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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 05 2018 at 3:51pm | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

I turned 74 last month, so I have a fairly large data base of "old guy" thoughts.

One of my favorite past times for the last 60 years has been hand loading. My dad "rolled" his own, and got me interested in that when I was about 12, and then at age 14 for a successful completion of a school year to the next, he bought me an old Mod 43 Winchester in .218 Bee, and a set of dies to go with it. Up until then my life revolved around the .22s,l,lr.

That .218 opened new horizons. Woodchucks that were out of range for Super X .22LR HP, were now drying in the sun for the buzzards, which we had in up state New York.

A lot of water under the bridge since then, a span of time spent in the North Atlantic Submarine fleet, had me moved around to a number of places mostly in the East, and when not at sea I would spend my free time out looking for the wary marmot, almost always with cast bullets in one of my handguns or rifles.

During that time I developed a real fondness for the 1911 Colt, my first was a 1911, a WW1 gun that never made the trip of Europe, was still in cosmoline when I got it. On my way home from the guns shop, I paid a "whopping" $45.00 for that gun, I killed a wood chuck with the first round out of the first magazine full of military ball ammo I fired through that gun. That was about 1967, That formed a life long appreciation for that gun and that cartridge.

During that time I had a family, and any one how has been in the service knows that the pay is not that great. The old Colt sure made a difference, supplementing the protein in my family's diet.

Lots of different guns, over the intervening years, .357s, .44 magnums, my favorite rifles were always the .30s, .30-30 and the .30-06.

After the service I went off to Alaska, light loads in a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag, put a lot of small game in the pot.

A trooper friend of mine and I went off on a Moose hunt, one time, we had limited time off from the "job", when we were getting close to the end of our leave and had not seen any moose, we dumped the magnums out of our .44s laded in the special loadings and went out and killed about 50 snow shoe rabbits. The old Alaskan saying is that many rabbits is better than no moose.

Alaska was good to me, I did not buy much meat then, I had moose, caribou, grouse, rabbits, trout, salmon and a lot of will edibles plants/berries when I was there.

Everything I shot was with hand loaded ammunition, or hand made arrows, another story there.

Time passed and I got older, and inevitability, the road goes one way. I retired for the Alaska State Troopers and started thinking about someplace where winter was not so long.

As anyone who has been a policeman knows you cannot just retire, you have to do something related to the "job". On the national average the life expectancy of a retired policeman is about five years. I beat that by a wide margin, I came back to the "south 48", and started my own private investigator business, I did almost exclusively criminal cases.

I found myself living in Oregon, and working in Washington, the pay was better, in Wa.

Time passed in the PI business, and as with all things, like jugs of milk, there is an expiration date. A personal tragedy, the death of my life partner, set me off in a different direction. I really needed a change of "scenery", and I found this place in the mountains of Eastern Oregon.

That was ten years ago. I moved up here with five horses, and one dog. I see more game out my kitchen window than I used to see flying around in Alaska.

I have killed several bears, since I got here, they were nuisance bears that persisted in hanging around my house or in my horse pastures and a couple of mountain lions that we getting a bit too familiar.

All of these unwelcome visitors were taken with either the .357 or .45 Colt.

Of the two, the standard loading of the .45, 255grn bullet at 850-900fps, seems to produce a more immediate result.

I had one bear that was a pretty constant visitor, and the old saying about familiarity breeds contempt, applies. I caught that rascal out in an open meadow early one morning, after he came wandering out of my upper horse pasture. I "tagged" him with a 262 Gr. RNFP, over 9 gr. of Unique, in my Redhawk. He went down like he was hit by lightening, it was 80 of my paces.

I will have to say that in my experience, the .357 is a really good choice, but the .44s and .45s, seem to achieve the desired result a bit quicker.

I am not advocating that any one caliber is the answer to all questions, because we all know that anything and everything that walks or crawls in North America has been killed with the .22LR.

