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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 99-----------SEPTEMBER 2010

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

September 1, 2010

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!!

Do you remember your first day of High School?  Sweaty palms, anxiety, nervousness, armpit moisture?  I expect Jennifer is experiencing all this and more as she reports for the first day of freshman classes at East Valley High School.

She has been reporting to the High School for cross country running practice for the past few weeks, so parents and grandparents definitely know the way there and back!

Coaches are telling Rick that Jennifer has been doing well, and has a chance to make the Varsity cross country team.  Rick said yesterday that she completed a timed mile and a half in 7 minutes and 50 seconds, behind only four older runners among the 15 or so girls trying out for the team.

After the timed mile and a half, the girls went on to jog another 3 and a half miles to complete their 5 miles for the day!  (Dang near gives me a heart attack just to THINK about running 5 miles!)

Rick, Christi, and Jennifer made an RV trip to Yellowstone National Park this past month.  During their observation of Old Faithful Geyser doing her thing, we logged on to a web camera that broadcasts still pictures of the geyser, refreshing every 20 seconds or so.  By coordinating via cell phone, they were able to tell Ann and I where they were standing so we could see them from our home computers.

We've enjoyed a lot of pictures from their trip, including an invasion of their campground by about 100 buffalo!  Having a 2,000 pound buffalo standing or lying within feet of your travel trailer had to be exciting.

As they traveled toward home, Rick's family joined our Elks RV club outing August 19 through 22 in Wallace, Idaho.  This during their annual Huckleberry Festival.  In addition to the requisite parade, music, and people selling everything under the sun that no one really needs, there was a 5 K run/walk on Saturday morning, which Jennifer wanted to enter.  Jennifer first talked Grandma into entering with her, and then in a weak moment, I agreed to go along as well.  (Dumb, Dumb, Dumb)

Since I'm not a metrics person, I inquired about how far a 5 K race takes one in terms I can understand.  Turns out the number is either 3.1 or 3.2 miles, I'm not sure which.  Anyway, while Jennifer ran the course, Ann and I walked it.  I'd like to tell you that I finished well ahead of Little Heifer, but the truth is she out walked me as usual, and I finished some 400 or 500 yards behind her!

The race course began in downtown Wallace, and proceeded on a county road up a mountain that approached vertical in slope!  (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration!)  Almost down the hill on the return trip, I looked ahead to see Jennifer walking along with Grandma.  My first thought was that Jennifer had given up the run and waited to finish with Ann.

Turns out, Jennifer had finished the 5 K, turned around, and ran back up to walk in with Grandma.  Next thing I knew, Jennifer was running back up to finish with me!  Ain't it sad that youth is wasted on the young!

We found at the awards ceremony that Ann won a Silver Medal, having finished second in her age group for women, and Jennifer won Silver in her age group as well.  Jennifer also finished third among all female runners!

Thursday, the 26th found a group of officers and members of the Northwest Sportsman's Club at the Hauser Lake Gun Club for a presentation and some informal trap shooting.  The presentation was a $500 donation to the Gun Club in appreciation of their generosity in allowing the use of the Club facilities for our Hunter Education field course and live fire.  (For more on this story, visit the Hunter Education page.)

Mel Westlake, the Gun Club President, was selling some raffle tickets for guns to be given away at the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho NRA banquet on Saturday the 28th.  Mel's ticket supply soon sold out, and several of us left with the usual high hopes and low expectations.

Saturday night Rick received a call telling him he was the lucky winner of a Kimber model 84M rifle in .308 Winchester caliber!  On Monday evening we were entertained by the official showing of the new rifle!  Here are some pictures:

           

L to R:  Pretty wood, The winning ticket, 2010 'Gun of the Year' NRA logo, Rick and the Kimber

Of course I'd never hear the end of it if I didn't picture Jennifer holding the new rifle.  The pictures will also give her an opportunity to show off the new cross country uniform and her first opportunity to be a 'high school athlete.'

