Unnamed Lakes

            Now and again a man such as myself needs to do something stupid. Often times it is my own idea that is the catalyst and other times I simply agree to come along for someone else’s insanity. In this instance I was merely a volunteer unwittingly tagging along. It was summer 2013 and I had taken a job at my old home town in hopes of making a little more money to pay off student debt. A perk of this job was that I was now living out in the country and could dedicate my free time after work to a lot of fishing. This was the summer I first got into fly fishing and also the first time I fished from a canoe, both of which I highly recommend.
            One fine day after work, as I did on many days after work, I went to a friend’s house. As it turns out a friend of ours had been given a small 4×4 pick up that hadn’t been used in years. They immediately went to town on it, they outfitted it with a working snorkel hand crafted from aluminum tubing usually used for eaves troughs. They also finished it off with a “beautiful” paint job which was actually spray on box liner, not a bad idea when you think about it though. I luckily arrived after all the major work had been done, I showed up just in time to help install the novelty horn.
            Once the horn was properly and professionally installed we loaded an old row boat, some paddles, and our fishing gear into the back of the truck. We then headed out one of us on a quad and two of us in the truck, me being a passenger. Our goal was to haul the old tin row boat through a treacherous and muddy quad trail to a lake with no road access to it. These lakes are quite common in that area… might be why they call it “The Lakeland Area.”  Naturally we got stuck several times along the way, being able to barely dig ourselves out each time and keep progressing forward until disaster. We had gotten ourselves stuck very badly in the last big mud hole before the lake. We had tried pulling every direction with the quad to no avail, come to think of it… we tried every get out of mud trick we know and between the three of us is quite a wealth of knowledge.
I tried everything I could think of: yelling, swearing, spitting, hitting it…
            Eventually around nightfall someone had mentioned, “Looks like I’m going to have to get on my quad and go get my tractor to pull us out.” I was rather furious at the fact that no one had told me this was an option… that we could have made use of several hours and several hundred mosquito bites SOONER! So before that happened we hauled the tin boat the half kilometer to the lake behind the quad and left it there for later. We then sat and waited for the tractor. It eventually showed up and yanked the little truck out without the slightest hint of struggle. By the time we got back to the house we had done no fishing and I was rather thoroughly coated in mud. I decided it was easier to strip out of my muddy clothes and drive home in my underpants, luckily I didn’t get pulled over or hit a check stop. That was about the stupidest I have felt in a good long while, coming home at nearly midnight cold and coated in mud not even having casted my rod.
            About a week later I came back out to my friend’s in hopes that he and I could drive his quads out to the lake where the boat had been left and hopefully be rewarded with monster fish for our efforts. This plan was agreed to and acted upon quickly. We drove out to the lake, paddled out to the middle near a nice weed bed and started fishing, me for pike and him for perch. After a while we had caught nothing and the wind began to pick up. We then paddled ourselves into a small cove sheltered by trees and continued fishing. I couldn’t believe two things; one that a lake that size had seemingly no fish in it and two that a lake that size could remain so hidden in the woods but I guess with no fish that kind of makes sense. Just before we packed it in we found a single minnow sized fish and it had been long since dead… not an encouraging sign. Thanks to my frequent visits to the museum I was able to identify it as a “Brook Stickleback.” We packed it in without so much as a nibble, but I still like to believe there are fish in that lake.
Monster of the deep (Approx 3 inches in length)
            We arrived back at the house and decided to try out the motor boat on the nearby frog lake. After a lovely drive in the boat and some fishing in crystal clear waters I was starting to feel that luck wasn’t in the air, or water, that day. Neither one of us had gotten as much as a nibble on our hooks. From there we opted to try another lake this one had confirmed, by others, fish in it. This lake, much like the first, had no official name but it did have a house and a small boat that belonged to my friend’s uncle, who luckily for us was nice enough to lend us the boat. We motored around the lake trying a few different spots until we found a nice patch of reeds to throw some hooks at. After a bit of casting and a lot of telling stories I finally got a bite and I really didn’t want to lose it. I set the hook deep and kept a lot of tension on the line. I didn’t waste much time getting that pike to the boat. It certainly wasn’t a monster but I was sure proud of it. Shortly after that we decided the fishing was a little slow and it was starting to get a bit late in the day anyway. We found our back to the house to realize we had just enough time for one more fishing spot.
I am unreasonably proud of this fish
            We pulled up on the shore of yet another lake, this time near a natural sloping bank that, based on the tracks, doubled as a boat launch. We fished briefly before we were joined by a rather large and concerningly friendly dog. It was not of any breed I could identify but it sure looked nice. The only problem was that he was prone to jumping up with large muddy paws. Also he began to wear out his welcome when he would try to bite my hook on my back cast. Eventually I was able to get enough casts out to land another small pike, unfortunately the dog tried his best to make it a meal. Luckily for the fish I was able to release it before it became an evening snack.
            So it seems based on our poor luck and/or skill we had fished four different lakes in a single day. Usually I just change my hook every cast if I’m not catching anything but sometimes you just have to get more drastic.

