From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Chain Ranch New Year

Back at the Chain Ranch

Wanting to be way out of town when the inibriated city dwelling revellers practiced their New Years Tradition of carelessy, recklessly, dangerously and randomly discharging firearms, the wife (PJ) and I booked a hunt and arranged to meet my brother at the Chain ranch in Oklahoma for the Holiday weekend.

Livingroom area of the Main Lodge

We arrived on Thursday the 29th and were able to start hunting that afternoon. Jim and I have been there before, but it was the PJ's first trip to the Chain. When we were there last March Jim failed to find the Hog he wanted to shoot so in his words; "I have got to redeem myself this time".

We spent 3 days there this time and could not have asked for a better time.

After spending Thursday afternoon, Friday morning and afternoon hunting, we were getting a bit dissappointed that we weren't seeing the kind of hogs we knew populated the Ranch. We were seeing lots of hogs just not any that we felt were big enough to shoot. That is the way it goes though; If we got something evertime we went out to the field it would be called "gathering" instead of hunting.

A few of the smaller pigs that inhabit the Chain Ranch

All that changed Saturday morning.

PJ and I had just got settled into our morning blind right at the crack of dawn. This particular blind is set in a depression they call "the bowl" and it offers 180 degrees of nearly 100 yrds of visability. Coffee mugs had been carefully placed where they wouldn't be kicked, an improvised shooting rest (my left cammo glove) had been set on the window of the blind, PJ had taken a couple of practice sightings to make sure nothing would hamper her shot and I thought about setting up the video equipment. All was well with the world.

Just as God's Golden Fingers of daylight touched the ground in front of us, a solitary boar strode out into the sun. I immediately sized up the big black and white ugly as a sizeable quary and pointed him out to PJ as I mentally kicked my own ass for not getting the video gear going. Well it wasn't going to happen now. She laid the Model 94, 30-30 across the glove and sighted on the pig. A few seconds later she lowered the gun and said she didn't think it was big enough. She thought it looked big but when she put the sights on it it shrunk she said.

After assuring her that it was an optical illusion that commonly manifests itsself at longer ranges (70 yrds or so)with open sights, I told her it was indeed a very good boar and that if she wouldn't take it I would. The Winchester came back up and in a measured few seconds it spoke a single syllable that pig understood to be an invitation to the dinner table. He shivered real hard with excitement at the invitation and took off running in a big circle that brought him back to the patch of woods he had come from. I heard him quit running and begin thrashing around. I knew at that point he had accepted Pj's invitaion to dinner and the hugs and high fives commenced.

We decided to give him a half hour or so before going to look for him. During that time I contemplated a few things. One; I knew it was a really big hog and Two; we did not need both freezers at home filled with pork.

When we first arrived Newly had also offered us a chance at some of the Fallow deer that roam wild on the ranch if we were of a mind to. He wanted a few of the Doe taken to better balance the herd. While I was pondering what I wanted to do four Fallow bucks stepped out into the clearing and began to feed. I started watching them through the Binoculars wondering if any of the females of the species would show themselves. A short while later three Doe walked out and began feeding with the bucks.

I would rather have used a different gun for the deer, but all I had was "Thor's Hammer". My Granddads old winchester was safely locked in its case back at the lodge. Not letting regret get in the way I raised the Mossberg SSI-One 12 gauge rifle and rested it on the shooting glove that was still on the ledge of the blind. Checking out the doe through the scope I settled on the biggest one, who by the way had the prettiest spot pattern of the three.

Slipping off the safety I settled the crosshairs low on the front right shoulder and issued my own invitation to dinner at the Gunscribe table. The Remington Copper Solid crossed the 70 yards and found a place in her heart. Not wanting to be late for dinner the doe kicked into high gear and ran about 60 yards before piling up within 20 yrds of where we would find PJ's hog.

We knew my deer was down and after about 10 minutes we eased out of the blind and began looking for a blood trail that her hog should have been gracious enough to leave. Not one drop was found, but we were able to follow his tracks to the egde of some thick brush. Just as I was about to go around the brush and work my way back through it PJ stepped up to a log and looking over it began yelling, "He's here, He's right here. My hogs right here." Well the great White Trackers ego deflated like a popped balloon and I stepped humbly over to admire the hog she had shot and found all on her own (well mostly anyway).

Damn this thing looked bigger on the ground than it did on it's feet. PJ just like a pro stepped in behind it and poked at it with the barrel of her rifle before she let me near it. When she was satisfied the pig was dead she indicated that since I screwed up not getting it on video, I should drag it out where we could at least get some pictures before Newly came to pick us up. Looking at how far the sun had gotten in the morning sky I figured that wasn't going to happen for a couple more hours at least.

PJ'S Boar and a close up of his cutters. Yes they can hurt you if your careless

Grabbing it by the hind legs I pulled it up over the log and thankfully it just sorta slid down the bank about 10 feet from there. Rolling it over and positioning it just right PJ got down with "Sizzleen" (Yes she named her hog) and began posing for pictures. After snapping several pictures I finally asked "She Who must be Obeyed" if it was okay if I went over to look at my deer now.

All the while admiring "Sizzleen" she sorta nodded toward the little deer and said yes.

Note: Fallow Deer (Dama dama) are a smaller member of the same Cervidae family as the Whitetail (Odocoileus virginianus). As adults a large Buck (male) seldom exceeds 125 pounds. An adult Doe will seldom weigh more than 100 or 110 pounds. Both species maintain their fawn like spots through adulthood.

After a cursory examination of the effects left by my invitation to our dinner table, I can't get over how accurate and effective the Remington 1 ounce Copper Solid 12 gauge sabot slug is. That deer just did not have the heart to refuse dinner with us.

I was eventually able to coax PJ away from "Sizzleen" long enough to take a few pictures of me and my contribution to our freezer.

Female Fallow deer

A short time later Newly arrived having already picked up Jim from his stand. We got the game loaded and headed back to the Lodge. While enroute PJ imformed me that before I went back out hunting with my brother, who had yet to score, that evening I had to cut some steaks from her hog so she could fix us dinner while we were gone.

When we got back I got the deer butchered and into vacuum sealed bags before starting on "Sizzleen". The deer was easy and it got me in the groove. By the time we got the hide, head and entrails off PJ's hog it was almost time to head back out to hunt. I quickly cut out the backstarps and sliced off a few steaks before hanging the old Boar in the meat locker. All told "Sizzleen" weighed about 250 pounds.

Jim and I headed out for the evening hunt, but that and the ensuing dinner is another blog entry that will be coming soon.

Note for the ballistic peformance geeks: The 150 grain Remington Express Corelock 30 caliber bullet went all the way through the hog and it was recovered in a perfect mushroom lodged in the hide on the far side of the hide. That is as good as it gets, perfect expansion with all of the bullets energy expended in the target and the slug recovered from the far side of the game. As with the last deer I took with "Thor's Hammer" the 12 gauge the slug was not recovered but it definately left it's mark on the deer. I had hoped to see what it would do on a big hog, but hey there is always next time.

Note: For those that haven't read my previous post on the Mossberg SSI-One with the 12 gauge rifled barrel installed, I don't name all of my firearms but, the way this one performs I just couldn't help but call it "Thor's Hammer".


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