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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mid-March at Long Ridge

Several weeks ago I took a picture of this beautiful Red Fox from our kitchen window. He is about 50 yards behind the house just beyond the garden hunting mice in a pasture. We watch him (or her) all winter pounce on big fat voles down through feet of snow. Even with hard crusts they jam their snouts down through it and manage to catch them. I could see the shine on this one's coat, and fox are in season, but hey, they whelp out this month, so I won't. I do worry for the one lone free ranging chicken we have left though. ( It's the hawks that really do them!)

This is what we call the Overlook. It is on the opposite end of the property from the Far Ridge, faces East, and would be an extraordinary view if I logged off in front of it. We ATV, hike, or snowmobile up there and have fires, and lunch sometimes. During deer season I strap a seat on a maple just over the edge and it makes a great stand looking out over a nice open hardwood draw..

Today, as usual I walked the dogs up one of our main snowmobile trails. If this weather keeps up, it will be too muddy in a few weeks. You can see where this year around brook has finally busted out through two feet of snow. This snow trail won't be back this spring unless we get a late March blizzard, (don't bet that we won't!) and actually even in April and early May we have been wacked. But the sledding season is OVER. Now it is hiking alone, until mud season is over.

On this mornings walk we passed under the Mid Stand whick looks out over the Far Field. It is a good stand, and I have taken great deer from it. It's drawback is that it is quite exposed and you cannot even twitch in this stand or you will be had. You can see that the floor of the stand is quite crooked and I will fix that this summer. It's like that because I put this up last July, all alone. I was twenty feet up, trying to hang this 35 pound base with one hand while I drilled holes for lag bolts to wrench it tight to the tree. It was about 80 degrees and very humid, and when I assessed the job I had done I was too beat to fix it then. Never got around to it, and stood on it like this when I arrowed a deer in October. We'll get it changed...

These two purebred Shelties are the dogs you do NOT want to take for walks in the woods if you want to see anything. They bark, herd my poor old Lab, race around like the nutcakes they are, and I am sure can be heard for miles. In fact I know they can, because often in the fall when I am way out on stand I can hear their barking as far as the Far Ridge. But they are smart, neat dogs, both rescues from smokey, small urban apartments. They can hardly believe they live on a farm now, with real sheep and fields to run on. The physically abused one (Blue Merle on the right) has almost forgotten her pain. They are happy!

Update on the Winchester model 70's - I did spend an afternoon last Monday on the PD range, and shot both rifles.
The wooden stocked Featherweight I shot with Federal Premium 125 grain (remember I want this as a varmint gun) PowerShocks. With it's seven pound factory trigger pull the best I could do was 1 1/4 groups.
I hadn't touched this stock gun until now, and that is as good as it shoots with any load. I decided that this gun needs trigger work first, so when I got back to Deer Camp, I adjusted it down to 3 pounds. We'll shoot it again with the same loads, and see what a difference if any that makes. Remember I am sticking with the same load in an attempt to wring best accuracy. When the gun has achieved that, THEN we'll seach/load up the best round for the rifle.

The Macmillan stocked Winlite also is completely stock, though if you recall I took the stock off and removed a bubble that was in contact with the side of the barrel, sanded it down, and refit the action at 45 inch pounds. With a stock trigger weight of just under 5 pounds I started off with Federal Premium 180 grain Barnes Triple Shock X. I was amazed! Just the small bubble removed from the stock gave me an immediate 1 inch group with this factory load. I was able to reproduce this group several times. I then took both rifles home and as above, adjusted the trigger down to three pounds. Can't wait to hit the range again. I have had that rifle for twenty years, and never, with any load, has it shot better than an inch and a quarter!. I'll keep you posted.

Last item, this week Fish and Game bulletined that everyone should take in their bird feeders, because the bears are out in force and marauding them. They haven't hit us yet, but got a house in the neighborhood about three miles away. Usually we have til about April 1st before they break out of hibernation, so that illustrates what an easy and short winter we've had... Jack

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