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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Back to Mid-Winter Nature at Long Ridge Deer Camp

As most of you know, generally right after season ends December 15th I begin a limited cracked corn feeding regimen for a month or so (or until deep snow) to census the deer in the immediate area of the farm. This year I did not start until late January, because of the extremely mild winter (though it is -2 below as I write) . The deer have had no trouble moving or finding plenty of acorns and other natural food, including old apples, and as it was, entered winter with the biggest fat reserves I have seen in years. On top of no snow, we have had absolutely mild fall temps all winter until the last week or so. These deer couldn't be bothered with a little cracked corn. But once we got a little snow, and temperatures returned to normal, they began to show up. These are just a few of the hundreds of pictures I have from one camera up next to the Christmas tree plantation.
Through studying these pictures, I have determined that I have a group of six coming from a big hemlock stand to the South, a group of four (sometimes five) coming in from the East, and a group of three from the West. The bucks shown do not seem to remain with any particular group. Interesting that they still have their antlers in February. Good sign of low stress...I do have a picture of a buck taken one day in late April several years ago with his antlers still unshed!
These are fat, shiny and unstressed deer for sure!
Check the coat and condition of this doe with an attitude (get away from my corn!)
A healthy coat insulates better than any fiberglass we ever invented. That snow will be on her until she shakes it off!

Big boy always shows at night. He wishes these deer would yard up for good!

Just another example of good herd health...
And the raccoons do love their corn meal...
Nice little five pointer..
A close up.
Below is a spike that has shed his..and a four pointer behind him that hasn't.

Here is the four pointer
And the fiver...
Brother/sister? Both fat and shining with health. 
The southern group
They have hammered my food plots in the Far Field to nothing, but still check it every day. Note how many tracks!
In conclusion I note that we have about fourteen regulars showing up in the fields and at the corn. They come within twenty feet of deer camp at night scraping under the apple tree for rotten apples, cruising our back yard and lawns. We have two constantly barking yappy running Shelties, and the deer hardly pick up their heads when they hear the dogs. Got a great pocket camera of them on the corn the other day from 100 yards, with both dogs barking loudly. I'll put that in the next post. In the meantime I guess it's time to host a coyote hunt! Let me know what YOU are doing!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Long Ridge Deer Camp Weaponry Review Inc. (just kidding)

