper diameter drill. An oversized hole and the stud threads will not hold, undersized holes and you may split the hardwood stock.

Load Data for the 6.5 X 55 Swedish Mauser

The Swedes like the Sierra 85 grain bullet and the 140 grain Hornady Inter Loc bullet. They will not shoot the Remington 140 grain bullet very well. The 140 grain bullet for medium sized game is the optimum bullet weight considering velocity and energy. The 85 grain bullet is great for varmint and small game hunting. Best accuracy is obtained with brass that is first fire formed and then neck sized approximately 1/2 the length of the neck. The brass used was Remington. The primers were Federal 210.

Sierra 85 Gr. HP Weight Velocity Best 100 Yard Group Military Bbl.
H 4831 52 3,200 .550
H 4895 48 3,520 .480

Sierra 100 Gr. HP
H4895 48 3,480 .570

140 Grain Hornady
H4831 51.5 2,930 .611
H4831 SC

** Always work up to the loads listed by starting at least 10% below the listed load**

Posted by SwampFox on Friday, September 22, 2006 (20:35:45) (44593 reads)
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  1989 Colorado Archery Elk Hunt
Hunting StoriesThe climb down was going to take longer than expected. The tangled mess of downed timber and rocks was even worse than I remembered from last year. I thought about taking the easy way back to camp, but I wanted to scout this area anyway. I rested for a moment then started down off the ridge. Part way down I slipped on some wet moss and fell. Although I had bumped my knee and scraped a little hide off of my elbow, I was ok. I gathered up my bow and arrows, checked for damage and continued down through the timber. Some two hours later I was out of the blow down area and only about a mile or so from camp.
When I arrived in camp, I cleaned the camo paint off of my face and hands, got a cool soda and sat down for a well-deserved rest (Elk hunting is hard work, don’t you know). While resting, I thought about all the things I did wrong today. Things like, I didn’t get started as early as I should have, I made entirely too much noise today, I had “buck fever” over a small 4X3 bull still in velvet, what else? ...... Then it hit me, the biggest mistake of all was no one, and I mean no one on this planet knew what area I was hunting in! What if I had broken my leg when I fell, and couldn’t get back to camp? My hunting buddies wouldn’t be back in camp for a few more days, and even then they wouldn’t know where to look for me.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided to start leaving a note every day, explaining where I would hunt and what time I planned on being back in camp. I also decided to keep track of where and when I saw game and note their movements. This might help the rest of our group when they got into camp.
I didn’t have any writing paper with me, but I had brought some bagged sand to camp to build horseshoe pits with. The paper from the bags of sand would do just fine.

Before I continue, let me explain some things about our hunting camp.

This is not a guided hunt on private land, it’s just a bunch of well-organized guys that love to bow hunt. We hunt on public land, in North West Colorado.
We all come from different walks of life, and from all over the United States it seems. Two are from Texas, five are from Colorado, and I live in New Mexico.
Each year we start planning our hunt as early as January or February, and by the first of July, each man has sent in a small deposit, his date of arrival and his length of stay. Each year someone volunteers to do the organizing and will make up a schedule and send it to all those that plan on being in camp that year. This schedule includes arrival dates, departure dates and a cooking schedule. The deposit is used to buy breakfast and lunch food, and any other camp supplies that are needed that year.
On your day to cook, it is your responsibility to get up and get breakfast going, wake up everyone that plan to hunt and have breakfast ready for them. You also supply and prepare the evening meal for the entire camp, wash the camp dishes and set up for the next morning. Everyone is on their own for lunch, but as mentioned above, the camp supplies the lunch fixin’s.
We have a 10’ X 12’ wall tent devoted as the cooking tent as well as our personal tents for sleeping. We have two stoves in the cook tent, one is a wood burning cook stove, the other is an old gas range that we took the top off of, changed out the gas jets and rigged it up to burn propane. We call the cook tent “The White House.”
Now that you maybe understand a little about our camp, the following is the day-by-day “notes” (that some how ended up as a journal) of the 1989 Colorado bow season for Deer and Elk.

Thursday, 8/24/89
I took off work a little early, and was on the road by 3:30 PM. Arrived in Denver about 9:00 PM. Stayed over night with John. Didn’t sleep much. (Tomorrow is opening day of bow season)

Friday, 8/25/89
Up at 5:30 AM, loaded up the camp stoves, filled water jugs, stopped by the store and picked up the last minute stuff, picked up the sand for the horseshoe pits, and was on the road by 10:00 am. Stopped in the last civilized place on the way to camp and bought a combination archery license to hunt Deer and Elk, got a hamburger, locked the hubs and started up the mountain. Arrived at our campsite at 2:00 PM. Set up my tent and unloaded the camp supplies that I had brought. Paul and Sherm, showed up with more camp supplies at 4:00 PM. I helped them set up their tent and unload the supplies they had brought. Paul wanted to hunt for a while, so he took off. While Paul was out hunting, Sherm and I fixed supper. Paul was back in about 7:30 PM and had only seen one small deer. After supper, we sat around and talked over our strategy for tomorrow. Turned in about 9:00 PM.

Saturday 8/26/89
Up at 4:20 AM. Running late! Fixed coffee, eggs and bacon for breakfast. Left camp at 5:30 am, and headed for my favorite place to hunt (“The Point”). Got to “The Point” a little before daylight. Sat and waited for it to get light enough to see, then started glassing “the hole” and the “dark ridge.” Spotted three fairly large bulls at the lower end of the “third park,” just above the beaver ponds. Too far away and they were moving up the ridge pretty steady. Hunted over to the “upper sawmill,” saw a lone cow Elk, but she soon winded me and slipped into the dark timber. Hunted over to, and up through “stump park,” back to the “upper sawmill,” then behind the sawmill to the fire break. Nothing! Hunted back to “the point”. I had been sitting on “the point” for about 30 minutes, when a very nice but small racked 6x7 bull came up out of the aspens below. The trail he was on was only about five yards from where I was standing. I slipped back a step or two into the brush and waited for him to come by. He never did. Apparently he went back into the timber to the west of me. I knew I might still have a chance if he crossed the firebreak behind me, so I started a sneak toward the firebreak. I hadn’t gone very far when I heard him crash off through the timber. He had either heard, saw or smelled me. I give up on him. Started hunting my way back to camp.
I run across four guys from Montana, one of which had taken a small four-point bull earlier this morning. Helped them get the bull to a logging road and loaded in their pick up. After arriving in camp, I cleaned up, and fixed myself a late lunch. Paul and Sherm came into camp mid afternoon. Paul said he had shot all of his arrows at deer and had to come back to camp at 7:30 AM to get more arrows, the sad thing was, he had not touched a hair on anything.
Paul fixed Antelope stew for supper.
In the sleeping bag at 10:00 PM.

Sunday 8/27/89
Up at 4:00 am. I fixed coffee and cold cereal for breakfast. Left camp at 5:30 AM with Paul and Sherm to hunt the “first lake” area. We saw six deer but no one could get a shot at any of them. Hunted till about noon. Didn’t see any Elk. Started hunting my way back to camp and when I got there, I helped Paul and Sherm set up the cook tent and move their tent to a better location.
Paul and Sherm had to go back to work on Monday, so they left for home late afternoon. After they left I took a “sun shower”, fixed a steak and some potatoes for supper. Fell asleep reading a book.

Monday 8/28/89
Up at 4:00 am. Fixed coffee, no breakfast. Left camp at 5:30 AM to hunt around the “first lake” area again. Saw a small three point buck deer but he slipped into the timber before it got light enough to try a shot, and I let him go. Started hunting the area between the “first lake” and the “first park”. I sat down on a big log in the middle of a small meadow to rest a while and do a little glassing. I was about to get up and start out again, when two bull elk came into view. One was a spike and the other was a 4x3 still in velvet. The spike went about 150 yards below me into the firebreak where Paul had taken his bull last year. The 4x3 came straight toward me. He grazed his way toward me until he was about, what I thought was 40 yards from me, then turned broadside and stopped to munch on some grass. I waited until he had his head down, came to a full draw, put my 40 yard pin in the middle of his chest and let the arrow fly. A clean miss, high. I had misjudged the distance. He had been only about 25 yards from me. He jumped and run about ten yards to my left, turned broadside and looked around. He still hadn’t seen me so I knocked another arrow and let it fly. This time the bottom limb of my bow hit the log I was sitting on, causing my arrow to only go about 15 yards before hitting the dirt in front of the bull. This time the bull ran into the timber. I waited about 10 minutes to see what would happen. Then the 4x3 came back into the same clearing about 5 yards or so and stood looking down hill at the spike. Again I misjudged the distance and shot low. By this time he was getting real nervous and took off down the hill toward the spike. They moved off into some dark timber, and I let them go. I had “buck fever” so bad I had to wait about 30 minutes to get my heart back to normal. I got up and found two of my three arrows I had shot. Started hunting my way toward the “dark ridge” then back toward camp. On the way back to camp, is when I took my little fall I mentioned earlier.
Fixed beef stew for supper and started this “journal”.
In the sleeping bag at 10:00 PM.

Tuesday 8/29/89
Up at 4:00 AM. Fixed coffee, no breakfast. Will hunt “the point” today, plan on staying there until about noon.
I left camp at 5:30 AM, and got to “the point” at 6:20 am. Sat there until 11:00 AM. Did not see anything except birds and chipmunks. Heard a bull bugle twice and right after each bugle the coyotes would really start to howl. I was back in camp a little after noon. Cleaned up, took a nap, fixed up the horse-shoe pits, chopped a few days supply of fire wood, and made myself a meal of fried potatoes, onions, and hamburger meat for supper.
In the bag at 9:00 PM.

Wednesday 8/30/89
Up at 4:00 AM. Fixed coffee, no breakfast. I will hunt the point again, but will wear more clothes today (like to have froze to death yesterday). I left camp at 5:30 AM. I arrived at the point at 6:15 AM. Guess what? I saw two bull Elk were working their way across the open area below the point. They were moving from my right to my left, as they munched on grass and aspen tree leaves. The lead bull was the largest (6x6), and was about 50 yards away and getting further away with each step. The other bull was a respectable 6x5 and about 40 or so yards away and getting closer with each step. I waited on the smaller bull. It seemed like time was standing still. I could feel “the fever” coming on again. I tried to calm myself down, but to no avail. I was starting to shake like a leaf.
When the 6x5 was about 20 yards away and broadside to me, he lowered his head to munch more grass. I slowly came to full draw and let the arrow fly. I watched the arrow hit him in the shoulder. It appeared to bounce off of him. He jumped and ran about 15 yards to my right, turned broadside and looked at the lead bull. What happened? Had the broad head come off the arrow? I quickly checked the rest of my arrows in the quiver. All had broad heads on them. I knocked another arrow and shot again. This time the arrow appeared to hit the bull in the rump. The bull took off down through the aspens and was out of site in a flash. I glanced at the lead bull to see what he was doing, he was standing still, watching the 6x5 going through the aspens, he did not know what was wrong but he wasn’t sticking around to find out and decided to get the heck out of there. In a matter of seconds both bulls were nowhere to be seen.
At this point, words cannot explain the emotions and the feelings I had. I was so shook up that I had to sit down for fear of falling down, my legs felt like they were made out of soft rubber. I looked at my watch, and what had seemed like a lifetime had only taken approximately 10 minutes, it was 6:25 AM.
I took off all my extra clothes and hid them in the brush, sat back down to give this bull plenty of time. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I couldn’t sit still for very long, so I went to find my first arrow. Being careful not to disturb any sign, I found my first arrow, and it shocked me because the arrow was covered from tip to tip with blood and the broad head was still on the arrow. That didn’t make sense because it appeared that it had bounced off his shoulder. Now I’m very confused. What in the world happened?
At 7:15 AM, I couldn’t wait any longer and started after him. Tracking was pretty hard because he wasn’t bleeding much and it was pretty dry. I lost his trail after about 50 or 60 yards, and couldn’t find it again. There was a fence about 150 yards or so to the East of me, and I knew that there was a major game trail that crossed the fence. I decided to mark the last spot of blood, and go to the fence to see if maybe he had crossed it. His trail was leading in that direction anyway. When I got to the fence, I looked for any hair on the fence or any fresh tracks on either side. Nothing! I decided to go back to the last sign I had found and start over again. On my way back, I just happened to look through the aspens into a big grass meadow, and there he was. He was lying in a ravine, at the edge of the meadow. He had only went about 120 yards from where I had last seen him.
I think most hunters have this feeling from time to time, so I will admit that I had a lump in my throat, partly out of relief of finding him, and partly because I had just killed one of God’s magnificent critters. You know, one of those joy / sorrow things.
Anyway, after getting my emotions under control, I went about the task of cleaning, skinning, and quartering the meat. I didn’t have anyone to help me pack him out, and my pack frame was back in camp, so I covered the meat with grass and weeds to keep it cool, and took off for camp.
I was back in camp at 10:30 AM. Drank a lot of water, cleaned up, changed clothes, put my pack frame in the pick up and drove to the closest place I could get to him on the logging road that run south from camp.
Started packing the meat out about 11:45 AM. I finally had all the meat hanging on the meat pole in camp at 5:00 PM. What a chore! I took a “sun shower,” changed clothes again. I was so tired that I didn’t want to fix myself any supper, so I just snacked a little and went to bed at 7:30 PM. I will go to town tomorrow to call home and pick up any supplies we are short of.

