Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2015 Washingotn State High Buck hunt

So this year for the high buck hunt my normal hunting partner was unable to go with me. So I posted on Facebook that I needed a new partner to go with me. My brother Eric said he would like to go. I told him he could go, but he did not have much time to get in shape for the hunt. I explained to him as best as I could the difficulty of the hike we would be going on. Eric said he would start walking and getting ready for the trip.

So the day of trip was finally here and Eric arrived at my house. The first thing I wanted to do was go through his stuff and take out anything I did not think he would need, so his backpack would be lighter. After shedding a few pounds of items he would not need, we headed to make sure his rifle was sighted in.  He was shooting Grandpa's old Winchester auto .308. The gun was fairly well sighted in but it had a tendency to misfire.  But it was the only rifle he had to bring so we made it work. 

We headed off for an afternoon/evening hike into camp. I knew we were expecting some weather to move in on us I was just hoping we would beat it to camp.  We get to the trail head and I ask Eric one more time if he is sure he wants to do this and he says he is ready.  We start the hike into camp and Eric did better than I thought he would do. During the steep parts I would make it to the top of the mountain, drop my bag, and go back down to grab his bag to make it just a bit easier on him.  At one point on the trail there was a big bald-faced hornets nest hanging directly in the middle of the trail. Luckily it was about 42 degrees and the hornets weren't moving too fast. At that point I told Eric that I was going to go all the way to camp to set up a tarp since it looked like we were not going to beat the weather.

As I made it into camp it was starting to rain and sleet. I got out my tarp and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and there were two bucks getting ready to walk through camp. After they saw me they bounded off up the hill. I got the tarp in the air as it was starting to rain harder. I ran back down the trail and grabbed Eric's bag again. As we both got into camp it started to snow on us. You know, the big wet snow flakes that don't really stick but get you soaked and cold.   We get Eric's sleeping area set up just before dark. Since I know its going to be an early morning we decide to just go to bed and not worry about starting a fire.

On a side note, this year I brought enough paracord to string a clothes line through my sleeping area under my tarp. I really benefited from this set up.  I was able to dry out my wet clothes out of the weather, hang a light off of it and put other gear up off the ground for easy access when needed.

The next morning I woke up without an alarm going off. I looked at my watch and realized I had slept through my alarm. I was not very happy with myself. I got out of bed, started a fire, and woke Eric up. After breakfast we decided to hunt the meadow near camp. Eric said he would stay at the bottom while I hiked into the upper meadow. As I crested the first bench I saw the two bucks from the day before in camp. I was not prepared at all, I didn't even have my binoculars out yet.  I got my gun up to try and count antler points. Before I could get a clear count on points they trotted off into the trees never to be seen again.  I worked my way up into the upper areas of the meadow and was happy to see there was still a few inches of snow on the ground. I hunted the rest of the day in the same area and kicked up a few does in the heavy timber.  I was back in camp for the evening to have a fire and dinner. I knew I wanted to get a good nights rest for the next day.

The next day my alarm went off at 0330. Eric was very clear that he did not want to be woken up to go on the hike I was going to go on. I made a small breakfast and headed up the mountain. As I scrambled up the hillside I was kind of happy I did not do this the day before. The hill was steep enough as it was and adding a layer on snow on the ground would have made it much harder. As I reached the ridge an hour and forty five minutes later, I could hear deer bounding off in front of me in the darkness. As I sat on the ridge-line waiting for the sun to come up it was only 24 degrees, way colder than I was expecting it to be.  The sun finally came up and since I knew deer were close I headed to the edge of the ridge and glassed the hillsides.  I saw four doe's right away.  As the sun came up higher I realized that the four doe's were sparring and that all four had antlers.  They were about 500 yards away on the opposite side of the bowl I was on. None of the bucks looked big, but I have a hard time passing on a shooter buck as it is important meat for my family throughout the year. As the deer dropped down into the next bowl over I ran across to the ridge they where just on to try and get closer. I dropped most of my gear except my gun (Obviously) to be able to move without any extra hassle, and crept up over the ridge. I saw the four bucks and re-positioned to get even closer to them.

