Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays to All

I'm afraid there are no new hunting stories to share this week. Given the madness of the season, there may be no additional this year. I would love to say I will get out to hunt again before the year ends but I doubt it.
So instead I've decided instead to share the best thing we've had going for a while; the prep work in the home for the holiday and specifically the Christmas tree and its chief architects.

It's the girl's first year to really get involved and decide that the ornaments are toys and she can climb the tree if she wants and on and on and on... The challenges grow as the squared function of her age.

Of course, so do the good things and this year watching her go to work on the decorations was worth the glue it took to re-assemble things. The Wild Monkey is a sharp little person.

My girls are just the best. The tree was just about all them this year. I packed it in and put it in the base and beyond that.... I took pictures. :-)

Of course photos are easy with things as pretty as the Monkey, her Momma, and the tree they are working on.

So take a second and enjoy the images of the holiday in my home and remember to have a safe and happy holiday week or two and from my family to yours.....

Merry Christmas from the Monkey, the Monkey's Momma, and Me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cold and Grey and Wind and Sleet... Perfect

Most folks don't get my thing for winter. I really do love it. Coincident to that, most of the same folks really don't get the thing I have for rimfire rifles, specifically the Ruger 10/22. To those folks I say here and now, this post is not for you... :-)

So, I finally got tired of the way my highly functional but highly ugly back-up rifle looked. I lucked out and found a new barrel on sale to replace my current target rifle barrel and decided it was time to make some changes. So check it out here... This is my new secondary. I combined elements of this rifle and this rifle to produce what I have here. The trigger assembly is new and full custom built from my bench. The scope is brand new as well. (Check out details here...) I have to say the German #4 reticle is nice. I should have used one of these a while ago.

The black to gun metal gray fade looks at least as nice in the black stock as it did in the gray one and, with the addition of the new trigger, the thing is lethal. Light and fast handling, acquisition is breeze with this one. I know I said that about the last one and to be honest it shot like a champ. It was just so damned ugly... ;-) I'll sell the leftover parts and be done with this (rifle building) for a while.

I always consider it a lucky sign when is snows or ices on my while I am hunting. It has to do, almost entirely, with how much I like it. Today we had a nice north-eastern wind with some sleet here and there. The temp was a balmy 27 (F) at midday. Very much like paradise. Only one thing required to make it better...

I managed to get myself in position to shoot at squirrels four times today. Once I was too slow, twice I just plain missed (not uncommon for me with a new rifle it seems. It takes some time and things sort themselves out. The jury is still out on the cheap scope though...) and lastly, I shot one out and somehow he hit the ground running and never looked back. What a day...

There is something stark and unforgiving in serenity of the winter woods. The warm pre-fall and the colorful and active fall times are great and alive but early winter is something else. The wind through leafless, empty branches makes this lovely but ultimately sad song and when a flock of birds flies near the sound like an isolated wind passing by. I tend to prop myself up on a down tree or against a trunk and just listen for hours. It's very... quieting.

The drive home under cloudy skies is usually pretty dull however before the holidays I find myself saying things like "Man, it looks like it should be Christmas." and then realizing that it's exactly two weeks away. It's my favorite time of year for family things and for hanging around in the city. This always makes me happy and also makes me crave Cafe Mocha. (dunno.... it just does)
Of course, the other thing that happens when I have time sit and think and idle for an hour or two is I start to miss this little person right here. She doesn't really understand what I go do and she runs to see me less and less when I come in the door but she will always hug me if I ask and is usually willing, when things are as cold as they are now, to share a blanket and some popcorn with me and watch a movie. See? Winter is good for now. In 4 months? Who knows. Probably not...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Rifles of RFC - The 2nd Annual Green Mountain Rifle Barrel Photo Contest Results

(sorry I am late with this. I had it ready a while ago and didn't get it published. I decided to keep it in chrono order... hence the weird date placement.)

