Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fishing Report for Wilson 7/18/14

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Disappointment. No other way to describe it. But, hey, that's fishing. 

I made the comment to a few people that I had Never lost out on a check on Wilson. Now, understand that is actually not a big number. I have only fished a few tournaments on Wilson, but when I have, I have usually been fairly unbeatable. In the dead of summer, I fully expect to weigh in 12 pounds. I have, on occasion, blown up the scales to the tune of 18 pounds, as we did in 2012

So, the Friday previous to our night tournament, I went out to check the few spots I have.  Sure enough, one of the two main spots I hit was loaded with fish. I didn't fish it too hard, just enough to prove that there were both numbers and size, and judging by the 5 pound smallie that smoked a top water plug and another 4 pounder or two that I shook off, they were there. You can read that *limited* story here

But, in the days leading up to the tournament, it was obvious that the weather wasn't going to be kind to us. It was a 100% chance of rain with the potential of serious weather. But the time Thursday rolled around, the thunderstorm chances had dropped, but not the potential for heavy rain. But, we had 7 boats lined up and ready to fish. I don't think any were excited to fish, but none of them wanted to be the boat to call it. 

Blast off was at 5:30 and Josh was to meet me at 3:30. But, traffic due to the rain slowed him up and we didn't leave Madison until 4-ish. We needed a few things, so we stopped in at West End Outdoors, just outside of Athens. On top of gas, ice, and snacks, we needed a few things: namely punching skirts. Well, I needed them, since Josh had taken me to school during the PEO Tournament on Wheeler, and the only difference between our baits was a punching skirt. Sure enough, they had a decent selection whereas every box store had never even heard of them. This place has everything. Everything. Even beer on tap. While I didn't sample any, I was amazed.

We showed up late to the ramp and everyone was gone. In a rush, we donned our full rain gear and dunked the boat. We had to make a short run to our spot, but that proved to take a little longer than expected due to the big rollers, massive wind gusts, and driving rain. Josh managed to get a video of what we had to deal with. In the mix, we buried the nose of the boat in a rogue 5 footer which scared us. It took a long time to get where we needed to go, and we didn't lift a rod until after 6. 

I went after the fish with the bait they had been killing the previous week, a Strike King series 3 in powder blue back. In the first 3 casts, I bagged two measuring fish and one drum.  Man, I love that crank.

But then the rain and wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and the fish quit biting. 

One thing that stayed active was the bilge pumps. And after they kicked on for the 4th time in 3o minutes. I broke down and asked Josh THE question. 

"Did you put the plug in when you took the straps off." He shot me a look of bewilderment. And then he cursed. 

I laid flat on the deck and reached under the boat. I could get my finger tips just over the vent for the livewell, but not far enough to reach the plug, even with my head under water. Since he is 3/4 a foot taller than me, I asked him to take a look. He managed to reach it, but it left both of us even wetter than we had been, which was impressive. I guess the wave over the bow had just dried off. 

The already limited sunlight started to fade when we abandoned the deeper spot and headed to flip grass. That had been the plan all along, but not until we had a limit. We had planned to either whack them on my spot or at least have a small limit when the sun went down, then we would move closer to the shore and flip standing grass for the bigger fish.

Josh quickly yanked a 2.5-3 pound fish out of the grass, but as it flew toward the boat, the fish came unbuttoned. It hit the boat and went right back in the drink. Josh was quickly able to flip up another decent fish, though smaller than the one he lost, getting us to 3 fish.  Other than the bream pounding my bait, I couldn't get a bass bite. Nothing new there. 

And then that bite died. 

It was 9 pm, the rain had been pounding us since we set foot out of the car. It had chilled off a good bit and we needed to get dry. My Frogg Toggs were drenched and had absorbed water. Additionally, the crotch of the pants had ripped at some point that day. We pulled into a boat dock, wrung out our wet cloths and pulled towels out of storage. At least we could get warm for awhile. In the meantime, we both played Clash of Clans on our iPhones. Eventually we got back on the water, but we knew we had to get desperate to find fish. I didn't have any faith that my spot would pump out enough fish to win at the rate we were getting bites. 

I though we needed to slow down, but the wind seemed to come from all directions, preventing us from being able to finesse fish. The only spot that I could think of was the 72 bridge in Shoals Creek. 

We started just north of the bridge, working around an old ramp and docks. We fished around them, then around an old houseboat. But, as we flipped around the bassboat, we became aware that there was actually someone in there. It was a lady, playing guitar and singing what sounded like Waylon. I was weirded out by hearing someone in such a decrepit houseboat singing the blues and I bet she was weirded out to look out the open window and see two faces just feet away. So, we moved on to the bridge. 