   

Jennifer with Dad's rifle (which she's already trying to claim as hers) and her  new cross country uniform

I also have a Kimber rifle that is nearly a twin to Rick's, except for caliber.  It was also a 'gun of the year' for the NRA in 2007.  Mine is in the then new, .338 Federal caliber.  (I reported on my Kimber in the April and May 2007 newsletters)  I wasn't able to get the .338 to shoot very well when I first tried it, and it wasn't any better when I was shooting various rifles to decide which to use on my 2008 moose hunt.  I was still only able to accomplish 3 or 4 inch 100 yard groups.

My Kimber went to the back of the gun safe, and hasn't been fired in a couple of years now.  Upcoming scope mounting and shooting of Rick's gun will give me an excuse to dig mine out and give it another try.  I think I'll first install another scope to see if that may be the problem.

Kimbers have a reputation for fine accuracy, so the .338 should group better than it has shown so far.  If a different scope doesn't improve the situation, I'll contact the Kimber folks up in Kalispell, Montana to see what they suggest.

The problem with both Kimbers, is they have the bolt handle on the wrong side!  Rick and I are both left-handed so operating a right hand bolt is a bit awkward.  This may be the reason that Jennifer is trying to claim the new rifle, since she shoots from the right shoulder.

Here are both Kimbers

Rick's rifle weighs only 5 pounds, 13.8 ounces.  Factoring out the weight of scope and mounts, mine is a few ounces lighter.  (The barrel has a larger bore and thus contains a bit less metal.)

September 2, 2010 - (Continued from yesterday)

We've had some wildlife excitement around here the past few weeks, with a visitation by a Momma Moose and her twin calves, some pesky coyotes, and more of those dang pocket gophers.

The moose spent the better part of the day around the salt lick behind the house on August 23rd, then made another appearance early on the 24th before bidding us adieu.

   

Visiting Moose, (or is it mooses? or meese?)

I exterminated a couple more pocket gophers this past week, but have one in the south lawn that continues to be very unpredictable in refilling his den opening.  Usually his fill work is done in the overnight hours, but on the rare occasions the task is accomplished in daylight, I haven't been able to catch him at it.

I'll get on with the coyote story in a minute, but first want to report on a new (and rather expensive) toy.  Ever see a $350 flashlight?  Well, here are some pictures of one.

       

Laser Genetics Model LG-ND5 'laser illuminator' by BSA Optics

We were introduced to one of these by Dr. Steve Belknap, one of our faithful volunteers who helps with our Hunter Education classes.  He brought one to class, showed us how it worked, and reported on its effectiveness in illuminating objects at long distances after dark.

As you can see from the pictures, the gadget looks like an ordinary two cell flashlight.  But, it projects an adjustable green laser beam that is touted to be effective at 500 yards or more!  Dr. Steve reported that it was easy to see riflescope crosshairs against an animal at 250 yards and beyond.

Now, before you go ballistic and start emailing me about the potential illegal use of this product, let me point out that taking raccoons, bobcats, and coyotes at night, with artificial light, is perfectly legal in Washington, except during firearm seasons for big game.

Will there be those who use or abuse this product to illegally take other game animals?  Of course.  Just like high powered spotlights or vehicle headlights are used by those who choose to be lawbreakers now.  No different than the fact that a gun never committed a crime of its own accord, it requires a person's decision to engage in criminal activity with a flashlight!

Now on with the coyote story.

Wasn't there an ancient fable about a little tailor who embroidered  "Smote Seven With One Blow" on something that led to him becoming a king or some such?  Well, I'm thinking of having a tee shirt made with the following inscription:  "TWO GOPHERS AND TWO COYOTES IN TWO DAYS"  Do you suppose that would bring me fame and fortune?  I didn't think so.

Anyway, for the past few weeks, neighbor Larry has been talking about a strange acting coyote hanging around his house from time to time.  The strange part being it didn't seem to be very afraid of people.  While it would shy away when it saw a human, it just didn't seem to be as wild as it should be.

Larry has phoned us on a couple of occasions when the coyote was in his pasture, and I've tried calling with a dying rabbit predator call to no avail.  The calling has been tried during both daylight hours and after dark.

Last Sunday night I decided to take the new laser flashlight out to scan for any animal activity.  I stood by the corner of the house outside the front door and slowly scanned the open areas and perimeter of the timber from west to south to east and back again.  No sign of an animal.  I then moved about 20 feet to another corner where I could scan to the north and northeast.  Still nothing.

