As most older readers know, digging out from a snow storm isn’t much fun. As a younger man, it was simply an unpleasant chore. When you get older, as in three-fourths of a century older, it becomes a royal pain.
For those among our readership who were able to spend Thanksgiving with members of their family, even just one or two, be thankful for just that small blessing. We weren’t able to spend Thanksgiving with our family. Since they live over the Big Horns in Sheridan, that early storm coming in and the outside chance that one could get caught in it, locked out travel from either direction.
Greg and Jay have the youngsters, three of them under 8 years old, to think about and Sandi and I are, well, old. Travel under those conditions simply doesn’t make sense. Trust me, without family around to celebrate the holidays, there’s not much to celebrate.
That said, recent letters to the editor printed in the Enterprise have contained a bit of kick and growl about one of the new billboards in town. A billboard is like a family argument in that there are generally more than two sides to it. Suffice it to say that, in this case, before drawing any conclusions, one must ask why. Yes, mortality on wolf pups is high as that is nature’s way of controlling the world’s most efficient wild predator, not because of hunters killing them, as was subtly alluded to. So why?
The point is of the billboards in question, only one billboard lists its sponsor. The wolf cub-animal rights billboard remains suspiciously silent about sponsor and intent.
Credibility folks, credibility. As in why are the sponsors afraid to tell us who they are and where the documentation for their claims comes from? Who sponsored it, what is their true agenda and why are they afraid to own up to this misleading representation of hunters?
Regardless, what with all of this snow and cold, it’s that time of the year to do some bunny busting. Few things taste as good as a tender, young bunny tastefully prepared for the table. To my mind a table set with a baked rabbit stuffed with goodies and sided by sweet potatoes with corn on the cob and boiled baby potatoes basted with garlic butter and finished off with the appropriate homemade pie, is the perfect Thanksgiving meal and as traditionally American as eating some stupid turkey.
An awful lot of folks, especially during America’s major depression years back in the 1930s, (Talk to your grandparents about it if you don’t know. The history books suck when trying to explain the deprivation working class Americans went through during this period) even barnyard fowl were out of question for many Americans in the lower economic rungs. Squirrel maybe, sage grouse or wild mallards and, if lucky, rabbit. Chicken, duck, turkey or pigs, not so much.
But .22 caliber bullets were a half penny apiece and rifles, mostly inexpensive single shots, lived behind the kitchen doors of most rural households. By simple economic matriculation, the single shot .22 rifle became the almost universal critter getter of choice and necessity. Smaller wild game became the food choice of necessity.
By the time the “dirty thirties” hit, the .22 rimfire, long rifle, self contained cartridge was an established contender for the most universally used cartridge in this country. Originating three quarters of a century earlier, give or take a few years, the self contained .22 short took the firearms world by storm.
The diminutive .22 short evolved into the .22 long and that into the .22 long rifle. Along the way Johnathon Browning introduced his darling little 1890 .22 pump rifle chambered in the more powerful .22 WRF or Winchester Rim Fire, an early cousin to our present .22 magnum and loaded with smokless powder to negate the effects of the black powder loadings currently in vogue during the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century.
That chambering, the .22 WRF, fell on hard times after WWII and when the .22 magnum was introduced circa 1959, the .22 WRF was already considered obsolete by most. Granted, the .22 magnum hit the ground running but funny thing happened on the way to obscurity for the .22 WRF. Short story is that it’s still with us and while you can’t fire a .22 magnum in a firearm chambered for the earlier 22 WRF, the reverse isn’t true.
As a matter of fact, like firing a .38 special in a .357 magnum, you can fire a lower-powered .22 WRF in a firearm chambered for the .22 magnum, but not visa-versa. Just don’t expect magnum performance from the round as it basically splits the difference between the .22 long rifle at around 1,100 fps with a 36-grain slug and the .22 magnum’s 2,000-plus fps with a 40-grain jacketed bullet. The 22 WRF pushes it’s 45-grain lead slug out the end of the barrel at approximately 1,450 fps. Which gives it a midrange trajectory of around 2 1/2 inches when sighted in for 100 yards.
I bring this up because there have been many re-issues of .22 WRF over the years and one can still find the cartridge if one looks hard enough. Heck, I’ve even seen them at Murdoch’s in Powell. If, like me, you tend to favor the .22 magnum for walkabouts while bunny busting, in the event you pop a coyote, fox or jack rabbit out of the sagebrush, the .22 WRF is almost ideal as an alternate loading to be carried along for popping bunnies without the extensive damage the magnum can cause.
Yeah, I know, if you’re using a .22 mag. you should only take head shots on smaller critters, but those aren’t always possible. Plus, you might not hit exactly where you’re aiming and why mutilate a perfectly good bunny or squirrel when there are alternatives? In a pinch, one could even take a turkey, where legal, with the smaller round, but for gobbler getting when a rifle is the preferred tool for bigger small game, I prefer the Winchester Dynapoint 50-grain bullet in my .22 magnum.
Anyway, bunny season is upon us, it has frozen hard several times so the remaining population of cotton bottoms should be healthy. Just remember to examine each liver and, if white spots or extensive cysts are present, leave it for the coyotes. As for as all those fleas on the carcass, either skin it out immediately or throw it on the snow and come back in an hour or so. The little blood suckers should have vacated their furry host by then. Those particular fleas won’t use you as a host, or so I’ve read, but who wants them crawling around on you, even temporarily?
Just don’t be surprised if you leave a bunny in a snow bank and when you come back your critter has been snatched up by a prowling coyote or a sharp eyed raptor. This time of year, everything in nature is hungry.