That seemed to be the right least for bites. I was throwing a shakey head with a PTL sick stick backer. I was getting consistent bites, but I wasn't setting the hook. We were sitting in 30 feet of water and casting to rock piles in 20 or so. The submerged fish were hitting it on the drop and running deep. So, as I pulled the slack from the cast in, it would take me several seconds to realize that a fish was on there. Most times, they would simply drop it. So, to keep them holding the bait long enough for me to figure out there were there, I doused each worm with PTL's Hog Tonic. That worked, but only marginally. Now, I at least would be able to get a hook in them. The problem was, they were already spitting out the worm when I set the hook. I would get a fish on, get them to the boat and as I boat flipped them, they would come on done. I must have had 3 in the air and on the way to the livewell before they went back into the water. I know for sure that I had at least 2 2+ pound fish to the boat.  I did manage to boat one of the 2 pounders, but it was too late. The bites dried up and the clock struck metaphorical midnight. But, the Sick Stick did what it was supposed to do....get bites!

We headed to weigh in early because the wind had picked way up and the wind was even choppier. 

After we saw 3 bags of limits get weighed, I didn't even bother to pull our fish out. It took 10.20 to win, backed up with 9.47 and 9.37 for 2nd and 3rd. Ironically, we were the only boat that wouldn't have weighed a limit. Hello eye-opener. 

I don't know why I was more upset with myself. It could be that I expected to hit another home run that night. Or it could be that we had enough fish AT THE BOAT to win despite having struck out entirely on my game plan. 

What can I say? Life is about humility. The only way to truly get better at things is to fail and learn FROM your failures. If you can't humble yourself, you can't learn. Well, I got a good dose of it! And rain. Far far far too much rain. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review for "Across the Universe" by Beth Revis

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"Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends--and planet--behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship. Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.

Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldest's rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship's cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again."

As I usually do I picked this book up used because of a combination of cover art and book description. Using Amazon, I found that it was rated 4-Stars out of over 450 reviews. 

You can find a full description of this book on Amazon by clicking this link

I just put this book down after finishing it, though I admit that it took me some time. It was a combination of several different typical sci-fi plots. There is very little action, though the book isn't slow, per se. There isn't any real dead periods in the book and each and every chapter gives a little more insight into the plot, though it is quick to give another plot hanger to make you keep reading. 

Though it is classified as Sci-Fi and its title suggest that it is about a trip across space, little of the plot truly revolves around any science fiction. Instead, it is actually a whodunit mystery that happens to take place on a ship traveling across the Universe. 

The book is narrated by two different characters: Amy and Elder. Considering that there are only 6 characters who have anything to do with the plot, it felt like the writer was giving a lot away by sharing both perspectives. Out of those 6, really only 3 of the characters are developed in any capacity. 

Though the writer tries to subtly give away hints throughout the book, the clues were fairly clumsy and I had the plot solved very early. At some points, I already knew what the next earth-shattering clue would be before it was ever given. So early that I thought "surely there would be a wild ending". But there wasn't. It was totally predictable and  I spent more time trying to figure out how I could be duped in some crazy plot twist on the next page than assuming I had it figured out. 

That isn't to say the book isn't worth reading nor that it was boring. Sadly, what kept me reading was the hope that I wasn't right in nailing the plot in the first 50 pages. It kept me excited enough to read it in its entirety, though I was totally let down in the end. Since half the battle is being entertained, I have to award it 2.5 Stars. 

Fishing Report for Wheeler 7/17/14

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"You didn't think we would actually cash two checks in back-to-back tournaments, did you?"

That pretty much summed up last night's wildcat tournament out of Ditto Landing. 

We decided to change some things up. First off, there has consistently been 3 and sometimes 4 other boats on the spot we really like to start off on.  And, since we hadn't really caught anything on that spot, we decided to try this other spot that we HAVE been catching fish on.

But, as we blasted off and ran to the spot, it was easy to see that there was ZERO current. We hadn't fished this spot without current. Additionally, the water was down several feet, which meant that the rock piles the fish were keyed on were now out of the water.

We started fishing and quickly caught 2 or 3 short fish. Mine came on a PTL Sick Stick.

But, it didn't produce a measuring fish after 30 minutes. When you have 3 hours to catch a limit, 30 minutes is a long time to waste on nothing. We jetted upriver to the Flint, where we fished a variety of depths and cover with a plethora of different baits.

While we burned water, Josh went to flipping wood. I didn't have a flipping stick with me, so I started flipping a shakey head on my sissy easy task. I flipped a sick stick into a lay down and got a heavy tap. I snatched the line and the fish wrapped around a submerged limb. We had no idea how big it was or WHAT it was, so we quickly set the trolling motor on high and positioned the boat over the lay down. I let the fish work itself free, which was the only option I really had on such light line. After it came free, it made several runs and I knew it wasn't a bass.

When it showed it's face, I contemplated cutting the line. But Josh said that we should get a picture of this rare beauty! It's not every day you catch a flat head!

