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.