Thursday, December 24, 2009

Three Cheers for You!

May You and Yours enjoy the inner tranquility of a grand Christmas and a flourishing New Year.

Merry Christmas from Wrangell, Alaska.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Preparation For Elk Hunting

Prepare or Fail

Larry had a tough morning. His Browning BAR froze shut and we needed to "kick start it," like a jammed M-60 machine gun. Put the butt on the ground and use the side of your boot to jump on the charging handle. Larry persevered. The red spot on the bull's left shoulder shows correct shot placement, even in adversity.

Stats for this blog show that interest in elk hunting peaked during the last two weeks in November and have now fallen back to where they were in September/October. It’s possible that folks are returning to work, or focusing on family and the holidays, but now is the only time to address next year’s elk hunt.

Now that rifles have been serviced, clothing has been put away and gear has been stored it is time to assess what worked in 2009, what didn’t work in 2009 (and prior years) and what things need to be done to correct those deficiencies.

Elk hunting is an individual sport.

If it were a competitive sport, the competitive elk hunter would attack next year’s hunt, TODAY.

It may seem unrelated, but the University of Montana Grizzlies lost their championship game to Villanova’s Wildcats last weekend. UM and Villanova are in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

The closest NFL teams to Montana are Green Bay, Vikings, Broncos or Seahawks; all of which are at least a day’s drive from the Big Sky. So, when the Griz get to the playoffs nearly everyone in the state becomes a fan--even a so-so football fan like myself.

Watching “your team” put out max effort, only to lose on ESPN isn’t much different from watching bull elk walk away from hunters that had given everything they had. A toe-kick in the dirt. Maybe a little frog in your throat. Maybe more.

If the Griz assess this game the way elk hunters should assess their game, they would find the weakness was in rushing the ball. It was apparent during the game and even more so in the statistics.

The Griz had one rusher, Reynolds, who carried 15 times for 64 yards, or 4.3 yards per carry.

The Wildcats had five rushers that carried 51 times for 351 yards, or 6.9 yards per carry.

The weaknesses of Montana Football are that it is a team sport, and Bobby Hauck, the Grizzly's coach has been picked up by UNLV.

The team will need a new coach to assess this years deficiencies and plan for next season.

Since Elk Hunting is an individual sport:

Today is the time for an elk hunter to attack next year’s hunt.

Here is a list of things you may want to consider:
  • 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?
In previous posts, I have related that 95% of my hunters had a chance at a bull during their hunts. A chance is a 5x5 or larger bull within 200 yards, and with plenty of time to aim and fire a safe, effective shot. Only about 60% of the hunters took those bulls home. In nearly all cases, the deficiencies related to operation, control and shooting of firearms.

Since shooting of firearms is essential to a rifle hunt and elk hunting is an individual sport, shooting is the one thing that you can attack. Practice shooting is more important than any other item on the list. Even if you have a poor hunting area, bad outfitter, unqualified guides and too much or too little gear, YOU can improve your elk hunting success by attacking and shooting today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.

That final question, “Do I want to do better next year?” may seem a bit inane, but if you want to do better next year--attack today. If you’re not sure, eh, don’t worry about it, and don’t worry about it next October either.

Montana Football Season is over, prepare now!

Montana Elk Season is over, PREPARE NOW!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

270 Winchester for Elk Hunting

The first draft of this post was written over six months ago. Since then, more than seven drafts have been written.

When each draft was finished, I asked myself, “Why is this more important to say than what has already been said of the .270 Winchester? Why weren’t Jack O’Connor’s words enough?”

For those too young to know of Jack O’Connor’s writing, he was a proponent of the .270 Winchester. His glowing words on that rifle caliber became either gospel or blasphemy to the shooting public.

Those who were rifleman, and knew what the .270 was capable of--in their personal experience--reveled in his words.

Those who needed more Viagra in their shootin’ irons ridiculed his opinion and denigrated a modern rifle caliber that has has only been eclipsed by its parent case, the 30-06 Springfield.

So, why did this draft make it and the others didn’t?

Yesterday, I looked over the stats for this blog and found someone had Googled, “do elk guides allow .270?”

As a wilderness guide and outfitter I have to answer that no, this guide does not allow the .270.

As a guide and outfitter I strongly recommend the .270 Winchester for the following reason:

  • Low recoil
  • High velocity
  • Something Unknown
  • My experience

Low Recoil

Loads of magazine articles, reloading manuals and barroom banter state that the 30-06 Springfield is the most rifle that the average person can handle. In a light mountain-type rifle, the ’06 is probably more rifle than most people can handle.

