Archive | June, 2010

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Wonders Optics 4-14×50 [Product Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 24 June 2010 by Cork Graham

 
Cork Graham sighting in the WOTAC 4-14×50

With only a couple months until California’s coastal deer opener, it was time to not only check out the new custom loads received from Nosler, but also the Wonders Tactical (WOTAC) 4-14×50 scope (4th generation) I’d been given by their sales rep, Forrest Ebert. Just yesterday, I learned that I’d been lucky in the special deer draw with an X3B tag, so I’ll not only be hunting with the WOTAC scope for the first time, but also using it on my first California mule deer…good hunting luck on my side, I hope.

My first trials at the range were excellent. The glass is very clear, and the elevation and windage knobs turn easily without that mushiness scopes made in Asia can have. A number of target shooters had requested louder clicks to them, and WOTAC has made those improvements.

First trained on the MilDot reticle in the military, I was actually very impressed with the EPB reticle. For really long shots, those over 1,000 yards, I’d still recommend doing “come-ups” with the turrets (1/4 click MOA adjustments). But, for ranges under 1,000 yards, I can see how just raising or lowering, using the small hash marks along the main verticle line of the crosshair can be very easy and accurate.

Easy to use turrets and parallax correction

It was very fast to get on target with the adjustsment and longer hash mark at the bottom easily aids shooting for a crosswind. Would I use this scope to shoot an animal at 1,000 yards? No. Would I shoot a deer at 600-700 yards? Absolutely!

Ethical long range shooting will be covered in a later article, but you don’t have to start adjusting for elevation until 300-plus yards on a modern high-velocity rifle, a move from 300-600 is not that much of a challenge, especially if you’ve been practicing—and it’s all about practice!

What the hash marks (each represents a shift in 2MOA) do is make quick elevations using the reticle that much more effective. Let’s the take the new rifle I’ll be using this year. Sighted in at 200 yards, there’s a 68.8-inch drop at 600 yards with the 130 gr. Nosler Accubonds out of my .270 Winchester Model 70 Super Grade.

The EPB Reticle

All I have to do is check the wind speed (let’s say an afternoon 10 mph crosswind from the right). Then, raise the rifle so that sweetspot at the deer’s shoulder is halfway between the fifth and sixth hash mark. Compensating for wind, move the rifle muzzle to the right, so that target center is two and a half hash marks to the left (4.75MOA) of the vertical crosshair.

This is done with the scope zoom ring set to MOA. There is also a mark on the zoom ring for MIL.

Either MOA or Milliradian

What I don’t like about the scope are the turret screws. They are too small and always worry me that I’ll strip them in trying to make sure they’re tight. I’ve already read reports of stripped heads. Best would be to either have the turrets locked in with one larger screw, or to have a flip-lock system as can seen on the Premier Reticle scope.

Now it’s not a US Optics, Premier or Nightforce scope (And you know how much I love my Nightforce Optics™ 3.5-15×56mm NXS with MilDot!). It’s also not priced in the thousands of dollars like them, either. Like those higher-end scope manufacturers, Matt Wonders, the owner of WOTAC, offers a solid guaranteed. If you’re not happy with your WOTAC scope, contact them within 14 days of receiving it and they’ll either replace the scope or give you a total refund!

For a scope that provides good glass, an excellent reticle design that can efficiently turn your highpower 300 yard rifle into a consistent 600-700 yard shooter, it’s a very good deal at $329. If you’re looking to get a scope that you can accurately adjust your crosshair in the field for longrange shooting,  the WOTAC 4-14X50 is an excellent scope to start with.

Looking forward to putting it through its trials on a real hunt instead of just at the range!

For more information, or to order your own, contact Wonders Optics Sales Representative Forrest Ebert at email: ebco2009@gmail.com

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy the latest news at Wonders Optics (WOTAC) on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

TOPICS: Wonders Optics Sales Representative Forrest Ebert talks about the history of Wonders Optics line of tactical, target and hunting rifle scopes.

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Venison Curry and Fond Deer Hunting Memories

Posted on 22 June 2010 by Cork Graham

The last deer season on Mindego Hill

The Ziploc read “Stew meat 2008.” I tried to remember the deer from which it was taken. That’s when I remembered 2008 was the last year my good friends, the Caugheys, and I were allowed to hunt the Mindego Hill Ranch.

