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VOLUME 68-----------FEBRUARY 2008

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

February 5, 2008

(As you read this you will note that I actually tried to get a head start on the newsletter this month.  Two power outages of two days each during the last week and a half was not helpful!)

It's the evening of January 26th, and except for a quick trip to the library, we haven't done much travelin' today.  Been watchin' it snow since about noon!  Looks to be about 5 or 6 inches on the deck, and supposed to snow most all day tomorrow.

It's now the 29th, and the 'snow all day'  last Sunday was no exaggeration!  Official at the airport was right at 12 inches, while Liberty Lake, one of our closest official measuring stations logged 17 inches.

I 'yardsticked' the snow depth on our deck early Sunday morning, and found 10 inches.  We began cleaning decks, blowing the driveway, and scooping the patio, with snow falling heavily, and by the end of the day we found another 5 or 6 inches where we began the day's efforts.

Monday was spent finishing the driveway with the tractor blower, and then switching to the blade in order to widen our shared private road.  We are running out of space to pile the dang stuff!  Looks like the clearing will need to be done with the blower, for the foreseeable future, 'cause the plows don't have anywhere to go with it.

It began snowing again early this morning, and is expected to stop early afternoon.  At 10:30 AM we have 3 or 4 inches, so the official estimates of 3 to 5 inches from this storm appear to be low again!

The forecast calls for a relatively calm day Wednesday, with another big storm expected Thursday the 31st.

My concern at the moment is whether the snow on the roof is getting heavy enough to cause damage.  Sorta like caving in the roof?  I had a couple of local high school boys lined up to shovel the roof this morning, because everyone thought our East Valley School District  classes would be called off again today.  No such luck!  (Sorry Jennifer!)  The Parker boys will contact me tonight to see if we can reschedule.  I am sure of one thing.  I'm too old and clumsy to be gettin' up on the house, even if collapse is imminent!

Our newest shop building was erected in 2001.  When the snow on the roof gets heavy enough, or when I have the furnace going inside, it slides off the metal roof in a real avalanche.  So much came off this time, it stacked itself over half way to the top of the 12 foot walls, .  Even the side windows are more than half covered.  I haven't seen the slide off snow piled to window level before!

(House roof update:  The East Valley School District cancelled classes again on January 31st, so the Parker boys called me at 6:30 AM to say they could shovel the roof.  They started about 8:00 AM and finished just before Noon.)

Ah, the joys of living in the Great Northwest during a snowy winter!  Here are some pictures Jennifer shot on Sunday, February 3rd:

   

Snowbanks at the Ranch

This month will be potpourri.  Gonna tell some stories, reminisce, and maybe even spend a minute or two on my soapbox.

First I want to report that Ann is still with me after 46 years of wedded bliss.  (Or not?)  You'll need to ask her.  Even though our actual anniversary date is February 4th, we celebrated on Saturday the 2nd with a Jacuzzi Suite at a nearby hotel.  Rick, Christi, and Jennifer joined us for drinks and snacks mid afternoon, then we had a romantic (and very good) steak dinner at a new restaurant called Stilo's in Liberty Lake.  I suspect that's enough detail.  We are, after all, old folks ya know.

All the snow and slick roads have caused multiple daily slide offs and crashes the last few days.  Naw, that ain't really true.  It would be more accurate to say that idiot drivers are causing the wrecks by driving too fast, following too close, and not just staying off the roads when they don't really need to go anywhere!

Which brings me to my first story.  Back in the day when we had an auxiliary wood furnace, we annually cut and spit over 10 cords of wood to get us through a typical winter.  To facilitate the dragging and hauling of this wood, we bought a used 1981 three quarter ton Chevy, four wheel drive pickup.  I bought it 'under wholesale' because it had numerous small dents on the rails and sides of the bed.  A bit unsightly, but no harm for our intended purpose.  It was mechanically sound and served us well.

The old Chevy even had a name.  It was called the 'Shovel Truck.'  Why?  Here's the story we were told by the salesman:  The guy who had previously owned the truck had gone through a contentious divorce.  As he was leaving their driveway for the final time, his ex was pounding on the pickup bed with a shovel.  Thus the dents and dings and the Shovel Truck moniker.

The old truck served us well until we put in a propane furnace, and did away with all that wood cuttin'.  With all the snow and slide offs the past few days, I'm reminded of a funny incident involving the Shovel Truck.

A few years ago we had one of those wet spring snows that packs down to a slick sheet of ice on the driving surfaces of the roads, and will quickly grab and yank you into the ditch if you drift a front tire from the packed surface to the slushy stuff.

This happened to a two wheel drive pickup about a mile from our house on one such morning.  We were returning from the grocery store, and had driven the Shovel Truck because of the slick roads.  We stopped to evaluate, and I told the guy I'd go on home, unload the groceries, pick up my nylon tow rope, and return to pull him out.

We did exactly as promised, but when we got back to the stuck pickup, there were already two other vehicles hooked to him attempting to pull him from the ditch.  There was a four by four pickup hooked to the trailer hitch ball on the stuck vehicle, and a small Jeep hooked to the front of the 4X4.  (The Jeep's front driveline wasn't working, so he was only pulling with the rear tires.)  Both towing rigs were hooked up with logging chains, and driven by young guys, I'd guess in their 20's.

Now we all know, if you do much jerking on a logging chain when trying to pull a stuck vehicle, you're gonna tear up somethin'.  The result of that fiasco was all three vehicles spinning merrily away, and nobody moving an inch!  Everyone climbed out to take inventory when Little Heifer and I showed up, and their consensus was that I should hook to the front of the Jeep and make a train!

I declined!  I said, "Boys, if you'll let me hook directly to the truck in the ditch, I think I can 'slingshot' him out with my tow rope."

