Dec 21, 2012

Lotta words out there right now. Some good, some bad. Some reasoned, some not. From both sides of the fence.

Right now, though, I need to do some soul-searching. Figure out what's really important.

Not pulling what's here, but I think I'm going to stop posting for a bit. I might be back. Might not. Dunno.

See that man in the top right corner?



New battery...

Left for work this morning with a temp in the upper 20s. The truck grunted a few times before starting.

The forecast for next week isn't great; overnight lows in the single digits within ten days. Not good for batteries, especially weak ones.

Stopped at the parts store on my way home and had them stick in a new one. When considering that the battery taken out was the OEM - no newer than March 2007 - I think I got a respectable service life out of it.

Dec 20, 2012

From the back side of the counter...

Interesting piece up on Reddit in /r/guns today. Worth the read, even though the guy is a bit of a dick.

5 days before Christmas and I've got a 99 problems, and accessibility to product is pretty much all of them.

Dec 16, 2012


I've been eagerly awaiting the PaleHorse lower that's coming from York Arms. In conversation with Wally on other topics, he mentioned that he'd cut the lower recently, and was pleased with the results... and then sent me a picture.

In deference to his desire to avoid in-progress pictures, I'm not going to post the whole thing... but a small portion should be just fine.

The cuts are still full of mill coolant; hence the white-on-silver appearance.

I'm VERY excited to get this rifle built. :-)

Dec 12, 2012

Hunting, Killing, and You

Let me say this right now: I have no problem with hunters. I just don't like the idea of killing an innocent animal, so I personally will not do this. I realize this makes me a gigantic wuss and that I am neglecting important survival skills, but that's my problem and not yours. 
 --Erin Palette, "Hangin' with Oleg, part 3"

Erin posted that last night, as the second paragraph of a long post on her hunting trip with Oleg. I've been struggling with how best to answer it, as someone who's pretty passionate about hunting.

My first reaction is that this is a statement not many are willing to make. It's a very honest self-appraisal. It's not a criticism of hunters, or hunting as a sport or means of providing. I don't see someone who says, "No, I can't kill an animal," as a wuss, weakling, or vegetarian.

Most of us are brought up in a culture that insulates us from death. Death is something that happens in hospitals. Clean, sterile, quiet. Here; gone. Meat and death aren't related. Intellectually, we all know that the bacon cheeseburger (with extra bacon) that we're eating used to be a cow and a pig... but the process from barn to plate is often a pretty large grey area.

Hunting falls in that grey area. Looking through your sights at a living animal and pulling the trigger isn't easy. Some people don't want to do it - and that's fine. (Until they tell me that I shouldn't either; that's an entirely separate argument.) My parents aren't hunters - but they seem to enjoy hearing about my hunts. I don't Disney-fy my time in the woods for them, but I also don't give the same detail I might to a fellow hunter.

Parents version: It was a nice afternoon, occasional snow, etc, chipmunks, squirrels, deer came by, took a shot, hit her, she ran a ways, tracked her, nice size doe. (Fill in with adjectives and further descriptors of your choosing.)
Hunter version: It was a nice afternoon. Few flakes, not much breeze. Fucking chipmunks and squirrels were all OVER the place and I was tempted to just blast a few of them, but a spike and a couple doe came out of the brush right at sunset. I picked the biggest doe and waited for her to turn, took the shot... she hunched up right around it and started running, so I watched... she ran down that little swale to the east, and I lost sight of her in the thick shit at the end. Waited 15 or 20, then climbed down and started tracking. Good blood trail right away, nice pink frothy blood, followed it into that thick stuff and there she was. She was still breathing a little so I put one more in to finish her, then dressed her out and dragged her in...

Non-hunters don't care about the kind of blood trail I found, or how she reacted to the shot, or the fact that I made a finishing shot. Not sharing that information is done out of respect - but if someone asks, I'll happily explain it in detail.

So no, you aren't a wuss... and choose not to be a hunter. That's OK.

(My opinions of this semi-canned hunt are fodder for another post; stay tuned.)

Dec 10, 2012

Dec 5, 2012

Deal Alert: Lower kit

Palmetto State Armory is running a holiday special on a lower build kit. Stock, buffer, tube, and standard LPK for $79.

