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VOLUME 101-----------NOVEMBER 2010

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

November 1, 2010

Actually I'm beginning this on October 25th!  Can you believe I'm getting started early????

Are you getting as tired of the political B.S. as we are?  TV ads, robo-calls, mailers, surveys; it just goes on and on!

It would be easy to rant and rave about the so called 'attack' or 'negative' political advertising.  What kind of person would trash on and lie about their opponents in order to get elected, and why do they all seem to do it?

Before we throw stones at those who utilize such advertisements, perhaps we should all be a bit introspective!  The folks who design those ads know they do actually work, or they wouldn't pay the big bucks to air them!  Shouldn't we all be a little chagrined that we're probably voting for or against someone or something because we listened to and absorbed this trash?

Thankfully, it'll soon be over!  Problem is, whomever we elect will likely just go on being politicians.

Time to report on the deer hunting efforts here at the ranch.  Our early rifle season opened on October 16th.  As usual, we've done most of our hunting from the comfort of our living room and kitchen tree stands.  I'm scared of heights you know, so I ain't climbin' no trees!  Is that what they call 'high-drafoby?'  Didn't think so.

No one in the family drew a second deer tag this year.  The harsh winters of 2007-08 and 2008-09 saw higher than usual mortality, so extra tags were reduced accordingly.

The over-population problem is now more an issue of where the deer live rather than how many there are in total.  In an attempt to address this issue locally, WDFW set up some new 'deer zones' in Spokane County, where more extra tags and more antlerless tags were made available.

Problem is, these areas of excess deer are also where human population density is greatest and it's most difficult to obtain permission to hunt.  Also, in much of the territory where these new 'zones' were established, it is either unsafe or illegal to shoot firearms, and only archery equipment is allowed.

While Washington still clings to a regulation that makes crossbows illegal for general archery hunting, unless a person is disabled, this prohibition is relaxed in 'no firearm shooting zones.' In these areas crossbows may be used to fill a modern firearm tag.  Still no electronic or telescopic sights allowed on the crossbow however.

Some friends and acquaintances have taken advantage of this new crossbow rule, harvesting some very impressive bucks in areas where they have rarely, if ever, been hunted in years past.

I've shot a crossbow exactly one time at the range inside the local Wholesale Sports store, so do not speak from experience, but friends tell me that it is much easier to become proficient with a crossbow than with other types of archery tackle.

Of course there is still the problem of many urbanites not accepting the fact that deer population control via regulated hunting is the most humane, cost effective, and efficient way to go.  These folks will bitch about the deer eating their roses and other expensive landscaping, but won't allow a hunter on their premises!  Some of the PETA-Puke types even advocate birth control for the poor animals!  Never mind that automobiles, starvation and predation take most of the excess population where hunting is not allowed.

Well, back to the ranch!  We saw several bucks hanging around just prior to the season opener and for the first 3 or 4 days of the season.  Some we recognized, (I'll explain that later) and others were either strangers or bucks that had no real distinguishing antler characteristics.  There was nothing spectacular, mostly ordinary, run of the mill 8 pointers, along with an average crop of smaller fellers and plenty of does and fawns.

On October 13th I hung the trail camera on the same strategic tree as in past years to help evaluate deer movement that we can't see from the house, and after dark.

I touch on this matter nearly every year, but keep in mind, when I describe whitetail bucks I don't count antler points like many of my friends in the Great Northwest!  I count 'em like a hillbilly I suppose, but so does nearly every outdoor show and hunting magazine in the country.  That is; the points are all counted, total of both antlers!  Mule deer and blacktails, the bifurcated antler species, are described by counting one antler only, less brow tines, if any!  (There, I got that off my chest again this year.)

In recent days we aren't seeing anything but does, fawns, and Freak-horn.  Not even on the trailcam!  (Oh, that and the dog which frequently roams the woods in violation of Spokane County leash laws!)

