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Hunting 2019
#1
Thought I would begin the hunting thread for 2019.  I did my first scouting of the property this past weekend and checked the game cameras.

Primarily I went up to sight in a new AR upper I built in 450 Bushmaster.   I am a big believer in big bores on deer having hunted the last three years with rifles in 44 mag. Am 3 for 3 in one shot kills.  So I wanted to try the 450 but didn't want to pay the freight for an expensive AR. My God daughter's husband brought up a Ruger American bolt gun in 450  last year but didn't get anything. I was intrigued with the 450s ballistics. 45 caliber, 250 gr bullet at a MV of 2200 FPS and 2700 foot lbs/energy. That's comparable to a 45-70 Gov. Yeah, that should do nicely.

 I would have bought a Ruger ($400-500) if I hadn't found a 450 barrel on sale at Bear Creak Arsenal for $60.  I had enough parts on hand to build an upper so I went that way instead. It seemed to be a inexpensive way in. $60 for the barrel, $65 for the bolt head. Most of the other parts I already had but ended up buying another free float hand guard for $40 and the upper receiver was $40 which I already had. The whole project set me back $220 including the muzzle comp but not counting the lower. You can use any AR lower of which I have 6 or 7 various kinds.

I had all the parts together but it needed a bolt head. 450 Bolt/carrier combinations are expensive ($85-120) so trying to find a place to sell just the bolt head, which will fit any carrier was difficult.  I finally found one last week for $65.  Thinking I would like to carry a lightweight AR for hunting I put the upper on a Cav Arms lower. The Cav Arms is a once piece molded polymer lower that is very lightweight. The particular Cav Arms lower I used was built to be an ultra light. With polymer internal parts, light weight buffer and spring.

Notice that there is no ejection port cover or forward assist on the upper. I used an Anderson Sporter upper from Aim Surplus. IMO modern ARs don't need a forward assist (i.e, jam button) and the port cover is equally superfluous.  The 16" barrel however is free floated.

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Now to feed the beast. The good news is that you don't need special magazines.  You have to simply replace the followers in a standard AR mag and be good to go. Since there is a 5 round mag limit for hunting in my state, using a standard 20 round mag with a 450 follower holds 5 rounds. I was in a conversation with a guy named Marco in a thread on the 450 on Glock Talk and Marco sent me a pair of followers for free. Apparently he is affiliated with a business. Followers are normally $7 or $8 on ebay.

The difference between the followers are apparent. The 5.56 followers (on right) allows double stacking. The 450 only allows single stacking in the mag.

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My trip to the hunting property was primarily to function test the upper and mags. I mounted a cheap 5x scope and set up at 25 yards.

Unfortunately I didn't plan very well and was forced to buy ammo at the local sports shop. 450 ammo runs about $1.50/round. A box of 20 runs about $30 though I've since seen it for around $24 if you shop around.

It took 3 shots to zero the scope. I then began a new group. First shot was in the X ring. Second shot was touching in the 10 ring about 1 o'clock. 3 shot was in the 9 ring about 1 o'clock. By then I was flinching real bad due to the heavy recoil. Shots 4 & 5 were out at 10 & 11 o'clock.  The recoil on this very light weight rifle was brutal, i.e, very unpleasant.  I stopped shooting after that group. Couldn't see wasting anymore expensive ammo.  I'm not proud of that group but it is what it is.

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The mistake was using the light weight lower with a light weight spring and buffer. Not sure it will even hold up under prolonged use. Not going to use it anymore. Looking back on it I am lucky it didn't come apart in my hands. I have a full length A2 Rifle which I could use the lower off of. It's a pound or two heavier than the Cav Arms.  I'm also going to mount a different scope on it and take it back to sight in. Should be a bit more pleasant to shoot then.

This rifle will strictly be used for hunting. I'm looking forward to rifle season to see what the 450 will do on deer.

Edited to add...When I returned home I checked out the cheap chinese scope I had mounted on it. The rear lens was shattered. I don't know if I dropped it, banged it on something or the recoil did it. I've since ordered and received a 2-7x Vortex scope which I've mounted for the next trip to the property to sight it in. I will be shooting it with a full stocked AR lower taken off my target rifle.
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#2
As I mentioned I checked the trail cameras. Starting to see some small bucks.