I knew I would get SOMETHING started, with my review of the S&W 1911Sc, which if you read the blog, have figured out that I love it, and am currently carrying it as my go-to.
Well today a good friend couldn't help himself, and dropped off a brand new in the box Ruger SR1911. Those of you in the know realize SR1911 stands for Stainless Ruger 1911 .45 ACP.
With all due warnings to my buddy that I would be completely frank in my review (he WANTS that) I took it in hand. He is forwarding a thousand rounds for a complete wring-out. I know, I KNOW, the mainstream mags all put a few hundred through a gun and review it. But as a professional carrier, sorry, can't I do that. I need a full thousand before I trust a piece. So below you see a few pictures of it. This is a full sized 5 inch barreled .45, and it weighs a hefty 2 lbs. 13+ oz loaded. So right off I can tell you that unless you are wearing full duty rig, or you are a silly 22 year old, you are NOT going to carry this gun for protection. It is simply too heavy. This is a gun you might hunt with, carry in a belt holster for a hike or  protection in the woods or take to the range occasionally to target practice. Mostly, this is a gun you'll keep most of the time in your gun safe. It IS a handsome piece, let's take a look.
Stainless though and through, this gun is built to last, not only against corrosion but for sheer strength. You can drop this piece on cement, and while it wouldn't make it prettier, it will still work. I note in the first picture that it does not have an ambidextrous safety. (I happen to like them on the 1911 platform, because I am required in quals to shoot with just my weak hand) Otherwise quite sturdy. I did note some coarser machine marks on the inside, and the slide lock cut out in the frame looks like it was done with a hack saw. But unseen all, until field stripped. And while this doesn't have the fine machining of the Smith, remember, it sells at retail for 300.00 less than my S&W. It has sturdy white dot day sights on it.
 On the flip side, above, you can see this gun has an extended (though flat, I prefer curved) safety. This is good in my book. Skeleton trigger and hammer, good for pruning a little weight (anything helps on a gun this big) and typical wood grips. Like the Smith, it comes with a 7 and an 8 round magazine.
 Here they are side by side (kinda). The Ruger is a full sized 5 inch, and the Smith is a Commander with a 4 1/4 inch barrel. Otherwise the size is identical except that the S&W is a bobtail.
 Above is the loaded Ruger on the scale. It weighs exactly what my full sized Dan Wesson 10mm does.
Just like the Smith, it fits the Fobus C-21 holster perfectly.
Now, people, before we go cannot write a perfect review in utter silence. A fitting piece is this CD of Mozart's 1st and 4th.  It settles the mind, and puts the cat and pups promptly to sleep so that I can work.
So far, I have field stripped the Ruger. Somewhat interesting, because it takes a bushing wrench like the Smith, but in fact, has no full length guide rod. A lot of 1911s with no guide rods come apart w/o a bushing wrench, so this was a surprise. One might ask what is the advantage/nonadvantage of a full length vs non full length guide rod? None. Two screaming schools of 1911 aficionados out there take the side of one or the other, but neither is superior. Most of your competitive shooters want the full length guide rod. It is said to keep the slide more perfectly aligned on the rails on recoil, less wear, more weight for less recoil etc. The other side thinks no guide rod is more reliable. I am of neither school, and would counsel you to buy a 1911 based on looks, function, and fun. Don't even bother to ask which your model comes with. The top tier of custom 1911 makers don't agree either. Some use one, some the other.
 I did find the gun as dry as a sun dried tomato, so I lathered it (your read that right) up with Slip 2000, and racked the slide twenty five times. By the time ammo ships in, that stuff will have penetrated everywhere.
Dry firing it felt as if the trigger were a bit lighter than the Smith, but when I measured the pull it is just about the same at 5 3/4 lbs. Some grittiness on take up, but that always smooths out with firing. We'll see and re-check after 500 rounds.
Stand by for updates!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mid-Winter Weaponry at Long Ridge Deer Camp

Once or twice a year I post a deer camp blog about guns. People often ask what we use for rifles when we hunt, what type/brand rifle should they buy, what calibers do I like, and related questions. Having a profession that depends on the best guns and ammo, and being an ardent tactical guy and hunter, I have owned (and sold) many guns. A lot of people are just being introduced to handguns, and want to know the real skinny on certain makes and models. It is true you can certainly subscribe to the leading gun magazines and learn a lot - but I have not seen many weapons seriously criticized in those magazines over the years. They depend on advertisers. Case closed. So, if you want fairly objective evaluations of guns, I recommend 'Gun Tests'. Expensive, but I like it the best. They are no more subjective than I am in my evaluations, and my next one is going to be on the S&W 1911Sc. This is the lightweight commander with the scandium frame and 4.25 inch barrel. I just bought two, and sold one. The one below I will keep. If it performs. It is a bobtailed piece and here is a picture of it.