Man, everything from flatheads to bream LOVE that sick stick!

After hitting every piece of wood, pushing out on the point, all without so much as a nibble, we ran to the point of Hobbs. We pulled up just in time to get into a gnarly school of white bass.  The water was exploding around us as they fed.

In the past, largemouth have frequently been mixed in with these guys, so we went to catching them.

Truth be told, we had little to no confidence that we would catch a largemouth, but it would make the evening a lot more enjoyable. So, we caught a good many of them before we moved on. 

By 730, we hadn't caught a measuring fish, though we had caught a good many short bass, white bass, and one big flat head.

We hit the rip rap outside of Ditto and managed to get one keeper in the boat along with 3 other short fish. We kept the small guy never know what may happen. 

Indeed, the streak of 4 fish winning the wildcat continues. There were 2 12 pound bags weighed in...and not much after that. The winning bag had a 5.5 largemouth in it...which is an absolute BEAST on that stretch. It was enough that the 4 fish with the kicker beat the 12.5 pound bag. The good news is, both the boats that won were dudes we enjoy talking to and are good peeps. So, congrats to them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

House of Cards

The Auburn Realist

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Ok Bama fans. As the Emperor would say: "Goooood. Goooood. Let the Hate flow through you."

TV ratings always need headlines. That's how to drive ratings. Every weekend during college football is the next best weekend ever. Each particular game will change the sport forever. After all, how can College Gameday continue to draw massive crowds? They have to convince the average fan that each weekend is more special than the next. That hype is particularly needed elsewhere in the country, but not necessarily in the SEC. The fans know how special each and every game is, which is why the largest stadiums in FBS are in the SEC and those stadiums are routinely full to capacity.

While this Iron Bowl is already being hyped as the most anticipated games in all of college football, and not just for 2014, the media will force feed fans headlines and shove locker hanging material down their throats until the game is actually settled.

This game could go either way, with surprises galore, but there is something that I want to address. It's a statement of FACT that the media LOVES to promote. They love to get fan bases primed for football to drive those ratings. They don't have to be right. They care very little about who wins. In the meantime, the media and prognosticators have all fed Alabama fans just what they needed to create a self-perpetuating monster. Everyone is blindly picking the Tide to win the 2014 Iron Bowl. Yes. Blindly.

There is something that the "new" modern age Alabama fan needs to get educated on. When it comes to the Iron Bowl, Bryant-Denny Stadium is a House of Cards. Right now, every delusional Tide fan out there wants to throw their nearest beverage at their screen, coffee, beer or otherwise. They are thinking, "What a preposterous thing to say! Bama OWNS teams inside of BDS, Auburn included!"

It's these fans that I want to talk to. To point at the facts. To point out that they are being duped by the media and each other.  Because they are also the same fans that only acknowledge the years of The Bear and Saban. It's those fans that went out and first spent their own money on Bama bumper stickers and houndstooth on February of 2008 when Julio Jones and his famed "best class ever" signed their LOI. They have spawned a whole generation of delusional fan.

These fans have "grown up" in a terrific era of Tide football, and there is no disputing that. Coach Saban has brought the Tide into a magnificent era of college football. The problem is, it has created a completely disillusioned fan base. These fans are completely out of touch with reality. All you had to do to understand this was to watch ESPN after the Sugar Bowl this year. Or listen to any given day of the Paul Finebaum show. These look at the 2-loss 2013 campaign as an utter failure, which is preposterous to even consider. These fans expect to destroy any and every team that the Tide plays. With their second string.

These fans expect Bama to do what they have ALWAYS done to Auburn at BDS.....annihilate them. Even some of the games great prognosticators have given the Tide a 7+ point OR BETTER spread in the 2014 Iron Bowl. Why? 'Cause Bama. In BDS.

But wait a minute. Let's get a little perspective.

For the most part, the Tide has been nearly unbeatable at BDS since Saban took the helm.


Let's recap, though...just for posterity.

Saban is 2-2 at home against Top 10 teams.

UGA, LSU(twice), LA-Monroe, Auburn, and Texas A&M have all beaten the Tide at home under Saban. So, a Saban coached team averages one home loss per year. That's far from the unbeatable facade that the media seems to push and the uneducated Bama fan swallows. I DO take that with a grain of salt. The Tide lost fully half of those games in Saban's first year. And, he inherited a bit of a trainwreck which he transformed into a powerhouse. But, stats are stats. And the stats say this: they average one a year and they didn't loose one last year.

What is Bama's record against Auburn at BDS? Do you know?


Two and Seven. Bama didn't score a POINT in the first 3 Iron Bowls in Tuscaloosa. They didn't win one until Saban came to town.

And, of course, my favorite stat: Saban has never beaten a ranked Auburn team. Ever.

