The Whelenizer Makeover

The Whelenizer is back on the rack, I had a blast trying out my new cast loads down at camp over the weekend. I went with the idea of loading as I went, 5 rounds at a time, and I got a chance to survey all the territory between 42 grains and 50 grains of H4895. Accuracy was best between 42 and 44. I was able to break 2500 with 50 grains, however both the accuracy was poor and the velocities were all over the place.

My conclusions are as follows:

1) 43 grains of H4895 gave consistent velocity and decent accuracy. It was getting late in the day when I tried it, but I had a couple of 2-shot groups that would fit inside a 50 cent piece.
2) The velocity variations increased with the charge weight.
3) When it came down to it, I had to look back at the overall goals. I had a hand-cast lead bullet– check. It could bag a deer at 150 yards or better– check. 42-44 grains produced a pleasant amount of recoil and 46-50 grains did not buy me anything except more wear and tear on the shoulder.

4) The Whelenizer kept its distinctive and authoritative report with the new load. When it barks everyone on the neighboring ridges will know I’ve shot.

So what I am taking home is more like a hot 35 Remington than anything else. I call that a win. It fits a nice niche in my rifle rotation. The Whelenizer with 200 grain jacketed round-nose was always my designated “rain gun.” I took it out when I expected lousy weather, because it had a less-than-perfect stock. I acquired a stainless Hawkeye in 30-06 last year, and so I’m well covered if I want to sit in a toad-strangler and watch one of the pastures. The Whelenizer will be good for treestands as well stalking the cedar thickets.

This was my first attempt at loading at the shooting bench. The hardest part was getting a dead-level surface to mount the scale. I used a bubble-level app on my tablet and a couple copies of the local phone book (up two pages to the right, down three on the back, etc.) The other problem I had was trying to use a scale in something other than dead air. For the first part of the day, I had nearly no wind. However, even the slightest breeze would skew the scale. If I did this regularly, I’d build a box with a plexiglass door, and screw feet on the bottom for leveling, or just spring for a small electronic scale. Transporting the stuff was easy. I fit everything in a 20mm ammo can.


News from the Shooting Bench

I have been working feverishly with new cast loads for my 35 cals. This past weekend, I finally got a chance to run them through the chronograph.

35 Whelen

I pulled the Whelenizer out of the rotation last year in preference to my new 30-06 Ruger Hawkeye. This year, it was time to put it back in. I have been casting RCBS 35-200-FN with gas checks, and then powder coating them. My old Whelenizer load for the Rem 7600 was a 200 grain Rem CL over H4895, running at slightly reduced velocities– roughly equivalent to a 358 WIN. I started the cast load at hot REM 35 levels, and I am going to work up to a comfortable, accurate load.

Marlin 1894 .357 Magnum

This has become the hiking around gun at camp. Since the coyotes really started to be a problem, I’ve tried to have everyone pack heat when they go about. You never know anymore when you are going to run into trouble. I have a Lee 158 grain GC mold. Again, I used powder coating in lieu of conventional lubrication. Again, I had a winner. I clocked these at over 1500 fps– not a max load of H110, but healthy. They gave fairly good accuracy, enough for quick snap shots at 25 yards.

Ruger Blackhawk .357 Magnum
I tried the same loads in my 357 Mag Ruger Blackhawk, it was considerably slower coming out of a pistol barrel, but I was able to hit what I aimed at, and used it around the farm on dirt clods and rotten stumps.

GP-100 and Ruger LCR .357 Magnum
KYHillChick and I both are in the process of working up self-defense loads. In her GP-100, I was able to come close to a 125 gr 38 SPL +P load with 4.5 grains of Titegroup. I can handle a bit more in my Ruger LCR. My load is complete. I’m using 5.0 grains of Titegroup under a 125 grain Hornady XTP. The whole idea here was that full-blown 357 mag loads were going to result in too much recoil for either of our tastes. I used 125 grain Lee casts and started working up from a 38 Special load until we each found a comfortable load. 5.0 grains were a tad too much for ‘HillChick. We will have Hornady XTP’s for daily carry and matching cast loads for practice. Mine clocked in the high 980’s. Hers chrono’d at 890, just under the 38 +P loads she is currently carrying. By downloading 357 Mag, you get the benefit of reduced recoil, less pressure, and longer case life. It also keeps crud from building up in the chamber from firing 38 SPC in a 357 Mag.


News from Camp

I have been taking my usual summer hiatus from the weblog, but that does not mean I have not been busy. Things have been really hopping both down at camp and back at the reloading bench.

The big news came back in the beginning of June. Little Mooselette came down with the rest of Team Moose for a camping trip. I pitched a tent for her on Friday night, and she crawled right in and slept until morning. Saturday night, shortly after 9, she announced she was going to her tent, and she stayed in until Sunday morning. This is phenomenal behavior for a 3-year old.

We also went out spotting turkeys together on that trip. We did not find much, except for box turtle, but she did a great job.

