Memorial Day found my son Ben and I in the Outbacks of Oregon looking for rockchucks whom Ben lovingly refers to as "Charles" on an individual basis. The sunshine, blue sky, rock piles and canyons lent themselves to a great day in the field. The lack of wind made the conditions good to "Go long" on the rockchuck population. So, "Game On", as they say!
Since we had most of the day, we tried to stay focused on making it to a remote canyon we shot a couple of years ago. We began to see rockchucks even before we made it to the canyon encountering a couple on the near side of a large basin we crossed heading towards our planned parking place. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth we decided to set up firing back across the basin before walking down the canyon rim.
This spring has been a good kind of busy taking many people on sagerat hunts but it hasn't left much time for rockchucks. This would be only the second time Verminator2 and I shot chucks together this year. We've learned to conserve our rockchuck colonies by restraining ourselvs to 1000 yard shots until latter May to let the little ones have a chance to make it on their own. Besides that, we just enjoy the challenge of hitting a football sized target at over a half mile. This year, however, had not yet resulted in any confirmed kills over 1000 yards so Ben and I were still itching to make a 1000 yard kill.
Setting up across the basin from the first rockchuck we spotted gave us a reading of 1053 from the Vectronix PLRF05 rangefinder. Ben's initial shot was close enough to scare it off. The next volunteer came at 1035 yards. Ben's first shot was barely under him but he was back up a few minutes later and the adjustment was perfect and Charles (Charlene? I didn't check.) gave his life to become our first 1000+ yard rockchuck of the year with a 1033 yard kill from Ben's .243AI.
My 1000 yard attempts didn't pan out quite as well. We thought I may have had another hit in the 1050 yard range but--No body, No count--we couldn't find the 'chuck. I settled for a 778 yard kill as the second rockchuck gave it's life and we continued down the canyon to our original destination. Ben put a chip shot on a medium sized chuck at 289 yards. I had another cross canyon shot at 683 but with the inconsistent breeze up the canyon, it took my fourth round before I connected and he did the "Cowboy Fall" off the rim.
The rockchucks weren't as numerous as we hoped. I was about to try a 1087 yard shot on a head-and-chest shot (Ben thought I was a little optimistic trying to shoot one in the face at 1000+ but if I wasn't somewhat optimistic, I wouldn't even pull the trigger on one that far away!) but before I could get lined up, Verminator2 almost shouts that a coyote just picked up his 289 yard rockchuck and was packing it off! We decided that it was bad form and Ben, who needs little excuse to shoot a coyote "out of season", gets his gun turned as the coyote packs his rockchuck into the shade of a juniper tree to dine on what he thought was his good forune. Parts of the coyote were visible as he was moving around behind the branches but there was no shot so we waited him out while Ben speculated as to just how long it takes for a coyote to consume a full-sized rockchuck. (The biologist in him coming out, I guess.
) The coyote eventually moved out from behind the tree as he finished his last meal and he died with a 338 yard shoulder shot--his belly full of rockchuck.
The canyon we shot is pretty much impassable so we have no photos of the third and fourth chucks nor of the hapless coyote but it made for a memorable trip. Here is a photo of my 778 yard rockchuck.
My 1087 yarder never showed back up so we headed back for the truck and went to retrieve our long range rockchucks. I then spent some fun but unproductive time looking for my first 1000+ yarder of the year. Several shots from 1080 to 1333 resulted in some close calls but no dead rockchucks and we called it a day.
Ben and I would like to dedicate this short story to Charles who gave his life for our right to have a great day in God's creation.
And, in all seriousness, thank you to those who have served our country preserving this great nation and all the freedoms we hold dear. The sacrifices of you and your families are not forgotten!!