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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 77-----------NOVEMBER 2008

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

November 3, 2008

We'll get to the moose hunt later.  I don't wanta talk about it!

Early deer season opened with a bang on October 11th.  With the season less than 2 hours old, I was in the shop when I heard a rifle boom behind the house.  Ann had filled her doe tag.  She was shooting her favorite rifle, a youth size Remington Model 7 in 7MM-08.  She was shooting handloads pushing a Hornady 139 grain SST bullet at about 2550 fps.  This bullet has performed very well on our whitetail deer in the past and did not fail her this time.  The bullet is designed to be frangible and expand quickly, even at modest velocities; just the ticket for our smallish whitetails.

This little Remington is not what I consider a particularly accurate rifle.  Whether with Federal's premium factory loads topped with Nosler partition bullets or reloads with the 3 or 4 different bullet/powder combinations I have tried, I've never been able to get much better than 2 to 4 inch groups, bench rest at 100 yards.  Doesn't seem to matter to Little Heifer.  She aims, pulls the trigger once, and a deer falls down!  Several years in a row now!

As you can see in the following picture, we had a very difficult time getting the deer to the shop for field dressing and skinning.

Rick and Jennifer showed up in time to watch me field dress the deer

Next it was Jennifer's turn.

We had been seeing a small buck with a broken antler off and on for several weeks, usually in Larry's pasture.  The archers hunting Larry's place had reportedly passed him up numerous times.  When the archery season ended the bowhunters stopped feeding, and 'broken horn' began coming to our place.

On Tuesday, October 14th, Rick and Jennifer came up for the evening hunt.  We spotted the buck and Rick asked Jennifer, "Do you want him?"  She looked him over with Grandma's Swarovski 10X42's and began nodding her head.

I had set up our portable ground blind just south of the house, so Rick and Jennifer were able to sneak into the blind without being spotted by either the buck or his running mate.  The blind had been prepped with my BOG-POD shooting sticks and a padded bucket for a seat.

Soon the little .243 spoke.  The buck trotted about 50 feet, stopped, and, after a few moments, fell over.  Here's a couple of pictures.

   

Jennifer's first Buck

October 24 marked the end of the early modern firearm deer season here, and everyone's attention turned to elk.  We saw no elk here at the ranch, although we did see a nice herd of a dozen or more in an alfalfa field near Rick's house before the season opened.  Even though there was a nice 6 point bull, they were in a 'no shooting area'.  I didn't hear about anyone shooting a big bull nearby, so he's probably still around.

Rick and Jennifer did venture to Inland Empire Paper Company property in the Thompson Creek drainage both Saturdays during elk season, but saw only tracks with no elk standing in them.  Elk season ended on November 2nd, and we are now into the late deer season in our area.  The late season is the most likely time to see the bigger bucks, as they will begin rutting activity soon.

Rick has a buck tag, Ann has a second tag that is good for either sex, and I have one doe tag and another good for either sex.  Who says old age doesn't have its advantages?  (If you're 65 or over, you can shoot any deer on the general season tag)  Guess I'd better get busy!

We took some time out from moose hunting to catch up on a bit of 'preparation for winter' work and I did some prep work for a reloading seminar that I was asked to do for Center Target Sports in Post Falls, ID.

Center Target is a gun shop and indoor shooting range where we take our Hunter Education classes for their live fire qualification.  Owners Ed and Peggy Santos are first class people and we appreciate all they do for us.  Visit their website at www.centertargetsports.com to see what they have to offer.

The reloading seminar took place as scheduled on Wednesday evening October 29th.  Attendance was poor, so we are planning another session for late winter or early spring when no big game hunting seasons are open.  We hope to have a better turnout for the next one.  After several years of a downward trend, there's been renewed interest in handloading because ammo prices have skyrocketed.

Ann's birthday was October 30th.  We celebrated on the following Saturday night with a steak dinner at the Wolf Lodge Inn, east of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  Rick's treat.