If you've got a lower waiting to be built, that's a great deal.

Late raffle entry

I somehow forgot to link this previously, and that's my bad.

Heath is raffling off a absolutely fucking GORGEOUS Savage 24, in .22Mag over 20ga.

Know how they say they don't make 'em like that anymore? Well, they don't. For a kick-ass upland game gun, that'd be tough to beat. 20ga will take quail, grouse, and pheasant with ease, and turkey if you're good. .22Mag will handily dispatch rabbits, fox, and coyotes.

Beyond that, LOOK at that gun! Beautiful figure in the forearm, amazing bluing...

It's $25 to get in. You'd be a fool not to.

Dec 4, 2012

still fishing...

Working on finishing up a few guns - need some new glass, new bipod, a few AR parts, so the ones mentioned before are still available, and I'm adding my Contender pistol to the mix. It's a Gen-1, blued frame, Pachmayr grips, and a "Super 14" in .30-30Win, with a Tasco 2x pistol scope. The scope's nothing to write home about, but it works and holds zero just fine. The frame has a small scuff on the left side where the fore end rubbed it, but is otherwise clean. Barrel is immaculate. Looking for $500 shipped, offers considered. (Values are ALL over the board on these, but $450ish without a scope seems to be average. Adding a scope and shipping...)

AR stuff I'm specifically looking for is a 12" handguard - either an Rainier or Samson Evolution, or a Troy Alpha - and a MAGS EFX stock kit.

Optics that'll grab me are decent quality 10x, and decent 3-9x.

Dec 3, 2012

Muzzleloader followup

I mentioned in my hunting trip notes that I needed a side hammer spur for the Omega.

Turns out that won't work. As I started looking, it was pointed out that the action design - essentially a falling-block setup - won't open if the hammer is widened.

Next thought: a scope that sits forward enough to clear the hammer entirely. I may look into another Nikon P223 3x32, actually.

Dec 2, 2012

2012 Hunt Report

Alright, now that I've had some sleep, a couple hot showers, and so forth, I can write something resembling a coherent report.

We drove out Wednesday morning, stopped for brunch on the way, and got to the farm in the early afternoon. It was snowing a bit, and we picked spots that seemed likely.

Neither of us saw anything.

We trudged our way back to our trucks only to get into a minor disagreement with the neighbor; apparently we'd parked on the wrong side of a fenceline and the trucks were on his property; he made not-very-thinly-veiled accusations that we were hunting without permission, had no right to be on the land, etc. Telling him I married the owner's daughter shut down that line real fast.

Don't misunderstand - we were on the wrong side of the fence - but he came out spoiling for a fight instead of just saying, "Hey, guys, just so you know, the fence is the line and for various reasons I really prefer you not park on my land in the future." We were unfailing polite, introduced ourselves, shook hands, etc, which made it a little hard for him to stay too mad, but ... sheesh. Common courtesy goes a long way.

We headed to our rented cabin, got there around 5:30 after missing a turn. It was a relatively snug little cabin but really needed some minor attention and upkeep - no deal-breakers but a lot of no-repeat-stay things. Grocery run for a few missing items, dinner of chili and tortillas, and early bedtime. Neither of us slept real well, but the alarm went off at 5:30 and up we got. The forecast was decent; partly sunny and 30s with moderate wind.

We drove to the farm, getting there right at sunrise - a hair later than intended, but so be it. I picked a spot that called to me, and my hunting partner decided he was going to still-hunt around the south end of the property (a 2-plus mile hike). I set my stool up under a likely tree with a good view of the travel paths we'd scouted, and waited. And waited. And waited.

I sipped my water, shifted my legs a little to keep them from falling asleep, and so forth. Mid-morning I leaned my gun (T/C Omega .50) against the tree behind me and started doing shoulder rolls to try to work the kinks out. I stretched left, right, left, ri- SHITTHERE'SADEERTHERE. Three does had walked up on me from my 5 o'clock and were crossing my 3, less than ten yards away and completely silent.

