Monday, December 14, 2009

Another opening day!

Today was the first day of muzzleloader season here in western NY. I spent the morning in a friends 10 acre woodlot. Timeline went kinda like this. 5:45 am, Roll out give Pelenaka a squeeze and a kiss, load the car. 6:15 am, stop at Tim Hortons for coffee, then spend 15 minutes waiting for the woman in front of me to decide what she wants. 7:01 am, pull into friends driveway half an hour later than I planned. 7:08 am pop caps to clear the nipple and load up. start the quarter mile walk back to the woods. Discover knee deep snow on the lane and ankle deep mud in the corn next to it. Not too bad walking if I stay right on the edge of the lane. 7:20 am, step into edge of the woods, wade a shallow puddle and discover the waterproofing on my right boot need to be redone. Within five minuted discover left boot isn't any better. Decide to stalk the woods up to high ground and hope my woolies keep me going. 7:35-8:00 am, Wander woods following tracks of a single turkey. Big tracks, figure it's a big bachelor tom. 8:00 am, find myself tangled in brambles. Was so intent on turkey sign, I ignored everything else around me. 8:15 am, find a trail being used by a small deer. I'm not a trophy hunter, small deer are better eating. Not saying I wouldn't put a trophy eight pointer in the freezer and his head on the wall. Saying I would rather drag a 100lb forkhorn through the mud back to the car than something huge. 8:25 park my butt on a blowdown maple 30 yards off little deers trail. Sitting up off the ground, big rootball to lean back against, which also breaks up my outline. 8:35 am, light drizzle falling. Take time to be thankful I brought a caplock carbine and not the flinter. Hunch over guns lock trying to keep everything dry. Approx 8:40 am. take brief nap. Not by choice, hunters will understand, it's peaceful, nobody's bothering you, it happens. 9:05 am, Nearby movement wakes me. Not a deer. Consider small batch of squirrel stew for lunch. Realize that at all of about 4 yards, there won't be a whole lot left by a .50 caliber round ball propelled by 80 grains of ffg. Might only have squirrel tail stew. decide to wait for something bigger, or at least farther away. 9:30 am, You know what? My feet didn't feel cold until my ass got cold from sitting on a wet log. 10:00 am, decide to sit tight another half hour. Feet are already wet and cold. 10:30am, West end of this woods has a big swale that cuts into it. Lots of water in there. It's also on the way back to the car. When I entered these woods it was still kind of dark to be bumbling around in there. Turns out also lots of deer in there! All probably figured out I was there and left. They did leave lots of fresh sign behind. Decide to stand still for half an hour overlooking the busiest trail and see if any return. 11:00 am. Feet so cold it's painful. Decide to swing trough the woods and leave in the north east corner. Drier that way. Pass gutpile from doe that's in the freezer. There is a fox in the woods, and he's been treating it as his personal grocery. May come back after deer season with .32 squirrel gun and see if we can get a nice fox pelt. 11:20 am. Turn on car, crank up heat. Dig diet pepsi out of back seat. Wish it were hot coffee. Oh well! A hot woodstove is 20 minutes away. Can get coffee at home. Tomorrow I will return. Earlier, I will enter from the back side of the woods, the dry side that is. I will take a stand watching over that swale. Oh by the way. I will also be wearing my brand new pair of rubber knee high boots from tractor supply. Also, they will have 2 layers of wool socks inside them. The woods are an awesome place to be. But wet cold feet suck no matter where you are! Woods

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Venison for dinner!

Sunday we put meat on the table without firing a shot! Late sunday afternoon we left the club and stopped at a friends on the way home. He offered us a chance at hunting his private woods. Ealier in the day he had shot a big doe, and was done for the day. Earlier in the day his cousin had shot at another small doe. She ran off and he couldn't find her. As we left the woods we found her. I had a doe tag for that zone so we tagged her and put what we could in the freezer. 3/4 of her was still good so we've got about 15lbs of sausage, 3 big roasts, and the backstraps in the freezer. Having the tenderloins for dinner tonight with wild rice and yams. We also have her hide and the hide from my friends doe. As soon as they are tanned they will become a possibles bag to replace my old one. With what's left I will try and get Pelenaka to sew into a pair of mittens for the sidekick. If there is enough left after that we will make some moccasins. From past experience though I know that even though a hide looks big, once you start cutting it's alot smaller than you think. Woods

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where I belong, in the woods

Today was opening day of firearm deer season here in western NY. My first opener since 1987. Wow didn't realize it had been over 20 years until I typed it. Oh, I've hunted deer. But, due to job and time constraints it just hasn't happened except here and there. This year I just happened to have a weeks vacation coming and the ability to take time off at just the right time. Today wasn't a great day in the woods. But, there is no such thing as a bad day in the woods. It was also my stepdaughters first deer opener. It could have been a real letdown for her. She's a trooper though and made the best of it. Being her first time out I made araingments to hunt one of my gun clubs. I figured it would be a more controlled situation and safer for her. However I didn't know just how many people hunted the clubs lands. I knew they had enough people for some serious drives. I've been on deer drives and don't in particular care for them. I picked us a spot down in the gorge of Oatka creek. I knew the drive would be above us on top and we wouldn't be in the line of fire. I'll tell you this when the shooting up there started I knew what being a dad felt like. Right off the bat I moved DD to the down range side of a big beech tree. While we weren't in the direct line of fire I sure do know what the wrong end of a shooting gallery sounds like. Now the place we were hunting is under management and is antlerless only. If I shot the first doe she was done hunting, due to her status as a junior hunter. So, she was told the first deer was hers and I'd be her backup shot. BTW, we were both shooting traditional sidelock muzzleloaders with cloth patched round balls. Well that drive did send us a doe, a big one. She came down the hill saw us move and froze. Then she did that jump and turn 180 degrees thing that only a deer can do. There she is ears and nose twitching trying to figure out what we were. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. DD didn't shoot. Well that doe did that crouch she was going to jump, as she started to rise I let fly with a .50 cal ball and missed. Then I heard the "what the?" from my daughters tree. It seems she was just getting her sights settled when I shot. I broke my word that the first shot was hers. That pains me to no end. I could only think her gun misfired, not that due to a different angle she couldn't tell whether the deer had antlers or not. She forgave me though. trouble is forgiving myself. As it turns out it was just as well. As we left we stopped at the clubs rifle range to empty the guns. Well hers didn't go off. Several months ago I picked up an old kentucky replica from the 70's. Poorly built from a kit it had ignition problems. With quite a bit of tinkering I thought I had the gun shooting well enough to hunt with. The plan was to hunt with it, then after hunting season rebuild it into something nice. Turns out I got it working good when it was warm and dry. Put it in the misty damp air at 40 degrees and all it's old problems return. Tomorrow the sidekick will be carrying a single shot 20 gauge with slugs. I will be carrying my kentuckian replica that shoots cloverleafs all day long at 50 yards. Tonight we eat spagetti and meatballs from the store. Maybe to morrow we eat liver and onions from the woods. Lets hope at least.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not blogging much lately.