Though my buddy’s uncle was promised by his father, the Admiral, that he would never have to worry about losing their family’s little bit of heaven on Skyline (now tall and massive, olive trees and fruit trees were planted around the cabin over 40 years ago by the long departed Admiral when he was a professor at Stanford), with an amazing view of not only the San Francisco Bay Area but also the Pacific, the uncle’s mother passed away, and suddenly an $8 Million bill from the state of California arrived: it could only be paid by selling the property.

What a lesson in living trust and wills in California: especially those that were written to guarantee a stress free handing down of land ownership among the middle class…

So what had served as a great source of venison, for at least 25 years—for an Irish/Portuguese-American family that has hunted these San Mateo County mountains since the mid-1800s—was forced out of their hands. Where it ended up was with Open Spaces, which means unless you like to only hike or mountain bike on specific trails—you can’t even walk a dog there—you’re out of luck.

You can already see where the brush—on what were previously cattle ranches and now under Open Spaces ownership—is taking over the feed for the wild animals: in 30 years it’ll all be covered up in non-nutrient brush…the same flora that the local Native Americans had burned over thousands of years in order to keep their venison supply healthy.

Yes, it was a fond goodbye. And though I had hoped to take one of the bruisers that make up the genetic stock of the San Mateo County blacktail bucks, I was happy to get the small forkie.

As I was looking at the bag of stew meat, I recalled how tender those steaks off the young buck were and waited impatiently for the meat to defrost, recalling a recipe for lamb curry that I’ve wanted to adapt to venison.

Cork's Venison Curry with basmati rice, egg and banana slices

Venison Curry Recipe

Ingredients

· 2 lbs of venison stew meat

· 2 large onions, chopped

· 5 cloves of garlic, crushed

· 2 Tbsp olive oil with butter

· 2 Tbsp curry powder

· 1 tsp salt

· 1 tsp black pepper

· 1 Meyer lemon sliced (with rind)

· 2 peeled and chopped apples (I like the sweet apples)

· 4 cups of chicken broth

· One can of coconut milk

· 8 small red potatoes, quartered

· 6 eggs

 

Marinate the venison pieces overnight.

Marinade: grind and mix with 2 Tbsp of olive oil

· 1 Tbsp of coriander seeds

· 1 Tbsp cumin

· 1 Tbsp curry powder

· 1 tsp thyme

· 1/2 tsp salt

· 1/2 tsp pepper

Preparation:

1 On stovetop, brown the meat in a little bit of olive oil in a large pot. Remove the meat from pot.

2 Add olive oil with a little bit of 1 Tbsp of butter to pot, add curry powder, cook on low heat for a minute or two. Add onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Return meat to pot.

3 Add the sliced lemon, apples, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Put pot on stove on low heat and simmer for 3 hours, boiling down until the meat is almost falling apart. In the last 45 minutes remove the cover and put in potatoes and coconut milk. Let the curry boil down to the consistency you like. I prefer it halfway between dry and watery

4 Add eggs in the last 15 minutes (take them out at end, peel and put them back in the curry)

Serve over rice with sides of chutney, banana slices, boiled-egg slices.

Serves 6.

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Waterfowl Season Starts Now

Posted on 16 June 2010 by Cork Graham

It’s amazing how the screech of a poorly blown duck call can sound like a teacher drawing her nails across a blackboard. Such is the sound of waterfowl hunters who start much too late in their preparation for the season.

Being prepared isn’t just about calling, either: there’s making sure your shotgun’s shooting as well as last year; checking your duck jacket to see if you need to patch some holes, or just get a new one. Is your ammo shooting the way you think it is?

Every year it behooves the hunter to make sure everything is working as they want, and to find out long before it’s time to head out into the field. All too often the first chance at putting wild duck on the table turns dismal—leaky waders, missed shots—or, more dangerously so, duckboats sinking!

A great waterfowl season begins months before that opener in October.

Take out your waterfowl hunting clothing now. If it’s your duckhunting coat, hopefully you didn’t pack it away in a footlocker or drawer for the off-season. This compresses the insulating materials and such repeated season storage depletes their ability to keep you warm the next season. Check it for those holes, and perhaps take it to the tailor to have those shell loops replaced if they’re all stretched out.

Get Callin’

Spring is also the best time to start your calling practice. As master duck caller—and the one who taught me how to call ducks as a thirteen-year-old newbie duck hunter—Billy Gianquinto recommends, every duck hunter should purchase their calls in spring, get a good instruction tape or CD and practice everyday. It’s during this time, that I carry my duck and goose calls in my truck so that I can practice during a day’s commute.

