Friday, January 4, 2008

Operation Clay Pigeon Liberation -- continued Walla Walla report

So, the day before I was to leave Walla Walla, the circumstances were right for Stu and I to head out and do some shooting. We were sent on a wild goose chase by a forest service employee first off, but in the process saw a pretty little wildlife area not 20 minutes from the house. We then drove rural roads that poked up into the foothills all around, in search of an established shooting area -- normally a quarry or hillside with a good turnout, littered with bulletholes and some spent targets.

Although we saw lots of land, some great vistas of the valley where Walla Walla rests, horses, deer and pheasants -- we didn't see good shooting areas anywhere. Stu and I are crippled by a conscience, so won't just shoot just anywhere. Although we knew we'd be picking up every shell spent, there is no picking up clay pigeon shards -- so the area had to be established as a shooting area or we wouldn't use it. We did see the characteristic bulldozings of a mini housing development right in the middle of some prime agricultural land that was quite tempting. They were trashing the place anyway, and all the soil would soon be covered with insta-lawn -- but we drove on.

Eventually, after driving many country roads lined with farms and wheat fields, we decided to follow the Touchet river.
That was a dandy decision in and of itself, because the valley was really beautiful, with foothills on either side, occasional outcrops of basalt, and lots of agricultural land following the river bottom. The whole river had riparian restoration work running down both sides all the way up the valley. I've seen more riparian habitat restoration on this short trip than I've seen in months.

As a side note, outside while I type this, the wind is absolutely furious. A dust cloud has just moved in and darkened the sky, and substantial debris is flying by the office window. It's impressive, going to be an interesting drive home.

Back to clay pigeons. As we were driving and oogling over the dandy brown trout and steelhead water, the perfect agricultural and scrub mix for pheasants and quail, we came upon a gravel quarry. I pulled into it, and at first it looked too clean to be a shooting area, but then we saw a pile of clay pigeons. That was the sign. We had finally found our elusive shooting spot.

We set up and each had a turn shooting while the other threw targets -- but to be honest I did the lion's share of the shooting. This was my first time and I was excited to try it out. I want to be a serviceable shooter with the old school double barrel guns I inherited from my grandfather. He would appreciate that -- wingshooting was a skill that all the men in my family had just one generation back, and one I sorely lacked.

In the end, over 8 dozen clay pigeons were released into the wild, with only one dying of anything but natural causes. Only 1 in 100 died a violent death. We laughed over our record, and decided that we needed to head up the CPLA (Clay Pigeon Liberation Association), or better yet the ACPHL -- Association for Clay Pigeon Health and Longevity. Liberation didn't adequately express the degree to which we showed ourselves to be staunch supporters of clay pigeons dying of natural causes, on the ground, victims of gravity not shotgun shot -- longevity was best. I may need to get some ACPHL bumper stickers made up to be able to advertise our dedication to clay pigeon health.

We came home to Colleen's fantastic cooking. We cleaned up the guns (another big part of the scenarios for me, I watched carefully), ate dinner and sipped whiskey before bed. A dandy day to be sure.

Enjoy learning about your blood relations by walking in their footsteps,



Trappin' Pat said...

Back in my flying days I used to shoot skeet every Saturday morning. My guess is that you weren’t leading enough: a fast crossing bird at 30' is lead 5-8 FEET and you need to follow through and continue the lead as the gun fires. Looks strange to aim and shoot blue sky but blowing up clay pigeons IS nasty fun. Hand tossing is a skill and if the tosser throws wildly, the inconsistency makes it hard to learn.

Bpaul said...

I want to pick your brain sir, expect a phone call soon.