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VOLUMES 159 & 160 -------- SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015

October 29, 2015

Always fun to start a newsletter with a story about a successful hunt, even if it wasn't mine.  I probably should mention that I don't Facebook, Tweet, Twaddle, Instagram, or any of that complicated stuff, but Ann does the Facebook thing.  A few days ago, she showed me some Facebook pictures of a beautiful bull elk.  The happy hunter standing beside this magnificent brute was none other than one of my girl cousins in Colorado!  Donna Pritchard, I'm extremely jealous of your prowess (or luck), and I don't care which it was!

After talking to Donna on the phone, I asked if I could use the story she posted on facebook for this newsletter, and permission was quickly granted!  Here is the story in Donna's own words:

I have been asked for the story behind my first elk hunt. Thank you all who sent congratulations and/or commented; they were all appreciated.

First, to God be the glory!! He was absolutely behind every step of this hunt.

Second, a massive "Thank You" to Dayna Sandidge, my awesome niece, who took time away from her family to drag my sorry behind up those mountains FIVE times (she is an amazing woman), and to Chuck Pritchard and Rebecca Pritchard for once again welcoming me into their home. Cutting up and packaging approximately 150 - 175 pounds of meat is nothing short of a massive effort, and I appreciate all the help more than they will ever know.

I prayed so many times that the Lord would allow me a successful hunt so I would have meat for the winter, that I didn't care about the size as long as it was legal, that my aim was true, and that the animal would not suffer.
This was my first time hunting, but I used to be a pretty good shot in my younger days....I shot a lot of targets. I have never shot this size of gun before or used a scope; I was a rookie to be sure!

Dayna spotted this bull about 600 yards away...with her naked eye. She called it right to us. It came up out of the tree line about 285 yards from us and was just taking a leisurely stroll straight towards us. It paused at 100 yards and turned ever so slightly to rub his antlers in a tree. I took a deep breath and let out half of it (Daddy taught us well); Dayna said "Shoot!" and I took one shot.

I thought I had missed him completely when I looked up and saw him standing, but then he dropped about 5' from where I shot.

Dayna has a bit of an adrenaline rush with hunting, so she was LIT UP! I was just a hot mess (crying, shaking, in disbelief).

We made a flying trip down the mountain to get help, and Cody Graham (a local hunting guide) had stopped by to visit a bit with Chuck. Cody took his truck (and winch) right to that elk and the whole thing was loaded in 30 seconds. He made this part of the process a breeze. THANK YOU, CODY!

Cody measured the antlers at a solid 325 to 330. This was a once in a lifetime event. I'm still in disbelief!
So, the Lord answered my prayers, and then said, "Let me show you what kind of power I have." He gave me a trophy bull.

....I am so grateful.

Donna Pritchard and her Colorado Elk

What an animal for a first ever elk hunt.

Another tidbit I learned from my phone conversation with Donna that wasn't included in her story, the aforementioned Cody, put a horse halter on the Elk to attach to the winch for hoisting into the truck.  Neat trick, and one I had never heard of.  Also, I'll note that Chuck Pritchard is Donna's younger brother, whose home and property was base camp for Donna's hunt.  (Chuck was our ring bearer at Ann's and my wedding nearly 54 years ago.)

While we are still having warmer than seasonable temperatures during the day here at the ranch, there is a bit of a nip in the air in early mornings.  I guess that is to be expected when deer season opening sneaks up like it has.  Seems like only yesterday that it was golf twice a week!

Deer season really did sneak up on us as it opened on October 17th to find us still preparing and fine tuning rifles for deer slaying duties.  We justified our procrastination by declaring that it is still too warm to safely hang deer in the shop for aging.

At any rate, opening day afternoon found Rick and I at the bench firing a couple of shots through the Cooper .280 and the Ruger .300 to make sure they were still shooting where the scopes looked.  No problem!  Still shooting well within 'minute of deer' at the distances we shoot here at the ranch.

I had already done some shooting earlier that morning, sighting in Little Heifer's Savage .308.  I wrote about this little rifle, called the Lady Hunter, back in the July/August 2013 newsletter.  Should you want, you can review that by clicking HERE.  Even though this rifle is touted as being designed and proportioned for a woman's build, after getting the Redfield scope mounted the rifle was still a poor fit for Ann's physique.  The stock was too long, putting the scope too far forward for proper eye relief.  I'm thinking this was probably the reason she missed a shot at a nice buck a couple of years ago.