As you can see, this pistol comes with lightweight trigger and skeleton hammer, ambidextrous safety, and Tritium night sights. Slide is fish scaled front and rear (I like this) and this is a non 80's style trigger (good!). Right out of the box, this pistol had a 5 3/4 pound trigger pull. While very crisp and no let off, I expect after some several hundred rounds that it will lighten to 4 1/2 pound country.
The E on the grips refers to S&W Enhanced models. These are the top of the line guns just shy of custom shop guns (and prices). The gun came with an eight round mag with bumper, and seven round mag that fits flush.
With the bobtail, and flush magazine, at 29 oz. this gun simply disappears under shirts/sweaters etc.
A bit hard to see, but the top picture shows an external extractor, which is oversized. Some diehard 1911 freaks go crazy to see the external extractors, but they are more reliable than internal extractors and require no tuning. Even John Browning, in the end, changed over to external extractors, so when the purists scream, just smile, and shoot on...
The slide and barrel/bushing are stainless.
Last evening I field stripped the pistol, cleaned it thoroughly, and lubed it liberally with Slip 2000. This is the lube I use on all my weapons now. It appears to be far superior to any I have used including my old standby, Militec. This stuff is temperature proof, stays on, and does not collect debri the way so many lubricants do.
Today, (Jan 17th) I took the Smith to the range with 200 rounds of  230 grn Federal hardball.
 It was cold (25 degrees) breezy and my shooting hand and trigger finger is 60 percent disabled from breaking up a dog fight. No matter, as this was just a slam session to see whether the weapon feeds, fires and ejects. I did use three FBI Q targets (the best in my opinion) at 25 yards and 15 yards to get an idea where the sights are for me. I carried the gun in a Fobus C-21 paddle holster.
 These holsters are inexpensive ($19.00 bucks or so) and last and last. I carried my duty Glock in one every day for twelve years, and it is still going strong. Passive restraint to be sure, but adequate for running, jumping, driving etc.
I started shooting at 25 yards, somewhere between rapid fire and machine gun rate. Remember, I am testing for function. The Trijicon sights are excellent, and even under rapid fire, it was a simple matter to come back on target. I temper this with the fact that we are shooting 45 auto out of a 29 oz. gun, so if you cannot handle some recoil, this is probably not the gun to start your learning curve on. In fact, I am guessing that this gun recoils a bit more than my full size 1911 in 10mm which sends over twice the energy down range as this .45. But in any case, I found this pistol fun, pleasant, and a joy to shoot. My first fast groups seemed to be hitting left. Moved up to 15 yards and cut one ragged hole in the Q. I then knew it was me, and not the sights. Moving back to the 25 yard line, I began to aim the way one ought to, and head shots were no problem. I was quite impressed with the overall shootability and accuracy I obtained. (no pictures until I am shooting for accuracy rather than function)You would undoubtedly do better. My eyes are far sighted and the front sight is blurred. My hands were half frozen, and my dog bites had my trigger hand in real pain.
So, results? One failure to feed, third magazine. In checking I discover that I did not lock the magazine in place, and it fell at the first shot. Fault is mine. During the course of 200 rounds, I did have two failures of the slide to lock back on an empty magazine. That does not really bother me much in any case, but it did happen early on, and it may disappear for good with complete break in.
Here is my take at this point: this is a $1200 dollar pistol. The workmanship and finish is flawless. I chose the blue (melancote ) finish over the plain stainless, and it is handsome to my eye. Sights are perfect. Weight and ergonomics excellent. Weight for every day carry, perfect for me (my full size 10mm is a bear to carry all day, which is why I gave it up for carry). Accuracy not really measured, but clearly not a problem with this gun! Function and reliability appears excellent, but I do not judge this fully with any arm until 1000 rounds have been put through it. I am confident enough with this .45 that I have loaded it with Remington 185 grain +P Golden Sabers (arguably the best defensive .45 ACP load out there) and am going to carry it right through the 1000 round mark. I will supplement this review as I am able to make the range. Stay tuned! 

Well, I couldn't help myself today. As bitter out as it is, I simply had to get to the range. My goal was to check the Smith for accuracy both with self defense loads, and with the generic Federal 230 grain ball ammo. I shot 18 rounds of the 185 +P Golden Saber, and 50 more rounds of the Federal.
 This first target below (as were the rest) was shot at 15 yards with ball ammunition. Now, I had intended to be all about accuracy today, you know, Cool Hand Luke stuff. But man, it was 15 degrees and with a 30 mph wind right in my face, I was not all that deliberate in aiming. But even so, this little 1911 did all right. you will see that all groups are slightly to the left, so before I am done I will be drifting this rear sight rightward.
 This next target shows my next nine shots which are the Golden Saber carry rounds, on top of the first FMJ's. I am glad to see they print exactly the same, although the Golden Sabers cut the Q right out of there and shot truer to point of aim.

