Hunting again, and again, and again.

Hunting selfie 2014

Hunting selfie 2014

Last November I was lucky enough to be invited to go hunting with one of the people on my program. I was really excited as I haven’t had a chance to hunt deer since I got to the US, and my rifle looks sooo pretty now! What deer could refuse to lay down for it?

Complete rifle 3

Complete rifle 3

Don’t you think? Prettiest gun in the woods I guarantee! I digress…

Before I went hunting I spent some time at my loading bench, and at the range, testing various loads at different distances. I originally used 40gr of N-140 behind a 150gr soft point bullet (.308Win), but I decided that since white tail deer are a bit bigger than my previous quarry, and as I would be sitting in a tree stand (high seat) I wanted to maximise my effective range. So I made up some loads with charges increasing by 1gr of powder from 40gr – 44gr, and then went to the range.

All the loads shot sub-minute at 100yds with little differences between loads (although I would like to think the groups shrank a little with more powder). Unfortunately I forgot my plan and shot everything but some 40gr loads at 100yds and so I was unable to get actual comparaisons at 200yds. However I shot my last 40gr loads at 200yds and was surprised to see the bullet impact about 7 inches below point of aim, and that was after shooting 1 inch high at 100yds. So since the 44gr shot well at 100 I decided it was safe to make up a batch to go hunting with, and it definitely wouldn’t shoot 7 inches low at 200yds.

The Great White hunters, and the Lakeratz - November 2014

The Great White hunters, and the Lakeratz – November 2014

Here we all are, from left are Amber and Jason White, then myself and Amanda in front of Amber’s uncle’s cabin in northern Minnesota. This was on the first weekend of hunting.

I had no luck on the first weekend. The season opened on the Saturday morning, so we all woke before sunrise and walked to our stands. The property is about 20 acres and we were spread across it.  As the sun came up I started hearing gun shots all around me (most hunters try to get into the woods for the opening day) and then I heard one close by which I later learned was Jason filling his tag. A little while later I saw the backside of a deer as it ran away from me into the woods, but I was unable to determine sex in the brief glimpse I had and I certainly didn’t have time to point my rifle. At about 11am I gave up and headed back to the cabin for breakfast.

I went out again in mid afternoon until it was too dark to shoot but again saw nothing. I repeated this pattern the next day as well with no success. Also worthy of note is the fact that it was considerably below freezing the whole time and I was wrapped in blankets with two pairs of long johns under my trousers.

View from the stand

View from the stand

This is a photo from my stand. Below is a video I shot.

I returned the next weekend. The temperature got down below zero Fahrenheit that weekend, but luckily I took a sleeping bag with me that I climbed into in the stand. It was awkward, but I was warm. I saw a couple of deer that weekend, but they were a long way away and I again couldn’t determine sex or take a shot.

Then next weekend I returned again but this time I had bought myself some insulated hunting clothing to wear which kept me warm but didn’t limit my movements like the sleeping bag did.

New camouflage 2014 hunting season

New camouflage 2014 hunting season

The orange is my new parka, and the green is my new bib, which comes up to my chest.

I had no success the last weekend either.

In the end I am grateful for the opportunity to hunt, and I felt invigorated by spending so much time in the woods listening and watching. I never got to fire a shot so I will have to wait until November 2015 to find out if my rifle is too pretty for a deer to refuse its charms.

I didn’t go home empty handed though, Amber and Jason were generous enough to give me a leg of their deer which Amanda and I duly chopped up and froze. Below is a picture of some venison steaks we ate recently.

Venison Steaks

Venison Steaks

Until next year….

 

Rapid Fire Success

Last summer and a bit into Autumn I was attending NRA High Power practice shoots at MRC. If you recall on my first attempt at shooting rapid fire (10 shots in 70 seconds at 300yds prone) I got all my shots into the 10 ring. The second string was not quite so good. During one of the last practices I managed to do it again, but this time in both strings.

Second rapid fire string - Autumn 2014 practice

Second rapid fire string – Autumn 2014 practice – 300yd prone.

This picture is of my second string. Needless to say I was pretty pleased.

Now if I can just get the hang of the 200yd sitting and standing shooting I might be able to get somewhere in this discipline.

Happy New Year, and other updates.

Hi, Happy New Year!

I am sitting in my studio at the University of Minnesota contemplating the final semester of my Master of Fine Arts degree and realised that I am going to be pretty busy for the next few months and it will be pretty hard adding new posts. However I don’t like to get behind on these things. I like writing these posts, it is a bit of a diary for me and the longer I leave it the more my flimsy memory will hamper, so I am determined to write something even if it is short and could use more editing.

I was at home over Christmas and managed to visit with some old friend, including some of my pals from Bearsden rifle club. It was great to catch up even if it was so brief. Amanda and I got back to Minneapolis on December 31st but fell asleep at 9:30pm and missed the celebrations. I was home for two nights then flew off to Indianapolis to attend the opening of an exhibition I am in. I had a fun time, but was still suffering from jet lag and so was pleased to get home again.

There has been a winter league running every two weeks at the Minneapolis Rifle Club that I have wanted to attend, but I have been so busy that I haven’t as much as touched a gun since October. However in the last few days my shooting brain has woken and I have started to make plans to attend a shoot, but not the next one, maybe the one after, or the one after that….

Anyway, my plans involve loading 200rds of match .223 with 80gr bullets. I have a bunch loaded with 77gr but they are loaded to an OAL (overall length) that allows feeding from a magasine, and so there is quite a jump. The 80 gr bullets are much longer than the 77gr (despite the small weight increase) and have a better ballistic coefficient. They will be seated about 20 thou off the rifling which will make them too long to load into a magasine, but they are better for slow fire competition. I have primed the cases and am getting things set up when I have time. I hope to have the loading done over the next couple of weeks. Loading isn’t shooting, but it is a part of the whole experience for me and so I don’t feel quite so deprived if I am at least doing that.

I will follow up soon with updates on other stuff.

Thanks for reading.