As my loyal followers have probably noticed I haven't been around much. It's been a busy summer. Our church started a community garden and I signed up for a plot. Then rather than let weeds take over the unclaimed plot next door, I took a second plot. Before that our computer picked up a virus I couldn't get off of it. So we bought a laptop and cell phones. Then dumped the phone company. Right now we're stuck with a library wireless connection. It's free, but, the libraries summer hours and my work hours don't leave me alot of opportunities to get online. I tried a wireless broadband card from Cricket as it would be the cheapest route without having to have a contract. Well it stank to say the least. Monday, I'm returning it. It made my virus ridden desk top on DSL seem quick. I'd guess the wireless card was somewhere around half as fast as a dial up connection. On top of that we couldn't get the wireless router to work as long as it was on the computer. The whole idea was portable, and the wireless for when we were out of thier service area. Maybe around the time the snow flies I can get Pelenaka to lighten up on her hatred of the cable company. If I can maybe there will be road runner in my future. Until then I'll have to sneak around the libraries hours. Woods

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cutlery for the budget minded backwoodsman

Not long ago Scoutinlife posted about his idea for the perfect knife. Well here is mine. It wasn't easy to find. Took about 20 years of looking as a matter of fact. A thick, stiff 4" plain carbon steel blade in almost the shape advocated by the great outdoorsman Nessmuck. Stacked leather washer handle that fits the hand perfect. It was aquired as part of the great tool caper last summer. I almost missed it in the bottom of a box of junk. Covered in rust from the basement flood it survived. One afternoon last fall I took to cleaning it up. At the time I was skeptical. I proceeded on faith just because it felt soo good in my hand. Well the rust cleaned up leaving a brown/blue patina behind. It quickly took an edge that would shave the hair off my arm. At this point all it has dressed out is a homestead raised bunny and a steak dinner. Not a makers mark on it anywhere, however the sheath is marked "Made in England". The poor mans tomahawk is a gun show find. Having aquired my flintlock, I felt the need to have a hawk to go with it. At the same gunshow I found this carpenter's hatchet head in a box of junky knives. Priced at $3.00 I saw potential in it. A trip to work got me a handle meant for a big 24oz framing hammer for another $3.00. Less than an hour to fit them together and I had a poor mans hawk. Soon I will grind off the remains of the claws from it's backside. It's already seen plenty of use sharpening home made tomato stakes and splitting kindling. It too took a fine edge and has become a favorite. $6.00 sure beats the cost of a replica. They usually start around $25.00 for cruddy ones and go quite high in price. Lets see your favorites!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The sad state of the American male!

Time for a rant. I warned you way back in the beginning of this blog I wouldn't always be Mr nice guy. Sorry if some are offended, but, I need to say it! Keep in mind this is partially tongue in cheek. Several days ago I had the opportunity to over hear a conversation between three men. Well two talked and the third just sat there and nodded. It seems guy #1 (using the term guy loosely here) was tired of hearing his wife complain about the cost of their lawn service. Which was just over $100 a month and included snow plowing in winter. Guy #2 said the cost of a mower was too much to justify doing it yourself. The cost of a tractor alone was over $1500. Guy #1 replied that their fathers mowed the same size lots with push mowers and they cost about what one months of the service does. The problem for guy #1 was he couldn't figure out how to mow along the fence. Guy 2 mentioned a string trimmer. Guy 1 replied that string trimmer scared him and just mowing his city lot was getting too complicated. It all scared guy 2, that's why he pays a service. Yes people, scared and complicated were their words, not mine. We wonder why our country is failing. Yet, how can we manufacture products and have a strong economy when most of our population is afraid of basic objects. A task as simple as cutting grass is viewed as complicated? If the crap ever does really hit the fan bad, we are in deep doo doo. I don't have time to be changing these guys diapers for them. My advice for those guys! Turn off the TV idiot box. Get away from your computer. Make your wife do her own pedicure. Get a mower and mow your lawn. Let the grass grow a little next to the fence, the guy next door is too busy giving his wife a pedicure to care. Break the mower, get grease and oil under your pretty nails and fix it. Next you'll want to change the oil in the car, do it! Before you know it, you'll know what those thing hanging there are, reach down and grab them. The only thing I think you're really afraid of is something called testosterone. Stop eating so much soy, go get yourself a proper piece of meat for dinner and you might have some more of it! It's really not that scary of a thing. Sign this one. Woods, the unreformed male!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thinking and eating outside the box

