This is the first of a two-part series about preparing for the upcoming hunting seasons.
The daytime temperatures have been in the 80-degree range and the nighttime temps have been in the 50-degree range this week. Oh, for sure, there will be a few days in the low 90s and high 50s, but the weather has made a noticeable change.
Generally, plants shut down or slow down when temps are at or above 90 degrees. A potato farmer remarked recently, “When the daytime temperatures are in the 80s and the nighttime temperatures are in the 50s, we are growing potatoes.”
The general temperature drop helps the vegetable garden, for sure, but it signals the approaching of fall and the upcoming hunting seasons. Some seasons are already open, but August seems to be a bit too warm for me.
The first concern is meat spoilage. Shoot an elk in this weather and the hunter should be/must be ready to get the meat to a cooler in short order. My other concern involves wasps. It seems every time a fish is cleaned outside at my house in August there are 10 to 30 wasps wanting their share of the meat. Imagine field dressing an elk on a hillside with 100 wasps on the meat.
The recent cooler days and nights have me thinking about the upcoming hunting seasons. First there is a hunt for master hunters in the Ellensburg area. This involves taking care of pesky elk, those causing damage to crops in the surrounding area.
Next is the dove and forest grouse seasons, beginning Sept. 1. This is the time to spend a weekend or week hunting grouse during the early morning and late evening and spending the day fishing a favorite lake. Conconully Reservoir and the surrounding area would be the perfect place for such a scenario.
There is also a week-long over-age-65 pheasant hunt in Sept. The main event begins in October. This involves the duck and goose seasons, plus the general deer season. My hunt group, The Hut Crew, will gather at The Hut and spend most of the 11-day season together, hunting, joking, visiting and catching up on what has been going on in our lives.
The crew consists of Lani Schorzman, Hut 1; Jerry Lester, Hut 2; Thomas Steffens, Hut 3; Chuck Buck, Hut 4, Ted Nugent, Hut 5; Me, Hut 6 and Rudy Lopez, Hut 7. Ted is usually busy with his own hunting seasons, but has taken time to give us a call during the season. Jerry and Chuck have passed away, but are remembered each year with at least one toast.
We head out, together or alone, to search for a main objective, a mule deer buck. Those of us over 65 also have a chance to tag a white-tail antlerless or buck deer.
Thinking about the seasons has me in preparation mode. Bill Witt has been helping me work up a load for my .270, .30-06 and .243 rifles. This is called reloading or hand loading of rifle cartridges. This involves taking a used cartridge case and cleaning it. This is completed by placing the case, along with perhaps 100 more, in a tumbler or vibrator filled with ground corn cob pieces.
The cases are resized then polished or cleaned as the tumbler vibrates and moves the cases through the cob. There are many more steps to the reloading process, which will be explained in detail in series of upcoming columns.
Briefly the cleaned cases or brass is then chamfered and deburred, a new primer installed, powder placed in the case and then a bullet is seated.
Although time consuming, reloading rifle ammo is a rewarding process, especially when friends are involved, which allows a camaraderie element.
The next step is to head to the range and check the load. An example is a new .270 load using Hodgdon H4350 powder. Rounds were loaded, 30 in all, with 51, 52 and 53 grains of powder, 10 rounds of each load. Each load was fired through a chronograph, which measures the velocity of each round.
Each increase in powder, even one grain, increased the velocity of the bullet by about 50 feet per second. Each powder addition of powder also dropped the spot where the bullet hit the target. This is because the bullet was getting to the target faster.
My goal is to have the bullet hit the target 3-inches above the bullseye at 100 yards. This puts me in the kill zone of a big game animal out to 300 yards without holding over or raising the point of aim.
Those who reload their own ammo work toward the best load for a specific rifle. This may require working with different powders, cases or bullets. My favorite bullet for the .270 is the Nosler AccuBond in 140 grain, which has a white polymer tip.
Next week: More hunting preparation suggestions.