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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 21-----------MARCH 2004

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

The snow, she's a'meltin'!  Aint more'n a foot left in most places here at the ranch, and we can even see the bare ground in some spots!  I have to keep remindin' myself that we've had an unseasonably warm spell, and it's only the first day of March.  We could still get a lot more winter up here in the hills!

Last Thursday I was in the shop, under "Big Red," the 1999 Ford truck, (more on this later) when I heard some scratching out front.  I was ready for a break anyway, so I peeked out to see what the disturbance was about.  There was a spot, maybe 10 feet wide and 20 feet long, under two big tamarack trees that was free of snow.  Little Heifer was busily scratching about in the dirt and grass with a lawn rake!  Think she aint got Spring Fever?

Speaking of Spring:  It's that time of year when memories of last fall's huntin' seasons are startin' to fade, but still too early to get excited about those seasons comin' up this year!

To combat this traditional down time, when coyote hunting is about all that's available, Ann and I are considering opening an outfitting business for some non traditional game.  We would be offering fully guided hunts with all the amenities, for a price that will certainly flatten, if not completely empty, your wallets!  A bona fide opportunity for a trophy would be guaranteed, or the hunt is free!

Two species will be available.  Both are indigenous to the area, and extremely plentiful.  As a matter of note, we believe both these species were developed through in-vitro fertilization by a mad scientist using a mixture of DNA from a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Cockroach, and a Rabid Skunk.  Here is the first one:

This is Ann with her latest trophy

This species is known here at the ranch by its Latin name:

Stinkilius Bugulius  (Pronounced: Stink-ill-ee-us Bug-oo-lee-us)

Ann's rifle is a Ruger M77 Mark II Compact in .243 Winchester, in stainless steel with a laminated stock.  A little on the light side for game of this size, but with careful placement of a Nosler Partition 100 grain bullet, will get the job done.  The scope is a Leupold Vari X III, 2½ to 8 power.

 

This is my trophy, similar, but a different species

This one is known as:

Stinkulius Bugilius  (Pronounced: Stink-oo-lee-us Bug-ill-ee-us)

My rifle is a Browning A Bolt II, left hand bolt action in .338 Winchester Magnum, in stainless steel, with a composite stock.  It is equipped with Browning's patented B.O.S.S.  Plenty of gun for even beasts of this size, shooting Winchester Supreme factory loads with 230 grain Fail Safe Bullets.  The scope is a Leupold Vari X II, 3 to 9 power.

I won't bore you with the gory details of the difficult stalks and the long range kills, but suffice it to say it was both exciting and dangerous!  We are also proud to announce that both specimens are the current world records in their category in the Boine and Crappit Record Book!

Now, at long last, back to the Big Red Truck project!

As previously reported in these pages, Ann bought a new travel trailer last June.  This 29 foot Skyline Nomad weighs in with a "dry weight" of 7,280 pounds.  While I haven't yet weighed this thing with full water and propane tanks, stocked with food and clothing, and all our other stuff, its gotta' be up in the 9,000 to 10,000 pound range!  Still well within the maximum towing weight for the F-250, 7.3 Liter Diesel, but a heck of a lot different than pulling our old 1978 Coachmen, 23 footer that preceded the Nomad!  (The old Coachmen weighed just under 4,000 pounds, fully loaded.)

This is the 1978 Coachmen when Rick, Jennifer, and I were on a September 1999 bear hunting trip in Northeast Washington.

Big Red

I'm not saying that Big Red won't pull the Nomad anywhere you want to pull it, but I figure a little more power wouldn't hurt when it comes to gettin' to the best huntin' spots!  So, I began researching the idea of adding one of the aftermarket "chips" to the truck to pick up a few more "horses" and maybe, a bit better fuel economy.

Some internet surfing, and discussions with some trusted "diesel technician" friends, soon told me it aint quite as simple as "just adding a chip."  Getting a meaningful power boost requires more heat generation, which in turn, requires better heat dissipation capabilities than the factory equipment gives you.  That's a long way of sayin' you gotta' have a free flow air filter system and an oversized exhaust system, from the turbo back!

Next comes the addition of a set of gauges that measure and monitor turbo boost, exhaust temperature, and transmission fluid temperature, so you can be sure you don't "overuse" that new power and cause a meltdown under the hood!  Only now are you ready to get the most out of that "chip."

I found that the price tag for parts and labor to have all this done at the local truck shop came in at just under $2,000!  (Yep, I swallered hard too when I heard that.)  While still not cheap, buying the parts and doing the work myself, brings the cost to $1,200 and change.  After top level discussions with Little Heifer, we decided to move forward with the project.  I believe Ann thought it worth the 1,200 bucks just to keep me out from under foot for a few days.

Anyway, when I heard Ann making those scratchin'-in-the-dirt noises last Thursday, I was under the truck welding the fancy chrome extension on the end of the new 4 inch Diamond Eye® exhaust system.  The exhaust project probably took me three times as long as it should have, but I had nothin' better to do.  Besides, it aint easy puttin' a 4 inch exhaust system through a bunch of openings designed for the old stock 3 inch system!

I installed a K & N® air filtration system shortly after we bought the truck, so that part was already done.

I found that the latest technology for "chipping" a diesel pickup truck for more power, doesn't involve a "chip" at all.  These newest gadgets just reprogram the existing computer in the vehicle to the new power settings.  I settled on a programmer from Edge Products® Inc., called the "Evolution®."  This programmer first copies and stores the stock program, then allows uploading any one of three power level programs.  Level 1 adds 60 horsepower and 100 foot pounds of torque, level 2; 80 HP, 140 ft lbs, and level 3; 100 HP, 200 ft lbs.

You can change power levels or go back to the stock program at any time.  The instructions are specific about returning the program to "stock" before taking the vehicle in for authorized service, otherwise the dealer's diagnostic equipment won't read the problem codes.

I had hoped to make a full report in this newsletter about how this project all worked out, how the new power feels, etc.  Unforeseen problems have cropped up however, so the full treatment will have to wait until next month.

The new gauges have been ordered, but the factory had some production problems and they have not shipped yet.  Also, as I write this, Big Red is at the Ford dealership awaiting a parts order for some warranty work unrelated to this project.  It seems that the electronic sensors that tell the starter switch the transmission is in Park or Neutral, aint workin' right, so the starter won't kick in when you turn the key!  I'll keep y'all posted!

This month's Hillbilly Wisdom comes from tales told us kids by an old philosopher named Ray, who lived just down the road and loved to provide knowledge during our "formative years."

"When I need to build a fence acrost hard, rocky ground, I don't dig my postholes there."  "I dig all my postholes down in the crick bottom where the ground is soft and sandy, take my team and wagon, and haul them holes to where I need 'em!"

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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