Season Recap 2017

Now that everyone is home safe a-bed, I thought I would go through the season and give you all my impressions of why it went so well, and what worked and what did not.  Overall, this was the most spectacular deer camp we’ve had.  Everyone got their buck. Everyone got  a doe.  We saw a lot more bucks than usual. There was a lot more rutting activity than we expected.

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This year, we pulled all the aging buddy stands out.  Campground was the only one we replaced.  We had not hunted at Newstand in several years.  The main reason why was that it was meant primarily as a bow stand.  It’s main drawback was that it overlooked the steepest ravine on the farm.  If you shot something, it was going to be a hard slog getting it out.  Garbage pit had not produced a deer in years. However, the new Blackberry stand, just 100 yards away has been one of the hottest.  Again, it was bow-centric stand covering a chokepoint behind the treeline.  Blackberry is a rifle-oriented stand that covers the field where the deer feed. Surprisingly, Blackberry is producing some rather close encounters.  A lot of deer we see at Blackberry are coming within 5 yards.

To replace the old stands, we put in three new blinds.  Lazy Boy, a ground blind overlooking a shallow ravine  will probably pay off, but it did not this year.  It was the only deep woods/short range addition we made.   Fort Apache was a good idea with not enough time to develop. I took the leftover wood and built a V-shaped blind just behind the house.  I got two chances to sit in it before season.  Both showed promise.  However, heavy rain and wind wrecked the last-minute tarp roof and I never got a chance to repair it during season.  The idea is good.   It needs a roof and a back.  I don’t think SuperCore ever sat at S-10 this year. He spent most of his season going to the Jagendehutte.



The magnum opus from this year’s stand and blind projects was Hollywood.  It started life as 10-foot tower blind, but got shortened to 8 feet the day we put it up.  8 feet was plenty high for the site.  The top shooting rail is about an inch too high, but that will be simple to lower.   I will leave the camo blind just the way it is.  The 5X7′ dimensions are too big for one hunter.  However, it will work great with  a daughter or grand daughter along.  Hunting solo out of a camp chair as I did, I found that I picked one side and hunted that, occasionally turning my head to cover the other.  With the camo burlap wrapped around at a height of 40-inches, the deer could only see the top of my head at 80 yards. Closer than that, nothing showed.


. . . except for the space at the ladder, which was wide open.  Yes, I did get busted twice in one day.  Once by a doe  at under 50 yards directly downwind, and then again a few minutes later by a young doe that walked right up and stared at me through the hole.  Both of them made it out into the field a few minutes later, albeit 50 yards further down the field– thinking they would sneak past me.  That is a funny thing about whitetails, they always under-estimate the operating range of  the 30-06.

Hollywood gets two-thumbs up for placement, a  9.8 for design ( except a 7.0 from the Romanian judge)  and  double peanut butter clusters for execution.  Of course, I’m the only real judge and it’s basically all me and mine, but the guy who dreamed it up did a good job for the guy that now has to hunt out of it. I would be the first to admit that has not always been the case. I also want to thank Angus, Moose, SuperCore, and Keith for all the schlepping and legwork.  I will probably build another tower blind just like it out at The Hand within the next couple years.    I would not hesitate to use the Elevator brackets again.  The set I had were leftovers from project years ago.  They are not cheap. A set of 4 cost $80-90 at Home Depot. However, they make a sturdy joint for the legs to the deck with no guesswork.

The Mauser From Hell vs. The Ruger Hawkeye

8X57 with 175 round-nose is potent deer medicine, but I would not go out of my way to try it.  The Mauser from Hell is turning into a decent deer rifle, but I could have bought a nice Ruger American Rifle in 308 WIN for a lot less money and suffering than I’ve thrown into this 8mm project.  It shoot minute-of deer. It handles well.  However, I still trust my Ruger Hawkeye in 30-06 more.   The MFH still needs work. I will free-float the barrel, and if the accuracy stays within reason, I will replace the safety with something that works with a gloved hand and a scope.  I wanted a project rifle.  I got one.  I don’t want to knock custom Mausers from the Sixties. However, this piece is an example of what a DIY step-barrelled K98 put in a new stock ends up being.

By comparison, My Ruger Hawkeye in 30-06 cost $800 in 2014. I added $100, buying a wood stock. It grouped less than an MOA with the first practice loads.  I run 2 rounds through it every October and take 2 deer with it during season.  Since the first bit of breaking-in and all completed, I have run less than 25 rounds through it in 4 years and have killed 7 deer with it.

