Hello fellow hunters, summer is wrapping up! I know, I KNOW! August just got here, and it is HOT! But never the less summer is coming to a close as far as hunting prep goes! Remember there are astrological seasons, and meteorological seasons. But here in New England, we consider summer to be June, July and August, fall to be September, October and November, and winter to be December, January and February, leaving spring as March, April and May. So as we enter the month of August we have a myriad of chores to get done in order to be ready for Whitetail season. Since bow season starts September 15th, we need to be ready and fit. Below you see a view of my deer target 40 yards away. (No, I do not shoot over the pup's backs!) And below this picture you can see a 3 and 3/4 inch group shot from forty yards. I am not satisfied until I can consistently make 2 inch groups at twenty yards, 3 inches at thirty, and 4 inch groups at forty. Not once or twice, but consistently. If I find this is not happening for me, I visit my local archery shop and they always set me straight. It may be my technique, or equipment, but he can usually spot it right away. In any case, the standard I have listed is my own, and I have no idea how I arrived at it years ago, only that I will not go out until I have achieved it consistently. Thankfully, I am there for this upcoming season...
The next job we have is to put our fields and food plots in shape for fall. This means liming, fertilizing if necessary and seeding. When we first started to set up LRDC as a paradise, we did it all by hand. I can well remember humping fifty pound bags of lime into the woods on my shoulder, hand raking, and no equipment. Gradually we cut trails, aquired ATV's, a tractor, and implements. We still do a load of handwork, but nothing like back in the 90's! Below you can see the limespreader I use, a piece made in Pennsylvania, and the ruggedest, most versatile limespreader I could find. This will spread any lime you put in it, including dripping wet lime. Below that, check out the massive axel inside that churns out the lime. It holds 1000 pounds per load, and I have hauled this baby way into the woods and ridges, over the toughest ground you can imagine. The lime pile is a leftover from liming our sheep pastures three years ago. I have twenty tons delivered bulk, and that way it is cheap. Have them dump it on a tarp! I still have about four tons left for next year.
Above you see a plot I tilled over, limed, retilled, and it is ready to be seeded. Below this you are looking at our tiller. It is a six foot First Choice, and if you have bushel basket and basketball sized rocks the way we do here, this is the only way to go. This piece of equipment has hacked acres of rocky New England soil for years. No breakages, faultless so far. My wife can hear me tilling from over a mile away, when I am in rocky areas. The next picture is of a plot that I lime first, then till, to mix in the lime before I reseed by August 1st.
Of course one of the 'chores' we hunters all have during the summer months is to rifle practice,. Now I don't mean just to 'sight in'. That is something you do the week of your hunt. I mean to practice regularly. I suppose if all you do while hunting is sit in a stand, with a handy rest and a rangefinder, then 'sighting in' will do. But if on occasion you decide to still hunt through the woods and want to be able to swing up and on a jumped buck with good chances of success, then regular practice is required. To sight in, I use the targets below which I make myself. They are 2 inch dots made with a magic marker, three to a sheet. I shoot these to sight in a rifle or new scope, to practice fundamentals, and to test the accuracy potential of a new gun or load. Once I have done that, and selected my load, my practice consists of standing off hand, shooting at a 14 inch by 14 inch metal plate at 100 yards. If you can make hits consistently like that, you are going to be successful in the field. I hunt exclusively with a 30-06, so there is some recoil there. The following pictures show a good spotting scope necessary for sighting in, and a ruler for measuring groups, and a recording book for different loads, factory or re-loaded.
I fully admit it, I am a sissy. Maybe it is my SWAT operator background, but I ALWAYS wear elbow pads when sighting in a rifle at a shooting bench. They do not care what caliber you are shooting - they cushion and protect, and prevent flinching. In other words, if you shoot your rifle with elbow pads on, you WILL be more accurate. Doesn't mean you need to wear them in the woods - that is silly. But when it is time to sight in, concentrate on that, not pain. Next to them you see a Past Recoil pad. (remember I admitted to being a sissy?) Use one, and get good with that rifle. When the time comes to actually use it, you will not be thinking about recoil, only about calling your shot. Well worth the money. Yes, Sally, even if you shoot the demure 7mm-08...
Below is my Winlite Winchester 70 in 30-06. It weighs just a tad over 6 pounds so kicks a bit. I have a Kick-EZZ pad on it, but otherwise it is stock, and I get sub 1 inch groups from it with regularity. The scope on it is a Redfield 3-9 for sighting in a load, but for hunting I use a Redfield Widefield 1 3/4 x 5. But it's accuracy isn't what I love best about this rifle. It has the slickest bolt (cool) and a good trigger (nice) and is very lightweight (still feels good at the end of a long day) and will shoot a 3/4 inch group with factory ammo. But what I love best, is it's inherent forgiveness. That is to say, when you pull this rifle up, and plant the crosshairs on game, it barks and the game drops. I have pulled so many shots that I was sure were bad, but when the smoke clears (figuratively) the game is always there. I marvel at that. Moving or not, it gets them. It's not a fancy 'claw extractor' model, just an early 90's model push feed, with a McMillan stock. Other than African Water Buffalo , or Elephant, I would be confident with this rifle on any game on earth. If you feel that way about your hunting arm, no matter what it is, you are a blessed hunter! In any case, summer is going to end in three weeks or so, and we need to be ready! Have fun, and let me know what you think!