May You and Yours enjoy the inner tranquility of a grand Christmas and a flourishing New Year.Merry Christmas from Wrangell, Alaska.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
- Was I in a good hunting area?
- Was I in good enough shape to hunt elk?
- Did I hit the boiler factory with one round at 200 yards? (Can I today?)
- Did I book with a good outfitter?
- Did my good outfitter have qualified guides?
- Did I take too much gear?
- Did I take too little gear? (most hunters take TOO MUCH!)
- Do I want to do better next year?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
- Low recoil
- High velocity
- Something Unknown
- My experience
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Ever since Descartes said, “Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am.)”, people have focused on what makes our physical world exist—essentially, how do we know that what is outside of our minds is actually out there?
A common metaphor is: “How do we know (really) that our brains are not sitting in a vat of saline and our sensations are caused by electrical impulses delivered by another being or machine?”
It doesn’t really matter. What ever I experience is true to me. Even if an electrode falsely gives the information, it is real.
Experience is the only thing that each of us understands. It is more important than any data or figures that can be given, because it has affected each of our senses.
People reading Descartes skip an important point he makes in Discourse on the Method for Conducting One’s Reason Well and for Seeking the Truth in the Sciences (1637).
Descartes believed in experience, so much so that he wrote:
That is why, as soon as age permitted me to emerge from the supervision of my teachers, I completely abandoned the study of letters. And resolving to search for no knowledge other than what could be found within myself, or else in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth traveling, seeing courts and armies, mingling with people of diverse temperaments and circumstances, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the encounters that fortune offered me, and everywhere engaging in such reflection upon the things that presented themselves that I was able to derive some profit from them. For it seemed to me that I could find much more truth in the reasonings that each person makes concerning matters that are important to him, and whose outcome ought to cost him dearly later on if he has judged badly, than in those reasonings engaged in by a man of letters of study, which touch on speculations that produce no effect and are of no other consequence to him except perhaps that, the more they are removed from common sense, the more pride he will take in them, for he will have to employ that much more wit and ingenuity in attempting to render them plausible. And I have always had an especially great desire to learn to distinguish the true from the false, in order to see my way clearly in my actions, and to go forward with confidence in this life.
Obviously, since I didn’t live in 1637, I am no Descartes, and will never be one, but in my years of reading, that paragraph speaks more to me than the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.
We will leave Descartes for a moment.
I am a rather anal person. My wife would say that I am a very anal person. Most everything I have done has been planned. Before the hunters rolled out of their sleeping bags, the crew had horses saddled, the cook had breakfast going, and the guides planned the day’s hunt.
Until another experience comes along, I will sit here on the Howard Air Force Base runway waiting for another C-130 to take me somewhere. The last one went to Puerto Rico in 1977. That was real. Even if it were administered by electrodes in a vat, it was real. Much more real than someone experiencing another's experiences.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
If I wanted maximum hits from Google’s search engine, I should have named this post, “Best 800-yard Elk Gun,” but that would be a lie. This is actually my latest rant against the phalanx of Neanderthals that believe 800-yard elk shootin’ is something to write home to Mom about. I know what she would say. “If Johnny jumped off a bridge would you?” (An earlier rant can be found here.)
In the case of an 800-yard elk gun many have thought they had jumped with Johnny, but few know where the water is or if they have the ability to hit it.
Let’s do some Math. Ya' know, some old school ‘rithmetic and learning and addin’ and dividin’ and such.
This is like one a them ole’ story problems from 3rd grade.
“Johnny? You have an elk at 100 yards. What is the top to bottom dimension of an elk’s chest cavity?”
“Well, it’s got ta be about 24 inches.”
“That is right, Johnny. If we change that figure into minutes-of-angle, it becomes close to 24 minutes-of-angle. Class, ya all know that a minute-of-angle is actually 1.047 inches, but for ease of use we will round it to 1 inch,” said the teacher.
“Now Johnny, how well can your uncle hold his rifle at 100 yards, in a hunting’ situation—not offin' his bench?” asked the teacher.
Johnny replies, “On a good day, he can hold about 2 inches, ya know within him holdin’ his smoke pole in his hands.”