It's no secret that things in Tuscaloosa changed when Saban became the head coach at Alabama. And, since Saban has become the Savior, Alabama has put down two epic sized beatdowns on Auburn in BDS. The stats also say this: Auburn has outscored Alabama at BDS 162-147. What's even more remarkable is that 85 of the Tide's 147 points scored at BDS EVER have come from 2 specific games. Those being the last year of Auburn's previous 2 coaches, Tommy Tuberville and Gene Chizik. Additionally, in both of these games, the Auburn team didn't score a point.

But, as fans from both sides of the aisle will say: "that was the past."

Why am I writing this article? The sports nut in me spends way too much time reading sports news, listening to radio shows, and watching ESPN. And though I go by the name "The Auburn Realist", the Auburn homer in me rebels at some of the drivel I keep hearing. Bama opens up as a 7-11 point favorite at BDS. Why? Is it talent?

I have no problem admitting that Alabama has the higher AVERAGE talent. I mean, you can go to any recruiting service and see that, if you buy into their spiel. If you couldn't tell, I said that with a HINT of sarcasm. Now, there is no doubt that a stout defense will be fielded by Saban. That's the hallmark of the era, but he once again has to replace several starters that left for the NFL, including Clintin-Dix, Mosely Sunseri, and several others. To me, what is the most bothersome (if I were a Tide fan) is that Saban finally fielded a defensive secondary that wasn't shaky. And now they are gone (except Collins, who played in place of an injured Sunseri). All of them. So, you have a Bama defense that will bring in another crop of youngin' on the back end to play against an Auburn team that can now THROW the ball, too? Gus Malzahn will bring one of the most talented offenses in college football to T-town, including his first time 2nd year starter in Nick Marshall.

Offensively, The Tide will also feature on offensive line that has repeatedly been refereed to by "experts" as one of the bottom units in the SEC, replacing several vacancies. Enter new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who will either melt down the offense, or turn it into a yard and point churning monster....before melting it down. Again, the point being that the Tide is far from invincible at home, especially in the Iron Bowl. It seems silly to me that a team whose Heir to the Game Manager Throne hasn't taken his first snap IN PRACTICE. And while everyone spouts that he took Winston to the wire for the starting job at FSU, Auburn fans will recall that Trotter to Cam Newton "to the wire" for the starting job, too.  Add into the mix an Auburn defense that HAS to be better...and WILL be better.

Sprinkle in 20,000 Auburn fans who are louder than the 80,000 other Alabama fans. And although it was hard to compete with all the huge TVs and flashing lights,  "Take the Money and Run" blaring, and the fake dollar bills with Cam's face on it, the Auburn fan base drowns out the home side.  Sound like a stretch? It isn't. I've been there.

It boils down to this. The common everyday Joe from the rest of the country may simply look at the schedule and circle Alabama because they are the home team in a rivalry game, and that would be ok. After all, no one outside of the State of Alabama cares what they think, anyway.  But to hear the snickers and sneers by Bama fans and even these prognosticators who think it's asinine to think Auburn has a chance to win, is just too much.

Even though many of these same people read this article, they still maintain their position and I won't change their mind. It occurred to me, just now, that perhaps that is for the best, all things considered. A history that isn't in favor and a rabid fan base who can't accept reality.

A House of Cards, just waiting to fall.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Firearms: Understanding the Performance of Your Rifle Through Trials and Tribulations

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Many times, we get so caught up in buying our toys and getting them out of the package to play that we don't pay attention to the fine details that really matter. It's no surprise that prepping has generally been all about more, bigger, and better firearms and ammunition. Yet, there is so much to be learned about the proper use and care of your firearms that becomes lost on the average person. Many times we buy the gun, we get it out of the package, throw all of our tacti-cool stuff on it, maybe shoot it a few times, and then we lay it in a closet without another thought. We check off the box for "protection" and move on. Yet, this is the piece of the puzzle that we rely upon to save our lives and protect our families and belongings. When the time comes, whether it's for protection or for providing, will you know how your rifle performs? Will you know how to care for it? Perhaps most importantly, have you ironed out all the potential problems that use in the field can throw at you? This is a complicated piece of equipment and the chances of you getting it all correct the first time through are very slim. Once you are in the field, trying to figure out why your rifle can't hit something you are aiming at is too late.

I am sure you have heard it said about your carry gun, usually some variation of: "Don't rely on it until you try it." What's that mean? Take it out shooting. Know how it performs. Learn how to compensate for it. Know what ammo it likes. Yet in the EOTWAWKI setting, the rifle is infinitely more useful and important, though much more complex to take care of and learn. The average person doesn't have a place where they can practice with a rifle, especially not at distances greater than 50 yards or so, making it hard to fully understand the performance of their life-saving tool. Luckily, millions of American's are hunters, so they have learned the ins and outs of setting up, maintaining, learning, and successfully operating their rifle. Even so, it has become obvious to me that using a rifle more than a few times a year is almost a necessity. There is only so much you can learn by shooting your rifle 5 times a year. Sometimes potential problems don't show up with 1 shot a year. I want to talk to you about a problem I have faced this year.