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And some bigger ones

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The bears are back...

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And coyotes

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And even a bobcat hiding in the shadows

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#3
I put a new scope on the 450, a Vortex Crossfire 2-7x and mounted the upper on a regular A2 lower. I took it north last weekend and sighted it in. It still kicks like a beast but my groups shrank considerably and the scope held together (so far). I was using Winchester 250 gr. "Deer Season" XTs. I didn't get a chance to chronograph them. I did just buy some Hornady 250 gr XTPs which I will try out. Going to take my chronograph up tomorrow and see what I get out of the 16" bbl.

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450 ammo ain't cheap, usually about $1.50/round. I found a local guy who bought a case at a discount and was selling off his extra boxes at cost. I bought three boxes for $23/box. I have reloading dies for the 450 and will probably reload for it now that I have some once fired brass. Frankly though, 3 boxes will probably last me the rest of my life since all I am going to do with it is hunt. This is not a gun you take out and shoot for fun.

Archery/bow season starts next Tuesday (Oct 1) so I need to drag my crossbow out and zero it in with the new scope I bought for it at the end of last season.

On my way north tomorrow for a couple days to do some scouting and sighting in. I also bought a new pair of Nikon Prostaff 7s 10x42 binoculars. I have a couple pair of cheap ones but I noticed looking through them for very long really strains the eyes. I spend a lot of time scouting the food plot so I figured a good pair of binocs would be worth it. Not to mention we will be traveling to exotic lands (Iceland and Greenland) next year on vacation where they will come in handy. Get to try them out tomorrow.
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#4
I'm back from my cabin int he woods. I've got good news and bad news....

First the good news...

I shot the 450 with the Hornady FTX loads. It is very accurate. One ragged hole at 50 yards.

Now the bad news, I shot and killed the chronograph on the very first shot. I forgot the tripod I usually mount it on and used a small table instead. I shot from a lawn chair using a set of shooting sticks (bipod) about 10 feet behind it. I didn't realize the table was on a slight rise between me and the target. The scope is mounted 3" above the bore. Didn't see the chrono through the scope. Ka-pow, it went flying on the first shot.

More good news...I mounted a new scope on my crossbow and it continues to amaze me how accurate it is out to 30 or 40 yards. Should be good to go for next Tuesday's archery opener.

Sat out in my tree blind on Thursday night with my new binoculars. Had three big Tom turkeys come out and stroll across the field. It's actually fall Turkey season in Michigan but I didn't draw a license this year. Limited licenses are available in my county. Bummer. Also saw a porcupine in the woods waddling around. About 7:20 a small buck, one of the three pointers I've been seeing on the trail cameras, came out at the far end of the field. He was followed about 10 minutes later by a doe. I watched them feed until dark.

View from my tree stand. It's actually on the trail leading from right to left to the food plot. There is a doe just above the branch in the middle of this cell phone photo.

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Zoomed in cell phone photo of the turkeys...

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Those white stakes are yardage markers.
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#5
I went up bow hunting last Wed-Fri (had a college football game to attend on Sat). After seeing plenty of deer through out Sept I didn't see a thing in three days. It was cold (40's) and raining the whole time.

As I was heading home after dark on Fri night I hit a small buck with my truck. I wasn't going very fast and didn't hit him very hard but it did break three ribs on the grill of the truck.

Taking care of my dad on Tues/Wed this week but will be heading up Wed afternoon through Friday to try again.
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#6
just got home from bow hunting the last couple days. Weather was in the 60's during the day. Colors are changing quickly. A couple does came out into the field at dusk last night but never came close enough to shoot. I had the bigger one all picked out. Oh well.

I did literally run into the bear cubs I got photos of in the spring. Turned the corner on the trail yesterday morning at around 9 am and there they were coming my way no more than 20 feet away. I froze but they skedaddled pretty quickly. Fortunately mamma bear wasn't with them. They've gotten pretty big over the summer. First time in the 24 years I've had the property that I've seen bears in person.
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#7
I'm always amazed by the trail cams!
Governmental dependance makes for poor self reliance.

