Howa mini 6.5 Grendel (SLBMR)

SLBMR = Super low budget mountain rifle.

After lugging around my awesomely effective but heavy TC Venture 308win around on my aoudad hunt, I started looking for a lightweight rifle. I started looking and discovered that super lightweight rifles are super expensive (just like packs, bags, tents, whatever). I then put the idea away, until I looked at a Howa Alpine rifle in 6.5creedmoor. I really liked it, but not the price tag. Then I remembered Howa came out with a mini action in 6.5 Grendel (with a #1 contour barrel). I’ve been interested in the Grendel ever since Mark Larue reported his experience using the cartridge on a 5×5 bull elk at 405yds (one shot kill, through and through with a 120 barnes tsx..or ttsx I cant remember). It should do what I need at ranges I shoot for the critters I hunt.

I bought a barreled action from brownells for $407. It came in at 3.10lbs. I then figured out that I put the cart before the horse. The only stock options I had for stocks was an MDT LSS chassis (not going to happen) and a Boyds laminate stock (super pig at 3lbs…but cheap). I contacted a few custom stock makers, Pendleton, MPI, Mcmillan, and Manners. I quickly discovered this would be uncharted territory and expensive as no high end company makes a stock for the mini. I would be fine being a guinea pig, but not for 600+ bucks (especially if the weight comes in way over). So I found a take off Hogue knockoff that Howa sells with the mini action on ebay and won it for 28 bucks. I decided to just try and mod it and turn it into what I want.

I planned to rasp and sand (already started rasping before cutting down the forend) the stock to reshape it to my liking. The stock as it comes does the petite mini action a disservice because it feels like a 2×4…or 2×6 even.

I had considered having the barreled action cerakoted, but unfortunately at this point in my life Ive discovered usually if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. I don’t have a paint gun, booth, or oven. So I’m still trying to decide what I want to do for a finish. The stock will be OD green with black webbing. The barreled action might be titanium grey, or I might just say F’ it and use FDE Krylon.

At the start weight was at 4.94lbs. The stock is 29.45oz and I hope to get it to 26oz before paint. The scope mounts will be Talley lightweights and the scope will be a Leupold VX1 2-7×33 (lr duplex).

I got the stock down to 27oz prior to paint. And here is the progression on the stock build..

First pic is the barreled action, then the stock after being shortened. The third picture is the section of forend I cut out of the stock. Then the last few pictures are just some I took throughout the process. I’m kinda bummed that it came out so heavy, but I’ll probably end up buying a lightweight fiberglass stock at some point down the road. I still have to add a flip flop buttpad, and the Leupold scope/Talley mount combo.

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2017 Projects

I’ve got a couple of projects I am working on during the off season. I am attempting to cobble together my own custom big game hunting pack, and I’m attemptingto to do a semi custom mountain rifle.

The rifle will hopefully come in at under 6lbs with scope (and hopefully with ammunition). I’ve chosen to start with the Howa mini action rifle in 6.5 grendel.

I’m excited to get these done and for the 2017 hunting season which begins in August….just around the corner.

2017 Free Range Public Land Aoudad

I apply every year for multiple public land Aoudad (Barbary Sheep) hunts. The odds are incredibly long with the chance of being drawn around 2%. Somehow I was lucky enough to draw an Aoudad hunt at the Palo Duro Canyon St. Park. My hunt dates were January 25th-27th.  I applied with a friend that is a much better big game hunter than I, and that has had the chance to hunt Bighorn Sheep. Without his help I don’t know if I would’ve even seen any Aoudad, let alone have the luck to harvest a very nice representation of a free range wild aoudad in north west Texas. My ram was spotted at over 2k yards by my eagle eyed buddy and his swaro’ spotting scope. My friend took two rams and unfortunately we were busted hiking out with his two rams by two rams that were larger than the one I shot a day earlier.

In two days we hiked over 8 miles a day, and got our butts handed to us by the massive canyon know as Palo Duro. I knew it would be a physical hunt, but I had no idea it would be as insane as it was. When we left, a day early due to blisters, and soreness that made it impossible to put in another 12hr/8 mile day,  we were the only group to kill rams. Only one other group saw Aoudad. We hiked our asses off and here are the spoils…..

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Above is a look at the glassing point my ram was spotted from. He and several females were on the far side cliff face just left of the juniper bowl (2k yards away).pd2

Above is my ram coming in at an unofficial 25.25 inches. He had a beautiful cape, and I am grateful to have harvested such a fine animal.pd4

The above picture shows the next canyon (to the right of where I shot my ram) that we hunted the following day for my buddy’s sheep.

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The largest of the two shot by my hunting amigo.

And now just some random shots…pd8

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It was a fun, crazy-tough hunt. I hope some day I get to return and participate again. I can say that I’ll be in better shape physically, and more prepared for just the shear size and ruggedness of the PD canyon.

How much can a guy lose in a season?

I turned 30 just a few weeks ago, and my mind is already circling the toilet. Whether it be a equipment from work (taser…which I eventually found after 3wks), or hunting gear I cant seem to find anything this year. I’m now ready to send a search party out for my Sitka jet stream lite (that I scored half off from a RMEF website sale). I’m gathering gear for a chukar/hun hunt that Im heading out on next week…I need that jacket.

So I guess I’m going to tell the wife to buy some of that ginkgo biloba stuff and keep looking for my all the shit that has disappeared.

I haven’t forgot where my bird spots are, thank God. Or that I’m heading to Texas in January for a one in a million public land aoudad hunt.