I turned off the 'laser illuminator' and turned around to go back in the house.  There, barely feet from where I had been standing for the first scan, stood a small coyote!  Now the 'Keystone Kops' episode begins!

With Larry's regular coyote visits, when we are home I've been keeping the Ruger No. 1 .25-06 in the corner of the living room, with a box of ammo on top of the nearby bar sink.  The ammo box contains both empty cases that I save for reloading, and live cartridges.  This becomes significant in a moment.

As I re-entered the house I gave the light to Ann, picked up the Ruger, grabbed a cartridge out of the box, and we both went back outside.  In Ann's hands, the new laser illuminator clearly picked up the coyote.

As I dropped the cartridge into the chamber of the single shot Ruger, the coyote moved from the clump of trees in the circle drive, to the driveway itself, and finally into the west lawn where I had a safe shot with no danger of bouncing a bullet off the asphalt driveway.  This was no panic flight on the part of the coyote.  He would just trot a few steps, stop, and look in our direction.

I can attest to the fact that Dr. Steve was right about scope crosshairs showing up well against an animal when using the laser light.  I silently thumbed off the tang safety, steadied my hold, and squeezed the trigger.  CLICK!  In the gloom of the corner where the ammo box was sitting, I had plucked an empty cartridge case out of the box!

Scramble and re-group!  We both backed off, went inside, and I dumped the empty in exchange for live ammo.  Back outside, the coyote was still just slinking around in the yard, making no attempt to run off.

This time the rifle went boom!  In fact Larry reported that he was standing at the kitchen sink with the window open when he heard the report.  It probably wouldn't be appropriate for my PG rated newsletters to repeat exactly what he said, but it had something to do with nearly soiling his drawers.

Closer examination of the coyote, showed it to be nearly full grown, immature, but otherwise appearing to be a healthy specimen.  No obvious indication of anything health wise that would explain its strange behavior.

On Monday morning I placed a call to Officer Paul Mosman, friend and wildlife agent with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to ask if they might want to utilize their new laboratory and necropsy facilities in the Spokane Regional Office to try and determine a reason for the abnormal behavior.

I left a message on Paul's voicemail, but he was involved in other issues all day and wasn't able to return my call until early evening.  In the interim, I decided to call the WDFW Office to inquire about bringing in the carcass.  I was told by the person answering the phone, that they get plenty of coyotes and she didn't think they needed another one.  So, I disposed of the animal.

Turning the clock ahead a few hours to about 3:00 PM.  Ann was returning from dropping Jennifer at school for cross country practice, when she called me from her cell phone.

She said, "I'm sitting in front of Larry's house and there's another coyote up here, acting like that one last night.  He just went through the gate into the pasture."

This time, making sure I selected a live cartridge instead of an empty, I took the trusty Ruger into the woods south of the house, where I could see into Larry's pasture.  Peering through the brush, I spied the coyote, which then stopped in a small depression with only its head and neck showing.

Excuse me while I brag on my shooting prowess, but I managed to thread a bullet through an opening in the brush, for a neck shot and instant kill, offhand, from about 100 yards.  This animal appeared to be a twin to the one I had shot the night before, and probably was.  Why no one ever saw more than one coyote at a time during this period remains a mystery.

Young Coyote, Ol' Hillbilly

When I spoke with Paul later, we were speculating on what was going on with these animals.  Were they just immature and stupid, without having developed a real fear of humans?  Or, the more likely scenario, had some idiot been feeding them because they looked so 'cute?'

Paul's comment to this more likely probability, went something like this, "Unfortunately, once they become habituated to human contact, they sometimes begin to look at pets and small children as food sources."

Reflecting on the Sunday night coyote's approach directly to where I had been standing, leads me to believe he was associating people with being fed.  I suppose feeding wild animals is looked upon by some as being helpful to the wildlife, but feeding predators is never a good idea!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a source listed as unknown in one of Ann's cookbooks:

"If at first you don't succeed, you still have two choices:  try again or better yet, read the instructions."

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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