Politics Be Damned (Temporarily)

It’s Time to Shoot Grouse

Workman’s Ruger MKIV Target pistol is a marvelously accurate sidearm.

According to the velocity printed on the box, a 40-grain, solid lead .22-caliber roundnose Federal Gold Medal Target bullet leaves the muzzle at 1,080 fps and can cross the distance of 25 yards in less than a heartbeat. Meanwhile, the CCI Subsonic .22-caliber lead hollowpoint bullet checks out at 1,050 fps. But, trust me, whatever is on the receiving end isn’t going to make an issue of the slightly slower velocity. After all, if a shooter does his or her part, the recipient of that pill will be in the game bag long before the discussion even gets serious.

Next Tuesday is Sept. 1, otherwise known in my neighborhood as “opening day” of grouse season, and I’ll be out there looking around for blue grouse with a Ruger MK IV within reach to headshot the remarkably stupid ones. By now, Insider Online will have been to the range a few times with a couple of 50-round boxes of Federal rimfires, and a box of the CCI specimens, to make sure his pistol is still shooting spot-on.

In 40 years, this correspondent has not missed a Washington grouse opener. While it’s customary to be strolling around the high ridges with a 20-gauge over-under shotgun stoked with No. 6 shells, I confess to enjoying the additional challenge of conking a fat fool hen with a pistol, and the Ruger MK IV happens to be one of the best on the planet for this endeavor.

Does your state allow taking small game with a pistol? Check your hunting regulations. Most western states allow shooting small game with handguns. You never have to worry about biting down on a lead pellet and a .22-caliber bullet doesn’t tear up the meat.

Insider is no purist, but he eats fairly well when grouse are in season.

Not a Purist

Full disclosure: Insider Online is not a “grouse purist.” In the Pacific Northwest, we have a long tradition of shooting grouse on the ground with rifles or pistols. It’s legal and it’s effective. It’s not terribly “sporting,” according to some of the bird dog folks I’ve encountered over the years, but nobody put them in charge of my hunting habits.

It’s okay for them to look down their noses at my game bag, though. I’ll be the one dining on fresh wild fowl, cooked in a cast iron skillet over a low flame, with potatoes and onions. Or breast the grouse and prepare it with pasta as Grouse Parmesan. Or maybe take the breast, wrap it in a slice of bacon, barbecue it and plate it next to corn on the cob.

Yes, us “ground sluicers” are an incorrigible lot, but we occasionally eat rather well. All it takes is a bit of skill with a rimfire pistol.

Frank Workman with his trusty Ruger MK III.

My Brother’s Keeper

Well into the last century, I had a mentor who ran hounds and enjoyed raccoon hunting. His choice of sidearm was an original Ruger Standard, which became the MK I.

Many years later at a gun show, I scooped up one of those pistols in very good condition. Retiring to the range, I found it delivered hits on everything I aimed at, and the next fall I conked a dandy grouse on the season opener at about 20 yards using a two-hand hold, a few yards off an old logging road.

A couple of years ago, when Ruger introduced the MKIV, I got one for a review. It’s the target model with a 5-inch bull barrel and adjustable rear sight. It’s the improved version of my brother’s MK III. His is a real keeper as well, capable of punching holes in bottle caps at 25 yards from a sandbag rest. Incidentally, he’s a better shot with a handgun than he realizes, though I’ll give part of the credit to that pistol.

The heavy barrel convinced me Ruger had a good idea. When the MK IV came along with its simple takedown — the original pistols all the way up through MK III models can be a pain in the neck to strip and reassemble, or so I’m told by several pals who reached that conclusion — I had to buy it. The new incarnation is a delight.

My dad used to carry a .22-caliber revolver while deer hunting, just for the purpose of potting a grouse or rabbit if one wandered into view. Made sense then, makes sense now.

Champion self-sealing rubber targets make for great rimfire practice.

Practice Makes Dinner

There is no sin for ignoring current news events in preference to shooting small game with a handgun, even if just for a day.

A few years ago, I acquired some rubber self-sealing targets approximating the size and shape of a prairie dog and crow. Since a real blue grouse is much larger, I use these targets for practice. When one can empty a full magazine into one of these without missing, it’s time to try your skills on live game.

Did I mention rabbit season also opens next Tuesday? Either of the rounds mentioned above, or similar cartridges from Winchester or Remington, will easily put a cottontail down for the count. All it takes is practice, and that kind of practice is wonderfully distracting from affairs of the day.

If you don’t have the rubber targets, I’ve found a great substitute in the 7.5 oz. soda can. Set anywhere from 15 to 25 yards away, the MK IV can punch tight little holes repeatedly, especially when using a rest.

Later in the fall, and even into the winter months when far fewer hunters are around and game may be a little harder to find, it’s still a good idea to tuck a rimfire into a belt or shoulder holster while walking in the woods. Stick a couple of spare magazines into your coat pocket and you’re set.

Small soda cans also make great targets — just be sure to pick up your litter.

Biden’s Running Mate

Okay, it’s been a couple of weeks since Joe Biden picked one of the most radical anti-gun women he could find as a running mate. If he wasn’t deliberately sending a message to American gun owners, this was a whopper of a misstep.

California Sen. Kamala Harris was on the receiving end of a Second Amendment Foundation lawsuit while she was that state’s attorney general. On the campaign trail last year, she vowed to demand action from Congress on gun control during her first 100 days in office, or she would take executive action. She wants a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and likes California-style regulations for all citizens in all states.

If Biden should win in November and be unable to complete his term, Harris would become president. Chew on that for a while.

This is, according to gun rights activists, not the time to be “stylish” about voting so a woman is next in line for the Oval Office. If you’re not registered to vote, do that today. If you are registered, be absolutely certain to vote. Make sure your family and shooting buddies vote, too.

Then get out and hunt.

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