Thursday 8/31/89
Up at 5:00 AM. fixed coffee, no breakfast. I am worried about the meat, it didn’t get very cold last night. Put the edge back on my hunting knife, and cleaned up around camp. Checked the meat, it seemed cool enough. I left camp at 11:00 AM and went to town to call home, and to picked up some supplies.
I was back in camp at 1:00 PM, at 2:00 PM, I decided to refill the “sun shower”, so I drove to the closest stream to camp and was filling the sun shower when Big John drove up. He wanted to know if I had anything hanging on the meat pole, I told him that indeed I did. He then wanted to know where the rack was, but before I could tell him, he took off to camp to have a look see for himself. I finished filling the sun shower and went back to camp to help John unload his stuff. John was pretty excited about it all, and I have to admit that it finally had sunk in and I was pretty happy myself. I helped John unload his gear and the rest of the camp equipment. We cut a flagpole for the camp, and hung the American flag and a POW flag on the flagpole. At about 4:00 PM, Paul and Charlie K. showed up in camp and I told them the story. John and I helped them unload and get set up. Charlie fixed venison stroganoff and a fruit salad for supper. In bed at about 11:00 PM. Tomorrow is my day to cook for the camp.

Friday 9/1/89
Up three times during the night because of an upset stomach (probably because of the many toasts to my success I had partook of yesterday afternoon and last night). I got up at 4:00 AM to fix breakfast for the guys, and started coffee but was too sick to do breakfast. Woke up Paul and ask him to do breakfast for me, he said ok. I went back to my tent, and crawled back into the sleeping bag. Paul and Charlie K. took off hunting after breakfast. I got up at around 8:00 AM, but wasn’t worth killing, I was still sick to my stomach. I will never do that again!!
Am a little worried about Ken and Charlie L. (we have two Charlie’s), they were supposed to be in camp last night, and they still aren’t here.
John reminded me that it was my turn to cook the evening meal, so I started cooking beans to make Chili with.
12:00 noon. Ken and Charlie still haven’t made it to camp yet. Hope nothing is wrong.
Starting to feel a little better, felt even better when Ken and Charlie arrived in camp about 2:00 PM. I hadn’t seen them since last year, and was glad to see them. They didn’t know about my bull yet as we had hid the rack in their tent, and hadn’t told them about it. When they started to unload their gear they found the rack. Ken let out a war whoop that could be heard for twenty miles and came out of the tent and shook my hand and hugged me. He told me that he just had one of those feelings and knew that I would have one down before he could get into camp this year.
Paul and Charlie K. were back in camp around 5:00 PM. Paul said he had a shot at a cow elk but had missed (again). He thinks he knows what he is doing wrong.
Had Chili and beans ready at 6:00 PM. We all had supper, I cleaned up the camp dishes and got things ready for breakfast in the morning. Went to bed around 10:00 PM.

Saturday 9/2/89
Up at 3:30 AM. Because I didn’t do breakfast yesterday, it was my turn today. Got breakfast going, woke everyone at 4:00 AM. Paul and Charlie K. had breakfast and took off hunting. Ken and Charlie L. had elected to get up a little later. I cleaned up the breakfast mess and woke Ken and Charlie L. at 6:00 AM. They had a quick bite to eat and took off to the point. Woke John at 8:00 AM. John and I sat around taking it easy and enjoying the day. I caught up on this “log of important events.” Ken and Charlie L were back in camp by 10:30 AM. They had not seen anything but had heard a bull toot a time or two. Charlie K. came into camp around noon and said he had a bull coming in but he never showed. He also said he came to full draw on a small doe, but wasn’t sure he wanted to take such a small deer, while trying to make up his mind another larger doe stepped out into the open. By now he was shaking from holding the string at full draw for so long, then the arrow fell off of the rest, and both deer took off. We all got a kick out of that. Ken and both Charlies’ laid down and took a nap. I washed my camos, cleaned up around camp then took a nap myself. While I was taking my nap Sherm showed up in camp. I got up and read this journal to him, and showed him the rack. Paul came in about 6:00 PM., said that he had not seen anything all day. We all played a game of horseshoes. Sherm fixed a seafood gumbo for supper.
In bed by 10:00 PM.
I will hunt the lower sawmill area in the morning.

Sunday 9/3/89
Big John woke everyone at 4:00 AM. Had coffee, eggs and bacon for breakfast. At 5:00 AM, Ken, Paul and both Charlie’s took off to hunt The Point and beyond. I left to hunt the lower sawmill area. I got to the place I wanted to be at first light, but there were about a gazillion “moo cows” all around. I decided to try working the timber between the lower sawmill and the lower end of Stump Park. Heard a bull bugle, and he was close! Although I had already filled my elk tag, I decided to have a look-see anyway. Slowly I worked toward him, and hadn’t gone far when I came to the edge of a small clearing. By this time I knew where the elk were! All around me! Bulls were bugling all around me and sounded like there was a fight brewing. As I was watching the meadow and listening to all the commotion, I saw movement and just like that, two bulls went to fighting at the far edge of the meadow. What a site! It didn’t last long; the larger bull had the smaller one on the run in a few seconds. Then the winner went back to his harem of cows and started to push them back into the timber. Too bad some of the other hunters weren’t here to try their luck. I know that if someone would have had an elk call, they could have had a shot.
Just watching this seldom seen event had my heart thumping pretty hard. I just stayed right there till the old ticker got back to normal (didn’t want to spook the game plumb out of the state). After a while, I got up and started hunting my way to the east end of Stump Park, then over to the upper sawmill. Didn’t see any deer or any fresh sign. I wasn’t too far from the point and I kind of wanted to see if I could find a missing piece of the arrow that took my bull. About an hour later I was below the point and as close as I wanted to be to the gut pile. Backed tracked from the gut pile to the point, didn’t find the missing half of my arrow. Climbed up on the point and just sat there and was watching the world go by, when out of the corner of my eye I caught movement. A young cow elk was coming up through the aspens toward me. Not moving, I watched her. I was setting out in the open and she saw me, she didn’t know what I was but she wasn’t taking any chances, and turned around and went back into the trees (where are the guys with unfilled elk tags?). Later I hunted my way back to camp. On my way back to camp some “dude” came through the timber on a trail bike, I guess he was a modern hunter?
Back in camp a little after 2:00 PM.
Some of the guys were back in camp too. Charlie L. had a shot at a nice buck deer, but had missed. Ken hadn’t seen anything to shoot at but Charlie K. had been into the elk at the bottom end of stump park, but wasn’t able to get a shot at any of them.
I cleaned the camo paint off of my face and hands then cut the horns off of the elk head (the head was starting to get a little ripe). Played a game of horse shoes with Ken, John and Charlie L. and I lost 6 bucks out of that deal. Paul came in later and hadn’t seen any game all day. Sherm had hunted the three lakes area and hadn’t seen anything either. John fixed sauerkraut and pork ribs for supper. After supper we all sat around the campfire and told lies. We drifted off to bed about 9:30 PM. I caught up on this journal. I’ll hunt the point again tomorrow.

Monday 9/4/89
Ken’s day to cook. He got us up at 4:15AM. Had coffee, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. Charlie K. and I headed out to the point at 5:10AM. At the point at 5:55AM. I sat on the point and Charlie K. worked the timber to the northeast. He was back at the point by 9:15AM. He hadn’t seen anything. I hadn’t either. Charlie K. watched the west end of the point and I watched the east end for a while. I got a little sleepy, took a nap in the sun. Woke up with all kind of ants and bugs crawling all over me, but no worse for the ware. Charlie K. left for camp at 11:20AM. I stayed until about 2:00 PM. and didn’t see anything. When I got back to camp all the other hunters were in camp too. Paul hadn’t seen any game, Ken and Charlie L. had been into the elk at bottom end of the second park, but didn’t get a shot at any of them. Ken was smoking a big old turkey for supper while the rest of us played a game or two of “shoes”. It looked like it might rain, so we gathered some more firewood for the cook tent. Ken had his turkey, gravy and sweet potatoes ready by 6:00PM. After supper the storm blew over without raining. We all sat around in the cook tent telling stories, Charlie K. had some very good ideas about income tax reform. Maybe he should go into politics? Charlie L. is from Texas and had been freezing every night, so I loaned him an extra blanket.
In the sleeping bag by 10:00 PM. Everyone will hunt the dark ridge tomorrow, and maybe John might try to go out with us. I’ll help Charlie L. with breakfast in the morning.

Tuesday 9/5/89
Up at 4:15 AM. Charlie L. didn’t need help with breakfast, as he had coffee, French toast, and bacon ready when he got us up.
Paul and I left camp to hunt above the firebreak that runs between the first and second parks, just west of the dark ridge at 5:10 AM. A little before shooting light, we were at the edge of a small meadow and spotted three bucks about three to four hundred yards off to the south of us. We pulled a good sneak on them. I happened to be the one that had the best chance for a shot, however as I was working into position, the smallest of the three (a fork horn), saw me. I was only twelve yards from him, but couldn’t get a shot, especially while he was looking right me! Paul was behind me and a little to my left, but he couldn’t shoot because I was in his line of fire. I fell for the oldest trick in the book. The fork horn lowered his head as if to go back to eating, I started to draw the string, the buck jerked his head up and saw me moving. He knew what was going on, but didn’t spook, just started to move off real nervous like. I knew it was a lost cause, but tried to shoot anyway. I barely missed, but missed nonetheless. Needless to say, the fork horn and his buddies were gone in a flash! I watched them run then turned around to see what Paul was doing. Paul had a big smile on his face. I could tell that he had enjoyed the moment as much as I had, maybe even more. We stood and watched to see what else might happen for a while then started on to the firebreak. I found a good place to sit and watch while Paul worked his way into the timber to the south. After about 15 minuets I saw Charlie L. come into view on the firebreak below me. Soon after, I heard what sounded like elk crash through the timber below Charlie L., and then it sounded like they turned to my left, away from all of us. I waited for a little while, and then got up and started in the direction I had last heard the elk. Found where they went around us, and I could tell by their tracks that they were moving pretty fast as if they had been spooked petty good. Went back to where I had been sitting. Sat there till about 9:00AM. and was about ready to leave when I spotted Ken. He motioned to me so I waited for him to get to me. I told him what had been happening for the last hour or so. Eat a candy bar, said so long and we went in different directions. I dropped down to the fire break, then hunted over to the dark ridge, found a good place to watch for a hour or so, then started to still hunt back to camp. Back in camp a little after noon, and so was every one else. I cleaned up, fixed a sandwich, and rested for a while, then played a game or two of “shoes” this time I won my $6.00 back. Although we don’t normally hunt in the late afternoon, Paul, Sherm, and both Charlie’s decided to go out for a short hunt about 4:00 PM. Later Paul came in and told us about having a ten-yard shot at a deer but didn’t shoot because it was just a fawn (good for you, Paul). Charlie K. came in and told of taking a shot at a big doe, but had missed. Sherm and Charlie L. came in and hadn’t seen anything.
Sherm and Charlie L. fixed a seafood gumbo for supper (what a meal!). After supper, everyone wanted me to read this journal of priceless memories to them because the Texans (Ken and Charlie L.) are going home tomorrow afternoon. Everyone likes the idea of keeping a journal and I think I’ll make a scrapbook out of it, including photos and give it to everyone for Christmas. At 9:30PM. everyone but John and I had drifted off to bed. John and I sat around and shot the breeze for a while, then John got the bright idea of setting the rack up by the fire and take some timed exposure pictures. After that we sat around just enjoying the memories of past hunts till about 1:00 AM.
Don’t think I’ll hunt tomorrow.

Wednesday 9/6/89
Up at 4:30 AM. Sherm fixed coffee, eggs and sausage for breakfast. Everyone but John and I took off hunting. While John slept in, I sat in the cook tent and drank coffee while watching the world wake up and thinking about the last two weeks. When the sun came up, I put up the flags, cleaned up the cook tent, straightened up in my tent and caught up on this journal. With a sad heart, I’ll be heading home come early Saturday morning. Sure hate the thought of leaving and having to get back to making a living.
Ken had (for sentimental reasons) decided to hunt the point one last time before going home, but was back in camp by 9:15 AM. When he got in he was mad as a wet hen, he told of hearing something in the meadow just north of the point so he went to see what it was. He found a camp not 150 yards from the point! It made him pretty mad so he started back to camp, then looked back toward that camp and saw a really nice 5x5 buck and a doe standing between him and the idiots camp. He wouldn’t even try a shot because he was afraid that if he missed, he could hit the tent and maybe hurt someone that might be still in the tent. The rest of the guys were back in camp a little before noon, and hadn’t had any luck. While Ken and Charlie L. were packing to go home, I cut some steaks off of the meat on the meat pole and started to fix them as it would be our last meal that we all would have together till next year. We all eat then said our good-byes to Ken and Charlie L. I cleaned up the lunch mess, and took a nap. Later, Paul and Charlie K. went out for a short afternoon hunt but didn’t see anything. Sherm fixed chicken for supper. Everyone was down for the night by 9:30. I don’t think anyone is getting up early in the morning... I’m not.

Thursday 9/7/89
Up at 7:30 AM., and was the first one up, so I started a fire in the cook stove, and got coffee going. When everyone got up, I fixed eggs, bacon and French toast for breakfast. Paul decided to go hunting and left at 8:15 AM. Sherm and I decided to try our luck at fishing, so we hiked up to the second lake. Didn’t get a bite all day and was back in camp at 2:30 PM. John said he new where we could catch a fish so he and I took off to see if he was right, he wasn’t. We didn’t get a bite there either. Paul came in and as it was his day to fix supper, he fixed Antelope stew for us.
In the sleeping bag at 9:30 PM. I think I’ll hunt the point one last time in the morning.

Friday 9/8/89
Up at 4:15 AM. Sherm fixed coffee, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. The weather had turned bad during the night, but looked like it might stop raining by daylight. At 5:00 AM. it was still pretty windy but Charlie K. and I headed to the point anyway. By the time we got there the weather had gotten worse and was trying to rain again. I toughed it out for an hour or so but the weather was getting worse not better, so I decided to start working back toward camp. When I got to the big stand of aspens east of camp, I decided to find a good place to stay out of the wind and rain and watch a meadow. I watched the meadow for an hour but didn’t see anything, so I went on into camp. It wasn’t long before everyone was back in camp because it had started to snow too. Sherm hadn’t seen anything but Paul had. He saw two nice bucks, but while trying to get close enough to get a shot, some cattle came down the trail he was on and spooked the deer. Charlie K. had also got into some deer and even took a shot at a buck in the same meadow where the idiots had set up their camp (the idiots had moved their camp yesterday), but had missed. We all stayed in camp for the rest of the day because of the weather. I took a short nap then got up and started to pack, as I’ll be heading home in the morning. Sherm fixed a left over stew or something that looked like stew anyway. After supper we all gathered in the cook tent and we all swapped phone numbers and addresses, and talked over our plans for next years hunt. It quit snowing about 8:00 PM. and cleared off. It will be cold tomorrow. Maybe someone will stick one in the morning.
In the sleeping bag at 10:00 PM.