 This next target below I shot 9 FMJ Federals, and 8 of the 185's. Both were accurate, but again the ball ammo shooting a bit left, and the 185's cutting a neat hole in this man's head. These were all fired semi rapid, as I was completely frozen. My hand was so cold that my injuries didn't even have feeling. (nice)
 The last target below simply shows the rest of the fifty practice rounds I fired off at will. My feeling at this point, considering my temporary infirmities, the ferocious weather, and my impatience, that this S&W 1911Sc is one fine and accurate piece of machinery. I still have 750 rounds to go before I will fully endorse it, but right now, loaded with the 185+P Sabers, it is my carry piece.
I guess I should qualify that statement...I was weaned at a very young age on revolvers, and my first duty gun was a 6 inch model 28 Highway Patrolman, .357 Mag. I still have it, and it is smooth and accurate as any out there. But in the mid eighties our department went to Glocks, and I have been carrying, instructing, repairing, shooting them for more than several decades. I put 47,000 rounds though one without a single malfunction or breakage. To me, Glocks were the end all of hand gunning. The best. The only. And they are very, very good at what they are supposed to do. When I retired, I took my 357 Glock with me, qualed with it under LEOSA for nationwide carry, and was completely happy with it. But I had a 1911 Dan Wesson in 10 MM that I began to shoot a LOT. A Pointman 7. Once I thoroughly learned this gun, I fell in love. Capable of hitting 16 inch targets at 200 yards, able to pound rounds down range at 8-900 FPE, AND becoming the most accurate pistol I have ever fired, I began to carry this full size monster daily. I qualified for LEOSA without a problem, and was set for life. That is, until the 45 oz. of loaded monster began to bother my hip. I generally carry IWB, and this thing is HEAVY. About this time I was corresponding with an ALACOP buddy in Alabama, and he told me to check into the M&P S&W's. He was a diehard Glock guy who switched to the M&P's stating that they are superior to the Glocks in so many ways. I couldn't believe it, but began to research and thought there might be something to this. I took an M&P armorers course through AGI. I read everything. Eventually I shot an M&P 9 and then bought one. It puts my Glocks to shame ergonomically. Wonderfully forgiving and painless to shoot. Forgiving. Perfect carry weight. 18 rounds. I switched a year ago and have carried the M&P IWB, outside the waistband, and holsterless. It is a painless and wonderful pistol. I grab it before a Glock, every time. One day, while training with the Sheriff's department, a fellow officer handed me the M&P's little brother, an M&P Shield, a single stack completely hideable 9mm. I picked it up, just casually aimed at a twenty-five yard target, and shot a 10 inch group without even remembering if I had even looked at the sights. Never had a gun fit my hand like that one. I bought one that night. So, at this point, for deep concealment, it is the M&P Shield. For EDC, it is the full size M&P 9. I'd sell my Glocks, if I hadn't carried them on duty all those years.
And here we are. I get caught up in a research project that leads me to the S&W 1911Sc, and I am in love all over again. As soon as I can get my favorite instructor/swatbuddy and esteemed tact operator Jim Cemorelis to the range to qual me for LEOSA, I will be carrying the 1911 interstate.
Now, smart people might ask at this point what is the advantage of the Ltw Cmder .45 over the M&P 9 I love so much? Answer: NONE.
The 1911 loaded weighs 34.7 oz.
The M&P 9 weighs 35.2 oz.
Both guns are virtually identical in size, width, length, height. They are both extremely combat accurate. The 1911 costs around 1200 bucks. The M&P around 500.00 bucks. So really, the only advantage is to the M&P for cost,(and the fact that it holds 18 rounds as opposed to 9 for the 1911).
This means that when I carry the 1911, I'll carry spare mags with me. Don't feel the need with the M&P.
I did leave out one advantage the 1911 DOES have over the M&P9. It is beautiful. It is handsome. It looks too cool on my waist. Cocked and locked, and young men might say 'Mister, ain't that dangerous'? And I might answer 'You damn betcha'. It is supreme, while the M&P is 100% functional and FUGLY.
Beauty and The Beast.
I am a gentleman, and so, for now, I pick beauty.
Next chapter at the 1000 round mark.
Well it is time for the next, and perhaps last, chapter on this S&W 1911 29 oz. Scandia framed 1911 in .45 ACP. I have now fired well over 1000 rounds through this pistol, I believe around 1250. I have had three failure to feeds, and three failures of the slide to lock back on an empty magazine. The failure to lock back does not bother me in the least. In a critical situation, when your gun stops shooting (and you need it not too) you reload, and get on with it. The three failures to feed were mostly (two) my fault. I simply did not fully seat the seven round magazine all the way in. My bad, gun OK. The third failure to feed happened at about the 800 round mark. Don't know why. Could well have been me, could have been a dirty gun (I only cleaned this gun at the very beginning and at the 250 round mark) but in any case, one in one thousand is not bad odds, so from a carry standpoint, I trust this gum to operate when and if I need it too. As for magazines, I will carry the eight round mag and two extra eight round mags on my belt. The seven rounder simply is too difficult under stress to fully seat. I have ordered three extra Chip McCormick power mag eight rounders with base pads to compliment my factory eight which also has the base pad. Check the picture, and you'll see why the 7 rounder with no base pad is apt to hit the heel of your strong hand and not seat properly.
If you wondered, the Chip McCormick Power mags are in use with SOCOM in the nasty theaters we all know so well, actually even if you didn't wonder, they are.. They are proven. Below are the two factory magazines. The 8 rounder with the base pad has enough length to allow easy seating under stress. The 7 rounder does not, especially without a base pad. Now, for deep undercover, one might want the low profile 7 rounder in the gun, but honestly, I can't tell much difference when looking in a mirror.
OK, below you see two targets. I shot both today, each with 16 rounds, at 15 yards. Not rapid fire, not slow deliberate fire. I would best describe the rate of fire as 'cadence fire'. In any case, I wanted to compare relatively expensive practice ammo, with the cheapest shit money can buy practice ammo. The good stuff obviously is Federal 230 grain ball ammo. I have fired a thousand through this baby, and it did fine. See the target. But I was thinking...if I keep up this rate of fire, I'd be spending 1200 bucks a month! No way. So I bought a thousand rounds of Wolf Poly Steel ammo, steel cased 230 grain crap made in Russia, and at a MUCH lower price. I have read reviews on this ammo as being extremely 'dirty' , 'inaccurate', to 'it works every time'. Today I fired 250 rounds of my thousand, and it fed and fired without hesitation. I fired the two targets below, and you can see that while the Federal target is a hair tighter, the Wolf ammo is no slouch, and is fine for practice and exercise. In fact, because the Wolf target was the last exercise of the afternoon (after a LOT) of shooting) I may have rushed a lot of these shots. Upshot (get it?) of this is, for practice, this cheap ammo is A-OK!.