 I checked the first one and passed on it, Checked the second one and thought it would do if the third and fourth ones were not any better. They were not, so I set my sights on the second one which was about 70 yards away.  The buck was quartering towards me. I lined up my cross-hairs right into the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. When the gun went off a big cloud of dust and rocks sprayed into the air right in front of me. I figured out very fast that there had been a rock sticking up in front of my barrel I did not see through my scope. I hopped up to the next higher rock. Now the bucks were looking at me. I squeezed another round off and hit my mark. I was hoping the buck would drop in its tracks. No such luck. The buck turned down hill and was running on three legs. Did I mention down hill was the wrong way. The buck dropped out of sight and I ran down to where I could get a good view in case I needed to shoot him again.    Just as I caught sight of him again he went down getting tangled up in a log. I watched him until he stopped moving. When I knew he was dead I went back and gathered all of my gear.  I boned the entire buck out and placed all the meat into plastic bags and then into my back pack. Since I had about 300 feet of elevation to get back to the top of the ridge before I dropped back into camp, it took me a while to get back to the ridge.

I finally got back into to camp and showed my good luck to Eric.  That night we packed half way out to the truck and camped. The next day we had an easy couple miles back to the truck. Any trip where
you are successful hunting is a good trip. Getting to share it with my brother was even better. I look forward to next year. Eric says he will be in shape to go up on the steep hunt. Time will tell.....

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Where have I been for two years?

Well two very fast years have passed here on R-Dub Outdoors without one single post.  I am going to try my best to make a come back. The last two years have been a mixture of greatness and heartache. I will touch on it all.

First of all two years ago my second daughter Elsa was born. Life with two kids was busy and that started the slow down in my writings. I wrote about my 2013 high buck and that was about it.
Maddy and Elsa may 2014

In 2014 starting in June I was involved in a roll over collision where I hit a deer driving 60MPH at 0430 in the morning after a night of work. My car went into the ditch sideways and rolled. I was able to climb out of the vehicle and sat on the side of the road until help arrived. All I suffered was a slight concussion and I was transported to the hospital at the insistence of my wife. The very next day I left on vacation to Sun Valley Idaho with my young family. Where I tried my hand at some fly-fishing without any luck. Then all 4 of us came down with a stomach flu. Not fun, and not something I recommend to get any time especially while on vacation. We got to know the hospital ER staff well. High light of the trip was seeing a mountain goat and other wildlife on our adventure.

I was able to shoot my first turkey during the spring hunt. That was really enjoyable and was delicious.

In July in the area  I live the largest wildfires in Washington State History started. Named the Carlton Complex fire it burned over 250,000 acres of land. Which included my 10 acres. Luckily I was able to stop the fire 5 feet from my house with a dripping hose from my irrigation line.  Three days before the fires came the transmission in the jeep went out. I walked home and could not return to it before the fire burnt it up. Luckily I was able to buy a new hunting truck shortly after wards

The fire getting nice and close to the house.

Flood Waters in Alfalfa field


Then in August the rain came in and broke the dams on the irrigation lakes above my house. So our 2 foot wide creek was now 100 Yards across. Pieces of my neighbors house’s where floating down along with fence posts and other debris. When the waters receded my rich soil in my fields were now full of sandy silt. 

Fall of 2014 was ok for hunting. My family any I shot a few grouse and I was able to get 2 deer. I was able to draw a second doe tag. I took Maddy out on her first deer hunt and we were able to take a doe with out much fuss. Now every time we eat venison she asks if it is the deer we shot together. I was also able to shoot my buck, nothing special an average 3x3 Mule Deer. Which was nice since the fires affected a lot of friends as well so I was able to give some of my meat away.  Duck hunting was fun as always. Spending time with family and friends is always fun, even got Ron out for some duck hunting. First lake we hunted we shot 3 geese off of which was great.  

In spring of 2015 my son Rowan was born. Thinking a house with 2 was busy, Yikes three is jumping off of the deep end. HAHA.  In the spring Maddy and I went and harvested another turkey, which was a lot of fun for both of us. Anytime I get to share something like that with one of my kids is amazing.  I was also able to get onto Ron’s boat for some sockeye fishing in the Columbia River by Brewtser, Wa. We limited out with 12 fish in an hour and a half. Do I need to say more !!!!