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            A trip to Waterton Lakes National Park is easily one of my favorite vacations to take. The park lies in the south west corner of Alberta. From here you can literally hike into both British Columbia and Montana. This means that for me, getting there requires a scenic drive from Northern Alberta from the boreal forest across the plains, the badlands, and foothills, I am always accompanied by my girlfriend and some Alberta made classic western music. My most recent trip was taken in late summer of 2013, it was our second trip in two years to Waterton and I highly hope it becomes an annual tradition.
            We arrived late at night and set up camp quickly and as quietly as possible in the town campsite and went immediately to bed. No matter how much I enjoy the drive I still find I’m tired at the end of it. The second day we packed our things, we loaded the usual things; clothing, food, the tent, sleeping bags, etc. I however packed something a little extra, my often underused 5 weight fly rod and accompanying fishing equipment. We then went and had a chat with the wonderful folks at the visitor’s center who suggested a great hike and sold me a fishing license. It was early and the day was already looking up. We then set out from the busy trailhead onto our mainly uphill hike to the Twin Lakes camp site. The hike itself was an amazing display of the scenery the park has

I Always Snap A Photo of The Map In Case It Gets Wrecked Or Lost

to offer as well as afforded the opportunity to see something new, two baby grouse, and yes they are as cute as you imagine they would be. We arrived at our site, set up camp, and hung our food out of bear reach. It was at this time that I had noticed a family with a rather large tent set up in the communal eating area that also acted as the only access to the nearby lake. I guess even in the woods there’s a chance of running into a family of “those” kind people. I grabbed my fishing gear and headed off toward their “campsite” I was not about to let their intrusive behavior ruin my attempts at fly fishing. A few steps from my tent I looked up and saw a mule deer doe staring at me, less than 15 feet away. It was an amazing sight and feeling to be so close to such an amazing animal, of course I would never be able to get this close to a deer during hunting season. In this instance armed with only a fly rod I felt a little nervous in the knowledge that this deer could easily make me the doe, if you know what I mean. I did my best to keep my composure and take a quick video on my

“No hunting in the park, pbbbt!”

camera before it moved on into the trees. I walked passed an older couple camped near us and mentioned that there was a deer nearby and just generally extended a hello, what can I say? I’m just a friendly guy. The older gentleman immediately spotted my fly fishing gear. It’s hard not to spot a nine foot pole I guess (there’s a joke in there somewhere). We naturally struck up a conversation on the topic in which I mentioned that I was very new to the sport, to which he replied that he was a bit of an old pro and asked to see my flies. He began telling me the names and history of the various flies in my box, I do not know if he was telling me the truth or making it up but it sounded impressive and I couldn’t remember it anyway. He then explained that at this time of evening the fish will come up to eat insects off of the surface. After our lengthy conversation he introduced himself as Van, and then proceeded to point out that there was a beach far away down the shoreline that seemed to have a drop of a few feet out and suggested I try there. I was in no position to doubt or disagree, so Erin and I

Monster of the deep/ Sasquatch quality photo

headed down to the beach.