Saturday 9/9/89
Woke up at 4:00 AM. Got up and helped Charlie K. fix coffee, and French toast for breakfast. Said my good-byes to the guys before they went out hunting. John helped me finish loading my gear in the pick-up, and I headed down the mountain toward home at 8:30 AM. Didn’t stop for anything except gas, and was home at 3:30 PM.

Sunday 9/10/89
Last entry for the 1989 Archery Elk Hunt Journal.
I’m home now, I have all my gear unpacked and put up till next year. I am going to make copies of this journal and make scrapbooks with a few pictures I took, and sent them to everyone for Christmas.
Thinking back, words can’t describe the feelings and emotions I have right now. I guess the only way is to simply say the memories will be with me for the rest of my life.
You can bet your hunting boots, I’ll be back next year.

As time goes on, things change. This journal was the first of some six or seven more years of hunting with these guys. The guys in this hunting camp had been hunting together for some 20 years before I started hunting with them. Over the years, there would be someone that would stop hunting and a new guy would start hunting with us, but for the most part this hunting camp stayed together.
In 1995, my friend John was diagnosed with Prostrate cancer and was no longer able to make it to hunting camp. For the next six years John bravely fought for his life. In June of 2001, John lost that battle. During those last six years, John, Charlie L., my Dad and I would go fishing together during the Colorado Archery season. Also, during those last six years, the hunting camp just slowly fell apart. Although most of us keep in touch, we no longer hunt together.
I still hunt, but no longer travel out of state to do so. I just cannot afford the price of a non-resident tag. New Mexico has a “Draw” system for all public Elk hunts, and when I am lucky enough to draw a tag, I still (out of habit) keep a daily journal.

Posted by RRFSELKMAN on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 (20:17:23) (3483 reads)
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  You Can, See Again
Hunting StoriesYou Can, See Again

By: Ed Harmon

"You are legally blind." That statement, made by a doctor and especially by your doctor, will wake you up. The statement will also take the starch right out of your collar, all at the same time.

1986-87 was my best year shooting in competition. By the end of 1987 we had attained the scores, experience and skills necessary to become a state small-bore International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) aggregate champion and an IHMSA small bore 12 state region champion. For the uninitiated, the most difficult silhouette competition to master, is the small bore competition.

With 3 world records in shooting, including the new bowling pin record, we were "on a roll." I had bested John "The Kid" Robbins' Second Chance record, a record that had stood for 9 years, by almost two tenths of a second. At the very next pin match, I came right back and bested my own new world record. Speed, accuracy and consistency were all in one place at one time. Then, like a slow motion nightmare, it all went away. By 1989 I could only shoot with optics, I was legally blind.

The decline came rapidly, all too rapidly. My eyesight changed in jumps, sometimes as much as three full increments, per year. The doctors ran tests. We went through exam, after exam. Nothing seemed to help or explain the sudden change in my vision. Diabetes tests were run, not once, but three times, all with negative results. As my sight grew worse by leaps and bounds, I tried various aids including, lenses, loops, bifocals, line-less bifocals and the Merritt system. Nothing, by itself seemed to help, nor did the paraphernalia help when combined.

A questionnaire program was run through the IHMSA's monthly publication, in an attempt to determine if anyone else had been or was on the same route that I was so obviously taking. There was no answer to my problem, derived from the questionnaire, except to determine that the shooters that are myopic (nearsighted) loose the ability to compete with iron sights, much earlier in life than do the farsighted shooters. The situation pretty much boils down to this, in very simple terms, as you get older you loose the ability to see up close. If, in the beginning, you can see up close, but you can not see at long distance, then as you loose the ability to see up close, the ability to shoot with iron sights is pretty much destroyed. The loss of the ability to shoot with open sights is due primarily to the need for glasses with multiple distance lenses, lenses that never focus at the required distances. Frustrating? You bet!

Natural 20-20 eyesight is one of God's true miracles. You can see one image from two eyes, that image appearing as one image, even when the eyes are divergent by as much as 8 points. That is to say that the eye-brain combination sees one object when in fact the eyes are separated and not on the same horizontal plane. The two eyes can bring various objects at various distances into focus, all at the same time. The multiple distance focus is visualized as instantaneous or instant focus if you will. Try that combination with two digital cameras and the best computer on the market.

As my eyesight became worse, I started looking into surgery as a possible alternative. I was lucky to have a number of customers and friends who are doctors to talk with and with whom to discuss the alternatives. It did not take very long to rule out RK and PRK as possible solutions. These surgery techniques can leave one with the ability to read a newspaper. However, the surgery results are permanent and can not be corrected, or altered to any meaningful degree. I saw a film about cornea (the lens of the eye) shaping that was being done in California, by an experimental machine. The technique involved surgically removing the cornea, then while the patient waited on the table, the cornea was chilled and shaved by a diamond blade. The cornea was then returned to the eye. The cornea removal, shaving and replacement process seemed much to convoluted for my tastes.

Several plastic surgeons that I know purchased Excimer lasers for skin treatment. The Excimer laser is quite an ingenious medical instrument. The laser's footprint can be altered into different shapes, including circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, etc. The Exemer laser can then be set to remove tissue by tiny increments, almost single cell depth increments. The Excimer laser does not remove low places in the surface, only the high places. The process is much like sanding a scratch out of wood. You remove the surrounding area, in stages, until you reach the bottom of the scratch, one final pass and the scratch is gone. The Excimer Laser does much the same thing in layers of tissue, which regenerate. It can be used to remove scars, wrinkles or even tattoos. What does all this have to do with eyes?

Lasik surgery is the use of the Exemer laser to reshape the cornea of the eye. Lasik eye surgery is not approved by the military. However, Lasik surgery, as I understand the process, produces a result that is virtually undetectable during a regular or normal eye exam. Lasik also produces a result that can change a pilot or aircrew member's status from grounded to flying. I talked to several pilots who were looking for a surgical answer to vision loss. Lasik surgery offered them some hope. I discussed Lasik with several air crew members who said that they knew men who had the surgery performed, with perfect results and who were currently on flight status.

The best chance, always, to get a real answer is to go to the horse's mouth; so, I decided to contact a well-known eye surgeon in the Southeast. My base criteria for a doctor, in such an instance, is very simple, if a surgeon does 1,000 similar surgeries per year, he may have the experience to fool around with my eyes. Eyes can not be replaced; so, we do not allow OJT on our eyes. The surgeon, Dr. Samuel Poppel, of the Emerald Coast Eye Institute was just the person we were seeking. He had his very own, newest version, Exemer laser. He had done thousands of surgeries and came with a bushel basket full of recommendations.

Off to see the wizard we went. What I found was that Lasik surgery can correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism. Lasik can correct these as individual ailments or as a combination of ailments, all at once, in one surgical procedure. The Lasik result can be altered, after surgery, by additional surgery and can be tweaked to a fine adjustment, if needed, after recovery from the initial surgery.

Lasik surgery is a four-step process.
1. Your eyes are examined to make sure you are a candidate.
2. Your eye or eyes and systems are examined and the cornea mapped.
3. The surgery,
4. The recovery.

The first step was fairly simple, a routine eye exam including dilation, pressure check, etc., standard stuff. The last part of the exam, the interview, was very different from the normal examination. "What do you expect and what result will satisfy you?" My first preference was to shoot with iron sights, without corrective lenses. The doctor indicated that my first preference was a tall order. It could not be guaranteed, or even really attempted with much of an idea of success, even with his experience. I thought about that for a moment. Well, my second preference was to be able to shoot with iron sights using a single vision corrective lens. The lights came on in his eyes and the doctor's face lit up. That preference he thought, he could do with a high margin for success. However, even with my second preference he was not absolutely certain of the results and could not guarantee the outcome, prior to the second exam or the surgery itself. The first exam was free, and is normally free, regardless of the surgeon you select. I was asked to consider the next step, very carefully. The doctor asked that I go home and consider the operation, then contact his office after several days, if I wished to go to the next step, a very through exam and the mapping of the cornea.

It is not wise to make decisions based on partial information; so, I decided to go on to the next step. The next phase was a very thorough eye exam, including extensive imaging of the cornea. The two-hour exam included tests of virtually every function of the eye and the body systems connected to the eye, even the ability to produce tears During the course of the second exam, digital photos and 3-D images were made of my corneas. Yes, both eyes.. The digital images produced by the camera-computer combination that were processed the computer program into visual contour map of the existing shape. The existing topography then produced a solution and the image of the desired shapes of my corneas. At the end of the exam, the doctor was fairly certain that my second preference, shooting with a single vision lens, could be met. He also thought that within one year after surgery my first preference might very well be attained. However, he cautioned that there is always a risk of complications or problems that are unforeseen.

That unforeseen risk factor was made very clear to me and should be very clear to anyone contemplating eye surgery. After careful consideration and two extensive discussions, a date for the surgery was arranged.

The day of the surgery was a day of nerves and being on edge. We knew what to expect and had been briefed. However, having anyone monkey with your eyesight is not a lighthearted idea; nor, is it something you should journey into without some serious reflection. The surgery itself is a fairly simple process. Your eyes are numbed using drops, no needles. A suction cup is attached to the eye ball itself. A flap is cut in the "skin" of the eye, above the cornea. The flap is laid back, exposing the cornea. The suction cup is then attached to the lens of the Excimer laser. The laser is focused on and to the diameter of the cornea. The digital firing solution, for the correction to the cornea, is fed into the computer that controls the laser. The laser is then pulsed (fired). The result, if done correctly, is a near perfect cornea, reshaped to all corrected surface dimensions. The flap is then folded back down and smoothed out with a small brush. No stitches are necessary to reattach the flap, as it adheres to the eye instantly. Sight correction by a CNC machine, if you want a comparison. The actual surgery on both eyes took less than 30 minutes.

The evening after the surgery was spent wearing plastic "bug eyed" goggles, while sleeping under heavy sedation. Sleep is the best medicine to aid and speed the healing of eye injury or surgery. Wearing the goggles prevent you from rubbing your eyes during sleep. Rubbing your eye might dislodge the flap, before it heals. The surprise was waking up and having to put drops in my eyes. Just to open the eyes and trying to move around the house while trying to see through tiny slits was quite different. Vision with wide-open eyes is not recommended or approved for some time, after the surgery.

The first thing you do, the day after surgery, is to go see the doctor. So, the morning after surgery, first thing, we were off to the doctor's office for a quick look-see, to make sure everything was OK. All went well.

My "naked eye" vision was in the 20-30 range the next morning, after the surgery. However, reading was pretty much out of the question as was watching television. The next few days, it was difficult for me to look at anything for an extended period, without my eyes starting to tear. The eyes also felt very tired in just a few minutes of looking. So, I tried to catch up on my sleep.

A week after the surgery, I went in for my second, after surgery, checkup. A problem had developed, an infection in the left eye. Why? I had done everything necessary, used the drops religiously, was very careful not to get dust or dirt in the eyes, etc. Then, the doctor said, "That infection looks like a virus infection." Then it struck me, 17 years before; out of the clear blue I had contracted a serious infection in my left eye. The infection was eventually diagnosed as a viral infection. I informed the doctor of the prior infection. The doctor's response told me instantly that I was in trouble; he visually winced. He said that viral infections are a major cause of permanent eye damage and the cause of most of the cornea transplant surgeries done by him. Oh, great.

Virus infections are very diabolical. Most everyone has had, or more correctly has, a virus infection someplace on his or her body. Chicken pox, shingles, fever blisters, herpes simplex, etc are all a form of virus infections. The virus never goes away, it lays dormant in your system until an injury or low resistance allows it to rekindle, like a smoldering fire. When I told him that I did not remember the infection until he mentioned it, the doctor said, "You might forget, but the virus never forgets."

We then went through two weeks of eye drops every two hours. The infection died or went dormant. However, the infection left a scar on my brand new left cornea. Remember the caution about anything can happen? Well, my telling this story, in its entirety, is to give credence to the fact that the caution is indeed very real. My left eye can be corrected at this time to 20-30, minus one, with glasses. This is OK, not great, but OK, and I am very, very lucky. One thing, to be clear, the infection could have reoccurred by itself at any time. The surgery undoubtedly aggravated an old injury, but neither the surgery nor the doctor was to blame. We will have to wait for 6 months to a year to see what will be needed to correct the problem.

The vision in my right eye is 20-20 without correction. However, like most things done by man, there is a fly in the ointment. In this case, the fly is the loss of my near vision, without glasses. Now I have to wear reading glasses to read. My 20-20 focal point appears to be near 4 feet without glasses. I tried several off-the-rack reading glasses. I finally settled on a 1.25 lens.

So, what about the right eye and shooting? I waited for one month after surgery to try shooting. The wait was probably not necessary, but that is what I did. Being that I am right handed, the right eye being in good shape was great. My first outing was standing with a red dot sight, just to get the feel. The result or score was not too bad; nor, was it too good, either, just a so, so performance. I wanted to get the feel of shooting without corrective lenses, so I felt that the outing was a success. One real good thing did come from the match. Wayne Lowery, a champion speed shooter, lent me his .50 reading glasses. Wayne had the glasses made to shoot with open sights. The result was amazing; I could clearly see sights and targets both, with the .50 glasses. It was then and there that I resolved to take a trip over to the next silhouette match being held at Mobile, Alabama, the next weekend. I wanted to try big bore production as my first real test for the new eyes. Now, if I could just get a pair of shooting glasses made in a couple of days.

