Monday, May 25, 2009

Hunting at Escondido Ranch

We went hunting for the first time.  Went to a lodge called Escondido Ranch, which is owned by the Navy and run by the 'Morale Welfare and Recreation' department.  When we got there, there were three enlisted navy personal running the place and one elderly gentleman chilling in the lounge watching some Clint Eastwood movies.

After registration, they told us a bunch of rules.  One shot one kill, no followup shots, no execution shots.  No firing at anything except hogs.  No wandering from the stand and hunting Elmer Fudd style.  They said if we saw a mountain lion we should kill it because the XO wanted it.  We headed to the range to register our guns and make sure we were proficient with our rifles.  Also, apparently we should have had scoped rifles but didn't.  We were using iron sights.  Come to think of it, we don't own any scoped rifles.  I thought all of those things were odd, but whatever.

This is what most of the roads look like
I brought my new and mint 1953 Mosin Nagant with surplus ammo and my dad used his Savage 340A in 30-30 Winchester.  The gong was 50 yards away and we had to hit it three out of five times.  I never realized we had to qualify to hunt, so this seemed strange to me.  I never fired my rifle before, so I was kind of nervous and flinchy when I fired, after all, I'm always hearing stories about surplus rifles and KABOOMS and I had this rifle that I'd never fired before.  They asked me what kind of rifle I was using and told them it was a Mosin Nagant.  They had puzzled looks as if they never heard of it before.  Maybe they haven't.  Hell, they even reloaded. I expect everyone who reloads should know these basic guns.

My dad shootin' a Noisy Magnet
I don't think me and my dad hit the gong but they let us hunt anyways since we paid the fees and registered and everything.  If I did hit the gong, I wondered if the bullets pierced right through?  These were FMJ bullets with steel cores, and I imagine most hunters would have used soft-nosed lead bullets.

A whole lot of nothin'
They took us about four miles into the middle of nowhere.  They gave us a radio and told us goodluck, have fun, call us when you're done.  We spent about three hours in and around the hunting stand before getting bored.  We saw a bunch of deer and some rabbits, but no hogs or mountain lions.  At sunset requested pickup over the radio.

My dad firing our .22 Marlin 795
I had fun, my dad didn't.  I wished I could have killed something.  We went back to the range the next day to use up our ammo.  The range was pretty clean.  Every piece of brass had been picked up.  We went last year, but couldn't hunt that time because we came on the wrong day, but they let us use the range and there was a ton of brass we picked up.
My Mosin Nagant and the approximate distance of the gong.

Five shots at a gong-sized paper.  No way I could have missed!

I wanna go on the all-night hunts next time, without my dad.  He hates guns and hunting, but this was his idea after all.  What a sweet job that is, running that ranch.  That has to be the best job in the Navy.

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