It is the Third Reich vs. Bill Ruger and Yankee Ingenuity on this one and Bill wins.  The 165 grain Hornady SP’s I shoot out of the Hawkeye have a higher velocity and drop deer most assuredly.  Granted, most folks say that’s a bit of overkill.  165 grain is what I tried first and it worked.  The 170 Hornady round nosed came out of the Mauser from Hell with less velocity, less recoil, but a lot more arc. I had to try 3 different bullets and subject the barrel to arm-numbing cleaning to get it to shoot a 2 inch group.  As they are, Inside 200 yards, a deer will not know the difference. However, the MFH took years of work, and gobs of money to get it there.

The Hawkeye’s design is an updated version of the Mauser Brothers 1898 design. It too has Controlled Round Feed. However, it has a 3-position safety that is built  to work with a scope.  The Mauser had to be D&T’d for a scope, and it got munged up along the way, causing it to earn the MFH moniker.   Bill Ruger’s integrated ring system is much simpler.  I added a $100 Timney trigger to the MFH and it comes close to the Hawkeye. The Hawkeye’s trigger is one of the best I  have ever shot. If I had any sense, I would stop monkeying around and hunt with the Hawkeye excluseively, but I am a bit of a looney when it comes to deer rifles.

The Hirshwagen

My old S-10 with the winch on the front was an invaluable tool for reaching down into Hootin Holler and pulling out SuperCore’s buck.  I hope I can squeeze some more years out of it.  It is especially handy now that we have the L-Evator .





We celebrated the 9th deer season at Midway.  I filled both my tags from it.  SuperCore filled his doe tag there as well.  We hardly ever see anything out the north window.  However, the Garden of Stone, out the south window added 3 more deer  this year.  That brings the total count to 18 deer–2 deer per season. Almost all have been taken out of a small patch of mystery forb, growing out in the middle. 120-200 yards away from the south window. We’ve also taken a bunch of turkey and a couple coyote from it.

Gear that Worked

I could not be happier with the chair I picked up from Sportsman’s Guide this year:


My one addition was using electrical ties to add two small rings to the left side armrest. This allowed me to attach a mil-spec map case to that side. It holds my thermos and my binos and my tablet.  I’ve added the same map case and ring-combination to the rifle rest on the buddy stand at Campground. It makes me wish I thought of it years ago. I put this fatman chair up at Hollwood.  The metal skids on the bottom slide silently on the decking.  I can get off my butt, still bent over and move this around to reposition it for a shot.  I practiced this with deer around before season.

An honorable mention also goes to the chair I picked up from there last year. I bought 2 last year, and this year I bought another when the price dropped to under $13.  This is what I use on the ground at Lazy Boy, S-10 and on the carpet I have down at Midway.  Both chairs support 500 lbs, and both hold be in my full Orange clownsuit get-up without feeling crammed.

Another  honorable mention goes to the LHR Redemption, now available as the TC Strike.  It is the first muzzleloader that has hit the paper at 100 yards with the first try with cast bullets. See First Looks. . . for details

I also have to mention my new Samsung Galaxy Tab E, replacing my older Tab 2 .  I have been bringing a small tablet out to the blind since 2012.  Before that, I would just bring a book. Books were bulky. This is about the same weight and size as a paperback.  There is enough battery in both of them to get through a 4-5 hour hunt.  The older 7″ and newer 9″ screens are much easier to read than a smartphone.  It also keeps my reading budget way down.  I spent several years reading the free stuff I could download from places like

Image result for samsung galaxy tab e

Lately I have been going through the .99-center Kindle editions at Amazon.  I prefer reading military history in the blind.  I spend most of my time with the wi-fi turned off, but if I want to grab an updated weather report, I just turn on the connection-sharing on my Samsung  smartphone and surf.  This is one piece of technology I have found that really improved my hunting.  It is quieter and less bulky than a book, and the tablet has more than paid for itself in its ability to access cheap reading material.

 . . .And Keeps Working

One gear standout worth mentioning again is my Buck 113 Ranger Skinner knife. It is still going strong. It did two deer and two turkey this year without sharpening and I can still shave with it.




Another is flashlight that went with me. It’s a cheap Dorcy 3AA LED job that I have been carrying since 2015, in turkey and deer swaon. They are under $10 at Amazon. I’ve bought about a dozen so far. They are cheap enough to put everywhere around the house. They are waterproof and extremely bright. I also like how they clip to my gear bag, or the shooting rail.


Tagged Out in 2017

With 6 days left of season, SuperCore ended the 2017 with a shot on a doe in The Garden of Stone. I had slept in and was just drinking my coffee as I heard the shot back at camp, and started getting dressed for the trip out when the walkie-talkie crackled and I heard, “SuperCore to Earth. Bring the truck.”