Back to the doctor the next day, exam for glasses, prescription for .50 reading glasses and off to the vision center at Wal-Mart. Yep, Wal-Mart, Why? It is the fastest place in our area to get lenses made. The next day, glasses in hand, I was ready to reload and take the ride to Mobile.

Now, all of a sudden, the reality of the situation hit me. Most of my iron-sighted guns had been sold over the years and I had long ago thrown away all of my old sight settings for iron sights. I dug around, Friday night until finally, in an old file cabinet, I found my 12 year old, Merrill 10-inch production gun, 30-30, standing, sight settings. The settings were for a fairly light cast bullet load. Yes, I still had the gun and the 30-30 barrel for the frame. We were in business, I had the gun, the load and the sight setting.

Off to Mobile we went, Saturday morning, five weeks after surgery, no practice, new "reading" glasses, and a gun and load I had not shot in twelve years. However, I just might be able to shoot iron sights again; so, who cared? All that other stuff was just window dressing; we were going to burn powder.

I decided on the drive over to Mobile, to try standing first, just to determine if I could actually see the sights and if the sight settings were even remotely close, for my old, rusty self. In all my figuring and planning, I did not count on one thing happening, something that had not happened to me in almost 20 years, a very bad case of match jitters. The jitters jumped on me like I used to get when I first started, 20 years before. I could not hold the gun still, not even reasonably close to still. The result was a pretty miserable 13x40 final score, standing. For a few seconds, after I finished shooting, I was a pretty dejected. However, after over 20 years in competition, it did not take but a moment for me to realize that this was my first outing, and I needed to straighten myself up, get down to business and get going. "Spit teeth and cuss," as the old saying goes. I gathered my self back up and pressed on. We were going to shoot production, without sight settings and without a spotter.

The first three chickens were missed, all while trying to get the correct sight setting. Then an additional chicken was missed in the second bank, due to the need for a bit of additional tweaking of the rear sight. That is 6 chickens of 10 at 50 meters. One pig was missed in the first bank, sight setting again, with the second bank of five, going down clean. That is 9 of ten pigs at 100 meters. The first turkey was missed due to the sight setting, and a turkey in the second bank was flat missed. That is 8 turkeys of 10 at 150 meters. The first 200 meter ram was missed, requiring an adjustment to the sights. The second bank of 5 rams went down clean. That is 9 of 10 rams at 200 meters. The final score, a 32x40, in production with iron sights. Of the eight misses, 7 were from not having the correct sight settings! I was elated. This was 5 weeks after eye surgery!

The proof is in the pudding; I can see to shoot again. If you love the shooting sports, the ability to shoot is worth every penny that the surgery cost. Lasik surgery is not cheap; the going rate in this area is in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, per eye. The cost in some areas of the country is less.

This article is intentionally written without technical jargon and is worded to help the average shooter achieve a level of understanding. The article is not meant to be accurate as to the surgery. Let us leave that up to the doctors. I think the article describes fairly, the idea of the surgery and accurately describes the facts before and after the surgery.

Would I do it all again, even with the infection? The answer is yes. It has now been two months since the surgery. I am getting more and more accustomed to the arrangement. 30 odd years of glasses has required some adjustment. However, like most things worth doing in life, you adjust as necessary and go forward. I must say that shopping for sunglasses is a whole new experience. I have only had photo gray glasses from the first pair of glasses to the last pair.

It has now been four years since the surgery. The left eye is now at 20-30, without correction. However the right eye is at 20-15. I hunt, fish and shoot without carrying anything but a pair of reading glasses. The surgery continues to be one of the better things that I have done for myself, in my lifetime.

A similar article first appeared in the IHMSA News. This article has been revised and rewritten by me, the author, to constitute a new article for publication on this site.

Posted by SwampFox on Thursday, August 10, 2006 (17:38:39) (4534 reads)
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  Fox shooting!
Hunting StoriesBy Gert Sørensen (Mauser)

The first step
The beginning was many years ago, when the gamekeeper of the estate asked me about my interest in pest control of fox population on the estate. The number of foxes has been growing, following many years during which the fox scab had kept the population low. The gamekeeper was particularly worried because he could see the effect of foxes on the released pheasants. As we began to see more and more foxes on the estate, we saw more ewes there throughout the summer that lost some of their lambs. It was from the beginning, pure and simple pest control. We started shooting the pups in August. Later, from September and further on, we hunted the older foxes.

Waiting with Rifle
In our form of pest control we where placed on some strategic places where we know there was fox activity, and then we just waited. We might wait for many hours, but it was seldom if ever boring. In this magnificent area there was always something to look at. It might for example, be a bird of prey, a ewe with her lambs, or an old six -point roebuck, that kept himself hidden all during the hunting season, but now with the season closed he shows himself. The climax, of course, was when a fox showed up, and died from a well-directed bullet.

The hunting challenge
For me, this sort of predator hunting was a bit of hunting distraction after the buck season. Before the autumn season it occupied me more and more. Gradually, as I started knowing the hunting ground and the fox movements, I felt a new kind of challenge. The sly fox is absolutely the same great challenge as it is to hunt the old roebuck, … maybe even greater.
I have on several occasions watched foxes when they come across a fresh human trail. The reaction is almost always the same; they stop, turn around, and then quickly return to where they came from. Bucks will often just cross a human scent trail without any sign of fear.

Small-bore rifle
When I first started, I used the same rifle on fox shooting as I did on buck hunting. It was a “Mauser 98” in caliber 6.5 x 55 Swedish. I have taken a lot of foxes with this rifle, but a couple of years ago I choose to build a new rifle. I decided that it should be in a smallbore, high velocity cartridge, with extreme accuracy. I had the fox in my mind as I considered this new rifle, because it is a small target, and the shot is often at a long range. My project started from an old target rifle, with a “Mauser 98” action. The calibre was 6.5 x 55, as it is in nearly all rifles at rifle clubs in Denmark I changed the barrel to a brand new one, chambered in .220 Swift.

The .220 Swift is known, (or have a doubtful re*****tion) for its extremely high muzzle velocity (around 4000 fps). I produced a new stock, and changed the trigger to an adjustable “Timney” trigger. I mounted a “Leupold” Vari-Xlll 6.5 - 20 x 40mm scope. I must acknowledge that I got my inspiration for choice of caliber and scope from American Varmint hunters. The Varmint hunting where the targets may be prairie dog and coyotes puts great demands on accuracy, because of the (often) long-range shooting at small targets. I have always been of that opinion that it should be me and my shooting ability (ore absence thereof) that determines the limit for me to make a justifiable shoot. Its must never be because of my equipment.

The right bullet choice
I went through a longer experiment, where I tested several different bullet types, and powder charges to determine the best accuracy. When I went to the shooting range I often heard a lot of comment that I got plenty of practice in different firing positions, instead of the one (prone with rest) that I always used. For me, it was not the shooting positions, but the shot variations, that were important.
The biggest problem with the rifle was that, because of the high velocity, there was a problem with copper fouling inside the barrel. After quite a few shots it influenced accuracy. At last however, after a lot of tests I found a bullet, and a load that satisfied my demand for accuracy.
The bullet, a moly-coated 50 grains “Hornady” V-Max, reduced cupper fouling in the bore. The V-Max bullet is a specialized Varmint bullet, made with a thin jacket for violent expansion. This type of bullet would not be suitable on deer.
Using both the bullet’s ballistic coefficient, and velocity (measured at 3950 fps), I made a “drop table” to use for correcting my hold for long-range shots.

How far, is too far?
That is a good question. In my opinion, the answer depends on the circumstances. One of the circumstances is the shooting position. I would never take a shot at a buck, for example in a freestanding position at a range of more than 50 meters. If, on the other hand, I were shooting in the prone position, with a rest, under optimum conditions, I would shoot at that same buck at 200 meters without thinking twice about it.
I tested my .220 Swift at different distances out to 300 meters. With a zero at 240 meters, I compiled the drop chart below.
One thing I learned from my testing was the great affect wind deflection has on a light bullet. If it’s possible to estimate a distance, and know the bullet’s drop at that distance, it is a simple job to compensate for this drop. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to estimate wind speed and angel, and then afterwards compensate for the wind deflection. Because of that I decided not to shoot at long range on game in cross wind.

A fox stalk
One morning near the end of November, I climbed op in the high seat (stand) at the end of the “north meadow”. The high seat leans against an old oak tree. Thirty meters on the right side from me a creek meanders through the meadow, and on the other side of the creek, I have a view over a grass field. Earlier in the year there have been caws on the field, so the grass has been cropped. Right in front of me and to the left, the meadow stretches, 500 – 600 meters. The “North meadow” is a huge grass area, and it’s been cut late in the summer. A few spots have not been cut, though, and stand out like small “islands” with high grass as hiding places for game.
I had been sitting in the high seat and watching for an hour or so, when my eyes catch a movement in the grass field on the other side of the creek. It is a fox, in the characteristic jog-trot, crossing the field. I got my rifle ready, and took rest on a strong oak bough, on my left side. Range was about 150 meters. The fox continued it’s jogging. Stand still, darn it! Then the fox stopped to sniff something on the ground. The scope was set on 20 power, the reticle catch the heart region of the fox, the sight was steady, when I squeezed the trigger BOOM!!! The fox collapsed, and lay still, not moving a limb. I remained sitting in my stand. A half an hour later the sun rose up above the beech trees on the hill behind me, and spread sunbeams over the meadow. Shortly after that another fox appeared about 500 meters away on my left side. The fox was very busy by catching mice in the cropped grass. The wind was perfect, coming toward me, so I claimed down from my high seat, and started a stalk. I was quite sure that I have a fair chance of getting closer to the fox while mouse hunting absorbed it. I followed the edge of the meadow while I kept cover behind the beech trees. When at last I was on line with the fox I saw that it had disappeared into one of the high grass “islands” I crawled forward to a bank of earth, from where I would have a clear shot, if the fox appeared again. Suddenly, I saw the fox, standing between two grass tufts just like a pointer in front of a bird. Clearly the fox got the scent or sound of a mouse in the grass in front of him. I got my rifle into position, estimating the range at about 150 meters. This one died like the fist one, instantly when the bullet hit him.

A long shot
It was the last Saturday in January, and I was sitting in the high seat in the “North meadow”. I have shot only one fox from this place since I shot the two in November. One of my friends had seen two foxes earlier in the morning from this spot, so I went out about noon. There was snow on the ground from a light snowfall the night before. Now it was sunny weather, with the wind blowing weakly from the south. I have been sitting and enjoying the good weather, watching two herons with my binoculars
The herons strutted around in the meadow, and as I sat studying them I suddenly spotted a fox. It came out from the high grass on my left side. Quickly I got my rifle up, and caught the fox in the scope. It was a considerable distance away, about 300 meters by my estimation. The fox continued a jog trot in the direction of the fox’s den in the hillside on the other side of the meadow. Stalking was out of the question, so now I had to make a quick decision.
Should I fire? The rifle had a stable rest on the left side of the high seat. I was wedged firmly in my sitting position as I pressed myself back into the seat. The wind was weak, and coming right toward me, so I wouldn’t have to worry about wind deflection. The only thing I have to compensate for was the drop. I looked at the drop table on top of the scope and it said there would be a 10-centimeter drop at 300 meters. But the problem was that the fox was moving. I made a decision! I decided to fire if the fox would stop while I still had it in sight. The fox continued jogging, but at last it stopped, nearly 300 meters out in the meadow. I kept the scopes reticle 10 cm. above the place I wanted to hit the fox. The rifle was complete steady, as I increased pressure on the trigger. At the very moment the shot went of, the fox was down. I reloaded the rifle, but there was peace and quiet in the area, with the exception of the two herons; they were in the air now. I remain sitting in the high seat for another hour, before I walked down to the fox. I counted my steps, and by step number 280 I stood by the fox. It was a young vixen, and it was dead with a clean heart shot. That reminds me of what one of my friends, an excellent marksman, said.

“It is not difficult to make a perfect shoot!
The art of shooting is to abstain from making a bad shot!”


Posted by Mauser on Thursday, July 27, 2006 (19:09:58) (5211 reads)
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  Pigeons in South Africa
Hunting StoriesPigeons in South Africa

The best pigeon shooting in the world

Ed Harmon

Just returned from the Dark Continent where we were hunting rock pigeon, speckled rock pigeon, red-eyed dove, cape dove, guinea fowl, ducks, geese and francolin. The country of South Africa is reported to have the very best pigeon shooting in the world. The seven in our group had a great time for the 7 days we were there and can attest to the accuracy of “the best pigeon shooting” statement.

Our great time was almost put out of focus by Delta Airlines. They lost all of our guns (6 gun cases) for four days and the luggage of two of our group was missing for five days. The difference between a good host and a great host came out quickly, in such a situation. Our hosts scraped together guns for us to use and scoured their closets for boots and clothing that would fit each hunter in need. Thanks to the good folks at Grass Land Safaris we never missed a minute of hunting. For myself, this trip was not my first day at the rodeo and it was a good thing I had prior foreign hunt travel experience, as I was one of the unfortunates without guns or luggage. My airline carry on bag has, for the past three international hunting trips, contained a full set of hunting clothes, without boots. My hunting suit in the carry on ditty bag doubles as a rain suit. The suit has a Gortex jacket and Gortex pants. A hunting suit, including a hat and gloves, in the carry on is a little lesson learned from two trips to Argentina. Next trip will see a pair of lightweight, short boots, in the bag as well. Some in our SA group were not as lucky, but our host made it all work out, just fine.

