Saturday, November 21, 2009

Buck rubs by the dozen

Just across the dirt road from the porky-chew, there was a grove of second-growth saplings that have sprung up since the place has been uninhabited. It's obviously a favorite hangout for the local antlered set. I counted at least thirty trees they had worked over.

Pesky porkies

Porcupines seem like such innocuous creatures, unless you've had a dog get a face-full of quills or are an orchardman. On my way to my hunting ground today I passed the old abandoned homestead and saw several cottonwoods that had fallen under the porky tooth. These critters will chew anything: trees, porch railings, canoe paddles, automobile tires, aluminum signs. They are amazingly destructive and that's why ranchers shoot every one they see. Too late for this old (and already ailing) cottonwood though.

A great day afield

I spent a good part of today hunting an outparcel of a friend's ranch. It's only 3500 acres, but I always have it to myself and today was no different. The country reminds me a little of parts of west Texas. No deer today, but no matter: I don't measure the success of a day by whether or not I shoot something. I am long, long over that malady. I logged over ten miles exploring and glassing today and there was still ground I wasn't able to cover. The Rhino will go just about anywhere, but there were places today it looked at and said "Maybe later!" Some folks say I have no business hunting this kind of country alone. Is there any other way? (They are kind to leave out the part about "at your age"!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Early Results

Deer season opened here on Saturday, and these are the results as of Monday. To date there have been five nice bucks taken, and one more pending. These fellows come out every year and camp on my place for a few days, enjoying the solitude and the good hunting. They are fine, hard-working hunters and deserve their results

I haven't hunted yet. Maybe a little tomorrow. Or I might just wait 'til muzzleloader season which runs the whole month of December.

The campers leave tomorrow and once again the Great Quiet & Solitude will descend on the place.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Video experiment

I haven't posted a video here before, but now that I have this nifty little camera that does a pretty fair job of it I thought I would try one just for fun. This is a portion of the road into my place from a few weeks back. In wet or snowy weather I get off the road and use the "alternate route." (In really wet weather the road becomes more like a canal and my truck doesn't float too well. Fortunately we don't get much of that kind of weather.) Just toward the end you can see the place coming up on the right of the frame.

Friday, November 13, 2009

High plains sunrise

I confess that I am a sucker for the light on the plains. And for sunrises and sunsets. It's not hard to understand how the quality of light here has inspired awe and wonder in successive generations of residents. This is the view straight out of my bedroom window and you can probably see right away why I do not draw my curtains when I retire for the night.

Prairie raisins

No, they aren't chocolate covered. The grassy area in front of my house has a goodly crop of these right now. I'm waiting for the market price to go up a bit before starting to sell them on-line. Advance orders will be accepted, however.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A strange incident

Between my house and the shop building stands the base of an old radio aerial. The original had a top mast that was cantilevered and I removed that portion when I built the shop. But I left the base, which is quite solid and anchored in concrete. It's steel, tubular, about seven inches in diameter at the base and tapering to about four inches at the top. It is about 24' high.

Yesterday afternoon as I stood at the kitchen sink I noticed that the top of the mast was gyrating. I'd never seen this before and went out to see what was going on. The top of the mast was moving back and forth in a more or less circular movement that could not be missed.

Wind? That's what I thought, but there was no wind in the space between the house and the shop and the trees were completely still. I went out front and looked at the windmill out in the pasture. Not revolving at all. It was a dead calm.

I shall ponder on this, but right now have no explanation for it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baby Girl

In one of those fortuitous internet things I was recently contacted by a friend of many years ago. As we caught up on the passage of years I shared with him one of my dog friends of the past. I thought it might interest some readers here, and I offer it as such...

I've been blessed with two wonderful Shorthairs. The first, Róisín Dubh (dark Rosaleen-- roe-SHEEN doov) was an amazing bird dog. As most Shorthairs, she lived to hunt, and had more heart and drive than any dog I have ever known. She was poetry in motion and could make you cry when she went on a rock-solid point. When we would hunt with friends she would always outhunt their dogs, whatever they were. She never passed up a bird and would often bring me the cripples that other dogs missed. (I always tried to return them to their proper "owners" as I preferred to shoot my own bag.) She died in 2007, but she will live forever in my heart. She was "Baby Girl" until the day she died— blessedly at 13, of a pampered old age.

More speed-goats

Just the other day Emma and I ventured out of our remote fortress in the hills and drove south of the river to hunt some birds. On the way between coverts I spotted this bunch. There were about two-dozen of them and I couldn't get the whole strung-out bunch in one frame. I was a little surprised to see so many of them together in the wheat fields and cultivated flatland of 'civilization,' but they are always a pretty sight. Emma was uninmpressed: "C'mon, they're not birds! Let's go!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nearby buck rub

There have been a number of good-sized bucks on the place in the past few weeks. I've posted about at least one of them. Just the other day I noticed this rub on a little scrub tree that is exactly fifteen paces from my bedroom window. It's fresh, and I suspect it belongs to a smaller buck that I have seen only once. He has a stub of antler on one side and about four points on the other— but both were still in velvet as of a week ago. Definitely a "late bloomer" and maybe a good candidate for removal from the gene pool.

Emma has a puppy

Emma's very solicitious of her "puppy." She likes to take it up on my bed and groom it. Not exactly the image that an out-front hunting dog might like to promote, but why not? I think she would have probably made a good mother.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A pleasant discovery

When the ammo shortage began I decided that it was time to renew my casting capacity. As a kid I had cast almost everything I shot as it was the only way I could afford to shoot as much as I wanted to. But then I got away from it when I could afford to buy ready-cast bullets. With the uncertainty of where the gun issue was going to fall out I thought it would be wise to fit myself out with what I would need to keep my guns usable in the "worst case."

So I bought a bunch of Lee molds to go with what I already had. Also a furnace. I put it away for "the future."

Today I decided it was time to check out the new gear. I was sighting in a little .45 cap-lock in preparation for the muzzleloader season and decided I wanted to use the .45 R.E.A.L ("rifling engraved at loading") Lee mold I had bought for that rifle. I really didn't expect all that much from the Lee aluminum molds, but figured they would be adequate.

Was I ever surprised. The first two bullets (it's a double cavity mold) were perfect and fell out onto the towel with no fuss at all. A fluke no doubt, as I well remember the many casts that had to be made with iron blocks before good bullets would fall out. No, not a fluke. The first dozen bullets were perfect— and when weighed later they varied no more than a grain. (They're 250-grainers.)I cast about fifty and then got curious and decided to try a couple of different Lee molds from my stash.

Same story with the 250-grain .452 Tumble-Lube bullets. All perfect. Then I tried the 180-grain .308 gas check bullets. Same story over again.

Next up was to try out the .45s in the little T/C Seneca New England deer rifle. I had been using T/C's Maxi-balls, which are almost identical to the Lee R.E.A.Ls. The groups tightened up by almost half with the Lee bullets.

To say I am pleased with my afternoon's experiments would be an understatement. Next on my list will be roundball molds for the .45 and the .36 and .50 flintlocks. Maybe a few more for the cartridge handguns "just in case."

It's been a good day.

Later... I chronoed the .45 R.E.A.L bullets out of the 28" Seneca. They gave me 1460 f.p.s. which will account for 1183 f.p.e at the muzzle and about 520 @ 100 yards. That's a completely adequate deer load, coupled with good placement.