So, if you're a fan of the Ruger 10/22 platform or just about any other rimfire shooter out there then you should be joining and reading the forums at I've been reading them for a while and I find that it contributes more than a little to what I am able to accomplish on my own with my rifle builds. Very worth the time if you have questions or need ideas. Good folks. Good info.

Recently some of the guys on the site and some of the sponsors got together and held the 2nd annual Green Mountain Rifle Barrels photo contest. (I discussed this a while back... lots of fun.) Anyhow, I didn't finish in the money on this time but I am OK with it. These are some great examples of photography and even better examples of what you can do with some effort for the rifles you shoot. So, for your consideration, let's have a look at the winners. Man, some good stuff here.

Chaser's build - 490 points out of a possible 500 and also winner for best background. Dynamite work on the rifle and photo. It won. Nuff said....

Dads_addiction's build - 484 points out of a possible 500. (My personal pic to win it all BTW) Side note: As a part of the contest we were required to submit a target for group size. This one shot .028 at 25 yds. Just lethal, man. Top notch stuff here. 2nd place over all.

Passinby's build - 483 points out of a possible 500. This is one seriously nice looking practice rig. This was another one with stupid-small group sizes on his target. .052 at 25 yards. 3rd place overall.

Que's build - 468 points out of 500. This one won the Best of Show award. One more damned fine looking rifle... and as you might guess, scary accurate. .025 at 25 yds. Just fantastic work on this rifle.

This is me. I am 5th in points at 465. I like it, I built it, my groups were nothing like these other guys. They still fit under a dime though.... for sure good enough for the squirrel thing. I know, I didn't win anything but hey.. it's my website.

Rigrat's build - 464 points out of a possible 500. This one won for most original and I have to say I would love to have seen how that bird got coaxed into that pose. I do very much like this rifle.

If you like what you see you should go check out the forums there on the site. The other 18 entries in this contest are there as well as literally thousands of others.
If it isn't clear, I have really begun to enjoy being involved there, even just the little bit I am. Also, I am feeling like I need to get the rifle ready for next year's shoot and have a plan for where to go take the pics. Yes, I am already thinking about it and yes, I am that competitive.... ;-)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How it goes and how it went...

I have been pretty lucky to have a job in a place that gives so many days off in a year. One of the really key perks of my gig is that my boss encourages us to plan our time off for really critical things (things key to us and non-negotiable) as early as possible and to advise him so that he can accommodate unless things just will not work. Thus far I have never had it 'not work out'. Given who I am, this means I have the deer season in late November / early December scheduled in January. Three days, all guns, all shooting, nothing but deer. This is the plan. Year over year this is what I do.

Sometimes however, nothing works out and especially when planned. Family will always take precedence and this year things (things = the stuff I had to take care of instead of taking care of Mr. Deer) were really close to home. When you feel like you have it all wired and locked in, be aware.... sometimes you do and you won't get what you want anyway. I know it. I just forget it sometimes.

Bottom line is deer season was a one day trip for me yesterday. I wouldn't have missed the stuff going on for all the bullets in the ammo factory but I have to tell you.... one day is a disappointment for gun season. To top that, it was about 5 degrees F yesterday morning. Nothing was moving. I hiked the whole place and nothing. Not even a grunt from the one I dumbassed up and spooked. Nada. Zip. Zero. I managed to stay out until 1300 and I just couldn't talk myself into it anymore.

It was good to come home and see the girls. I miss them when I am gone and bad hunting days just make it worse. On the up-side, a new rifle barrel arrived and I have build work to do and a basement to remodel. I am sure I'll get out for the squirrel devils one or five more times before the season closes. All is not lost, just depressed a bit.

In my mind, deer season always marks the approximate end of what I like to call the 'A' hunting season. Not to cold, still some leaves here and there, nothing in hibernation yet... I love the fall (as the name implies) and the season to this point has been so good. I know it is foolish and more than a little selfish to only dwell on the bad ending. Still, and pardon the golf reference here, it's a lot like shooting even par through 17 and finishing +3. Still a great round, just a bit of a let down.

