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VOLUMES 185 & 186 --------     NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017

January 1, 2018

Here we are the first day of 2018!  Where does the time go?

I could tell a wild tale about our exciting New Year's Eve celebration, but that would be a taradiddle. 
Ann and I were in bed by about 10:30!

We would normally have been at the Elks Lodge enjoying the New York New Year's Eve party, but that didn't occur this year.  The Elks property is being sold to a developer and we will have to await finding a new location to resume our regular functions.

The reason the Elks party is called New York New Year's Eve, is because of the relative 'maturity' of our members.  We would watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV, at 9:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, have a toast, call it a new year, and get home in time for a good night's sleep!

Our late whitetail buck season ended on November 19th.  As usual, Little Heifer, Rick, and I were holding out for the monster buck until nearly too late!  We did see some mature eight pointers over the course of the season, but passed them up as either, "There will be bigger ones, or today's an inconvenient time to gut and skin a deer!"  One might get the idea that we are beyond the 'must kill a deer' syndrome.  This attitude might come from the fact that we can step out the door here at the ranch and be huntin', often with one or more deer in sight as we step out.

As the last couple of days approached, Rick and I decided that we would take any legal buck for our annual donation to the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane.  While we missed last year because no one shot anything, we have donated at least one deer to the Mission for several years before that.

At any rate, late morning, Saturday November 18th, I had an opportunity for a small 8 pointer and made a successful shot.  This happened to be the first animal taken with the Left Hand Cooper .280 Remington, so that rifle is no longer a virgin!  While I prefer a side on shot placement through the lung/heart region, this guy wouldn't turn sideways for me.  The buck was head on and slightly below me, so when he lowered his head I placed the 150 grain Nosler Partition from the Federal Premium factory load, right between the shoulder blades.

While animals shot through the heart/lung area will often make a mad dash for several yards before they realize they're dead, going through the spine to get to the boiler room, will drop them in their tracks every time.

Buck down - First animal with the Cooper Rifle.

Mighty Hunter!

This is the way to transport your deer from the field.

With Rick's help the little buck was soon gutted, skinned, and hanging in the shop.

Sunday the 19th, became Rick's turn to contribute to the meat supply.  This year Rick chose another rifle that had killed nothing but paper targets.  I have written previously about picking up two left hand SAKO model 85's at Bob Ward's sporting goods in Missoula, MT; one in .30-06 and the other in .270 Winchester.  Rick selected the .270 for this year's hunt.  I was somewhat surprised, as he is very partial to my Ruger .300 Win Mag, to the point he often calls it his!

This being the last day of the season, Rick said, "I'm gonna take the first legal buck I see today!"  Those words were hardly spoken until a little 5 point arrived on the scene.

The SAKO was loaded with Hornady factory ammunition containing their 130 grain SST bullet.  This polymer tipped bullet's frangibility lies somewhere between an explosive varmint bullet and a premium, deep penetrating bonded bullet.  Thus, the SST is recommended for soft skinned game such as deer.

The bullet did its job, just as advertised.  The side on shot through the ribcage pretty much destroyed heart and lungs, and the little buck traveled only about 15 yards before expiring.

Should have moved the brush.   Can't see those big antlers very well.

Rick and the SAKO .270 Winchester.

I've covered this territory before, but will mention again, that we have eaten plenty of Missouri whitetails and Colorado mule deer, savoring each one.  However, we find that our Washington whitetails simply have a different taste and do not please our palates all that much.  However, I did remove the backstrap from my buck to experiment with some different preparation methods.  More on that later.

On Monday the 20th Ann and I loaded the cooled carcasses into the GMC truck, and headed to Union Gospel Mission.  For the first time in many years, we were turned away because their coolers were completely full in preparation for their big, upcoming Thanksgiving celebration.  The nice lady did advise us that Crown Foods was  accepting animals for 'Hunters for the Hungry'.

Sure enough, we were able to donate the two deer to that program, sponsored by the local Safari Club.  This includes Crown Foods' processing the meat into burger, and it is then donated and delivered to needy Northwest Washington families.

At this point, I'll touch on what we're calling a late birthday gift.  Last newsletter included a picture of Ann with a new golf bag, and we had ordered a similar bag for me.  These Sun Mountain bags come out of Missoula, Montana and were ordered by our local pro at The Links Golf Club, where I do most of my playing.  We had a misfire with my first order, and they sent the wrong bag.  The second order was correct, but too late for the last newsletter.  So, here it is.

Here's the golf bag that showed up in time for Christmas.

Since I'm referring to the previous newsletter, let me revisit the reloading of ammunition for the .300 Win Mag that I wrote about.  I have discussed the reloading process many times, and explained the various tools and  gadgets that make the process run smoothly and safely.  I should have mentioned one of the tools that I used for the .300 Win Mag.  This one predates all the stuff like automatic powder dispensers, power trimmers, digital scales, and other case prep tools.  I'm referring to a set of Lee powder dippers.

I've known about these little guys since I first started reloading, which was some 50+ years ago, but can't remember when I bought my set.  The set I have has 15 yellow dippers that are calibrated in cubic centimeters.  Older sets were either black or red in color and labeled in cubic inches.

