Monday, December 31, 2007
Go see the guy who started me on the road to blogging! Before I saw his link on his posts, I didn't even know what blogging was. Todd is an accomplished amateur bladesmith and responsible for Western Civilization as we know it! See his work on: The Primitive Point
And as if that's not enough he also bakes bread: Seven Loaves. He doesn't update this one as much, which is probably good, my mouth waters at all his great baking exploits
The Suburban Bushwacker has a great Article on the current psyche in bush lore and bush blogging. Perceptive and educational, it is a must read! Check out his archives too, there's a ton of stuff there.
Here is a new one for me. I bumped into it via SBW's site: James Marchington of the Sporting Shooter ; it's a great hunting and shooting blog out of England! He actually uses ferrets to flush rabbits... I read about it in Mannix's book, A Sporting Chance, many, many, years ago. Who knew it was still in practice! And here's another custom I was unaware of; it must date to the time of the knights or something there abouts. They take long poles and beat the squirrels outta the trees!!! Then they shoot 'em. I have to get in on that. Go to his site it is really good and has a different perspective.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Thursday, December 27, 2007
© 2007 - 2012 By Albert A Rasch
577 Nitro Express rolls off the tongue with fluidity and grace...
My preference is towards "The Big Bores", 40 caliber and above. With these large, relatively slow moving projectiles whose diameter is already the width of expanded thirty caliber bullets, I'm assured of penetration and good wound channels. Invariably, they will completely perforate the target, giving two points of egress. The low forties are characterized by a series of cartridges that have never been popular in the US. The only choices we have readily available are the 416 Remington and the 416 Rigby. Available in relatively expensive firearms, I don't think these are common hog guns by any stretch of the imagination. Would they work? Yes, yes they would, though I would throttle them back from the 2700-2900fps to the 2000 range for my own sake. And as you will see, I have plans for a 416 hog gun.
I'm going to jump right into the 458s, the darling caliber of the professional hog hunter. I'm going to skip the 444 Marlin because I've never seen one, nor do I know anyone who has experience with it. I have heard of some people having a bit of difficulty reloading it. But I am not aware as to the details.
The 45-70 has, as we all know, been subject to a 30 year renaissance, from black powder enthusiasts reloading at moderate pressures to Ruger #1 fans stuffing them with loads treading close on the heels of the 458WM. Marlin certainly did their part introducing lever guns in a multitude of models designed to wring out the best of the 45-70. Whether the close-in Guide Gun or the long barreled Cowboy, the 45-70 has really meshed in nicely with Marlin. I have a strong desire to obtain Marlin's 1895 Cowboy version with a tang mounted vernier peep sight for long range hog sniping. The reproduction Sharps are now available in 45-90 and 45-120 also for the black powder shooters. Things that most 45-70 users have in common, healthy doses of powder and big hunks of lead out front, are what make that cartridge so effective. Again, hard cast lead bullets with big wide meplats (the flat tip on the end where the point ought to be) rule the roost here.
I use the 458WM more than anything else. Loaded with factory 510gr SPs I haven't had any difficulty dispatching anything I could hit. But the cost of shooting factory ammo for it has really stopped me from using it as much lately. Therefore I ordered dies, powder and the assorted stuff one needs to reload. I'm shooting for about 1500fps with 440gr LBT designed bullets. I expect that at 50 yards this combination should be able to penetrate a 250 pounder end for end. I would also like to try Barnes Originals in 600gr RNSP just for fun. Call me a glutton for punishment.
There are a few 50s, the 50-70, 50-100 and 50-140 plus the British Black Powder and Nitro Express. The American fifties are available in several Sharps and Remington rolling block reproductions. (Wish List Alert: Marlin, make a 95 available in the 50-100 please!) Alas, I have not had the pleasure of using any of these. At some point in time I will have a Ruger #1 rebarreled to the 500NE 3 1/4, just so I can have a handful of Churchill cigar sized shells to drop in the chamber. All of the 50s have what it takes to put down big hogs in a hurry. Bullet diameter combined with mass creates a phenomenal knockdown capability.
As you can see, given a choice I will always pick bullet weight over velocity. Since I believe that the challenge in hunting is getting close, and my circumstances, (read palmetto), are such that closeness is required, I don't feel the need for speed. My most recent hog was a 225 lbs sow taken at about 30yards. The 776 grain forster slug pulverized the lungs disappearing into the next county after punching out a fist size exit on the far side. I think the velocity is somewhere in the 1100fps range at the muzzle of the 10 bore gun. (See the post titled "Got one! The rest of the story on the HuntAmerica Hog hunting Forum 1/15/02)
If you were to ask me, what I would consider to be the perfect wild boar hunting gun, I would have to answer as follows. It would be a double rifle chambered in 500NE, and would put four shots in six inches at 100yards, two from each barrel. Its balance would be like that of a fine shotgun and its finish, in deference to the places I hunt, would be as plain as possible, oiled wood and brushed steel. The sights would be a flip front sight with a square blade and a pop-up round white bead, and on the rear, an adjustable square notched sight. If I could I would try to have some kind of peep sight that could be put on and taken off, or flipped with ease, for more deliberate shots. My ammunition could have to be handloaded 550gr WFNGC hardcast bullets at 1700-1900fps at the muzzle, basically the equivalent of the old Sharps 50-140 or the 500 Black Powder Express. Of course the rifle would have been regulated for that. Cost about 10,000 bucks.
On a more practical side, I have been toying with the idea of converting that Colombian .308 FN Mauser that I have to 416 Taylor. The 416 Taylor is essentially a 458WM necked down to 416 caliber. The ballistics are comparable to that of the classic Rigby but in a case that fits in a standard action. Using a medium barrel by Douglas, with the bore deeply recessed and no muzzle brake, the barrel length would be 21 inches, maybe an inch and a half less, for portability and maneuverability. I would use the same sights I described for the dream double. I've heard much about the Ashley sights but never having seen or used them I can't comment on them, though the theory and comments I have heard are very positive. I wonder if I could have the receiver machined to accept Ruger scope rings. Ammo would be loaded with 350- 400gr WFNGC hardcast bullets also keeping the velocity within the lower limits of 1700-1900 fps. If I feel the need for more oomph I can always crank the speed up to almost 2200fps, and a multitude of good bullets are available from Barnes and Hornady. With the bolt I would expect the accuracy to be within a three inch circle at 100 yards. Keeping the weight light, under seven and a half pounds or less if possible, for those all day foot hunts, I would likewise add a good Pachmyr Decelerator pad just in case I did decide to use some hi-speed persuasion. I would probably fit it with a bayonet lug for those close quarter situations if I didn't think my friends would think me crazier than they already do. Cost about 500 bucks, if that.
It is my belief that for true trophy hog hunting where the quarry will top 275 pounds, a thirty caliber rifle would be the minimum. From personal experience I believe that the Swift A-Frames are the best hunting bullet available, but the Failsafes are more lenient in terms of allowing more marginal shots. The construction is such that even after punching through a pinepitch and mud encrusted hide, three inches of shield and a shoulder knuckle, it still has enough mass to drill a hole, albeit a small one in my opinion, through the lungs and end up through the liver on the far side. This again is from personal experience.
In connection with this article, I posed this question to the many members of the HuntAmerica BBS, a hunting and shooting forum on the World Wide Web.
Projectile mass or velocity; what determines your choice? I received many responses:
Coug2Wolfs, known to many on the HuntAmerica Forums, put it best when he said, "Albert, big bullets make big holes, big holes kill animals real fast, that's why I use 'em. The high steppers make big holes too, sometimes even bigger than the big bores, but often they will not exit, and that makes me worry. The blood spoor is mandatory if something goes wrong and you have to track 'em down on dry ground."
Coug2Wolf, I could not agree more. In deference to the hog's heavy fat and gristle layer, which normally seal any puncture wound less than 1/2 inch in diameter, two exit wounds, preferably as big as possible, really assist in game recovery.
