Long shots

| January 03, 2006

While the rifles are old, the scopes are newer. “In the old days we used 3 x 9 x 40s; now I use 4 x 12 x 54 power.

“Which rifle I use really depends on what sort of day it is and maybe what sort of country,” Hartford says. “If it’s wet or damp weather, I’ll probably use the Magnum. I can drop it into a swamp and still use it. All these rifles are as accurate at they ever were. The Brownings are old enough to have been made in Europe with the highest quality steel. I’m not sure the newer ones are as good, that’s just my opinion.

“The Springfield is the first one I hunted with, and I got it from my father when he was older and quit hunting. I guess for that reason it’s my favorite. It’s as accurate as anything built today. It’s awesome.

“I can switch between them easily enough. I have all of my rifles set with a 3.5-pound trigger pull. They are all machined so you need exactly the same weight on them. If I didn’t do it, I’d have to adjust and pull one at say five pounds and one at seven and the other at maybe three and a half, and then I couldn’t be easily as accurate with them all as I am.”

To Hartford, too many recreational hunters go into the woods not knowing precisely how their rifles will perform in different situations. “I know that a 180-grain Springfield power point bullet will drop about four inches at 250 yards. You don’t have to know that much to be a good hunter, but to be a better hunter you should be aware of how the equipment will work for a specific shot.”

Wild Winter Driving
When you’re in charge of 18 wheels and you come upon snow and ice, driving isn’t fun any more. It’s work. Hard, intense and often dangerous work. So wouldn’t it be fun to look forward to hitting snow-covered routes because you are about to have a blast driving all over that nasty white stuff?

A day trip on a rented snowmobile could be the winter rush you are looking for.

With two rubber tracks and steering skis, a snowmobile is the perfect vehicle for a day out in the drifts. Snowmobiles are used for daily travel in the arctic and a few other areas, but there’s plenty of opportunities for “sled” enthusiasts to enjoy some spectacular recreational rides.

Although snowmobiles have come under criticism that they are less than gentle with the environment, recent developments in the two-stroke internal combustion engine and the creation of the four-stroke engine are creating a lower-impact snow vehicle.

The National Park Service regulates snowmobile operation in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, and all snowmobiles are required to meet NPS Best Available Technology requirements. Because high snowmobile activity can negatively impact an ecosystem, the NPS also regulates the level of snowmobile activity in designated areas.

Snowmobiling is a great way to spend an adventurous day alone or with the family, but safety is important before heading out on the slopes. As with any vehicle, alcohol and sleds do not mix. You’ll also need to wear insulated clothing, boots and gloves when riding, and most rental places include clothing in the rental package. Experts at rental places will provide further information before you hit the trails.

Snowmobiling is not a cheap activity, but rental packages that include the vehicle, clothing and multiple days of riding can ease the cost. Here’s some examples:

West Yellowstone, an area of Yellowstone National Park, is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the country. When the snow falls, travelers and tourists flock to the mountains to see the view and take a guided snowmobile tour. Miles of groomed trails in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, in addition to wildlife such as bald eagles, bison, elk, wolves and swans make the area irresistible for a snowmobile trip. For more information on snowmobile rentals in the area, log on to this site in West Yellowstone, Mont., or call (800)522-7802.

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