For the number of days we’ve hunted, it has not been all that grueling a camp.  Most days, somebody has tagged something.  Last Tuesday morning nobody had a chance. It started out well.

Tuesday 11/14

Now that the leaves are down, you can see all sorts of things from Hollywood. Deer Camp is over a quarter mile away, just enough to make it appear quaint. If I look real hard for a flash of orange across Hootin Holler, I could see SuperCore’s cap in the Jagendehutte over on Gobbler’s Knob.

I had borrowed SuperCore’s rangefinder, so as soon as the light came up, I started ranging landmarks. Going west, I had a maximum shot of 150 yards. Going east, I the farthest cedar I could range was 200 yards, but the deer were all coming through a hole in the fence at 150. This made the Mauser from Hell a near-perfect choice for this venue, loaded with Hornady 170 grain RN’s over H4895. In case you don’t know about the Mauser from Hell, there’s a fairly recent thread on it in Ask The Gunwriters, and threads in there dating back to 2013. You’ll see why it earned its name. I had taken the MFH out once previously this season after rescuing it from Deer Rifle Purgatory, but held back taking a doe, because I had not filled my buck tag. It was now freezer filling time, and this would be an ideal time to test the MFH on a live target.

I had just poured my first cup of coffee from the thermos and settled in with The Old Farmers Almanac. All of a sudden, my phone started vibrating and it would not stop. It was work. Half the server farm had taken a dump. Every PC in the place had a dark screen. Demons were in the server room. There were flashing amber and red lights on all the drives. They needed me back. Drat.

Back From Camp

I spent from 0800 to 1100 trying to put things back together from camp before I got mysteriously cut off. By this time SuperCore had come back in. He’d not seen anything, and reported almost no shots all morning from the surrounding ridges. I made the decision to pull up stakes and head back to town. We had two weekends left to take a doe each, and it was going to rain   anyway.

To shorten a long story, I showed up at work Tuesday afternoon, still dressed for camp and spent the next 4 days putting the server room back together.  Saturday was due to be a nasty, a day filled with wind and heavy rain.  Angus stayed back.  SuperCore and I drove down at mid-day in between bouts of rain.  We were safe inside camp when the 50 MPH gusts hit.  At sundown driving rain was added into the mix.   It  all began clearing around Midnight.

Sunday  11/19

In the back of my head, there is vision of what deer hunting weather is. This was it.  High thirties, light wind, and an occasional bout of sleet or grauple.   SuperCore was in the Jagendehutte.  I was back out at Hollywood.  At 0913, the deer began to move.  First it  was a doe winding me from somewhere down in Left Leg Creek.   Then another doe walked up and peered directly through the hole in the camo blind I left for the ladder.    Shortly thereafter several doe, with a buck in chase broke out into the sweet spot directly to the east of the blind.  At 65 yards, I had a perfect shot at a doe.

Look, I can make all kinds of excuses. The truth is this is the my first season hunting with the MFH.  I am used to a 3-position safety like what you find on a Winchester Model 70 or on my Ruger Hawkeye.  It never dawned on me that the old K98 safety with a scope mounted could not be operated with shooting mittens.  By the time I got the glove off, I was rushing things. The trigger surprised me. The shot went high. The herd scrambled.  The doe went into the woods. I searched for an hour all through Hootin’ Holler.  I could see where she had bounded down the ravine, but never found her or any convincing sign.  Double Drat!

On my adventures I did solve the mystery of why SuperCore had not seen anything all morning. On my trip through Hootin’ Holler,   I caught a brief glimpse of the Jagendehutte over on the opposing ridge.  His ATV was parked in back. The camo cover had slipped in the wind and was flapping wildly in the wind.  Deer do not like that.  We both came out with stinging sleet and graupel on our faces.

In the afternoon,   SuperCore tried Blackberry. I went to Midway, trying to give Hollywood a rest.  The wind was still brisk enough that I left the north window closed up and hunted out of the south window into the Garden of Stone.  Sure enough, with the sun making its first  appearance of the day, a large beefy doe and two young ones came out to feed.  I suspected one to be a button buck. They were feeding mightily with their noses to the wind  for the longest time, giving me no chance for anything but a head-on shot.  All of a sudden their tails went up.  I thought I’d been winded, but their attention turned back towards the Campground.  A very nice 8-point buck emerged from the treeline and that sent them scurrying about the field.  When at last, the situation calmed down, one of the young ones turned broadside at 185 yards.  This time, I had my glove off.  This time, I was not in a rush.

