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Friday, February 3, 2017

LRDC Census Station

Each year, starting on December 15th (the end of season), we do a deer census to both count deer, and to see how many were taken . We are most interested in counting the resident deer on this property. Buck count is important, but mostly we want to see how many does and babes made it through, and to monitor their condition through the winter. This is the second mild winter we have had in the recent few years, and the deer have gone into winter fat and sassy on top of that! Now, to census deer, there are several things to keep in mind. You want to draw deer only from your 'square mile' around you. Here is what we do. I back drag and clear of snow about a 500 square foot area with the tractor. Every morning I drop about nine piles of corn ( about a cup or so each) about the area. Set up a camera. They will come. Our station is behind a heavy stand of thirty foot spruce trees so the deer have plenty of cover. This is about 150 yards from LRDC porch, so on my daily visits to camp I often see deer flitting around behind the boughs. Below you see two separate groups having a discussion on who should have first dibs....
 Settling down and enjoying the bounty.
 What is that red light???
 The pictures below show the buck from several posts ago having shed an antler. I'll go look for it soon.

 Below you see a night crowd.
 And a day crowd
 Here is a spike that has been hanging around.

 On alert. I must be approaching LRDC with the pups...

 One antler hanging in there...
 And of course the squirrels and crows chow all day.

 Remember me when I had both sides intact?

 So unbalanced now.
 Daytime feed is the safest and best,.
So, when I say we do a deer census, is how we do it in snow country...
Once season is done, start puting out some corn in small piles...I emphasize small piles. We are not attempting to feed deer, or take them off their natural food, but rather bring them in for a snack, after which they move on to their natural food sources..
Once snow comes, you will begin to see heavily used trails coming into the site. After about three weeks of feeding like this, take some hikes along these trails. This year for instance I have a group coming from all four directions, N,S,E& W . Once we had 8-9 inches of snow, I follow each trail back until I find the beds in softwoods. If the bedding area is within a half mile of the corn, Then they are within my square mile of 'deer per square mile' census. I have done that twice this winter so far, and my estimate is that we are running a population of about 15-19 deer per square mile at Long Ridge. That is slightly higher than F&G estimates, but then so are our average weights for deer taken...
In any case, it is fun, entertaining, and beautiful to watch these creatures trek across fields during the day. And remember, if the snow gets much above 14 inches, cease feeding, and let them bed down for the duration. You'll see the results in the spring!
Comments welcome! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Final Retirement of the S&W Sc 1911 Platform

