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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 111-----------SEPTEMBER 2011

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

September 8, 2011

We've had a bumper crop of clover here at the ranch this year.  It's the little short stuff with a white blossom.  My folks always called it 'White Clover' when I was a kid, but I don't know the scientific name.

I do know that Little Heifer has found a number of four leaf clovers throughout the summer.  Seems like every time she strolls through a clover patch she spots one or more.  Recently she hit the jackpot with both a four leaf and seven leaf from the same area.

Seven and Four Leaf Clover

With multiple four leaf clovers and a seven leaf, you would think that only really good luck was in our future, wouldn't you?  Read the next few paragraphs, please!

August found us able to participate in our first (and only) out of town camp out with our Wheelin' Elks RV Club.  Every other trip has occurred during one of our Hunter Education classes and thus ruled us out.  This trip was to Wallace, Idaho for their annual Huckleberry Festival.

For most weekend trips the Club members travel on Thursday and return home on Sunday.  This time Ann and I decided to venture forth a day early, and get in a round of golf before the rest of the crew arrived.  Turned out that we did not get to play golf that day!

After checking in at the Wallace RV Park, I backed the trailer into our spot and discovered that 'Big Red' our 1999 Ford F-250 was leaving a 'blood trail.'  Yep, transmission fluid was dripping from the torque converter housing.

Unfortunately, Wallace is nowhere near a Ford dealership.  The closest is in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, some 50 miles away.  Since Gus Johnson Ford, our regular servicing dealer in Spokane Valley, is only another 25 miles or so, we elected to have the truck towed there.  Service consultant, Keith Trowbridge, speculated that the seals in the transmission pump had failed and told me they'd have the truck ready for the road by Friday evening if at all possible.

I rode to Spokane with the tow truck driver, arriving about 5:30 PM Wednesday evening.  Rick picked me up at Gus Johnson's, and dropped me at home to pick up the Cadillac.  I was back at the Wallace RV Park shortly after 7:00 o'clock.

Little Heifer and I did play golf on Thursday with Jerry and Shannon Carr, and I golfed again on Friday with the guys.  Food, frolic, fun, a 5K run/walk, and the production of "Run To The Roundhouse, Nellie, He'll Never Corner You There" at the Sixth Street Melodrama, rounded out the weekend.

Lest I forget to brag, Ann, Christi, and I walked the 5K while Jennifer, her friend Kaitlyn, and Rick ran it.  Jennifer and Kaitlyn finished one, two in their age group and brought home gold and silver medals.  Rick finished third in his age group for the bronze.  Little Heifer and I finished in under 50 minutes, which is about 8 minutes faster than last year, but not good enough for medals.

Ann and I took time out Saturday afternoon to drive back to Spokane, pick up the truck, park the Cadillac at home, and drive the truck back to Wallace.

We arrived home in good order on Sunday, and after unloading the trailer, discovered that something was leaking out of the Cadillac!  So, on Monday, the car went to the dealer in Coeur d'Alene to spend the night.  A new water pump installed on Tuesday, fixed that problem.

The following Saturday, August 27th, I drove the Cadillac to Moses Lake, Washington for an Elks function.  On the return home a strange noise was heard.  That funny noise resulted in another trip to Coeur d'Alene on Monday.  New right front wheel bearing was deemed necessary.

Since we've now gone nearly a week without major vehicle repairs, I think I'll move on to more pleasant subjects.

Modern firearms huntin' seasons have begun here at the ranch!  Bear opened August 13th and Bobcat September 1st, with fall Turkey starting on September 24th.  Deer and Elk follow in mid to late October.  Perhaps it's time to see if some of the guns will still shoot!

I decided to start with a gun I won in a raffle at the Spokane NRA banquet in 2008.  This is a Weatherby Vanguard in 7MM Remington Magnum.  While I never fired the gun until last Saturday, I did determine, after getting it home, that it had a heavy trigger pull with considerable creep.

In addition to the rifle, the NRA raffle package included a case and a $50 gift certificate for Mountain Shadow Arms in Spokane.  I used that certificate toward gunsmith Eric Behlke's price for a trigger job.

In spite of now having a nice, crisp 3 pound trigger pull, the Vanguard has languished in the back of the gun safe for over three years.  I guess I'm spoiled by having several left hand bolt guns, and this one has the bolt handle on the wrong side!

First step in getting the rifle ready for deer hunting this fall was mounting the scope I purchased for it in September 2010.  (Haven't I been saying that I'm way behind on my shooting and reloading activities?)  I won't go into the details of proper scope mounting here, because the subject was covered pretty thoroughly  in my January 2008 newsletter if you want to go back and review that.