Freak-horn is a buck of indeterminate age that has antlers unlike most whitetails I've observed.  The main beams have substantial mass, which would indicate a mature animal at least 3 to 5 years of age, but from there any similarity to typical whitetail antlers disappears.

The left antler has a main beam rising straight up about a foot, with nothing visible branching off above the brow.  The one major appendage branching off that antler appears to be about six inches long and is either a mutated brow tine or a second main beam that emerges just above the skull, slants forward toward the center of the brow, then curves slightly upward.  Unless you are able to observe this with binoculars at close range, you would swear that this thing extends from the center of the forehead like a unicorn!

Freak-horn's right antler main beam again rises almost straight up, a little taller than the other, but with some points and stickers.  At least one of the branches terminates in a small clump that looks like a wad of something stuck on the end.

This description is probably more confusing than clarifying, but I just never thought to get a picture of this guy, even though we've had plenty of opportunities.  At this point the other three buck tag holders in the family have no interest in shooting ol' Freak-horn, but I suppose this could change on the last day of the season if someone still has an un-notched tag.  Should that happen, I'll have pictures!

Note that I referred to the 'other three buck tag holders.'  Yep, I already filled my tag with one of those 'recognizable' bucks.  Sometimes I think a big part of my thrill of deer hunting is taking an animal that is unique or has something about it that enables me to tell an unusual story.  So it goes here.

Stringhead was taken the evening of October 18th from the back deck with the faithful old Remington 7MM Magnum.  He was field dressed, skinned, and donated to the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane.  By this writing, he is probably already consumed!

We began seeing Stringhead around the ranch back in July.  His velvet covered antlers were a typical 8 point configuration, with the left brow tine sorta squished and bent as though he had pushed it into a solid object and wrinkled it, which he probably had.

The other thing was, he had some sort of white string or twine tangled and wrapped around and around his rack!  He was observed several times over ensuing weeks with little progress shown in getting rid of the string.  All this time I never thought to get a photo.

Then in mid September when the bucks began losing the velvet from their antlers, Rick and Jennifer drove in to find Stringhead in our front yard.  This time ol' String got his picture taken.  These photos are somewhat blurry as they were cropped out of the center of the originals and greatly enlarged, but they will explain the circumstances.

   

Stringhead on September 16th

As you can see, the string is now confined to only the left antler, with both string and velvet gone from the right.  If you look closely, you can see the velvet has turned black on the end of the left antler.  We presume that the string was finally discarded as the velvet was being rubbed off the left side.

Stringhead must have been a photo hound.  I have no less than five trailcam pictures between the 15th and 18th where ol' String is easily identified strolling along or posing before the lens!

The evening of October 18th, we saw Stringhead on the hill behind the house.  The fact that it was indeed Stringhead was confirmed with binoculars.  Jennifer, Rick, and Ann were all present with rifles at hand, but all three passed on the opportunity.  Might have been wishful thinking about getting a crack at this nice 10 pointer that also liked the trail camera!

Nice 10 Pointer

I was perfectly happy to take ol' Stringhead because of the story value, not discounting the fact that he's a pretty nice 8 pointer anyway.  So me and the old Remington spoke.  At the shot, we saw the jump, buck, kick, and mad dash typical of a deer taking a bullet through the vitals, but not hitting the spinal column.  The mad dash took the deer east for about 15 yards, then straight north.  He was out of sight within another 30 yards.

Since we still had plenty of daylight left, we elected to wait about 15 minutes before following up on the shot.  (Besides, this allowed Rick time to run home for some old clothes so he could gut the deer for me.)  Sometimes this little wait before pushing a wounded animal will result in not having to follow a blood trail to hell and gone before recovery.

In this case, the wait would not have been necessary.  The deer didn't run far after we lost visual.  The marks in the turf told the story.  He was obviously in full stride when, as we hillbillies say, "He went ass over teakettle!"

After the obligatory photos, the tractor was put into service for the short haul to the shop for dressing and skinning.

