Elettra back in training

Elettra happily resumed her treadmill workouts

Elettra happily resumed her treadmill workouts

After taking two years off to earn her Champion title in the show ring and bring two terrific litters of puppies into the world, Elettra resumed training for her life’s passion: hunting.

Elettra sits on the treadmill, looking forward to another workout.

Elettra sits on the treadmill, looking forward to another workout.

The first course of action is conditioning and since Saturday’s temperatures were in the upper 80s to low 90s, it was too hot for any outdoor aerobics. Which meant that everyone got a light session on the treadmill, and Elettra climbed aboard as though it had been her regular routine for the past two years.

Chow hounds

Chow hounds

In fact, I lost her later that afternoon and after searching, found her sitting on the treadmill patiently waiting for another session. Much to her dismay, once a day is enough.

Doc, Elettra, Elvis, Dakota, Mia and Sophie enjoy an afternoon run

Doc, Elettra, Elvis, Dakota, Mia and Sophie enjoy an afternoon run

Sunday’s temperatures were at least 20 degrees cooler so we took everyone for an afternoon fun run. They enjoyed the free time although Sophie was stiff afterwards, so we gave her some alfalfa pills which was a big help.

An expensive opening day

Doc and Mia work a hillside during opening day of partridge and sage hen season.

Doc and Mia work a hillside during opening day of partridge and sage hen season.

Saturday was opening day for partridge and sage hen season and while some hunters were successful, I was in the category of those who weren’t.

To begin with, I lost my Garmin Astro GPS handheld device within the first hour of hunting. It must not have had it clipped securely because when I went to check it, it was gone. I retraced my route but with the lava formations and sage brush, finding it would be next to impossible.

Since I was focused on finding my GPS, I wasn’t paying any attention to Doc and Mia and as a result, I flushed a big sage grouse rooster. Not being in a position to shoot, I could only watch it fly off.

I gave up on finding the GPS and we hunted a couple more hours without seeing any sign of birds. Then upon returning to the truck, I discovered the truck had a flat tire and what should have been a simple 10-minute job ended up taking over an hour. The mechanism used to lower the spare tire from under the truck bed was in the wrong position for me to insert the crank handle and lower it.

After trying a variety of methods to lower it, I eventually put the tire iron between the bumper and tail gate and put pressure on it. This created enough space between them to fully insert the crank handle and lower the spare tire. Since I didn’t want to be driving around on the desert without another spare tire, I called it a day.

On the bright side, the guys must be gaining experience in desert hunting because I didn’t have many cactus thorns to pull out of their feet and legs.

Making a gun stock extension

After a couple of sessions on the trap range where I haven’t been able to hit even 10 out of 25 clay pigeons, a couple of trap shooters and I did some measurements and sure enough, the stocks were too short. The difference between now and last year is that I dropped a few pounds, nothing real significant but enough that the guns no longer fit well.

Recoil pads weren’t enough to make up the difference and I couldn’t find any gun stock extensions that would work for me, so I made my own.

The butt plate provided the template for the extension

The butt plate provided the template for the extension

These extensions are only temporary, and after hunting season ends I’ll buy some wood and make new gun stocks. In the meantime, I bought a block of wood at the hardware store and used the butt plates as templates.

clamping the extension for more shaping

clamping the extension for more shaping

I used hand tools and a clamping device I had designed for carving suiseki bases; the clamp works well but needs improvements.

The gun stock extension almost ready for sanding

The gun stock extension almost ready for sanding

After roughing out the shapes with a crosscut saw, I trimmed the edges with a coping saw, then shaped it with a rasp.

checking the shape with the butt plate

checking the shape with the butt plate

At that point I attached it to my gun stock for fit, did a little more shaping, and then sanded it with an electric sander.

final check

final check

Once I was satisfied with that, I stained it and finally applied several coats of clear lacquer to protect the wood. The gun now fits perfectly, but the proof test will come from bird hunting.

Extension is completed and ready to try

Extension is completed and ready to try