“Right. So, the entire top-to-bottom height of an elk is about 24 minutes-of-angle, and your uncle, who shoots better than most in the hollow, can hit a two-inch target at 100 yards. With that in mind, it seems simple for your uncle to hit an elk at 100 yards. Keep in mind class, that the kill zone is much smaller than the 24 minutes of angle,” the teacher said.
The teacher smoothed her hair and said, “OK, Sally. If the elk is 200 yards away, can Johnny’s uncle still hit it?”
“Umm, well, the elk is now 12 minutes-of-angle, and Johnny’s uncle’s best group is now about 4 inches. As long as Johnny’s uncle hits the center third of the 12 minutes-of-angle, he will hit the elk,” Sally said.
“That’s correct. Mark, if the elk is 400 yards away, can Johnny’s uncle still hit it?”
“I don’t think so,” said Mark.
Mark wrinkled his face and said, “Well, at 400 yards the elk is only 6 minutes-of-angle and Johnny’s uncle’s best groupin’ has opened up to 8 inches. He might hit it, but then he might not.”
“That’s right, Mark. The entire top-to-bottom dimensions of an elk are less than the best group Johnny’s uncle can shoot. Since the kill area of an elk is only about 1/3 as large as the entire top-to-bottom dimensions of an elk, Johnny’s uncle must shoot his 8 inch group into a target that is 2 minutes-of-angle,” added the teacher.
“If we take this exercise to 800 yards, the results are even less positive for Johnny’s uncle. The elk has shrunk to 3 minutes-of-angle and the uncle’s best group is now over 16 inches. Actually the kill zone on the elk has diminished to about one minute-of-angle.”
This is one of the few third grade story problems that has made sense to me, but in more than 35 years of huntin’, guidin’ and outfittin’ I’ve only taken one hunter who I had confidence in to shoot at an elk 800 yards away. That was gunsmith, highpower shooter and silhouette shooter Albert Turner. On the one occasion we had a long-range chance, we both decided to get closer. The bull was smarter than we were and left before we crossed the coulee.
The question isn’t what is a good long-range rifle; it’s who is a good long-range rifleman?
“Can YA’ shoot that thar thing?” (Emphasis on YOU!)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Mark Target 34!
Bill turns to Fred and says, “I didn’t hear anything.”
“Me neither, lets pull it,” replies Fred.
Bill and Fred dutifully perform a thorough search of the 1000-yard target, they find no bullet hole, place the scoring disc in the top center of the target and run it back in the air.
Several minutes pass.
Mark Target 34!
“This guy can’t get on paper,” says Fred.
Another search, no hole, the miss disc is displayed and up goes the target.
“Mark Target 34!” is repeated from five to 20 times.
Finally, Fred says, “I felt something. Pull the target.”
This hole is easy to find. The bullet has gone through sideways, leaving a bullet silhouette in the paper.
Target pullers from nearby come and remark, “Guy must be shooting a .308.”
Others reply, “Yeah, looks that way.”
If you haven’t pulled targets on a 1000-yard range you may ask, “How would someone know the cartwheeling bullets came from a .308?”
Well, for nearly the same reason that the .308 makes a piss-poor elk rifle—it’s running out of gas. Read your history of the development of the .308—it’s the economy model—essentially, you get more for less (yeah, I bought some of that crap.)
You won’t be shooting an elk at 1000-yards, but the empty tank of gas runs out faster when the bullet must perform on hide, hair, meat and bone than when it must punch a hole through parchment.
1000-yard line at Fort Lewis, Washington, 1996. Shooting a Model 70 in .22 BR Remington.
Target pullers use two methods of knowing when a bullet has passed through their target: vibration and sound. Many pullers put their hand on the target frame—below the berm—and feel vibrations of the bullet cutting paper. Others listen. Highpower bullets remain supersonic—unless they tumble—and a “CRACK” can be heard as it passes overhead. Many pullers use both methods.
If you pull targets, you won’t have to wait long before you experience Bill and Fred’s lack of “CRACK” and lack of vibration, but you won’t run into the problem if your shooter is shooting a 30-06. It just doesn’t happen.
Some who hear me say, “The .308 Winchester is a piss-poor elk rifle,” will roll their eyes and say I’m deluded. I can only speak from elk hunting experience, elk guiding experience, elk outfitting experience and highpower competition experience. In the spirit of a recent vice-presidential debate, “I knew a 30-06, and the .308 isn’t one.”