             It was a chilly evening but I still felt it was necessary to wade out, tender parts deep, into the glacial water. Shockingly Erin declined the offer to join me in the water and chose to remain on the shore as a spectator. I quickly learned that, despite not practicing, my fly casting had not much improved. That being said I was still able to land my fly just far enough out for fish to take it. There was a small ripple where my fly was followed by a sudden, short and rapid wriggling of my rod back and forth with an abrupt downward pull. It was a strange fighting sensation I had never felt from a fish before. As I stripped the line the trout flailed and skidded across the surface. He was a monster, the biggest brook trout I had ever caught nearly five inches across… ok so the bar is set rather low when it comes to my fly fishing adventures but on the plus side that just means I get excited easier. This amazing catch was followed by nearly ten more and all it cost me was two flies lost to a log on my back cast, good thing my girlfriend wasn’t there to see me screw up… wait… dang. However all in all I would say it was a great evening of fishing and certainly good practice for my casting skills and running into someone like Van proved to be extremely helpful and may have saved the trip as I would have been a pretty unhappy camper had I not caught anything. That evening my sleep was hindered by the fact that I was soaked to the bone in ice cold water from the waist down.

This photo captures why I was willing to stand waist deep in glacier water

            Eventually the third day of our trip came into existence. We decided to walk to the nearby Goat Lake and back. I again loaded my fishing gear into my bag and we headed uphill. Our trail to the lake led us

Just Before Climbing To The Ridge

above the tree line over Avion Ridge with an elevation of just over 2400M. I myself am not a fan of heights and today was no exception. We gained elevation slowly through thin scattered trees and eventually broke above the tree line onto a narrow goat path which comprised of smooth hard rocks with loose shale overtop, I was nervous to say the least. Erin opted to take the longer higher path across the top of the ridge while I tried to stick to the lower looking path. Unfortunately shortly after separating, the path I was on got narrower and higher. I’m not sure entirely what happened next but I recall breathing rapidly and shakily taking a drink from my metal water bottle and forcing myself to keep walking. Eventually I made my way to where my path met with Erin’s. She walked causally along in front of my while I sweated and crawled on all fours along the path behind her, I’m sure it was a sight to see.

Just “relaxing” on the hillside

              We eventually made it to the end of the ridge and found that we now had to descend a bit of a boulder covered cliff. We eventually meandered our way down to the lake at which point, and it pains me to say this… I was too tired to fish. Instead we opted to have a bit of a nap on a boulder… ever been so tired you slept on a rock? I have. After our nap we headed downhill to make a full loop back to twin lakes. Once we go to the bottom of the largest hill, we realized we had forgotten my sweater at the top. “Someone” had used it as a pillow and forgot to grab it when we left. We had decided that we had traveled too far and were starting to run too low on water to turn back uphill to go get it. I asked a couple passing us on the trail if they could grab it and leave it at the information center in town. Sadly I never did see that shirt again. I hope it has a new home and is doing well. We made the long walk back to camp, if I recall it was about a 12km round trip, and I was relieved to see that the invasive family had left. I assume they moved on to annoy another campsite, they were however kind enough to leave a tangled mess of fishing line on the shore by where they camped. By the time we had arrived back at camp we were nearly out of water so I began boiling water and pouring it into our water bottles, this chore has convinced me to stop being cheap and just buy a water filter for hiking. I then wandered back to my fishing spot for a bit, the ice cold water felt good on my sore feet and knees. Again Erin declined to join me in the glacial pond, women are so strange. I fished and caught more reasonably sized, to me, trout. I fished until I felt the early stages of hypothermia kick in, at which point I came to shore zipped my wet shorts into half wet pants and immediately regretted not going back for my sweater. Erin and I boiled water and added it to dehydrated beef stir fry, which as best I can recall was about the longest 15 minutes of my life. The food was delicious and we headed back to the tent to try and warm up, at about this time the beef stir fry started to upset my fragile stomach, our tent was now cold and rather foul smelling. Somehow we survived the night without Erin kicking me out of the tent for health and safety reasons.