This will be my third and final review of the wonderful commander sized Smith 45. I am retiring it for good. This does not mean that I will necessarily sell it, or not wear it here around the farm, but for off-duty/LEOSA carry, it is gone. I have worn it daily for well over a year, and fired some 4700 round through it. It is a handsome gun, well fitted, and very accurate. I consider it reasonably reliable, that is to say, as reliable as 1911 platforms go. The plunger/tube/spring assembly did blow out around 1000 rounds, but this is NOT an unusual occurrence with this platform. Smith & Wesson fixed it promptly and at no cost to me. BUT if it had happened during a violent incident, life might not be so pretty as it is today. Then at about 3300 rounds it became erratic in reliability. Through research, I learned that in the 1911 guns, you replace the recoil and firing springs every 2500 rounds. Wolff came through for about seven bucks, and I was back in business. But this means I should have to keep count of all rounds fired in order to maintain reliability (I did with this piece anyway, because this was a whole new experiment for me, and I had planned to do reviews). But I shouldn't HAVE too.
Below you see her under the bright lights. Gorgeous, even with safety and holster wear marks.
 This side shows some wear marks also, but not unreasonable considering thousands of rounds, and daily carry.
 Then there is the 45 ACP caliber. Effective for sure (mostly), and a stopper for sure if bullet placement is on spot on. But after the Orlando incident (and some several others) I began once again to ponder capacity. Nine rounds of 45 or 18 rounds of 9mm? Thirty years ago, this might have been a no brainer. But what REALLY counts, is what is working in the professional field. Now that we are shooting perhaps the eighth generation of 9mm, it is working superbly. Just as well as any other rounds, at a LOT less cost, faster between shot accuracy, and a lot less recoil. And a LOT more in gun capacity. Just so you know, if I were back in patrol status, I would NOT recommend the nine. 357 Sig has it all over the 9 and the .45 for barrier penetration and integrity. And power. But as a LEOSA carrier, barrier penetration is in all probability not going to be my gig. I will not have to shoot through windshields, car doors, warehouse walls, to end a bad situation. Uniformed heroic cops have that job, and 357 Sig is superb. But for me, it is back to the 9mm. Below you see the 45 ACP 185grain +P Golden Saber. If I could stuff 18 in the 1911, and shoot it as fast and accurately as a nine, I would. But I cannot, and neither can anyone else. My LEOSA qual expires for the 1911 in April, and I will not renew. Several further observations about the 1911 platform - the thumb (manual safety) can (and has) be unknowingly flipped off, thus making this a cocked weapon. Not safe at all. The Smith has an ambidextrous safety so when the several times I found mine flipped to the off position, I am not sure which side got bumped. Probably the right (outer one). If I were to keep this as a carry piece I would switch out the ambi safety for a strong side only. To be sure, I have climbed trees, built chicken houses, ATVed in thick woods, stacked hay, and sheared sheep carrying this, so perhaps the safety issue wouldn't effect you as much. Second observation. I carried this for 10 months in a Fobus non-locking retention holster. It fell out during high activity, and after about six months the holster became loose enough that I could hear a slight rattle when I moved. Not good. Dinging the Fobus paddle holsters for the Safariland paddle ALS mentioned below. Thirty nine bucks, and comes with a paddle AND a belt slide.
 Below is the M&P9 that I now carry for a LEOSA weapon. It is the same dimensions in all aspects ( width, height, length) as the 1911 but slightly heavier when fully loaded. I carry it in a Safariland ALS paddle daily now. This gun is as accurate and faster accurate as the 1911, holds twice as many rounds, is a third cheaper to buy ammo for, and I now have almost 7000 rounds through this gun. Zero malfunctions. None. Nada. Nunca. Clean it when you want. No rush. Drop it, wet it, dirty it, it doesn't matter. It just keeps on shooting. The M&P pistols have displaced all my Glocks. As a matter of interest, one of my firearms instructors fired my M&P and stated he'd never shot a handgun that shot as "butter smooth". And I was a Glock purist from the very beginning (1987). With the just released 2.0 second generation M&P, I am quite excited. This was basically the armed forces submission I have been told. Much better trigger, stronger still, a bit more flex to the frame, and four grip inserts. I'll buy the compact version when that is released.
Below you see the Remington Golden Saber 124 grain +P 9mm round I carry. This is a very good defensive round, on par with the Winchester 147 grain Ranger T-series. I carry both with full confidence. While Winchester limits the Ranger T-series to L.E. only, it IS possible for non L.E. to obtain. Both exhibit great penetration and expansion.
So in conclusion, I love my 1911 45. I am intimately familiar with it, it is accurate, and it is fun to shoot. I'll carry it around the farm and woods (or my 1911 10mm). But, it is much more complicated, (ever totally tear down a 1911?) needs much more and careful maintenance, and costs a LOT to shoot. It also cost over three times as much as the M&P 9 when new.
For trusting my safety, and for saving those around me, I am back to polymer, and happy to say so.
Ugly, cheap, and utterly trustworthy. The M&P's or the Glocks (FNC moving right up there also), take your pick. To me, Glocks are totally antique at this point, but they ARE totally reliable and reasonably accurate, so try both and takes your pick!
Comments welcome!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Long Ridge Deer Camp Catch-Up!

