Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Getting It Ready, The BSA Supersport Magnum .22

The Supersport now all dressed up
Back while in college I bought my first airgun, a Beeman RX.  I kept it at home though as the community I lived in was a little sketchy, not with crime so much but rather with drunken fools.  But while away from home I missed shooting it so I bought a "lesser" gun that I could get my shooting fix.  Since it was meant to be somewhat replaceable, I wouldn't care as much if it were stolen or abused to some degree. 
The gun as it was for years
I bought a BSA Supersport Magnum in .22 left it with open sights.  I would practice in our apartment shooting into a duct taped phone book at about 10 feet. On weekends my roommate and neighbors would head out to the mountains of Santa Barbara and go shooting.  The neighbors, who were Marines, would be shooting my airgun and piece of shit .22 rimfire AR-7 while I'd be shooting their AR15 and Glock pistols.

When I left college and returned home I for the most part put away my airguns and my interest in them waned.  Years later I pulled out my two pellet rifles, the RX still pristine as the day I bought it but the BSA on the other hand was a mess.  Rust had now formed all over the barrel.  I cleaned it off but it only came back.  I eventually cleaned the rust and stripped the blueing off and reblued it with Birthwood Casey Perma Blue Gun Paste.  It did not look professional at all.  The gun would return back in the closet not to be touch for years later.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I pulled the Supersport out once again as I wanted to perhaps use it on my next turkey hunt if I had to trek back into the steep mountains with my backpack.  I wanted to carry a lighter gun.  Unfortunately the rust returned but not as bad but bad enough.  So pulled out the ultra fine steel wool and started removing oxidation.

I'm debating whether to send this gun in to get properly reblued but I'm not sure if it is worth it.  The gun was always meant to be a field beater. Also the replacement cost of this gun (albeit the new version is a bit different) is about $300.  The cost to have Dave Slade of Airgunwerks to reblue is $155. 
After backpacking a 30 plus pound pack into one of our valleys with a roughly 11 pound Beeman RX, it became evident that a lighter gun would be nice for steep climbs.  I believe the Supersport weighs roughly seven pounds and after adding the mount, scope and slings the gun probably weighs just about eight.  For a mountain hunting gun, I'll definitely want to sling it. Humping a gun that heavy for long distances is a pain.  Back in the day Uncle Mike's used to make sling sets for break barrel airguns, I believe this was in most part from the urging of Bob Beeman who rebadged them and sold them under his name.  Now that Beeman, (the man not the company) is no longer active in the scene, it looks like Uncle Mike's has discontinued the item.
I don't think many airgunners sling their airguns anyways so it made sense for Uncle Mike's to stop producing the set.  But unfortunately for those that wish to use them, finding these barrel band sets is now quite a task. After some internet searching I did manage to find a source who still carried a few.   
Instructions for these sets are good but one aspect they fail to address is how to find the center of the bottom of the stock.  I searched youtube to no avail.  There are plenty of videos on how to install sling swivels but none go into detail how to find the center of the bottom of the stock.  After contacting blog reader Brad, he let me know, this step is easily overlooked and easily screwed up.  I emailed  him as I knew he has skills with steel and wood as evident by his latest rifle build seen here.   After his instruction I think I found the center or at least center enough (though the picture is somewhat deceiving).
The BSA is a nice mid level airgun but it's iron sights are absolute garbage.  To harness the true potential of the rifle it needs to be scoped.  And for hunting purposes, it's mandatory particularly with turkey.  I have no experience with Hawke Optics but I decided to buy the HD IR Series 2-7x32 AO Rifle Scope.  We'll see if this scope is truly airgun rated and how it holds up.  This scope has a luminated Mil-Dot reticle in both red and green.  I think for this gun it was the right choice.  One thing I did not like about the scope is that my one piece Beeman scope mount did not fit.  Luckily my old man had a old pair of Beeman two piece mounts that he took off his R10 years ago.  So I commandeered it as it did no good sitting in a gun closet.  It did save me a trip to Air Venture though I wouldn't have minded a visit.
This was the best I could do with the rifle today with 22 mph winds blowing.  This is a five shot group at 25 yards using an 80's era tin of H&N Field Target pellets.  Once these winds pass these groups should tighten up even more.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Scouting For The End Of The Season

