I arrived about an hour before legal daylight. There are two large pear trees in the pasture closest to the house. Whitetail are crazy over fruit, so this had to be a sure thing. Up went the pop up blind.
I brought two rifles with me that morning. One for deer and one for pest. My deer rifle is a Remington 700 with a Nikon 3×9, HS Precision stock, 24″ heavy bull barrel in .223. I was shooting Barnes Vortex factory loads. The pest gun has a name “The Pirate”. It’s a Spikes Tactical lower, with a skull and cross sabers engraved on it. I mounted an Oly Arms upper with a 18″ stainless tube in .223 WSSM on top and attached another Nikon 3×9. The hand loads for it were 35 gr. hollow points trotting along at a zippy 4600 fps.
As the day began to awaken across the field. Nothing stirred. An hour passed. Nothing. Two more hours, still nothing. A squirrel played in the field about 200 yards from my blind, and that was it. Around 10am I was about to call it a day, when the Fox squirrel returned. Not about to go home empty handed. It was time for a 200 yard head shot with my new .223 WSSM.
Those not familiar with .223 WSSM, allow me to give you a brief class. IT’S A FAST MUTHA! Gun powder burns at a rate around 4800fps. So at 4600 fps, its at the ragged edge of a rifles ability. They are pushing around 70,000 psi. Thats more pressure than the largest of African dangerous game rifles are capable of producing! And barrels don’t last. Now this part is very, very important. In a short barreled rifle, you get a fireball that looks like its of of the deck of a destroyer.
Back to the squirrel. My Remington’s barrel pokes well out of the blinds window, so it’s not a problem to shoot at all from inside a blind. The WSSM however, does not extend outside the blind. I did not think about this before the reticle settled on my target, nor did this thought enter my feeble mind as I was squeezing the trigger through it second stage. I was made painfully aware of this fact when the pin hit the primer! The following happened. As the bullet left the barrel my target was vaporized. The front of my blind was blown completely away by the muzzle blast from inside of it. I assume that from the outside it looked like a airbag deploying in a car accident. My first thought was I had died. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, and I couldn’t think because of the pain. I thought the gun had exploded. I was a victim of severe over pressure, and my own stupidity. My confusion lasted only a few seconds as my sight returned and my hearing returned to the point where I could now hear ringing! Even my chest hurt. It was time to call it a day.
When I made it back to Dads house some of my hearing had returned. My ears felt like the were stopped up from a bad head cold. I sat on the front porch with dad recounting what had just happened, and showing my Remington to Dad.
My Dad has a rifle rest on the front porch. For the last 30 years he has been shooting at a target he set up 400 yards away. Waiting for a buck to step out near the target to feed, so he can claim a 400 yard shot on a whitetail with his 30.06.
As we are sitting there talking about what happen. His rifle in the house and mine across my lap. I see a deer step out near his target. And at long last it’s a buck! My dads getting old, and his eyesight is failing. He couldn’t see the deer at all! I asked if him if he wanted the shot. But he passed. Most might think a .223 is on the light side for deer, but it’s fine as long as your a competent shooter. I am. I was trained to hit a man sized target that far with open sights in the army. This was cake.
After the shot, dad and I drove over to the buck and loaded him up. Spine shot. We didn’t have to look for him.
I didn’t know this at the time but this was to be my dads last hunt. I am so thankful I was a part of it. Even though it was on his porch, and I took the shot. The look on his face, the moment we shared. The time spent with my hero made all the permanent hearing loss worth it. Dads still with us, he’s in an adult care facility now. I don’t need hearing aids yet. Getting to enjoy one last hunt with my Dad. That was the long shot I’ll never forget.