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VOLUMES 219 & 220 -------- SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

September/October 2020 - Uploaded November 4, 2020

Here we are in early November and most of the Washington wildfires have been quenched by a combination of firefighters and mother nature.  The Department of Natural Resources fire danger in our area has been modified from 'very high' to 'low' in recent weeks thanks to cooler temperatures and rain.

A record breaking snowstorm on October 23rd helped things along as well!  The previous official single day
record October snowfall was 5.9 inches in 1957.  This one brought 6.8 inches!  These measurements were at the Spokane Airport.  I would estimate our total here at the ranch was closer to 8 or 9 inches.

The heavy, wet snow contributed to thousands of homes in the area without power, some for up to 4 days, similar to the windstorm caused outages over Labor Day.  Again, we were lucky to have only a momentary glitch as was the case during the Labor Day storm.  We have much fewer outages at the ranch since the power lines went underground in our area a few years ago.

First, an update on the progress, (or lack of) on our remodel in the house.

The kitchen portion of the remodel has been pretty much put on hold after the painting and flooring installation were completed.  The counter top and new appliances will have to await the availability of things like the refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and stove top that we were going to replace!  We are told that Covid related delays make many of the needed appliances several months out.

Beyond that, the bathrooms are pretty much done as well as the ceilings, flooring, and painting in the living room and hallway.  The squeaky stairway has been reinforced and stabilized and we're awaiting the arrival of stair treads that match the flooring.

We have a meeting scheduled with the contractor for updates and plans for finalizing the project.  For something that, under normal conditions, would have taken no more than a few weeks, we are now into our fifth month.

Red Fir Shiplap set at a 30 degree angle replaced the old 'popcorn' ceiling

This is now the floor everywhere upstairs including the kitchen, hallway, and bathrooms.  It's called Walton Oak from Home Depot's 'Lifeproof' line

Now let's talk about wildlife, hunting seasons, and firearms of choice for this year.

Ann chose her Savage Lady Hunter in .308 Winchester, and I pulled the Browning X-Bolt in .280 Remington out of the safe.  A quick bench session on October 16th determined that both were still shooting where the scopes looked so we were ready to go.

100 Yard group from the Browning

Savage Lady Hunter.  The top hole is likely operator error because the rifle will shoot better than this.

A side note here that we hunters might take note of.  While loading our rifles I found that one of the cartridges from a box of Winchester factory loads would not chamber in the Browning.  The ammo is Ballistic Silvertip, 140 grain, with nickel plated cases.  I can not recall ever having a factory cartridge fail to chamber in a factory rifle!

Before I explain my follow up investigation, I want to emphasize a SAFETY precaution here:  The investigation of the problem involved cycling LIVE ROUNDS through the action!  While this can obviously be done in a safe manner, it is imperative that one take exceptional care in doing so!  As in, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard.  (Basic Hunter Education instructions, but make sure to follow them!)

My first step was to isolate the cartridge that would not chamber in the Browning, and try it in my Cooper semi-custom in the same caliber.  (I've written a lot of words about both these rifles in earlier newsletters.)  Nope, won't go into the Cooper chamber either.  Turned out, two of the remaining 16 cartridges in the box would not chamber!

Among my reloading equipment is a Stoney Point headspace gauge, a measuring tool that should provide some clues.  It will measure to the nearest thousandth of an inch.  Without a lot of detail about headspace, I'll just say it is the measurement from the base of the cartridge to a datum line on the case shoulder.

The headspace measurement on the two cartridges that would not chamber was 2.103 inches.  All the other cartridges in the box measured from 1.999 to 2.001, with most coming in at 2.000 inches.  According to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute specifications for the .280 Remington, the minimum chamber headspace is 2.100 inches.

I don't have the tools to measure the exact headspace of the rifles' chambers, but this tells me the Browning and Cooper must be near minimum SAMMI specs.  What I don't know, is why Winchester Ammunition would produce cartridges that won't fit into a minimum spec chamber.  I have sent an inquiry to Winchester Ammunition and hope to get an answer to that question at some point.  In the meantime, I think I'll check that my hunting ammunition will chamber in my rifles before going afield, whether reloads or factory stuff.

The early whitetail deer season opened here on October 17th and ended October 30th.  Neither of us notched a tag during the early season.

Baiting deer is a legal activity here, so a little alfalfa and shelled corn have been going into a couple of sites on the ranch each day.  Plenty of does and fawns are around, but only a couple of little spike bucks have been seen during daylight hours.  One six pointer and a small eight point have shown up on trail cameras after dark.