Here's a post about one of my favorite things, Eating! Like every red blooded American male I love cooking on the barbeque. Well we just gave away our grill. We found a better way. Actually I should give Pelenaka her due and tell you it was her discovery. Several years ago my darling wife decided the frugal thing to do was to can our food on a wood stove. So, we went shopping and found an old laundry stove in the weeds out behind a antique shop. Spent a bit over $100.00 to get it. We (well mostly she) have used it for three years now for food preservation and it does an excellent job. It also runs for almost free, something that can't be said for our vintage electric stove. A trip around the nieghborhood with a wagon after a wind storm yields plenty of free firewood. Maple mostly, with the occasional piece of walnut, oak or cherry thrown in. Well here is the big discovery. Maple and cherry twigs and sticks beat briquets or lump charcoal all day long. For one thing they are free rather than costing $5.00 for a 10 pound bag. Second they don't require expensive starter either. A strip of brown paper bag or news paper is all it takes. One of those square black grills with the round holes meant for veggies or seafood replaces the wire grill. Pictured above is yours truly roasting hot dogs and goat chops. The goat was the last of a young buck purchased from a friend last spring for $40.00. It lasted so long because I'm the only one that will eat it. The girls had hots and burgers. The jar in the background with the red lid is my home made hot/barbeque sauce. The sauce might just become a source of income. I took a bottle to work and stuck it in the fridge. I had it once. Today one of my coworkers asked when I was bringing in more. The bottle was in the fridge almost empty. The store bought equivilent cost almost four bucks for a ten ounce bottle. It costs me three to make half a gallon of it. Maybe I'll start charging my coworkers for hot sauce. You may recognize that bit of white to my right under the tarp in the picture, as a old fashioned claw foot tub. Yup! You guessed it. In the summer when the girls go to Texas to visit dad, we turn off the hot water heater and bathe behind a screen in the back yard. We just use the old stove for what it was designed to do, heating water. Sure beats having a gas bill! Last month our expensive new fangled front load washing machine broke. I have a strange feeling one of these days, I'm going to come home and find my wife boiling the clothes on top of this stove. Imagine that! Woods

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm a rocklock man!

It's now official. A rock makes my gun go bang. Last weeks gun show turned up this Traditions flintlock PA rifle. This wasn't my first choice. I really wanted a .45 caliber to save on lead and powder expenses. This .50 caliber gun came along at a price I couldn't refuse. Actually I missed a 20 yr old unfired Navy Arms KY rifle for half the money by minutes. It was a .45 too. That seller was parting out his brothers estate at bargain basement prices. By the time I got there though all his flintlocks were gone. I am happy with what I have though. I've found a complete set of spare lock parts for less than $30.00. That includes two mainsprings and two frizzens. This gun isn't likely to end up out of action in my lifetime. There is only one problem. This gun is 5 inches longer than my gunsafe is tall! That's OK, I've been looking for an excuse to go safe shopping! If I like this gun at the range, I may just have to scrounge up the smallbore version too. It was pointed out to me today, that I'm not posting often enough for one of my fans. Be patient my friends, a couple minor health issues have been keeping me off line. I should be back in a few weeks.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A tribute to the "hell box"

Everyone needs a "Hell Box". What's a "Hell Box" you ask? It's the workshop equivilent to the kitchen junk drawer. No, I didn't come up with the name. I got the name from a writer named Granville King. Not sure if that's his real name or a pen name. Ol Granville wrote for a magazine called "pickup, Van, & Four Wheel Drive back in the 70's. GK was a desert rat living in the Mojave and wrote of his travels in his WWII vintage Jeep. Today I was reminded of ol GK and his story about "Hell Boxes".We've got a local gun show tomorrow and I have a pair of CVA percussion rifles I'm taking to trade toward a flintlock if I can find one. I disassembled one of these rifles at one point intending to refinish it. Never got around to that project. I went to put this gun back together last night only to find the screw that holds the tang missing. Taking the screw from the other rifle (above left), I headed out hardware shopping. The place I currently work doesn't have it, so I headed to the place I used to work. All I could find long enough in an M5 thread was a socket head screw(center). I figured if I had to I could grind the proper head onto it, so I bought it and a nut. When I got home I remembered the "Hell Box", and found the flathead M5(above right). Pictured below are my "Hell Boxes" or HB's.Those readers that are mechanicaly inclined already know about HB's. For the rest of you let me explain the HB concept. HB's are a very delecate and magical things. They must be properly fed, housed and treated. Feeding them is easy. Most projects has a few parts left over when you are done. Parts you will probably never need again. When this happens a few of those parts speak magically to you and say "Don't throw me out you'll regret it". These are the parts that give a HB it's magic. Find a suitable container and place it in a dark place. Under a workbench is best. That is where a HB's magic is strongest. Treatment is easy. An occassional stir is all that's required, a tap of your toe is sufficient most of the time. Do all these things and the HB rewards you with it's magic. You see all those magic talking parts have the ability to breed. If you are lucky and follow the magic formula they will breed those odd and unusual parts that you need every now and then. When pulling out your HB to look for that item of your quest, be sure to talk to it in a calm gentle voice, telling it what you need. But, be careful, don't get greedy and push your luck. Your HB might bite if you do. Today after finding my M5 flat head screw, I made the mistake of not showing my gratitude, and continued to dig for a more suitable subject. As I stirred I nearly cut myself on a double edge razor blade. This blade was in like new condition as if schick made it yesterday. Obviously something my HB bred on the spot to tell me it's displeasure for my lack of gratitude. I took the razor blade and put it in the drawer with the others. I then profusely thanked the Hell Box for it's generosity, promissed to feed it soon, and returned it to it's home beneath the workbench. That my friends is how a Hell Box works. Good luck on starting yours. I couldn't imagine not having mine. Just remember to always express your gratitude when your HB pays you back. Woods