Well here we are in the New Year already, and I haven't posted since October. We only had two deer camp weekends this year, and I must say, I hunted less this year than any since college. A nasty family accident in Africa monopolized my time since mid September, and my heart really wasn't in the hunt this year. I am so grateful for the progress made, and we are getting back on track here on the farm. It has been a haul! With that said, here are some earlier fall pictures, and then a few follow-ups  after I started my December 15th deer census. First of all, the two camps we had were full, and fun. While I may have been mentally absent, the guys were fun, gracious and hunted hard. As I said in early fall posts, no bucks were appearing on cameras. The little I did hunt, I saw not a single buck. I believe that may be a first. Two LRDC guys did get bucks, but only one from this area. The others were in Vermont. Now, I must say, there is no shortage of deer. Between the two camps, hunters saw 46 deer, which is more than most years. But no bucks. During bow season I could have shot many does, and during rifle season I saw about six. But they were all with babes, and, as our rules go, safe.
Next year will be better!
Below you see a fall doe in the Far Field that is in about as good shape as you could wish for! 
 A daytime shot of another in the same field.
 This snarly looking guy is handsome, if unwelcome...
 A few turks under an apple tree.
 Early snow. This doe is feeding on oats.
 Again below...marveling on the condition of this young buck.
 I am out of here right now!
 Stretching my wings!
 This lady had taken a passel of chickens. I have no desire to hunt foxes, but she just had to go. Taken at 110 yards on the move with a TC Venture Predator. .223 50 grain Federal tipped varmint round. As accurate a combination out to 200 yards as I have ever fired.
 Our resident Barred Owl allowed me another great picture. He is about ten feet above me, and quite unconcerned, even with the pups bounding around.
 Below you see a few pictures of a buck we never saw all season. He is at the census station and doing quite well. He just lost one antler today and I will post that in my next blog!

 An earlier picture of grace in action.
 Early fall Mom and babe.
 bears, bears, bears!

 Young man back at the census station!
 The census is taken behind our overly mature Christmas tree plantation a 100 yards from camp. Here you see a few pre-Christmas shots of does with babes.

 I would have guess this possum would be holed up by now...if he doesn't he'll have a half life of about 30 seconds in this country.
 The next shots show the same buck bedding down at the census station. He obviously feels secure here.

 Until big boy arrives.
So, there you have a few pictures, and hoping to be more active this year! Things are REALLY looking up for 2017, and we are excited here at Long Ridge. Stay in touch, and let me know what YOU have been doing in the woods lately! We start logging here for cordwood any day!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Mid-Fall, LRDC Getting Ready!

Tons and tons of game in our woods this fall. Deer, fox, coyote, bears, porcupines and more! I was worried about the mast crop, but the acorns recovered and are plastered everywhere. Nothing that feeds on them will go to winter in poor shape! No apples, and I don't see much soft mast at all, but there is plenty of food out there. Because of a nasty overseas accident in the family I have not been able to hunt yet. I do hope to get out muzzle loader opening day though. Each ten days I am gathering camera cards and you see some of the shots below. Only one buck in over 900 pictures of deer. Pretty sure I do know where they are though...below you see some bears. Several different moms have been passing through and all have at least two cubs.
This one has two.

Guilty looking fox. Probably the one that got one of our hens a bit ago...
Turkeys dressed in pink. Don't know why this stealth cam continually does this...
A doe in excellent condition.
Mousing in a food plot.
Only buck in 900 deer pictures!
Not sure what this doe is eating...
Mom and babe.
Nice size coyote. Hope to get him one of these days...
The doe below looks actually fat! She would dress out above 140...
And a mile away, another.
Best of buds on the mineral lick.
Spring babies.
I took this apple bud picture on September 17th. Mid September our apple trees re-leaved and blossomed out! Must be confused from the drought...
A good friend helping to maintain stands. Without a ladder, stacked logs get him up there! A+ for improvisation!
I did finally get my 40 yard groups where I want them.

More moms and babes.
A spirited entry to the east plot.
Spots on this fawn are gone now. This was mid September. Never mind the date on this camera, it will NOT reset correctly!
With momma
This barred owl was sitting on the edge of the Far Field on my morning walk with the pups, and graciously allowed this picture.
I feel blessed to live where I do, and to have two deer camps planned in the next several weeks.
Camp wood is stacked and ready, water jugs full, and the game pole is ready! Let me know what your plans are!
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