In addition to her cards, I resurrected the antlers from a buck Ann shot in 2005.  This was a pretty nice buck and I tried to get her to have a taxidermist do a shoulder mount at the time, but she didn't want to.  I saw a deer antler mounting system at the Sportsman's Warehouse called the 'Iron Buck' a few weeks ago so I decided to mount the antlers for her birthday.

Cleaning, shaping, and trimming the skull plate to fit inside the mounting bracket occupied an afternoon while Ann was shopping.  The mount turned out OK, and she decided to hang the antlers above the downstairs fireplace.  Here are a couple of pictures.

   

The Iron Buck

Well, I guess I can't delay the moose hunting discussion any longer.

After our initial excursion as reported in last month's newsletter, Ann and I next traveled to the moose hunting area the evening of October 8th.  We settled in at the Eagle's Nest Motel in Priest River, Idaho and made that our headquarters for a couple of days.  We picked up fellow Hunter Education Instructor and volunteer guide, Greg Koehn, at his home early on the 9th and ventured to a new location where Greg had spotted two bulls and a cow earlier that week.  Greg had been hunting muzzle loader elk season and looking for moose at the  same time.

Just a couple of miles north of Greg's home, we passed a herd of elk just off the highway in a meadow surrounded with 'No Hunting - No Trespassing' signs.  There was a big 6 point bull in the herd, along with several cows and, we thought, a spike bull or two.  We turned around and stopped at the land owner's house where Greg knocked on the door but was unable to raise anyone.  Muzzle loader elk tag in pocket, muzzle loader in truck, and all Greg could do was look!  (Greg reported later that he did talk to the landowner and was adamantly refused permission to try for the elk)

When we got to our moose hunting area, Ann and I dropped Greg off and proceeded to another gated road to stand watch from the south side, as he walked the north canyon rim.  Greg said he spotted a small bull on the hill above Ann and I but he soon disappeared.  Ann and I saw no moose.

Seeing no further activity, Greg crossed over the ridge to the north to look into the next drainage.  He reported a cow moose, a calf, and a black bear on the far slope of that canyon, so we saddled up the red Ford, met Greg, and took another road into that area.  We climbed, clambered, and sweated up and down that canyon, following old roads and skid trails for the rest of the afternoon to no avail.  Ann and I did not see a moose.

On October 10th we left Greg to his elk hunting and spent the day walking gated logging roads, continuing our quest.  We still did not see a moose.  We made day hunts from home to various spots such as Skookum Lakes, South Baldy, and Bead Lake Ridge again on October 21st and 23rd, with plenty more trudging up and down the hills.

We put a lot of miles under our shoe leather.  During these little walks Ann carried our day pack with first aid supplies and field dressing necessities while I toted an eleven pound .338 Ultra Mag rifle.  I can say, for old folks, we're gettin' in pretty good physical condition, but we still ain't seen a moose!

Our next day hunt was on October 27th.  This happened to be the 3rd day of the 9 days of modern firearm elk season in GMU #113.  I'm guessin' that the hunters in the area that week far outnumbered the elk!  Our travels took us farther north than we had ventured before into the Petit Lake area.  The territory south and east of the lake looked like good moose country, with plenty of sign, but there seemed to be an elk camp around every turn in the road.  I'm sure that both elk and moose were layin' low.  We didn't see a moose.

With that experience we decided to wait until elk season ended and try again this week.  Greg continues to scout for us and called earlier today with a new report.  He was on a side road off Bead Lake Ridge Road, and was looking at moose as we spoke.  He reported that the fog kept drifting in and out, but he was able to spot two bulls and some cows in the area.

The week's weather forecasts indicate that Wednesday November 5th may be the least stormy day of the week, so we'll plan to hit the hills again then.  Hopefully, Ann and I will at least see a moose!

This month's hillbilly wisdom is a quote from cartoonist Charles M. Schultz:

"Life is like a ten speed bike.  Most of us have gears we never use."

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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