Anyway, we did our level best to lay waste to the pigeons and doves and tried to reduce the guinea and francolin population, as best we could. Rock Pigeons (RP) are large birds, about the size of a small partridge. They sport a wingspan of 18 to 24 inches. A mature Rock Pigeon flies about twice the speed of a grey mourning dove. In the air a RP looks and acts like an aerobatic aircraft flown by an expert pilot. They say a 25% ratio on RPs is just about all a real expert bird hunter can expect. Yes, well, 20% might be a better figure. I myself shoot a respectable 70% - 75% recorded ratio on Argentine doves and doubt that I ever came close to 25% on the RPs, the first day’s pigeon shoot. After the first 10 shots and being 60%, I actually thought to myself; “well now this isn’t so hard.” 90 rounds later, I just gave up trying to maintain a decent ratio. It is not uncommon for the best shooters to find themselves relegated to “flock shooting” the RPs, jut to calm the inevitable frustration.

This trip actually started during the summer of 2005 in Argentina, over a cool beverage, one evening. As bird shooters are want to do, we were talking about the very best bird hunting in the world, for various flying species, when the subject of pigeon shooting came up. Two folks that had been, told us about shooting pigeons in the sunflower fields of South Africa the year before and how the numbers of birds were just outstanding. We, the ones that had not gone before, looked around at each other and decided right there and then that we just had to go, next year. One of our group had a standing reservation, for eight hunters, for the last week in April with Carel and his wife Cariel Coetzer of Grass Land Safaris.

Grass Land Safaris is a premier wing-shooting out*****r in South Africa; they are in Bamfort, Free State (old Orange Free State), South Africa. Bamfort is a sleepy little town located about four hours by van, south of Johannesburg. Carel, head honcho and senior Professional Hunter (PH) was in a prior life, a lieutenant in the old South African Army. As a former Recondo in the 101st Airborne, I knew of the re*****tion of the two finest military arms on the continent, the old SAA and the Rhodesian Army. Their long range patrol units were second to none. Carel served in a long range patrol unit officer in Rhodesia and Angola, years ago, during the troubles with the communist rebels. Cariel, a lovely lady, with a great outgoing personality, is a registered nurse who now administers a hunting lodge in the bush, on an 8,000-acre ranch. Cariel also takes care of the bangs and bruises plus sore muscles and joints. She has a very detailed grasp and knowledge of her country’s history. The Coetzers have three children and a steady flow of hunters from all over the world. They both are very dedicated hosts who go out of their way to make everyone feel special and bend over backwards to accommodate the needs of their guests with whom they become friends very quickly.

As things are and always will be, not everyone in the original group of eight could go to SA, so two of us took the places of the poor unfortunates that had to back out of the original arrangements. Their loss was very much our gain.

We took off early in the AM from the Pensacola Airport where the entire group gathered. While on the plane awaiting takeoff, we became alarmed when one of our group saw the baggage handlers remove several of our gun cases, just before leaving the terminal. Later we would all agree that we should have got off the plane right there and then. The next time, should we observe such a debacle starting, we will only continue the flight with the guns. From now on, if we see the guns get off the plane, so do we. Later we were told that the plane was over loaded, this was the excuse for removing the guns. However, removing the gun cases was a violation of just about every security regulation in the US Airline Industry playbook. Not to mention the TSA playbook.

Our hosts met us at the airport, arranged everything and off we went. Our first traveling experience in South Africa was a white-knuckle ride. We found ourselves on the wrong side of the road. The SA drivers drive on the left side, like the British. After a 19-hour plane ride we were a bit delusional, so the oncoming vehicles kept registering as being on our side, at curves, etc. We arrived at the hunting lodge after dark to iced drinks; great South African wines and a wonderful sit down meal of fresh vegetables and grilled Kudu steaks. South Africans like most Europeans, drink their beverages without ice, or without being chilled, so the ice machine was part of our host’s preparation for a US group of visitors. Our chef, a lovely lady, was a culinary professor and registered dietician who taught at the local university. During our entire time at Grass Land, she kept us well fed and always came up with some excellent deserts. All of our meals had an exotic flare, at least for us.

The first hunting day, Monday, we left the lodge well before daylight in what was to become our regular routine. We drove for about 45 minutes to the Dove-Pigeon field, where the sunflowers were brown and ready to harvest. Unlike Argentina, the doves and pigeons in SA have a flight line and rarely stray off the line. You do not see hundreds of doves scattered all over the place like you see in South America. You just see doves in large numbers at or near the fields where they feed and where you go to shoot. The odd thing about the flight line is the birds fly the line in small groups, one group right behind the other, for hours on end. The flight line was so narrow, only about 200 yards wide, that we sat up starting at 40 yards off both sides of the corner of the field. The birds came over the corner and most veered left or right, and then flew down the edge of the field. With an over and under, you shot just about as fast as you could load. We lost three “lodge” guns that first day, to breakage, all of the broken guns were well used Berettas. One O/U started opening by itself when the upper barrel was fired. Another O/U had its hammer actuator snap off from the forearm, after a box of shells, and a side by side decided it was time for it to start doubling. Carel got those guns replaced and everything ran pretty smooth after that.

I cannot go into all of the things our host did to make our trip a success, but let us say, the effort was extraordinary in every sense of the word. Carl did not join us for dinner or for a drink until Friday night. When Carl left with us in the morning Cariel took over the effort. The rest of the time, the couple was improvising, adapting and overcoming. As a business owner myself, I think it needs to be said here that anyone can run a perfectly smooth operation, it is only when the ship hits the sand that the real gems start to sparkle. And sparkle they do at Grass Land Safaris.

Every day, when out hunting, we stopped shooting about 11:00 for a brunch in the field. Fritz, the young Professional Hunter in residency (two years with senior PH is required) was in charge of setting up the field kitchen and dining area. The kitchen and tables were off in the distance and always near some large trees, in the shade. We normally had a field brunch consisting of a grilled whole grain sandwich made of cheese with sliced tomato, grilled wild game strips on a stick, game shish kabobs, boiled eggs, grapes and yogurt. To drink we had soft drinks and bottled water. Carl is a stickler for safety and does not allow any alcohol on his hunts, period. Our entire group, to a man, was very grateful to see Carl take this stand on safety. We had all had bad experiences in other parts of the world and none of us cared to see those things repeated or even come close to happening, again.

The second day, Tuesday, we went back to the field of the first day. When we got to the field just after daybreak we saw that the farm workers were already busy combining the sunflower seedpods. The birds were everywhere, like bees flocking to a press, crushing apples, for apple cider. We sat up our blinds and started a great dove and pigeon shoot. The shoot lasted all day with no shortage of birds. We learned something on the first day that was different about hunting in SA, they adhear to the English methods of hunting. The birds are just not counted and the bird boys are pulled back from the hunter least they interfere with the hunt.

The third day, Wednesday, we drove about 20 minutes from the lodge to a farm where they were harvesting potatoes and sunflowers. This was no dove shoot we were going to. What we saw in the distance, as we arrived, were clouds of big birds, by the thousands. This location is where we were to see a full day of Rock Pigeon shooting, with very few doves in attendance. I would say we saw or shot less than 1% doves. This was where we were to see, for the first time, the true performance of a Rock Pigeon.

I will attempt to describe the flight of a Rock Pigeon; they come by the edge of the field, flying parallel to the edge and out about 200 yards, then make a circle out over an open area. At the end of the circle they make a turn towards you, then they come straight for the edge of the field, flying at full speed, about 50 feet off the ground. Just as they get to the edge of the field, they do a barrel roll, dive for the ground, then make a 90 degree right turn, fly for 10 yards, then a 90 degree left turn and fly across the field at the height of the sunflowers. During this series of maneuvers they reach speeds of near twice that of a mourning dove. The evasive movement starts the moment anyone shoots, moves or stands up. I actually saw one bird do a wings out, hear up, complete stall, from full speed, then it did a hammerhead over into a dive, pulled out at 3 feet above the ground and then flew across the field about a foot below the top of the sunflowers, dodging seed pods as it went. Needless to say, my first shot was where the bird was supposed to be, not where it was.

I had to keep telling myself that missing was part of what was expected. I do not think I have ever shot so much empty air before in my life. But empty air was not the end of the frustration. The birds are so big and so tough that many times, a shot would render a puff of feathers and result in a hunter standing there, after two shots, empty gun in hand, and no bird on the ground. A big day on the RP line, for this shoot, was 100 to 125 birds, on the ground. There was no lack of shooting just a serious lack of bird bodies.

The best part of the third day was that our gun cases arrived in the late afternoon and were awaiting our return to the lodge at day’s end. We did have a couple of guns damaged, a hole in a gun case and one gun case badly scuffed, as if it had been dragged across asphalt for a mile or so. However, we were very happy to get our *****d guns back in hand.

What is the best method of shooting Rock Pigeon? Well the advice I received from Carel was; when you first see the pigeons, duck down behind the camouflage net, pick a single bird coming straight towards you, watch the pigeon through the net until it get about 80-90 yards out. At that point you stand and shoot. The pigeon should be about 70 yards out when you fire. The pigeon will collide with the shot at 35 to 40 yards, due to his flight speed. The method did not work so well on this day, in short sunflowers, but on Saturday, in tall sunflowers, it worked like magic.

The fourth day, Thursday, we left early again and drove for about 15 minutes. Now with our over and under guns we could hunt game birds. We stopped and lined up across a large pasture of waist high, yellow grass that was still soaking wet from the dew. Most of us had never hunted Guinea fowl before, so we were in for a real experience. Guineas like to hide in the tall grass and similar to a New England partridge, will let you walk up to them or go by them, before they come up. Luckily we had two dogs with us. The dogs made short work of pointing the birds up and finding the birds, after the birds were shot. Guinea fowl are bigger than a pheasant and if skinned have white meat that tastes quite a bit like the meat of a domestic chicken, that is slightly tough and a little stringy. The evening of the fourth day we dined on fresh Guinea with vegetables and an excellent South African table wine.

You know what gets your attention while walking through waist high yellow grass, bird hunting? The guy in line, next to you, says; “Two years ago I got my black mane, male lion, over there, about three miles from here.” You then look around and realize that, yes, you are in tall grass, on the plains, in Africa, with your O/U 12ga and #7 ½ shot. Every movie you ever saw with a lion chasing prey flashes by in your memory. Here dog, here dog, stay close dog, find the lion, find the lion first, my buddy the bird dog.

The afternoon of the fourth day I broke off and went plains game hunting with my custom rifle chambered in 300 Winchester Short Mag. Grass Land Safaris offers both wing shooting and plains game hunting. We went out to the range to make sure my rifle was sighted in. I quickly discovered that someone had twisted both of my large tactical adjustment knobs counter clockwise. The first bullet impact was in the upper right hand corner of a piece of 8½ x11 paper at 100 yards. My first thought was, so much for mounting a tactical scope and giving it to customs officials. After 5 rounds we got everything going correctly and off we went. A valuable lesson; never shoot at an animal with a rifle taken on a trip until you test fire the rifle.

We saw a large group of Blaze Buck and got to within 200 yards on the first try. The Blaze Bucks were standing on a slight rise in tall yellow grass with only the upper half of their body exposed. However, just as I got the shooting sticks set up, the wind changed from blowing in our face to blowing dead from our backs. Off all of the Blasé Bucks went with a snort. Several hours later we came upon the heard again, but this time they were milling around in a slight depression. They were right at 200 yards once we finished our hour of stalking, just a big wad of heads and horns sticking out of the tall grass. The grass was so high that all that could be seen when I was standing was the very top of their back, neck and head. Every time a good ram was spotted, he had a ewe in front or behind him. Because of the tall grass I had to stand to get a shot at them. I stood there for over 5 minutes with the rifle on the sticks. I was shooting a 180-grain Sierra Game King bullet at over 3,000 fps and knew for certain that the bullet was going to go right through the animal. Finally the PH called for the truck to move up in an attempt to separate them or spread them out a bit. Unfortunately instead of milling around just a little, they all bolted at once and headed off like a run away freight train, full speed, right out of sight. They were very spooky, which I lay on a zebra stallion that was with the heard. He acted strange, very skittish, every time we saw him. I decided to return to wing shooting the next day rather than spend more time with the antelope.

Three of the other hunters had better luck than me. Between the three of them they bagged a high scoring Kudu, a very good Gem Buck and a very fine Black Wildebeest. The Wildebeest was shot at about 330 yards with a 338 Ultra Mag. Andy, our resident Veterinarian, made a perfect shot. The 338 A Frame bullet entered just inside the right shoulder and exited behind the left shoulder. The Wildebeest dropped like he had been struck by lightning. The Kudu and Gem Buck were shot with a .308 rifle provided by the out*****r.

The next day we were up and out a bit earlier. We drove about 30 minutes to an area where the ground was low and there were what appeared to be small lakes or large ponds. The South Africans call the water filled areas Pans. A Pan is a low area that fills with water in the rainy season and then dries out during the dry season. The pans were the favorite places for spur wing geese, shell ducks, Egyptian Geese and the African red billed teal. We had a nice morning waterfowl hunt, bagging three spur wings, two shell ducks and several red-billed teal. I had the experience of shooting a B-52 bomber with a BB gun. That was a spur wing with a 12ga O/U at about 45 yards. I saw and heard the shot hit, twice. But the big goose never even changed direction or lost a wing beat. Every goose brought down that morning had a broken wing bone or was hit with one pellet in the head. I watched one goose after being hit, run into a pan, and swim across the pan, about 200 yards, then run up a hill before the hunter ran him down.

That afternoon we hunted Guinea fowl again and had a marvelous time shooting guineas, quail and Francolin. The quail in South Africa are quite a challenge due to their size, about 2 ounces total weight. Unfortunately a 2-ounce quail shot with a 12 ga at 10 yards doesn’t leave much to put in the game bag. This particular hunt was great for me as I got a couple of quail and four mature guinea fowl.

The evening of the 5th day Carel announced that we had not returned to the site of the pigeon shoot because the pigeons had moved. Carel and Fritz had found a new place for pigeons and doves and that new place was an hour away, but looked like an excellent spot if we wanted to give it a go.

