VOLUME 73-----------JULY 2008
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
July 1, 2008
Another Independence Day is upon us! We should give thanks every minute of every day for the wisdom of our founding fathers and for those who have fought and died to make and keep our country free and independent. Unfortunately, we go about our busy lives and require a National Holiday to remind some of us to do so.
On July 4th we'll quietly remember and celebrate our Dad's birthday. He left our world prematurely in 1974, at age 52. He was a U. S. Navy veteran, serving on the aircraft carrier, USS Lake Champlain during WWII. He stood Color Guard, at the launching of the then mighty ship. (Tiny by today's standards.)
The Lake Champlain did not see combat during Dad's tenure as a crewman but I remember some of the stories he told about his days assigned to the ship. Shortly after her shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay Cuba, the war in Europe was winding down. The "Champ" as they called her, was converted to a troop carrier and ferried GI's back home across the Atlantic.
Dad was never a drinker and especially didn't like the taste of beer. He used to tell me, "The only time beer ever tasted good was when we were in Guantanamo Bay." "We would steal a fire extinguisher aboard ship, spray the beer until it was almost frozen, and then it really hit the spot!"
Dad also told us, "On one of our Atlantic crossings, returning troops, we set a speed record that stood for several years." (The journey took 4 days, 8 hours, and 41 minutes.)
The Champ was the recovery ship whose helicopters plucked Alan Shepard, one of our first astronauts, from the Atlantic. I recall watching the TV coverage and realizing that this was Dad's old ship. The Lake Champlain's aircraft also recovered the Gemini V crew, Pete Conrad and Gordon Cooper.
You might want to visit this web site as it has lots of information about the USS Lake Champlain and her service to our country. http://users.adelphia.net/~rogerjette/
We did burn a little gunpowder here at the Ranch last weekend. Rick's friend, Gary Hamil, came out with his .22-250 and 7mm-08 to test some loads. I also needed to sight in my Ruger No. 1 .25-06, as I finally got the new 6X Leupold scope mounted on it.
Gary wanted to chronograph some loads in the .22-250 and shoot up some factory ammo in the 7mm-08 for a supply of reloading brass.
His .22-250 is a Remington Model 788. This was a rifle Remington made as a less expensive alternative to their Model 700 and has been long discontinued. It's an interesting design, in that the bolt locks up at the rear instead of at the bolt head. The locking lugs are of interrupted thread design with three groups of three lugs each.
They look much like the locking lugs on Remington's Model 740 semi auto and Model 760 pump guns, except those are both located at the front of the breach bolt. The 788 has a reputation for good accuracy, and Gary was regularly shooting groups of well under an inch at 100 yards.
I shot a few factory loads from the .25-06 to get it printing about where I wanted and then switched to my handloads with the 75 grain Hornady V-Max bullets. The factory stuff was Winchester Premium with 90 grain Ballistic Tip bullets. Again, I admit to not being a top notch bench shooter, but there was clearly a difference in group size between the factory ammo and my handloads. The factory ammo was going just over an inch, while the handloads were well under the one inch mark.
A future project will be to develop some deer loads for the .25-06. I plan to go with a bullet of 115 to 120 grains and see how that works on our local whitetails. We already know the Hornady 75 grain V-Maxes will drop a coyote or bobcat in its tracks, and will literally explode a ground squirrel!
We had a visitor last week. Actually two of them. On Monday morning Ann noticed a moose lying next to the salt blocks we keep out north of the house for the wildlife. In my first attempt at pictures I tried to approach a bit too close and the animal got up and retreated to the brush. Not to worry, the moose was back for at least two more visits as the day passed.
After the failed attempt to get closer, I settled for telephoto shots from the deck or the back yard. Ms. Moose would come out of the brush, approach the salt blocks, get down on her front knees, and lick. The salt blocks are sorta down in a hole and her legs are so long that it was difficult to reach from a standing position. Pretty soon she would decide that it would be more comfortable to lie down to eat salt, so that's what she did. Here are some of the shots I got:
I suspect this is a yearling cow since there was no evidence of a baby around. If she were a two year old, she'd probably have a calf with her. Take a close look at the third picture from the left. She was staring at a turkey that was approaching the clearing. In picture 4 you can see the turkey in the background and the moose, perceiving no threat, has resumed eating salt. We do see some interesting sights out here in the woods!
