Monthly Archives: July 2015


by Woodsbum

In continuing my ongoing foraging and edible plant series, I have picked the bitterroot as the next installment.

Bitterroot is an edible plant when cooked. It does, obvious through reading the name, have a bitter taste although it is best when gathered just before the flower blooms.

To prepare it, remove the dark outer layer and the orange-red core of the root. You can either dry them for later consumption or you can cook it immediately. If you dry it and then reconstitute it, the root will grow to about 5 times the previous size. It also will have a jelly like consistency and a bitter taste.

You will find bitterroot in dry, open grassy areas in the foothills or mountain regions.

This plant is also the state flower of Montana and has shares a name with the Bitterroot Mountains there.

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Weekend Excitement

by Woodsbum

This last weekend I had a bit of excitement. We had just closed down the bar and were waiting for the streets to clear out a bit before we walked to our vehicles to head home. As we sat there talking there were multiple gunshots fired right across the street in a bank parking lot. We then watched all the drunks running away from the gunfire in their clubbing gear and high heels. Various cars and trucks went speeding away and one large service truck ended up rear ending a parked car as all the occupants were ducking and looking around for the gunman.

When we called 911, the operator argued with us that the vehicle accident was a “hit and run” and then argued that the gunfire was actually just “fireworks.” Several minutes of trying to set them straight took place and they finally promised to send out a patrolman.

The patrolman finally arrived numerous minutes later (10-15) and slowly drive past the scene, no lights and more focused on the computer screen than paying attention to the guys in the wrecked vehicles waiving their arms and yelling at him to stop. He then drove around for several minutes and then parked his car in the road at the intersection, again without lights or anything. He just parked their and started to look around on the ground.

Since he appeared to be looking for cartridge casings, someone from the truck that hit the car tried to direct the police officer to the spot where the shots came from. The cop ignored him and just kept wandering around all the cross streets. After the second cop showed up and they were still looking in the wrong area, ignoring those that witnessed the shooting, I finally got fed up and left before I got involved out of irritation.

About 45 minutes after I left I got a text from someone I was with when the shots were fired that confirmed 10 .40 cal casings were recovered. It appears that the cops finally figured out how to follow the pointing fingers to the location that the shots were fired.

The real insult in this whole thing is as follows: Above and beyond having to argue with the 911 operator that the gunshots were fireworks and the accident was a hit and run, the news has yet to report it. There is nothing on any local news site. If a shooting takes place downtown and in the parking lot of a closed bank, don’t you think that might be news worthy?

It just blows my mind that this sort of crap takes place and no one in “authority” really gives a crap. I guess I have a reason to wear my body armor next weekend, don’t I?

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How Did I Miss?

by Woodsbum

Here in the Pacific Northwest various odd things happen due to the constant squishiness and rain. It isn’t uncommon to be out in the brush and take a shot that just kind of goes wild and thus makes you ask, “How did I miss?” Well this might actually explain quite a bit.

Sierra bullets posted an article on their WordPress site about just this phenomenon. Water in the barrel plays a huge factor in bullet accuracy, it appears.

Here is the article:


How On Earth Did I Miss That Shot?

Written by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd

Over the years I have been on a hunting trip or possibly even just out shooting and enjoying the outdoors with a fine rifle, and have experienced a flat-out miss when shooting at either a target of opportunity or an animal. Of course, the first thing that crosses my mind is “How on Earth did I miss that shot!?!

I’m notorious for saying after an unbelievable miss “I’d sell you that sight picture!” By which I mean that the crosshairs of the scope or the appearance of the sights were such that I would take the same shot again and again and expect perfect bullet impact and yet the dreaded MISS occurred.

An example of this scenario occurred a few years ago while my wife and I were antelope hunting in the great state of Wyoming. We have some friends that have a ranch up in the mountains and they allow us the privilege of hunting with them occasionally. This particular trip we had a foot of snowfall overnight. They were really excited as they seldom get the chance to hunt antelope in the snow and we were really excited as we seldom get to hunt antelope period.