I was only a bit annoyed that it was the button buck I took.   In the bigger scheme of things, taking the button made better sense from a management point of view.  As it stands, we have been seeing more bucks than does since August.  Letting another doe walk is probably a good thing. We all will have our freezers filled.  This one will squeeze in nicely.

Monday 11/19

It was cold on Monday, about 25F.  I stayed in the sack. I was done for the season.  SuperCore went out to Midway and was beset with all sorts of problem, mostly due to the cold.  The padlock on the blind was frozen.  The lubrication on this Remington 7400 was seized up, turning it into a jam-o-matic.   He scared off the first herd of doe trying to get his magazine into the rifle.  The bolt would not close on the first round and bent the tip.  There was a second herd of doe that came out just as I was pouring my first cup of coffee. SuperCore had less than an hour of hunting before he had a young doe down less than twenty yards away from where I felled the button the night before. The cold continued to plague SuperCore. I was a bit late coming out with the S-10. The windshield was frosted. When we went to leave, the padlock on the blind was not functioning.

We spent the rest of the morning, taking the deer to the processor and then breaking camp.  I was back in my easy chair at home by sundown with deer camp waiting its final winter shutdown this coming weekend.



Deer Opener 2017

It was the coldest Opening Weekend ever for the Shamanic Dream Team. The temperature was hanging aruond 24F when the light came up, but there had been a good deal of action at my stand at Campground before that. I had heard a group of doe, probably being chased by a young buck come down through Soggy Bottom, just below my stand, but it was too dark to see. Over at the Blackberry Patch, Angus had been watching a young doe feeding just beneath his stand, and been contemplating a shot on her when a big 8-pointer came crashing out of the cedars.

0645 was the official beginning of legal hunting . There must have been a fellow watching his watch, for at the very second, a shot occured. There was another much farther away and at 0648, I heard my old Winchester boom out from out across Virginia. That was Angus taking the earliest buck in camp history. It was what happened after the shot that made this one most remarkable. When hit, the buck ran back into the cedars only to emerge a bit later, closer to the stand. The doe, meanwhile, kept at the salad bar and refused to move or even acknowledge the carcass close by. Angus had to shoo her off before getting down.

Over at the Jagende Hutte, SuperCore was seeing a few doe, a couple of small forkers and such– nothing worth shooting. At 0813, as I had counted the 203rd shot string of the morning, SuperCore took a shot at an 8 pointer in Dead Skunk. The shot must have gone wild, for SuperCore and Angus searched for sign in the Hundred Acre Wood for an hour and could find none.

The Grand Fusilade had commenced. It was particularly intense this year. I recorded well over 2.5 shot strings per minute into the 9 O’Clock hour, and it increased to 3 in the next hour. When Angus was done with his chores at the meatpole and SuperCore was back in, I finally relented and came out of my stand. I had spent the previous hour watching two doe munching away in the Garden of Stone. I had waited patiently for a decent buck to visit them, but it just was not going to be. I walked out that way towards a rendevous with Angus at Point Victor. The field where the doe had been was well littered with deer turds. The Garden of Stone was going to be a good spot again this year.

We rode Angus’ buck into Lenoxburg and ate lunch there. Opening Day at Lenoxburg has always been a highlight of the local social season, but the new owners have really kicked it up a notch by adding the restaurant in the back. Bucks were stacked like cord wood. It was like Christmas in Camo. By the time we got back to camp it had warmed considerably. Our afternoon hunt started out with the temperature close to 50F– downright balmy compared to the deep freeze from 12 hours earlier.

Lenoxburg Store
I went out to Hollywood for the afternoon hunt. SuperCore went out early. Angus stayed back and napped. At 1700, another shot from Angus’ 30-06 brought his season to a close. He had found the doe from earlier in the day back munching away in the same spot and shot her.  All told, with two sits under his belt, Angus had tagged-out for the season with less than a half-hour’s worth of hunting.

SuperCore and I had nothing worth shooting come by. I bounced two does that were feeding to the east of Hollywood on my in. They came back a bit later. One hung around until after dark. I had the Mauser From Hell out. The doe had no idea how many times I counted coup on her in my scope. However, it became nothing more than a nice, warm sit.

Sunday started with the promise of rain. Angus stayed in. He was tagged out. SuperCore was ready for action. I was hoping for a nice quiet trip out to Midway to watch the doe act as bait and read the Farmer’s Almanac. Sure enough, the small herd of doe that frequent the Garden of Stone were already chowing down when I put the awning up and closed the curtains. They were there most of the morning. After 0800, there was a ruckus when a coyote chased three doe out of Left Leg Creek into the Garden and this caused all the deer to flee in unison. The coyote came around the other side of Midway, and I could not whirl around fast enough for a shot. I was alone for a while until the doe started to filter back into the field again.

