Monday, November 28, 2005

It rained today and warmed from about 40 degrees to 53 degrees or so. However, I think the constant drizzle drove the deer to seek shelter. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out where exactly they went for shelter! I looked and looked but no luck. So, I still haven't had an opportunity to try the .45 Colt rifle. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Today's deer hunt started off dry but soon gave way to excellent infantry sunshine aka rain. I went to my mother's place and had an easy approach because I've prepped my ingress route. I did so by "mowing" i.e. blowing all the leaves off the route. Add that to the rain noise, pine straw remaining, etc, and it was a very quiet movement. However, it was soon clear that there were no deer in the immediate area. So, I followed a deer trail that passes near my stand down into the bottom (called Doe Hollow by locals) and up the side of the next ridge to the flat on the top of that ridge. About 100 acres was clearcut by Mom's neighbor for the timber to pay some bills. It has grown back in greenbriar and various other thorny vegetation. Except for the logging trails, it is nearly impenetrable to men on foot. There are a couple of these trails though that allow me to come in from the side and exit at the other end. I took my time in the rain and eased up the side of the ridge at a pace slow enough that I wouldn't be out of breath (and that is PLENTY slow!). I then moved back an forth a bit looking for more sign but nothing much had changed and I moved back along the ridge to a saddle where 4 ridges meet that we called Grand Central Station for the deer traffic that moved through there. I was heartened to find several fresh, very fresh, rubs along my route. Moving slowly and scanning before every other footfall (so my left foot was always leading at the stop for better off-hand shooting), I had to stop. I could have sworn I heard something.

Now most folks know that what you hear in the rain can fool you because as you change position dripping water on a variety of surfaces can sound as though it is something else, moving, etc. Still, I had this feeling. Suddenly, a deer crossed from right to left walking very slowly and stopped. Try as I might I could see no antler, a requirement today. Then she turned to face me. I'm sure she knew something was there. I did my best not to move at all and to avert my gaze at least a bit. I'm convinced that they can "feel" your stare. This doe was healthy, fat and had more gray on her muzzle than I have on my head. She soon was satisfied that I was no threat and moved slowly on down the hollow that meets 2 of the ridges meeting and GCS. I was hoping that she wasn't alone but after an hour of standing stock still in the rain it was apparent that she was.

By this time I was soaked and had not a lot of options to hunt in this area. Because of recent construction, there are limitations as to where I can hunt and how I can hunt the area so that rifle shots will have a safe impact area. I decided to call it a day. Now if I had a partner I might have kept hunting but by myself there is NO pressure to keep going and no REASON to keep going due to tactical limitations on the single hunter. I may have been an infantryman for many years but that doesn't mean I like to be cold and wet. My clothes are now in the dryer and I'm going to spray my rifle down with WD-40 and get ready for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Well, I had an interesting day for my short deer hunt. My normal stand being unvisited for the last couple of days I thought that perhaps the deer had been thinned out (I suspect a particular local of poaching). Perhaps, it is the warm days combined with full moon most of the night that has kept the deer from moving past. Anyway, today I moved to a 3 year old clearcut about ¼-mile away and quietly moved into the wind and up onto the broad flat of the ridgeline in the clearcut. I could "feel" the deer but couldn't see them. I looked and looked, eased down a trail and then back up to where I'd started. I looked some more. I just knew they were right there. I looked and looked some more. This must have taken about ½-hour with me standing in one place and looking. I didn't dare try the Primus can as I was afraid they would connect me to the sound. Finally, I took a single step forward....

THAT did IT! Three large, brown and white, deer-shaped forms busted out through the briars which nearly cover the flat towards the opposite side of the thicket and were gone. I tried to double back and around but now the wind has shifted and is blowing my scent down the length of this side of the ridge line. Rather than really push them, I decided to ease out and leave them for another day. On the way out I stopped by Mom's pond and yes, they've been in and all around the pond since last night. However, it doesn't seem to be more than 3 or 4 deer and NO fawns. Oh, well, there's always next week! Regular gun season. We'll see. I have to work the next 2 days.
So another thing that happened at the range is that I went through my regular brass patrol picking up any rifle brass still on the ground. Found several .30-30 once fired cases that had obviously been fired in a .375 Winchester or .38-55 chamber. No rifle parts about so I presume the firearm was undamaged (as I would expect). I've never done this as I don't want a .308" bullet slopping down my .375" bore but this fellow has done it for me. I'll have to size and try these cases in my .38-55.

As one would expect there's always a bunch of .30-30 brass, some .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester and .30-06. But who doesn't reload their 7mm Rem Mag or other belted mag cases or fat mag cases. Apparently there are some as that gets found on the ground in neat piles with great regularity. Funny how folks will complain about the price of gas but throw away so much perfectly good brass.
Still no luck with the deer but I'm excited about being able to develop a load for my new Ruger New Vaquero 4-5/8" .45 Colt. Today, I took some rounds loaded with the Mt. Baldy 255 gr. Keith over 8 gr. of Unique to Hite Hollow Range and tried them at 25 yards.