StubbleJumper says, "I hunt mostly wide open fields and mountains so ranges can be long. Therefore I chose cartridges based on trajectory and energy which is most affected by velocity. Using the 7mm STW with 140 gr bullets and the 300 UltraMag with 180 gr bullets have taken whitetails, mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, bighorn and pronghorn with the 7mm STW at ranges from 20 yards to 434 yards have taken elk and moose with the 300 UltraMag at ranges from 90 yards to 370 yards. Both rifles are customs built on stainless 700 actions with match grade barrels and Macmillan stocks."
StubbleJumper, I am with you on everything but the black bear. Call me over-cautious, but for me, I would prefer a big slug with big penetration. Isn't it true that there are more fatal black bear attacks than grizzly? But I do know someone who took a smallish blackie in Vermont in the early eighties with a .223 and 55gr SP. Go figure.
Frank in Montana says: "If the ranges are short to moderate then I like heavy for caliber at a moderate velocity. But if I expect long ranges I go lighter to flatten the trajectory, but still stay away from the real light weight bullets." Good balanced approach I think.
Ray in Alaska: "About your question on "velocity or bullet weight," at least in my view...All depends on the type of game and cartridge used. I feel that for moose size game within 300 yards, any bullet from 210 grains up to 300 grains out of the .338 WM or the .375 H&H will provide a "dead right now moose."
GMSemel: "I think that Hunters today bounce around to much between bullet weights rather that pick one weight and learn its path well."
I think that the marketing departments at the major purveyors are doing what the so called "range jockeys" are demanding. And it’s those same range jockeys that can't hit a six inch circle at 100 yards off the bench and wouldn't even be able to hit a drum at the same distance offhand. Again I do have my own range so I do have an advantage, but I think it is a responsibility to the game we take, to be able to shoot properly.
Mike Murphy: "I'll probably take heat for this, but if we examine why many hunters like heavy bullets (myself included) it generally is because of the greater and more reliable penetration they offer. However, with many of today's premium bullets, the heavy weight is no longer needed to get that penetration. The Fail-Safe, Barnes X, Swift A-Frame, etc., do the job without the need for heavy for caliber slugs. The comments above (In the forum discussion.-Ed) regarding penetration seem to support the idea that penetration is what many are seeking and not the "shock" value of velocity. With the new premium bullets we can gain the advantage of better trajectory AND penetration, i.e. the best of both worlds. In the end, as we all know, what really matters is bullet placement whether it's a 100Gr. .243 or a 500Gr. 45/70."
StubbleJumper responded: "Mike Murphy- You make a good point about not requiring heavy bullet weights for penetration when using premium bullets. I have been of this opinion for quite some time but there are many people out there who are living in the past and have a hard time letting go of old beliefs, so they simply will not admit that this can be true. With the lighter weight premium bullets you can have speed and flat trajectory without sacrificing penetration."
Mike and StubbleJumper make the point that I am loath to admit to, but that I have ample and supporting evidence for. And that is that any reasonable cartridge loaded with quality components, is up to the task. Assuming responsible shooting and proper bullet placement, any game can be taken.
My avowed favoritism towards the big bores is based on several things. Physics; big things hit harder. Character; it takes practice and diligence to become a competent shooter with the big bores. Linguistics; 577 Nitro Express rolls off the tongue with fluidity and grace, whereas 280 Remington doesn't. And furthermore you swat animals with a big bores; when you use the others you just shoot them.
Where's that phonebook? I wonder if Holland and Holland is taking orders...
Don't forget that there is a Part I :Boar Hunting: Rifle Calibers Part I
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Thursday, December 20, 2007
© 2007-2012 Albert A Rasch™ and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
This is one of my earliest attempts at writing an article that was more like the gun magazine ones. For a first attempt I thought it came out pretty good.
My opinions on caliber selections haven’t changed that much, but there are a few things that I’ve softened on. Five years and a couple dozen hogs later I still haven’t had that Columbian Mauser converted, but its still in the works.
Picking the right one for you.
Robert Ruark said "Use Enough Gun." Peter Capstick said, "Use enough gun, but not more than you can handle." To which I add, "Use enough gun, but not more than you can handle, and make sure you can shoot it."
When it comes to hogs, I'm going to say something that will land me in a heap of trouble with certain parties that I am affiliated with. You can take them with anything, so long as you do it right. That's correct, anything from the lowly 22 short to a 557NE. The catch is knowing where to put your shot. I suppose it's the same with all game. It all boils down to three things: Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement.
In terms of practicality though, there are upper limits to the each caliber selection. There are basically six categories; the 22s-24s, the 24s-25s, the 26s-28s, the 30-338, the 35s- 375 and the over 40 crowd. Using commercially available ammunition as our standard, the 24s and 25s should be limited to small sub 70 lbs hogs. The 26s through 28s should be kept to the 150s and lower. The thirties and 338s are good for 300lbs and less while the 35s, 40s and bigger can handle just about anything. These are arbitrary numbers of course and I'm sure that arguments to the contrary can be sighted ad-nausea, but these are recommendations based on actual hog taken by myself and others.
All the preceding is assumes that you are using good quality bullets constructed to take the kind of abuse intended for big game. Hunting pig can be as easy as picking flowers, to a worse case scenario that might degenerate into hand to hand combat where the odds are definitely not in your favor. Spending a few dollars more for premium bullets is mighty cheap insurance. Just ask Cliff McClure of McClure Farms here in Parrish Florida. He has a twenty-three stitch memento from a Thanksgiving Day hunt that went awry.
It also depends on whether you are meat hunting, trophy hunting, or actually attempting to eradicate a population, as is necessary in some cases. Today, we have factory loads in almost every caliber loaded with premium bullets. I would seriously consider 22 caliber cartridges loaded with Trophy Bonded or maybe Barnes' X-Bullets under certain conditions and for the lighter weights, but that is asking a lot from either of those bullets.
First, leave the Nosler Ballistic Tips at home. Though exceptionally effective for broadside shots at whitetails, at the close range that most hogs are shot at, they frequently disintegrate, blasting a large surface crater and frequently failing to penetrate much past the ribs. Likewise forget most if not all the hollow-pointed non-partition bullets, they just will not hold together on any moderately sized hog. The only exception might be if you are using a 24/6mm cartridge for juvenile pigs that you intend to use as small roasters. A friend who manages a large cattle spread locally, swears by a short action Savage in 223 Remington. It has a 4X12 Bushnell scope mounted on it and he uses it for predator control. He guides spring turkey hunts and is perpetually fighting a battle against raccoons, coyotes, and hog, which destroy turkey egg clutches and catch and eat the poults. Federal 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tips are his ammunition of choice. He is an exceptional shot in that he shoots almost daily and has an intuitive sense and practical knowledge of his quarry and the rifle he uses. When taking small hogs he waits for, or stalks to a position that offers a slight quartering away shot whereupon he slips that 55gr pill behind the shoulder into the heart/lung region. This just reinforces the contention that what counts is where you hit them, not how hard. As the heart/lung area of a hog is further forward than on most game, it is important to get behind the shoulder and range forward. If the opportunity presents itself he has, and I am a witness, shot them in the head. I am not a good enough shot to attempt this tricky maneuver in the field, but I have killed them with a Ruger 10/22 from a tree stand by shooting in the box between the eyes and ears. The range was very short, 12 yards or so and the pigs were still. Do I recommend this? No I do not… Unless you have a lot of practice and actual field experience.
Again, loaded with good bullets, the 24s and 25s will do yeoman's service on smaller hogs; I would not recommend them for anything larger than 100lbs, which is really a smallish pig. The mid twenties do not expand sufficiently and they do not have the mass for deep penetration. Shoulders can and do stop them. At close range they are going too fast and at longer ranges they lack in energy.
With 26s-28s we enter the classic European calibers, which range from the 6.5mm to 7mm range. Being a big fan of the Swedish 6.5X55 I will make an exception here and state that the Swedish round is adequate for any boar you might meet, with this one caveat; that you use the classic 160gr round nosed bullet at the sedate 2400fps. Weight retention and penetration are excellent with the ability to break the shoulder of any hog with relative ease. The 270Win, 7X57, 280Rem are all adequate mid sized hog hunting rounds. Coupled with Swift A-frames or Partition Golds they are efficient game getters. The 7mm magnums loaded with Winchester Failsafes get my nod for long range shooting at average sized hogs if you can get them to shoot accurately from you rifle.