This is a common theme this year. I have seen this building since August. I have never seen deer so intent on feeding. My surmise is the general failure of the acorn crop has forced them back out into the pastures to feed. They have not been able to put on sufficient weight, and they are working overtime to feed themselves. There was a short period of time where the field was empty, and I decided to pay the rent on the coffee. Rather than bother with the relief tube, I whizzed out the south window. It was 0900.

Old Farmer's Almanac

I had just gotten to the part of the  ‘Almanac where the editors were making their predictions about kit-based Thanksgiving meals when one of the doe from earlier emerged from the woods on my blind side and stuck her head into the south window. This is yet another time where urinating off the stand or out of the blind seems to have attracted deer. I bid the doe a good morning, and she went off flicking her tail happily.  She was about 60 yards away on my downwind side when she suddenly looked up and looked back my way. She became nervous and suddenly broke into a trot that took her back towards the Garden.

About 5 minutes later, the reason for her discontent showed up. He was a big, brute of a buck with a ten-point rack and an attitude. He strolled out less than 20 yards from the blind and eyed me through the curtain. He curled his lip to savor the local aroma. I’m not sure if it was the doe’s or mine. His attention seemed to turn back to the doe, so I brought up the Ruger Hawkeye and put a round downrange for effect. The buck ran off and I saw him stagger a bit as he bounded the fence at the edge of the field about 80 yards away. It did not take me long to find him. He had piled up   10 yards into the woods.

Angus left the comfort of his recliner and risked blood stains on his traveling clothes to drive the truck out for a pickup. I used a rope tied to the Silverado to drag the buck into the field and got him loaded with ease with the help of the Elevator. Back at camp, I had the buck gutted and back in the truck by the time SuperCore made it out. We rode into Lenoxburg with our 3rd deer in under 24 hours.

Upon our return, the S-10, der Hirschwagen, had a dead flat. Angus stayed around long enough to see that resolved and then returned home to Cincinnati. SuperCore went back out to the Jagendehutte, while I tidied up around camp. I had just laid down for a nap when SuperCore shot, and I knew I would shortly get a call for a pickup.

This was a bit more than the usual deer run. SuperCore had shot the 8-pointer (same one possibly?) at 150 yards at the head of Dead Skunk Hollow after it had emerged from the Hundred Acre Wood. The buck had responded by bounding down into Dead Skunk. SuperCore had driven down there on his ATV, but had not found the buck. It didn’t take me long to find a pool of blood in the creek bottom where the buck had stood for while until the ATV’s arrival. He had then walked off to the east, into the densest cedar thicket on the property. I had given up going in there a decade ago– just too dense. However, in the succeeding years, it had begun to age and open up, at least enough for an adult buck to make it through. The blood trail was pretty evident. I found the buck piled up about 50 yards in and 50 yards down from the treeline looking out into the Jagendehutte. SuperCore got the S-10 down to the closest entry point, and I ran the winch downhill and with the addition of rope, we were able to get the buck out of the woods just as the rain was beginning to start in earnest at 1700.

I called Lenoxburg. Yes, they were still taking in deer, but I needed to hurry. SuperCore did a speed-gut on the pole and off we went. We were back in the house by 1830 and enjoyed a rugged happy hour on the front porch with biting wind-blown drizzle.




Fort Apache Gets a Roof

Our new blind out back of the house needed a roof. I used a 10X12 tarp and some clothesline to put up a quick and dirty roof.




Fort Apache

Angus came down after a torrential overnight rain to finish off what needed finishing off.   I want to start off by acknowleding his hard work and sacrifice this summer and fall.  We’ve nearly gotten the pre-season do-list done.   Moose, SuperCore and Moose’s friends have all helped out as they could.  However, Angus has gone the extra distance in this.

We put roll mineral roof on the Lazy Boy blind. It’s now ready for winter. There were two section of the neighbor’s spite fence left over when all other projects were done. I made a shooting port in each, and screwed them to fence posts. Fort Apache was born.

After Angus left to go back for a bagpiping gig, I went out and had my first sit at the blind. It’s still not a 100% kosher with the deer. They gave it a wary eye when they came out at sundown, but I had them in closer than 40 yards.

Fort Apache will be the blind of last resort. It is just over the hill from the house and overlooks pastures to the east and south.  It needs a lot of touching up, but Saturday night proved you could get a deer from it.

