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VOLUMES 183 & 184-------- SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

November 7, 2017

Let's start with two more birthdays!  Ann and I both turned 75 during the past two months!

As the old saying goes, "If I'd of known I was gonna live this long, I'd of taken better care of myself!"

Actually, we both feel lucky to be able to continue to live here on the ranch, care for ourselves, and care for the property, as we all have some acquaintances who aren't so fortunate.

My birthday was celebrated with dinner, along with Rick, at Texas Roadhouse in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  Nothing like a good fill-up with TR barbecued ribs!

Later we had dessert at home along with card opening.

Birthday card along with the 'forever' recycled Whoopie bag.


My dessert was what we call 'cowpies' or simply cupcakes baked in a muffin-top pan.  Almost as much icing as cake! YUM!

Ann had two celebrations. One with her golfing partners at Azteca Mexican restaurant at Spokane Valley Mall, and a second one with me for a nice dinner at Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, also in Spokane Valley.

Ann, Karen, Nancy, and Eleanore.


This is the Birthday Girl's dessert.  Don't know what it is, but sure looks good!


Little Heifer burned up the motor in her electric leaf blower the other day, so this 'gift' was by request.


New golf bag to replace the old one that is getting a bit 'ratty.'

That takes care of the birthdays, let's turn to some Shootin' and Reloadin'.

With early Deer season opening on October 14th, it seemed prudent to get some rifles ready to go for Ann, Rick, and me, the three tag holders this year.  (Jennifer has taken a break from hunting since enrolling at Washington State University three years ago.)

First on the agenda was to get the Sako .270 I bought last year up to speed.  I had not yet mounted the
Redfield Revolution 2X7 power variable that formerly resided on the Weatherby Vangard.

Several years ago Leopold bought the Redfield brand and now sells them as a more economical choice than the familiar 'Gold Ring' flagship brand.  The Redfield Revolutions are made in Oregon alongside the Leopolds, and carry the same lifetime warranty.

September 16th began the mounting process.  I will include some photos here, but for more detail on scope mounting, you can visit my January 2008 newsletter HERE, which contains a copy of the scope mounting article that was published in Outlook Magazine a few years ago.

As a dedicated fan of Leopold scopes and mounting systems I had not worked with Sako's Optilock brand of rings and bases.  However, since the Bob Ward's store had the Optilock in stock and not the Leopold ring mounts like I have on the Sako .30-06, I decided to try them.  I
found them to be of good quality, sturdy, and straightforward to work with.

The Sako showing the integral dovetail scope mounting foundation.


Optilock rings and bases.  The bottom half of the rings attach to the bases with the heavy duty torx screw shown, then the bases clamp on the rifle dovetails.  Note the plastic inserts that help grip the scope tightly without scratching or marring.


This is one of the 3 tools I have to make sure the reticle is straight and level, depending upon the configuration of the mounts.


Torque screwdriver and wrench used to tighten mounting screws to the proper inch-pound specifications.


The completed job.  As you can see, this system  has little room for fore and aft movement of this scope in the rings.  Fortunately, the eye relief was just right for me.  There are extension rings available if eye relief needs adjustment.

After scope mounting, the next step in my routine is bore sighting with the LaserLyte bore sighter.  This is accomplished in the shop building with the rifle in a steady rest and the LaserLyte projecting its beam on a wall about 45 feet distant.  Adjusting the windage and elevation dials to place the reticle about 1 inch above the projected beam has always put the first shot 'on the paper' at 100 yards.

Not this time!  After firing the first shot it became apparent that I had done something wrong!  Upon re-checking the alignment I discovered that I had set the crosshairs ON the laser beam, not the one inch high required.  That one inch difference may not sound like much, but when translated from less than 50 feet to 100 yards, makes a big difference.

At any rate, after the correction, I fired a three shot group at the target and found a 0.90 inch cluster, two inches right and four and one half inches below point of aim.  Turning the adjustments accordingly, I soon had the rifle shooting where I wanted.

The scope mounting and initial bore sighting occurred on September 16th, and September 17th was set aside as the 'sight in' and testing day for not only the Sako .270, but also both the Cooper and Browning .280's. and Little Heifer's Savage .308.  As I was also checking different brands of factory ammo, I set up the Oehler 35P Chronograph to compare velocity variations, extreme spreads,  and standard deviation that is automatically calculated by the sophisticated unit.

Typical setup for the Oehler 35P chronograph.

(All Following ballistics data for rifles and ammo taken with the first screen of the Oehler unit ten feet from the muzzles.  Range was 100 yards for all firing.)

The new Sako .270 was first up with a total of 15 shots fired with Hornady factory ammo topped with 130 grain SST bullets.  The SST bullet is fairly frangible and recommended for soft skinned, deer size game.  Having shot a buck with this load from a Browning BLR .270 lever action, I can attest to the fact that when placed in the heart/lung area it produces a quick demise of the animal.

Ballistics over the Oehler unit showed an average velocity of 3,007 fps with an extreme spread of 50 fps.  Standard deviation was 15.  Four groups of either 3 or 4 shots ranged from 0.90 to 2.59 inches, with an average of 1.78.  I suspect that a better shooter behind the gun could shrink some of these groups considerably.

Next up was Ann's Savage Lady Hunter in .308 Winchester.  Here I was simply trying to make sure the gun was still shooting where the scope looked, and only fired four shots.  The group was clustered about 2 inches above point of aim and measured 1.78 inches.  Should be 'minute of deer' with no problem.  While 4 shots don't make for statistical reliability, I did the firing over the chronograph screens and recorded an average of 2816 fps with the Winchester 150 grain powerpoints.