The 30s-.338s are the compromise category. I think that the 308 Win is a good all round cartridge in the hands of a deliberate hunter, that is the man who knows his rifle and knows what shot to take. The 30/06 is better, and the 300 Winchester Mag is, in my opinion, the best of the 30 calibers. But I also think that the 338 Win Mag might just be the ticket for large boars at longish range. Loaded with 230gr Failsafes or 225gr Swifts the 338 offers more weight retention and penetration than any of the thirties with a trajectory to match a 30/06. The problem is that most people do not put in the time at the range to become accomplished shooters with the seemingly heavy recoiling 338. As I have my own range, I have no excuse and have become fairly recoil resistant.
The new series of UltraMags don't impress me much, whereas the short ones from Winchester, due to their far more efficient natures, do. I would like to try the new 300WSM with Failsafes or Swifts at an extended range from I really accurate rifle, and I'd really like to try a 338 and 375 WSM if that ever came about. Maybe someone will wildcat it if they haven't already! (Editors note: Been done and commercialized; at least in the 338 ie: 325 Winchester.)
Anyway, the largest hog I have taken with a rifle fell to a Weatherby 30/06 loaded with Remington's Safari Grade ammo. Remington loads the Safari Grade with 180 gr Swift A-Frames zipping along at 2700fps at the muzzle. At 75 yards the Swift drilled through 18 inches of hog, including 9 of spinal column. This close range coupled with the forward quartering angle and the fact that it ground through so much bone speaks very highly of the construction of the A-Frames. The hog went down but required a coup de grace to finish him. I would not hesitate to use that round again, for any boar, but I think there are better ways of getting there.
The 35s, rightly called medium bores, have the advantage of starting at 225gr and working their way up from there. The 358 Win and 35 Whelen are great examples. Bullet weights are 220gr and go up. Other than the 375 Winchester Big Bore and the 375 H&H, there's not much to choose from in that category. But if I was hunting those five and six hundred pound Russians in Argentina or New Hampshire I might consider a 375H&H in a Ruger 77. Launching a 300gr Swift, that should be enough to dissuade them from disemboweling me.
Albert A Rasch™
Member: Lakewood Ranch Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.
Monday, December 17, 2007
“Recapture Sunday afternoons and long summer days."
"The perfect book for every boy from eight to eighty.”
The Dangerous Book for Boys
I recently picked this wonderful book as a Christmas gift for my son Blake.
With so many other interests pulling at them, I am frequently at a loss as to what to get them. Traditionally, I make them some weapon of war. Their gifts include: shields, swords, staffs, and flails, anything that keeps them occupied and occasionally unconscious.
It was with wonder and amazement that I found this tome on the shelves of my local book seller. This magnificent book was written with the right proper attitude; a certain knowledge that a boy must be allowed to be a boy, without too much mollycoddling. There are chapters on tree house building, go-kart making, bow crafting, and rabbit hunting. Chapters on weather, astronomy, trees, and artillery. There are whole pages on famous battles, famous people, and famous documents.
If I had the wherewithal, I would forward this book to every kid our family knows, I think it is that important. What I would give to see the face of some child, stuck in an antiseptic suburban world, when he opens this book!
I quickly devoured the whole book in one sitting late into the night. Do you know the rules for rugby? You’ll find them on page 61. Need the Navaho Code Talkers list? Page 100. Forgot how to shoot marbles? Page 207 has the all the information you need to crack aggies again!
I am telling you this as an grown man with a kid’s penchant for trouble; get the book. You will enjoy reading it even if you don’t do a single thing in it.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
“Oh, hi Dad.” Came his listless reply, “I’m looking for the broom; Mom wants us to clean.”
Occasionally I will indulge in a pipe. Whether an elegantly curved calabash, or a properly puritanical church warden, nothing allows for proper concentration and meditation like a pipe. The warmth of the bowl when a proper coal is set, the texture of pipe, the sweep of the stem, all of these things add to the immeasurable assurance that the answers are all there, if you take the time to contemplate. It is a campfire, with flannel shirts, tents, pine pitch, and split logs, all contained in the palm of your hand. It is truly a man’s artifice, requisite skill necessary in its proper application, without which deep and intractable issues can never be resolved.
Now, I know that today’s health conscious meddlers, those left-coast leaning, healthier than thou, sanctimonious, fancy sneakered jogging types, caution us constantly about the evils and ill effects of tobacco and strong spirits. To quote Sir Winston Churchill when castigated for indulging so frequently of both, “Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” I am one for personal responsibility - and I am quite secure in the knowledge that what I do may be injurious, but I am sure to derive the greater benefit for contemplating matters both weighty and of great import. That will surely outweigh any harm done to me. Hell, I’ve heard it said that if you refrain from the pleasures of the opposite sex and damn near starve yourself, you’ll live a good bit longer. You might as well shoot me now if you think I want to live like that. I’d just as soon live in
As it so happened, on this cool, fall,
He had the sad and troubled look of a boy unfairly put upon. “Bubby,” I asked, “what the Devil are you up to?”
“Oh, hi Dad.” Came his listless reply, “I’m looking for the broom; Mom wants us to clean.” Oh dear God, not cleaning.
If there is one thing that I can’t abide is a woman’s penchant for ruining a perfectly good day. Here it was a lovely fall day, cooler than it has been for several sweltering months, a day put on this earth for repose and the proper contemplation of worldly matters. Why is that day to be filled with something as mundane as house cleaning? I mean really, come on, it’s just going to get messy again in matter of hours.
Very carefully I weighed my response. “Oh… Blake it’s a travesty.”
I had a couple of options at this point. I could run, but that would take up quite a bit of energy; energy that I was loath to expend. Quite frankly and in my opinion, running is vastly overrated; excepting of course those matters where running might save your hide. Running is for antelope, horses, and teenagers who don’t have the sense to think two steps further than where they are. I prefer slipping into and out of things; it’s the gentlemanly way to do things.
I could volunteer myself for said activity. Do I sound or look like I lack in intellect? Not a chance; volunteering would be asking for more trouble. Women are rather peculiar in that respect, as I will elucidate for your clarification and illumination. Observe:
Fight tooth and nail, and they take it in stride, point to what they want done, and leave you to it. It would seem that the act of defiance registers as a normal modus operandi in their internal mental circuitry. In their queer logic this is as it should be, therefore it requires no further action.
Now if you were to volunteer, they assume that you have some nefarious plan which can only be thwarted by their constant vigilance and frequent rebukes as to your relative ineptitude. Mind you, you’ve done whatever it is they want a thousand times before, but the way they slap a saddle on your back and spur your hind-quarters, you would think you were trying to deliver a baby with dirty hands, or patted the waitress’ rear-end at one of those fancy restaurants.
I sighed audibly. It is an immutable mathematical certainty that no matter what is done, one in fact ends up doing the opposite of what is wished for. I resigned myself to the inevitable and just waited upon my fate; there are worse things than helping to tidy up a bit. Like run through a patch of cactus… sunburned…and naked.
I was drawing upon the church warden when my dearest stepped out on to the patio. I let a long narrow stream of smoke slice its way through the morning air. The sweet smell of pipe tobacco clung to the cool damp like fog over a marsh. Thin tendrils of old smoke wafted through the occasional beam of sunlight that broke through the tree canopy.
“You know,” I said, “the Indigo Buntings are due any day now.”
“I love it when they come through.” She smiled and looked around. “When do you think they’ll get here?”
“I don’t know… With this global warming nonsense they might be a couple of weeks late.” I drew on my pipe, savored the smoke, and used the long stem as a pointer. “I’ve seen a few goldfinches though, by the creek; they were late come to think of it.”
We mused on that bit of information for a few moments.
Cristal placed her hand lightly on my shoulder. “You know, I was going to ask you to help clean up the house a bit. It’s such a wreck.”
I dutifully waited for the sentence to be handed down. Would it be mopping, folding clothes, or worse, scrubbing the bathtub.
“But, you look so thoughtful there, that I think I’ll leave you to your musings; you deserve a break.”
You could have knocked me over with a flick of the finger.
