Sunday, September 30, 2007

Goons in the Mist

Saturday saw the end of my golfing this year. It was quite a bit of fun although it still seems a shame to spend that much money on a game I don't really like. The fun in my golfing is the time outdoors with friends and family. This trip was for my Dad. Of course, the big doufas Jay came along and that always adds the entertainment only a 40 year old teenager can supply.

We played at Shawnee Golf Resort down along the Ohio river and the morning was freaking foggy... (thanks in no small part to the river itself). I, of course, just thought it was a cloud of pain and gloom drifting on the wind from the greater Portsmouth area. My father advised otherwise. Anyhow, check out this level of visibility.

I have to admit I am not much of a golfer to begin with and the lack of visibility did nothing to improve things. What I can say about golf, after 20 years of struggling to get why someone would do it, is that I don't get it. What a silly game. Given my recent state of mind I've decided to be done with it for a while. Add to that my motives for playing the first time, it was not an easy decision. Granted I said I was done for the year but to make the point more real or concrete I am thinking of selling my beloved Titleist irons. (More money for other things that don't cost money just to be frustrated...)

I took up this stupid game when I was 21. After drinking my way out of college and finding a way to make a living driving a truck, I decided I needed some form of recreation in the summer. Golf seemed a logical choice given my grandfathers' and fathers enjoyment of the game. (Family time has always been a good thing for me...)

My first set of clubs was McGregor Nicklaus Master irons and Ben Hogan persimmon woods. These guys were old when I got them in the late 80's but still played good enough for a guy who couldn't swing the club. My Dad paid for them and seemed really glad to do so. Playing golf, it seemed, might be a connection point and he was happy about that and so was I. It's been a downhill run since then.

My Dad is my perennial playing partner. In the last 3 years and 3 months I have played golf a total of 5 times and all with my father. Now that I am quite a bit older than when I started and I am well clear of the insane world of single, not quite adult living, aching for social acceptance, or just trying to be one of the guys I can see that this was a good thing. When there was nothing else to talk about or do, golf worked for us. It's a easy to have a laugh when somebody shanks a ball (usually me)and nearly clips the other guy (usually him) by accident... Jokes ensue and for while things are all workable. Now, as we are both starting to grey a bit more, we don't need to do this just to hang out. We are just as apt to watch football (other sordid and low pastime but this one costs nothing and provides no real frustration for me as I simply do not care about it :-) or try to solve his raccoon problem as anything else. He really enjoys the game. I just don't.

You know you're in trouble when you think of an activity in terms of genuine assholes who do it regularly. My mother tells me this is the easiest way to miss the good stuff. (If you let other people drive you away then the assholes get more, I am told...) In this case, I disagree. Golf easily maintains the highest per capita asshole ratio of any game I have ever played. It is the only recreational activity in my life to make me swear to never do it again with at least 4 people that I know and like otherwise. Some are even family. How sad is that?

To all of you out there, struggling with your own 'really competitive spirit' and your lack of ability to hit it big and just retire early, give it up. You're an average person. You 'could not have been Tiger if your dad had just worked with you more...' and not wanting to 'work to improve your game' does not mean there is a some fundamental flaw in character. There are plenty of good guys who have never broken 90. It's time to just enjoy it and stop 'working' on it. It's just a game and a silly one at that.... Let it go. I have. :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TUSR - Building Squirrel-Slayer Part Deuce

To put a close on this long-running saga of squirrel rifles and my bad luck with them this season, let's have a look at the finished product of my efforts to replace my busted gear and the steps I used to assemble it.

Here you can see the Bell & Carlson stock I have chosen for this new platform and one of my less-tweaked target actions, barreled with a full .920 match barrel. (This thing weighs like 20 pounds...)

Here's the action stripped to the receiver with a quick test of the new Nikon scope on the base. Also you can see the new TacSol Barrel there, just unpacked and the new extractor and spring set lying with the bolt. The extractor installs are always fun but this one went well and the action reassembled without issue.

Some minor sanding with some really fine grained paper was required to fit the barrel shank to the receiver but the fit is rock stable and the alignment of extractor and extractor notch was very workable with a little light oil and elbow grease...

and the action is assembled and barrelled.

All of this lead up to the finished product... Coming at just under 4 pounds, I am really pleased with the looks of it. It handles quickly and points pretty instinctively. The B&C stock is top notch. The Nikon scope, once mounted and adjusted, is really bright and clear with fast acquisition.

Now all I need to do is find time to get to the range to test it... Of course the wife tells me that being unavailable to play doll house with the little-bit is not an acceptable outcome right now. Not for the sake of the new rifle anyway. I sort of have to agree... Someday I guess.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Best Part of Being Me

So, I just can't lie about it. The best parts of my existence are my wife and my youngster. Here they are, glorious and beautiful as they can be. Having said that, I recount this tale of manipulation and treachery for all to see.... :-)

After I returned home and told the hunting tale in the previous post (with a good deal more theatrics and cursing...) and after the wife stopped laughing at me for being clumsy and getting older not as gracefully as she, the serious ridicule began.

"Let me see if I have this right," she said "A rifle that worked perfectly well from the factory wasn't good enough and you had to buy parts made of plastic" I try to interject 'ultralight carbon-fiber' in there but she says again, "Made of plastic. Right? Couldn't function without them. Right? Need the edge of light weight to maintain energy or some nonsense. Right?"