Ah well, at least I can still hunt and rifle revamping is running full steam this year. I think I have the answers for the right configs and I can finally be done with it... (right. done. sure thing. Viva la Rifle-Tinkering :-)

The Last Ivory Hunter: The Saga of Wally John by Peter Hathaway Capstick

I know. I know... I was going to do my list of disappointments for 2008 here this month however, I happened upon this and read it on a friend's recommend and man, what a good book. I am a huge fan of Capstick's books to begin with and I have been flirting with an interest in the ivory hunting trade for a while. (Conflicted beliefs about poaching and commerce and what the ivory trade actually was... ethical thing really, and only on a personal level. Anyhow...) I decided to give it a read.

The Last Ivory Hunter provides an eye witness account of an African social structure in transition. From pre world war II through the late 1970's, the tale is well told and recounts the shifts in the dark continent through the eyes of a hunter and successful business man with the flair characteristic of Peter Capstick. I read the whole thing and never wondered how I would get through it. If you're interested in subjects as diverse as bush rifles, the humor of the average tribesman, surviving a Gabon viper bite, and a bevy of other things, this book is for you. So to it then...
  • Readability - 5 of 5 - Capstick is a fantastic writer and the first person accounts the book provides, as dictated by Wally himself, are a really good read. The provide a true flavor of he man in question.
  • Subject Matter - 4 of 5 - I really enjoyed the read through this novel however I really was looking for a more in-depth account of the Ivory thing. Still in all, nothing learned is wasted and this is well taught.
  • Editing - 5 of 5 - Just well done. Read it and see...
  • Did I like the story - 4 of 5 - Like I said, great great read. Worth the time. I gave it four instead of 5 because, as I think I have implied here, if this were not so well written I would have put it down for not being what I was looking to read.

In summation then, this is book worth reading. I have yet to find a Capstick book I did not like. To be fair, you may have begun to notice a certain commonality in the books I like so that the reviews for what they are worth.

Next year, I think I will map out into some different areas and see if I can read some actual fiction and something about something other than bloodsport and militaria. Until 2009 then. Happy Holidays.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mermaids, Colds, On-Call, and Gun Season...

Oh yeah, and squirrel hunting too. Man, what a busy couple of weeks we have working here in Central OH. Next week is Thanksgiving and I am on-call guy for the week. The week after is whitetail gun season. Four weeks after that is Christmas. Gonna be fun for a while. So how have things been lately? Let go over it.

A few weeks back was Halloween. We were beset by Mermaids here in Casa del Hunter. We walked for a couple of blocks and she decided she had shared enough of herself away from Mommy and back home we went. Have a look. She's my cutie....

This past week my good friend Ryland and I got out to slay the evil tree rats. It turns out neither one of us enjoy the hunting nearly as much as shooting the bull while we should have been quiet. I had a few shots but they were way too far off. I tried once but only managed to scare the little guy into running for his nest. We decided to bag it and head for the range to sight in the deer implements. Somehow I also managed to catch the 'Death Cold'. Gah, I hate these viral things....

I forgot how hard that damned 454 can kick. I finally got it put back together and two shots at a plastic bottle later it was sighted in... two perfect .452 inch holes in the label of the bottle.... Good day not to be a target I guess. Let me just say how impressed I am, one more time, with the cannon and can launch that 300 gr hollow point at the 1200+FPS that Encore can. It packs a wallop.

There's much more to talk about however my Father has advised that I should stop using the rifle and just pack my camera when I go out from now on. To that end, I've decided to publish some more of the previous trips pics. Take care everyone and we'll catch up soon after the deer thing ends.

And what is one of my posts without a gun pic or two to take us home.... :-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Photo Orgy / Squirrel Strikeout

I sneaked the camera out today... the new one. Mrs. Hunter didn't know. I love using the silly thing. It is truly a step or 70 up my cell camera. (What I have used all along here because cameras are a big pain to haul in and out in one piece...) I am pretty darned pumped to have had a day of photog. 120 pictures all together... that's what I snapped. 120... and so begins the tale for today.