While Ann and I both qualify by age to take 'either sex' deer, we have elected to hang out for the late season, hoping for a larger buck.  I also have a tag for a second deer that must be antlerless, so I'll likely try and fill that tag during the late season as well.  Late deer begins November 7th and goes through November 19th.

Meantime, bisecting the deer seasons, elk season began October 31st and runs through November 8th.  In our Game Management Unit, any elk is legal game.  Note the two day overlap with elk and deer on November 7 and 8, which normally wouldn't mean much here at the ranch. 

While we always buy elk tags we haven't seen an elk on the property for many years.  Actually, we still haven't, but the trail cam saw one on October 30th, the day before the season opened!

This was about 8:30 in the morning and we weren't even looking

Photo was in infrared mode so it's not real clear, but looks like a fork on left antler and spike on right??

So, we are still excited about the elk, but haven't seen a repeat performance yet!

In addition to the alfalfa and corn, the ranch boasts another attractant that was here when we bought the place 35 years ago.  I've mentioned the plum trees near the shop in these pages before, and it has been common for the deer to gather under these trees to await falling fruit and/or rear up on their hind legs to pick what they can reach.  It is not uncommon for an old doe to hang around and watch until I shake the trees for additional fruit on the ground.

The plums are all gone as this is written, but this year has added a couple of different scenarios.  First of all we have a common gray squirrel that showed up this summer.  We have always had the smaller pine squirrels around here but, up until now, had only seen gray squirrels in town.  Anyway, the squirrel apparently likes plums.  He (or she) has been climbing into the trees for an occasional plum snack, and in the process always knocks down a few extras,  Didn't take the deer long to realize sighting the squirrel meant extra treats for them too.

The other happening that we had never seen, was a wild turkey flying into one of the plum trees.  She apparently likes plums too.  As you can imagine, the turkey flopping around in the tree top shook loose several extras that the deer also discovered right away.

Look closely and you can see the turkey in the top of the tree

The turkey flew down to join the deer in the feast

Ann celebrated a birthday on October 30th.  Normally, the celebration would have included a dinner out at a nice restaurant, but for us, that option is off the table during the Covid pandemic.  So, opening a small gift package at the breakfast table that morning and cake and ice cream with Rick later that evening became the celebration of the day.

Jennifer had planned to come out on November 1st, bringing carry-out from Noodle Express, but that has now been postponed to a later date to be determined.  Jennifer wasn't feeling well that day and elected not to expose us 'old folks' to whatever 'bug' she had.

Miniature battery powered blower.  Birthday present by request and early too.  Great for blowing off the patio and decks

More batteries for that workhorse blower

I believe she thought this card was funny

More on Ann's Birthday next time after we celebrate with Jennifer.  But wait!  I'm about to forget my birthday!  I reached the 'older' category on September 20th, 40 days before Ann.

Jennifer brought take-out from Noodle Express for dinner.  Ann had Chicken Osaka and Jennifer and I had Shrimp Osaka.  (We all love the Osaka stuff from Noodle Express and Mustard Seed)

After dinner we all enjoyed Baby Food Bars for dessert.  Maybe Little Heifer should put the recipe on Ann's Corner 'cause it is really, really good!  Next came a gift opening consisting of a shirt and face covering from Jennifer and a Hornady Security electronic handgun safe and candy bars from Ann.  (I'll go into the workings and specs of the handgun safe in a future newsletter as soon as I have more experience with it.)

Getting ready to chow in to the Osaka bowls

Blowin' out those candles

Opening the Hornady handgun safe

I mentioned last time that I had re-recorded the narrative for my reloading power point presentation with my new Yeti USB microphone and discussed the unwanted plosives that were in the playbacks.  Thus prompting my interest in a microphone shield to deaden the harshness of sounds like P's and T's.

Well, I found one at a Post Falls, ID music store and recorded the narrative again.  Still have some technique things to iron out but everything sounds better than it did.

Blue Yeti microphone with shield installed

About the time I found the shield I was searching for a source for
inexpensive low capacity flash drives to put the reloading presentation on instead of the cd's I used in the past.  I discovered a company called LogoTech. (logotech.com)  They have dozens, or more likely hundreds, of different versions of flash drives that cost about the same as from other suppliers, but also include free imprints of Company Logos and other information on the drives.  So, I bought a few.

A view of the opposite sides of the new flash drives

If you have an interest, check out the Reloadin' section of the site and view the demo.  Friends and relatives have a good shot at a free copy.  Just let me know.  All that is required is a recent version of PowerPoint to view and listen to the presentation.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Knowledge is knowing what to say, wisdom is knowing whether or not to say it.

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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