“Would you like a drink? Some water or a soda? “
“Uhh… no, no thanks, I’m doing pretty good.” I replied
She started to turn and I said, “Baby…”
I was going to ask for a bourbon over ice, splash of spring water.
She winked at me, and with that look said, “I know.”
Friday, December 14, 2007
Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
"The term environmentalist has been adopted by groups who don't believe that we can use natural resources and still have them available for the future."
I happened upon this interesting exchange between a young lady and Dr. James Earl Kennamer, Director of Conservation Programs for the National Wild Turkey Federation:
"Q: I've always been very concerned about the environment and pollution. I told a friend of mine that I'm an environmentalist, but my dad, who's been a member of the NWTF for years and years, said that I'm not an environmentalist, I'm a conservationist. What's the difference?
For example, at the turn of the 20th century, many wildlife species were in danger of becoming extinct. They were over hunted by a growing nation without game laws, and their habitat was disappearing as people needed more space. In the 1930s, hunters and anglers saw that the United States would soon be without many of the animals they enjoyed. So, they asked the government to tax them, believe it or not, so that the money they spent on firearms, ammunition, fishing gear and licenses could be used to help wildlife rebound. This was proposed as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also called the Pittman-Robertson Act.
Since its adoption as law in 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act has raised and spent more than $3.95 billion toward wildlife and habitat projects, solely funded by America's hunters and shooters. This great conservation effort has resulted in the amazing comeback of many of North America's wild species including white-tailed deer and wild turkeys.
Even though the success of this model has been proven over and over, today, there is a polarization in the outdoors. The term environmentalist has been adopted by groups who don't believe that we can use natural resources and still have them available for the future. They don't want people to hunt animals, they don't want foresters to use timber, they don't want people to have access to the rich wilderness areas of our continent.
Albert A Rasch
Member: Qalat City Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...
Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained Capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.
Friday, December 7, 2007
In these difficult times we need all the help we can get.
Mr Othmar Vohringer, of British Columbia Canada, is a fellow hunter, outdoor philosopher, and writer. His main web site is "Outdoors With Othmar Vohringer." In addition he publishes sister sites that include a forum, "SHS Hunting Chat Forum", a whitetail deer hunting blog, "Whitetail Deer Passion", a turkey hunting blog, "Wild Turkey Fever", and finally an opinion-editorial blog appropriately named, "My Stand."
This week on "My Stand" Othmar writes about the economic impact that we sportsmen have on the acquisition, management, and funding of natural assets, and most importantly, on wildlife conservation.
The Economics of Hunting
I highly encourage you to take the time to read his article. Then take some more time and consider what you can do to spread the word and take back the spotlight.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Friday, November 30, 2007
© 2009-2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
(Editors Note: This occurred several years ago. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this adventure. I do have the skull of the boar; it is one of my most treasured trophies. My attempts to reunite with Jim and Mike have been, so far unsuccessful…)
It was bound to happen sooner or later...
When you hunt as I like to, at close quarters, purposely putting your life in danger, you are assured to have a hair graying, shave a few years off your life, bladder weakening experience.
It had started, innocently enough, with a half-breed Russian boar that was given to me by, a good ol' boy who was cousin, to the sister of the wife, of the guy who fixes my friend Big Duke's car. At least that's how I understood it. Big Duke is a free association type of guy, with an endless stream of consciousness conversation that anesthetizes you as it washes over you. Somewhere out of that particular current that morning, I picked up "mean old hog" and "cutters the size of butcher's knives". My interest piqued, I listen more intently but he had gone on to the "Butcher of Seville" which must had been a sequel to the "Barber of Seville", which, I am glad to say, I must have missed when it came through town. Interrupting and dragging him back to the hog part of the conversation, I found out that someone, somewhere wanted to get rid of a particularly nasty boar hog that they had somehow acquired.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
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Boy did we have a ball!
Blake, Mom, and I, went to the beach yesterday. Jordan (The Bear), had to work, so he was stuck dealing with elderly customers, all of whom suffer from assorted and indescribable ailments, and who have absolutely nothing better to do than to tell him about said ailments in nauseating detail, while he tries to explain complicated electronics to them. (We get all sorts of compliments on him all the time! They just love his patience and attentiveness.) All the while we cavorted in the surf and kicked up the sand.
Casperson Beach near Venice is one of our favorite beaches in Florida. Not only does it have great picnic areas, it also has Native American burial mounds, sharks teeth galore, shells, and to top it all off, great fishing.
We went to our favorite picnic table and set out our usual array of accouterments, while Blake looked for something to start a fire with. We won't use lighter fluid. We're kinda borderline on the matches business, but I haven't made a bow and drill yet, nor do we have a flint an steel set... It didn't take him long to get a good ball of palm fuzz and a handful of twigs. Before Mom and I had the table set, he had the tinder set up and the lump charcoal ready. A quick strike of a match and presto, fire started!
While we waited for the charcoal to ash over, we wandered around the mangrove estuaries to see what was to be seen. Occasionally we find an interesting shell or even a good shark's tooth. A juvenile armadillo made his presence known by rooting around as they do looking for the odd grub or ant in the leaf litter. A few egrets were resting and a couple of squirrels jumped from tree to tree, scolding us for intruding.
We headed back to the picnic area and Blake took the cast iron pot and set it over the fire. Mom popped the cooler open and served us a couple of ice cold IBC Cream Sodas to bolster our spirits, while I opened a can of refried beans, put a half stick of butter in the pot, and took the cooked garlic out of the cooler. (Here's a neat idea: The night before, boil a head of garlic for about twenty minutes. If you make soups regularly you can boil an extra one or two while making the soup. It softens the garlic and takes the bite out of it. When it cools, take the paper off the cloves and put them in a small plastic container or some aluminum foil.) The beans went into the pot along with the garlic. I stirred them occasionally to keep them from burning. In the meantime Mom had pulled the flank steak out of the cooler. We prepared it the previous night and had left it marinating in a large ziploc bag. Olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and of course, white wine makes up the marinade.
When the grill got good and hot, I slapped the steak on it and let it sizzle. A couple of flips and a few minutes later the steak was done. Mom produced the cutting board, a sharp knife, and I sliced that beautiful cut of meat across the grain. Tortillas were heated right where the steak was, a little bit of butter rubbed on the warmed flour circle. With refried beans spooned on, steak slivers, and shredded cheese to top it off, no king ever ate better!
With bellies full we picked up our fishing gear and headed to the surf line.
Bubby (as I call Blake) throws a pretty good cast net and managed to catch us a couple of dozen shad. We baited our hooks and cast them out. I hooked a couple of small Jack Crevalles almost immediately. After an hour or so, Blake gets a good hit. Rod bent and drag squealing, he held the rod high and let it do the work. The thrilled look on his face was unforgettable! He had to work that fish a good hundred yards down the beach, and there were a couple of times that I thought he might get spooled. But the drag and good rod handling finally wore that fish down!
When it was all said and done he beached a 21 inch bluefish. I warned Bubby not to put his fingers anywhere near that fish's chompers! Blues have been known to bite people's fingers off.
After the requisite pictures he hit the water again and before long had hooked another fish. This time after a much shorter fight, he brought in an 18 1/2 inch speckled trout!
We all had a great time. There's nothing like watching a boy enjoying the great outdoors, and all it has to offer!
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Monday, November 5, 2007
Good Morning to All!
As many of you know, I keep European Honey Bees. This weekend Bubby and I started to harvest some of our crop. We only had time to work one hive and drew eight frames of honey. The yield was forty-one pounds of delicious honey. There are another eight frames to harvest from that hive, but after a couple of stings, and the disturbance I cause when I'm in the hive, I thought I would let them rest until next week. This summer was not the best though; I lost two major colonies, and two nucleus colonies. As soon as we're done harvesting honey I'll be splitting up the colonies and raising new queens.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I have it done.
I'll have it posted tomorrow! Its all about the Bahamas trip. I've cooled down enough to write objectively about it, but I thought I might run it by my buddy the attorney before I post it.
As an aside, I wrote a couple of children's (primary readers) short stories, I'm getting them illustrated and I think I'm going to bind them myself for Christmas gifts this year, before I try to market them. I think they came out pretty good if the audiences' response is any indication.
