Sunday, July 23, 2017

Getting Ready for Elk Season

If there were ever anyone who hated exercise more than me, I am not sure I have ever met them. Perhaps it is because they are sitting on a couch somewhere and our paths have not crossed. One year a few years ago, I gave up for lent - exercise. It is one of the few sacrifices that I actually succeeded in throughout the entire Lenten season.  

But I do believe that we are supposed to give up something  as a sacrifice, and for me giving up exercise is no sacrifice. So I suppose that was frowned upon by the church and God himself. Therefore I resolved to make a new years resolution. Like most I seldom make resolutions knowing I will have it broken before the groundhog sees his shadow. But a few years back i made the New Years resolution to - "exercise no more than necessary to sustain life." Outside of breathing and digestion, there was not much more I could do. I even told my doctor this past January during my annual physical that I intended to keep my steps down to below one thousand a day. 

With all of these devices monitoring my steps, I feel intruded on. I do not want to know how much exercise I am doing without actually exercising. Since when did walking count as exercise? Does that mean walking to the bathroom is exercise? What about walking to the refrigerator? Ambling over to the cooler for another 'cold one'? Is that exercise also? If so, count me in! If not - well I am not a fan. 

Sure I like to be in shape, and I tell my children I plan on living another fifty years - (I am 53 now) so that puts me over the century mark by a bit. If I wear myself out now, I will never make it. These bones and muscles have a ways to go, so overdoing it will put me in the shop sooner than I plan. 

Alas, then comes the mail, where inside the mailbox is an envelope with a Colorado elk tag inside. My group drew our tags this year. While many would be excited about this, I am somewhat conflicted. I am excited we drew, I just hoped it would be a few years before I drew so I would have more time to get ready. But I have procrastinated too long as it is. We leave in a mere 10 weeks. For an overweight half-centurion ten weeks is not enough time to prepare. I did this hunt a few years ago and spent six months preparing and was vastly under prepared. Now here I am again, going a month later and just now beginning to prepare. 

Which involves, yes, exercising. After a few trips to the high elevation of the Rockies, I can assure you. Living at an elevation of 800 feet - and hunting at an elevation of 10,000 feet. There is no way to prepare for the change. The first two days will kick your butt. But if I do nothing, the whole trip is a waste of money. Walking for ten plus miles a day at high elevation is difficult when you are prepared. It is impossible if you are not. 

My regimen is simple. I put on the boots I will be hunting in and I begin to walk. I do not walk on the road or trail, I walk on uneven ground through the woods and old logging roads. It is a rough couple of weeks. Getting into elk shape is not easy. But what I do now will pay huge dividends when I get to Colorado. Here is my training plan for the next two and a half months -  numbers equal miles walked per day. 

Week one plain clothes -  5, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 8  
Week two - empty pack -  5, 3, 5, 5, 3, 3,10 
Week three - 20 lb pack - 3, 5, 5, 3, 5, 5,10 
Week four - 30 lb pack -   3, 5, 5, 3, 6, 3,10 
Week five: 20 lb pack -     5, 5, 5, 7, 7, 5,10
Week six  20 lb pack -       5, 7, 7, 8, 8, 5,12 
Week seven: 50 lb pack     3, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 5
Week eight: 20 lb pack -    5, 6, 8, 10, 10, 5, 5
Week nine:  20 lb pack -    5, 5, 8, 5, 10, 5, 5, 
Week ten:  HUNT

This is only if the weather cooperates. Today it is 102, so i will probably walk later and cut it down some to keep from dying. 

Drawing a tag is only one step in the picture of big game hunting. If you cannot get to where the animals are, there is no reason to even go. Send the time to get into shape

Monday, July 10, 2017

Choosing a Scope for a New Rifle

One of the perils of purchasing anew rifle is that now come the expensive decisions on how to add accessories to the rifle. This easily can surpass the actual cost of the rifle.

I recently came into possession of a Weatherby Mark V in .308. I got this for an upcoming elk hunt in Colorado. Having drawn a tag for the first rifle season, I am looking forward to hunting the public ground and trying my hand at an unguided elk during rifle season. However, I need to break in the rifle and I need some optics to mount on it. 

I have a variety of scope brands on top of my rifles. I am not one that is a dedicated brand person when it comes to optics. I try and get the best I can afford at the time. I have never been able to afford, nor do I see anything in the near future that would allow me the opportunity to afford any of the German brands of rifle scopes. I am not sure I could justify spending four times the cost of the gun for the glass. But then again, good glass is worth its weight in gold when you need to make the shot. That being said, I have begun the search for a scope. 

For this mountain hunt, I am considering weight of the scope. As I get older I notice I am paying closer attention to details I did not as a younger man. So while I would normally only look for a 50mm objective, for this scope I am looking for a 40mm objective just to cut down on weight. 

I also want one that is fairly strong with its ability to adjust. Meaning, I want a large adjustment, like from 3x9 or something like a 2.5x10 or even a 4x14. This makes it hard to find. I would compromise on the upper lower end, but not much. Shooting animals in timber requires a low power. I have hunted the west enough to know that shots are just as likely at thirty yards as at 400. Therefore I need a scope that will do both. 

Some research has shown that to fit my budget and my requirements, I am looking at one of three different brands. Vortex, Nikon or Leupold. Lets look at them individually to see where we are. 

First Vortex; The Vortex DBK412B is a great value and may be the best value of the ones we are looking at for this gun. The 4x12x40 fits all of the parameters and is within my budget. The one inch tube is find and cuts down some of the weight as well. Having used Vortex in the past I know this is good glass and can be a great scope. The one thing I do not care for is the objective focus. I do not like having to twist on the end of my scope. I prefer it on the side of the scope. Plus it comes in at 19.2 ounces way too heavy for my mountain rifle. 

This leads me to the Vortex DBK-04-BDC 4x12x40 may just be the ticket. Coming in at a full two ounces lighter than the previous one, this is now moving to the top of the list. Remember we have not added the weight of the mounts and rings. 

Now the Nikon 16328 - P308 is a great value for the scope, and it is a 4x12x40 but it comes in at a whopping 17.3 ounces. 

The Nikon 6736 Prostaff 5 is a better choice since it is almost three ounces lighter and still carries the magnification adjustment I am seeking. the 2.5x10 gives me a better lower end and that helps in dark timber.

On to Leupold -  the Leupold 114404 VX-2 is the lightest of the ones researched. weighing a mere 12 ounces, this featherweight is one to strongly consider. For a reliable 3x9x40 scope, this Leupold may just be the ticket. Understanding the limitations of the scope. But still being able to maximize the weight limits. By the time I add bases and rings, I am at one pound extra. 

Selecting a scope for a mountain hunt is different than selecting one for hunting out of a box blind. In the blind, you are carrying your gun a few yards. In a mountain hunt, I will be carrying my gun miles and miles at high elevation for days on end. Every ounce matters. But in the end, you still have to have good glass so you can see your target at the moment of truth. There are other brands that may be cheaper, and perhaps lighter, but to get good glass that is also light and affordable, that is the key question. 

It looks like I will be ordering the Leupold 11404 VX-2 and the fact that is comes in Matte black is a bonus. It should really make my stainless action and barrel pop and produce a fine looking lightweight gun.