The sixth day we were off to the new spot, across the street from an operational gold mine, where we set up our blinds in tall green sunflowers. It was a remarkable spot, with high tension power lines in front of the field, a paved road along the left side, high tension lines on the other side of the paved road and the gold mine, with its three huge concrete vent stacks, across the paved road. Early in the morning, before brunch, I had shot 14 boxes of shells, one spot down from the corner of the field. When we returned from brunch, everyone moved one spot, as is the procedure at Grass Lands. I moved down one spot to the corner of the field. It was at this point that the pot came to a hard boil. Fritz left for a few minutes to check on the other hunters and returned to find me sitting, out of ammo, this sequence was repeated three times before the afternoon was up. My Browning Ultra XS 20ga gun was smoking, literally. The metal got so hot that you could not touch it with your bare hands. Fritz came by in the truck as the sun went down, I heard him say to Carel that my stand looked like I declared war on the pigeons, their little bodies were everywhere, littering the ground. I had shot 70 boxes of shells (1750) rounds and the bird boys picked up four 60-gallon nylon bags, full of dead birds. To say that we helped deplete the vermin population would be an appropriate statement.

The next morning we got ready to go and were surprised by a gift from our hosts, a very nice embroidered hunting shirt. The shirt had a Guinea Fowl, in color, topped by the words Grass Land Safaris in an arch above the guinea. The colorful work was embroidered in the front left pocket area. We were sorry to leave and were not looking forward to the long plane ride back to the US.

On our way from the lodge to the Johannesburg Airport, we stopped at a SA version of a roadside truck stop and there was Fritz with his truckload of Danish hunters, on their way to the lodge. I guess I made the list of hunting stories around the campfire. Fritz introduced me to the group of new hunters, as “this is the fellow I was telling you about that shot 1750 shells just yesterday.”

I have saved this portion of the story for last, “the what you need to know:” part of the process. Going to South Africa has its quirks so one needs to pay attention:
1) Hunting in South Africa is not done on Sunday (arrive and leave on Sundays).
2) Doves and Pigeons are considered destructive pests and can be shot anytime with any gun, including a semi-auto shotgun.
3) Game birds, Francolin, quail, Guinea, waterfowl, etc., cannot be hunted with a semi-auto.
4) Semi-auto shotguns are all but impossible to bring into the country unless you get a handicapped persons permit (pretty much requires use of only one arm).
5) Shotgun shells of 12 ga are easy to obtain, 20 ga are available with an up charge, but 28 ga and .410 are not popular or readily available.
6) The agricultural center of South Africa is the Free State.
7) The altitude across the Free State is about 4,200 feet, so the sun burns you to a crisp, without sunscreen.
Cool In the fall (April-May) it might be 32 degrees F at daybreak and 80 degrees F by mid afternoon.
9) Layered clothing is a must due to the change in temperature.
10) Plains game hunting is available at Grass Lands on their 8,000-acre ranch; wing shooting at Grass Lands takes place on their 200,000 acres of leased hunting lands.
11) Recommended rifle for plains game hunting by the PH, I asked, a claw extractor model rifle in 30-06 with 165 to 200 grain bullets.
12) What rifle did the PH have to rent, a Model 98 Mauser in 308 with 165 Sierra GK bullets, hand loaded.
13) Bird boys in SA do not load your shell pouch or count birds. If you want a count, bring a clicker.
14) Shooting over sunflowers requires low shots. Shooters should be at least 70 yards apart, eye protection is a must.

Contact information:

Posted by SwampFox on Thursday, June 08, 2006 (19:16:47) (9296 reads)
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  Forming AckleyImproved Brass
ReloadingOver the last thirty years or so building rifles and reloading, one subject that comes up frequently are the Ackley improved or more to the point ,what is the correct way to form brass. I'll get into some details and ramble on a bit, but I think in the end it will make sense.

( NOTE...I'm neither a writer or good picture taker. The old saying "A picture speaks a thousand words" applies .....)

The design is such that factory or handloaded ammo can be safely fired in an improved chamber. In reality,they are not ture wildcat cartridges. Wildcats are considered a rifle for which no factory loaded ammo exists. A 6.5-06 would be an example. The 6.5-308 was a wildcat for many years until Remington standardized it,now known as the 260 Remington. The 7mm-08 is another example. The term "improved" is a round reconfigured by fireforming,but where both ammo and chambered rifle exist.

With that, lets look at a typical AI cartridge. First, the shoulder is typically moved to a steeper angle, 40 degrees the most common, second, the body taper is reduced to a minimun spec,normally .010" case web to the shoulder and third, the neck-shoulder junction is moved back. This is a picture of a formed AI and parent cartridge, a 22-250 and 22-250AI.

The method to form AI brass is actually quite simple by firing factory or handloaded ammo,but I need to make a few comments first.

We all hear about the term "Headspace". A black art or a mythical process to some, but in my opinion, its simply a piece of brass trapped between two unmoveable pieces of steel. I believe in the K.I.S.S. principle.
Headspace is normally the distance from the boltface to a point on the case shoulder known at the "Datum" for a bottleneck rimless cartridge,however there are other ways to acheive it. As an example,when the 204 Ruger hit the market factory brass was at a premium, more costly than gold I think. One work around was to reform 222 Rem. Mag brass, the parent of the 204 R. Since I had a supply of left over 222 RM brass,by partically resizing the neck in the 204 die creating a "false" shoulder and fireforming, I made 204s. My load for the 204 is 29.5-BLC2 with a 32 grain bullet, the forming load,28.0-BLC2 and a 32. As to why that forming load I'll get to later. Take notice of the shoulder position between the 222 RM and 204 cases.

Another method of headspacing as used to form AI brass is the neck-shoulder junction. The design of a true improved places the junction back from that of the parent round. The reason for that is when a factory case is chambered the only contact is with the boltface and the junction. Remember, the AI chamber has a straighter body and steeper shoulder angle, so the casehead and shoulder-neck junction points are the only place a factory case will make full contact. As a side note, the orginal spec for the 30-06 was the same, casehead to neck-shoulder junction, not the datum!

Here are three examples, a 22-250AI,250-3000AI and a 270-308AI next to the parent cartridge. All three parent cases were randomally selected from lots of brass, right out of the bag except the 270,which was necked to 27 from 308 brass only.

Notice,in all three examples, the location of the neck-shoulder junction.

Here are the three parents,smoked to show where they headspace in the AI chamber. The bright ring indicates contacts the chamber wall or zero headspace.

Next, the parent, a chamber cast and a formed 250-3000AI case.

The pictures show the correct method for headspacing a factory parent to form improved brass. When the factory round is chambered there will be a slight crush fit if the chamber was cut correctly.

Now, if the chamber was cut correctly and is in fact a true AI, there are two way to make brass. One, simply fire factory loaded ammo of you choice, the other, handload forming rounds. Now, regardless of the opinions,thoughts,ideas and rumors what charge to use, the correct one is a stiff charge for the parent round. As an example, for my 22-250AI I shoot a load of 39.5 - Varget, the forming load is 36.0-Varget, both with a 50 grain bullets. That 36 grain load is just under the top for a 22-250 listed in the Sierra manual.

Although some suggest and get away with a reduced load to form brass, from expericence, I don't recommend it. A reduced load may casue "bouncing" effect and not fully form the case. (P.O. Ackley words) Although appearence wise it looks perfect, they can be as much as .030" short causing a casehead or top shoulder seperation. In my 30 some odd years using AIs I have seen this time after time. About a year ago, a showed me a case with a complete shoulder seperation from a 243AI. It happend on the second firing He had formed the using a light load for the 243 Win. Measurements of the formed brass showed they were .005 - .0015 short. I made a chamber cast to confirm the chamber dimensions, loaded a new batch of ammo and they formed exactly right. Lesson learned.

Another miscomception is a bullet jam. A bullet will not provide headspacing, it moves! Remember my defination of headspace, a brass case between two "unmoveable" pieces of steel? A bullet will begin moving before the case can expand 100%. I've heard of the firing moving the case forward when the primer is struck. If this happens,the case is too short, or the chamber is too long. I'll say it again, "a factory case will headspace on the neck-shoulder junction in a correctly chambered barrel".
I continue mentioning "correctly" chambered.. There are those that simply re-ream an existing chamber to convert to an AI without setting back the barrel. This creates a chamber longer than a true improved. Remember the AI is longer from the casehead to the top of the shoulder and shorter at the neck-shoulder junction than the parent round. For a 22-250 - 22-250AI the measurements are....

(22-250 22-250AI)
Casehead to shoulder ............ 1.514" ... 1.524"
Casehead to neck - shoulder .. 1.664" .... 1.644"
Overall length ....................... 1.912" .... 1.892
Top shoulder diameter ............ .414" ..... .454"

Using these measurements, you can see why setting back the barrel is required. If you thinking of having the conversion done,ask how the job will be done . If it doesn't include the setback, find another 'smith...quick! I made that mistake with my first one,a 280AI. Another gunsmith did the job over, correctly.
At times a reamer is cut to a special specs, ie..freebore,neck diameter,etc. Ask for the reamer specifications before having the job done. Its always a good idea to have the 'smith test fire the rifle and supply a few fired cases. The last few I've put together have been fully threaded and chambered Savage barrels. To headspace them, I use a factory unsized case. The 22-250AI and 250-3000AI in the pictures were done using factory brass and fireformed. In fact, all my Savages have be setup this way, AI or otherwise.

After forming, reloading for an AI is exactly the same as any other catridge and caution should be used in working up a loads as one would normally do.

Now, some may agree,disagree or have other opinions This is what I've been taught, do and have formed thousands of rounds without a problem.

Well, I hope this helps those thinking the AI route. They are not the problem some make them out to be. The benifits are a higher velocities and extended case life if loading is kept within reason, but one more step in the process of reloading.

Take care !


Posted by BillPa on Saturday, April 08, 2006 (16:27:17) (16305 reads)
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  Ed's Red Bore Cleaner
ShootingMix Your Own "Ed's Red" Bore Cleaner... It Really Works!

By Ed Harris Rev. 12-27-94

Three years ago I mixed my first "Ed's Red" and I still think the "recipe" is a great idea. If you have never tried it, or maybe lost the recipe, I urge you save this and mix your own. My followers on the FIREARMS Echo think it's the best thing since smokeless powder! Therefore, I'll summarize the story again for the passing parade that didn't get it the first time...

I originally did this because I used a lot of rifle bore cleaner and was deterred by the high price of commercial products. I knew there was no technical reason why you could not mix an effective bore cleaner using common hardware store ingredients which would be inexpensive, effective, and provide reasonable corrosion protection and adequate lubrication.

The "recipe" is based on proven principles and incorporates two polar and two nonpolar ingredients. It is adapted from a formula in Hatcher's Notebook, Frankford Arsenal Cleaner No.18, but substituting equivalent modern materials. I had the help of an organic chemist in doing this and we knew there would be no "surprises" The original Hatcher recipe called for equal parts of acetone, turpentine, Pratts Astral Oil and sperm oil, and optionally 200 grams of lanolin added per liter.

Pratts Astral oil was nothing more than acid free, deodorized kerosene. We use K-1 kerosene of the type normally sold for indoor space heaters. An inexpensive, effective substitute for sperm oil is Dexron (II, IIe or III) automatic transmission fluid. Prior to about 1950 that most ATF's were sperm oil based, but during WWII a synthetic was developed for use in precision instruments. With the great demand for automatic transmission autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to produce ATF in the quantity demanded, so the synthetic material became the basis for the Dexron fluids we know today. The additives in ATFs which include organometallic antioxidants and surfactants, make it highly suitable for our intended purpose.

Hatcher's original formula used gum spirits of turpentine, but turpentine is expensive and highly flammable. Cheaper and safer is aliphatic mineral spirits, which is a petroleum based "safety solvent" used for thinning oil based paints and as automotive parts cleaner. It is commonly sold under the names "odorless mineral spirits," "Stoddard Solvent" or "Varsol".

There isn't anything in Ed's Red which will chemically remove copper fouling, but it does a better job on carbon residue than anything out there. Several users have told me, that with exclusive use of "ER" does reduce the buildup of copper fouling, because it removes old impacted fouling which is left by other cleaners, reducing the adhesion of abraded metal to the surface, and leaving a cleaner surface which reduces subsequent fouling. It appears that "ER" will actually remove metal fouling it if you let it "soak" so the surfactants will do the job, though you may have to be patient.

The lanolin is optional. The cleaner works quite well without it. Incorporating the lanolin makes the cleaner easier on the hands, and provides better residual lubrication and corrosion protection if you use the cleaner as a protectant for long term storage. If you want to minimize cost, you can leave the lanolin out and save about $8 per gallon. Mix some yourself. I know it will work as well for you as it does for me.

CONTENTS: Ed's Red Bore Cleaner

1 part Dexron II, IIe or III ATF, GM Spec. D-20265 or later.
1 part Kerosene - deodorized, K1
1 part Aliphatic Mineral Spirits, Fed. Spec. TT-T-2981F, CAS
#64741-49-9, or substitute "Stoddard Solvent", CAS #8052-41-3, or equivalent, (aka "Varsol")
1 part Acetone, CAS #67-64-1.

(Optional up to 1 lb. of Lanolin, Anhydrous, USP per gallon, OK to substitute Lanolin, Modified, Topical Lubricant, from the drug store)


Mix outdoors, in good ventilation. Use a clean 1 gallon metal, chemical-resistant, heavy gage PET or PVC plastic container. NFPA approved plastic gasoline storage containers are also OK. Do NOT use HDPE, which is breathable because the acetone will evaporate. The acetone in ER will attack HDPE in about 6 months, making a heck of a mess!

Add the ATF first. Use the empty container to measure the other components, so that it is thoroughly rinsed. If you incorporate the lanolin into the mixture, melt this carefully in a double boiler, taking precautions against fire. Pour the melted lanolin it into a larger container, rinsing the lanolin container with the bore cleaner mix, and stirring until it is all dissolved.