Anyway look for the Bahama Breakdown tomorrow.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
My apologies for being late this month! A series of unfortunate calamities (none serious) have conspired to keep me from posting!
But do not despair. Before long I'll have another story for you.
Thanks for your patience.
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Thursday, September 6, 2007
It is a fairly common practice in all cultures that eat pork to withhold food for a day before the hog is to be slaughtered. The following day, usually early in the morning, a pan of food is used to lure the hog to the designated spot, whereupon it was shot in the head and immediately hung up and bled out. This is my preferred method also. But I have noticed that both Cuban and Mexican slaughtering methods are a bit different. They tend to prefer the stab to the heart method, preferably with a sharp butcher's knife. Unfortunately this, more often than not, results in either someone catching a butchers knife in the leg or in a seriously wounded animal which is stressed. It is my opinion that this degrades the quality of the meat due to the stress, and the adrenaline hormone flowing through the tissue. Peter H. Capstick has remarked that spine shot cape buffalo which die immediately, taste much better than those that are shot any other way. I don't have any scientific evidence to prove this with hogs , but there is quite a bit of empirical evidence (dinner table) to suggest that this is the case.
Be that as it may, once the animal is down, the real work begins. Putting it up on the dressing table can be a real chore once the hogs start to get past 300lbs and a heavy duty block and rope or cable is sometimes neccesary. A good hot fire needs to be lit earlier and a cauldron of water set to simmer. The cauldron of scalding hot water is then set near the work area. Using ladles, the water is poured over a section of the hog, and the hide scraped clean of all hair, and I mean all of it, right down to the feet. Holding a large butchers knife at a right angle to the hide, you scrape and pull the hair right out of the follicle. If it is too difficult, ladle some more water on it. Every couple of minutes the boys bring a hunk of cast iron, (mostly old disc brakes) that has been setting in the fire, on a long hook fashioned out of rebar and drop it into the cauldron. The water stays at scalding temp throughout the operation in this way.
The cauldrons I have seen range in design from the exquisite pure copper kettles polished with salt and lemon juice, holding 70 gallons and more, to rough serviceable cast iron ones. You can make one from a beer keg that has had its top sawn off, the loop handles are already there. If not you have to bolt or weld round handles to it. Made of heavy gauge stainless steel they seem to take the heat well and clean easily with a scouring pad and elbow grease. the problem is one of capacity, kegs are 30 gallons (I think) and are rather narrow, the width of a 50 gallon drum being preferable.
Gutting the hog by standard methods, great care is taken not to damage any of the entrails or organs. A half barrel of brine awaits all the viscera except the lungs and bladder, which are disposed of. While the guys work on the carcass, the women prepare the entrails. In short, the intestines are turned inside out and scrubbed clean. Likewise the stomach. The heart, kidneys and liver are rinsed in brine then put in clean ice and brine to chill. The skull is carefully split and the brain removed, it too goes into an ice and brine solution.
The now hairless hide is removed, care being taken to leave an even, inch thick layer of fat attached to it. The hide is placed fat side up a slatted surface in the shade and out of the sun. Personally, I sprinkle a light dusting of black pepper on it to discourage flies from landing and setting up household.
Back at the carcass the lard is trimmed off and thrown in the cauldron which is now back at the fire pit. The fire pit is nothing more than a hole dug out of the soil with two parallel pipes crossing over it to hold the cauldron. Fancy is good too. Mine is a raised brick lined fire pit with a sloped feeding hole for the wood. A wooden deck surrounds it, and the cover is a slotted manhole cover I bought at a flea market. One of these days I'll put a wood fence around it to keep children from inadvertently burning themselves, at the fiestas I've been to there are always a couple of dozen of the urchins running around and I always worry.
As the sizzling lard renders, the water is driven off. By the way, this is the quintessential pot of boiling oil. Be careful. During this time the hog is dismembered, the cuts kept in large pieces. Season in any way you like. Down here in sunny Florida, the use of citrus marinades is very common. Reserve any parts that you may wish to prepare differently, but the custom is to cook the whole pig as it is supposed to be a communal affair.
After rendering the lard, a second container is prepared in order to filter the lard. A large towel is held by two individuals while two more lift the cauldron with a stout stick through the handles. Another fellow tilts the cauldron and gently pours the lard through the cloth which acts as a filter and removes any foreign objects. The cauldron is cleaned and the now filtered lard is put back in it. Back onto the re-stoked fire it goes and is brought back up to temperature.
The first pieces that go in are the meats, be sure to cook them until they are done. You will learn by trial and error how long you must cook it for, start out with smaller pieces and work your way up to the large ones. I have never been responsible for the cooking so I can't advise as to the specific times. But I am going to find out next time I'm invited to a fiesta.
Then the viscera and feet are cooked the same way. Once again the lard is filtered and the cauldron cleaned quickly. The cleaned intestines are cut into three to six inch sections and tossed into the heated lard. Once they are cooked, which in this case doesn't take long, they are sliced into thin ribbons and eaten with tortillas and lemon or lime and salt. To be honest I don't remember how the liver and kidneys were done. They might actually be done inside, I have never noticed...
Now comes my favorite part, the hide. The hide is cooked, not once, but twice. First cooking makes what is called "salcochado" which means sautéed. Then after the second cooking they are pork rinds, like the ones in the bags, but fresh and tasty. The hide is cut into six to ten inch squares, and placed individually into the clean, hot lard in the cauldron. They are cooked until the fat has almost completely rendered and the hide becomes translucent. I warn you these are addictive and will raise your cholesterol beyond any machines ability to measure. You have been warned! Pulled burning hot from the oil, they are put on a clean absorbent towel, covered and pressed. The oil is still hot enough to burn the hide off your hand so use enough towel. Immediately it is transferred to a cutting board where it is cut in half and then cut into strips. A little lemon or lime juice, a sprinkle of salt and you have the most delectable treat known to mankind. After everyone has clogged their arteries, the hide is once again put into the cauldron in order to cook it into rinds.
And finally the brains which require the most preparation and taste scrumptious. The men do not do this. I guess it takes a woman's delicate touch to cook this. The brain is sliced into thin slivers, which are seasoned with salt and lemon, wrapped in tortillas, and skewered with a toothpick. After they are all made, and the lard filtered and reheated, the little roll ups are put in to cook. Again, I'm not sure of the time, but I will find out. When they are done the tortilla is crisp, and the brain slices have a decidedly different taste to them, sort of like egg but not quite. I like them too.
Well, let's get back to the fiesta.
Father Ramon had finished his benediction and everyone headed towards the serving tables. I stayed back waiting until everyone had been served. I don't like to be made the center of attention, I prefer to do it myself. And if I headed to the tables I would be made to be served first and I would then have to endure thank you after thank you from each of the guests, and my food would get cold anyway. Putting my glass down, I busied myself with the fire throwing in a few more quarters of oak. Pushing at a misplaced piece of wood with a rebar poker, I felt a firm hand squeeze my shoulder. I turned my head, and I saw it was Father Ramon. I flashed back to a misspent youth in New York City where I attended St. Bartholomew's. Run by Franciscan Friars, whom I believe wholeheartedly are the storm troopers of His Holiness the Pope, and their sidekicks the full habit wearing Nuns, (Which Order they were part of I was never able to ascertain it was a "State Secret" I think.), St Barts was to Catholic schools what Riker's Island is to prisons. Discipline was maintained with an iron fist sheathed in a velvet glove, and justice was swift, efficient and merciless. (No fooling around in those days, and we didn't have school shootings, disturbances or attention deficit disorder either.) It was all I could do not to run, screaming "It wasn't me! It wasn't me!" But realizing that this wasn't Brother Thomas I relaxed, smiled and slowly rose to my feet.
"Father Ramon," I said, "que tal, como esta usted?" It never hurts to be polite and formal with the clergy. A smiling Padre responded, "Well my son , well." He's only a couple of years older than me, so I find it odd being called son. "This is a wonderful thing that you do. It is good for everyone." He paused, and I braced for what I knew was coming. "Tell me Alberto, why haven't I seen you at church?” Its real simple: I don’t go! “When was the last time you went to confession?" 1974. And I was almost caught by Sister "Knuckle Buster T" Theresa with Patty the 8th grade redheaded Irish bombshell. So you can imagine my aversion to confessionals. Avoiding the whole confessional thing I told him I would try to make it tomorrow. He wasn't fooled by me, not one bit. But he let it slide.