Finally, I’ve never heard anyone shooting a 30-06 on a 1000-yard line ask, “Is there some way I can load my cartridges to cartwheel like Billy Bob’s .308s do?”
Go for the gas. Shoot a full-power cartridge, 270, 280, 30-06 or bigger for full-power game.
Leave the economy model for the weak game.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Not Quite An Elk Rifle
In previous posts you may have read that the 7mm Remington Magnum and the .300 Weatherby Magnum have caused more wounded elk than any other cartridges I know. Number three and four are the .308 Winchester and the 7-08 Remington. Since very few hunters take .308s or 7-08s and many take 7mm Remington Magnums and .300 Weatherbys on elk hunts, percentage wise the order would be reversed.
The .308, 7mm-08 and .243 are based on the same case, the 7.62 NATO. On paper the 7.62 nearly approximates the cartridge it was designed to replace—the 30-06 Springfield, but experience shows it to be a distant second. The .308 and 7-08 are marginal elk cartridges. The .243 is NOT an elk cartridge. Granted they will all kill an elk, but the margin of overkill is low. For more information on what it takes to kill an elk read Bullet Energy Variable.
On perfect shots all three of these will kill an elk, but they do not have the power to smash through heavy bone and portions of muscle when taking the “raking shots” Elmer Keith describes.
If a person wants an elk cartridge with the length dimensions of the .308-class of cartridges, but with the power of the 30-06-class of cartridges, use either the .284 Winchester or a 30-284. Case capacity is that of the 30-06. In fact, in most situations 30-06 loading data can be used for the 30-284. Check YOUR loading data—don’t rely on my post, please.
7mm-08 Remington, 30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum (l to r)
.308 Winchester for Elk
Using Ackley’s figures (also found here) the .308 loaded with a 180-grain spitzer boattail bullet at 2600 feet per second has the minimum amount of energy to kill an elk out to 600 yards, adequate out to 400, and preferred out to 50 yards. With a 165-grain SBT at 2700 fps those figures work to 600 yards, 350 yards and 100 yards, respectively. .308, The Highpower Isuzu
7mm-08 Remington for Elk
The 7-08 loaded with a 175-grain SBT at 2600 fps has the minimum energy for elk out to 450 yards, adequate to 200 yards, and preferred at the muzzle.
It’s important to remember what the main use of the 7—08 is—rifle silhouette competition. Not that many years ago, the .308 was the standard silhouette cartridge. Shooters found that the 7-08 was as accurate as the .308, had enough energy to topple the rams at 500 meters, but had less recoil, which caused scores to climb. Silhouette is all shot offhand. Any rifle that kicks less—and gets the job done—will win matches. 7-08, Elk Rifle Wannabe
.243 Winchester for Elk
The .243 loaded with 100-grain SBT at 2900 fps has the minimum energy to kill an elk out to 150 yards.
When David Tubb switched from the 7-08 to the .243 for silhouette competition, his scores went up, and many others followed his lead. Rifles with a faster twist than found on factory rifles can shoot heavier bullet. Although the .243 will not always topple rams at 500 meters, the loss there is made up by fewer jerks, flinches and missed shots caused by heavier recoiling cartridges.
The .243 is a good deer rifle. It is also available on most varmint versions of factory rifles. You won't find many 30-06 or 300 Magnums in varmint models.
In the late 1800s Rainbow Dam was built on part of the Great Falls of the Missouri referred to by explorers Lewis and Clark. The original dam was a wooden crib filled with gravel from a nearby hillside. Men (mostly Chinese) filled the crib by wheelbarrow. The job was completed with much time and sweat. Today the job would be done with front-end loaders, scrapers and concrete.
If you go elk hunting, use the rifleman’s version of the front-end loader, scraper and concrete—an elk rifle, not something designed to replace The Elk Hunter's Rifle.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The actual date, 4 July, has passed, but the thoughts associated with it have remained for years. Those great men who made a change in the world will be remembered. I never knew them, but I have known some great men who kept the change, but will only be remembered by me, and a few others.