   

Stringhead and the Hillbilly

As I indicated last month, the load I used this year was topped by a Hornady 162 grain SST bullet.  My load of Reloader 22 powder pushes this bullet at just over 2700 feet per second from the 24 inch barrel.  This is not particularly fast for a 7MM Mag, but fine for this frangible bullet.

The Hornady SST bullets are 'cup and core' with lead innards and a gilding metal jacket.  The unconventional part is the sharp pointed, red polymer insert in the bullet's tip.  This is said to initiate quick expansion at a wide range of impact velocities, which is exactly what I want for whitetail deer.

As we (Rick) went about getting the guts out and the hide off, we evaluated where the bullet struck, the damage to internal organs, and the exit wound.

The deer was quartering slightly toward me.  The bullet struck just behind the near shoulder, a bit above center, and exited at the rear of the rib cage on the other side.  The bullet center punched a rib on the way in, so the upset was even more violent than it would have otherwise been.  Both lungs and liver showed lethal damage which explains why he didn't go far.

There was some bloodshot meat along the ribcage and extending beneath the near shoulder, some of which was no doubt caused by hitting a rib on the way in, instead of going between.  This is the price we pay for using this type of bullet.  We've had some bad experiences with some so called premium, controlled expansion bullets on these small whitetails, and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of meat for a quick, clean kill.

Close-up of Stringhead's Antlers

This photo shows the ends of the front points on both antlers to be worn off and blunted.  It's pretty obvious they've been battered all summer trying to get rid of that dang string!

Our early deer season closed on October 29th so the other three family tag holders will now have to wait until late buck season to try their luck again.  That season opens November 6th and runs through the 19th.  Most of the bigger bucks taken here at the ranch have been harvested during this late season.  The annual rut starts during this time frame and the big boys move around more as they seek estrous does.

Rifle elk season opened October 30th and will close November 7th.  We all have elk tags but the likelihood of filling any of them is remote, since we rarely see elk here at the ranch and probably won't hunt elsewhere.

As of Saturday the 30th Ann caught up with me age wise.  She never lets me forget that I'm 40 days older than she.  We celebrated with a late breakfast at Bob's Restaurant in Moses Lake, Washington as we traveled to what turned out to be Jennifer's last cross country meet of the year.

I suspect that Little Heifer will get a bit more of a celebration than 'Breakfast at Bob's' but that likely won't come for a few days.  A granddaughter's involvement in sports causes some things to get postponed and/or amended, even birthday celebrations.  Rick says he'll treat us all to dinner to complete the celebration in the next few days.

I'll do a quick report on the last of Jennifer's 2010 cross country activities before closing.  Because I was so late last month, I already reported on the Bullpup Invitational held October 9th.

The next meet was a tri-school, 5K, affair on October 20th.  Jennifer ran 14th out of 34 entrants in a time of 23:40.  This was her personal best at the time.

The meet on Ann's birthday was the Regional qualifier for the State finals on November 6th.  The venue was The Gorge Amphitheater on the  Columbia River bluffs near George, WA.  The Gorge boasts of wonderful acoustics and books national talent for a series of concerts each year.  Such diverse acts as Brad Paisley and the Grateful Dead have appeared there in the past.

Didn't see anyone famous while we were there.  If they were there they'd have been cold and wet like everyone else!  The weather wasn't cooperating, but the runners didn't seem to notice.

This was another 5K race and Jennifer set another personal best mark of 23:23.  Alas, this didn't qualify her for the State meet, but two of her teammates will be going.  Alyssa Harmon and Megan Denzin, a sophomore and junior respectively, will be representing East Valley High School in Pasco, WA next Saturday.

We are proud of Jennifer's accomplishments in cross country this year and she is looking forward to some winter conditioning in the weight room and continuing her cross country work in 2011.

This month's hillbilly wisdom again comes from the list of 'paraprosdokians' (Did you look up that word yet?) that my friend Steve Kemp sent me:

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

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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