I've thought of inviting him to join me on a hunt. I am almost certain that he would. I know he enjoys a good wine and he has no problem with hunting. I'll have to give it some more thought though.
We chatted about the kids, briefly touched on the war in Afghanistan, and he asked me if I could help an elderly parishioner with a small matter. I agreed and he motioned to the serving table which by now had thinned considerably. “He's sharper than I thought.”, went through my mind. I excused myself and started to turn. He grabbed my arm. "Manana, (Tommorrow)" he said, looking me straight in the eye. "OK Padre, tomorrow 9:30 sharp." I smiled and figured there were worse ways to spend a Sunday morning, like maybe a British penal colony. I hadn't counted on the conga group in my head, but that wouldn't be for another fourteen hours or so.
My plate was ready by the time I had walked the twenty steps or so. As it was I was thanked by a half dozen people for providing the main course. After as many "You're welcomes" I managed to get back to my tottering seat and my drink, which had suffered my inattention for quite a while.
The band had started to play again, having taken a break. This was the first serving in what would prove to be many. The pork was cooked to perfection, the rice was seasoned with spices, and the "Pico de Gallo", had a bite to it. I put down my plate and topped off my drink. I was in figurative heaven. Father Ramon not withstanding.
The rest of the evening was punctuated by conversations and congratulations. One of the younger couples decided to announce their impending nuptials. After that the libations poured twice as freely. As the Patron I was required to make the obligatory toasts, and boy, did I have to make them. It seemed that at every turn a request came for another toast.
It was late in the evening when my wife came to get me, I was satiated and had single handedly insured Bacardi's January profit margins. I can't remember a more memorable fiesta.
Hope you all enjoy!
The Hunt Continues...
Friday, August 24, 2007
Damned thing is too ugly...
By the time my lovely wife came to rescue me, (more for her sake than mine; she has steadfastly maintained that she wants me alive rather than the life insurance bounty that she steadily increases every year), I was in danger of drowning in Puerto Rico's finest: Bacardi Anejo. 151 proof of the Caribbean's best medicine. A tumbler glass in one hand, plate of roasted pork, tortillas, rice and beans, precariously balanced on one knee, I held court in the center of an admiring crowd, punctuating every sentence with the free hand. Hey Honey! How much am I worth now?
The morning's hunt had been a rousing success, the she hog I had brought to my friends' home had been enthusiastically received, the multitude of happy children capering about while the adults admired the animal. A little fellow named Jesus tugged at my gun belt. I tussled his jet black hair and scooped him up in my left arm so he could better see the sow’s snout and ivory. As I leaned towards the hog, grunting in his ear, and snorting in his neck, he let out a squeal of delight and I gently let him back down to run off with the other children. There was the promise of another Fiesta looming large, and the excitement was contagious; Don Alberto was here and there was sure to be a lot of fun. Already the commotion had attracted the neighbors who were now making their way up the driveway.
Chilled from a low crawl stalk through wet grass, during the early morning's hunt, I was forced to imbibe Bacardi's aforementioned magical elixir; for medicinal purposes of course. It works great on cuts, cactus scratches, blisters, dog bites, and anything else that ails you. Begging off after the second dose was administered and had completely seared the back of my throat to numbness, I asked a couple of the young "Muchachos" to take the sow off the horse's back. Grunting from the weight and trying to avoid the horses hooves, they managed to haul it off to the wooden dressing table. Telling them I would be back later, I remounted Chester the trusty horse, and rode home to a hot shower and dry clothes.
Before I could do anything though, I had to take care of the horse. Back at the stables, I put him in his stall, took off the bit and reins and gave him a cup of feed to occupy him while I unsaddled him. I ride a western saddle, but I've been considering an Aussie saddle. It's a cross between a McClellan saddle and a western and is designed for the horse's comfort. Which when you look at the financial cost and the emotional side of the equation of horse ownership, isn't such a bad idea. Flipping the saddle blanket over, I hung it on one of the rails to dry, and then reached for the brush and towel. I took the towel, wet it, and washed his rump where blood had seeped into his hair. Afterwards, starting at his neck I brushed him thoroughly on one side and then the other until his coat gleamed. By then I was good and warm. Grabbing a double armload of hay and tossing it into the rack, I gave Chester a pat on the withers and walked back down the winding path to the house.
On account of Alexander Graham Bell, good news travels fast; Martin and Emanuel, my boys' buddies, had already called ahead to tell them about the impending Fiesta. I didn't make it through the threshold before being accosted by two very excited young fellows and an exasperated yet ever patient and forgiving woman. "Dad!, dad, DAD!" hollered the youngest while the older did exactly the same except in a different voice. The words fiesta, party, music, dancing was all I could make out. The excited jabber was threatening to overwhelm me and the look of cornered prey must have been evident because Mom finally came to my rescue, steaming mug of hot chocolate in hand. A light kiss and a whispered "How did it go?" was all I was able to get while being guided to my chair. Jordan, the older of the two is a preteen, with all that it implies, and was already considering whether to wear his denim Arizona jeans or the black Wranglers. Something about Consuelo or Juana or Maria. Blake on the other hand was wondering if they would be serving tamales again. He seems to think that everything is a celebration and that the menu should contain whatever he likes.
I finally sorted them out, and looking up caught sight of my wife purposely looking at me. I was beginning to feel like the impala caught between the hyena and the leopard. My wife's eyebrow was up, which is the first of several physical signs that doom is near, so I immediately went into a defensive play number one. Mug on the coffee table, I put on my most innocent look and throwing on a crooked smile that was guaranteed melt the polar ice caps, or so I had been told, I said "Good hog, quite an adventure... Uh, by the way, there's going to be a party tonight and we're the guests of honor."
Silence. I could feel my smile slip a little. Cold sweat beaded my forehead. Don't sweat, I thought, don't let her see you sweat.
"I would have never guessed.", was the deadpanned response, eyebrow going up another fraction of an inch. “And have you been drinking? Already?“ Never having been called a coward, I decided that discretion is the better part of valor after all. Thinking quickly, I threw myself at her feet and told her about the harrowing escape from near death, the snake infested swamp and I even threw Idi Amin, the former cannibal dictator of Uganda, in for good measure.
I wasn't sure if I would pull this one off.
But, she finally relented, and said we could all go. The kids hurrahed and I figured I'd done it again, sly old dog that I am. You see, the problem is that she doesn't approve of, what is in her opinion, the over-inflated esteem that I am held in by my Mexican friends. She says she knows better; whatever that means. But that, as you might imagine, is yet another story.
Everyone ran to get ready. Within moments hair was slicked, boots shined, buckles polished, and hats brushed. We men were ready in a flash. As the second hand of the clock ticked, the boys got antsier. Jordan had settled on his black Wranglers, and must have combed his hair twenty times. Blake was whining about how hungry he was, even as he wolfed down another serving of synthetically buttered popcorn. I love these parties and just wanted to get there and take my seat at the cooking pit. But the wife, as all wives do I'm told, had to get prepared. The shower was still running. As the afternoon wore on the men's patience was wearing thin. Not that we’d do anything about it, mind you, we’re not fools you know. But the sighs spoke volumes.
Finally the door opened and she came out, resplendent in jeans and silk western blouse, sparkling jewels on hands and neck. Blake is still mesmerized by his mother's beauty and me, let's just say I'm as lucky as a man can be. Jordan's looking in the mirror trying to decide which is his best side.
Anyway, we loaded up and headed on over to the shin-dig, everyone looking forward to it.
When I pull up in our Ford F250, it looks that half the neighborhood has shown up. Cars were parked on the dirt road, along the drive, and in the front yard; I headed up the driveway to my usual reserved spot. No sooner had I driven up the driveway, when a mob of kids came pelting around the corner of the house, scattering chickens and puppies under their churning feet. Seeing us, they hit the brakes, their shoes kicking crumbled shell about. After a pause too short to even call momentary, they wheeled in unison and rushed the truck. Pulling the truck up into my space they swarmed it like locusts. The doors flung open, my boys bailed out and were quickly and irretrievably swallowed into the writhing mass of children. Like a tornado leaving destruction and disarray in its wake, the mass boiled away into the distance.
