This morning I took the .17 caliber out for "a walk in the woods" looking for grey squirrels who might possibly turn out to be tonight's dinner. Unfortunately (for me) I didn't see any of the little guys out and about. I saw plenty of tracks. I saw some poop. I even saw nut shavings from squirrel breakfasts enjoyed at the snowy base of some trees. But as my father always says "you can't make soup out of tracks". I suppose one could make soup out of poop, but I don't believe I will ever know for sure. I hope I don't.
The weather this morning was beautiful, albeit a chilly 32°. I enjoyed slowly meandering through my usual hunting grounds at the Frederick Watershed. The ground was covered in 5 inches of firm, crunchy snow. These snow conditions took the stealth out of my hunt today; each footstep broke noisily through the crusty top layer. I stopped often, leaning against a maple tree, to peer through the white forest and listen to the silence. Thick snow; large clustered flakes, fell steadily, and at an angle that hit my face and melted. Occasionally I would lift my rifle and sight through the scope, but after a while, the ends of my scope became filled with snow. Blowing the snow out, left me with a film of fog. I decided after a couple of hours, to head back to the truck and make my way back home.
Back at the ranch (Technically, a bunny ranch - I have two rabbits), I dried and cleaned my rifle over a pint of Saranac's caramel porter, and that unmistakeable, romantic fragrance that is: Hoppes' No 9. I'm really happy with this gun, although because of the small caliber (.17) it can be a bit of a pain to clean if you don't have a brass .17 caliber jag for your cleaning rod. My jag is plastic and tends to fold over on itself when starting a patch down the breech. Luckily, I came a cross a great tip for .17 caliber rifles: You can use the little felt pellets, intended for cleaning air rifles. They work great. I use a combination of patches and pellets until both are coming out of the barrel clean.