Recoil is more debilitating to good shooting than most realize. In the words of many-time National Highpower Champion, G. David Tubb, “If I could make a rifle that didn’t kick, my scores would go up.” Those aren’t the words of someone who shoots one or two boxes of shells each year. A highpower shooter fires a box of shells at each yard line each the day of a match and several boxes per yard line each day of practice.

One of the most telling indicators of how the ’06’s recoil affects shooters, is the results from tests conducted by the Army when it was considering the M1 Garand. Those tests compared shooting done with the M1 and the M1903A3--a bolt gun. Shooters firing the M1 shot higher scores than their 03A3 counterparts. Some of it was attributed to the fatigue from working the bolt on the 03, but the reports also said that the semi-auto action lessened recoil both in force and duration.

That’s lots of talk about a 30-06 on a post about a 270.

Shoot the lower recoiling 270 and watch the notches on your elk gun mulitply.

Or, shoot a kicking mule and hoist one at the joint while you talk about the one that got away.

High Velocity

When the 270 was first dressed in Winchester’s Model 54 in 1925 it didn’t set the shooting world on fire. The government sold warehouses full of 1903, Enfields, 30-40 Krag rifles and mountains of surplus 30-06 and 30-40 ammunition. Why buy a new, untried cartridge when there were plenty of cheap rifles and fodder for sale? Velocity. Armies around the world had seen what velocity did when they changed to smaller caliber, higher velocity rounds around the turn of the century (1900).

One thing the new 270 did offer was high velocity. The basic hunting load, then and now, was 130 grain spitzer-type bullet at 3100 feet per second.

Today, that speed doesn’t set the world on fire. Times change.

Although, if you are toying between the 270 Winchester and a 270 Weatherby, or possibly a 7mm Remington Magnum, consider this: the 270 Weatherby firing the same bullet is only going 3300 fps, and the 7mm Remington firing a 140 grain bullet is only going 3100 fps. For a 200 fps gain in velocity for the Weatherby or a 10 grain gain in bullet weight for the 7mm you get more “BANG,” more recoil, a heavier rifle and probably a flinch.

A 130-grain 270 at 3100 fps has the the minimum energy to take an elk out beyond 400 yards, adequate energy beyond 200 yards, and recommended to 150 yards. For comparison, the 140 grain bullet from a 7mm Remington Magnum is 450 yards, 250 yards, and 150 yards, respectively.

Something Unknown

The last rifle cartridge that the Army tested on live animals before being adopted was the 45-70. Second hand sources suggest that the 45-70 was able to knock a horse off its feet. Since then landfills have been filled with data on sectional density, mushrooming ability, ballistic coefficients, muzzle and down range energy, kill power and wound formation, and even tests on wet phone books and milk jugs.

None of the data hit a bullseye on what “it” takes to kill an animal--in this case an elk.

Today’s data is a forest of pulp. In 1866, data was a dead horse, on its side, with a bowling ball hole through its side.

My data comes from similar experiences.

My Experience

If you have read this blog before, you know that I have killed about equal numbers of elk with a 270 and an ’06, with a slight edge going to the 270. (Also, 300 Win, 308, 7mm Remington, 45-70)

If I were to buy a new rifle for Montana, it would be a 270.

The recoil is more friendly than the others. I can shoot a box or two a day without flinching.

The 270’s velocity and “something unknown” seems to kill elk better and faster than any shot with a 30-06. The longest shot I have taken at an elk was with a 270. At a little over 550 yards, that bull elk dropped in two feet of snow so fast that I couldn’t find him in the scope, and wondered if I had missed him. To see the bullet from that bull, go here.

As far as bullets go, I like 130 grain bullets. My first choice is Silvertips, Bronze Points and CoreLokts, not necessarily in that order. Many believe the 150 grain is better for elk. Eh. Some will tout the newer (read more expensive) engineered bullets. Eh, again.

Me with my second 270. A Mauser FN action, Douglas barrel and a Weaver V-8 scope.

Do elk guides allow the 270? NO, but if I could I would require it.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Alaskan Adventures Blog

Southeast Alaska

I have officially started my Alaskan Adventures Blog.

This post is just a few photos to get things started.

View of mainland from Petroglyphs Beach, Wrangell island.

Hope you enjoy the pics.