I don't remember if I addressed this a few weeks ago on my deer hunting post, but something had happened this year that had never happened before. On my first hunt of the year, I had a relatively long shot at a doe, who was walking across a field about 180 yards from me. I had a good rest and I took the shot, but nothing happened other than she scurried away.

I was pretty upset about it, not having missed a shot since my very first hunt when I was 13 years old. But the shot was fairly long and the deer was moving, so I just assumed that it was my time. A few days later, I was sitting in the exact same shooting house and the exact same deer came out. She walked the same path as the one days before, so I took aim and shot. And I shot again. And again. No luck.

At that point I knew something was wrong. How could I miss that many shots by that wide of a margin? Of course, that caused me to start thinking analytically on how the performance of my rifle could be degraded or at least affected by a handful of variables. It was amazing how many different things I could come up with that were all plausible. Perhaps the crosswind was too much. Maybe the change in ammunition had a greater effect than I thought. Had my gun been dropped at some point or the scope somehow been knocked? Any and all of these things were possible. There was only one thing to do: check out the "zero" on the gun.

Because my shoulder didn't need repetitive knocks, my dad took the gun and sited it in. He reported back that it was shooting 6 inches low at 60 yards, but it was fixed. Yet, the windage was excellent. I thought that was odd, but didn't really think about it too much. We just assumed that either the scope was knocked off or the change from a 160 grain to a 180 grain bullet accounted for the massive ballistics change. Either way, the gun was back on and I could go back to hunting.

I took it hunting the next day and had a fairly simple 75 yard shot, which resulted in a nice kill.

Just a few days later, I took the gun back out. Very close to dark, I was presented a shot. It was a decently long shot, and it was near dark but I took it. The deer had nearly no reaction to the shot other than to scamper a few yards closer to me. I took a second shot. The deer came even closer to me, just under 50 yards. I tried for a 3rd shot and missed again.

Frustrated as I have never been while hunting, I stormed home. When I got home, I took the gun inside and inspected it. That's when I noticed this:
Do you see that scrape just above the rings? Well, that brought back some memories. So, let's talk about them. Initially, I had a cheaper scope on this gun with a 30mm aperture, which limited my visibility in low light conditions. The scope also had cheaper rings on it, but they worked. After deer season last year, we swapped the old scope for a Nikon Monarch, but kept the old rings. After sighting it in, I did notice that the scope seemed to have slid "forward" in the rings. Actually, what happened was the momentum of the  gunshots had pushed the gun backwards and was unable to transfer the momentum to the scope, but slipped in the rings. But, the gun was sighted in so I tightened the ring bolts as tight as I could and went on about my life. The first time I fired it after sighting it in was the aforementioned miss you read about earlier.

Obviously, there was something that needed to be changed. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew I couldn't simply tighten down the screws on the rings anymore. In fact, not only was I worried that squeezing the tube could cause some sort of refraction or misalignment of the glass inside of the scope, but I was doubtful that I could even get the screws out without stripping them.

Indeed, that was the case. The more force I applied to the allen wrench to get the screws out, the more it looked like I would have to take drastic measures else the screws would just strip. So, I got creative. I used a C-clamp and compressed the edges of the rings in order to take the pressure off of the screws. They came out fairly easily.
When I inspected the inside of the rings and the outer diameter of the scope tube, it seemed that there was remnants of some sort of fluid. I figure it was either oil left over on the scope's packaging or perhaps some loctite from the installations of the screws. Additionally, I started thinking about why this scope was having problems but I never had any problems with the other scope. I thought about the installation of the scope itself.

I recalled that it was a cold day and I was in a hurry to get it installed and sighted in. I also recall that I didn't level the scope out entirely, which caused the crosshairs to not be quit flat. Is it possible that in my rush I had made a fundamental error? Perhaps I didn't sequence the tightening of the bolts properly? While the bolts would appear to be tight, the ring itself may not have had the proper contact patch from the uneven tightening. Perhaps it was simply because the rings themselves had form-fitted to a different scope that had, at best, the same dimensions but different tolerances. It could be that the scopes were entirely different sizes or shapes.

Regardless of the why and how, the fact is, the rifle was useless in this condition. After every other shot, the zero was completely lost. Like I stated above, it could be my own fault from a lack of attention to detail or it could have been bad luck. But, I was determined to crunch the variables this time around and ensure that this gun would become reliable. So, I bought new (and better) rings. I really wanted to go with a complete set of Leupold bases and rings, but unfortunately, they don't make a set that fits my Marlin and the Nikon scope. So, I had to use the bases that were on it plus adjustable Leupold rings.