I recommend diverting a small quantity, up to 4 ozs. per quart of the 50-50 ATF/kerosene mix for use as an "ER-compatible" gun oil. This can be done without impairing the effectiveness of the mix.

Ed's Red Bore Cleaner:

1. Open the firearm action and ensure the bore is clear. Cleaning is most effective when done while the barrel is still warm to the touch from firing. Saturate a cotton patch with bore cleaner, wrap or impale on jag and push it through the bore from breech to muzzle. The patch should be a snug fit. Let the first patch fall off and do not pull it back into the bore.

2. Wet a second patch, and similarly start it into the bore from the breech, this time scrubbing from the throat area forward in 4-5" strokes and gradually advancing until the patch emerges out the muzzle. Waiting approximately 1 minute to let the bore cleaner soak will improve its action.

3. For pitted, heavily carbon-fouled "rattle battle" guns, leaded revolvers or neglected bores a bronze brush wet with bore cleaner may be used to remove stubborn deposits. This is unnecessary for smooth, target-grade barrels in routine use.

4. Use a final wet patch pushed straight through the bore to flush out loosened residue dissolved by Ed's Red. Let the patch fall off the jag without pulling it back into the bore. If you are finished firing, leaving the bore wet will protect it from rust for up to 30 days. If the lanolin is incorporated into the mixture, it will protect the firearm from rust for up to two years. For longer term storage I recommend use of Lee Liquid Alox as a Cosmolene substitute. "ER" will readily remove hardened Alox or Cosmolene.

5. Wipe spilled Ed's Red from exterior surfaces before storing the gun. While Ed's Red is harmless to blue and nickel finishes, the acetone it contains is harmful to most wood finishes).

6. Before firing again, push two dry patches through the bore and dry the chamber, using a patch wrapped around a suitably sized brush or jag. First shot point of impact usually will not be disturbed by Ed's Red if the bore is cleaned as described.

7. I have determined to my satisfaction that when Ed's Red is used exclusively and thoroughly, that hot water cleaning is unnecessary after use of Pyrodex or military chlorate primers. However, if bores are not wiped between shots and shots and are heavily caked from black powder fouling, hot water cleaning is recommended first to break up heavy fouling deposits. Water cleaning should be followed by a thorough flush with Ed's Red to prevent after-rusting which could result from residual moisture. It is ALWAYS good practice to clean TWICE, TWO DAYS APART whenever using chlorate primed ammunition, just to make sure you get all the residue out.




* Flammable mixture. Keep away from heat, sparks or flame.

* FIRST AID, If swallowed DO NOT induce vomiting, call physician immediately. In case of eye contact immediately flush thoroughly with water and call a physician. For skin contact wash thoroughly.

* Use with adequate ventilation. Avoid breathing vapors or spray mist. It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labelling. Reports have associated repeated and prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain and nervous system damage. If using in closed armory vaults lacking forced air ventilation wear respiratory protection meeting NIOSH TC23C or equivalent. Keep container tightly closed when not in use.

This "Recipe" is placed in the public domain, and may be freely distributed provided that it is done so in its entirely with all instructions and safety warnings included herein, and that proper attribution is given to the author.

In Home Mix We Trust,



Posted by Dimitri on Wednesday, April 05, 2006 (23:10:12) (13864 reads)
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  Sectional Density - One Person's Ideas and Observations
Sectional Density?
One Person’s Observation

By: Robert Kaldahl

There are many facets of reloading that bear a direct relationship to the final product of your labor. Each decision made by the reloader had a direct bearing on the quality, usage and efficiency of the final round. This article is being written in an attempt to assist mainly those new to reloading and as a refresher for those that have been involved in reloading for a while.

We as reloaders manufacture our own ammunition for various reasons, it may be to save money, improve accuracy, enhance ballistics, and fill special needs (such as low recoil/velocity) and several other reasons. One that very seldom is mentioned is that of enjoyment in the sport.

Sectional Density is supposedly a factor in the Terminal Ballistics of any given load. SD is a factor that may have some determination into Penetration that is also determined by the resistance of the material hit. SD is also affected by the materials ability to resist penetration that results in energy dissipation and projectile deformation which affects the bullets stability and ability to penetrate a given medium. In our case this medium is the body of a game animal.

With all else being equal this article will deal with Sectional Density (SD). Many writers in the past and even a few this day and age have written charts and beliefs that certain SDs are good for specific categories of animals that we hunt. The general consensus is that the lower the SD the smaller and more fragile the game and the higher the SD the larger more robust the animal. This is not without its merits but leaves many factors omitted in a very complex decision. When a bullet’s SD is given the only thing that it is based on is a mathematical formula.

It is calculated with this formula:

Sectional Density =(Bullet wt. in grains)
7000 x ((bullet dia. In inches) x (bullet dia. In inches))

Let’s take a 30 caliber bullet weighing 165 gr.

165gr / 7000 x ((.308 x .308)) = 165 / 664.048 = .248

For the lay person, SD is a mathematical formula deriving a specific number that is generally used to equate that bullets ability to penetrate through a given medium. This formula is based on mass and the bullets cross-sectional area. But what does this number equate to? For many years I read and listened to others admiring the virtues of a bullet with a high SD. I thought that it had to actually mean something so for a long time I jumped right onto the same bandwagon. That is until one day on a hunt in Alaska for Caribou I was using what I just knew was a great bullet! To me this bullet was great! Big Green had made a beautiful 180 grain Spitzer Boat Tail that shot like a dream in a 300 H&H Magnum that I had picked up on a trade. It shot like greased lightening out to and past 300 yards flat as a road across North Dakota. It had a BC of .540 and an SD of .271, I thought this was just the ticket. Well so much for dreams, my first shot was at the grand distance of less than 50 yards, the bou was angling away so going for the off shoulder I let her rip. That great bullet hit the last rib on the left which shattered and the bullet tore a gash all along the left side of that bou! Well after two more shots it went down for the count. Upon skinning and dressing it out we found the majority of the jacket just under the skin in front of the left shoulder, no core was found anywhere from that shot, the other two shots were also found, again the cores had separated and blown apart. Talk about a mess, the only thing that was usable was from about the middle of the ribcage back, the front shoulders were a mass of bloody pulp. The two jackets were found in the on-side lung and most of the damage on the off side was from bone fragments and little pieces of lead. So much for a great SD of .271. Well I also happened to have 40 rounds of 150 grain Nosler Partitions with me so I thought I would at least try them. ( ** Note** This hunt was with a local Tribe in the Dillingham area so there was no limit as long as the game went into the Tribe’s Winter Food Cashe.). So now I go from a 180gr with an SD of .271 to a 150gr with an SD of .226, everything I had read told me that this bullet would be a failure on anything but very light skinned and light weight game. Needless to say, the 150gr Nosler Partitions dropped those bou like the hammer of Thor, not one bullet was recovered out of 8 that I shot, only one needed a second and that was my last one. All of them were shot in a migration and were all within 50 to 75 yards, these animals are not the most intelligent when in a migration, they may get a bit on the fast side but they don’t change their route by much.

When I returned home from this excursion I sat down and pondered what had happened. I came to the realization that SD and this formula does not take into account anything other than basic figures relating to a bullet, only its weight and diameter. This is a very general figure that really has no correlation into the bullets performance. It does not take into account the shape of the bullet, the materials the bullet is made from, the construction of the bullet nor the velocity that this bullet will traveling on contacting your intended target. Thus any bullet with the same weight and diameter will have the same Sectional Density.

This is a very flawed look at something that determines how effective your chosen bullet may perform. Using only a published SD to choose your bullet is like choosing your auto based only on the size of the engine.

Basing SD on weight/diameter neglects other considerations, jacket thickness, core density/alloy, mechanical/chemical bonding of the core & jacket, inclusion or absence of a mechanical partition, point configuration, inclusion of expansion enhancing tips or weakened areas of the jacket and or even the lack of a core such as in a homogonous bullet like the Barnes Triple Shock. There are even combinations such as the Combined Technologies Fail Safe that uses a homogonous forward section with a hollow point to assist expansion and a lead rear core with a steel back cup to keep the bullet from riveting.

One note that should also be remembered is that even a cast bullet in our example weight and caliber has the same SD as any of the manufactured bullets, no matter what the alloy used. Pure lead, 20:1, 30:1, Wheel Weights or even straight Linotype. What would happen if you were to launch a 180gr. pure lead bullet with a semi spitzer profile from your .300 Wiz Bang Magnum at 3300 fps at a 300plus pound Mule Deer at 50 yards. First off you would be lucky to hit it and second your bullet would miserably fail on contact with your target. So what good is SD in this case? Your bullet has an SD of .248 and according to general knowledge it falls in the area that is recommended for this size animal.

Now lets take this same weight bullet, change the nose profile to a metplat 80% of diameter flat point made out of a mixture of wheel weights and linotype. We then launch this bullet at a muzzle velocity of around 2100 fps from our .308 XYZ in a pistol configuration. We have a totally different result, more than likely venison in the freezer and a successful conclusion.

In the two examples above both bullets have the same SD, but one fails and the other provides complete penetration and the required wound cavity to be successful in taking our quarry. Note also that this is using cast bullets not anything fancy. Change the bullets to a 125 gr Nosler BT and our Magnum again fails due to performance of the bullet where our hunter with his pistol is again successful.

These are a couple of very exaggerated cases that make the point very clear, but how about the new reloader, what is available to them in determining what bullet would be best for their application. I don’t profess that I have all of the answers but hopefully this layman’s article will possibly assist at least one person.

Most hunters will go after some species of deer for most if not all of their “Big Game Hunting” so lets for ease and convenience use the common whitetail.

Whitetail deer from my best knowledge fall into the vicinity of 22 sub-species. The smallest is the Key Deer in the Florida Keys ( they may hit the scales at 25 – 30 pounds live weight for a huge deer) to the largest in the northern areas of the continental US and Canada that hit the scales at times well over 300 pounds live weight with some going over 375 pounds. As Key Deer are protected we won’t have to worry about them but just a bit further north in Florida whitetail abound. These too are small and it doesn’t take much to put them down but for all practical purposes you wouldn’t want to use the same bullet for them as you would going after a Michigan whitetail in the Upper Peninsula.

Lets use a .308 Winchester for our hunting firearm and only use it in a rifle. On our hunt in Florida what would we want to consider important for use in the selection of our projectile.

1) Size & Weight of our deer, probably on the order of a maximum of 160 pounds live weight.
2) Distance that the deer will shot at, lets use 250 yards as a maximum.
3) Incidental game that may be taken during the hunt. In this case there may be a good possibility that a good sized hog may appear.

Now lets see what is available in our local Gun Shop in the Reloading Section.
We have a huge selection of .308 bullets, they range from 100gr. to 220gr. The bullets available at this shop come from 6 different manufacturers and your reloading mentor suggested that you look at the 150 – 180gr weights. As you look over the boxes of the recommended weights you see that there are 11 different bullets just from Nosler on the shelf, 17 from Speer, 12 from Hornady, 10 from Barnes, 16 from Sierra & 8 from Combined Technology. Here is your list of bullets. Now you are really confused!

BARNES Bullets (10)

XLC Coated, .30 caliber 150 gr., Boattail
XLC Coated, .30 caliber 165 gr., Boattail
XLC Coated, .30 caliber 180 gr., Spitzer
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 150 gr., Spitzer
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 150 gr., Boattail
X-Bullets, .30-30 caliber 150 gr., FN
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 165 gr., Spitzer
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 165 gr., Boattail
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 180 gr., Spitzer
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 180 gr., Boattail


Ballistic Silvertip .30 caliber 150 grain BT .308"
Partition Gold 30 caliber 150 grain Spitzer .308"
Fail Safe 30 caliber 150 grain HP .308"
Fail Safe 30 caliber 165 grain HP .308"
Ballistic Silvertip .30 caliber 168 grain BT .308"
Ballistic Silvertip .30 caliber 180 grain BT .308"
Partition Gold 30 caliber 180 grain Spitzer .308"
Fail Safe 30 caliber 180 grain HP .308"

HORNADY Bullets (12)

Hornady 30 Caliber 150 grain SP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 150 grain BTSP .308"
Hornady 30-30 Caliber 150 grain RN .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 165 grain SP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 165 grain BTSP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 168 grain A-Max .308"
Hornady 30 Cal. 168 grain BTHP Moly Match .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 170 grain FP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 178 grain A-Max .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 180 grain SP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 180 grain BTSP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 180 grain RN .308"

NOSLER Bullets (11)

Partition .30 caliber 150 grain Spitzer .308"
BTH 30 caliber 150 grain Spitzer .308"
Custom Competition 30 caliber 155 grain HPBT .308”
Partition .30 caliber 165 grain Spitzer .308"
BTH 30 caliber 165 grain Spitzer .308"
Custom Competition 30 caliber 168 grain HPBT .308”
Partition 30 caliber 170 grain Round Nose 30-30 .308"
Partition 30 caliber 180 grain Spitzer .308"
Partition .30 caliber 180 grain Prot. Point .308"
Partition .30 caliber 180 grain Prot. Point .308"
BTH 30 caliber 180 grain Spitzer .308"

SIERRA Bullets (16)

Sierra 30 Caliber 30-30 150 grain FP .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 150 grain FMJ BT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 150 grain Spitzer BT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 150 grain Spitzer .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 150 grain RN .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 150 grain HPBT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 155 grain HPBT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 165 grain HPBT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 165 grain Spitzer BT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 168 grain HPBT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 168 grain HPBT Moly .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 175 grain HPBT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 180 grain HPBT .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 180 grain Spitzer BT .308”
Sierra 30 Caliber 180 grain Spitzer .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 180 grain RN .308"

SPEER Bullets (17)

308-150 GR. Flat Nose Soft Point 30-30
308-150 GR. Round Nose Soft Point
308-150 GR. Spitzer Soft Point
308-150 GR. Spitzer FMJ BT
308-150 GR. Spitzer Soft Point BT
308-150 GR. Mag-Tip Soft Point
308-150 GR. Grand Slam
308-165 GR. Spitzer Soft Point
308-165 GR. Spitzer Soft Point BT
308-165 GR. Grand Slam
308-168 GR. HP-Match BT
308-170 GR. Flat Nose Soft Point 30-30
308-180 GR. Round Nose Soft Point
308-180 GR. Spitzer Soft Point
308-180 GR. Spitzer Soft Point BT
308-180 GR. Mag-Tip Soft Point
308-180 GR. Grand Slam

We now have a total of 74 bullets to narrow down to one bullet that we are going to use for our whitetail and possible hog hunt. We know that all of the 150gr bullets have an SD of .226, the 165gr have an SD of .248, the 168gr have an SD of .253, the 170gr SD is .256 and the 180gr bullets max out at .271. What does this tell us. In a very short answer, the heavier the weight of a bullet in the same caliber the higher the SD, this in turn should give us more penetration of our bullet on an given animal. While this is generally very true we have to also look at a few variables. One such variable is somewhat easier to look at and that is the specific application that the manufacturer made a certain bullet for. In a 30 caliber bullet various manufacturers make 150gr & 170gr bullets for the 30-30. This cartridge is a fairly low velocity cartridge when compaired to a .308 Winchester using the same weight bullet. Being that it was designed for the velocity range of the 30-30 it was designed to expand and hold together at a maximum velocity of around 2300fps. If we use this bullet in our .308 at a velocity of 2700fps this bullet will in most cases come apart on impact unless the game is far enough away for the velocity to drop into it’s designed range. This being the case we take the bullets designed for the 30-30 off of our list.