I grabbed the rifle as quickly as I could without being sudden, brought it down - and they were behind some brush, 20-30 yards away, and moving around to 12. There was a little swale in the land I hadn't seen, and I couldn't get a clear shot, so I slowly stood up and shouldered the gun. I picked a likely candidate, and tried to thumb back the hammer... and found my glove was keeping me from getting my thumb between the scope and hammer (note to self: buy a hammer spur). I silently cursed, fumbled the glove off and dropped it - startling all three deer.

None ran, but they were all looking my direction. I looked elsewhere. (Never make eye contact with prey; they somehow pick up on it and unass the area FAST.) When heads turned back away, I re-shouldered the gun, cocked the hammer, and picked the one that wasn't blocked by trees - a medium-sized doe at about 50 yards. She was standing still, quarter-towards me, so I waited. She turned, I squeezed the trigger...

The rifle went bang, the deer startled and ran about three steps, then stopped and looked around. I started reloading, she walked off. Walked. I watched all three as they moved through the edge of the woods and into the adjacent field as I finished reloading. I crept out to the field edge and tried for another shot, but couldn't get a clear line as they worked away from me... so I went back and sat down.

After 20 minutes or so I walked down to where she'd been standing to check for any sign. Nothing. AGAIN. I swore. A lot. I debated the merits of selling guns and buying a side of beef. When hunting partner had hunted around to me, I checked the zero on my gun with a convenient tree. Off-hand, standing, at 50 yards, I put a bullet an inch from where I was aiming. So it wasn't the gun.

What happened? Two Three possibilities:
- I cleaned the gun thoroughly after my last range trip to check zero. I snapped a few primers to re-foul the barrel but it may not have been enough.
- Whatever oil and water was left in the barrel from cleaning dampened the powder just enough to really screw up my ballistics.
- I missed. Flubbed. Jerked the trigger. Flinched. Who knows?

What was it? Probably some combination of all three. On the plus side, it was (yet again) a clean miss.

We went and had lunch, re-set for the afternoon, and saw nothing.

Dinner in cabin, played some cards and shot the shit and fantasized about all the deer we hadn't seen that day, and crashed hard.

Friday morning's forecast wasn't quite as pretty, nor were we moving real fast, but we got up, and got to the farm, and formed a vague plan. I went to a spot near where I'd been the day before, in hopes of seeing the same three does. Hunting partner planned to start at the south end and work north through the creekbed towards me.

He texted me about a half hour later, to the effect of, "Screw this, I'm working your way now and then we'll see." He made his way to my spot around 9, and then went to sit on the other side of the knoll I was on. Around 10:30 we were both cold and tired and headed in.

Back to the cabin for lunch, some cards, a beer, and then back to the farm around 3 to sit until dark. We were both tired - I missed a turn and we were both just moving slow. It started to snow as we got there, and the snow picked up in intensity as the afternoon wore through. I was sitting in a different spot in a one-man chair blind, which kept the worst of the snow off me. When I flipped the blind open at dusk, there was better than an inch of fresh snow down and more coming.

Hunting partner headed home; he'd had enough for the week and was cold, frustrated, and missing his family. I completely understood the sentiment. I'd been kicking around the idea of heading home that night as well; we had the cabin for one more night but sitting in a quiet cabin with only my thoughts for company - after spending the previous two days in the woods with only my thoughts for company - didn't sound so appealing.

Fortunately, MrsZ decided to come out for the night; we had the cabin to ourselves, had some dinner at a local diner, played some cards, and slept as well as can be expected on an air mattress.

Saturday morning MrsZ and I went back out to the farm; she to visit cows and me to keep her company. We saw a few deer mid-morning, several hundred yards off and moving fast. Lots of deer tracks across the fields; fresh overnight. And LOTS of coyote tracks.

So, the trip was a bust for hunting, but it was still a mostly-decent trip. I talked to my in-laws briefly and have permission to build a small cabin on the property, exact location TBD, for hunting purposes. Hunting Partner has expressed interest in this as well; it'll save us a lot of driving and time in future years, not to mention making one-night trips a much easier proposition. Stay tuned for how that develops...

Dec 1, 2012

Home again...

Back from the hunting trip. Skunked again.

This is beginning to get really ... really ... REALLY frustrating.