This makes me wish that my cow moose tag was for this area instead of 100 miles to the north!
A couple of months ago I posted some pictures of the dirt trails that the pocket gophers had left beneath the snow last winter. The gophers did not disappear, they multiplied! We are now seeing new territories set up by this spring's crop of offspring. As I've said before, If they stay out in the woods I don't bother them much, but when they make dirt piles in the areas we mow, the hunt is on.
My regular gopher gun is the Thompson Center Encore in pistol configuration with a 15 inch .45 Colt/.410 Shotshell barrel. But, you may recall that I outfitted the Encore with a .204 Ruger rifle barrel and attached a rifle butt stock. Being too lazy to change that back to pistol configuration right now, I pressed Rick's old Winchester 20 gauge pump into action as my temporary gopher medicine this past week. It's been too hot to spend much time outside with the gophers, so only a couple have succumbed to a dose of #6 shot so far, but 5 or 6 more are on my list.
In addition to the switch to the 20 gauge, I have a new tripod shooting rest I'm using. I saw ads in my outdoor magazines several months ago, and emailed the company to find a nearby dealer. At that time, they had no dealers in my area, so the idea slipped my mind. After my lucky draw of the moose tag for this fall, I decided that I would pursue this thought again.
The new tripod is call a BOG-POD, and is made by an outfit called Bog-gear located in Texas. A phone call to Scott at company headquarters revealed that Cabela's will soon be stocking the BOG-POD. With further inquiry, I found that I could order directly from Scott with a 20% discount offered to certified Hunter Education Instructors. All I had to do was email a copy of my certification card and call him back.
I emailed the proof of certification and made the phone call. I ordered two of the tripods. During our conversation I told Scott I would use and evaluate the product and do a review on my website and in one of my future magazine articles. I also told him about my moose tag which is the main reason for wanting his product. I was told to send a picture of game taken with the aid of the BOG-POD, and he'd put it on his website.
Then Scott told me, "I'll just cut the price in half and send your two BOG-PODs for the price of one, plus $10 for shipping!"
I said, "Thank you, I appreciate it!"
So here's the review so far: First, the cost. They ain't cheap, but what is any more. The tripod's MSRP is $99.99. They feature a V shaped rubberized gun rest on the top that rotates 360 degrees. The legs are three piece telescoping tubes that twist to lock and unlock. They adjust from 22 to 68 inches which is sufficient for shooting from sitting, kneeling, or standing. Each leg hinges out from the head independently, and will swing out and up a full 90 degrees if needed.
I compared the BOG-POD to some Stoney Point products we have. When our Stoney point bipod and monopod were purchased, they did not offer a true tripod configuration. Instead, there was a 'third leg' available that attaches to one leg of the bipod. I can tell you from experience that this arrangement is somewhat less than steady. Very little leaning into the setup will cause one leg to lift and the whole arrangement becomes rickety. I have not experienced this problem with the BOG-POD while shooting my .338 Remington Ultra Mag, which requires some leaning into.
Another disadvantage to the Stoney Point arrangement is that the gun rest is stationary and does not swivel. The feature that goes to Stoney Point in the contest is the locking mechanisms inside the telescoping legs. The BOG-POD requires more rotation to lock or unlock the leg sections than does the Stoney Point. A feature that clearly goes to BOG-POD, is the indexed and numbered markings on the legs that let you make precise, repeatable adjustments quickly and easily.
According to Stoney Point's web site, they now offer a true tripod configuration in their product line. I can't comment on those, since I've not seen one.
Here are some pictures that I'll email to Scott at Bog-gear. This game is not as exciting as the moose pictures we are hoping for later this fall, but it was taken with the aid of the BOG-POD! (See the table of contents for other newsletters discussing how I hunt pocket gophers)
Gopher Hunting Equipment: Lawn chair, shotgun, digging stick, gloves, BOG-POD, and patience
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a saying printed on a plate that Little Heifer bought for decoration for the kitchen backsplash:
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain!"
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!