Top of the list is that pink deck stain in the inner surfaces has to go. I can see why it was in the mis-tint bin at Lowes.


Muzzleloader 2017 After Action Report

The Kentucky Early Primitive Weapons Season 2017 is in the can. No deer were harmed in the making of this weekend.However, we all seemed to have a good time. I left straight from work and missed the traffic. Both Angus and SuperCore left a bit later on Friday night and got caught up on a major snarl. Angus swung out way west and came in by Falmouth. SuperCore plowed through. They both made it late. I had spent a pleasant evening alone, watching the deer. For us, Muzzleloader Weekend is always a shakedown for the real thing. Unless a real monster shows up, we usually hold our fire.

Saturday was one of the warmest Openers we have ever had. The temperatures began in the mid-50’s. I was at Campground. Angus was at his new blind at Lazy Boy. SuperCore drove out to the Jagendehutte. In the 8 O’clock hour, a couple of doe came plowing through the creek bottom below Campground. The lead doe slowed down enough for me to count coup on her twice with the new LHR Redemption. After 0900, the younger doe came roaring back out of the cedar thicket from which they had gone and ran up to my stand, in considerable excitement. I believe what I was witnessing was the aftermath of a cervid family tragedy. A shot over on the neighbor’s property had preceeded all this movement. I think one doe of their crew, perhaps the matriarch did not make the trip. There were two shots in rapid succession. Perhaps two of their number had not left that bottom. The young doe was very agitated and kept looking back to the east, expecting something to come. Action was light overall in the first hour I heard a shot less than every five minutes. After that, it tapered off.

SuperCore had only one doe show at extreme range in 4 hours of hunting. Angus had a doe come close to the stand, but chose not to shoot. This was probably the older of the two deer I had seen. She ran right up to the blind, obviously quite upset over something. She and Angus had a long meaningful look at each other before she realized she needed to be elsewhere.

The afternoon hunt was uneventful for SuperCore and Angus. However, I had 6 deer come by the east side of Hollywood at various times. The shots would have all been long ones. There is a buck with a rather misshapen rack that has been in that field all through the summer and fall. He is not worth taking as is, but he is young, and I would like to see what he grows into.

Sunday morning was a bit of a write-off. Not much showed. Angus got a good view of a major turkey kerfluffle involving 15 indivuals. This was my first morning sit at Hollywood. The sun went behind the trees shortly after rising and I was in shade the whole time. I heard 4 shots in 3 hours, and then a flurry of shots just after 10 when everyone around emptied there load and went in.

Hunting out of Hollywood is a grand experience, but it has its challenges. Much like Midway, it has two side with not much to worry about in the middle. That means to hunt one side thoroughly, you have to turn your back to the other. Much like Midway, I choose to stay in the middle and swivel my head from one side to the other cover a lot of ground. The west view is about 150 yards of pasture, the east side is well over 200. The frontal view covers maybe 80 yards of treeline, about 50 yards away. The camo blind covers me up to my chin. The deer see an orange hat and that is nearly it. The challenge is that the footpring of the blind is 5X7 feet, so that if I decide to take a shot, I have to get up and move my chair over to the rail. I practiced this several times with deer in view. The chair I picked for this has skids on the bottom. They glide easily over the decking. The blind is just high enough to block the view of my back. I built this blind with the idea that it would accomodate two hunters without feeling cramped. Moose or I can take a certain grandchild up for her first deer hunt and have plenty of room.

The LHR Redemption

This was the first time I had carried the LHR Redemption hunting.  It is light, much lighter than my old Hawken.  It carries well, loads easily, and after firing only one shot on Sunday, I brought it home and cleaned it. The Adapt breech system came loose with just a little hand pressure.  The plug gets gunked up even with only one round fired, but I put it to soak in Ed’s Red. It will be clean itself in 24 hours.  In the treestand, it was compact enough not to be a problem. With the Bushnell Banner scope at its lowest power, I was able to bring it up on a doe’s chest  right away.  This is where counting coup really comes in handy.  By doing everything required to make the shot except pulling the trigger, it puts the rifle and the hunter through all their paces.  With my old TC Hawken, I had the option of using with triggers while the hammer was at half cock. It made for a satisfying ‘click.’ This new Redeption cocks and uncocks with a button on the tang.  There is a decocker button as well

The Mauser From Hell– final word

I had the Mauser from Hell out one last time before season. It has a tendency to move its Point of Aim as the barrel heats mostly to the right and a little up. However, deer hunting is done with a cold barrel. It took a little longer to sight in, but I eventually shot a 2 inch group at 100 yards. It is ready to go.