This now brings our list down to 66. What else can we use to reduce the number of our available bullets to narrow our choice.

We will not use a bullet designed for Match or Competition as all manufacturers recommend that their match/competition bullets not be used for hunting game animals. I am not going to get into any arguments as to the successes that individuals have with them as these bullets “Are not designed for hunting game animals.” This equals 15 bullets on our list.

We now have only 51 bullets to choose from. Lets go and take off any round nose bullets as we would like to use a bullet that will be able to maintain it’s velocity as high as possible out to our 250 yard range.

That brings us down another 5 for a total left of 46 bullets on our list. What else can we use to bring it down a bit more. In your reading you have read that some of the bullets on your list are a very popular choice in the higher velocity 30 caliber cartridges such as the “Magnum” rounds and that those bullets were being used on much larger animals such as Elk, Moose, Caribou, Grizzly and Bison. Well we don’t need this heavily constructed bullet do we with the rifle we are using and the game we are after so lets take off those that we feel are for much larger game.

There is another 11 to take off bringing us down to only 35 bullets to make our selection from. Just for the sake of removing some bullets we decide that we want a bullet that has a Ballistic Coefficient of no less than .410 so that we can retain our velocity well out to our range of 250 yards.

Now we are down to 29 bullets, being that we are looking at the possibility of getting a wild hog in our sights we know that we would like to insure that we are using enough bullet even at a close range and we have read that some 150gr bullets may not provide the penetration that we would like so we decide to take off any that are 150gr.

Nine more bite the proverbial dust and we now have only 20 to make our selection from, what do we do now? Let’s take a hard look at what we are hunting, in many cases with reading and communicating with other hunters and what they use we have come to a fairly educated decision based on the cartridge that we are using and the game we are after we really don’t need the heavier weight of the 180 grain bullet so we will take them off of our list.

This leaves us with a selection of (11) - 165 & 168 grain bullets to choose from, this list is as follows:

XLC Coated, .30 caliber 165 gr., Boattail
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 165 gr., Spitzer
X-Bullets, .30 caliber 165 gr., Boattail
Ballistic Silvertip .30 caliber 168 grain BT .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 165 grain SP .308"
Hornady 30 Caliber 165 grain BTSP .308"
Partition .30 caliber 165 grain Spitzer .308"
BTH 30 caliber 165 grain Spitzer .308"
Sierra 30 Caliber 165 grain Spitzer BT .308"
308-165 GR. Spitzer Soft Point
308-165 GR. Spitzer Soft Point BT

Our bullets weighing 165 grain have an SD of .248 and our lone 168 grain has an SD of .253, according to the charts this fall within the recommended range of Sectional Density for our game that we are hunting so what do we look at now. Given that we have looked at the reloading data for our cartridge we know that we will be able to load our bullet to a velocity of 2700fps. We know that the deer we are after is a light skinned animal and will not provide much ”Material Resistance” to our bullet but at the same time if we happen to get a shot at a hog the ”Material Resistance” will be much higher. Thus we need to know or make an informed decision as to which bullet we may decide to use. This is where the past results of others plays a large role, along with the re*****tion of the manufacturer. In most cases any of the above bullets will, with proper shot placement put venison and/or pork in your freezer, with your shot not being over 250 yards the difference in trajectory between a boat tail and a flat base bullet is so slight you would not realize the difference. Out of the above selection I will tell you this, the Barnes XLC and X-Bullet along with the Nosler Partition will without a doubt provide more penetration than any of the others. The Barnes bullets will expand the least of any of them also there have been cases of boat tail bullets loosing their core, on a deer this may not have any bearing on the final outcome but on a large hog it very well could. The last thing that you need to do is to shoot them to see which one meets your accuracy requirements.

With my past experience as well as that of many others I will give you my choices in the order of my preference.

1) Nosler 165 grain Partition – Very accurate Premium bullet in my rifle, taken hog, whitetail, caribou & black bear with this bullet with no bullet failures.
2) Combined Technologies Ballistic Silvertip 168 grain – hog & deer, sub MOA out to 300 yards with no bullet failures.
3) Barnes XLC Coated 165 grain Boat tail, not as accurate as the Nosler Partition but will out penetrate the Partition any day, probably due to the fact that it will not expand near to what the partition will.
4) Nosler 165 grain Ballistic Tip (Hunting) – As with the CT Ballistic Silvertip, Sub MOA and not a failure so far. Although I have read and heard reports that most of the Hunting BTs .308 and under may cause extreme tissue destruction at impact velocities over 2600 – 2700fps. I have roughly calculated that the highest impact velocity that I have reached was around 2550fps.

On the other hand, some of those that we took off our list would make very good bullets
for our hunt as they will penetrate in some cases even better than a standard 165 grain bullet. These are the 150 gr. Nosler Partition, the 150gr. Speer Grand Slams, the 150 gr. Failsafes and the 150 gr. Barnes variations. Hopefully you are not more confused at this point and you understand that there is more to a bullets ability to penetrate than it’s numerical Sectional Density.

In closing just think of this; You have a 500 pound hog that will stand still, will jump up alive after being dispatched to allow you to shoot it again and again with all of the bullets available to you with varying SDs, construction, shape, material, weight & caliber. How well will your bullet work at the following velocities. 100fps, 500fps, 1000fps, 1500fps, 2000fps, 2500fps, 3000fps, 3500fps & 4000fps. Plug in any velocity you wish, your hog is there for your testing and it doesn’t change. What bullet will you end up using? I’ll bet you won’t base your future selections based on Sectional Density any more!!!

Posted by Flint54 on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 (17:51:57) (17905 reads)
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  Caping Guide
Field Dressing / Animal CareThis guide is graphic so if you find the sight of blood is disturbing, click the back button on your browser now. It is also image intensive so it might take some time to load on slower internet connections.

First off congratulations on your harvest! Getting a animal mounted is an exciting thing to me... it is much better than pictures and a great way to remember the hunt and harvest.

This guide is meant to be an overview of how to cape out a big game animal for a classic shoulder mount. It is pretty much the same for any big game animal but you might want to consult with your local taxidermist before taking to the field to see if he has any specific additional instructions.


Before you even think about dressing out the animal and caping it, take a moment and study it in its natural form. Turn the head to the left, to the right... raise it higher and lower. Try to get a feel for the best "look" as that will aid you later when the taxidermist asks you what form you want to have it mounted on. Defects can be hidden or enhanced depending on the head position and there is no better time to figure this out than before you begin processing it in the field.

It might also be a good idea to visit a taxidermy form supplier's website to see what types of forms are available for the animal you are hunting, so you at least have an idea what is available. Common forms include Alert (head raised), sneak (head low), semi-sneak (head midlevel), and turns, Ahead, Left, Right. etc etc.

Step #1) Preparation

Try through the steps, to avoid getting blood on the cape. Some people wash off their animals which can be good or bad depending on the animal and what type of hair it has. The following pictures are of a Wyoming Pronghorn Antelope and they are notorious for having hair "slippage" so I like to touch it as little as possible and let the taxidermist do any cleaning of blood as he sees fit.

For a traditional wall mount, the cape is split right up the back of the neck and down around both sides of the chest (see red lines on following pictures).

One major problem most novice hunters make is they make their chest cuts too far forward. Trust me, take more hide rather than too little. Your taxidermist will be much happier if he cuts off an extra 10" than going to mount it and finding out hes 2" short on the brisket.

Mentally envision the first cut, down the center of the animals neck:

Mentally envision the side cuts, making note to start far enough back.

Step #2) Cutting down the neck

Feel with your fingers the backbone and insert your knife to make the initial hole. I dont cut too deep at this point because I want to extract the tenderloins later. I insert two fingers into the hole with my knife safely between them. I then keep constant pulling pressure on the hide as I work the knife carefully up and down making the cut. I like to angle the tip of the knife forward so the hide is cut from the inside out rather than outside edge in. This helps cutting hairs that then get all over the place.

Carefully work your way up the neck to the base of the skull.

Step #3) Cutting down the side

Again, take a good look and make sure you are starting far enough back to give your taxidermist enough hide to work with (note my brother who is a taxidermist looked at this picture and still felt i was on the edge... he'd rather the cut be another 6" back).

Cut the hide straight down the animal (be careful you dont accidently angle forward) exposing the front shoulder.

Insert the knife at the back of the front leg and cut upwards along it, angling into the "armpit" and back until you reach the previous side cut.

Next skin around the front leg, freeing it from leg and "armpit" area.

The entire front shoulder should be completely free at this point. This is a great time to remove it via the "gutless skinning method" listed in another HuntingNut article!

Step #4) Processing side 2

Turn the animal over carefully and again, double check where you are going to make the side cut.

Cut straight down the side to where the first side cut ended at the brisket, exposing the shoulder.

Insert the knife in the back of the front leg, cutting upwards towards the "armpit" then back to your side cut.

Skin around the front leg. Finish freeing up any attached hide near the belly area.

Carefully pull on the hide at this point and make small cuts freeing it from the neck and brisket area.

Once you have it free up to the base of the skull, carefully cut through the meat, jugular, windpipe and tendons at the base of the skull. Once this is done you can carefully twist off the head (it should come off with no problem).

Your head and cape should be free from the body at this point.

Spread the cape out while you process the rest of the animal to let it cool down (very important for some species of big game like Antelope)

Step #5) Processing the head

Processing the head may or may not be necessary depending on how long it will take you to get to a taxidermist. If the weather is cold or you have a way to freeze it you can do that and let the taxidermist do the skinning of the head.

I really suggest your taxidermist do this as you can really mess up cape if you cut the lips, eyes or nose wrong. Its not terribly hard however and I will walk through the steps of it. You might want to try skinning out some small game animals or even big game animals you dont intend on mounting to get a feel for how this works.

First start by orienting the head somewhere it will be secure and easy to work on. Continue the back of the neck cut

Next decide on what type of cut you want to make to free it from the antlers (for a female or animal without antlers you dont have to cut a "Y" cut but rather split the neck just enough to slip the cape up over the head). There are several variations on this and I suggest you ask your taxidermist what he recommends. I personally like the "deep y" as it tends to hide the stitching in the folds of the ears. I have an antelope mounted with a normal "Y" and you can see the stitching on the top of the head. Ask your taxidermist what he recommends.

Next begin carefully skinning the cape from the head. Wiggle the ears to get an idea of where the cartlidge connects to the skull. Cut through it as close to the skull as possible.

NOTE: this is a poor picture but the head is upside down resting on its horns and nose. You can see on the left side where the ear cartlidge has been cut free.

Carefully cut around the base of each antler / horn, freeing the hide. Work in slow careful strokes until you come to the eyes.

Ok if you are tired at this point take a break. The eyes are next and can be tricky for your first time. Now is when patience pays off. Pull on the eye lids and feel with your fingers where the skin around the eye attaches to the skull. You want to cut this as close as possible to the skull. It should be nearly pure white skin that you are cutting. You should be able to see your knife blade behind the skin if you look down under the eyeball. Verify several times you arent cutting any visible "outside" skin. This is expecially important when you get to the inside corner of the eye where the tear duct is. Cut deeply into the skull to remove as much of the duct as possible.

Cut deep, inside the eye socket bone, freeing as much tissue as you can. Your taxidermist will cut off anything he doesnt need but like with a brisket if you are short here, it will be difficult for him to fix.

Once that tedious step is done, orient the animal so you can begin freeing up the lips. Pull the lower lip with a steady pressure and cut it free from the inside of the lip where it meets the gums.

Next pull upward on the upper lip and cut through the gum material and upwards through the nose. It should slowly unfold as you work it free.

Once you have freed the lips and nose, re-orient the head and finish skinning down the sides of the cheeks until it comes free.

At this point your cape should be off the head. Carefully cut off any large pieces of meat that might be hanging on to it. If you have immediate access to a freezer roll it up carefully and freeze it. If you dont have access to a freezer put it in a cool shady spot and unroll it so it can begin to air dry. Rub salt onto it to aid in the drying process.


With the cape removed you can now saw the antlers off or if you are going for a european mount you can boil the head right now (antelope need their horn sheaths removed first, email me if you need instructions on ways to do that step).

Thats pretty much it! Take it to your taxidermist and get it mounted then come back here and share some pictures!

Posted by DallanC on Saturday, March 25, 2006 (02:41:09) (24758 reads)
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