Just some "old guy" thoughts..
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Rex
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 3:08am | IP Logged Quote Rex

An interesting life John. I'm just one year ahead of you. I have a cousin that lives up on the side of a mountain somewhere outside of Burns, Oregon.
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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 7:20am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Yes sir, always appears after we pass that "seven zero"
mark we've accumulated some vast knowledge compared to
those decades our junior. Sad part is our bodies begin to
fall apart limiting our efforts, and those that are
younger often fail to listen since they're self appointed
experts because they have YouTube!

Reminds me of a line from the Duke's movie Train Robbers
spoken by Rod Taylor to Ben Johnson on aging;
"All I'm saying is Jessie, don't grow old. You'll live to
regret it.".

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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 7:31am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Rex

That country south of Burns gets pretty desolate, but North of there is some pretty mountainous country, in the Malheur National forest.

Back when I was a trooper in Alaska, I investigated several plane crashes, and most of them were out in the wilderness, the NTSB guys I went with all carried .44 mags, Rugers or S&W, they on occasions had disputes with large bears at crash sites. When I went off to do theses things I carried my Ruger Blackhawk .45 with 340 gr, cast bullets over a big helping of H110.

I did a little informal penetration testing and that load wold penetrate just twice as many 1"(I think they were actually some odd 1/16th under an inch), as the standard factory .44 magnum load. I never got to try any of those out on a bear, and boy am I glad of that.

I got that old Blackhawk in 1975, it had a 7.5" barrel and the acp cylinder, I sent it back to Ruger and had the shorter barrel installed so it was easier to carry in a shoulder holster.

The first bear I had a disagreement with after I moved up here was taken with that Blackhawk, and the 260 RNFP/9 gr, Unique load.

I had to deal with a couple of mountain lions that were hanging around too close to my horses, the old Keith 358429 bulled over a full charge of Unique, did the job nicely.

I am getting old, just not as anxious to kill things as I once was, I shot one bear on a summer morning twice with my slingshot, to get him to move on.

I am at a point where I kind of like seeing the bears and as long as they stay away from my horses, we get on just fine. I am not as glad to see the mountain lions and wolves however.

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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 7:36am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Old Ranger

All of that is right on the mark.. I have been a big movie fan most of my life and every now and they are are some real "pearls' of wisdom in some of the dialog.

My favorite is, "growing old is not for the faint of heart"..
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Paul B.
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 2:14pm | IP Logged Quote Paul B.

Well, I'm seven month shy of my eighth decade. Does that make me
President of this "Old Pharts Club"????
Paul B.
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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 2:39pm | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Paul

You have my vote..
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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 2:41pm | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

I was hoping to solicit some other "old Timer" stories, favorite guns over the years, or that "perfect" handload..
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dahlin
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 4:49pm | IP Logged Quote dahlin

I think the ones under 70 don't listen is because they have had such good role models before them Randy
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richhodg66
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Posted: February 06 2018 at 6:37pm | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

Well, I'm not 70 yet, but have been enjoying reading John's thoughts. Life so far has been reasonably interesting for me, though I wouldn't call it particularly adventurous, but I would call it rewarding.

I just went to one of my local small town gun shows this weekend, the good kind with eclectic collections of old stuff and people there to socialize more than sell anything. I like those shows, one of the few places I go where I'm still below the mean age it seems (almost 52). I like the wisdom of you guys who've been around the block a few times so keep telling it, more of us are listening than you may think.

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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 07 2018 at 7:45am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Sometime after I had the Blackhawk modified, as my back up search and rescue gun. I got the bug to try the, then relatively "new", Redhawk. It was stainless, double action, and with speed loaders, a lot faster to refill than my trusty old SA. Back then it came in .44 mag and 7.5" barrel, not exactly concealable, but what the heck I was a policeman.. I carried that gun in a shoulder holster when I went off on search and rescue.

That was a lovely old gun, I put a set of the Ruger express sights on that gun, the "v" rear and brass bead front. I could lie down on a rock use my hat for a rest and shoot marmots up in the Chugatch mountains. My longest shot from the rest one day was 95 of my paces.