            As expected the third day did arrive. I was up early and snuck out of the tent as quietly as I could, needless to say I awoke Erin but she declined to join me for morning fishing. I walked back and waded in to the cold morning waters and began fishing. There was little to no action on the water until the sun started to rise. I then caught two small fish bang…bang, one after the other. Sadly as the sun came up it heated the mountain tops causing air to rise and cold air to pull off the lake and blow past me. This made casting impossible for someone of my limited skill level and it also magnified the cold. By the time I brought in my second small fish my hands were so cold it was a real challenge to dislodge the small fly from its mouth. I decided it would be safest and smartest to head back. I shivered all the way back to the tent and grabbed the stove to start making something warm to eat for breakfast. The stoves sparked seemed to have quit working at a most inopportune time, luckily I brought matches, and unluckily I was so cold that I couldn’t use them. I swear I have read a story about a man freezing to death in the arctic because he was too cold to light matches. Either way I was in a t-shirt and wet shorts with a cold wind in the shade, I had never been this cold in my life. Living in Alberta you experience -40 Celsius at least once a year, it’s a temperature so cold that if you touch metal with your bare skin it gives a searing pain like a burn, and I have still never been as cold as I was that morning. Just cold and wet down to my bones, I was sure I would never be warm again. I was starting to tell Erin I was dying and wanted to be cremated. She was kind enough to light the stove for me. I then put on dry shorts, she also gave me her base layer shirt to warm me up, so I squeezed into a shirt designed to be skin tight on my girlfriend. I am not a small man. I will spare you the details but if I were not so cold it would have been very funny to see me in a skin tight shirt that was far too small. Eventually we ate and packed up and I started shivering my way down the trail with Erin back toward the tail head. The trail out was narrow and tree lined and it seemed that some ambitious spiders had hoped of catching some hikers, I try to be chivalrous so naturally I offered to let Erin walk in front of me, she didn’t go for it. Naturally given my opinion of spiders I opted to walk slowly and use my knife to cut the webs out of the way, it just seemed easier than touching them. Eventually we made it to the trail head and let’s just say that after that three day hike I was just happy to see my truck. 

Bonus wallpaper picture courtesy of Miss Erin


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Photo Drop Part 2 (Bows and Guns)

I was debating whether or not I wanted to buy a bow and start getting into bow hunting. Could I afford it? Is it worth the effort? Then I made this shot. Granted it was only at seven yards… It was still enough to make me buy that bow and convince me to take up yet another hobby. I think this year will be the year I finally go big game hunting with my bow. Previously I had stuck to target practice and smaller game, in fact I’v got a few good photos of me bow hunting gophers but I doubt I will ever post them here as they are a bit on the graphic side. (comment and I’ll email them to you if you really want to see.)

I took this photo during the 2012 season in which I got my “Last Chance Buck” on the day I snapped this photo the only deer I saw were well after legal light. At least I have this great photo from the experience, I like it mainly because it shows off my first and favorite hunting rifle, an older .243 with a Mannlicher style stock on it. (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you the brand but it starts with an R and has a Mauser style action if that helps)

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The Stuff Weekends Are Made Of (Part 3 of 3); Big Tyson’s Gopher Safaris

Every year for as long as I can remember my mother’s side of the family has gone to the Vermillion fair. Ever since I moved to the city I have spent less of the weekend at the fair and more of my time at the farm taking in every occasion to enjoy the outdoors. Summer 2012’s fair weekend, I think, has been one of the best to date. This story however cannot be told chronologically but rather divided by subject.

Me and My Cooey, My First Rifle

            I have been dating my Girlfriend Erin for about four years now, and as best I can tell I am one of the few people in her social circle who owns guns and hunts, in fact as odd as it may seem I got the impression most of them have never shot a gun before. Naturally my love of firearms immediately rubbed off on a few of them such as, my now good friend, Jason who now owns a few guns of his own and on a few occasions has out preformed me at the range. As well as our friend Nikki who went with Erin to get their firearms licenses. The catch to all this is that because we live in the city and all have jobs it’s hard for me to actually take most of these people out shooting. 