It turns out when you spend the day snapping photos, you will not be able to hunt worth a sh!t. I saw almost nothing and none of the evil tree-dwelling critters I was after in the first place.

On the flip side of that, I got some good pictures of the place I love. I am feeling like I am finally able to gather some representative images. Nothing I have done to this point does it justice. I think today's trip may just have a start on it.

The last bits of foliage were left up where the wind has not yet taken its toll. Mostly it was a cold gray day but every once in a while the sun would poke out and the sky would turn this amazing blue and I would just gorge on the lens. I need to get some better discipline around it or I may never hunt successfully again.... Oh well...

Anyhow, have a look at the rest of these. I have, literally, about a hundred more but these were the better ones I thought. I am hopeful to get to the west side of the place in a week or two and get some more shots. Enjoy.

Oh yeah... One last thing here. The guys at are hosting the 2nd annual Green Mountain Barrels photo contest and, go figure, my favorite squirrely rifle has a Green Mountain barrel and is, therefore, eligible.

I've decided to spare us all here and only post one of the pics I took of this one today. I have about a hundred of these too... Surely is a dangerous mix for me. Guns, hunting, and pictures of guns and hunting... The wife is lucky I even came home. I could still be out there, looking for another shot. (either kind)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Deer Bomb

Yes, I know... I said minimal deer hunting for the rest of the year and gun season was the time... yeah. So, last week when I saw the buck at deer creek I made some mental notes about where I was, where he came from, the wind and the other things I could think made a difference. I decided it was worth one more try.

One issue that seems to confound deer hunters the world over is how to attract a big buck and get a shot when you want them there when what they want is to do their own thing and not yours. With some real resistance I decided it was time to try a lure. I settled, after some reading and consideration of my hunting spot, on the Buck Bomb. My plug for them here is that it works as advertised. The short concept summary is spray doe piss everywhere and a buck is going to smell it and check it out. Bottom line is that while it stinks like the elephant house at the zoo in July, it works. All you have to do is your part.... and so begins our real story for the week.

Check out this picture here. You may say to yourself, "Good shot. Dead center. Woo hoo." Wrong answer. If you look the left side of the photo there you can see the down limb with the wear markings where hooves graze it as the pass. I was set up, stage right, ready to do my bow and arrow thing. Off in the distance there is the tree with the can that spewed doe stink for 2 to 3 minutes.

I was on station in my ground spot for about 3 hours when I heard the snort and caught the movement through the trees. It is a feeling unlike any other I must say. Bucks are in the house. I tried to freeze and not breath so loud as to scare him away like I did the doe I had close-aboard earlier in the morning. I nearly hyper-ventilated. I was a fantastic feeling. I watched some more. Finally he dropped his head and I drew. As I reached full draw he began to walk again and I lost my shot but I could see him moving. I had to hold it. If you have never practiced holding full draw for two or three minutes I recommend it. It's pain and more pain.

Finally he turned and came back. As he passed behind these trees, he paused with his vital zone nestled right in the fork. I could see it, I could hit it, I shot at it. 20 Yards. He is so dead. I can spear an orange 19 out of 20 times at this range. His engine room is the size of a small pumpkin. He is done. Get the truck out. We have a deer to get processed.

Now, it's fare to say that the branch I hit to deflect the arrow is about as big around as my little finger and was less than 18 inches long and pointed nearly straight at me with a slight point to the left. I never saw it but I saw the arrow turn left and spear the tree. Well sh!#.

To be fair it was a great day. The chance to shoot at a big 8 point with such a close shot makes me feel good about my tactics. My shooting skill needs some more work but all in all, I am pleased. A gorgeous day, a thrill better than nearly anything, and a day out of the office. Count me in... anytime.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Horn of the Hunter: The Story of an African Safari by Robert C. Ruark

I've had this book on my holiday, get-me-something-of-worth-instead-of-crap list for a while and nobody would get it for me. What a shame. I finally just broke down and bought it myself. I am glad I did.