After some thought, we decided to de-horn the stock a bit.  Years ago I shortened the stock on my old sporterized 7MM Mauser to an
eleven inch length of pull, which made it a pretty good fit for Ann.  The pull length on the Savage was 12 inches from the factory, so I removed the recoil pad, trued up the stock on the radial arm saw, and cut about an inch and a quarter off the butt.  This was the maximum I could remove without getting into the cheek piece as well as still being able to modify the existing recoil pad to a reasonable fit.  (During the off season, we can get a 'grind to fit' recoil pad and improve upon the slightly mis-matched edges.)

After repeated shouldering of the gun, it was apparent that the scope was still too far forward with no leeway with the existing ring spacing to move it rearward.  Digging through my drawer full of such 'stuff' turned up a set of old Redfield extension rings that had a long forgotten home on one of our rifles somewhere, sometime.  Fortunately the old Redfield rings will fit Leupold bases so the result was setting the scope back a bit over a half inch.

Success!  The rifle now comes comfortably to Little Heifer's shoulder with the scope in position to provide a full field of view. 

Lady Savage with Redfield extension rings setting the scope back for proper eye relief.

Now back to the sight in session with the Savage.  As usual the first step was the LASERLYTE bore sighter in the shop.  Place the rifle in a steady cradle, insert the laser in the muzzle, project the red dot on the wall, and adjust the scope reticle to superimpose on the dot.

Moving to the bench on the 100 yard range, I fired two shots at the test target.  Much to my surprise, one bullet hole was a good 4 inches to the left of the other.  How did that happen?  Surely my hold on the aiming point using a Caldwell shooting cradle couldn't be that far off could it?  Since I wasn't sure which shot was first, I fired another to see if something was really screwed up or I had just mis-aimed.  That third shot was nearly touching the hole nearest the aiming point so I used that as my point of adjustment.

Since the two adjacent bullet holes were very near the aiming point, scope adjustments were minimal.  Another three shot group was fired.  Now we are printing about an inch and a half high at 100 yards, which is about right where we want.

Here's the Savage sight in target with marked bullet holes as described above.  Nice group from an off the shelf rifle, but Savage has that kind of reputation.

Shooting from a BOG-POD tripod rest inside the ground blind set up South of the house, Ann placed a test shot within an inch and a quarter of point of aim.  That big buck from last season will be in serious danger if he shows up here again this year!

Ann's shot from the blind off a Bog-Pod tripod.  We think this is close enough to kill a deer.

On August 31st (too late for the last newsletter) I finally dragged the shooting bench outside the shop door to do some shooting with the new Sako .30-06 I picked up last June in Missoula, MT.  (For more about the Sako and the Leupold scope mounted thereon, see the May/June and July/August 2015 newsletters.  Click HERE and HERE.)

I have always been impressed with the fact that the first shot from a rifle and scope set up with one of my LASERLYTE bore sighters has always printed somewhere 'on the paper' at 100 yards.  Alas, after the initial shot with the Sako, I could not see a hole in the target when viewing with the spotting scope!  Well, this ain't startin' out too good!  After a 'pissed off stomp' downrange to the target stand I found that my concerns were unfounded!  The shot had printed 5 inches low and 4 inches right, only to land in the red/orange strip around one of the auxiliary aiming points on the Redfield sight in target.  I simply could not see the bullet hole in that background.

After the appropriate number of clicks of the 'quarter minute' adjustments on the Leupold, a three shot group was fired.  This sub-inch group centered a half inch left and a half inch above the aiming point.  After two clicks back to the right, another group was fired at the lower left aiming point on the target.  When the trigger broke on the third shot of that group, I knew that my rusty bench shooting skills had shown their rust.  I yanked the shot slightly left.  In the parlance of bench rest shooting, this is known as a 'called flyer'.  To check my judgment of the call, I fired one more shot to the same point of aim.

Sight in target for the Sako.  Testimony to the accuracy of the LASERLYTE, Leupold's quarter minute adjustments, and last but not least, of the Sako .30-06 in the hands of an admitted mediocre bench rest shooter.

A couple more words about the Sako:  The smoothness of operation of the bolt action on this rifle surpasses any other rifle in my gun safe!  Buttery smooth is no exaggeration.  Feeding from the magazine and extraction from the chamber were flawless.  Another feature I like, even though only two or three of my other center fire rifles have this, is the fixed, solid ejector.  Unlike many popular rifle brands, such as the Remington 700 for example, this rifle does not utilize a spring loaded plunger in the bolt face to eject the cases.