This prompted Jeep Man to unhook, pull over, and stand in the road with one of those, "I gotta see this expressions,"  while the other would-be tow man got all pi--ed off, unhooked, and roared away down the snow packed road.

I pulled into position and looped my tow rope over the trailer hitch balls on both trucks.  (My tow rope is a homemade affair that started as 20 feet of one inch nylon rope.  I braided loops into the ends and attached a short piece of chain to each of the loops.)  I told the stuck driver to get in reverse and let his wheels spin slowly when I gave him the high sign.

I got lucky!  I hit the end of the rope with just enough speed and slack for the rope's stretch to ease the truck back onto the road without a jerk or a bobble.  It looked like a giant hand had slowly guided it out like a toy car!  The Shovel Truck never spun a tire.

Jeep Man exclaimed, "Whoa, I never seen nothin' like that before!"

I said, "The secret is a stretchable tow rope instead of a chain!"  We headed up the hill for home.

In my December Newsletter, I alluded to the fact that my first Whitetail deer, in about 1967, was killed very near my Brother Ed's hunting cabin that was featured in that issue.  As promised, here's the story only one month late:

I was staying with my parents in our home town during deer season week, while Little Heifer was home in Kansas City, slaving away at her job so I could afford reloadin' components and huntin'.  (Ladies, ain't that the way its always been, livin' with a hunter/shooter?)

Dad and I arose before daylight, and I left the house afoot to trek the mile or so to an old shack, which at that time, sat on the present site of Ed's cabin.  Dad drove his old '55 Plymouth round about on the road, to a stand in the timber about a half mile west of the shack.  I was carrying my recently 'sporterized' Model 98 Argentine Mauser with a William's receiver sight, while Dad was using my 4X scoped Remington Model 760 pump.  The Mauser is in 7X57mm caliber, and the pump is chambered in .280 Remington.

I arrived at the shack, placed my rifle on the edge of the roof, and with the aid of a small tree, clambered to the rooftop.  It was still too dark to see anything, so I sat and shivered for another 30 minutes.  Even though the edge of the nearly flat roof was only 6 or 7 feet above ground, the wind seemed a lot colder sitting on that expanse of gritty, green roll roofing!

Finally, about the time one could begin to see more than a few yards, I had enjoyed all of that rooftop I could stand!  I climbed down and stood on the downwind side of the shack to warm up, and discovered I simply didn't have enough clothes on to stay warm when not moving.  (Of course, as a 'twenty-something,' I hadn't the patience that came with later years either.)

After deciding I was near death from exposure, I decided to head toward that old Plymouth and its working heater.  My route would take me North, across a fence into a hay meadow, West, down slope through a wide valley, then up a steep, timbered hill to warmth.

The clouds were hanging low and looking as though they could start dripping any minute, when, after several steps into the hay field, I realized I can see farther.  In fact, I can see a black Angus cow and a deer peacefully grazing in the valley floor before me!

A more experienced deer hunter would have likely attempted to retreat unnoticed, and put on a sneak down the brushy fencerow to get closer.  But remember, I've an opportunity to fill my first Missouri deer tag!  Thumbing down that military, wing safety, I raised the old Mauser to my left shoulder, and could see . . . NOTHING!

I'm standing in plain sight, raising and lowering my face from the stock, time after time, continuing to try and get a sight picture.  Do you think I have enough working brain cells to either sit down, or crawl to the  brushy fence line?  Nope!  I'm preparing to take a long shot, offhand, from a standing position, there is not enough light to see through that tiny aperture sight, and I just stand there like a bump!

Finally, I am able to see the deer through the peep sight.  As I said, this is a long shot, so I think I need to put the front sight a few inches over the back line of the deer.  The shot booms into the stillness.  The deer raises his head and looks at me.  So does the cow.  In retrospect, I'm sure the shot when high.  I frantically cycled the bolt to chamber a fresh cartridge.  I'm left handed and this is a right hand bolt action, so it's somewhat awkward.

After a week and a half, the second Sierra 160 grain boattail spitzer began its journey.  Again, the shot went high, but this time the deer stuck his neck directly up into the bullet's flight path.  He dropped like a stone.  The cow ran toward the brushy fence line, jumped, and cleared the fence much like the deer would have if he weren't lying on the ground.  (We later learned that the cow was so wild that she had avoided the gather when the rest of the herd was moved to winter pasture.  She was apparently more comfortable living with the deer herd.)

So there's the story of a first Missouri deer, in an area where many more have fallen over the years.  Incidentally, to show the level of skill involved here, (read luck) the distance, in pre-laser rangefinder terms, was 330 long steps from that first ejected cartridge case to the dead deer.

One thing I'll never understand about this incident.  How can approaching a downed whitetail buck with 8 points, wide spread, heavy structure, and long tines, bring a Missouri Hillbilly kid from near hypothermic death to toasty warmth in a matter of seconds?

You may recall from last month, my soapbox bitchin' about being required to 'register' with an email address to view some deer hunting pictures taken at Ed's cabin.  Well, Nephew Jason called me a 'Crotchety Old Coot' in his email, but my tirade got me the pictures I wanted without registering to follow an internet link for them!

Here are Jason and Scott Parman with two friends and their 2007 bucks:

           

Jason - far left and Scott - far right

In light of recent stock market volatility and the 'economic stimulus package' being debated by our esteemed Congressional Representatives, this month's hillbilly wisdom comes directly from the soapbox of Ol' Hillbilly Jim:

"Them loudmouthed lawyers (I'm sorry, I mean our esteemed representatives) are concerned about the Stock Market only because most are members of that elite opulent class who can afford to invest in stocks in the first place!"  "My guess is they don't give a rat's patootie about you and I, except for our votes at election time!"

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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