 

 

Small Game Fun

I’ve always wanted to take my .22lr and go out on a small game hunt. I look back at all the time I wandered the woods back in Texas and didn’t hunt squirrels. I decided to change that this year, albeit in a much different setting compared to Tejas. I also enjoy practicing with and shooting rimfire rifles. Its great fun, and helps you brush up on fundamentals.

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And then headed back to the pickup…

I ended up bagging the two I shot at (in three shots). The fist (pictured) was a single head shot at about 75yds taken from a kneeling position. My .22lr is a Savage MKII F. I cut the barrel down myself with a hacksaw (to 16.5″..its legal), flat filed it, and recrowned it with a brass screw and drill. It shoots lights with Eley ammo

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I have some stew going right now.

Some days….

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Exceptional Hun numbers were found in some of the most beautiful country I’ve hunted. No partridge were harmed in this hunt because of a couple of reasons: 1. Cover was sparse leading to them flushing wild 2. Molly found, pointed, and promptly bumped several coveys before I could get down to her. Molly’s shortcomings as a bird dog is my fault, as I didn’t work her all off season due to being stuck in a hospital for 3 months. Oh well it was a great day, and a great workout for both man and beast…..we’ll be back.

Filling the freezer

Well I got invited to one of those “if you come back here without me, I’ll light your pickup on fire” mule deer spots. My buddy was searching for a 180″ or better buck, and I was just there to tag along to help and maybe shoot something after he tagged out. Well he didn’t find what he was looking for and on the way back to the pickup we walked up on a decent little buck that I decided to take. I left my trusty Remington Mohawk 600 .243win at home in favor of a new to me TC Venture chambered in 308win. I learned a valuable lesson on 10-15-16. Don’t get cocky and take a marginal shot, no matter how confident you are. The buck was on to us and facing me at about 115yds when I decided to just take a “facing me” frontal shot. The 165gr. accubond hit about 3 inches right of where I aimed, and took out his front left shoulder, but that’s about it. The shot initially dropped the buck but he got up and bailed down a steep ridge (in the opposite direction of the pickup). At about 390yds the buck piled up but was far from dead. After closing the distance he was dispatched, and quartered for the pack out. I’ve never had a deer or antelope make it more than 10yds mainly because I always take a broadside shot…unlike this time. Lesson learned. The 2.5 mile hike back to the pickup was heavy (I carried two quarters, neck meat, backstrap/loins, and head), but it was worth it! With a pronghorn and deer in the freezer I wont be elk hunting this year (not that I’d actually finally harvest one).

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On a past Saturday I did make a run to Chukar country. It was hot, windy, and the only birds found were on the drive out. I did get a speeding ticket in the smack dab middle of nowhere, so I didn’t come home empty handed. I have decided October is not Chukar time. November, December, and January are Chukar time. I say it every year……

Closed out September with a bang!

I left the house at 0330 hours in order to park the pickup at the break of dawn at my hunting area. After a couple hours of driving myself and a friend were hustling down a dry creek bed hunched over in order to get into position to fill our tags. I got within my self imposed 250yd range limit and let the Remington Mohawk 600 (chambered in .243win) do the rest. Two 100gr Winchester powerpoints later and I had an antelope to cut up. The buck stumbled all of 10yds after being hit. He was the first buck I saw that morning, and for my first Pronghorn, I think he was a nice buck. I ate the tenderloins two days later and I am now a HUGE fan of Pronghorn. The meat was unbelievably good, especially compared how what I always hear about Pronghorn meat.

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On a side note I missed the Chukar/Hun opening weekend because my male Brittany Ace came up lame a week prior. He is on Dr. prescribed R&R in hopes his back heals with rest and meds. It appears one of his disc’s in his lower back was inflamed. I blame myself for not staying on top of his conditioning over the summer, and pushing too hard early in the season. I’ll be leaving him home on the 8-9th and only taking Molly in hopes of finding tons of birds for the 2016-17 Chukar/Hun season.

September has been good

Hit  spot this morning I’ve never been to on a whim, hoping I might find some birds. I sincerely hope my luck in September carries over to October and the chukar/hun season. About an hour into the hike after we turned to go with the wind (like the first sharptail hunt of the year) we found a large covey. Unfortunately no points came off of this covey as they flushed wild about 40yds in front of both Ace and Molly (who were up wind), but I was able to knock down a single the flushed wild after the covey. Saw about ten birds, shot at four, and got one. The new Franchi Instinct L has some good mojo, even if I should’ve had an easy limit with my first three shots. I will gladly take a bird in the hand after a fine morning afield. I love the high plains.

After seeing this little fella on the side of the road as I turned off the hwy, I had a good feeling.

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Turnabout is fair play

Well after riding the high of my last three sharptail hunts where I actually got into birds, I knew reality was eventually going to catch up to me. That reality usually always hits when I go sage grouse hunting. Once again I pointed the U.A.V. (Upland Assault Vehicle) westward and headed to the sea of sage. The hounds hit the ground just after sunrise and we hunted hard until the temps got too warm. Nada. Not a feather, not a piece of grouse poop, not even an old track. I did see plenty of wildlife including approximately 200 antelope, mule deer, jack rabbits, cottontails, the biggest coyote I’ve ever seen and probably 30 elk (two 6×6 bulls). I was also scouting for antelope, the season opens on the 25th and I’ll be there in hopes of tagging out on opening morning. Then the weekend after that is the glorious first weekend of October……look out Chukar and Hungarian Partridge.

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