What’s nice about practicing your calling in the vehicle is that you need to have one hand free for driving, which forces you to learn how to use your call with one hand: much more appropriate for a duck hunter holding a shotgun in a blind with the non-call hand. This especially comes in handy when learning how to use a goose flute with one hand instead of the normal two.

Get a good collection of duck hunting videos, not just the slicing DVDs that just show the kill shots. Get the DVDs that take you from calling to learning how to set a decoy set, to best of all, how to call based on what the ducks are doing.  Gianquinto and Cajun Duck Commander Robertson Clan have some great calling instruction videos.

Hittin’ What You’re Shootin’ At

Cork Graham successfully testing the original Black Cloud through a Remington 11-87 and SP-10 on Sacramento Valley snows and specks

Now’s a great time to look at what your shotgun really does and with the ammo you choose to shoot out of it. So many duck hunters just purchase a shotgun and a box of shells and head straight out into the duck blind, not even knowing how their shotgun is shooting.

What sighting in at the range is to a deer hunter with a newly purchased rifle and scope, patterning a shotgun is to a duck and goose hunter.

The average hunter might be surprised at how many people who purchase a new shotgun think that it need only be pointed in the general direction, and you hit what you’re shooting for. Must have been all those cartoons and mythical descriptions of how the trench guns worked in battle, especially to infantrymen whose rifle skills were wanting—but there are many that think a shotgun has magical properties.

When I received my first pump shotgun I was surprised at how much I was missing. This was a shotgun built by a major manufacturer—what could be wrong? A trip to the range and aiming at a dot on a large piece of white butcher paper quickly offered an answer.

The shotgun was patterning up to the right. I could have taken it to a gunsmith and had the pump modified, but instead I just remembered to adjust my shot picture while shooting. Had I not taken the shotgun to the range to find out what was really happening, I’d probably have gone on with a hit and miss for years.

The decision to pattern a shotgun should be taken not when just getting a new shotgun, but also to see how a new shot load does out a specific firearm. It’s also wise to check into a new choke when purchasing a shotgun.

For years I only shot the different chokes that came packaged with my shotguns and never inquired into the multitude of chokes, until last year and a chat with George Trulock, owner of Trulock Chokes and a man with a vast firearms knowledge that started in law enforcement, and distilled through many years researching the effects of chokes on shot. I learned how 3-inch chokes are a prime length for patterning a shot load especially steel shot.

Unlike a rifle that is accurate because of the effect on a bullet by the rifling, a shotgun influences its shot effectiveness by forcing a load of shot into a column that will spread out in as uniform a pattern as possible. By having a choke that that forces the load in three inches instead of two, the pattern delivered is much more uniform: think shot hitting a wall, because it’s so steep and angle, as compared to sliding along the wall because the angle is lessened by the longer length of the 3-inch choke.

The importance of chokes appropriate to the load was made clear a couple years ago when I tried Federal Premium’s Black Cloud ammunition for the first time. What I consider the deadliest duck medicine out there, I noticed that not only did the unique collared barrel shot perform amazingly, with solidly killed ducks, but also that the Trulock Black Cloud choke I got for hunting with the new cartridge performed admirably. One of the main reasons it works so well is that it’s designed to let out the shot and wad in a staggered manner that permits the shot to pattern effectively without creating so many flyers that destroy a pattern.

New for this year, Federal Premium has the new Black Cloud Snow Goose load. While the first release of Black Cloud was flying at 1450 fps, the new Snow Goose is screaming at 1635 fps!

That means it really cuts the geese, but that also means its patterning is effected differently than the slower shot. According to Trulock, the higher the speed, the wilder the flyers as they bounce off the inside wall of the choke instead of slide along its sides.

As Trulock said, it’s a tug-of-war between killing speed and uniform patterns. Too many flyers and the loss of not only the uniformity of the pattern, but also more holes in that pattern that a duck or goose can escape through.

Now, all these are just guidelines. Like everyone’s personal preferences for hunting equipment, a shotgun has its own personality and by learning it’s personality, not just shooting it, but modifying it, do you make sure every shot counts…and the earlier you start preparing for the fall season, the more prepared you’ll be to make your fall waterfowl season that much more enjoyable and successful.

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy the latest news at Federal Premium on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

TOPICS: Federal Premium PR Manager Tim Brandt talks about the history of Federal Ammunition’s merge with ATK, long line of excellent ammunition for big-game and waterfowl hunting, along with the new and upcoming offerings.

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