Summer of 2015 the fires came again. This time they did not come close to the house but in our area over 300,000 acres burnt surpassing the year before in size. Making things worse 3 local fire fighters died fighting the fire in my hometown. Even though I did not know the three fire
Me and all three kiddos
fighters myself, my best wishes go out to their family and friends.

On a positive note I have been into backpacking more. I have gotten myself into much better shape. My friend Jason and I went on a 34-mile pack trip, which was a great time. I will write more about it in another post.  

We are into the 2015 hunting season and I have lots to write about. I don’t want to ruin anything yet. Some of you already know. I also have lots of new gear to review. We will have reviews of some new Muck Boots my wife received coming up soon, along with other hunting and packing gear. I am hoping to arrange some giveaways so pay attention so you get have your chance to win some great gear.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Walking Varminter part #4, The perfect Round

The rifle actually stopped copper fouling between 40-50 on the single shots.  I no longer needed to use Sweets to get the copper out.  The copper would come out with the brushing and powder solvent.   After a couple three round break in groups it cleaned just as quickly.  I needed to move up my load development as I had anticipated while I was doing the final barrel break in I could load up some test rounds.   I know I will at least try the Nosler Ballistic tip, Sierra BTHP/Blitz, Hornady V-Max/A-Max, Barnes Varminator, and of course some FMJ’s.   The bullets will weigh from 40 to 55 grains.   I will shoot a lot of different loads, but I will know what the gun likes and doesn’t.  I expect before I am done to possibly have tried over 100 different loads if not more.  If I am lucky I will have it dialed in with less.  I go into it expecting to try a lot of different bullets and loadings.  I use brand new neck sized brass with every shot.  I keep all brass segregated from here on out by number of times fired, how sized, and how many times sized.  I also start with a three round fouled bore and fully clean every 35-40 rounds.  I let the barrel cool to the same temperature before firing the next series of rounds.   These are the fun days because I get to shoot a lot of different guns waiting for the barrel to cool.  I will also do load development with other rifles and handguns at the same time to allow barrel temperatures to stay the same. 

My goal for this rifle is .25” average group size or less at 100yds for 5 shot groups and the maximum will be .5” for three shots.  I measure the groups with a caliper, and don’t use the change in my pocket or finger size for measuring.  

I check cartridge OAL with every different bullet and start them .005 off touching the lands.  I load each bullet with 4-5 different powders, three different weights, and three different primers.  Every round is Chronographed, and I increase the powder charges until I hit max pressure or groups expand.  I take the best three groups with each bullet and start adjusting the load in small increments.  I start adjusting bullet seating depth with the best powder load by .002 closer to the lands.  If I have to I will start backing the bullet away at the same rate, but typically guns will shoot better the tighter the tolerances are.   I am tuning the load to the barrels harmonics.  By doing this you will be surprised with how accurate a factory rifle can be.  I also write down every detail of every load and save the information not only for this rifle but for future rifles.  There are certain loadings that consistently shoot well from rifle to rifle.  

I just finished up the first 110 loads and I am out of brass and some bullets.  I can not find any brass or certain bullets so I’m stuck for a while.  A bad time to need shooting supplies even for a varmint rifle.   I predicted a Savage would be accurate, and this rifle is accurate and fast for a 22” barrel.   I have barely started on the 55gr bullets, but it is showing a noticeable preference for 40 and 50gr bullets.   For the 40 and 50 grain bullets I ended up just above .6” for 3 shot groups out of 80+ different loadings!   Like most guns the absolute most accurate loads are not at maximum velocity, but I have several very fast loads to choose from under .3”.  I think +4150fps 40gr, and +3900fps 50gr shooting under .3” with no pressure signs is fast, and should put the hammer on varmints of any kind. The 55gr bullets are opening up in group size but I’m very early with them.  Now to get some more brass and bullets so I can finish preliminary testing and start fine tuning the best loads.