All I can do is say, head down, "Yes."

"Now it's broken? One fall and it's broken?" she asks more like a parent than I remember her and all I can say again is "Yes".

"So OK, superbrain-computer-nerd husband, let's skip over the whole why-the-hell-would-you-buy-plastic-parts-thing and go straight to the you-want-to-fix-it part. How much?"

She clearly far more worried about the cash than my emotional well being or the technical inaccuracy in her 'plastic parts' statement. The trauma of a blown hunt and my new favorite rifle being reduced to so much recyclable junk is just a non-issue for her. So, I play it cool and say..."$900.00". Of course it doesn't occur to me to be ready to dodge flying flatware and I have shirt with a fork shaped tear in it now. Dang it! Abort! Dive! Dive! Plan B! Tee it up and Go!

"Alright" I say, " I am not exactly sure. I think I can do it for $300 and I can sell one of the unused multitude of rifles in the cabinet to pay for it." This is what she wants to here. I have missed, again, the ploy to reduce the number of arms in our house and she has played me on a two-fer on this one. One squirrel rifle in the can (I am honestly unsure if the receiver is damaged as well. I need to check it more when I have $ and time) and one of my other must-haves sacrificed on the alter of financing the hunt of the mighty squirrel.

Ah well, the 270 I decided to cut loose is rifle I have owned for two years and never fired. Given the cost of keeping the youngster in our house, the out-of-state rifle hunt for anything appears many moons away. Besides, I sold it to a good friend. If I need it, I can borrow it.

Then I get to work. I get to build squirrel-slayer part deuce and the wife is happy about it. For the first time in a while I see that she gets it. Probably better than I do, she gets it and I love her for it. She could say things like "Get them all out of the house." or "No more hunting if I will be home alone with the kids." or "No more vacation time for hunting." but she doesn't. Instead all she says is, "If you have to fix it right now, you better not take it out of the checking account because the massage I would cancel is all that is keeping you from being impaled by that fork once a day." I like that.

So, I pinged up my buddies at Midway for a new Tactical Solutions matte green barrel and a new extractor. Then I set to work converting the action of one my two target 10/22's to be loaded for hunting. I found a good Nikon rimfire scope and mounted it. The other new parts are due to arrive tomorrow. I will be hunting by the weekend, new rifle in hand and a a pile of support for me at home. (Maybe not a pile but enough) Oh yeah, and no plastic parts....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three Days, A Busted Rifle, and One Heck of a Good Time

I am really blessed to have a wife that, even when she doesn't quite get it, tolerates it. It, of course, is my yen for hunting. She thinks I am too old to be traipsing around in the weeds in search of the bushy-tailed tree rats in the obsessive sort of way I do. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, "Bye" and "I love you" and I am gone. Such is the call of the first month of squirrel season.

I managed to wrangle free of my life for three days to venture into the wilds of southern Ohio for a three day hunt and some golf with my Dad. I could hardly sleep just thinking about it. I spent weeks planning my paths, by hunting day, to the spots in the Tranquility Wildlife Area that I knew would be teaming with the little tree creatures. I provided my wife with pictures and maps, packed my gear, and ran for it. Time to hunt.

I left home at 0430 (That's 4:30 AM for those of you that don't abla) and was in the parking spot by 0615. I had my newly tuned and re-camoed 10/22 ultralight custom rifle ready for action and capable, if you believe the range results, of producing minute-o-squirrel accuracy out to about 50 yards. I strapped on my new Kelty day pack harness thing and headed down the trail to the creek bed that leads to my favorite spot , ever, for this sort of thing.

I deserved to find the log laying in the underbrush by upending myself over it and landing on my knee. Worse was catching a bunch of my weight on the rifle as I landed. I was already cooking the gravey when I went down hard. It hurt. Worse, the rifle made rattling noised when I got up. Well Fu^& ! 10 freaking minutes! Broken rifle. No backup. (I mean it's squirrel hunting for God's sake. Who brings a backup rifle?) I decided this would not deter me. I was going anyway. I mean how bad can it be? The ranges are usually in the 40 to 50 feet area. I should be able to make it work. Right? Oh dear. I was wrong. Ten missed shots later, I see the flaw in my thoughts. Well fu&* (again)... I will find a range and re-site this thing. And I do. Then I find out if the local Wal-mart sells any rimfire scopes worth a damn because the one I own is just broken. Not my best first day out but it sure as hell was not sitting at my desk. Can't beat that part, ever.

Day two and three are more of the same really. The rifle is not right. Something else is whacked in its silly carbon fiber mechanism and I am not driving home just to fix it. I use the chance to scout for new locations and start thinking about whether or not I want to clean a deer this year. I decide to look for rubs anyway. It's early but I can hope... October is coming.

One big perk to being out of pocket for a few days is the feeling of coming home to your own bed and your own house and a warm, loving person or two that is glad to see you. Of course it is the shorter of these persons who runs to me screaming "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!!" and provides my sunshine through the gloom I always feel, post hunt. She rubs my head and says, "You stink Daddy. Did you find deer poop this time?" I smile and say if course. And then I am playing doll-house in my camos....

Saturday, September 1, 2007