I will tell you there is nothing better in this world than having your 3 year old granddaughter beg to drive over to Grandpa’s house, just so she can throw her arms around your neck and say, “I am a good camper and I want to hunt turkeys.”


Turkey Season Post-Mortem 2015

Sunday Morning, I decided a little bit earlier than usual to call it quits and come in. I had just had a ball playing with a mess of jakes. I could have all of them, many times over, but held my fire. These were probably the same bunch I had seen all season. Next year I should have a good cohort of 2 year olds to hunt. I had taken the same spot near Midway that I had been seated the day before. They had run down the freshly seeded field. This scenario had played out several times this season. When they left and nothing else showed up, I decided it was time to go.

From that point on it took six hours before I was back in town, taking my place in the recliner. It takes that long to break down Turkey Camp and get home and stash the gear. I still have work to do before the shotguns are put away for the year. However, I can start collecting my thoughts on what worked and what did not. What to do again, and what to stop doing.

What did not work:

I have been pre-positioning blinds using die-cut blind material for about a decade. Every year the wind and the spring thunderstorms tear one or two of them up, leaving me shreds. This year, I hardly used them. I think it is time to face the truth that this is a wasted expense. I can put up a blind in under 10 minutes if I carry the components with me. The tactic worked great when I had young sons in tow, but I some where in the past 15 years I have aged to the point were I can sit still enough for turkeys to peck at my bootlaces.

The new butternut/kwila box call from SS GameCalls for all its beauty and style did nothing for me. I do not blame the call, however. There was a threat of rain most of the days I would have used it, and the few days that I did the chalk got in the way. This is a fine call and it set me back a good bit of money. However, it is going to take some breaking-in, and some getting used to– more of the latter than the former.

I am making an official warning: DevCon 5 minute epoxy will not hold up to the demands of a pot call. I built several pot calls early on using that glue and every one of the calls has since failed. This one lasted the longest, 9 years. The aluminum plate fell off playing with the jakes. The best suggestion I can make is using Liquid Nails construction adhesive. That is what I will use to repair this call.

What Worked:

I took my Toby Benoit Rebel Yell box call out in the worst of it, and managed to bag a nice bird. However, even Toby would tell you his calls are nothing to look at. They just plain work. I was facing 35 mph winds that day, and I knew the Rebel Yell could cut through it. In similar conditions, I have called birds from 600 yards out. The hen that plopped down and came running to do battle this year was at 200-250 yards, and she brought the gobbler with her. Just for grins, I had Angus on the walkie-talkie and tried the Rebel Yell at full volume. Angus heard it from the front porch of Turkey Camp. I was at the Honey Hole, over a half-mile away. He said it sounded like a hen calling from about 200 yards out. I miss Toby and Brian and the rest of the folks at Heirloom Calls. I have not heard from them in a coon’s age.

I picked up a milsurp Goretex rain jacket over the winter, it was in British DPM camo. It worked wonderfully for me in drizzle as well as couple of downpours. I have always liked DPM for a turkey hunting pattern. I really did not have a chance to outwit a gobbler’s eyes with it this year, but I can attest to clothing my sons in DPM in their early years, it seems to hide movement well. DPM stands for Disruptive Pattern Military. It definately disrupts the minds of turkeys.

The one-piece diamondwood striker from really worked. It became my go-to striker for my copper and aluminum pot calls. I just checked; they were out of them. Try again next winter. The other strikers that I made over the winter all came from the same place. They all worked, on one call or the other. The trick here is to carry a bunch of strikers that all give different effects. It leverages one or two pot calls and it ends up like you are carrying a dozen.

The B-Mobile Gobbler from Primos is still a good full-sized gobbler decoy. I originally bought it so little Mooselette could see what a real turkey was like. However, I kept it and a few of my old FeatherFlex hens locked in the blind at Midway and used them a couple of times. I still say dekes are a 50-50 thing at best and tie a hunter down too much. However, having what amounted to a padlocked closet in the middle of the turkey woods made it practical. The B-Mobile was on sale in places for under $50 this year. It may be cheaper at the end of the season. Both times I used the B-Mobile, I had turkeys come in.

Put in honorable mentions for the following:

Smartwool socks and sock liners and Hi-Tec Altitude IV hiking boots– I think I have finally found a pair of turkey boots that stay waterproof more than 1 season. I’ve got two seasons on mine now.


Indiana Deer Rifle Changes Nixed

The word I have is that the Indiana DNR has pulled support for the recommendation that would have liberalized centerfire rifle restrictions in this year’s deer hunt.

Board to vote on use of high-powered rifles for Indiana’s deer hunters

See Indiana Deer Rifle Changes Nixed

“We saw it as a social issue and since it was not societal acceptance for it overwhelmingly or opposed to it we have asked for it to be withdrawn,” said DNR spokesman Phil Bloom.

The DNR says public hearings and community input shows the decision making process at work, but they’ve made it clear where they stand.

“There were very valid points on either side of the issue and our folks reviewed them all and came to the conclusion it’s not something we need at this point,” said Bloom.


