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Ramblings from GaugeMate
Three generations: Sean, Andy and Henry, with Andy's sow
As a proud father of a newborn boy, my mind tended to wander a lot towards a future of events and activities with my son that I was fond of doing with my Dad when I was a youngster. I dreamed of first bicycle rides, soccer games and of course, hunting trips. I even dared to dream of sharing those activities with my own Dad, now well into his 80’s.
Finally at age 7, my son was ready to join my Dad and I for our annual hog hunt, and my fondest wish came true. It was worth the years of waiting just to see the gleam in my Dad’s eyes, the pride and love, the joy of us sharing the outdoors experience together and of course, the successful hog hunting. My son watched with amazement as the guide and I gutted and skinned our 2 hogs by the headlights of the old pick-up we had ridden in the back of for much of the day. Suddenly, it all made sense to him, the ribs, the chops, the sausage we have in the freezer, the animal in front of him was unveiling the mysteries of meat before his wide eyes.
Sean enjoying fishing at Burrows Ranch.
Now age 9 and a veteran of these things, Sean anxiously awaited the end of May and our next hunting trip. Coinciding with the end of the school year, he bubbles with the enthusiasm that only a boy of his age can. I take a deep breath as he asks for the third time if we are bringing his .22. “Yep,” I say, “And lots of ammo. Bill Burrows says that we can go squirrel hunting and fishing when we are in-between pig hunts”. I had researched Pig hunts in the Red Bluff area this year, to find some new hunting grounds in Northern California rather than the usual Central Coast. After a thorough internet search, Burrows Ranch looked like a good bet.
I immediately felt comfortable talking to Bill Burrows and his wife about their ranch and how the hunt would work, and finally coordinating the dates. It was a 3500 acre ranch, with a comfortable cabin for the hunters, and was very reasonably priced, even with a small ride-along fee for my son. “We’ve had 100 percent success since last January”, Bill added.
“I hope I don’t ruin your record,” I thought to myself, I was going to Bow hunt this year, and leave the trusted 30-30 in the hunting cabin. My target shooting was steadily getting better, but real-world bow hunting was different; with the exertion and nerves it was sure to be a real challenge.
It’s always a great relief when my Dad bags his pig. It shouldn’t be, he hasn’t missed in years, not since I took his scope off and mounted a red-dot sight on his 30-30. Struggling with his glasses and aging eyes, he had been wrestling with quick shots, and missing opportunities. It was enough to frustrate a couple of hunting guides in the process, so we were both very pleased when we found the right solution.
After waking up at 4:00 AM, and having a delicious breakfast, we got started hunting at the first sign of dawn. We circumnavigated the ranch in a 4WD scout, to finally see the full extent and splendor of the well-managed ranch we are hunting. Ponds, grain fields, herds of sheep, steep wooded hillsides and 4WD-only dirt trails were all part of the mosaic that unfolded before us as we traveled.
With the sharp report of my Dad’s 30-30, a perfectly placed 100 yard shot dropped the 90 lb sow as quickly as I have ever seen. After the ritual glad-handing and pictures and broad smiles all around, we worked quickly to dress the meat of my Dad’s kill. Red Bluff had been 110 degrees the week before, and by habit we moved quickly to get the meat cooled down.
Then, it was back to the cabin for lunch and relaxation, or so I thought. “Dad, let's go squirrel hunting!” rang out as soon as we got back to the cabin. “Bill said we can shoot from the porch” Sean added. After hunting pigs all morning, now it was to be my son’s turn.
Seeing a shaded and comfortable porch to shoot from, complete with lawn chairs, I wasn’t going to be too hard to convince. Mounting Gaugemate’s new RangeMate™ Optics Clamp to the railing and pulling up a chair, I peered through the spotting scope for signs of game.
At the time, RangeMate™ was GaugeMate’s latest product and was recently featured in the NRA’s American Hunter. Comprised of a unique 3-point clamp, it is both rigid and stable, adapting easily to vertical, horizontal, and irregular surfaces. I use it with cameras, binoculars and my laser rangefinder when I have trouble holding it’s reticle on a small target. I haven’t touched a tri-pod since getting this unique optics clamp.
After reciting the basics of gun safety to me, Sean was more than ready to get started. “There’s one! See the holes at the base of that tree with the large branch to the right? He’s right there…” I point out. Crack. He was already on it before I finished. I hated to admit it, but at nearly 50, I needed a spotting scope to see that far. My son, however, has no such handicap and drops the squirrel with the first shot. “Great shot, Sean!”
The air continued to be punctuated with the soft crack of Sean’s .22, and he was having a ball. The dry, dusty hillside was about 100 yards away, and was mostly shades of the various brown and golden colors of the California summer, making it a bit difficult to discern the grey-brown squirrels. The rotating tension ring on the RangeMate™, however, made it easy to move the scope to each new location and lock it down securely. Even at high magnification, the spotting scope was steady and made spotting really fun, even on moving targets like squirrels and rabbits.
Two hours and many squirrels later, we were all ready to finally get some real rest. As I drifted off into much needed oblivion, I feared that someone would pinch me and I would wake up and realize that this was all a fantasy. Of course, the best part of waking up was that the dream didn’t disappear. It really was my son and dad with me, hunting together.
Full of contentment, we headed home to Sacramento the next day with 2 pigs and lots of pictures and memories befitting our 3-generation hunt at Burrows Ranch. On that peaceful journey home, I can only hope my son has the joy of sharing a similar experience as a dad when that day comes.
-- Henry Fletcher
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