How to screw up scope mounting and therefore your hunt
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I just picked up a new, used rifle the other day.  I was at a popular sporting goods retailer in our region and there was a very, very clean Weatherby Vanguard in .300 WSM with a Nikon Buckmasters 3-9x BDC scope for a steal of a deal. It was marked down $100 from an already-decent price, so it had to come home with me.

Now, perhaps since I am not the trusting type, I did not just bring the rifle home and put it in my safe to be pulled out five days before a hunt.  After once watching a sales associate at the same chain of stores once begin mounting a scope with the turrets turned 90 degrees before he was corrected, I always assume that whoever previously mounted a scope on a rifle with which I am unfamiliar did not know what he or she was doing.

My new rifle confirmed that fact.  I noticed when I was buying it that the only flaw was a mark on the front ring, extending to a scratch on the base.  Since it had Leupold rings on it, I assumed that the previous owner had trouble turning the front ring into the base.  (Tip on installing Leupold mounting systems: get a 1″ piece of steel or aluminum round bar, or at the very least a dowel.  Screw the ring down tight on it and use it to turn the front ring into the base. It’s what the pros do.)

Of course, I didn’t stop there.  I dismounted the entire ring/base assembly and I found something interesting.  The front screw on the rear base was completely stripped and not holding the front of the base down to the gun at all.  The culprit?  The previous owner had used the wrong screws in the wrong places.  In this particular installation, two longer screws are used in the front base, and two shorter screws are used in the rear base.  He had used a long screw in the front of the rear base and probably gorilla-cranked it when it stopped turning, thus stripping all of the threads off and creating a situation where I doubt the rifle shot very well.  Luckily my gun parts box produced the proper Torx head screw and the problem was quickly remedied.

Among other things, the illustrious previous owner had also used red Loctite on all of the screws (always use blue) and had also mounted the scope extremely far back on the gun for my liking, especially on a harder-recoiling rifle.

I think out there somewhere is a man with a black eye who is running around telling all of his friends that Weatherby Vanguards don’t shoot worth a darn, who is out about four hundred bucks because he paid way too much for the gun that he screwed up and took a bath on trading in on a horribly over-priced model from a different manufacturer.  I hope he’s not too bitter that I’m working up a really good 1/2 moa load for his gun and that I bought it for about half the price he probably paid for the package.

Small boat cover support DIY
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In the interest of inspiring ideas in others, I thought I would post pictures of one of my spring projects–making a boat cover support for my Sea Nymph 14R.  We have been getting a LOT of rain here in North Dakota this spring, so it was a timely project.

Here goes:

All of the pieces were glued together from 1/2″ PVC pipe and fittings, with a slight mod to allow the middle pieces on the right and left to slide into the oarlocks using 1/2″ CPVC which I elegantly taped together since it didn’t glue up well to the white PVC.

I built it to break down into three pieces for easier storage when it’s not on the boat, so I simply didn’t glue a couple of the joints where the pipes meet in the middle of the boat.  It is made to make use of a little bit of tension to bow the spine along the length of the boat.

Rather than provide too many specifics, these pics should be enough to inspire you to build a setup that will work for your boat.  I used tees on the bottom of the legs so that there would be  a good “foot” for each leg, but there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.

Build your own picnic table
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I just finished building a picnic table from plans available at Home Depot online.  I love the design, and it turned out better than I thought. Home Depot in my area sells a kit for more money than I paid for the materials to build this design (about $125 including finish and fasteners), and it is far inferior.  It saves time to have all the pieces pre-cut, but doing it this way I was able to pick and choose my lumber, and include some neat design features such as the radius at each end of the table and the benches.  If you have a miter saw, a jigsaw, and a drill or screw gun this is a very easy project to build.

Below are the results.  The first photo is after only one coat of stain.  I used three coats of Cabot Australian Timber Oil in the Jarrah Brown color. Applying thin coats and rubbing them out with a rag is key to the process.  Although it is meant for exotic woods, it worked well on the pine boards I purchased at Home Depot for the project.  You can see by the water beading in the second photo (after three coats) that the combination worked rather well.

Gear Review: Gerber FIT Tool
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I must admit to being a gadget guy.  Whether it’s rigging my walleye boat or my kayak, setting up my Mathews bow or getting ready for a Boundary Waters trip, I love the tools that get the job done.  But I don’t like gadgets just for the sake of gadgets.  They have to serve a purpose and accomplish that purpose admirably.  Some of the gadgets that I have carried consistently through the years on adventures have included a well-worn Spyderco VG-10 Delica, a Leatherman Crunch multitool, and a Pelican flashlight.