Two of the "muchachos" swaggered up, the gold medallions of the Virgin Mary that hung around their necks reflecting light, their Stetsons pulled low over the foreheads. I had already popped my door open and was halfway out, but the Wife knew to wait for one of the boys to open the door for her. "Don Alberto, que tal?" asked Martin as he manfully stuck out his hand, his crocodile hide boots giving him an extra couple of inches of height, "My father asked to be told of your arrival."
I gave him a firm shake of the hand and a squeeze on the shoulder. "Tell him on my way.", I said. He gave me a half salute and took off with purposeful strides to his father. In the meantime, Emmanuel had opened the Wife's door, held her hand and helped her down out of the jacked-up truck. Offering his arm he asked her if he could escort her to where his parents were. To see a couple of 12 year olds with better manners than most adults is a real pleasure, and a treat. With great seriousness, and yet lightly, my wife accepted and was escorted to the grand fete. Me, I was left behind to fend for myself, as usual, but at least I knew were the bar was.
Ambling over to the bar and pouring myself a long one over ice, I took a sip and let the liquid fire run down my throat until it hit my belly burning. The Fiesta was wound up by now and the revelers were happily carrying on. Mariachi music was playing and I could see some of the younger couples dancing. Martin was talking to his father and pointing back towards the truck, Guadalberto looked up from his labor and scanned the crowd. As he looked in my direction, I raised my glass, and caught his attention. A broad grin split his face, and handing the long oak wood spoon he had in his hand to Martin, came in my direction, side stepping around children and seated people. Turning back to the bar and reaching behind, I grabbed another tumbler and dropped some ice into it. I was putting it down when a work hardened and callused hand grabbed me by the bicep and spun me around. "Don Alberto!" I get that a lot when I'm there. "You must come to the fire! Everyone is there waiting, Come, come!" His hand had grabbed mine and pumped it in greeting, at the same time he was pulling me that way. I reached back, grabbed the two glasses and just managed to hook the bottle with the little finger of my free hand.
A circle of mismatched seats circled the fire pit. All of them filled by the equivalent of the village elders. A seat remained empty for me. How I rank up there with the elders is beyond me.
(Actually the reason I do is because I am educated, seemingly successful, and Castilian speaking. To their way of thinking I am the equivalent of a Spanish Don or in its English counterpart a member of the titled gentry. The other title I hear often is "Patron" which is the same in English, patron. Tonight I was "El Patron", I was the patron of the party. I supplied the main course, in this case a "marrano", very much like the land owners of yore might possibly have dropped off game or even cattle at the mission for the peasants. There is a subtle caste system at work here, and as my father has told me, it is best not to rock the boat. In this social structure, everyone knows his place, but if it is upset, nothing works right. So I play my part, and encourage the youngsters to strive at school and be the best that they can.)
Anyway, the fire was going, the seasoned live oak and hickory wood throwing up the occasional spark, my belly was warm, and the antojitos were being passed around by the pretty young ladies of the families in attendance, their dresses colorful and festive. Spearing a chunk of fried chicken breast with the proffered bamboo skewer, I squeezed a bit of lime on it, dipped it into the salt, and popped it into my watering mouth. There were triangles of warm flour and corn tortillas, crisp avocado chunks bathed in lemon juice, salsa verde and salsa roja, rounds of corn cobs with butter and salt, and assorted other goodies. Taking another sip of my drink, I watched as my friend, Guadalberto, pulled out a sizzling chunk of pork from the cauldron, and put it on a waiting wooden platter.
Anticipation was on everyone's face. The aroma wafted towards me, filling my nose with the wonderful bouquet of well prepared food. Spearing another hunk with a trident fit for the Roman coliseum, he lifted that one, spitting and popping to yet another waiting platter. The ladies had their hands full tonight. The pork was taken to a table where it was to be cut, served and distributed to everyone.
The good Padre was there, Father Ramon of "Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe" Catholic Church. Able to speak Latin and English in an impeccable manner, he is a strong , wiry man, seemingly fit enough to wrestle cattle, drunks or sinners with ease. He is one of those old fashioned priests that still makes house calls to tend to his scattered flock. At his signal everyone rose from their seats, the children quieted down, and one and all, (Including this godless heathen!) bowed their heads for the benediction. When he finished, everyone headed for the serving tables to be fed!
End Part I
Monday, August 13, 2007
Sorry for the delay in responding and posting. I've just got back from a miserable three weeks on Nassau, in the Bahamas. Damned near coagulated the grey matter with the broiling heat. Lost ten pounds too. The only time I saw the beach was flying in and flying back out.
Overall, it was a miserable experience, right on up there with having my leg almost torn off back in the day, as the kids like to say.
I'll be reporting in full soon enough, but in the mean time I'll post the "Fiesta" for you all to enjoy!
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Sunday, July 1, 2007
During rainy season the rivers rose many feet to flood the surrounding jungle. The center main part of the rivers flow swiftly and dangerously with the added volume of water. Fishing was not good and the rivers were hard to navigate in heavy dugout canoes. Many of the vines and trees bordering the rivers produced fruit during this time, and large iguanas were to be found in great numbers feeding in the fruit-laden trees along the rivers.
Some of the Indians made their fields by the river and had to travel by canoe to get to them. I was along with Pooto and his family for a trip to their field. After gathering some fruit and manioc we got in the canoe to paddle back. We paddled hard and hugged the bank. When going upriver it is best to stay as close to shore as possible as there is less current there.
Suddenly Pooto started talking excitedly. He had spotted some iguanas up in a tree. We steadied the canoe as much as possible as he stood up, drew, aimed and let fly an arrow. The iguana came thrashing down from the tree, its neck transfixed by an arrow. It’s hard enough to shoot from a tipsy dugout canoe, but you also have to hit the iguanas in the head or neck or they will not fall down. Wiripi, Pooto’s son, shot another one in the same tree and then we crossed the river to continue on the other side.
We soon stopped at another iguana filled tree. The Indians have incredible eyes to be able to spot these camouflaged reptiles in the trees. This tree was high and the shots would be much more challenging. I watched completely amazed as they shot several more iguanas.
We threaded our way silently through the jungle, following the way of least resistance, around vines and tree trunks, pushing softly through bushes. Every so often Parara (our Amazonian guide) would stop to listen. We stopped too, listening for the sounds of potential game.
As we walked my senses drank in my surroundings. Each plant was familiar, each sound, even the earthy, loamy smells. I felt alive there in the jungle.
Suddenly we sensed activity up ahead. Parara grew very alert. We stepped forward quietly and then froze. In a blur of motion, Parara raised his bow, nocked an arrow, and let it fly into the jungle ahead of us.
We followed our friend forward about 25 yards where we saw his heavy metal-pointed arrow pinning an agouti to the ground at the very entrance to its hole. One half second later and it would have been safe. The arrow had cut an inch wide hole through its lungs, killing the animal almost instantly.
My brother and I exchanged admiring looks, marveling at the incredible performance we had just witnessed.
I made the comment to Todd that many years ago, when I was on the northern border of Costa Rica, the uncanny skill the children had with nothing more than a one inch round river stone. If a fowl or iguana was sighted, the kids unerringly launched a stone that would knock the creatures head almost off. Meal collected they went on their merry way doing what all kids do: looking to get into something.
I have asked Todd to consider putting together a series of stories from his time in the rain forests. I know that there are bound to be fascinating annecdotes that we would all love to hear and learn!
Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...
Monday, June 11, 2007
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Something I’ve never understood is how someone could spend hundreds of dollars on a rifle, spend the same and sometimes more on a scope, and then pick up a box of the least expensive ammunition they can find. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with such an approach, but when a hunt can cost you thousands of dollars in incidental costs, what’s ten more dollars?
With that in mind I thought I would discuss terminal performance.