I will point out that I took a shortcut with my Laserlyte bore sighting procedure, which didn't work out so well.  I'll explain that later.

I encountered another problem when I installed a set of scope rings I removed from an old scope that had been retired from service because of 'holding zero' issues.  After affixing the rings to the Leupold bases, my scope alignment rods indicated that the rings were considerably out of sync.

Three possible problems here: The rifle's action is not properly machined, the scope bases are not true, or the rings themselves are not within spec.  My best guess was that the rings might be at fault.  I don't have a clue as to where or when I bought those rings, but I am fairly sure, even though they are designed to fit the Leupold bases, that they are not Leupold brand.

Not having another set of appropriate scope rings in my inventory, $29.95 at the local Cabela's store bought a new set of Leupold rings.  Sure enough, when I cinched down the alignment rods in the new rings, everything was straight and true!  (Could the distortion and stress on the scope body caused by faulty rings have something to do with that old Bushnell not holding zero?  I may have to give it another try one day.)

The Weatherby Vanguard and Redfield Revolution 2-7 X 33MM Scope with Accu-Range Reticle

I'll put in a word or two here about Redfield.  John Redfield began his gun-sight business in a garage in Denver, Colorado in 1909.  The business evolved into a premier U. S. scope maker and was considered the best of the best in its day.  In 1962 they introduced variable power scopes with constantly centered, non magnifying reticles.  1966 brought the first optical rangefinding device inside a rifle scope; the original Accu-Range reticle.

Redfield fell on hard times for a number of reasons, too complicated to go into here.  The Colorado plant was closed and ownership bounced around to various companies, none of which were able to successfully re-market the brand.

Finally in 2008, Leupold bought the Redfield riflescope trademark.  Many thought this was done to simply eliminate the competition but Leupold is now making Redfield scopes in the same Beaverton, Oregon plant as their Leupold line.  Redfield is marketed to compete with the mostly foreign made scopes in the lower to medium price ranges.  The scope I mounted on the Weatherby was purchased for under $150, yet it has excellent optical resolution and the same lifetime warranty as top of the line Leupolds.

Digging through my ammo supply, I came up with some odds and ends of factory and handloaded 7MM Mag cartridges.  The factory stuff consisted of five rounds of Remington brand with 150 grain core-lokt bullets.  Handloads included two rounds of 175 grain Nosler Paratitions, two with 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips, and 40 or so with 162 grain Hornady SST's.

I decided that this shooting session would provide another opportunity to utilize the Oehler 35P chronograph that I discussed in this year's April and May newsletters.  To make the session even more interesting, I would set up the Oehler in tandem with the old Shooting Chrony to see if they gave me similar velocity readings.  For the record, the chronograph's velocity results differed by less than one half of one percent in my limited testing.

My Chronograph setup with the Weatherby Vanguard - The Shooting Chrony followed by the Oehler

Now back to the bore-sighting issue.  I normally do my Laser Lyte sighting in the shop building at a distance of 45 feet or more, which has always put me 'on the paper' at 100 yards.  Being too lazy to walk to the shop that evening, I elected to do the sighting in the basement, shining the laser on the garage door at about 20 feet.  This resulted in the first two shots with those 175 grain Noslers going about a foot above the aiming point.  One bullet center punched the top board on my target stand, which will now need to be replaced!

Well, even a dummy like me is capable of learning!  I simply turned the shooting cradle 90 degrees, shined the laser on the back wall of the shop, and adjusted the reticle to match the laser dot.  Here is a picture of the target after the next seven shots.

The two holes circled in green are 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips and the five others are the Remington factory loads with 150 grain Core-Lokt bullets.

As you can see, the laser boresighting system really does work.  Just make sure the adjustable spud on the end of the laser fits the bore tightly, and give yourself enough distance so that scope parallax doesn't become an issue.

The next target printed five of six of the 162 grain Hornady SST's in about one and one-half inches.  (I think the lowest bullet was operator error!)

Hornady 162 grain SST's

Even though the SST's are grouping well enough to kill a deer at any distance I'm likely to encounter here at the ranch, I do plan to experiment with some new Ramshot powder and my old standby 160 grain Sierra Boattails.  This is a conventional cup and lead core bullet with no fancy plastic tip or other enhancements such as a partition.  They tend to kill deer and bear very dead and have proven as accurate as any in our 7MM bore rifles.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from another of those paraprosdokians that my friend Steve Kemp sent me:

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

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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