The sets also contain a slide rule type cardboard gadget that provides at least a starting point for various weights of several common powders.  The downside of this tool is, there are many 'new' powders that have been introduced over the last several years that aren't included in my set.  However, similar sizes and shapes of powder granules or flakes will still be close in weight for a given dipper.  CAUTION:  Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to rely solely on dipping charges without repeated checking of weights on an accurate scale!

Lee Powder Measure Kit.

Fifteen graduated sizes.  Powder guide at top.

Closeup of the approximate weight of IMR 4350 powder that each measure will dip.

In my case, since I was only loading 46 already sized and primed cases, It was simple to dip a slightly under weight charge into the digital scale pan and use the powder trickler to get to the exact weight wanted.  When loading at or near maximum loads, as in this case, I weigh every charge.  If I'm loading larger quantities, I usually utilize the PACT automatic powder dispenser, as it discharges onto a scale to one tenth grain of the charge wanted.  The PACT dispenser and digital scale communicate with one another via an infrared signal to stop pouring when the correct weight is reached.

When loading large quantities of lighter charges for practice or plinking loads, I use one of my hand operated powder measures.  Either the RCBS or Hornady measure will come very close to the charge weight desired if the operator technique is consistent.

We celebrated Christmas in our traditional manner on Christmas Eve.  Rick and Jennifer were here for dinner, featuring Ann's famous chicken bisque.

The chicken bisque is a near copy (only better) of the bisque formerly served at Curley's Broiler in Missoula, Montana.    Curley's chicken bisque recipe was a closely guarded secret, and featured many times in various publications, both locally and nationally.  We ate many prime rib meals at Curley's over the years, and each time Ann would attempt to analyze the contents of the tureen of bisque brought to the table.  It took a number of attempts and modifications of other bisque recipes, but the effort was well worth the end result.  We in the family, agree that Little Heifer's final version is even better than Curley's secret recipe!

Ann putting the finishing touches on the chicken bisque.

Alas, Curley's is no more!  The building, along with several others along that stretch of Brooks Street was razed to make room for other businesses.  This is prime territory as it lies alongside Southgate Mall, the only shopping mall in Missoula.  There appears to be no plan to resurrect Curley's  at another location that we can find.

The festive table for our dinner.

After our meal, came the ritual gift opening, with Jennifer playing Santa Claus ferrying gifts from tree to recipient.

Every year we tell each other we are gonna throw this old artificial tree away, but it is still with us and lookin' good!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

I'm sure lucky to have such a talented and good looking lady!

Rick and Jennifer tired out from ripping open gifts.

The aftermath is always a mess!

I mentioned earlier that we saved the backstrap from my little buck to attempt some cooking methods that may make the flavor more to our liking.

The first attempt was a simple carving of four, one inch thick steaks, sprinkling them liberally with McCormick's Montreal Steak seasoning, and cooking on the grill.  The steaks were allowed to come to room temperature and grilled rare.  Remarkably good, if a bit tough, as most wild game can be.

A few days later, four more one inch steaks were pounded thin with a meat tenderizer hammer.  These were dipped in egg, then flour, and fried.  Not as good as the grilled steaks.  This was a bit more tender but to our palates, left a tiny bit of liver like aftertaste.

Still have about three quarters of the backstrap in the freezer, so I think we'll let Rick experiment with the next batch.  He's a much better cook than I am anyway.

After a drier that normal fall, we finally began getting some rain and snow in our part of the world.  The first snow was melted away in a few days, then we got a foot or more that stayed with us.  I've mentioned before that we here at the ranch usually get more snow than Spokane proper.  We are just enough higher in elevation to make a significant difference.

Snow removal here requires some equipment as we are nearly a quarter mile from the publicly maintained county road.  Neighbor Larry Conner usually takes care of the portion of our egress and ingress that we all commonly use, and Ann and I clear our driveway and around the house.

We bought a new tractor about five years ago that helps do this job quickly and comfortably.  With the original purchase came a five foot wide, front mount, snowblower.  This outfit does a super job of cleaning up the asphalt driveway.  However, our climate is such that warm spells and perhaps some rain sometimes makes the snow too wet and mushy to blow well.  That required putting on the rear mount three point hitch blade to make the wet snow go away!

No more rear blade hassle and constantly twisting to look behind the rig!  We now have a six foot wide snow blade that attaches to the same subframe on the Kubota as the snowblower.  The hydraulics connect to the terminals that control the blower chute direction, so we have hydraulic angling as well as lift.

Kubota snow plow blade.

Here are the hydraulics for the blade angling.

That blade has already paid for itself in my book!  What a pleasure to have the blade out front and not have to dismount the tractor to change blade angle.

We have an agreed upon division of labor when we engage in snow removal.  This hardly seems fair, but Ann shovels off the patio and decks while I run the tractor and the 'walk behind' snow blowers.  Here's what I mean:

(These videos are in .m4v format and may not play on all computers.  They will play on ipads and iphones.)

Click HERE to see Ann.

Click HERE to see Jim.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote from Abraham Lincoln:

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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