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Missouri "Safari"
Old 01-29-2020, 08:35 PM
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gitano gitano is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
Age: 68
Posts: 19,200
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Default Missouri "Safari"

Sakorick and Fire717 invited me to their annual pheasant hunt in (usually) Kansas. This year, it was scheduled for Sunday, the 19th of January, 2020. These past two years, I’ve been making a concerted effort to get in some pheasant hunting, and have made a couple of trips Outside to make that happen. I even drove from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Denver and Oklahoma. The hunting was fine on those trips, but the shooting was sparse. Rick’s annual hunt was usually pretty good, and I really wanted to get into some birds - especially over dogs. On the other hand, it was only a one-day hunt, and the round-trip air fare was a pretty big expenditure just for one day’s hunting. I tried to think of ways to make the trip more worthwhile. As I have mentioned many times here at THL, two of my ‘favorite things’ are fishing for panfish and hunting for squirrels. It was likely that in January there would be enough ice on the ponds and lakes in northern Missouri to go fishing, and both sakorick and John, (the fellow on whose land I shot the deer this year - see http://www.thehunterslife.com/forums...ad.php?t=20547), have plenty of squirrels on their land. I asked Rick and John if it would be alright to tag some icefishing and squirrel hunting on to the week after the pheasant hunt, and both agreed. I booked the tickets.

As the hunt approached, we all watched the weather. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t cold enough to ‘make ice’ on the ponds and lakes. That element of the trip was most likely going to get a ‘pass’. However, squirrel hunting is not so weather dependent, so I was still looking forward to that part of the trip. Rick picked me up at the Kansas City airport about noon on Thursday the 16th. We went straight to his place in Missouri. Friday, we got our stuff together and bought some last minute items. (I forgot my long johns, and had to get a pair of those.) The weather had been cooling off, down into the 20s, but when I landed at the KC airport, ALL the water I could see from ‘altitude’ was ice-free. Nevertheless, based on the weather predictions, we were expecting the pheasant hunt to be pretty chilly. I was gonna need those long-johns.

Saturday, we, (Rick, his two dogs Bella the Lab and Missie the companion, John and his Lab Bailey, and I), headed up to KC where we were going to spend the night at Fire717’s house. The location of the hunt was about an hour more west of KC, and had we left from Rick’s, we would have had to leave Rick’s place too early to make it to the hunt location by 0900. On the way to Fire717’s house we stopped at Cabelas where I bought some 16 gauge ammo (1 oz #6s) and Rick got some gloves. We had a great meal made by Fire717’s wife, and hit the sack. We got up about 0700 Sunday morning, had some breakfast, and the five of us (Rick, Fire717, Evan (Rick’s grandson and Fire717’s son), John and I), with Bella, Bailey, and Dot, Fire717’s German short-hair pointer. On the way, we stopped and picked up Pat, a friend of Fire717’s. Six is a good number to walk up pheasants over dogs.

We got to the hunt location about 0900, took care of the necessary paper-work, (this was on private property, AND I needed a Kansas small game hunting license), got on our ‘battle dress’, (the ambient temperature was 17 degrees F), and headed out. We were into birds very quickly, and had three down within 5 minutes. The ‘boys’ that were plucking and dressing the birds were zealous, and we didn’t get any “day’s end” collective pictures with all of us and the birds we shot. However, I had a nice bird that the 16 hadn’t torn up, (everyone else was shooting 12ga autos), and I got John to take a picture of me with the bird and Bailey while we were still out in the field. By the end of the day, the temperature had risen to the low 30’s and it was a gorgeous day. All in all, I think we shot 12 birds. The owner gave us another 24 that other hunters from a previous shoot hadn’t wanted. So we took home 36 dressed birds for 6 hunters.

Here’s that picture I mentioned:

“Running in the background” was the fact that the KC Chiefs (a professional football team for those non-Americans reading this), were playing for the league championship that afternoon. The winner of the game would be going to the Super Bowl. There was fairly keen interest in ‘catching’ at least the last half of the game by Pat, Fire717, and Rick. The Chiefs won. Because watching the game put us ‘late’ leaving, and because the weather was degrading, and because we would have been driving in the dark, we decided to spend Sunday night at Fire717’s. His wife made an extraordinary lasagna!