Friday, April 10, 2009

Remembering Norris

Yes remembering Norris. A man I never knew. It all started about ten years ago at a Place called Creekside Gun Shop. I was out for a saturday afternoon with buddies. Creekside had a shooting range and it was free to use. After our shooting session we would always head inside to spend whatever was left after buying ammunition. In the used book section was a copy of "Guns and Gunning" by Captain Curtis. Not a book I was exactly interested in. But, next to it was a copy of Ed McGivern's "Fast and Fancy Shooting". That was a book I wanted, but, being a first edition it wasn't in my price range after buying 30/40 Krag ammo and 44 specials for the S&W TripleLock I was playing with that day. When I returned Fast and Fancy to the shelf, I by accident knocked "Guns and Gunning" off the shelf. It was then that I was introduced to Norris. You see a hand written christmas note and ten pictures fell out of that book. The note said "Norris; Merry christmas, the eleventh one. Hoping there will be eleven more such happy ones. Pet" At that point in my life I hadn't met a woman I considered spending more than a christmas or two with. So, there may have been a little sentiment there, on my part. The first picture really stirred something up in me. In my deepest memories I could remember boat houses just like those. And between the ages of six and fourteen I spent more than a few hours in a wooden skiff just like that one with my grandpa.
Or maybe it was the guy in me that deer hunts with obsolete weapons. I don't know if that'a a Marlin or a Winchester. I do know it's not the usual carbine, that's a full length rifle barrel. Or maybe the vintage car nut in me was spoken to by the 37 ford sedan. Maybe, my first car back in high school was a 38 ford pick up truck.
Maybe it was the picture taken beside the lake. I wouldn't mind having that cooler to add to my vintage gear collection
Nice bass Norris! I can taste that one rolled in my grand aunts blend of spices, cornmeal, and milk now!
I hope Norris had the means to hang this musky on the wall! The one my grand uncle Gerald caught in the 1970's was only half that size. I wonder if that is "Pet's" shadow taking the picture, it does look like a females outline. Another picture of what appears to be the same fish. The only photo in the pile with any information on it. Written on the back is "Crowe Lake July 48".
Well it's obvious, I spent four bucks and bought the book I didn't want. It went home and sat on a desk corner for a month. Then one day I was looking at an old road map of Ontario, that was in my granpa's stuff. Like I said, I spent alot of time with grandpa in an environment that looked an awful lot like these pictures. I spent two weeks every summer at "Harrolds Camp" at Gores Landing, Rice Lake, Ontario. Right next door was the boat works where those cedar skiffs were made. And that day looking at grandpa's old map I saw something I never knew about until that day. Just a few miles over the hills north and east of Rice lake, there is another lake, It's name is Crowe Lake. So, you might say Norris and I shared summer playgrounds. We were just a few miles and a few decades apart from each other.
And you know, for a few years I really envied Norris. I mean a woman that loved him enough to by him a book for christmas. A book about something he really loved to do.
Then Pelenaka and the girls came into my life. I no longer felt envy towards Norris. I felt an even deeper kinship, to this man I never knew.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Six hour canoes and chamber inserts.

Recently the book "Building the Six Hour Canoe" arrived at my local library. As promised I checked it out. It seems to be a viable project, however the instructions call for 4x16 sheets of marine plywood, not your average home center stuff. There is instructions on how to use 2 4x8 sheets with a seem in the middle. Also the completed canoe has a strict load limit of 250lbs. The 250lb weight limit rules out this project for me. I'm in the mid 240's on a good day and don't have room for something that can't at least carry one of my daughters with me. I also doubt the six hours in the title. A week of 2-3 hour sessions would probably be more like it. And I consider myself a moderately fast wood worker. The $65.00 project gun is in semi limbo until after either I buy supplies at this weekends gun show, or my Gun Parts Corp order arrives. I have already owned a 2.5" 410 adapter for 12 gage chambers. I have never used it due to 2.5" 410's costing twice what 12 ga shells cost. I may one of these days come accross some cheap 410's. Or I may get around to converting my stash of .444 marlin brass into brass 410's. Until then it will probably remain unfired. I did two weeks ago order a 12 ga to 9mm converter on ebay. It arrived within a few days. Made from aluminum by an outfit called Dina Arms. I was skeptical at first. Reviews I could find on the web weren't promising. Most claimed extreme inaccuracy. Because this project is meant to show that a practical survival gun could be built on a budget I ordered one anyways. Yesterday I grabbed a partial box of cast bullet mystery reloads. The thing functioned as promised, and at first the reviews seemed right about accuracy. First ten rounds were minute of garbage can lid at 25 yards. Shooting at a 3x5 index card with no markings everything went into a 12" area starting about 3" above the target. On the 11th shot I hit the target almost dead center. Carefully I opened the gun and noted that the 9mm stamping on the converters head faced down. This time I carefully reloaded the insert into the gun and made sure it went in exactly in the position it came out. This shot cut the edge of the previous one, the next two shots brought the group up to 2". I should add at this point it was raining a steady drizzle and my glasses were getting foggy. This calls for more tinkering. I am watching wear on the inserts rifling. I have a ton of cast bullet reloads to shoot, I am very skeptical about shooting jacketed ammo. Copper is much harder than aluminum and I suspect the adapter would wear out quite quickly. One other thing, I expected the report to be less due to the length of the shotguns barrel, it was actually quite loud. And, you'd be amazed at the amount of crud that goes out the end of a pistol barrel and stays in the shotgun barrel. In a few weeks I will order an all steel adapter from MCA and see how it shoots. I'm leaning towards a 32 H&R magnum adapter this time. I have a bunch of 32 S&W and 32 Longs kicking around. The other option might be .30 carbine, I have several hundred rounds of those. The other idea I'm toying with is .311 round balls meant for my muzzleloader thumb pressed into any of the above casings over a bunch of black powder. I've also considered and ruled out 30/30 or 45/70 adapters. I am leary of pushing the pressure in my guns frame as I'm pretty sure it's ductile iron like most cheap shotguns. Woods

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lessons on living.