Word has it that this area was a great go-to spots for turkey so we decided to investigate.  We only had this morning to check it out so we woke up early and headed south.  When we arrived we overshot our destination, and after some backtracking we managed to find the trail.  It quickly lead us to a small meadow but not the meadow we were looking for.  After some serious bushwhacking we managed climb over a hill to give us a look of our destination.  Without any game trails in sight nor any easy way to the field we decided to forgo more bushwhacking and look for another meadow.  Other than some old scat we found no signs of turkey despite the overall birdiness of this place.  Though this may be due to the fact that the recent rains most likely washed away any sign.    Next weekend is my last shot to try and bag one of these birds this season, so we have some decisions to make on where we want to hunt.
The Beeman RX is running out of time for a her first Turkey.  After this year she will unlikely be used as nontox .20 cal is almost nonexistent.   Even if it did exist this gun is very pellet sensitive so there is little chance of it shooting it well.

One of many fresh deer tracks of the day.

Looks like a predator kill.  Most likely a turkey that met its fate.

More deer tracks.

A flower, the name escapes me now, with medicinal properties. *EDIT* The plant is Yarrow
A Red Tail giving us an aerial display. 
Lunch at Roberto's.  California Burrito...

and a cheese quesadilla.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Last Day. Strutting Their Stuff On Private Property

With the valley now all to ourselves, Chul and I awoke early and made our way to the meadow we heard the Tom.  Unlike the previous night I actually had a great night's sleep.  Thankfully as we had quite a hike ahead of us to get out of here.  We slept in our hunting clothes so we were ready to go and geared up light.  Bypassing breakfast we headed to the meadow as quietly as possible.
When we arrived to our decoys we hid behind our natural blinds, I set up my shooting monopod and laid my Beeman RX on it as Chul made calls.  But this time the calls though went unreciprocated.  Waiting we eventually gave up and started to head toward another meadow.  Dead leaves litter this area and there was absolutely no way of making a quiet stalk.  We hid in the outer edges of the meadow behind several oak trees and random brush.  Only a few lanes gave us a view to the field any attempt to come closer would likely spook anything in that meadow.  Chul had a greater field of view from his spot.  My view was obstructed so I could not see the buck and a doe feeding on grass.  Since I was the one with the binoculars Chul could only tell me it was a "pretty big" buck.  It eventually passed his viewing lane and disappeared.  At this point we decided it was time to get out of this canyon before the heat arrived. 
It was going to be hot so we wanted to be backpacking in tolerable weather.  We managed to breakdown camp and head out by 7:30ish.  Chul estimated a 2 hour hike out and we still needed to find my torn up Lowa boots we cached on Friday.
A stronger hiker than I, Chul managed to be about ten minutes ahead of me and found my boots strapped on his pack and waited until I caught up.  On the way out we ran into this snake which I believe is a California Striped Racer (Chaparral Whipsnake) on the trail trying to sun himself.  By 7:20 we were by the truck, ten minutes earlier than his estimation and just before the temperature began to rise considerably.
On the way home, since we did not see any turkeys on this trip, we decided to drive by the lake to get some food and check out them out on private property.  In on field we saw two hens, in another a lone Jake strutting his stuff.  The field next to the diner had at least seven birds we glassed.  One of them was a monster Tom with a beard that was dragging the ground.
We sat in the enclosed patio area so I could glass the birds while we waited for out food.  I had the heart attack special- country fried steak, scrambled eggs and taters.  I'm sure any calories I used up on the hike was now going to be replenished and some.  For me a gun hunter I only have two weekends left to take Tom this spring season.  I'll see if I can make it back before it closes on me.  As a bow hunter Chul has an additional two weeks.  Hopefully one of us can bag one of these prehistoric looking animals.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 2 Looking For Tom

