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Back from a hunting trip...

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Brian in Oregon, Jul 23, 2010.

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  1. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    25,238
    Location:
    Deplorable Bitter Clinger in Liberal La La Land
    Just got back from a coyote and varmint hunting trip with my son Sean and his friend Chase. We went to our usual stomping grounds, the White River Game Management Area on the east side of Mt. Hood. This area is about 30,000 acres sandwiched between the Mt. Hood National Forest and private agricultural land. This tract is marginal for agricultural use, though ODFW uses it for hay and other crops for winter forage and feeding for deer. The eastern boundary has a very tall 12-strand electrified fence to keep deer and elk from getting into the agricultural land, where they would otherwise cause massive crop damage.

    Anyway, mid to late July things are starting to wind down there for gray diggers, which are the local name for California ground squirrels. These are a pest species. We went anyway, because the worst day hunting is better than the best day working.

    It was slim pickings for diggers. We shot some, but not in the numbers from a bit over a month ago. We had hope with the late start of summer things wouldn't wind down for another two weeks, but that wasn't the case. There was almost no activity in the cooler mornings, none in the heat of the day, but things picked up mid-afternoon and we had some good targets by early evening.

    I shot his coyote in an open field. It was apparent he wasn't experienced with humans. He stood watching us as I stopped, got out, loaded a magazine, aimed and dropped him. An 'educated' coyote would have bolted. Hit him with a Hornaday 55gr V-Max. I have mixed feelings about this cartridge. From a terminal standpoint, they do an excellent job on small varmints, grenading them quite well. Accuracy is outstanding. Feeding in AR15s appears to be iffy. I've had some failures to eject, with the next round partially in the chamber, but the spent empty laying next to it, blocking the bolt. Odd that V-Max would do that, when its law enforcement cousin, the Hornaday 55gr TAP ammo, has fed flawlessly in the same guns with the same magazines. As for terminal results on this coyote, he was standing sideways to me. I aimed at his heart. Distance was 175 yards. He dropped like a sack of potatoes right where he was standing, like he had an instantly fatal heart attack. We examined him, and not one drop of blood. Could not even find an entrance hole. There was no exit hole. This is a good indication that the heart was hit, since no blood means it was not pumping. The V-Max might be a good fur bullet, but you really can't make such a generalized statement on the basis of one kill. I'd like to try them, but not with factory loaded ammo. The overall length of the cartridge leaves almost zero clearance in an AR15 magazine. I might try handloading them and decreasing the COAL. On the other hand, I'm also getting good results with 55gr Hornaday SXSP handloads and they work in all of my 223 rifles. We did not see another coyote the entire hunting trip, but I did see scat and fresh tracks on some of the roads. There are a number of does with fawns in this area, and that may be attracting coyotes. It is, of course, much more satisfying to call them in, but I'm not going to pass up an easy shot. BTW, note that I haven't even changed into my camo clothing that I usually wear for coyote calling.

    Also, this was the first coyote taken with my R15. The last few have been with an 1187. I had an EOTech on this rifle, but found that in fast shooting scenarios up close, the cluttered display was causing me to aim with the top of the 65 MOA circle, not with the 1 MOA dot. This of course introduced a 32.5 MOA aiming error. When aiming carefully and using the dot, I had no problem zapping gray diggers out to 100 yards. If I put another EOTech on a gun, I'll get the dot only model without the 65 MOA circle. I really like EOTechs, but the Leupold Mark AR 3-9x scope is much more useful for hunting.

    Because I was one coyote up on the boys, I mostly spotted for them for gray diggers, passing up shots so they had opportunities. Chase mainly used an 1187 shotgun, so I put him on point. He failed to get a shell fully under the shell stop, and it jumped back, tying up the lifter and thoroughly jamming the action. Took the barrel off to get a round out of the chamber. It was so badly jammed that I had to clear it at home, which took me a half hour. Fortunately we had two other 1197s with us, so Sean loaned Chase his.