We got up the next morning (Monday the 20th), to degrading weather - getting colder and increasing snow as we headed east into Missouri. On the way, we stopped at several places to try to find some (more) .22 Hornet ammo for Rick. He also liked the way that factory ammo shot. We also looked for wax worms, just in case we got some fishing in, even from a boat. By the time we got home, it was freezing rain and snow. John (and Bailey) headed home and Rick and I stayed home the whole day. We decided that the most productive Plan-of-the-Day would be for me to sight in my rifle (Anschutz Model 1432, in .22 Hornet), at the range I expected to be shooting squirrels. Some of you may be scratching your head at the choice of a .22 Hornet for squirrel hunting. My rationale was that it would be entirely possible that I might see a bobcat or a coyote. If I did, I didn’t want to be under-gunned. This of course meant head-shots only on squirrels. Which in turn meant that the rifle needed to be as precise as I could get it. That turned out not to be a challenge. That Anschutz is a ‘tack driver’ with Hornday factory ammo.

I took the first shot, and produced that lower hole. I took the second shot and saw no new hole. What??? No way the second shot could have gone in the first hole. I shot a third time. No new hole! Hmm. I walked down to the target. Sure enough, it was clear that all three shots had made the same hole. I adjusted the elevation and took another shot. That was ‘close enough’. I took one more shot, and the bullet went in the same hole again. That was sufficient to instill all the confidence I needed in that rifle with that ammo! By the way… The “shininess” you see on the target is frozen rain. It was freezing as soon as it hit the paper. Here’s a picture of the ice on a pole beside Rick’s house:

I had brought along some PPU ammo with me as well as the Hornady stuff, and decided to check that out and see if it printed to the same point of impact as the Hornady stuff. Here’s it’s target:

While ‘good’, clearly not as good as the Hornady ammo. Before anyone suggests that I could have hand loaded some ammo “down” for squirrels, let me remind everyone of my significant efforts to get a “light” squirrel load for this cartridge and rifle. Getting the muzzle velocity down wasn’t difficult. Being able to hit the broad side of a barn FROM THE INSIDE, was. I have been completely unable to get any level of acceptable precision with my handloads. The Hornady ammo is too good to mess around trying to ‘roll my own’.

As Monday progressed the weather continued to degrade. It was a full-on ice-storm. Nasty weather really. BUT… It WAS getting COLDER, and, with the consistent below-freezing temperatures, the ponds had frozen. Maybe I would be able to get some ice-fishing in. We had fresh pheasant for dinner using a new recipe Rick wanted to try. It was, without a doubt, the best pheasant I have ever eaten! And the recipe was ‘easy as pie’.

Tuesday was still cold, and there had been a little snow, but it wasn’t raining (freezing) or snowing. All of the cold temperatures had frozen all the ponds! John went out on his ponds and checked the ice thickness. It was between 3 and 4 inches. Thick ENOUGH! We were going ice-fishing! Rick and John had all the gear we needed, and John had finally found a local fellow with some wax worms. We were in business. We started off on one of Rick’s ponds. It was cold, about 12F, as I recall, but that meant that we were ‘making ice’. That was a “good thing”. John bored some holes, and we got down to serious fishing. As I recall, Rick caught the first fish, a nice bluegill. Then he caught a crappie. Then I caught a bass:

I caught a crappie, and lost a VERY big crappie right at the hole. Rick and John decided that the fishing wasn’t good enough, so we packed up and went over to fish one of John’s ponds. To make a long story shorter, Rick caught something like a dozen total fish. I caught two crappie, a bass, a couple of bluegill, and this 4lb 12oz channel cat:

John and his wife came over to Rick’s for dinner, and we had a fish fry ‘par excellence’. (You have to say that with a French accent. ) It was all excellent, but in my opinion, the catfish was the best-tasting. We stuffed ourselves!