When I got the chance through the Outdoor Blogger Network to review a multitool, I thought, “Great!  I’m just the guy for this.” Then I saw the Gerber FIT tool in question and I was admittedly a bit disappointed, because it didn’t meet my idea of a multitool with pliers, such as the aforementioned Leatherman.  Here was a lighter-duty tool with a large Swiss Army-style blade, scissors, and a flashlight.  My first impression of it when I received it was that it was a bit large for the keychain-type tool I had sort of stereotyped it as.  The flashlight was very bright, with easy battery replacement.  The rest of the tool appeared to have the usual Gerber quality, but I was still a bit unsure as to what I would use it for.

Then I threw it in my bass tackle bag and took it fishing.  The knife blade and scissors handled whatever line cutting needed to be done, and the flashlight came in handy when inspecting kayak storage wells for gathering up my gear in late evening.  At first I thought the size was a little bit big for the kind of tool it is, but the size turned out to be an advantage, along with the locking blade and screwdriver.

To run through the features, it has about a half-inch diameter LED flashlight powered by a triple-A battery.  The switch allows for temporary or constant lighting.  The knife blade is thin and sharp out of the box, although it is more substantial than the average Swiss Army style blade.  It is hollow-ground with about an inch of serration at the base.  My biggest complaint about the entire tool is that the nail nick on the blade is very close to the base (or the pivot point), which means it takes more effort to get the knife out.  It is also relatively buried in the tool, so if you have trimmed fingernails, it can require some wrangling to get the blade out.  It is definitely not a one-hand deploying blade.

The best feature of the tool is the screwdriver bit holder, which takes standard interchangeable hex bits and includes  a double-ended Philips/straight slot bit.  It also has a bottle opener at its base.  This tool locks with the same mechanism as the knife blade, making it quite useful and stout.  There are also two smaller screwdriver bits buried at the other end of the tool, with a less-than-ideal tab for helping them swing out. I’m assuming that all of these features loosen up as the tool wears in.

On the side opposite the knife blade, there is a scissors that folds across the length of the tool. It is very rudimentary, but sharp and useful compared to many of the Swiss Army style scissors I have encountered.

Finally, there is a tweezers on one end of the tool that slides in Swiss Army-style.  If I ever am in need of tweezers when I am in possession of this tool, I am sure I will be glad they are there.

Overall, the Gerber FIT Tool is typical Gerber quality, with a good flashlight, an excellent screwdriver feature, and a decent locking blade.  It does not have a pocket clip or case, so is best used as a tackle-box tool, purse accessory, or maybe a pocket tool if you have big pockets.  For a tool its size, I would rather have pliers than a scissors, but keep in mind the battery for the flashlight is a full triple-A and not one of those wimpy hearing aid batteries.  Having a good flashlight takes up space, and I’m guessing the designers chose the flashlight as one of their priority options along with the screwdriver.

Below you can see a comparison of the FIT tool with my Leatherman Crunch and CRKT Zilla Jr. Tool for size and feature comparisons.

Disclaimer: I received the Gerber FIT tool mentioned in this post free of charge for review. No other compensation was paid in exchange for the review.  The opinions expressed in this post are my honest, independent thoughts and experiences.

Frabill nets the best hoodie ever
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One doesn’t normally associate a company like Frabill, famous for its nets and ice fishing shacks, with clothing, but I think after this year things may change.  The Frabill FXE Stormsuit looks like one heck of a piece of raingear and has been promoted heavily in commercials by the likes of Al Lindner, so I’m guessing it will take off.  The object of my discussion here, though, is the Frabill hooded sweatshirt.

Hooded sweatshirt? Isn’t that the garment all of us own, but much of the time find on the clearance rack at Walmart?  Not anymore for me.  Frabill has come up with the perfect hooded sweatshirt.

How do you improve on an old classic like the hoodie?  Well, you put a six inch zipper at the top so you can avoid bunching it up around your neck, and you include a nifty pocket inside the pocket with a velcro closure, so your cell phone or keys or whatever else you might be carrying doesn’t fall out.  Then you leave the rest of it alone.

I got mine for 35 bucks on sale at Fleet Farm. Heck of a deal.  I’m not sure I wouldn’t pay the full $49.99 price tag when I need to replace it, but I’m hoping they have a sale when the time comes.

Happy hoodies!

Infolinks 2013