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Ann's Corner

VOLUME EIGHT----------FEBRUARY 2003

SHOOTIN’, HUNTIN’, AND RELOADIN’

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

Well, here we are with February turned up on the calendar.  I’ve been retired for a month now, and the Little Heifer joined me as of January 31st.  I’ve already determined that retirement beats hell out of workin’, and I’m sure Ann will feel likewise!

 Rick, Christi, and Jennifer (Son, Daughter-in law, Granddaughter) hosted a little party celebrating Ann’s retirement last Saturday evening;  Just a small get together with some neighbors.  Among the quests were Bret and Tammy, a young couple with whom, our kids like to socialize.  Brett and I were settin’ on the couch talkin’ guns, huntin’ and shootin’ with Bret’s Dad, Harry, when Bret brought up a shootin’ session he and his two boys attended at my place almost two years ago.

 We were sightin’ in rifles, chronographing loads, and braggin’ about our shootin’ toys that day as I recall.  I mentioned that one of the most accurate rifles in my battery is a Left Hand Remington Model 700, in the new, at that time, .338 Ultra Mag caliber, and asked Bret if he’d like to try it out.  Of course, he would and did!  I brought the “beast” out and got him all set up to shoot from the bench.  Rick offered him a PAST recoil shield to use and said, “that  thing sets back pretty good, Bret, you might want this.”

 Now, Bret’s a big, husky guy, and replied, “Naw, recoil don’t bother me much!”  I saw he had on only a tee shirt, so I just went to the spottin’ scope to watch the target, and gave myself a little smile.  As I recall, the first shot printed about an inch above point of aim, the second cut the first hole, and the third was about a half inch above and just right of the first two.  All agreed that the .338 Ultra would shoot “purty good” and that was about all that was said at the time.

 I aint too proud to admit, when I shoot that ol’ boy from the bench, I use the PAST recoil pad, and also fold up a towel to tame ‘er down even more.  The factory specs on that load tell us it’s pushin’ a 250 grain Swift A Frame bullet at about 2860 FPS with over 4500 Ft Lbs of energy at the muzzle!  I just want to make sure the scope is sighted in, and see how the load groups from the bench; I aint into torture!!  The rest of my practice is sittin’, standin’, or kneelin’ with a bipod or shootin’ sticks with that rifle.

 Bret told us that night at the party, “I sure wanted that recoil pad after the first shot, but just couldn’t ask for it after turnin’ it down once, so I just gritted my teeth and shot the rest of the group!”  He followed up with somethin’ like, “When I got home, my shoulder was so bruised, it looked like a big mule had tap danced on the dang thing!”

 As you can imagine, we all got a good belly laugh out of that little story!

 We haven’t had much winter this year.  They tell us El Niño has kept us warm and wet, and very little of the wet has come as snow!  We could still have some serious winter, but I keep thinkin’ SPRING!!  I saw a two robins in the yard the other day, so I aint the only one thinkin’.

 Soon be time to get out in the woods with Jennifer.  She’ll be seven in July, and being the only grandchild, you might say she is spoiled rotten!  (You’d be right too)  She does like to poke around in the woods with Grandma, and finds some interesting things.  A couple of years ago she was exploring in the timber west of the house, and yelled, “Grandma, I see some Easter Eggs!”

This is the Ruffed Grouse nest Jennifer was seeing

Another perspective on the “Easter Eggs”

We, of course, left the nest alone.  We would occasionally sneak out and get a good angle with binoculars and watch the mother grouse go about the business of hatching the eggs.  Unfortunately disaster struck a few days later!  The nest was torn up and egg shells were scattered around the area.  We speculated that raccoons did the dirty work as they are frequent visitors, always looking for something to get into and cause trouble!

 We just hoped that Mrs. Grouse had better luck with her next try!

 Last month I mentioned having loaded some cowboy action loads for my .44-40, which were, according to the data source, supposed to turn up around 800 fps from a Colt SAA with a 5 ½ inch barrel.  (The data source was the Laser Cast Reloading Manual, First Edition)  I was using Hodgdon’s Tite Group Powder in new Starline brass with CCI large pistol primers and the Laser Cast 200 Gr Round Nose Flat Point Bullet.

 With these loads having been developed in a Colt SAA,  and not exceeding 12,500 Copper Units of Pressure (CUP), there is no doubt of their safety in a Ruger Vaquero.  The loads, in my 5 ½ inch Vaquero, averaged 782 fps, with a high of 798 and a low of 761 for an 8 shot string.  I would like to have the extreme spread a little closer than this but I want to do more extensive accuracy testing before I get too excited about it.  I’ve had some extremely accurate loads in my rifles over the years, that showed wider than desired velocity variations.

 After the short session with the Shooting Chrony checking velocities, I did a quick check of point of aim and group size from an improvised rest at 7 yards, shooting at a 3 inch bullseye.

 The first six shots, using a 6 o’clock hold, printed a 3 inch group about 2 ½ inches low.  The next six, holding with the front sight covering the 3 inch bull, printed 5 in the black and one just low and left.  I’m sure the flyer was caused by the operator.  Somehow I used to shoot better with iron sights before old, tired eyes were invented!

 If it ever quits rainin’ and we get a little sunshine around here, I’ll wring out this load a little better, and give you a more complete report!  Remember, for guns, components, and all your shooting needs, check out the Sportsman’s Warehouse.  (www.sportsmanswarehouse.com)   

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
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