 Last issue, and wrap up. While researching all the different Commander style 1911's out there, I did see several times people mentioning that as much as they loved the S&W, several complained that the grips loosened after several hundred rounds had been fired. I poo-pooed this thinking, 'so tighten them, dumb-ass' and let it go at that. Well wouldn't you know, about the 700 round mark, both grips loosened on me, and to the point where it became disconcerting. I mean, with this gun, you GRIP it, you don't hold it, when you shoot. When I would grip it I would actually feel the grips move.  Bad.
So on return to LRDC, out come the tools, and I tightened up both sides. Perfect. Not. Today, between the 1000 and 1200 round mark, I felt the grips begin to move once more. Because I am stubborn, and intent, and goal oriented, I continued to shoot, finishing up with the targets above. By this time, the grips were treading water in my hand, and by the time I was done the Wolf target above, I'd lost (forever) the upper grip screw on the left side. Nothing that 25 seconds, a new grip screw, and red loc-tite won't cure, but 'Jeez', on a 1200 dollar gun? By the way, as I said above, right out of the box the trigger pull was about 5 3/4 pounds. I expected this to lighten over the course of a thousand rounds. It didn't.
 Conclusion below.
First of all, I must say I am delighted that everyone agrees with everything I have said here (no comments came in).
Conclusion: Buy it.
If you are in the market for a 1911 .45 ACP that you can comfortably carry all day long, that is eyeball accurate, John Deere reliable, and Marilyn Monroe beautiful, this is the one. There are other lightweight commanders that sell for less. But they are all aluminum framed, and much less strong. Some several are less money, but don't come with Tritium night sights, or skeletonized trigger or hammer. There are some several that sell for a TON more. They'll have a 4 1/2 pound trigger right out of the box, and not be superior in any other way that I can see. This little guy is my first 45 ACP, and I love it. I will carry it, as I will my Shield and M&P9. I will probably have a trigger job done on it at some point, just because I can. I have never been formally trained, tactically or fundamentally on the 1911 platform. So I will seek out a school to bring me up to speed. Because I can. But, it is my professional opinion, that anyone can master this gun, with a bit of coaching. And when you do, you'll feel that you are THERE!. THAT is what this little S&W will do for you. Trust me. I am a Glock/polymer/9mm/357auto/S&WM&P expert, and carry them professionally. But guess what is on my hip today...