The Mauser from Hell

Strap in, guys. This is a long and bumpy ride down the bunny hole of rifle loony-ism.

It all started back in 2013. SuperCore was cleaning out his gun safes and I picked up his K98 Mauser in 8X57. He’d been having trouble getting it to shoot. He’d taken it to two local gunsmiths. The first had hosed it up and the second had gone to jail on charges he’d willingly sold guns to known felons before mucking it up further.


Custom Mauser in 8X57 -- The Mauser from Hell

I picked up some 8X57 dies and some 8mm bullets, and went to work on a load, figuring I might have a new deer rifle by the time the season opened.  That was 2013.  I may be approaching that goal now.  I was optimistic.  Someone had placed it in a very nice stock with a decent bedding job, and the workmanship appeared to be exquisite.

Trouble reared its head at the first trip to the range. The rifle was shooting minute of bushel basket.  We’re talking a 30″ spread.  Something was definately wrong.  The original trigger was about as poor a hunting trigger as you could want. It had everything going wrong. I had Hibberds put a  new Timney trigger on it. That got me into the deal another $100.  I also mounted a new scope. The orginal was a cheap Tasco.  That didn’t help anything.  It finally dawned on me the backside of the scope mount, a Leupold STD 1-piece was loose.  When I got it home and got the scope off, it was obvious what was wrong.

SuperCore had sent the rifle out to the first ‘smith to get the scope mount fixed. The first ‘smith ovalled the rear scope mount hole.  The second ‘smith jammed a larger screw in and manage to catch a few threads.  My test firings had nocked it loose.

In taking off the Leupold scope mount, I found out someone had over-tightened the gross windage adjustment screw, the head of which sheared off as I went to loosen it.  There was no one locally that I knew would be able to fix all this, so I just waited with the Mauser From Hell in the safe, waiting for a gunsmith on a white horse.

Back in this spring, I got the idea it was time to start working on the project again.  I found a gunsmith in Pennsylvania on the that was retiring.  Mine was going to be his last project.  While I was out turkey hunting, the Mauser came back.  The smith said he had been unwilling to weld the screw hole shut, fearing the receiver would lose its tempering. Instead, he used a variety of gunsmith tricks, including liberal applications of epoxy to permanently affix the Leupold STD mount to the receiver.  He sent it back with a cheap scope already mounted and collimated. He’d beat on it every which way and the scope had not come off zero.

My first test firings were this fall, using the bullets I had acquired in 2013.  I used H4895 under some PRVI Partisan 170 grain bullets.  Overall, the load performed well, but it was a bit stiff for what I want, and most important,  one round in every 4 or so was flying off 2 feet high and 2 feet to either the right or left.

I contacted the rifle loonies at in the Ask the Gunwriters Section and asked them if they had seen this.

see: Strange Results from The Mauser from Hell

The consensus was there was something wrong with the scope or the mount.  I already had a new scope on order for another project that I could swap on to test the scope idea, but in looking everything over I noticed the bag that held the bullets read “.322” and not “.323″  Now when you think about things logically, there is no good way to explain a single round here and there going awry if the scope or the mount is what’s wrong.  How does the scope or the mount know how to get back to the original setting after it’s moved?  Rifle loonies left and right were telling me it could happen. However, the idea that bad bullets would be to blame sounded more plausible. Just about everything else was discussed– everything from a damaged crown to bad bedding in the tang.

I had some 170 grain Hornady Interlock Round Nosed bullets on hand. This had been my original intention in 2013, but there was a bullet shortage back then, and the PRVI’s were the only similar ones available.  I loaded up some of the Hornady’s and kept everything else the same took the rifle back to the farm.  Shazam!  I now had a very respectable 4” group instead of 4-inches with a 2-foot flyer every 4 rounds.

4-inch groups are about what I consider the minimum for a deer rifle. At 4 inches, you can hit a deer at 100 yards fairly reliably. However, a 4 MOA rifle is much harder to sight-in for an accurate shot beyond that.  You’re kind of guessing at 200 yards. At the Midway blind, a maximum range of 250 is required.  I have not yet had to take one of those shots, but it has to be considered. I shimmed the front screw and loaded 20 more rounds and knocked a grain or so off the previous helping of H4895.  I got what appears to be about a 2-inch group, although you need to interpolate a lot, because there was a 13 MPH crosswind when I was shooting.  All in all, it appears now the Mauser From Hell has been exorcised.