The solid ejector flips the cartridges or empty cases out of the ejection port with exactly the briskness that one uses in pulling the bolt to the rear.  Go slowly and the case can be tipped into the hand with no searching around on the ground.  Work the bolt hard and fast, as when a quick follow-up shot is needed, and you may find the empty 8 or 10 feet away!

Our fall turkey season opened on September 19th.  In our GMU here at the ranch, the limit is three turkeys, at least two of which must be beardless.  The other hunters in the family have no interest in shooting turkeys, so I was the only one with a turkey tag at this point.  I had purchased the tag along with our other big game tags back in the spring, but did not hunt during the spring season.

I mentioned to Ann, "I think I'll shoot a hen for the pot if I get a chance."

Only a few days later, I was downstairs when Ann shouted down the stairway, "There are three turkeys in the yard if you're interested!"

I need to mention that turkey hunting here at the ranch is not really hunting.  The turkeys are around the house frequently, pooping on the patio, driveway, and anywhere else they choose.  They aren't all that scared of us either!

Anyway, I loaded the old Winchester 12 gauge, and walked out the basement door toward where the turkeys were gathered just off the driveway.  As I got well within range, I had another thought.  There are 3 turkeys and I only have one tag.  Why would I get all messy dressing one turkey when I could do all three at once?  So I waved goodbye and went back in the house.  They'll be back, or others like them!  Next day, October 24th, found me at the local Cabela's store buying two more turkey tags.

Only two days later three turkeys came pecking and scratching their way across the south lawn.  Of course there's no way to tell if they were the same turkeys, but they gathered in the same place as before to dig around in the dirt.  I stuffed the Winchester with the three shells allowed, heavy loads of #6 shot, and proceeded toward the birds.  As they ambled off, I was thinking how cool it would be to catch them all lined up and get them all with one shot!  Didn't work out that way.  I did manage to get two heads in line and killed both with the first shot, but had to shoot again for the third one.  Three turkeys with two shots ain't bad though!

Three with two shots.

When I went in to get the camera, I realized that it was Saturday and Rick might be home.  Sure enough, he was home and was kind enough to come up and share in the chore of getting the birds skinned and gutted.

Later that night all three birds were treated with a poultry rub and went into the Holland Grill for about 3 hours.  The Holland is a specialty gas grill that cooks slowly at about 450 degrees.  It has a built in pan under the grate for holding liquid, so I often cook chickens over the pan filled with beer.  (Beer can chicken without the can)  The turkeys got the same treatment.

Granddaughter Jennifer happened to be home from her studies at Washington State University that weekend, so I removed and sliced the breast meat from the smallest bird and sent it home with her on Sunday.  Wild turkey can be, and usually is, rather tough after roasting, so we advised her to crock pot the meat in either chicken broth or cream of chicken soup for a few hours before eating.  Jennifer reported that she and Roanna found the turkey to be tender and delicious after the crock pot treatment.

One more item that I've found can't be stopped, is a birthday every year!  Mine somehow turned me into a 73 year old on September 20th.  The occasion was celebrated in two sessions.  On the 20th we had gift opening, ice cream and peach cobbler here at the house.  Since Jennifer would not be home until the following weekend, we waited for her to join in the 'dinner out'.

Peach Cobbler is better than birthday cake any day!  Yum!

This picture really has nothing to do with anything but I keep hearing the youngsters talk about 'selfies' and decided I'd do one on my birthday.

Rick treated us to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse in Coeur d'Alene, ID on September 26th.  The Roadhouse treats the birthday person with a ride on the 'special occasion' saddle, a dish of ice cream, and a big Texas Roadhouse, "YAHOO", and I enjoyed every minute of it!  Thanks Rick.

Jennifer and Grandma waiting for dinner.

Our friendly server with that big Texas Roadhouse YAHOO!

After the Texas Roadhouse we adjourned back to the ranch for more desert.  Pineapple pie and ice cream was enjoyed by all.

Pineapple Pie & Me

Two celebrations and a Cabela's gift card!  It don't get much better'n that!

This month's hillbilly wisdom is a quote from Winston Churchill:  (I may have used this quote before but I don't remember and I ain't going through more than 12 years of these newsletters to check either!)

"Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip."

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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