4th of July weekend was not a time of writing. It was a time to be outdoors and enjoying the fellowship of newer people.
On 3 July, I received the following message from one of those people.
Want to thank you. The other day my mind was wandering around and settled upon your military experience with the sloth in Central America. That thought about your experience helped me along that day.
A worldwide sir you are--and I at least have benefited immensely from your past and present experiences!
With high regards, thanks and Happy Fourth.
Quentin is Quentin Kujala, long-time friend and also a wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Quentin is one of those friends that is always positive and usually gives people a positive “push” with his words. On this occasion, his words brought back memories of those great men who have been lost though my day-to-day activities: Mullen, Gordon, Padilla, Cordova. All were members of Company A (Airborne), Third Battalion, Fifth Infantry, Fort Kobbe, Canal Zone, the only paratroop outfit in the Canal Zone, at the time.
Mullen had lived in Tehran, Iran where his dad was some sort of spook working for the Shah. Gordon was the son of Richard F. Gordon, Jr., an Apollo astronaut. Padilla was a man of Hispanic descent who lived, and lives in Denver. He was also the Best Man at my wedding. Cordova was also Hispanic, and lived in Longmont, Colorado. The four of us spent two years together in Panama. Mullen, Padilla, Cordova and I spent another hitch in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Cordova and I were the inseparable Army buddies lamented in 1940s and 1950s war movies.
Every few months in Panama, A 3/5 came up for guard duty. One of the locations guarded was Rodman Ammunition Storage Area—a naval base with Marine gate guards, but the Army provided roving patrols. Rodman was a series of single-lane, rotted asphalt roads weaving through the jungle. Every two, three or four hundred yards, on either side of the road, were bunkers.
Guard duty at Rodman consisted of four or five two-man teams walking the roads, physically checking each bunker. Each team carried one AN/PRC-77 radio, a clipboard, a flashlight, two M16s and 10 rounds of 5.56. We always hoped we never encountered more than 10 thieves on our rounds.
Teams were replaced every four to eight hours, by jeep. (This was a decade before the Humvee appeared.) The jeep and Sergeant-of-the-Guard made random checks on the teams.
Late one night, or early one morning—still dark—Cordova and I were making our rounds. Nearly shoulder-to-shoulder we saw a dark mound in the road ahead. Neither of us acknowledged anything. As we approached, we slowly moved apart, but our pace quickened until we were speed marching past the bump. About twenty-yards passed the object, we slowed, and without a word finally stopped, searched out each other’s eyes in the starlit jungle.
The conversation went like this.
“Did you see that?”
“What was it?”
“I don’t know. What was it?”
“We better check.”
The flashlight flicked on. Even though we had passed within two feet of the thing moments ago, we both flipped rifle-safeties off and approached the mass.
Sloths are one of the ugliest creatures on earth. Smashed-up faces, brown hair that grows the wrong way and containing enough algae and bacteria that they have a greenish-yellow camouflage, with Jurassic hooks for claws. They live in trees their entire lives, except for trips to the ground to defecate. (Information on sloths can be found at Wikipedia sloths and National Geographic two-toed sloths.)
Because they live in trees, they don’t motate very well on ground. This sloth couldn’t get any traction and had spun-out on the slick asphalt. Cordova and I were going to leave it, but we thought the jeep might fly around the corner and make road pizza. About the only thing more disgusting than a sloth is probably two-toed sloth road pizza. Anyway, we decided to move it off the road, but we didn’t want to touch it—it hissed and swung it arms and prehistoric hooks at us, and we had no implements.
Sloths only weigh about 20 pounds. We started pushing it across the road with our M16 muzzles. In the process, the sloth swung his claw and arm through the sling on Cordova’s rifle. It was hard to tell who the M16 belonged to. Cordova finally drug the sloth off the road, unhooked the sling at the butt, and we continued on our way.
Thirty years later we have all continued on our way. Mullen lives in Indiana and owns a restaurant. Gordon was a HALO instructor for Special Forces and now lives in Alabama. Padilla retired from a National Guard SF unit. Cordova was killed in Longmont, Colorado less than a year after his discharge.
Quentin’s 4th of July email brought back some important memories. Hopefully, you can find something of an Aesop’s fable or humor in this story.
Happy Independence Day To All.