Robert Ruark is an excellent writer. While the book is colored with phrases and language structure reminiscent of the beat poet culture after it was mainstreamed, the book is a still a fantastic account of a safari in an Africa that, I am told anyway, no longer exists. What's better, the account of the hunt and the living during the safari appear to be totally honest and allow the reader inside the experience. I hardily recommend this book to anyone interested the subjects covered. Ruark's account of his professional hunter, Harry Selby, is a well thought out portrayal of a man with many facets and personality traits that run well beyond his ability to bust brush and track game. Like I said, well written and developed.

  • Readability - 4 of 5 - So, this is a tricky one. Ruark's accounts of tracking, shooting, etc. are fantastically well done. Where I struggled a bit was in the dialog and the innuendo of the things unsaid. As I said above, I think this a period specific thing and does not detract from the book if you can lend it a couple of minutes of thought..

  • Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - I'd expound on this but if you just look at my profile / other blogs this will get really clear. I am all about this.

  • Editing - 5 of 5 - Fantastic. I knocked this book down in 4 days and found not a single error, split thought, or awkward transition. Really well done.

  • Did I like the Story - 5 of 5 - A non-fiction tale with well developed characters in an open-topped land rover, trekking around Africa for Buff and Elephant and Eland and Kudu and.... Well, you just get the idea. Yes. Fantastic story. Must read if you like this sort of thing.

Worth the money, worth the time. Really good read.

(Note: Next month I will cover those books that I have not been able to finish this year and did not like. I know I said this month but I figure why wait on something as good as this. Those others will still be unread in 30'ish days... )

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

29. Oktober: Zwei Tag Squirrel Hunt - Tag 2

The plan was, as most of my plans are, painfully simple. Take two days off and hunt like hell for both of them... and about like always, that fell apart mostly due to She Who must be Obeyed. It's also my fault for missing her and the little mini version of her that likes me more than she does.... I decided to head back home on Tuesday night and hunt closer to home on Wednesday. For reasons that I will forgo exploring here, I didn't get out to hunt until nearly 3 in the afternoon on day 2 of the hunt. It was... frustrating. That coupled with a complete strike-out in a new location made it the kind of day to remember, more for lessons and less for stories of hunting success....

Foxtail in the Fading Sun

First, and this is no dig at the hunting areas available in Central Ohio and reflects my preferences, I have never hunted such a flat piece of land in my life. It was not all bad but it turns out my sense of navigation has a lot to do with hills and less to do with direction. (fun for me...) Anyhow after some scouting I was able to find and unoccupied portion of the Deer Creek wildlife area and set to my business.

Sycamore and Sky
After hiking back a bit and finding some well used trails to follow I decided to position between the Oaks I could see up on a small rise and the stream behind me. There was no movement and no noise and I had this odd feeling I was wasting time however, I figured it beat working so...

Then the oddest thing happened. After I found my seat and settled in to wait 30 or 45 minutes to see what showed up, a really nice little 6 point buck sauntered by, totally unaware I was even there. If you look in the picture below you can barely make out his tail between the trees as he heads up that little rise toward some place else. Hmmm.... Maybe that's why it's called Deer Creek. Well, that's par for me isn't it? Always bringing a squirrel rifle to a deer hunt. (Damn IT! and Ah well....)

Buck Tail and Maples... What a day..

After seeing Mr. Buck, I decided it was a worth-while trip and waited another 30 just to see if anything else was going to move. It didn't. Nothing else. Not even a noise. Just the wind, the weeds, and the trees.

I was hunting in a large oval shaped field so I decided to just take a turn around the border in the last couple of hours before dark and see what, if any, sign could be seen. Fortunately a number of good trails were worn in the really tall grasses so it was an easy trip.

Deer Creek

The defining moment for the whole day was under a big walnut tree at the far end of the field. I found a pile of walnuts, uncut and unbothered. Never a good sign when looking for squirrels. After that the wind was just gone from my sails for the pursuit of the tree-devils. Still a good afternoon though. I decided to head in.... back to the car and home to the girls. Always a good end to a day.
The Trail Out