We went out to look for an over due hunter one day, I had my Redhawk with me, we were working the area where the missing hunter was last seen, we were in the state helicopter, I enjoyed that, I spent a lot of time in that Bell Jet Ranger.

We flew around for a while, no sign of the missing man, so we opened up the search pattern, and found the our guy about five miles from where he should have been according to his hunting partners. We landed on the tundra, the hunter was in about the middle stages of hypothermia. The way the aircraft was configured, with out moving some gear there was only room for the pilot and "a" passenger.

I stayed behind, so the pilot could get the hunter into the hospital, about 50 air miles away.

We carried a lot of survival gear on the state aircraft, it was Alaska. It was a loverly sunny morning in early fall, lots of color on the tundra, I piled up the "siwash" bags, survival gear, made a comfortable place to sit, and just reveled in the ambiance of the day.

I had my .44, extra ammo and my issue .357, lots of survival gear and at that point I rather hoped that I might get stuck there for a couple of days.

A sad note, a number of years after I retired, the guy I used to like to fly with, died in a crash. If you fly enough out in the bush, a fatal crash is not a matter of if but when..!
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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 07 2018 at 8:03am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

John, as I've aged I have become less tolerant of
ignorance and outright stupidity. Restrictive with my
meager funds. Trust very few people these days. Totally
disgusted with any anti-American attitudes and displays
of political nonsense. Believe that liberalism is
destroying our country. In short I have become my father!


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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 07 2018 at 9:54am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Old Ranger

That pretty well sums up my view on things.

I have 35 years of active participation in the criminal justice system, which probably was a determining factor in my decision to move off into the mountains, and not deal with folks any more than absolutely necessary.
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Rex
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Posted: February 07 2018 at 9:55am | IP Logged Quote Rex

John,you mention a shoulder holster for your Redhawk. What type holster is that? I bought a Bianchi, I forget the model number a few years back at a yard sale, and that is the most uncomfortable thing I have tried to wear. It said it was a 4" .38. I can get my 4" L frame in it but suspect it would fit a K frame a bit better.
There has got to be one out there that feels better for everyday wear than this one.
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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 07 2018 at 12:39pm | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Rex

I made that shoulder holster, it was a variation of the old WW ll shoulder holster for the 1911.



I just scaled it up for the Redhawk, when I sold that gun the holster went with it.
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taurusshooter59
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Posted: February 11 2018 at 6:18pm | IP Logged Quote taurusshooter59

Well John even though I'm not at your stage of the
game, I'm no longer a kid either. (To my point of
view. 58) I also never served in LE but like you I
would love to move into those mountains. The only
problem is I would be alone since the boss lady would
not move to Alaska. (Too cold for her) Enjoy the life
brother.
Incidentally your views are also mine; don't like
unpatriotic people, and don't have tolerance for those
who would destroy this country. (Liberals) My little
sister made a remark when she was a teen that says it
for me. She was complaining about how some people are,
and I asked her why she didn't love mankind, being the
smart alec older brother. She replied, Oh I love
mankind, it's people I can't stand.

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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 12 2018 at 7:48am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

taurusshooter59

There are some really nice places in the mountains without having to go all of the way to Alaska, that might be more palatable for your "partner".. But on that note if my partner had of lived I am not sure she would have been as enthusiastic about moving up here as I.

Almost every one in my family was in the service, two out of three of my children served. The youngest tried, but had medical issues.

A memorable moment for me was when my daughter was in the Air Force, she called me on my birthday in 1991, she said "happy birthday Dad, we just bombed Baghdad"!

Looking back over nearly 3/4 of a century, the changes are truly mind boggling. I recall when a state of the art portable radio was the size of lunch box, before TV we sat in the living room and listened to the radio. Music came on 78 rpm records, our telephone was a wooden box with a hand crank that hung on the wall and in the very early days computers were a room full of refrigerator sized cabinets. Now all of those things are in one device that fits neatly in a shirt pocket.

