Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hunt #2: The Great Wind and the Great Hunt

Ike came to Ohio over the weekend and with him, some of the more impressive winds I have ever seen. I expected there to be some real damage in the happy hunting ground and truly there was. Some of the anchor trees (nav points I use) got snapped like twigs. Large branches found their way down as well. Many of the paths I have used previously were closed by debris. I had to spend some time checking footing and modifying nav. patterns but who lets that get in the way. Progress was a bit slower but still, all-in-all, it was a great day.

I had clear shots at 8 distinct squirrels today... and that in the course of 3 hours between 7:30 and 10:30. It was just fantastic. Aside from my tribute to the wind above here, I really have to give credit to the hunting shoes (see these) I picked up from Cabela's in the off season. Admittedly they are not magic and will not muffle a broken twig or not leave tracks however, I must say that when I did my part I never slipped or was able to feel the unseen debris that would have been a problem had I stepped on it.

The single shot is down for repairs for a while (not really repairs... more like modifications) and I decided it was time to give the most expensive squirrelling rifle I own a trip (its first as a matter of fact) into the trees to see what it could do. You know, on a side note here, this is just a really nice looking weapon. It came together so well for me. My only real gripe with it is that the mag release is loose all the time when a magazine is in and I will need to fix that. As a shooter, once I got the scope thing worked out it and I did not miss. (see below for discussion of 'the scope thing')

In previous posts I think I have discussed my issues with scope sighted rifles, my lack of ability to hit with them consistently, and what a pain they are to hunt with. Today I think I was able to address this. The Leupold on this rifle is a top notch bit of optics (1 to 4 power, 20 mm objective) and I missed my first four shots with it this morning. I spent a bit of time checking and rechecking the way the eye relief was set and the sight picture when I pulled it up and found some interesting things that I adjust. Most important was eye relief. With that set, I hunkered down and waited. Sure enough, squirrel #5 trotted by and stopped. Instead of snap shooting (which I seem to do well with open sights) I held on target and shot like it was paper. Bingo! Right through the spot where I was holding. Down in one shot... and the next three as well. I guess this was $ well spent for the parts on this one. It turns out the 1 power setting allows for 2 eye shooting and makes target acquisition in close a snap.

One thing I did notice, along with all the down limbs and trees and extra stuff everywhere, was that things had begun to rebuild. Probably my favorite example today was this spider building a web over the access road I was crossing. There were a couple more just like him too on down the line a bit. All I could think of was a line from Charlotte's Web where the doc says "Nobody shows the spider how to build the web. I just knows. That's the real miracle..." Indeed it is. When it comes to the combination of function, strength, and elegance I think these guys have something to teach us all...

When I hunt this side of the world, the path I take almost always takes me into this field. This is one of my favorite lines / scenes in the whole place. I have another picture of this in this post. (You may also notice a picture of last year's rifle posed in the same place for the same picture... nobody said I wasn't a creature of habit...) In the fall this will become a thing of color and glory. Sad as I will be to see the green season end, the fall colors are a really sublime result of growth for another season.

I am still hopeful I will get out again this month. Some family things have come up that I need to attend to and work is never ending and now I find that cleaning squirrel guts just doesn't stack up to playing with my 4 year old daughter. ( even for one morning, one day a week....) She wants a pink rifle and she wants to go hunting with me. She also wants to help sick animals. Not sure how that is going to work out... I guess we will see. Her momma doesn't like it one bit. (The rifle part anyway...) For now, I will stick to dollhouse and bikes and scooters.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young and Wayne Jacobsen & Brad Cummings

I was having lunch with my Mother on her way to one of her last radiation treatments after breast cancer surgery when we began to discuss an idea I had for a self help book about worry and disaffection in life and the round sort of formless ideas I had in mind for it. She heard was I was saying and said, "You should read The Shack. I just finished it and it discusses these very things with a seriously churchy spin..."

Well great. Some one beats me to most things so I figured, why not read it since I was really writing the other idea for myself and maybe someone had done the exploratory work for me. Now here we are. An so my self help book about finding peace from worry and finding fulfillment in your life has only one line: Read The Shack, word for word, and take in what it says.

This is a powerful message wrapped in a small book. I have not read what I would categorize as a more mature philosiphy / theological representation of faith than this book. It provided a real sense of both peace and a perspective I had not fully considered and it does so with stunning clarity. I highly recommend it. So let's get to it then...
  • Readability - 4 of 5 - Like I said brilliant clarity in writing however the depth is not for the mildly interested. This is a serious bit of business and requires some fortitude beyond any I expected.
  • Subject Matter - 5 of 5 - These guys know this stuff cold. They know if so well as to write a book that begins to rewrite perceptions about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and our relationships to the them all. Fantastic insights here. Worth every minute of your life it takes to read what it says if you want to know.
  • Editing - 5 of 5 - I can't say it any plainer. Superbly written, fantastic presentation.
  • Did I like the story - 27 of 5.... OK 5 of 5 if that's all I got - Please see above. I will begin sounding like this guy's Mom if I take this much further.
This is a great book for being both a great read and profoundly insightful. I applaud it and, if you have what it takes to wade through 200 pages of murder, God, Jesus, and Gardening you too can know what I now know.... (just do it)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hunt #1, 2008: Uncage the Bear.. Sort of

On my way to the ridge
So, I've had this little prayer going for about 200 days that goes, in some variation or another, like this:

Keep me alive until September
Let it be 70 and Sunny
with Light Wind
and a Good Rifle and Good Shots to take
and no squirrels by accident

I can prove for sure that God was listening or at least had plans very similar to mine today. For this, I am eternally grateful.
Today was my official first day back at it for the 2008-2009 season and what a day it was... tough to ask for much more really. I started my day, in my spot, smack dab in the middle of squirrel alley. It was gorgeous as I have come to expect there. When I go, I get reminded of smells and feels and that moss on a wet rock is slippery and the sun in the valley rises later than up on the hill... It is wonderful. Much like seeing an old friend that will be around until after the holidays.
Squirrel Alley

The new rifle is all I had hoped it would be. The thing is lighter and less bulky than the Rugers... and it shoots as well and hits HARD. The ALICE pack worked out very well and, once the straps were adjusted to the right length, it was a great pack for packing heavy and staying out all day. I packed a full MRE with entree and snacks (the lemon poppy seed pound cake is pretty good). If I had been able to stay out instead of coming home it would have been a great day for dining as well as for squirreling.

The Rifle, The Pack, Mr Squirrel #1

One side note here about the rifle... 22 WMR is a bit more destructive effect on the squirrels than I like. Shot placement appears to be more critical that with my 22 LR, Sub Sonics. Of the three actual shots I got today, two dropped squirrels. The one above here was a shot to the back base of the scull at about 20 yards. The entry wound is normal size. The exit would is just ghastly compared to what I have become accustomed. In this case no meat loss occurred but it is easy to see how it would be easy to waste a squirrel with a poorly placed shot. I guess I need to wear my glasses. :-)

The Old Oak Canopy Along the South Edge of the ridge

It was just a really great day. The canopy was alive and breeze was nice, my new gear worked and I didn't fall down and break this rifle. It's all good. Ah well.... signing off until next week.