18 rounds at 25 yards from Ruger New Vaquero
I was pretty pleased as the wind was blowing with gusts to at least 25 MPH, the temp was only 30 degrees F (less than 0 degrees Celsius) and the sun was shining strongly from my right. Previously, the gun has been shooting low and to the left with 9 gr. of Unique and 2 bullets including the Mt. Baldy 255 Keith AND with 8.5 gr. Unique and the Mt. Baldy. I'm convinced that at least some of that is ME. My technique with the gun needs work. Now the "groups" are relatively centered and elevated. For the time being, at least, I'll shoot the gun as is. I want to see if the POI changes as I get more experience with the gun. Yesterday, I was able to hit plastic bottles but not the target! I can see that there is a lot of potential in these 3 cylinders-full. Anyway, this should be an ongoing effort and fun. After all, fun is what it is all about.

If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to write. A link to my e-mail is at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Yesterday deer hunting was a bust. Warm weather and full moon at night have combined to keep the deer bedded up during the day in spite of the incoming front.

Today, we saw the strength of that front with high gusts and spotty, heavy rain. Since it was raining too heavily to hunt this morning I went to the range. Now that is a bit of the gun loony coming out. While there, I met a local fellow, L. Carpenter who was shooting a beautiful S&W .30-06 bolt action and a Valmet 12 ga. over .30-06 which he thinks is an excellent game gun. He says he loads it with 3" buckshot for the heavy brush/close range stuff and uses the .30-06 at 40 yards and more.

Mr. Carpenter said that he had done what I had done. Go to the range early, in the rain, hoping the range would be clear. Except for myself and one other, it was.

I went to try the 8.5 gr. Unique under the 255 gr. Keith bullet .45 Colt load in my New Vaquero. It is funny, but it seems that while it groups low and to the left, it will shoot to point of aim on small targets such as cans (which I picked up). Why I'm shooting so differently on paper as compared to the other I don't know. It isn't something I've noticed myself doing before.

Anyway, the group with the 8.5 gr. load is bigger than with the 9 gr. so I'm going to try some more 9 gr. and some 8 gr. to see if there is a noticeable difference.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Today was the second day (first for me) of our early muzzleloading deer season. Bucks only. I went to several of my "good" places but, because I left late after running a critical errand for the wife, was late to all of them. Saw no deer. It is amazing but I do believe the hunting pressure is up this year ALTHOUGH 3 major camps that have been in place at this time for the past 20 years were NOT set up. I wonder if the major organizer of each has died. Seems that is what happens. The one guy who instigated the camp at a particular location dies and every other participant moves on. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

FWIW, I use a Thompson-Center .54 New Englander with TC's hunting tang peep and Buffalo Bullets 385 gr. conicals over 90 gr. of Pyrodex RS. I'm running out of the 385s and have some 425s so will go to those next.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

There has long been a "controversy" or, perhaps discussion, regarding RN bullets and use in tubular magazines with certain cartridges such as the .38 Special is oft revisited. Yesterday, while at the range and just after having seen my copy of the DGW Annual article on the Whitney-Kennedy rifles I had an epiphany as to the source of this old saw. That article on the Kennedy rifles had that little tidbit about the problems they had with mag tube explosions and UMC ammo. It suddenly struck me that we've touched on just about everything but that they were using black powder. BP explodes whereas the smokeless will not. Well not in the same way, the burn rates being different. Suddenly, years of hoary lore was made clear.

When the tube mag guns came out the firearms industry was in a state of rapid development of new arms and ammunition. Early centerfire ammo used a wide variation of primer sizes. Some were rather large by our current standards. Also, black powder was THE gun powder. As we all know, black powder is a different class of explosive than modern smokeless propellants and can cause the type of tube damage we now fear from such an event. Smokeless doesn't. So, at the time, a combination of lack of experience with bullet shapes and use of RN in tube mags, larger diameter CF primers, blackpowder (in significant quantities), and heavy recoiling cartridges caused the tube magazine explosions we talk about (still) but seldom if ever experience.

Also, I was shooting "Round Nose" UMC .38 Special ammo. I noticed that the "RN" isn't as it has a flat tip. So, for those who use or want to use the cheap .38 Special ammo in their Marlin and Rossi leverguns, I think it is probably a very low risk activity.

Funny thing is that I've read all this info before but am apparently too slow to put it together. Now, this might not be the end all of the argument but I do think it is a big part of the legend of the tube mag explosion.

I just don't see as we have a problem at all, everything considered. Just don't use a hard, pointy bullet in a tube magazine. Then you'll have zero problems.