If you plot the curve of terminological advances more has happened in the last 100 years than in the preceding 6000, and it is just going to increase until ....

Within the next ten years we will be back to the moon and probably to Mars, computers will be walking around, talking to us and to each other. Artificial Intelligence
poses some real problems, but I think it is inevitable. I do not have all of the facts, but the folks at Google had a program running that started doing things on it's own, it was exploring language, they shut it down, or at least thought they did.

I have always been fascinated with math and physics, In high school I built a cloud chamber to plot the path of sub atomic particles, in the service I was a reactor operator, as a policeman I did computer assisted accident reconstruction, and after retirement, I had my own PI business, a lot of my time was devoted to helping attorneys set up computer programs to stream line data retrieval in case files.

I am no stranger to technology, but like Al Jolson's line in the opening of the first "talking" movie, "you ain't heard nothin yet"..

I think that the ride is just picking up speed.      
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Rex
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Posted: February 12 2018 at 8:42am | IP Logged Quote Rex

John, you stir up old memories.
REA never ran electric lines out in the country in western Kansas until the early to mid '50s. The radio ran on batteries the antenna was the clothes line. As I recall the telephone got two dry cells once a year and our ring was 3 shorts. Coal oil lit the house, het the house and cooked the meals. The ice box got a new 50 pound block of ice from the ice house in the neighboring town. Watching Dad carry the block in when I was a kid, I thought he was the strongest man in the world.
The phone line ran on poles like the power line and the first phone lines were fastened to the top of fence posts. Our old house on the farm had no idea what insulation was. The bedrooms were the north rooms to catch the cold draft before it hit the rest of the house.
Talk about cold in the winter.....
In the summer the south windows were opened and when we came in from the field for dinner we took off our shirts and layed in front of the window on a linoleum floor to cool off for a 15 minute nap after dinner, then back to the field. AND THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS???
We shot pheasant, cotton tail and ducks year around for the table. Jacks when they were young fried up pretty good, but don't try it with an old one.
I wore out a J.C. Higgens .22 bolt action rifle shooting rabbits as a kid. It seemed like there was a jack rabbit under every soap weed in the milk cow pasture. Always took the rifle when I got the cows in at night.
Funny, I also recall the milk cow pasture was full of buffalo wallows back then. Made it a little rough to haul feed to the cows in the winter.
Better pause before I go on all day.
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John Van Gelder
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Posted: February 12 2018 at 10:07am | IP Logged Quote John Van Gelder

Rex

A favorite memory of those days..On the old farm in up state NY, it got hot and humid in the summer, so we had all of the windows open to get a little breeze at night. We lived near a railway hub, there was a round house about 6 miles away, and on those summer evenings you could hear the steam locomotives whistling.

On summer nights here, when the wind is just right, I can hear the BNSF laboring up the grade in the canyon that is a pass in the Blue Mountains, brings back old memories.
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Posted: February 12 2018 at 9:43pm | IP Logged Quote doghawg

John

It's an interesting thread you started here and it has caused me to reflect a bit. I think I qualify for the club...as a 70 yr. old Viet Nam vet. Started handloading in 1977 and enjoy loading and casting almost as much as shooting. Still load for .223, 22/250, 22BR, 6BR, 6mmRem, .257 Rbts, 7/08, .30/06, .338/06 AI, and .45/70. Pistol cals are .38/.357, 9mm, .41, .44, .45, .454 and .475. I had a brief flirtation with the .500 S&W but IMO that one and the .460 are over the top. I did have a 10" BFR .45/70 for a while but that was over the top too!
Looking back from this point in time, I hardly ever load anything to max anymore. My last two handgun deer were shot with a .475 Linebaugh and .454 Casull and neither one was loaded anywhere near max. All of my handgun deer kills would probably have ended up the same way with your .45 Colt load of a 255 gr. over 9gr. of Unique.
Having 5 cardiac by-passes a year ago has caused me to cast my bullets softer, load my handloads lighter, and most importantly, appreciate every day God gives me!

Randy         & nbsp;         & nbsp;

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