I started out by wiping down the mating services with alcohol, removing any debris or fluids.  
 I then leveled up the rifle itself.
Then, after cleaning the scope and rings thoroughly, I placed the scope in the rings and leveled the scope in both directions. 

 Lastly, I placed the ring caps on the scope and tightened them down. First, I tightened them until they were snug, then I alternated tightening in 90 degree turns on each screw until they were tight.

Now, understand that there is a lot more that I could do to install this scope to even better standards. With a quick search, you can find all kinds of ways to properly install and site in a scope. However, I don't have the setup to do that, so this is the best I can do. Furthermore, this post isn't about teaching how to do what I have done so much as it is for you to learn that you can't learn much about a gun by throwing it in your Bug Out Bag. I am just as guilty as the next person. I built my Budget AR and have YET to fire it. I would go so far as to say that you don't know your gun by firing it 5 times a year. However, if that's what you are going to do, at least make sure that you site it in each year before you take it hunting the first time. 

Hopefully your luck will be better than mine, but there are other things to consider. Have you practiced with your gun with different types of ammunition? Like I alluded to earlier, I didn't think about the effects of going from 160 grain ammo to 180 grain ammo until it was too late. Ultimately, that wasn't why I missed the deer, but the bullet drop from 100 to 300 yards between the two are substantial. While ballistics charts are readily available and great, it isn't for your gun and for your situation. Plus, the experience stored in your mind will be a lot faster than digging out a ballistics chart. Additionally, there are the effects of windage, again, something that you can only understand by shooting your gun in that situation. Do you know the effect on your gun by taking repeated shots? Deer hunters rarely take more than 1 shot at a time, but in the event of taking consecutive shots, do you know how the warming of you gun will effect ballistics? What about problems during firing such as jamming? You may not know until you fire it in a rapid fire setting. Could you figure out how to solve it as we talked about in our Light Handgun Repair post?

So many variables to consider just with shooting. It's better that you have all the other ones crunched before you get into that situation. The fact is, had I not shot this gun and missed 7 shots this year, the mark on the scope wouldn't have shown up. Its perfectly plausible that, had I had shorter shots which would have been possible, I might not have made the connection for years. But, I pushed the gun to limits I hadn't done before and it showed me what needed to be done. I'm just glad it was deer hunting and not a situation with life and death hanging in the balance. Whether it's an AR-15 that you have laying in the closet for the EOTWAWKI or a deer rifle that gets shot once a year, make sure that you bring that gun out and do your due diligence whenever possible. Better to iron out your problems at the range than against a foe or starvation. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fishing Report for Wilson 7/11/14

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First off, I gotta say, it feels WEIRD to have a fishing report without any vids or pics. Just kidding, I have a selfie for you. If you are a Twitter person, I should say: #selfie
Now, go to Twitter and follow me @best5zach. Do it. Do it now.

Anyway, on to what you guys want to read about, right?  No pics. Just good info. Which isn't what I have been seeing in fishing reports lately...haha. I've been seeing a lot of guides posting pics of fish and they are wearing sweaters.......


So, I have all this vacation and sick time built up, and darn it if I didn't feel good Friday. In fact, despite having the boat hooked up and ready, I didn't roll out of bed until 7!

But, I did.

I dropped Gavin off, since my kids were still with my sister and brother in law and I hit highway 72. I had no idea which lake I wanted to fish, other than I wasn't going to Guntersville. And though Wheeler was a scant 30 minutes away and we (eerrrrr Josh) had success the last time we fished in Decatur, I decided that they SMART thing to do was to prefish for an upcoming tournament on Wilson.

And though the tournament is going to put in at Safety Harbor, I decided to put in down river at....that little bitty ramp on 72....whatever it's called.

I was in the water by 9 and the sun was already high. That was ok. I didn't plan on fishing as much as I did looking. After all, I hear that's how the pros do it. I'm certainly not trying to be a pro, but I do like to do well in tournaments, even if it means leaving the rods on the deck and staring at a screen.

The first spot I checked was a spot I found a few years ago, putting up 18+ pounds on my way to a win. While I have caught fish there since, it is usually easy to figure out if they are there or not. That is to say, you pull up and graph it. If you don't see any fish on these submerged rocks in 20 feet...don't bother.

And indeed I didn't see any fish on them. There was a TON of bait, however, which I attributed to the Super Moon we had. I mean, the bait was EVERYWHERE. As I drove in an S-pattern, looking with sidescan on my Humminbird 798, I happened to look up and see fish busting about 100 yards away on the next point. well, what fisherman can resist topwater action!

I fired up the big motor....just to get there in time for them to quit hitting. Ugh. Well, I decided that I would sit on the spot. If they started busting again, I would fish for them. In the mean time, I played with the Humminbird, dialing it in for Wilson, as each lake is different. You can read about how I did it here. It was interesting that it was THIS point that the fish were holding on. Initially, I first started fishing this area of the lake because of THIS point. The first time Josh and I ever fished Wilson, we had located this point inside of Shoals Creek (yes, I realize I just gave away a LITTLE info). After a few casts with a 6XD, I caught this really nice fish and we went on to cash a check. You can read that report for 2011 here.