We spotted a small herd of “goats” and executed a stalk on them and despite having to crawl for about a hundred yards, we got into a shooting position up on a knoll about 150 yards from the herd. I had a doe/fawn tag and after quietly watching the herd for awhile and a whispered discussion as to hopefully picking a doe out that did not have yearlings hanging with her still. A particular antelope was picked out and while the other three peeked over the sagebrush I steadied the gun for a shot on some shooting sticks. I was shooting a recently built 358 Winchester and was shooting Sierra’s 225 gr. Spitzer boattail bullets (#2850).

At the crack of the rifle the last thing I saw in the scope was perfect crosshair alignment and the rifle tracking straight back towards me. I expected excitement and high fives after the shot, instead my buddy said “I can’t believe you missed that doe that far!”  He watched the bullet hit WAY OVER her back. Now I’m not the best shot in the world, but I KNOW when I shoot a good sight picture and execute follow through. Immediately my mind started churning and the best we could come up with was possibly snow in the barrel. Remember the foot of new snow and the crawl to get into shooting position?

Upon returning to work I thought up a test to verify/or crush the theory that snow/water had gotten into the muzzle of my rifle and caused a wild shot. I did not have anything covering the muzzle and as you know a 35 caliber bore diameter is fairly large and could easily have gotten contaminated.

To test my theory, I loaded nine rounds of 308 Winchester ammunition. I utilized the 165 grain SBT bullet (#2145) and enough Accurate 2495 powder to shoot well (approximately 38 grains).* I then utilized a fouled 308 Winchester barreled action in one of our return-to-battery machine rests for the evaluation. This testing was conducted at 200 yards.

I fired three shots and documented the velocity at 2378 fps. I then fired three more shots but before each shot I placed a piece of electricians tape over the muzzle, this would effectively keep any water out of the barrel if placed properly. There was no accuracy or velocity change with the electricians tape in use as you can see.

DSCN1606 DSCN1611

Dipping_Barrel_in_WaterI had my right hand man in all things bullet related, Tony, dip the muzzle of the test rifle into a bucket of water before each of the next three shots.**

Shooting with the last eight inches or so of bore wet reduced the velocity of this load by 47 fps. As you can see from the target results below, you don’t want any water in your barrel if you intend to hit what you’re aiming at. I believe I found the reason that antelope doe escaped my efforts to transform her into table-fare.

2SpreadsLuckily for me, an hour after missing the first doe, I got another chance and made a very good shot on another antelope at approximately double the distance of the first attempt and the bullet hit precisely as intended. I’m betting that the barrel interior was wet the first time and dry on the second attempt. I have often heard the saying “keep your powder dry,” from my experience and this test, one could add “and your barrel!”

*Please note: While this load was safe in the rifle used in this article, it may not be safe in your specific firearm.

**If you think there might be any obstruction in your barrel, unload your gun and check.  Do not fire any firearm with the barrel obstructed in any way.

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by Woodsbum

Here is yet another addition to my edible plants posts. Chicory is a flowering plant that has several edible uses.

This is a good picture of what chicory looks like. If you look closely at the flower petals you can see that their shape is quite distinctive.

blue chicory

Blue chicory

The plant itself grows on long stems with multiple flowers blooming off that stem.



The leaves can actually be eaten raw no matter how old the plant is and younger plant roots can also be eaten raw. Older plants are best cooked with several changes of water while cooking. The roots can be split, dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute.

You will find chicory in disturbed ground anywhere from plants to foothills and even in higher elevation meadows.

One thing to note is that prolonged use of chicory may damage your retinas and cause sluggish digestion. Use it in moderation, but just know that chicory coffee is actually quite good.

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Shotshell Reloading – Part 2

by Woodsbum

In Shotshell Reloading – Part 2 I will give you an overview of why I invested so much money, time and energy into reloading my own shotgun shells. If you are looking for part 1 of this series, you can click here to access it.