PODCAST: The Midway Gobbler

It has taken quite a while for me to get this podcast together.  The wind was brutal this morning, the first Monday of 2015 Kentucky Spring Gobbler.  This was the day SuperCore and I got matching bookend gobs about a half hour apart.

Mine was roosted with hens over by Lazy Boy, where #3 son Angus likes to deer hunt. I had arrived in between thunderstorms at first light.  I holed up at Midway, my luxury box deer blind, expecting more rain.  I had brought along a Toby Benoit Rebel Yell box call.  It is by far the loudest in my collection and the wind was fierce.  As soon as I got situated, I let out an excited yelp and immediately got a response from the dominant hen. She matched me note for note. Pretty soon, the whole flock flew down and made a beeline for the blind with the hen and I walking on each other. A half-hour later I was staring at a gob and hens emerging from the woods, 60 yards away and closing. You can hear the rest.

Podcast — Yute Season 2015

NOTE: You may find that the links load slowly. If so, try right-clicking on them and downloading them to your system before playing


Report from Turkey Camp — The Action so Far

If there really are “ON” and “OFF” kind of days for turkeys. Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the Opener here in the Trans-Bluegrass were definitely “ON.” Angus had a shot on Saturday as did I, Angus scored on Sunday. SuperCore and I scored on Monday. Ever the rain returned on Monday morning, the gobblers have been turned “OFF” in the extreme sense. However, I am getting ahead of myself. It is best to pick up the story after Angus bagged his jake.


On Sunday, after Angus bagged his jake, it got hot and muggy. I drove Angus back to rendezvous with KYHillChick, who met us halfway on the AA Highway. It started raining, and it rained most of the afternoon. However, it let up around Happy Hour. By then I had returned to the farm and SuperCore and I watched a gobbler with two jakes parading around in front of the Jagende Hutte. We took that as a sign that things were beginning to change


It rained. It rained on and off after sundown Sunday and rained a good part of the night. In the morning, I was fully rigged for it, even swapping out my calls for the ones less affected by moisture. The drizzle let up enough for me to get hoof it out to Midway, crawl in, and get off all my wet stuff. The wind was gusting pretty heavily when I started my calling with an old Toby Benoit box call. A hen down in Left Leg Creek immediately answered me, and started matching me, yelp for yelp. A gobbler chimed in and by 0730 I had a 3 hens and a gobbler making their way straight for my blind. As soon as the gobbler got in the clear, I put the scope to his head and hit him straight on.

I had heard a shot a few minutes earlier. That was SuperCore killing his gobbler, the same one we had seen the night before. He and his acolytes had roosted behind Broken Corners and come out into the pasture at sunrise.

This was a first for the Shamanic Dream Team; we had never had a 2-fer at camp. SuperCore dressed his out on the shooting bench. I set up a card table in the yard. Despite the rain coming and going, we had both gobblers in the freezer by 11. After that, the weather turned and the turkeys crawled in a hole and pulled the lid over the top.


It was not all that bad at flydown but the turkeys could tell something was coming. By 0830 the wind was starting to gust. Small car warnings were up on the AA. We hunkered down.

Wednesday and Thursday

Rain and Wind and a falling thermometer. We made it out both days, but it was not pleasant.  I did have a couple of jakes show up Thursday.  I counted coup on them from the blind at Midway.  This is the second time this year I could have punched a tag on a jake.  I still might, but frankly I would rather see those little guys grow up. Ask me on the last day of season, and I might give you a different answer.

Things started to turn around, but it was still cold. The gobblers would toss a few gobbles on the roost and then disappear. I could have been calling in my living room and had as good luck.

Saturday and Sunday
Saturday it was still cold, but the turkeys were starting to cooperate. The cold, close to freezing, is the sort of thing you expect for 1st week of Spring Gobbler here in the Trans-Bluegrass. What was odd though was that as temps and winds moderated, what I found was a large number of very frustrated hens coming around looking for a gobbler. I’d hear them out in the woods being very plaintive. When I would gobble, they would come running. I wish I’d been able to capture some it with my recording gear, but the wind was just too darn strong. These girls were really giving a class. Normally, when you hear a hen like that, you also hear gobbling. The gobblers were almost non-existent, and when they were around, they would toss off a few obligatory gobbles and walk the other way. This was an odd set of circumstances to be sure. One other thing that got me thinking something might be up was during one of the pour-downs, there were 15 hens out in the pasture with zero gobblers in attendance.

Saturday, I had one kicking up a serious fuss back by Campground. On Sunday she came all the way up to the Honey Hole and strode across the field within 20 yards, with only a little bit of gobbling on my part. My audio recorder was completely flummoxed by the wind, otherwise I would have a wickedly good podcast. Gobblers? Both Saturday and Sunday they must have been hiding.



Since we left camp, I’ve received word that Week #2 in Bracken County and the whole NorthEast region has been on fire.  Gobblers are climbing up hunters’ legs.  The carnage has been tremendous. I just hope things hold out for the coming weekend when the Shamanic Dream Team takes to the field again.