Both the Cooper and Browning .280's were then fired with a different factory load than used before.  Federal Premium loads with 150 grain Nosler Partitions were chosen.  Again, only 4 shots were chronographed from the Cooper averaging 2929 fps from the 24 inch barrel.  The four shot groups from the rifles measured 2.33 and 1.73 inches from the Cooper and Browning respectively.  Both guns have proven to be capable of much tighter groups than this so I'm sure the shooter can be blamed for the relative lack of accuracy.  Again, the purpose of the exercise was served by confirming the guns were shooting where they looked.

I had already made the decision to use the Cooper for my deer hunting this year, so in the interest of more practice, I put up a couple of fresh targets and fired two more three shot groups.  The  150 grain Noslers clustered into 1.36 and 0.87 inches.

While up and running with the chronograph setup, I decided to break out another rifle I hadn't shot in a few years.  This one is a Kimber Model 84M in .338 Federal caliber.  This gun was purchased at auction at an NRA banquet years ago.  While I have killed a buck with it, I've never been really pleased with its lack of stellar accuracy.  Firing Federal Premium factory ammo with 180 grain Nosler Accubond bullets, I could get no better than 4 or 5 inch 100 yard groups with it.

Having a box or two of Federal's 200 grain Fusion ammo on hand, I decided to try those.  Firing two four shot groups resulted in one at 2.58 inches and another at 1.47.  Perhaps the Kimber likes the heaver bullets?  The 8 shots averaged 2713 fps.  I have a box of Federal Premium with 210 grain Nosler Partitions that I'll try next.

A few days later, on September 24th I managed another shooting session, this time bringing out the Old Ruger .300 Win Mag and putting a few more shots through the Cooper .280.  Rick really likes the Ruger .300 and has used it to take deer for several years with Federal Premium ammo with 180 grain Nosler Partition bullets.  Alas, there are only 3 of those cartridges left, along with 4 handloads sporting 180 grain Swift Scirocco bullets.  Not enough of either to both check the sight in and have enough left to hunt!

Fortunately, I had some .300 Win brass already sized and primed, and a good supply of the Swift bullets, so it didn't take long to load up 46 more of the Sciroccos.  These bullets behind a medium charge of Reliant RL22 powder, leave the muzzle of the Ruger at an average of 2837 fps.

Here's the setup for seating the Swift bullets in the charged cases.


Box of 50 handloads for the Ruger .300 Win Mag.

After putting together the new handloads, I was in the process of shooting the Ruger when Rick drove in.  I had fired two 3 shot goups, the first one measured 1.66 inches, two inches high and one inch left.  I made an adjustment to move the point of impact  an inch to the right and the second group clustered very close to that little cloverleaf hole we all like to see.

I said, "Rick, you might as well shoot this to see where it's shooting for you.  Just use the target's center aimpoint as I did."

After firing his three shot group, we brought in the target and noted that the now 6 shot group made a pretty tight showing, later measured at 1.09 inches.  Not bad for three shots each from two different shooters!

As a side note, the trigger on the Ruger, which I had always thought to be better than average for its time, exhibited a bit of creep and grittiness as compared to the rifles I had been shooting.  The Cooper, Browning, and Sako all have more crisp and lighter trigger pulls.

This session wrapped up the sighting-in for the upcoming early deer season, which began October 14th and ended October 27th.  The rifles of choice for our deer hunting were and are, Savage .308 for Ann, Sako .270 for Rick, and Cooper .280 for me.  None of we three tag holders saw anything we wished to shoot during the early season, so the meat pole is still empty.

There have been repeated sightings of a buck with what would be a typical eight point mainframe if he had brow tines.  The late whitetail season runs from November 11th through the 19th, so if he continues to hang around, this guy may end up being our meat deer for the year.

Rick and I were taking a bit of a Sabbatical from Hunter Education this year.  That is until a small group of Rick’s co-workers made a special request for us to have a class for them.

These guys have fired guns before, but just haven’t hunted.  Ranging in age from mid 20’s to mid 40’s they all needed to pass a Hunter Education class before they can buy a hunting license.  (Anyone born on or after January 1, 1972 must have completed Hunter Education in order to buy a hunting license in Washington.)

We again brought out our materials and equipment and with the able assistance of Ann, had a class for the four students at the Elks Lodge.  Saturday and Sunday, October 21st and 22nd were devoted to covering the required curriculum, including classroom gun handling of five different action types.

The students, using ‘dummy’ or inert ammunition, practiced loading and unloading the firearms along with the techniques involved in handling them all safely.  Various obstacles (chairs, doors, and gun cases became fences, gates, and creeks) were set up with students being required to safely navigate each of them.

After a total of twelve hours of instruction the students all passed the standardized written test as final qualification for their certificate of successful completion.
L to R: Nicholas Randell, Trevor McCarthy, Christopher Rice, and Tyler Young
(Note the Gold medallion on Nick’s certificate.  That means he made 100% on the test!)

If things continue moving forward as planned, this will be the last Hunter Education class in the Elks Lodge at this location.  The Lodge property is being sold and we plan to downsize in another location.  Depending upon where we end up, we will consider more classes in future years.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote from Walt Disney:

"The difference between winning and losing is most often . . . not quitting."

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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