Thanks all, this has been fun! Jack

Any questions/arguments, write me!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Long Ridge Camps, 2015

We enjoyed two wonderful camps this hunting season with 14 of 21 hunters able to partake. Of the hunters list, some thirteen deer were taken by our hunters. Most were not taken at Long Ridge per se ( just two bucks) with the rest taken from West Virginia to Anticosti Island! At Long Ridge itself we saw 26 deer, but most were does, during buck season only. I passed on two legal does, and never saw a buck all season, be it bow, muzzle or rifle.  On game cameras here, this year showed  fewer big bucks than most other years, though last years very severe winter may have taken the best. There is a tree scrape picture below that is on an 11 inch Spruce, and it is clear that this was a big racked buck. But no one ever saw him. However, as you can see in the pictures below, we had a great time with venison suppers, delicious wines and cheeses, and in general, catching up on a years worth of news.
Relaxing after supper and planning the next day's hunt.
Every bunk full this camp.
Kalie, ny Sheltie guards the guns, and the dinner table.
Frontal shot on camp.
No camp without a roaring fire!
Hunters arrive...
Camp in the evening
 Galloping doe in the Far Field 
Not a bad 7 pointer on some apples. 
portrait of curiosity

I was hunting alone in a place I had never been, when I came across this strange scene. It is way out there, not near anything at all. 
A close up. I left it as is...
This scrape is 125 yards from camp, and goes pretty much around the tree. May kill it even. I'd love to have seen this big boy.
I planted two plots of these brassicas, and they were untouched until after a severe frost. Then they got hammered and are being hammered still! The deer are going into this winter in the best shape, and with the most fat reserves I can ever recall. Let's hope they all made it!
Food plots and good natural forage mean fat healthy deer, and these are some...

Turkeys everywhere.
So, while this was a successful and very fulfilling season of hunting, it not a spectacular year for monster deer, here or across the state. Most seemed nocturnal from very early on, and clearly the bigger bucks were very scarce. But we had fun, learned more, as we always do, and resolve to continue the wonderful tradition of a great camp! Join us!
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