    Sean used his .223 Savage Predator Hunter with a bipod for long range shots. Sean recently mounted a Nikon 4.5-14 Coyote scope on it. This has a series of bullet drop circles on the reticle. Not my cup of tea, since it's only calibrated at `4x. But it has definitely helped Sean with the trajectory, and his kill ratio has improved. In one field I spotted for Sean, as he picked several off of a large mound at the edge of the field.

    An ODFW worker was in an adjacent field, and he had the body of a freshly killed rattlesnake that surprised him while he was running a weedwhacker. The snake was fat with none rattles. Because of the general lack of gray diggers, we did a lot of scouting, looking for areas for next year that were off the beaten path and hopefully were less hunted.

    Had one other piece of gun trouble, or more precisely, scope trouble. I mislaid my usual sling, and was carrying my Remington R15 with an older sling that had the old non-locking Uncle Mike's swivels. I was carrying the rifle slung over my back, having it ready for long range, and was carrying my 1187 for "jump shots". The swivel unlocked, and dropped the rifle, scope first. The scope turret hit a rock. The scope is a Leupold Mark AR 3-9x. This is a special scope made specifically for AR15 platforms, and has an elevation knob calibrated for 55gr 223/5.56. It has a protective cover. That's what hit the rock. The cover was jammed on. The scope power adjustment was rough. The result were 12" groups. Worked on the turret cover, and finally got it off. Having nothing to lose, I ran the elevation and windage andjustments end to end, then back to zero. Apparently this freed up and reseated internal components, including what I assumed to be the erector assembly, since the power adjustment because smooth. With quality ammo, groups were back to sub-MOA, and I had no more problem with making head shots on diggers out to 100+ yards. Whew. Says a lot of how rugged Leupold scopes are. One lesson is to make sure we have a backup centerfire rifle on extended trips, or at least an extra optic or iron backup sights. Bushmaster makes a clamp on folding front sight for their V-Match rifles, and I intend to get one for the R15. Already have a rear sight to use if the scope has to be removed.

    Sean and I took our 10-22's. He tried his, but was having problems with close range shots. He was nailing them at 75 to 100 yards. This is indicative of not being familiar enough with the trajectory. He switched to his Savage bolt gun in 17 HMR and did not miss. The 17 shoots much flatter, and he's more used to it than his 22. I never did try my 10-22T. This was its first trip since shortening the barrel to 16.5" and threading it.

    Now some bad news. The campsite we stayed at is our favorite there. It's at the end of a dead end road, so we're pretty much in isolation. And there's generally good hunting there. The last few times we've been there the campsite has been trashed. This time it was a real mess. Garbage everywhere, spent brass all over, and no one buried their feces, and there was a lot of TP blowing around. It was as if a dozen people had camped there for over a week, but according to the ODFW workers this was done in one night, as they had cleaned it up the day before. Because of the garbage, vandalism, vehicles driving offroad (prohibited) and messing up the irrigation canal there, poaching and other general mayhem, that dead end road and campsite are going to be permanently closed. Just swell. Irresponsible idiots ruin another area. The problems are getting so bad that the day may come when the whole parcel might be foot traffic only, and that means only the most fit will be able to walk any distance and hunt.
     
  2. handlepuller

    handlepuller Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    1,553
    Location:
    St. Augusta, MN
    Sounds like a good time!
     
  3. Royce10

    Royce10 TS Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    113
    Nice Brian, a few knuckledraggers frick it up for the good guys. Years ago I was on my first muley hunt in Nv. and the first thing we came upon in an almost exlcusive area was 17 dead does some turdballs from Kali had slaughtered. At that time it was almost unheard of to shoot does. It was a sad deal and really ruined me for shooting deer. They caught and prosecuted the slimeballs but I don't know what the penalty was then. (1971) To this day I would rather watch them than shoot even though I do enjoy the meat. Wouldn't it be nice if the hunters could dish out the penalty?
     
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