Having tossed and turned all night, I managed only a couple hours sleep when we awoke the camper armed with a shotgun across from us was making his way to the meadow we had scouted the night before.  With that plan canceled we regrouped and decided to see if there was a way above the ridge to the other side where we knew had a meadow interlaced with public and private land.
After several summit attempts we made it about three quarters of the way up before we were stopped in our tracks with an impenetrable wall of thickets.  We would try four or five different game trails only to be met by the same result.  Demoralized we stopped for breakfast and formulated our next plan.
Back when I backpacked more often I tried several freeze dried "backpacking" food and everyone tasted like ass.  I've been reluctant ever since to buy any and bring them with me.  Chul has always told me that Mountain House made the most edible and should stick with those.  I do trust Chul's palate but I was still skeptical.  Mountain House breakfast skillet was on the menu and I will have to say it was much better than I expected. 
We decided to forgo our attempt to summit and headed down back into the meadows.  There by the creek we began to see some sign including this not-too-old track of a big Tom. 
Despite being late in the morning we set up some decoys and hoped for the best.  We made our calls but to no avail.  I was hoping to see the real deal through my scope but I could only put my reticle on the foam version (of course I wouldn't be shooting a hen). 
By late morning it was time to head back to camp and take a siesta.  It was hot and we moved our sleeping pads under a tree for shade and a cat nap until we got hungry.
Laziness and hunger caused me to eat my SpaghettiOs-wannabe without heating it.  I really did not want to clean my cooking mug again.  It was actually quite good cold.  By this time the hunter who camped across from us was back and preparing to head home.  We chatted him up and he gave us the best lead of the trip.  He had not gone to the meadow we wanted to hunt but in another direction.  He was able hear a Tom gobble but not able to make him respond to his calls or  could get him to come in.
We followed his directions and headed to that area.  On the way we found more sign including new tracks and turkey scat from both hens and toms.  Chul gave a hen call and he heard the Tom respond with a gobble.  He set up where we were and Chul set up the decoys.  This ended up our fatal mistake.  Chul later believed he saw the turkey in between the brush while setting up the dekes, thus spooking it away.  At the time he didn't realize it. and we set up our ambush. Moments later Chul called again but it went silent.

We decide to leave this area and save it for the next morning leaving the dekes as they laid.  At this moment it dawned on Chul that he may had been seen by the gobbler.  Looking for other areas we headed toward the meadows we initially wanted to hunt in the morning.  We tried climbing over the hills but they were impenetrable fortresses.
Eventually we found some other meadows and found more evidence of Toms.  It looked like a smaller track than the one we found earlier but nonetheless a good sign.
Exhausted we headed back to camp to rest up for the next day in the hope to meet that Tom that teased both the shotgun hunter and ourselves.
Earlier in the trip I lost my boots as the soles fell apart, now it was Chul's turn to have his gear break.  His GSI spork broke leaving him with no eating utensil.  This piece of shit gear is the worst piece of gear I've ever seen.  I tried to booty fab it by melting it trying fuse it back together but the plastic was having none of that.
Trying to be the Last Boy Scout tried fabricating his own spoon.  One of Marines' mountain survival school tests is to make wooden spoon, I could say neither Chul nor I would have passed. 
For dinner I brought along Mountain House Pasta Primavera and Chul brought Beef Stroganoff.  Both were half way decent and pretty good for backpacking food.  One suggestion Chul gave me though was to not follow the manufacture's direction and add less water.  I loaded mine with one and three quarter cups of boiling water (directions say two cups) and it was still too runny.  Not long after our meal it was time for bed and I slept much better this night.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Day 1 Turkey Airgun Hunt