Anyway, the fish weren't holding in the deep creek channel, they seemed to be really shallow, like 6 feet or less. They started busting again and I went after them with a Lucky Craft Sammy. I was getting a ton of hits, but none of them were really hooking up. At one point, a 5.5 pound small mouth came out of the water like a rocket, shooting so high I could see a foot of air between her back fin and the water, and knocked the bait in the air 10 feet. There might have been some expletives. Not confirming or denying that....

I admit that it took me too long to make a switch, but eventually I got tired of missing those fish and decided to throw something different. So, I threw a square billed crank and it paid off on the first two casts. I boated one nice fish, then had one throw it at the boat on the very next. The best hit I had all day came on the next cast, but the fish pulled off. I never saw it, but it fought like another smallie.

Then the fish quit hitting the crank OR the topwater. I broke out the sissy stick and managed to boat a 2 pounder, but the bite died down as the sun got high. The fish did get active several more times and I managed to catch several more fish, eventually enough to build a solid 15-17 pound sack. But, each time they started feeding, I caught fewer.

That was ok. I was prefishing, at least that's what I kept telling myself! I ran around to several other spots, eventually running from one dam to the other, and though I was graphing a LOT of fish, I never could get any to bite. So, I decided to just take pictures of the nice homes I could never have!

Anyway, I will report back on the tournament!

The Wright Time

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It was a strange and ballsy thing to do at the time. Nick Fairley was the newly christened Lombardi award winner and Auburn had won the National Championship only 2 weeks before, and Gabe Wright announced his intentions to play at Auburn.

It was great news to hear, since he was a 4-Star player, one of the top 150 high school players in the nation. He was a local kid from Columbus and coaches were high on him, and that meant something coming from coaches like Auburn great Tracey Rocker. And, as he donned an Auburn hat confirming his decision to play for the Tigers, the internet world was buzzing, but not because of where he decided to play, but because of what was on the back of the Auburn hat.
There were only a handful of ways to think, as a Auburn fan. Myself, I was awestruck at this incredulous display that this high school kid had just put on. Nick Fairley had become a generational player in only 14 games in an Auburn jersey. While Cam Newton would be credited with much of the National Championship, it was Fairley who provided nearly all of the high profile plays on a much maligned defense. Fairley, a national sensation because of his high motor and sometimes questionable play, had become an Auburn hero in his short time before becoming a top pick to the Detroit Lions.

I was a little embarrassed, to be honest. Not for myself, but for this kid. What a statement. The only thing that could have been any more outlandish would have been a kid like Kiehl Frazier to proclaim himself the next Cam Newton. I had no doubt this kid was a terrific athlete and I had even fewer doubts that he would make in impact in the Blue and Orange. But to label yourself as the next up-and-coming superstar on the defensive line at Auburn, who has produced some terrific NFL talent, was ludicrous. I figured he would be a good player, but one who would never amount to much. Especially considering  that this was the typical attitude that fans had begun to see running rampant through high school students. With recruiting becoming and evolving as it had in the last 10 years, far too many players were hyped up and fed lines proclaiming them the next big thing, which was detrimental to their development as players. Not only did it give them unrealistic expectations of themselves, what the game demanded, but just what being a student athlete would really demand. And here he was with this hat and even donning the #90!

The 2011 season rolled around and Gabe made good on some of his decree. He made the grades and the cut,  starting as a Freshman, something Fairley didn't do (at Auburn). He went on to play in all 13 games, record forced fumbles, tackles for losses, and ended the year with a sack against Virginia. An impressive start to a career!

After making an impact as a true freshman, his 2012 season was just like every one else on the squad: one he probably wishes he could forget. He started the last 5 games of the season, but had no sacks and only a few tackles for loss. As a fan who follows recruiting, tries to talk to all the players during Fan Day or A-Day, the results on the score board were certainly surprising, but so was the lack of #90's playing time. Even though I had certainly expected Wright to be cocky after his signing day drama, each time I met him, I never really got that impression. So, to see a kid who showed so much potential as a true freshman, who seemed to have his head on straight, to be limited in his production......was strange.

But then again, everything about 2012 was strange, wasn't it? At first it was easy to blame the players. About midseason, we started questioning the coaches. By the end of the season, we wondered how a coaching staff could possibly make ALL the wrong decisions.

Obviously I wasn't there. I haven't been to the first practice or meeting, so I can't judge WHY Gabe wasn't a bigger contributor. But he wasn't. And that was a surprise.