       The Sunday after the Vermillion fair however, the conditions were perfect as many of our friends had come out for the fair and were now spending a portion of the day at my mother and step father’s farm where I had spent my teenage years. I of course took this opportunity to teach anyone who wanted to learn how to shoot a gun. Everyone was willing to try so naturally I ran through the obvious rules: always point in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, action opened, etc. I taught them on my old Cooey .22 single shot but found it was a touch heavy for the ladies of the group and eventually shifted to my much lighter Savage model 29B, A beautifully built pump action .22 but sadly it does not lend itself well to beginners as the action needs to be run hard and tube magazines are not an easy thing to figure out at first. After that I showed a few of our small group how to use my semi automatic Ruger 10/22. I found however that it was kind of hard on my nerves to give beginners a semi automatic. There were no incidences throughout the training and all my pupils did very well however some were much more enthusiastic than others… perhaps as a result of the fair’s late night festivities. After a while of plinking at the trusty ole’ metal gong that so many hours of my youth were spent terrorizing with .22 shells, Jason and I decided it would be a fun idea to take some people gopher hunting. The only ones who took us up on the offer were Dell and Jason’s Girlfriend Shannon, who wanted to come along as a spectator. Everyone else decided to head on home or have a nap, in hind sight maybe I’m a boring teacher or it had something to do with the fact that the fair the evening before had a well stocked beer gardens… Either way the four of us hopped into Dell’s truck and headed toward a patch of field that I knew had a lot of gopher activity. As we pulled up we could see gophers running to their holes and perching up to stare into the distance. We were looking for gophers and we found a lot of them.

           Naturally as we pulled up close, got out of the truck, and started loading guns they all started to hide. We had with us four .22s; my Savage 29B pump action, my Ruger 10/22, my trusty Cooey single shot, and Jason’s 10/22 as well as my bow. Naturally I started with my bow, Jason took his gun, Dell took the old Savage, and Shannon armed herself with her sunny disposition. Over the next two hours we had all swapped guns, though I was the only one interested in my bow. Jason and I were getting very few gophers and Dell was getting none at all, we were all having an off day I guess and I think our trading guns was very similar to when I have poor luck fishing and change my hook more often than reasonable. Jason had been out gopher shooting before so he

Dell and His First Trophy

was already hooked, he knew how fun it could be on a good day. My fear was that Dell would lose interest with his lack of success, nothing ruins a person’s first exposure to a sport than perceived failure. There seemed to only be a few gophers out and we were having a hard time hitting them. I could see Dells shots were close, I’m sure he gave a few haircuts, I was very impressed given that today was the first time he had shot a firearm. I still think I rushed him into gopher hunting but he was rearing to go so I felt he was ready.

         Finally one stood up about 50 yards out, ran, stopped, and stood up again, Dell took his aim, steadied himself, and shot. There it was, Dell’s gopher in the distance, doing the death throws and flails that every gopher hunter has seen. All at once he had gotten his first gopher, I felt the need to get a picture of such a momentous occasion. We stuck around a bit longer with some more success then decided we best get back for some dinner. When my mom cooks nobody wants to miss dinner. The way home from the fields I opened and closed the gates from field to field. At each stop I gathered some wild flowers into a small bouquet for Erin at the house, I’m never too busy to try and score some extra points. The whole wile however I couldn’t help but wonder the finance, logistics, and potential for a gopher safari company… it’s not at all dangerous and everyone who has done it seems to enjoy it. But I suppose there aren’t enough gophers here for it to work. Maybe they already have them in Saskatchewan…

            When the weekend was over, we all went home seemingly in unanimous agreement that next year we would all be coming back out again for more of the fair and gopher hunting. I suppose I should run that past my mom and Darrell since it is their house. In the end of it all I had learned that long range shooting is about more than equipment and has far more math involved than I had thought. Bow hunting gophers is a whole pile of fun but takes a lot of practice. Being hung over at a shoot is a lot easier than I had thought… but still quite undesirable. I own enough .22s to arm a small gopher extermination force, even if we do need some practice. Finally a good weekend like this is the result of good company sharing both our interests and skills. 

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Photo Drop Part 1 (Fiji Stuff)

I decided when I started this blog that I would post stories on Thursdays… if I have any. But lately I have been thinking maybe I should just post photos once in a while. So here’s my attempt at that, no long stories, just some photos I like and a short write up of what they are and why I like them.

I took this photo on Erin and I’s Fijian vacation. We arrived at our hotel after dark and nearly trampled a herd of these. I’m not sure if they are frogs or toads (sadly I don’t fully know the difference). I do know they are very docile and about the size of a computer mouse.