Wednesday was another grim day, but “you can’t catch fish if your line isn’t in the water”, so I went out to sit in one of Rick’s deer stands for the afternoon. It snowed heavily off and on the whole afternoon, and while I did see some squirrels at 90 to 100 yd, the view through the falling snow was pretty grim, and I didn’t take a shot. I was leaving Friday, (about noon), so Thursday was “it” if I was going to get any squirrel hunting in.

As it turned out, Thursday looked like it might be ‘good’. The temperature was pretty cool - I think about 9F first thing in the morning - but it was not freezing rain. Rick took me over to John’s to sit in one of his deer stands from which he and his brother have seen lots of squirrels. John and I drove out to the stand in John’s truck, and John and Rick drove back to John’s, leaving me John’s truck to use when I decided to leave the stand. I wasn’t in the stand very long - maybe 30 minutes - when I spied a nice big fox squirrel. The first clear shot I had of it was at about 40yd. The Anschutz barked and the squirrel flopped.

There were indeed lots of squirrels running around, but the operative word is “running” - and at 50 to 80 yards. I didn’t get another clear shot that morning. Rick called a little after noon and asked if I wanted to take a break and get some lunch. That sounded good, so I headed back to John’s place where we picked up John and had some “Mexican” at a local eatery. While I had been out squirrel hunting, John had been chasing cottontail rabbits, seen several, and gotten one. He offered to take me back to where he had seen them so I might get one. Sounded like a good idea to me, so off we went. Here’s the result of maybe 10 minutes of rabbit hunting:

I headed back out to the deer stand. Again, not too long after returning, I saw another nice fox squirrel, and it succumbed to the Hornet. As I sat in the blind and thought about the previous week, it occurred to me that I had shot pheasant, caught bluegill, crappie, bass, channel catfish, shot cottontail rabbit and fox squirrels. In other words, I had shot or caught every species of critter that had been available to hunt/catch EXCEPT gray squirrel. I NEEDED to get a gray squirrel to get the “slam”. Again, I was seeing all kinds of squirrels, and all of them were grays, but I couldn’t get a shot. They were all RUNNING across a shooting lane at 50 to 80 yards. By the time I could get “on them” with the scope, they were in the grass.

You can see that little ‘wiggle’ on the left side of the edge of the opening. The gray squirrels were crossing there and just beyond. Late January and February is the mating season for squirrels. I had noticed several “chasings” going on. I thought that if I readied the rifle when I saw the female cross, I might be able to get on the following male quick enough to get a decent shot. When the next squirrel crossed, I readied the rifle. Sure enough, the male wasn’t far behind. I caught him about the middle of the track and just as he hit the grass on the other side I had the cross-hairs on his nose and let fly. Dead right there! 79 paces from the blind, and a running head shot. I’m proud of that shot because it was ‘planned and executed’, but there is no doubt that there was a lot of luck involved! Man! It was a huge male gray!

I had gotten the ‘slam’!

However, when I was getting ready to leave the stand, and I was looking him over closely, it was clear that he was a fox/gray hybrid. Note the “red” on his flanks, mid-line of his back and top of the base of his tail. He is “mostly” gray-colored, but clearly not a “pure-bred”. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m calling him gray. 

That white belly and white-tipped tail hair is gray all the way.

I really wanted to eat the squirrel and rabbit, and I wanted to introduce John and Rick to my recipe for squirrel pie, so we stayed at John’s and cooked the rabbits and squirrels. We had roasted rabbit and squirrel pie. The rabbit was good, but the squirrel pie was great! I think John and Rick will be adding squirrel pie to their repertoire of game recipes.

Over night, it snowed another strong 5 inches. The drive to the KC airport was cautious. There were a few cars "in the ditch", but Rick got us there without incident. I was back in 'warm' Alaska by 2300 Friday night. A mere 12 degrees below zero when I got home. -19 the next morning. It's been a cold January, but I'm not complaining!

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." ~ C.S. Lewis.

Do not confuse technical skill for wisdom and do not confuse strength for skill. Paul Skvorc

Last edited by gitano; 02-21-2020 at 06:10 PM..
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