Sidekick and Princess were out of school today due to administrators conferences or some other such bull. I worked all weekend so I get monday and friday off this week. Pelenaka had to take CJ to the Bufallo airport for his flight back to Texas at 4:30 am. This left me time to putter around and start getting the garage/shop ready for work that's been backing up. It's incredible the mess that can pile up in 4 months. Especially in a place that isn't being used for anything. Had several large coffee cans full of rusty nails and bolts, a few cast iron sash weights and a big box of old aluminum. I also had some Stainless, brass, and copper kicking around. But not enough to be in the way. I figure I'll wait to see what happens with the price of the SS,brass and copper. The steel and aluminum were in the way though. Asked if anybody wanter to take a ride out in the country. Pelenaka was napping from her morning at the airport and princess was typically being a princess and staying indoors nice and warm. Sidekick however sensed an adventure having never been to a junkyard and was all for a afternoon jaunt. So off we went, between the scrap metal and some deposit bottles and cans we had, we managed to make a whopping $6.00 and change,. Sidekick was a little disapointed at our meager take, so I decided to make a lesson of it. First it was an honest six bucks. We didn't steal anything, or do anything immoral to get it. We talked about all the places you could scrounge up scrap metal and what kind of money each would pay. The round trip from home to the junk yard and back used less than a bucks worth of gas. We stopped at a friends butcher shop. A pound and a half of lean ground beef was $4.00 and a trip accross the street for a pack of hard rolls was another $2.25. While we wandered the store I pointed out all the different ways six bucks could make a meal, or several for that matter. At the checkout I tossed another buck and a half in and got us a mounds bar and a diet dr. pepper which we shared there in the parking lot. Then we went home and cooked mom and the princess lunch. Hopefully the lesson took. The lesson that hard times are merely a state of mind that is. woods

Thursday, March 19, 2009


We had a big break in the weather this past weekend. Combine that with my stepson CJ visiting from Texas. The family needed to get out and play. A trip to Walmart to get CJ and Pelenaka fishing lisences also brought home a cheap box of 550 .22's and a box of Winchester 1 ounce deer slugs. Still short in the length of pull department. There is only one possible word for shooting the $65.00 project gun. That word is PUNISHING! The current buttplate is just a hair under 1" wide and exactly 4" tall. Recoil with slugs is so severe that the screws holding the fore end iron actually tore out of the wood. Upon arrival home I ordered a 1" thick rubber buttplate from gun parts corp and an accraglass kit from Brownells. When I dug up the lead ingot I'm going to weigh it down with I found a lace on sling from an old TC muzzleloader. On a possitive note. The gun has been dropped twice hitting it's front sight both times. The first time was enough to bend the sight slightly. Cosmetics ruined at this point I merely bent it back with a pair of pliers and touched up the anodizing with some site black. I have no doubt that the loctite black max will keep holding for a long time to come. The 9mm chamber insert has been ordered. I am going to have to find some managed recoil type slugs for this gun. My daughters are tough for girls thier age. But, I can't see at this point handing this gun to a 110lb 14 yr old to deer hunt with. I shot it five times saturday while wearing two shirts and a heavy wool hunting coat. Five days later I'm still bruised. I spent enough time at one point behind the butt of a 45/70 to have considered myself intimate with it's recoil. Also sent a few rounds down range with a friends Ruger #1 in 416 Rigby. Niether of those guns dealt anywhere near the recoil as this little 12 bore. Woods

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some times I think this stuff just finds me!

So, my day starts like this. It's my day off and I'm laying in bed at 8:30 am. I'm listening to the rain fall and staring at the ceiling. A ceiling with very old dirty paint on it. Wouldn't be so bad, but, I painted the walls last summer and Pelenaka has been stripping and staining the woodwork on her days off. So this ceiling is out of place with everything else so nice and clean. Also there is a 2'x10' section that has been primed where I did some repairs. Pelenaka comes in from work and asks what I'm going to do today. "Maybe you should get around to paintting the ceiling" she suggests. And she's right, I hate painting ceilings and it's time to stop procrastinating. It's three days before payday and I have no pocket cash. I head to the bank and get $20.00 for another gallon of primer. Primed it will at least all be clean and white. On payday I'll grab some bright white and second coat it. Until then I need to prime over the dark paint in the hall too. So, that should keep me busy. So, I get my money from the ATM and head out. Worse than painting ceilings is going into work on your day off. Working for a home center has both it's advantages and disadvantages. So, the thrift store is a block from the bank and on the way to work. I was just there last thursday, but, I'm in procrastination mode. I wander about looking for wool clothes. I'm on a kick lately to replace my hunting clothes that are getting worn out. In the background I hear some snobbish woman make a comment about that homemade wood trunk being nasty and who in thier right mind would pay 10 bucks for it, blah blah blah. Homemade is one of those keywords that set me going. I've had a few wooden boxes on my to build list anyhow. Wanting them for camp gear and bug out kits, I head over to check it out. Needless to say when I saw it I headed for the checkout before anybody could recognize the pricing error. It just happens one of those wooden boxes I've had on my to build list, is a camp kitchen. A camp kitchen just like the one I happily paid $10.00 for!
I raced home and put a bunch of enamelware in it(also thrift store/garage sale finds). Pelenaka loved it when she saw it. Last weekend she found a mint condition very early Coleman cooler. The kind that the handle folds up and keeps the lid closed. Her only request is that I fit it with a piece of metal inside the lid. Her idea is a place to work that will be easy to clean. I have a piece of aluminum flashing that should work perfect. Now I suppose I should get around to building the cupboard to match it. Part of my wifes dowry was a late 1960's mongomery ward tent camper. Maybe this year will be it's restoration year.
If that's the case maybe a 1969 Dodge Power Wagon will find me. A red one, stepside, with a white cab roof. Just like the one dad bought new in the fall of 68.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Projects update.