Indiana DNR changes mind: Deer Rifles Nixed on Public Land

In a last minute turn-around the Indiana legislature has changed its mind on the use of centerfire rifle on public land:

Indiana deer and waterfowl hunters need to be aware of two important changes in the print version of the 2017-2018 Hunting & Trapping Guide.

Due to recent legislation passed this year by the Indiana General Assembly, hunters can no longer use rifles when hunting deer on public land. “Public land” includes both state and federal property. Before the change, the use of rifles on public land had been legal.

It remains legal to use a muzzleloader, shotgun or handgun when hunting deer on public land in accordance with deer hunting regulations.

See:  Important Corrections . . .



It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the passing yesterday of Lily, our beloved beagle. She was 16. She had been suffering from a bladder tumor and she took a turn for the worse last week. We had to put her down.

Lily was a rescue. She was being neglected by the neighbor, and came to live on our front porch at the farm, living off the table scraps we fed her two days a week. In October 2004, she dropped a litter of puppies in the back yard, and it was then we decided to adopt her.

She was a devoted companion of Barney, the Wonder Dog, and with his passing in 2006 we got Jay. Jay and Lily were close friends. Lily and I were inseperable for most of her life.  She pasted herself next to me in bed every night.  We scouted deer and turkey together. She was always the queen of my back seat, whenever I went out driving.  Lily could track a wounded deer, and tree a squirrel.  She and Barney used to run rabbits together in the field. In her later years she enjoyed watching TV and gazing out the patio door for squirrels and rabbits.

I will never forget the first time I cooked up some superannuated venison and rice for the dogs.  I spent a morning in the winter thawing, cubing and boiling about 20 lbs of meat and then using the broth to cook rice.  Lily and Jay were enthralled. All afternoon we bagged individual servings in ziplocks and put them in the freezer.  Finally their dinnertime came and KYHillchick served them up their first full portion.  I had already gone to bed for the night, but I heard what was going on.  I heard the empty dog bowls being chased across the floor as they licked them clean.  Suddenly, there was a clatter of toenails coming across the living room floor, and then there was Lily, leaping onto the bed, showering me with love, thanking me for her venison.  She had remembered it was me that had prepared it, and wanted to let me know.




Hollywood is Done!

I spent Saturday morning putting the finishing touches on the tower blind at Hollywood.


This is going to sound a little mincy, but I wanted to give you the particulars on how I “decorated” the stand.  There is a panorama shot in the slideshow showing all the way around the inside  of the blind. Some things worth noting, going left to right:

  • The green bag holds a spare folding chair for when two people are hunting out of the blind. At 5X7′ this is an ideal 2-person blind.  My granddaughter will love it.
  • The director’s chair came from . It has a 500 lb capacity and it’s very roomy.  Even if you are not a walking landform like myself, it makes sense with  when you throw bulky late-season insulated bibs into the mix.
  • You cannot see it in the shot, but the ladder is directly behind the chair.  I added a length of dog chain across the  opening so the chair has no way of slipping off the edge.
  • The outside rail is covered in 2 lengths of 12’X54″ camo burlap. In order to hang it, I used paracord all the way around the blind at the top of the corner posts. That put the cord at 42″ above the floor, and a couple inches higher than the top rail.  I attached the burlap to the rail with small electrical ties with a 1″ foldover. The idea was to have the camo at the right height so I could sit up straight in my chair and scan with binos, or slouch down and be completely hidden.
  • The wind was blowing over 10 MPH as I was finishing up, so I had a good idea of how much flapping was going on.  To keep the skirt from fluttering, I added a second length of paracord all the way around just below the bottom rail.
  • Once I got down from the blind, it was obvious the burlap was just not going to cut it.  It was too transparent– almost as if nothing was there at all.  I went back to the house and got a roll of 36″ black landscape fabric and used it as backing to the burlap.  I had used this stuff on a couple of other blind projects, and it does a good job of keeping the hunter from being backlit.
  • On the center post, I hung an extra large carabiner on some nylon webbing.  I use this as a good way to hold my rifle when I need both hands free. I just clip the rifle’s sling into the ‘biner.  It is also a handy spot to stick gloves and such.
  • On the front and sides, I attached  1″ pipe insulation to the top rail to act as a rifle rest. This is the same stuff I use on treestands.  It keeps the rifle from being scratched and also allows you to rest your barrel  on the rail without making a sound. I used extra-long electrical ties at the ends and middle to hold the foam to the rail. The top of the foam is exactly 38″ off  the floor– ideal shooting height for me.  There is enough spring in the paracord that it bends down a little as I place the rifle on the foam to make my shot.  A deer at 100 yards is just going to see the top of my hat showing above the camo.

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