This actually goes above and beyond my pistol and rifle reloading for a very low percentage of people actually reload their own shotshells compared to cased ammunition. This is due to many reasons, but the most common reason I hear is based upon the added complexity associated with shotshells. The excuse I used for many years was a little different. Because shotshell presses are very specific to size and gauge of shotshell, I did not see a benefit at first to investing that much money in an item that was so singularly designed and only fit a single purpose. I like to get into tools and activities that are multi purpose. With my case loaders I can do any number of cartridges just by swapping out a few components. To do the same on a shotshell reloader I have to buy an entirely new press.

If I had not run into this tremendous deal on my MEC 9000GN where I got it for about 50% of MSRP, I would probably not have gotten into shotshell reloading. I would have said that I was going to get the equipment, but I would have balked at the price every time I got ready to buy one. This is not because it is a useless investment, but it simply is an investment of time AND money that I was not sure I wanted to make. Learning to load shotshells is quite a bit different from cases and thus creates a learning curve that I was not totally sure justified the end result. As a disclaimer, I do see a huge advantage to reloading your shotshells. The guys I see with special loads seem to drop more birds that those of us that are content to buying the cheapest thing we can find. Reloading is definitely a better choice.

There are several companies that produce reloading equipment for shotshells. Lee, Ponsness Warren and MEC are probably the most common reloading presses out there. MEC kind of holds the top spot at this time with regard to how many loaders are out there in people’s homes and how many companies sell their products. This makes it easier for you if you do get a MEC, although I am not familiar enough with the other models and makers to really explain why one is better than another. I can regurgitate the information spewed out by my family members for I caught all sorts of hell by not buying a Ponsness Warren.

From what I can gather from my family, the Ponsness Warren reloaders will do a “tapered crimp” that the MEC “won’t do.” Online I found that a simple adjustment allows me to do a “tapered crimp” so I don’t see this as an issue. My family also states that the hull is supported all the way through the entire reload process so it will have no issues with being loaded via a magazine. I am told that my MEC has a collet resizer and just in case, I got a MEC Super Sizer. Problem solved with this one. The last thing I have been told is that the PW is MUCH stouter and tougher than the MEC, although I see many MEC reloaders that are over 40 years old and have produced 1000’s of shells. The construction of the MEC is also much simpler and allows me the ability to use Universal Charge Bars to make swapping loads easier and less costly since no new bushings will need to be purchased. Honestly, I don’t see what the fuss one way or another is all about.

Here are a few pictures of my reloading area. Many of the pieces are not totally set up yet because of new purchases, modifications or upgrades.

Case Loading Area

Case Loading Area

Shotshell Loading Area

Shotshell Loading Area

If you decide to take the plunge into reloading, whether it be shotshell or case, it is very important to make sure you don’t just blow $1k without an actual plan. Let’s take my case loading area for instance. When I first started loading, I picked up a Lee Classic reloading kit for about $100. They are a bit more expensive now. Even though I now have 3 other presses, 1 of which is a progressive, I still use the items from that initial kit even today. The hand primer that comes in the kit is actually the quickest and slickest ways to prime cases. I love it and actually use the crap out of it when I am doing my precision reloads for hunting. Take this approach if you get into shotshell reloading as well. If you decide that you want to “take the plunge” ensure that you get something that can be used later one. For instance, getting a MEC Steelmaster for 3 1/2″ 12 gauge shells can be used for quite a while to make very precise goose loads. MEC 9000 series progressive can be swapped for 2 3/4″ and 3″, but will not do 3 1/2″ shells. This means that the initial investment for reloading goose loads can actually get you into the game fairly inexpensively, but will continue to get use even if you spring for a progressive MEC 9000 series.

Hopefully, this helps you to make up your mind and lets you get your start in shotshell reloading. Just remember that about 90% of what people claim as “fact” about their preferred brand is actually not fact. It is mostly opinion or false claims. Do you homework and ensure you get what fits your needs and budget.

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