What a bullet should do:
There are two ways that a bullet works, either by punching a hole through a vital zone or disintegrating inside and destroying the same. The fact is that given sufficient disruption of a primary system, death will occur, therefore a projectile works by stopping or damaging a vital life support system and causing death by suffocation, shock, or central nervous system shut down.
A bullet should reach its target unerringly, penetrate and do what is desired of it. Varmint hunting prefer to have the projectile blow up inside the target and expend its energy within. Medium and big game hunters vary in their desire for controlled expansion. Bullets shouldn’t be expected to do everything regardless of circumstances. At close range some bullets just won't hold up. At long ranges some won't do what they're designed to do. But if any one bullet qualifies for the do-all-to-end-all it would have to be the big-bore hardcast LBT style bullets. Close range to long range they make a hole and keep on going. Just ask the buffalo runners of yesterday.
Today the trend is towards deep penetration and retained weight. Originally, the Nosler Partitions, and now the Swift A-Frames, and the Failsafes are the yardstick by which all other bullets are measured. I will get to solids shortly Since I am predominantly a hog hunter, I can speak with some confidence as to what works and what doesn’t. If we limit our discussion to larger pigs of 225 lbs or more, the need for quality bullets becomes apparent. I have observed that at about 150 lbs hogs start to develop the shield and by the time they are about 225 the shield is now a hardened gristle deposit. Imagine, if you will, a hollow-pointed bullet hitting that. The expanding bullet drives into this dense, inelastic material. The bullet expands rapidly in this material and loses velocity. At some point it starts to shed pieces and loses mass. Without additional mass driving it from behind, penetration slows dramatically. In all probability it never penetrates past the gristle layer. Surface wound, not much blood, and no hog.
A non-partition softpoint doesn’t expand; as much as it is disrupted by the initial impact. In this case, mass directly determines penetration. The heavier the softpoint, the more likely it will penetrate deeper. The original Barnes made its money with its softpoint line. Heavy for caliber bullets (How about 600gr 458s and 250gr 308s!), driven at moderate speed disrupted well, retained 80% of their weight and drove deep. The only problem they ever suffered was over-expansion and the commensurate deceleration, which limited penetration, and on very large game sometimes the softpoints failed to smash through bones. The reason the 30/30 has taken so much game, is that it throws a 150gr softpoint at a moderate velocity. It hits, expands, and goes on its merry way. If you shot the same bullet out of a 30-06, at the same ranges as a 30/30, it might not hold together. Too much speed and not enough jacket strength.
Now if you will, try the same scenarios with a Failsafe. The momentum afforded by the encased base allows the bullet to continue through the gristle and bone, and drive into the vitals. Solids work by penetrating deeply and displacing tissue. Certain designs are meant primarily to drive through bones or large masses of flesh and muscle, Woodleigh, Barnes homogenous, and the AGS by Speer, which I understand is the best solid available, for instance. These bullets are designed to drive deep, drive straight, and smash their way through anything intervening. In the hands of an excellent shot, a solid will reach the target it is intended to. “Karamojo “ Bell used solids almost exclusively in his .265 and .275 for all the game he took, dangerous or otherwise. The latest take on solids, is the LBT style hardcast lead bullets. The design is phenomenal! They penetrate deeply, creating massive wound channels. They are accurate within their own parameters, and are available in number of calibers from 30 to .510. I use them in my 45LC and 458WM.
It has always been my preference to lean in the direction of greater penetration. Since I’ve always been suspect of my abilities, and hope to never lose an animal, I plan for the worse, and only take shots that I am certain of.
In the late fifties and early sixties Roy Weatherby thought that if he could push bullets fast enough, the “hydrostatic shock” of the projectile moving through the muscles and tissues of an animal would be sufficient to cause instantaneous death. Two things worked against Roy’s theory. One, bullets at that time could not withstand the then phenomenal speeds at which the Weatherby rifles/cartridges shot them. Secondly, hydrostatic shock doesn’t work on large elastic masses. On the minimal mass of a prairie dog, it will, on hippos, no. It has been conclusively proven that bullet placement, not energy, is what kills. In the end it is the hunter’s ability to accurately place a bullet in the right spot that determines whether he is successful or not.
Stopping power is directly related to the caliber. Stopping power is directly related to the caliber.
There, I’ve said it twice. In other words, the bigger it is the more likely it will settle hash right then and there. As long as it has enough velocity to penetrate and all other things being equal, the larger the cross section, the more powerful the knock down capability. Empirical evidence suggests that weight, velocity, and the cross section of a bullet, determines its ability to knock down, that is to stun or immediately kill an animal. Pondoro Taylor and Hatcher both devised formulae and tables to estimate the knockdown power of any given projectile. They both weigh in heavily in favor of the bigger bores. If you peruse the cartridge tables, you will notice two things, one, the big bore cartridges are slow, and two the projectile weights are high. When velocity is low you need mass and frontal area. Again empirical evidence suggests that when you are confronted with a mad Brownie, a 45-70 is better than say a 338WM. Otherwise why would so many Alaskan bush pilots prefer the Guide Gun and the Alaskans? The answer is the ability of a slightly souped up 405gr, .458cal bullet being able to traverse, end for end, an 800lb bear, smashing everything in its way. Wound channels are commensurately large in proportion with frontal cross section. As caliber goes up, the area goes up exponentially. A 30caliber bullet has a frontal area of .0745sq in versus .165sq in for a .458, more than twice the area.
You can never be certain as to what conditions will be when you have to put a bullet into the vital zone. The ability of the projectile to penetrate through any intervening meat, bone or viscera, into the vital zone is directly related to construction and design. Range and impact velocity also are variables to contend with. The lines are blurring slightly when one has to choose between a light quick bullet and a heavier slower one. Due to the better qualities of the newer bullets, it has become easier to drop in weight, add velocity and be confident of retained terminal weight. The 30-06 loaded with 150gr Failsafes shoots as flat as a Remington 7mm Magnum and will retain almost all of its weight. But retained momentum and energy are diminished substantially as the weight goes down.
How should you decide? I am convinced that 90% of all game is taken inside of 100 meters. In the end all that matters is whether a bullet penetrated and did sufficient damage to kill quickly. If I was hunting Florida whitetails exclusively, and limited my shot to reasonable ones, I wouldn’t hesitate to use any of the commercial soft points. I would only choose the brand that gave me the best accuracy, I would confirm concentricity and use only the best for hunting. Florida deer are small, and considering I do most of my non-hog shooting with a 30-06, there is no real need for a deep penetration. That’s a personal preference; at the ranges I am capable of shooting to, you could cut the end of the bullet off with bolt-cutters, and it would still hit the target close enough to point of aim. But if I were going to Africa (plains game), or to Arizona for elk, even white tails in Texas, I would use nothing less than Winchester Failsafe and/or Remington Swift A-Frames. After checking for concentricity of course. I would limit myself to shots inside of 150 yards, where I could be absolutely sure of where my bullets hit. I would familiarize myself with the game animal until I could visually dissect it and know where every vital organ lies. I’ve killed enough pigs to be almost certain of every shot’s terminal trajectory on them. “Karamojo “ Bell did this to great success with North American game when meat shooting in Alaska, and in Africa where he made his fame shooting elephants for ivory. But even though I can visualize where the pig’s heart, spine, and liver lay, occasionally I am still surprised. Recently I took a shot at a small hog, aiming for the box made by the eyes and ears. Imagine my surprise when I recovered him and found that instead of a frontal head shot, I had made a side brain shot.
If you are picking your shots, and not picking fights or trying to stop them quickly, then it is reasonable to use any cartridge and rifle combination that is suitable for the game at hand. For instance, I think I am a reasonably capable shot with my Weatherby 30-06. Anything inside of a couple of inches is in eminent danger of being ventilated at 150 meters or less. With that in mind, I would not hesitate to use it with 180gr A-Frames against brown bears, and here is the operative phrase, if I had to. But I think I would feel better with my 458WM. At 100 meters I can keep all my shots within 3 inches. 450gr hard cast LBT type bullets at 1800fps, will double lung any grizzly, bust both shoulders, or traverse the grizzly end for end. And If things somehow got ugly and I have to end a fight, I’ll be confident that the 458 and I, can swat one down flatter than an aluminum can on the expressway.
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...