Keeping with the Fijian theme. The western style food in cheap hotels, hostels, and restaurants is typically not good. The easiest way I have found to describe it is to say “Its like they were shown pictures of western foods and are doing their best to duplicate it.” My favorite example of this was one hostel had a “Pizza night” which was normal pizza crust with ketchup, chopped carrots and celery all topped with cheese… The usual travel trick of coating food with cheese to make it taste better is brilliant except that I am lactose intolerant. Needless to say during our trip I was hungry and craving good food. At home I eat a lot of red meat, which is expensive and rare on a small tropical island. The photos you see here are of quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever eaten (it competes with my Fijian shore lunch which I have already blogged about). This meal took place in a remote village along the river that we arrived at via jet boat as part of a tour. We were not told there would be lunch served and I certainly did not expect it to contain some of the best tasting pork sausage you can imagine. I believe there was also fried coconut and tapioca… just imagine an extraordinarily delicious hash-brown.  The usual tasty fresh fruit was also included, but that sausage was the star of the day. It also made for some joking between Erin and I… Because of Fiji’s distant historical tradition of cannibalism that even our tour guides were often willing to joke about… Which I’ll admit was a bit unsettling at first.

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The Stuff Weekends Are Made Of (Part 2 of 3); Long Range Shooting

Every year for as long as I can remember my mother’s side of the family has gone to the Vermillion fair. Ever since I moved to the city I have spent less of the weekend at the fair and more of my time at the farm taking in every occasion to enjoy the outdoors. Summer 2012’s fair weekend, I think, has been one of the best to date. This story however cannot be told chronologically but rather divided by subject.


            Although the official reason for my trip out to the country was the Vermillion fair, between you and I, the real reason I took time off work and drove three hours, was to go to this shoot. For the past few years my stepfather, Darrell, has hosted a long range shoot and for the past few years I have often stopped in and seen the equipment and said “hi” to those partaking in the festivities. They can only be described as friendly, informative, and non-competitive. There are no awards or scores, just men and their guns. I was extended an official invite to this year’s event and I was not going to miss it. 

           The shoot was scheduled to start Saturday morning, however for me it started on Thursday. I arrived at the farm Thursday morning ready to help set up. We began by loading Darrell’s custom built, by him, steel plates and gongs into the back of a side by side ATV and believe me when I tell you these things are heavy. I was informed that their weight is no accident, it turns out even at a kilometer a bullet can still penetrate the lighter steel plates… and even some of the thicker ones. This to me really drove home the importance of knowing what is behind your target when hunting. After the heavy loading I was offered, and immediately accepted, a cold beer. It was very warm that day. 
            We then drove the little side by side to the 1000 meter target. As we bounced and scraped through the trees and brush along to quad trail, I understood why he opted not to just take the truck. Arriving at our destination involved a rather nerve wracking climb up a steep hill, with a somewhat overloaded ATV. I know it was overloaded because when we stopped and applied the parking break it started to roll down the hill. We immediately blocked up the back tires and began unloading and setting out the new targets among the old along the hillside. When it was all said and done there were about twenty targets on the hill. They ranged from about three meters wide and a meter tall to about four inches by four inches. What grabbed my attention was that this small target had bullet marks on it. While on the hill, Darrell was considering the placement of the targets while I paced and did the same, it was at this point I noticed a large piece of black plywood, an old target. For reasons I still do not understand I grabbed it and flipped it over… snakes, probably five garter snakes, which is about five more than I would have liked to have seen. Two things occurred to me 1. We don’t have a shotgun on us or the quad 2. I really wish we had a shotgun on us or in the quad. I quickly flipped the old plank back on them and told Darrell that we had to do our best to remember a shotgun next time.

