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Monday, February 20, 2012

Mid-Winter (or the lack of) Wanderings at Long Ridge Deer Camp

Occasionally during the winter it is good to take a road trip, and this month I went to the New Hampshire Farm and Forest Exposition in Manchester. I did not find it a particularly intriguing experience, but did enjoy visiting NH Fish and Game exhibits along with the NH Trappers association exhibit. Most of the rest of the show was about locally grown foods, and a few equipment exhibits. I love the idea of locally grown foodstuffs, and supporting small farmers but found little of interest in their booths. The equipment displays I always like, but find most of it far beyond the pocketbook. So for a cost of (gas, parking, admission) sixty bucks, I'll forgo this show next year. 

Above you see a stash of 30-06 ammo above my bunk at camp. I was checking this out the other day, and the boxes of spent shells below, and decided to figure out if it would pay to start reloading for rifle. 
I have a bunch of ammunition  already that I seldom shoot, every thing from 9mm to .308 stuff, mostly from days when ammunition was reasonably priced! At today's cost, I decided to get serious about the benefits of self made ordinance. 
Below is a loader I have used for years for shotgun. I was quite into trap at one point, and the loader definitely paid for itself in a short time. About all I do these days with shotgun is a bit of turkey and upland hunting, so I might as well sell this set-up and put the money toward a rifle/pistol reloader...or should I?
When I sat down and did the numbers, I was surprised. It will take about four hundred dollars worth of equipment, decent equipment, to get started. I know, I KNOW, cheaper set-ups are available. But if you reload for volume, you will want good scales, good mics, good trimmers etc. Four hundred might do it, and that would be my cost (I have an FFL). If you cost powder, primers, and start with unfired brass, you can reload a typical rifle shell for about 1.25 to 1.50 each, or about 26.00 bucks a box. To be sure, that is new brass, and you can re-use that brass again and again. Reloading the second time, brings the cost down about .75 a round bringing the cost of a box of twenty down to 15.00 dollars. Not bad, until you see that you can buy commercial  practice stuff for not much more than that. On the other hand, the most accurate load in my 30-06 is Federal Premium 110 grain Barnes TTSX. It groups 1/2 to 3/4 all day long from a six pound rifle. Each box retails for $42.00 so doing the math here, it would pay me to invest in gear IF I decide to shoot more than a box or two a year. Even if I didn't, I just learned that Federal is no longer loading this favorite of mine, and Barnes tells me that no one else is either. So I find a new accurate round, or load my own. Still making up my mind. 
Winter here in NH is quite unusual this year. We have had only thirty inches of snow so far, and it is essentially all gone! 15 degrees at night, 35 degrees during the day. I had put exactly one mile on my snowmobile, and then there it sat. Yesterday, back on the trailer, for good. The picture below shows a ton of camp firewood freshly cut from rock maples where I am expanding a pasture. The lack of snow  has allowed me to get much done that normally waits til spring. The Frozen ground allows great log hauling. 
Below are the pups on an interior trail which  having a bit of snow helps us see where the wild creatures are crossing and what they are eating. Incidentally, the deer will not be yarding up this year, and with the huge amount of mast and forage on the ground should hit spring in terrific shape! 
Here is Luna drinking from a stream hidden in her 'cone zone'. She is the pup that was nastily beaten down into the mud last spring by a protective doe, broken ribs, right eye damage etc. She does know how to find trouble!
Khalie on another interior trail standing amid thousands of hemlock cones. Every species of tree we have had a prodigious crop this year, and wildlife will benefit greatly.
Trees are tapped, a sure sign that spring is around the corner. Of course, it feels like March now..I like to think the past few months have gone like this: October, March, March, March, March, and next month it really WILL be March! 
Two Long Ridge admonishments for you all!
Now, hopefully off to some successful coyote hunting - SOMETHING has to change!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Zero-Sum Coyote Hunting at Long Ridge

Over the past month I have come to the conclusion that Long Ridge coyotes are either A. Real smart, B. Really well fed, or C. Scarce as hen's teeth. Maybe all three? I have been out three times, once with electronic, and twice with hand calls, and have called in not a single one. It is the first year I have taken an active interest in coyote hunting though, so I have lots to learn. I have never hunted them except passively while deer hunting excepting one hunt last year. Our huge fawn loss this past season got me fired up, and I've had a blast doing it, but, no results. Last Sunday two other hunters joined me. I decided to hunt our perimeter trails, and they decided to hunt up on the mountain. Our method is to set up, and call about every five minutes. If none appear within 20-30 minutes we move on to a new spot. Between the three of us we must have hunted a solid 7-800 acres, and none were seen. The mountain hunters returned to their first setup at the end of the day, and coyote tracks had materialized while they were gone. Perhaps we are moving on too soon? 

Behind the raccoon you will see the remains (feathers) of a chicken. This poor bird died in the coop, probably egg bound, and I placed it out in the forest over a week ago as an offering. I placed a game camera fifteen feet away and was lucky to get the following pictures. 
 I appears that the raccoon found the chicken first and would not let the gray fox near.
 Raccoon sated and leaves, gray gets to nibble on the skeleton on the right.
 Not too happy with the camera going off every thirty seconds...
 Finally after those bones...
                                Thirty five minutes later, no bones left except the one he is chewing...

 Same fox an hour later?

 Day late and a dollar short, here is a red fox...

 Absolutely cannot believe it's gone...
 Six days late and completely broke, wily coyote comes on the scene...
 Where WAS I all week he's wondering...
 Hopeful, but hungry...

 Still carrying the Colt - just so comfortable... I DO want to hunt with my 11-87 though, since I saw a guy on a Primos DVD take a coyote at 68 yards with one. It dropped like a stone.
 The electronic caller below crapped out just as we were leaving, so we all used hand calls...
 Looking South from LRDC you can see the eleven AM sun still below the pines. In a month or so it will begin peeping and crossing just above them so we'll get some heat! 
So! We need the secret to hunting coyotes in heavily forested areas! What are YOUR secrets!
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