2013 started pretty slowly for Gabe. He didn't start the first few games, though he was in the rotation and making plays. With 2012 in the rear-view and the impressive haul of freshman talent, Gabe's disappearance as a junior might have been easy to dismiss. Adams and Co got off to a terrific start, as it were, and #90 might have fallen off the radar with some fans. But almost as soon as I noticed that he hadn't been starting, he exploded in the last 10 games. A player that had 5 career tackles-for-loss and two sacks had that same production in one game against Ole Miss. Down the stretch, Gabe's blue chip first move and speed started showing, and in spades. He ended the regular season with a sack against AJ McCarron in the Iron Bowl, which I thought was a pivotal play in the most important game played in our generation.

Those numbers aren't huge, by any stretch. Even in the comparison to Nick Fairley's one year at Auburn, Gabe's don't jump out and WOW you. But, it's easy to forget that the Auburn defensive front, even young in 2013, is one of the deepest and most talented in the country. It's easy to point at the 3.5 sacks and raise an eyebrow at why I am showcasing Gabe Wright with those "paltry" numbers. And while I would argue that he seemed unblockable at times, that his first step is unreal, and that he did well considering playing in a rotation that Fairley didn't have, I am not showcasing him for his past play on the field.

Gabe doesn't know me from anyone, but he is one of my favorite players because of his attitude off the field. He has one of the best and most genuine smiles I have ever seen, and he is always happy to show it off. Though he has shaken my hand at several A-Days and Fan Days, there is one event that comes to mind that make him one of my favorites.

After the Prayer in Jordan-Hare, we were celebrating at our tailgate on the corner of Plainsman Park and S Donahue. The music was loud and we were literally dancing in the streets. After an hour or so, after all the interviews are done, the players walk back to the Athletic Department. While I have little doubt that all of them are physically and emotionally drained, almost all of them would wave to us as we called their names and screamed as obsessed fans do. Some of them would exchange high-fives with us. In some cases, the players would get by us before we could get their attention. We didn't expect them to turn around. They have lives of their own, family and friends who are waiting. I don't expect special treatment from these guys, since we are "just fans."

With a towel over his head, the monstrous his flip flops....managed to get by me. Keep in mind that these guys don't have huge signs telling you who they are. You just have to recognize them. And, I recognized the player who once said "Nick Who." In a half-hearted attempt, I yelled at Gabe. I didn't expect him to hear. At most, I expected him to flash that famous smile and wave. But, turn around, he did. To my surprise, he turned around and looked at me. An impressive thing, really, since I am 5'3" and had to stand on the retaining wall for him to see. I yelled "Great game! War Eagle!" and he did something that I didn't expect. He turned around, walked back to me, shot me that smile, and gave me a high-five and "War Eagle."

A small gesture, I know. If he were to read this, he would probably laugh that a NASA engineer cared that much about a few words and a high-five, but it did.

Though I have that little story, which makes him one of my favorites, I am not writing about his simply because he once gave me 3 seconds of his life, or that he always Tweets me. No, I really think this is the Wright Time. He is on many preseason picks for annual award watch lists. Magazines and prognosticators like Phil Steel  have him penciled in for a 3.5 sack performance on his way to all-SEC honors. For example, Athlon and Phil Steele have him as a all-SEC second team while Lindy's has him as a 3rd team. He is on the Outland and Nagurski Trophy watch list. And while these magazines and such as usually the authorities on the subject, the fact is, they don't spend THAT much team breaking down each player.

But, I believe he belongs on those lists and I believe he will do a sight better than 2nd Team. I started believing in the Spring as I read articles and posts during the spring. #90 was emerging as a leader on this defense. His work ethic was inspiring, and in proof, a picture emerged of Gabe working out during Auburn's pro day, showing off a much improved physique.

Auburn fans began digging into this, finding out that Gabe's offseason workouts had caused him to shed pounds of fat and add pounds of muscle. The speed and quickness was up too, which was impressive. Most importantly, he was embracing his role as Leader. To confirm his attitude, an article showed up on showcasing his desire to be a leader and his work ethic. The punctuation comes this week as Gabe was brought to SEC Media Days as one of the 3 (and the only defender) Auburn players. I wasn't surprised in the slightest to hear that they well-spoken mountain of a man would represent Auburn.

Gabe has the opportunity to become a leader on a defense that MUST improve (and is expected to) in 2014 if the Tigers are to do something they haven't done since Dye.....back-to-back 10 win seasons and SEC Champs. Though the defensive front is deep with NFL-type talent, it is Gabe Wright that will emerge as the leader, both in stats and in stature. An improved secondary could provide him the precious seconds to make his senior season stats explode, possibly sending him to the NFL. Personally, I expect 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. And while numbers are just that, #90 will have a high one on my list of favorite players. Expect 2014 to be the Wright Time. Watch Gabe Wright make good on a promise from 2010 and become a force in the Auburn front 4. 

Read more about Gabe on his Auburn Profile!