"What could possibly go wrong with a duct tape boat?"  Cody Lundin

The best defense against evil men are good men with violent skill sets.
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#8
Just spent the last 5 days up at the property hunting. Fall is in full swing here. The colors are about 90-95%.

It was cold (29 degrees) when I got up Friday morning but it soon warmed up into the 50's during the day. I hunted in the morning but spent the rest of the day clearing a trail back to the ridge where I was going to put up a platform stand. The trail was just barely wide enough for an ATV, I needed it wide enough for my truck. After cutting hundreds of saplings (mostly Poplar) and taking out three stumps I was able to get back to the top of the ridge in my truck. Took me a day and a half. I finished up about noon on Saturday.

I sat out that evening in ladder stand on the big food plot and the colors were gorgeous.

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On Saturday after clearing most of the trail my wife and daughter showed around noon up to see the colors and walk in the woods. They left about 4. I went out hunting.

On Friday night when I was sitting in the ladder stand a couple deer came out near my ground blind so on Saturday I sat in the ground blind. Sure enough three deer came out right under the ladder stand, then two more came out, then three more.

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Only a couple little ones who were with their mother came close enough to shoot. I didn't shoot. The white stake is 25 yards from the blind. 35 yards is about the maximum accuracy range of the crossbow.

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It was only in the 40s that night. So I got up early on Sunday and started building the platform stand I got from Sportsmans Guide. It is 7' tall. I had bought plywood to make a box for the top and cut and painted all the pieces at home. They were designed to fit together with corner brackets and be bolted to the metal stand. The metal stand was fairly easy to bolt together and was light enough to tip up by myself. The box on top was 4' square with one side being 7' tall and the opposite wall being 5' tall. I'm 6'2" and like to stand up and stretch so I need the roof high enough to do that and have a steep enough pitch to shed snow. Seven feet sown to five gives me that.

Getting the walls up 7' proved to be a challenge by myself. After dropping the first wall multiple times I finally used my articulating ladder to hold the wall in place vertically while I scrambled up inside to bolt it down. I set the wall on the platform, then leaned it against the ladder while bolting the bottom to the platform.

It's shown resting on the floor hatch in this photo.
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Once I got the side wall and 5' wall up I had the corners on them bolted together which kept them from falling over. The 7 footer was the third wall up and the most difficult to handle but I eventually got her in.

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I then had to figure out how to get the roof on. Entry into the blind is through a small trap door so I couldn't take it up through. Being by myself there was no way to carry it up the ladder particularly since the top of the 7' wall was 14' off the ground and I only had a 12' ladder. I decided to put the roof on with three walls up. That way I lifed the roof up onto the platform then stand on the platform and put roof in place. After that I put the forth wall up. That proved to be the right way. And yes the roof sags in the middle but I later put a cross brace running from front to back to hold the sag, not to mention the fourth wall.

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I eventually got the forth wall up and everything secured. Only thing left to do is to cut the windows (will do that when I get the right chair height), calk the gaps and install the floor. They recommend screw in anchors but I only had stakes. It is pretty top heavy and could blow over. In addition to the stakes I tied some ropes to secure it to the surrounding trees until I can get the screw in anchors.

It's up!. Disregard the lame attempt at camo.

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It actually got up to 65 degrees during the day with a bright blue sky. It was beautiful out in the woods. I started at 8 am and finished at 5:30. I was so tired I had a hard time staying awake in my deer blind that evening until dark. Didn't see anything.

I'd been wanting to put an elevated blind on that hill for 10 years. There is a deep ravine in front of it (the high side) where the deer move from a cedar swamp to the beaver pond so I needed it high enough to see the stream at the bottom of the ravine. To the right is a point that leads down to an old beaver pond. On the left is the top of the ridge that runs along the cedar swamp. The back (or front depending on which way you sit) looks down the hill and the now wide trail leading up to it. I've taken deer from that spot in the past since the deer also move through the low spot along the trail. The hill currently is pretty thick with poplar saplings but they can be cut down over the next couple years to clear shooting lanes.
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