Well after another serious cold snap. The weather may be breaking again. Temps should hit the high 40's here tomorrow. I have a serious need to hit the woods. Tomorrow morn I will hit the shooting range for a bit, then go visit a gun dealer in the next town over. A few months ago I picked up some guns from an estate. I had to take all of them or none of them. In the bunch was a Ruger Single Six. It's the third one I've owned and haven't felt affection for any of them. As much as I'm the type that was born 100 years too late, I am partial to modern swing out cylinder S&W revolvers. Well that dealer in the next town has a pair of S&W model 34's and a model 63. Both of the 34's are early flat latch versions. While the 63's stainless steel would be more practical, I will try to trade him out of one the 34's first. I have always wanted a "kit gun" and now might just be the time to do it. Last time I was there, he also had a pair of Savage 99's in the rack. One 50's vintage in 300 Savage and the other a 99A of 70's vintage in 308. Seeing I sold my last real high power rifle to aquire my daughters 22's a couple months ago, I may just try some wheeling and dealing there too. After a quick inventory today, I have decided to part with a total of 5 guns in order to aquire 3 more. The third gun will be a 45 caliber flintlock. A pair of 50 caliber caplocks will be leaving to make room for this one. The decision wasn't too hard. Back in 1988 when I built my first muzzleloader it had interchangable 32 and 45 barrels. I aquired bullet molds, patch cutters and every accessory you could think of. Back then I was buying Quality RWS and CCI percussion caps from a corner drug store for $1.19 a hundred. Now caps are $5.00+ a hundred when I can find them, and they are the cheap crappy ones. Flintlocks don't need percussion caps and 45 caliber balls use alot less lead. In the current political environment, I'm betting lead and powder are going to become scarce commodities. Small bore guns will be returning to the field. When I get back home tomorrow I will dig around and find the big lead sash weight I have hiding somewhere around here. While I'm at it, I will dig out a big piece of parafin that's kicking around too. If my days off next week are fair weather, I will start the buttplate for the project shotgun. Should the weather be not cooperating next week, I have another project I will blog about. I have found instructions for building a slate turkey call. I'm guessing they will only cost a couple bucks apiece to make. If I can find slates that is. If I find all the parts, we will build one, or many depending on how many I can get out of a floor tile. I have also ordered from my local library the book "Building The Six Hour Canoe". Expect a review and if it looks like a practical project, maybe next summer we will set out to turn two pieces of plywood into something to fish and hunt from. Woods

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I think we can do it!!!!

Here we have a bottle of the "accidental wine". I started out as a bushel of concorde grapes meant to become juice for breakfast. However shortly after my DW Pelenaka made the purchase, we both found ourselves working a ton of hours or being stuck on other projects. So, here we are with grapes in the fridge, in the old ice box downstairs, and in a cooler. After several days a few get moldy. After a week alot of them are moldy. Wife is upset we're going to have to make compost out of them. I'm upset we're both working overtime, rather than making extra money, we're throwing money away. Finally I get a day off, the kids are at thier dad's in texas, pelenaka is working and I'm looking at a bunch of grapes. I start to thinking, maybe they'll make wine good enough to cook with. Maybe I should try? If they bomb as wine they'll turn into vinegar. We can use vinegar too. I have some champagne yeast and some flip top beer bottles set aside for a batch of homemade rootbeer that still hasn't been made. I also have some old wine jugs and air locks. What the heck! I start sorting grapes. The bad ones head for the compost bucket. The good ones get pinched between my fingers into a large clean stewpot. When I'm done I have almost two gallons of crushed grapes in the stewpot. I know the inside of red grapes are white, and so is thier juice. To turn the juice red the grapes need to ferment skins and all. I toss a cup of sugar into the grapes along with half the packet of yeast. Everything gets stired up, and a lid is put on the pot and it's stuck in a warm place. Next day I'm back to work. Ten days later I peek into my pot. It's bubbling, man it's really bubbling! Another pot of water on the backyard wood cookstove, an old T shirt in the pots bottom boiling too. Drag out the cider/wine press, soap it up, rinse it off, rinse again with the boiling water. Fit the old T shirt into the presses basket. Put the grapes in and squeeze them. Took longer to clean the press than to press it all out. When all id done we're about a cup short of two gallons. Juice is divided between two gallon jugs and some sugar water is added to bring the level up into the necks. Airlocks on and into the cellar it went. Forgotten for months. Suddenly found and remembered months later, I decide to bottle it up. One flip top quart and a bunch of pints. I save a little less than a pint for an early sample. The sealed bottles go back to the cellar. The sample goes into the fridge minus one glass. The first glass is a bit watery, just like the first and only batch of hard cider. DW never gets around to tasting a sample, the sample oxidizes and finds it's way into a frying pan with some mushrooms. Tonight, again a couple months later, DW needs some wine to cook with and cracks a bottle. The balance goes into glasses. Not bad! Better than I expected! It's quite drinkable. I think this self sufficiency thing might be possible. Tom Good had his "Peapod 75". And Woodsrunner has his "Concorde 08". Lets have a toast to self suffiency! Cheers!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Installing sights on the $65.00 project shotgun

The first step to making the project shotgun a practical gun we need sights. Here we have a set of TruGlo brand fiber optic sights meant for a Knight brand muzzleloader. I aquired these last summer at a garage sale for $2.00. Also in the photo is a tube of Loctite 380 Black Max cement. This cement is formulated to be used in applications where shock is a factor. I couldn't find this locally, but, was able to special order it from my local Lowes store, which can special order through W.W.Grainger, the industrial supply company. Shipped to my door it was around $7.00. In addition you will need a flat surface to work on, a vice with padded jaws if possible, a square a drill press or a second square,a scriber, some rubber cement, an abrasive of some sort, and alcohol or hot water & detergent to degrease everything.

The weather has turned cold again and my workshop has no heat. Lucky for me an old friend offered me the use of his engineering lab at work. While I suddenly found myself in a high tech setting, the environment we were in was overkill, so don't let it intimidate you. The important thing was having a warm place to work so the cement could bond properlyHere's the gun set in the vice. Careful adjustment was made to make sure the gun was vertical. The fore end had been removed and we clamped on the barrel lump. Had this vice had padded jaws we could have clamped on the reciever itself. After clamping the gun in the vice we moved it around unti it was vertical. To do this we placed a square on our smooth surface and checked it against the sides of the reciever. This gun has an investment cast reciever, the right side of the gun was milled true during manufacture, the left side however was anything but flat. The right side is what we used to put our square against. The next step is to find the very top of the gun barrel. This is done by placing the second square against the first or by placing a piece of rod in your drill press. This is gently brought down on top of the barrel where it touches the top of the radius, which you then mark with your scriber.