            The next day, now Friday, we loaded the ATV with a weed whacker, duct tape, old cream coloured house paint, paintbrushes, and a shotgun. We arrived at the 1000 meter hill and I was told to use the tape to cover holes in the targets from previous shoots and glob the paint over top. He explained to me that when the plates are shot, if the bullet does not go through, it will still knock the paint off leaving an obvious smudge where the bullet hit. This explains the large amounts of surface rust he had let build up on the targets. He began cutting the grass in front of the targets while I began taping and painting, for the first half I was impressed at how well I was doing at keeping the paint off myself and for the second half I was cussing about my ruined paint stained pants. After we finished painting and cutting grass I grabbed the shotgun with intent to evict those snakes from our world. I ran the slide, walked up and with authority, I flipped the old plywood sign and found nothing, they wised up to my plan. Disheartened I didn’t get to shoot them and happy I didn’t have to see them I unloaded the gun jumped in the ATV and we went to the 700 meter targets to paint them and hang a few gongs. While there we spotted another snake but it escaped before any level of excitement could be reached. I was also able to spill a bit of paint on my shoe, good thing too, I was worried I might not get any paint on it. We then went and painted the 400 meter plate a large one meter by one meter chunk of steel I was told would be for some of the guys bringing their black powder guns. This shoot is sounding better and better. We then returned to the house and I was informed there is one last thing we have to do… load Darrell’s cannon onto the trailer because there were request for him to shoot it on Saturday for the participants to see. It was about this time I was starting to realize that excitement was going to keep me from sleeping that night. After we loaded the cannon we were done for the day and I was off to a friend’s bachelor party for the afternoon and evening, that story will not be told here, or anywhere else.

        The following morning I awoke in a daze in an undisclosed location in a condition that we’ll just call sub-par. I immediately made my way back to the farm for the shoot and arrived at about the same time people were starting to get geared up to get out to the range, perfect timing. The shoot itself was quite exciting and I got to try out a large amount of hardware far outside of my tax bracket. The first gun I shot was a .223 wssm (Winchester super short magnum) at about 750 yards and with a bit of assistance

The .223 WSSM

from the owner, Darrell, and bit of math,  also provided by Darrell. I was informed of what to set the scope to and sure enough each shot was bang on with that swinging gong as proof. It really gives a sense of accomplishment even if you didn’t do all the hard work like building and reloading. I asked what the math was that he used, and I was told it was thanks to his ballistics calculator app (yea I guess there’s an app for that too) all he had to do was enter in his bullet weight, velocity, coefficient, and distance of the shot. Naturally I asked what coefficient and I’m still not 100% on this but I believe it has to do with the bullets resistance as it goes through the air and this shaky understanding was only obtained after an entire group had done their best to explain it to me, bless them and their patience. I also spend a majority of the morning acting as spotter for other shooters and chatting with other people at the shoot. Then around lunch time we changed it up, Darrell loaded up his cannon and carefully took aim at the 400 yard plate. I had my doubts he could hit it. The fuse was lit, several cameras were rolling, everyone was covering their ears… then a thunderous boom came out of the cannon followed seconds later by the loud twang of that big lead slug slamming into that 400 yard plate followed by amazement, laughter, and applause.
          The day continued on and a long time friend of the family offered to let me shoot his .338 Lapua, an offer I quickly took him up on.  I pointed it at the 1000 yard target, adjusted the scope, took aim, took a deep breath and fired, and missed. I repeated this several times and to no avail, oh well you can’t win them all and it was still an amazing view. Next it was on to the 50 BMG this was the one I was drooling over. To the extent of my knowledge it’s the biggest meanest rifle available to us Canadians. I loaded the first round, had someone step in as a spotter for me and took aim at one of the cream coloured targets, about two feet by two feet wide, a gutsy target given my skill with the Lapua. I get comfortable, take aim, squeeze the trigger, and fire. At this point I should probably tell you, shooting a 50 BMG is not like shooting a normal gun first its loud, very loud, so you wear two pairs of hearing protection, small inserts and the large muffs. Second they have a large muzzle break (presumably for user safety) this reduces recoil but as a result has a strange effect on the gun. It seems to float when fired only for a split second but you can feel it. The recoil pushing back and the muzzle break pushing forward the result is a gun caught seemingly in mid air and in limbo only to come rattling and crashing down

View At 1000

in an all around exhilarating experience. The first shot I fired missed, but not by much, I loaded a second and fired and got a little closer. The third was right on I could see the paint chip, I did it! I shot 1000! That was all my shooting for the day I was happy with that and I know I’ll be back every year, especially if I’m told there will be another delicious pulled pork dinner afterword.


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