When scouting some areas a couple weeks earlier, Chul received some insider info from a guide he met out there on that trip.  On the weekend we decided to check it out.  The trip would require us to backpack it in.  I'd use my Beeman RX airgun and he would use his Abbott Longbow.  While on that scouting trip Chul also was given some info that the area held trout so we packed our flyrods in case the hunting was slow.
We arrived late morning on Friday and headed down the mountain.  I'd be humping about thirty pounds on my back in addition to my airgun which is probably about 11 pounds.  Going down shouldn't be a problem but coming back was going to be a chore.
Within a quarter of a mile of the trip, the sole of my right Lowa boot came apart. I haven't worn these boots in over a decade as I rarely backpack anymore.  Soles nowadays are rarely stitched on but rather glued, it has always been my concern that these glues will eventually deteriorate.  Of course it will always happen in the most inopportune time.  I tried to figure out how to booty fab a repair but without any duct tape or glue or anything I decided to just rip them off and see if I could continue.  After a few more steps my left sole came apart.  As we thought there'd be trout in the water we packed in Teva river shoes and Chul graciously offered me his boots (luckily we wear the same size) and he would wear the Tevas since he is used to hiking and backpacking with them when he goes into the Kern.  This helped me big time.
After descending about 1000 feet we made it into the valley.  We checked the water and it was green an low.  Other than frogs we saw no fish.  After resting a while we dropped the pack and scouted the area around the water for both turkey and trout. 
We saw no fish but heard one lone hen calling in the distance over the other ridge.  The water at one point may have held fish and it still might but we saw no sign of trout this trip.  Such a same both Chul and I figure fishing could have been our fallback if the hunting sucked.
The wild flowers are in bloom now and Chul pointed out each variety to me.  It's nice to have this knowledge in the field with you as it makes the outdoor experience more holistic.  Though it's a shame I can barely remember any of the names of them.  I do remember the important stuff like plants that counteract poison oak.  We headed pack and looked for a camping spot.  Once we found our basecamp we went about looking for more meadows to hunt tomorrow morning.

We headed back to camp to prepare dinner.  On the menu mac and cheese with salame.  We hit the sack early, Chul passed out within minutes.  I'd be stuck hearing him snore all night.  I was awaken around 10pm when another group of hunters rolled in and set up camp across from us.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not Like It Used To Be

The Salamander Fly (now tied with braided chenille) got a lot of looks but just was only pushed off beds without any takes.
Yesterday we fished Mission Viejo.  Most bass at MVL are off their beds with only small fish remaining.  Water color is Hulk green and visibility is about ten feet.  After speaking with a few bass fishermen their experiences haven been like ours and can be explained with one word.  Lousy.  The dock attendants have let us know that mortality has been high for the big bass.  We only saw one big bass that was off her bed and was cruising.  The lake has changed that I have no interest in returning anytime this year.  I got a lot of looks and chases but no takes.  Chul managed a trout sized juvenile on my 3 weight.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lowa Hunter Extreme Gore-Tex Hunting Boots

Heads up hunters in need of new boots, STP has discontinued Lowa Extreme Gore-Tex Hunting Boots on sale right now for $295.95.  With all the coupons floating around you can reduce that amount an additional 35% as I did.
The Hunter Extreme have been discontinued for a new upgraded "EVO" model and if you can live with the last generation of boot than you can get a quality boot for a steal.  Designed as a high mountain boot, it's listed on STP as nine inches tall (though I think its higher, I've not checked to confirm though).  Leather is water repellant Nubuck leather.  A protective rubber rand secures the boot to the sole.
Unstable, rugged rocky terrain should be no problem.  Outsoles are Vibram Tsavo and has a polyurethane shock-absorbing midsole for excellent grip on multiple surfaces.
Lined with Gore-Tex and 200 gram insulation of Primaloft makes this boot both breathable and warm.  High Sierra winters should be no problem and I intend on using these boots late season.   
These Lowas are made in Germany.
The Lowas side by side with my prized Meindl Dovre Extreme GTX.  The Lowa is  similarly styled and should serve as a great cold weather back up to my Meindls.  Too bad I have to wait til next season to try them out.