Here the barrel has been marked and using the scribe marks to center the sights I have rubber cemented the sights in place. This allowed me to make sure of where I wanted the sights on the barrel. Having decided the permanant location of the sights I'm scribing around thier bases. After this step I removed the sights and used the scribe marks as a guide in removing the bluing and roughing the barrel surface beneath the sights. I didn't try to remove the bluing all the way to my scribe lines, I needed them to use as a reference when finally cementing the sights in place. While I was at it, I used my abrasive to remove the anodizing from the bottom of the sights themselves. I then degreased the barrel with alcohol and applied a bead of black max to the barrel where the bluing was removed.
Here is the finished job. All we have to due is put the fore end back on. I'm going to wait a few days before trying to shoot it. This should give the cement time to fully cure. You may think the sight locations look a little funny. There was a method to my madness. The rear sight was located in front of rather than on top of the chamber. When a gun fires the barrel actually expands slightly in the chamber area. A microscopic and temporary stretch of the metal for sure, but, why risk the cement bond eventually breaking because of it. Also being in the over 40 crowd my eyes are starting to feel thier age. The farther away that rear sight is, the easier it is to see. And yes there is 3/4 of an inch between the end of the barrel and the front sight. I mentioned in the first post about this gun that it might get screw in chokes. There has been another development on that front. A recent talk with a gunsmith friend put me on another track. Back in the days before screw in chokes, add on choke devices were popular. Sold under the names of polychoke, cutts compensator, etc. It was popular to take older shotguns with very tight chokes and convert them to these adjustable systems. When these devices were installed, it destroyed any collector value these guns might have had. Well, now it's popular to take those old often worn out shotguns and make coach style guns for cowboy action shooting. This has left my gunsmith friend with a huge parts box full of old style choke devices. And that box is mine to pick through with whatever I select costing between $5.00 and $15.00 depending on what I pick. These devices mount to the outside of the barrel, so we'll need that 3/4" to mount one.
Next time we'll either pick and install a choke device, or we will make our cast lead butt plate.
Oh! BTW, when we were finished my friend passed along 14 boxes of cast bullet 9mm handgun reloads. Can anybody guess what our first chamber insert will be? THANKS Jeff!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another book recomendation.

As I said in a previous post. One of my new years resolutions was to spend more time reading books. Well, I just finished reading "Unbridled Cowboy" by Joseph B. Fussell. This book is the memoirs of a man who lived from 1879 to 1957. A rebellious texas teenager who set out to make his own life under his own terms. In a time when men were still expected to be men. In fact proud to be men. This book is up there with Elmer Kieth's "Hell, I was There" on my list of must reads. I found "Unbridled Cowboy" in the new release section of my local library. If you like first hand accounts of life in another time, this book won't dissapoint you. Saturday I install the fiber optic sights on the $65.00 project gun. Hopefully I will remember to get someone to take pictures of the process. These sights were purchased last summer at a garage sale for $2.00. We will be using a cement recomended by my gunsmith rather than soldering. The cement adds another $6.00 and change to the project. Not only am I trying to keep the project low budget, I am trying to keep this project at a skill level that just about anyone can do. Woods

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bread, the families staff of life

In our house bread is a family effort. Last summer my dear bride Pelenaka ordered a bushel of Montana organic wheat from our local health food store. It was one of our rare instances of lack of communication. A week later found us getting ice cream at the county fair and talking to one of our food network friends. When I inquired to our friend about buying wheat from a local grower, Pelenaka said nothing until our friend left. A couple weeks later found us with the Montana wheat home in buckets and our friend knocking on our door with a couple bags containing 100lbs of local grown. The locally grown only cost us a couple loaves of bread to our friend and a couple more to the farmer. The locally grown has proven to be a blessing of sorts.The locally grown wheat came right from the combines auger without further cleaning. Here stepdaughter known as "sidekick" picks chaff from corns of the locally grown wheat. We often find the family sitting around the table doing this. No TV, radio, or video games, just family joking and conversation. Lately we've been cleaning and grinding for our next batch of bread while the current batch bakes. The warmth of the oven allows the thermostat to be turned down in the rest of the house. The warm room and the smell of baking bread soon has everyone relaxed, and the conversation soon flows.
Here the youngest stepdaughter, known from here on as "princess" grinds the grain. The Retsel little Ark mill makes short work of grinding flour. This past december it replaced the Back to Basics mill we had used for two years. The back to basics still works. But, the Retsel greatly increased production rate and quality with it's finer grind. The Retsel mill is well worth the money and a motor can be easily added at a later date should the desire or need arise. The only modification has been the adition of a piece of aluminum flashing cut to fit snugly below the stones of the mill. This helps keep the flour headed toward the catch pan rather than on the mills operator. We are very happy with the Retsel mill and highly recomend it for it's quality alone. The fact that it's american made made it's purchase part of my plan to save the American economy. If you read around on the net you may read of Retsel taking a long time to fill it's orders. That may or may not be Retsels fault. They tell you right up front on the website it takes 2-3 weeks for them to ship. Well it then too UPS a week to get our mill from Idaho to Salt Lake City, then another four days from there to Buffalo, NY. I'm sure you too will find home made bread good for your health. And I hope you'll find the time to grind your own flour. If you do grind your own, may your family find it's health in the family activity. And you know what? I was so busy enjoying myself making bread with the family, I forgot to take a picture of the bread itself. I'll have to post that one later for you. Woods

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The $65.00 project shotgun part 1

Here's the $65.00 project shotgun. That was the dealers price tag. I was out trying to find a new owner for a box full of old gun books when I came accross this gun. After selling the books my out of pocket costs are more like $35.00. It's a 12ga 3" Rossi single shot. Cut down to a youth gun of sorts. 19" barrel, 33" oal, 12.5"lop. Previous owner cut it down for his grandson to shoot. Shortening the barrel left it a cylinder bore, and sightless. The length of pull is so short my short armed teenage daughter even has trouble holding it. Though she did call it "kinda cute" when she first saw it. I shot it with trap loads and it kicks like a minature mule. Though it's bark isn't as bad as I expected. So, I suppose it is "kinda cute", pit bull puppy cute, that is. We're going to make it into a deer/turkey hunting machine. We're also going to play with some chamber inserts allowing it to shoot various rifle and pistol ammo. Future instalments on this project will include.
Installing a set of fiber optic sights purchased last summer for $2.00 (garage sale)
Making a cast lead buttplate to lengthen the stock and add some recoil absorbing weight.
Making a slip on leather recoil pad, to hide the lead buttplate and lessen recoil.
We will test several brands and types of chamber inserts.
We may also try our hand at installing screw in chokes, providing the expense doesn't take us out of the low budget category.

One mans junk is another mans treasure!

This is why I love junk shops! For those that don't know, this is a camp oven. It has legs so you can stand it in a pile of campfire coals, and a dished lid so you can put coals on the top. A person that is good can actualy bake in one of these things. It's not to be confused with a dutch oven, which has a domed lid and no legs. This one has never been used, still has the factory wax coating on it. When I aquired it a week ago it had a broken handle. Which is probably what caused the big 3" long chip in it's lid. Last weekend when my wife Pelenaka and I had a rare weekend off together, we went junk shopping. Last time I looked a 10qt deep camp over was bringing $85.00 + shipping in the mail order catalogs. And shipping would be quite steep, this thing weighs nearly 20lbs. It was right next to the door when we walked in. The chip isn't so bad, there is still some lip there to keep the coals from falling off. It was priced at $20.00, I walked it right over to the counter and told the lady to pack it up, I was taking it, but wanted to look around. The lady promptly informed me they were having a 25% off sale. so it ended up costing $15.00. For $70.00 I think I can live with the chip. The broken handle came out of my blacksmiths shop scrap pile. And this is why I love junk shops!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The weather has me thinking

It's been bitter cold here for weeks. The cold has finally broke and temps have risen into the 20's. That's a mixed blessing when you live downwind from Lake Erie. Bitter cold air won't hold much moisture. Just below freezing air will hold alot of it. For a little while at least. When that moisture travels a few miles from it's source it begins falling in the form of snow. It reminds me of a winter many years ago. I was old enough to hunt, so we are probably talking the winter of 77. One of the worst on record. Dad and I were out hunting with friends from church. Several hours into our hunt the elder brother Alan came by my stand and asked if I was cold. I sure was and told him so in a most colorful manner! At this point he said we should build a fire. We gathered wood and tinder and Alan pulled a small metal box from his pocket. Well I got a lesson that day. How easy it really is to start a fire with flint and steel. And I've been able to snap them off pretty easy ever since. I have a rare saturday off tomorrow. My stepdaughters age 12&14 both have licenses. Maybe we'll go squirrel hunting. I've got a small metal box over there on the shelf. It's right next to the .22lr cartridges. I'm sure at least one of the girls would like to learn the magic of it's contents.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tales of my passing have been greatly exagerated.

Or something to that effect, loosely quoting Mark Twain. Job changes and new years resolutions have kept me away from blogging for four months now. Hopefully this is my return to somewhat regular posting. Back in september I had many plans for posts that never happened. A new job at the end of september took away some of my energy for a bit. The early onset of a unusually severe winter here in western NY put several blacksmithing projects on hold. New years resolutions this year included spending more quiet time with my wife and stepdaughters whenever possible. I've also vowed to read more. The coldest january in years has helped with both of those endevors. I also vowed early to get back to my hunting/fishing/conservationist roots. This vow was made well before new years and has had mixed success. Both my lovely daughters spent a week at camp Rushford this past summer. While there they both competed the hunters safety course required here in NY. Mid october found me at a gun show with my old Krag sporter slung over my shoulder. I managed to make a nearly even trade for a pair of brand new scoped Marlin model 60's. This was my reward to the girls for thier effort. And it required some serious effort on thier part. At the last minute NY changed the hunters safety course to include hours of pre course homework. Of course we were notified about ten days before they were due to leave for camp. This was also at the very time they were cramming for school final exams. We did manage to get in a day of squirrel hunting as soon as deer season closed. Due to the bitter cold we didn't see many and didn't get a shot at all. We still have a month of squirrel and rabbit season to go, should we get enough warm weather to open the trails back up, we'll head out again. We have however managed to get a bunch of range time in. Both girls are becoming deadly shots. My 14yr old Rebecca has also informed me that we are going turkey hunting this spring. And the recent purchase of a project shotgun will probably help that happen. Yesterday I dug up my old call, chalked it up and showed myself just how easy sounding like a turkey isn't. Hopefully by spring the shotgun and the calling will be in good enough shape. I would hate to disapoint the young woman that has turned into my best outdoor sidekick ever. So, now a resolution to my readers. I will try to post more often. Future posts will possibly include: "Making a $65.00 shotgun shoot!" "A modern version of the classic great bellows" "Prepardness on $5.00-$10.00 per payday" "The Woodsrunner plan to save the American economy" "Building an muzzleloading rifle from an intermediate to advanced skill level kit" "Foraging and woodscrafting 101" "Foraging in the urban wilderness" "A kit built traditional english longbow, and learning to shoot it" "Home brewed wine (or vinegar, lol) on a budget" "Making knives from old saw blades, files and chisels" "Equiping the homestead shop on a budget" See you all soon and watch your topknot Woods