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Archive for August 2013

Tips for New Users for Installing and Using the Tree Lounge Tree Stand

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The original Tree Lounge tree stand. Many accessories were added over the years including wheel hits and covers.

The original Tree Lounge tree stand. Many accessories were added over the years including wheel kits and covers.

Although I had used the Elusive Whitetail and Ground Lounge stands that were made by Tree Lounge, I had never owned a standard Tree Lounge until this year when I purchased two used stands. By this time the Tree Lounge company had been out of business for over two years, and their videos and printed materials about the stands were no longer available. However, I had several of their videos which showed Margaret and Bob Hice hunting from the stands as well as one where Bob described the advantages of the Tree Lounge hunting system.

I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase one of the stands with an older model wheel kit,  bow-hunting platform, leveling wedge, gun rest, chill pad  and cushion. The second stand only had the platform, wedge and an extra sling seat. Between these two stands, I could do just about everything that I thought that I might want to do with them. As I planned to take them on a hunt where I would wheel them into the hunting locations, I took advantage of Georgia’s August 15 squirrel season to put one on a tree. I wanted to have some time in the stand before I started hauling it off to some distant hunting spot and installing it in the dark. Using the stand would also give me the opportunity to  try out a new .32-caliber Crockett rifle that I had built. A video of me unpacking and assembling the stand is at: http://youtu.be/LMRy8NvX0FU. I also have four videos of me building the Crockett rifle starting with: http://youtu.be/jFxm43Xf1s8 and another of me squirrel hunting from the Tree Lounge with the Crockett rifle at: http://youtu.be/Ja5vnpXv8Wc.

Before taking them out, I unpacked the stands and cleaned them up. It did not take long to figure out how to deploy the bowhunting platform which is fixed to the main part of the stand with two 1/4-inch bolts on the stand and another pair that are attached to the foot extension. On some of the older stands you must drill holes for these, but mine were pre-drilled. The parts of the stand that are likely to deteriorate are the plywood bowhunting platform and the nylon sling seat. Before I put the stands up, I put a couple of coats of epoxy paint over the old paint that previous owners had put on the wood. This would give them some added protection. I also went to the hardware store and got some spare 1/4-inch bolts and wing nuts. There are two extra holes drilled in the platform for these, and spairs are nice to have along in case you happen to lose a bolt on the trip in.

Tree Lounge ready to climb a tree.

Tree Lounge ready to climb a tree.

Tree Lounge ready to travel

My stands also had the safety straps and buckles which I checked out and lubricated. Inspecting the wheel kit I found that it is attached by long bolts going through a rectangular aluminum blocks that are held on by wing nuts.  The stand wheels-in easier if the blocks are installed on the same side of the stand as is the bottom crossbar. That way the bottom of the stand is slicker with fewer things to catch on rocks, roots etc.  The plastic spokes on the old wheels are not as light or durable as regular lawnmower or bicycle wheels which also provide greater ground clearance.  An alternative method of attachment would be to use short sections of  square 2 1/2-inch channel iron and drill holes for short axel pins and  two bolts to fasten it to the frame or cut  2 1/2-inch angle iron and use a full-length axel, as in the original design. This could be very easily fabricated by anyone with a drill press and cutting torch.

Tree Lounge close up of wheel kit

Details of wheel kit. It actually works best if the cross bar and the axel blocks are both on top of the frame.

This is an older model kit with plastic wheels.

Bungee cords are the simplest way to attach the lower and upper parts of the stand together as well as to fasen anything else to the stand that you might want to wheel in. On one of the stands the owner had taped some water-pipe insulation to the bottom of the foot piece which makes pulling the stand a little more comfortable on the hands.

It is also appropriate to have a small tool bag containing extra bolts, nuts, knobs  and a small set of vise grips. The vise grips help tighten and loosen the wing nuts in cold weather and the bag will hold your bungee cords, wedge, spare knobs and anything else that might be needed to service your stand should some part be lost on the trip in.

Once you arrive at your site and select your tree, remove the foot piece and install that first. The crossbar should go on top of the foot piece and you need to run the retaining straps around the middle of the foot piece’s side bars so that the straps hang on both sides of the trunk. If you do not, or only attach it to the front you will not be able to retrieve the foot piece should it come lose and raddle down the trunk.  When this happens, and a touch is all that is needed to dislodge it once you remove your feet,  it could leave you 30-feet up a tree with no way to get down, outside of shimmying down the trunk.  So make sure that you attach those straps correctly. A video, “Installing and Climbing with a Tree Lounge Tree Stand” is at: http://youtu.be/-DD79B4zuRI.

This is also the time to attach your gun-hoisting cord to the foot piece.  Put this on the left rear corner of the stand. Although the stand is equipped with a gun or bow rack, do not climb or descent your gun or bow in the rack. This adds weight at the end of your stand and makes it more difficult to go up and down the tree as well as having the potential of your hunting instrument going crashing to the ground or catching on  a nearly limb. Should you forget your hoist rope, you could bungee it into the holders, sling it across your back or hold it in your hands across the top of the stand when you climb.

It is much easier to install the heavy upper Tree Lounge seat if you have two people. One can support the rear of the stand and push it against the tree while the other attaches the crossbar by indexing the long bolts through the holes in the stand.  If you are by yourself, slide the upper parts of the stand together, lift and press the stand against the tree with the right hand while indexing and sliding the crosspiece bolts through the holes with the right. If the bolts just don’t want to go, this means that one of them is very likely bent. Check them, straighten out the bolt/s and try again. If you still cannot hold it against the tree long enough, prop the rear of the stand up with either the wheel kit turned on its side or with a cut branch. This saves you from having to support the full weight of the upper part of the stand while trying to push the bolts through the holes in the stand  on the other side of the tree. If you are have the bowhunting platform, installing that will also provide a means of supporting the rear of the stand while you put it on the tree.

If you are going to use a Chill Pad, go ahead and attach it now. Check and see that you have everything picked up off the ground, in bags and tied to the hoist rope. Put one foot on the outside of the foot piece and swing the other leg over the stand, past the sling seat and onto the bottom of the foot piece on the other side of the stand. You will have to push the sling seat to one side with the foot to do this. Once the other leg is in position move the other foot inside the stand and place the toes of both boots through the bottom bar. Stand and attach your safely belt.  Grasp the upper part of the stand with both hands at the juncture between the two sliding parts and lift up the tree. Allow the stand to rest against the tree and be firmly anchored. Sit in the sling seat and pull the foot piece up with the toes. Once you have it as far up as you can comfortably lift, put the back of the foot piece against the tree and stand up. Again lift the upper part of the stand, anchor it against the tree and sit down. Lift the foot piece with the feet and repeat the process until you are at the desired height.

On the way up the tree be sure and trim any small branches on the trunk. Even a tiny one can block the foot piece when you are attempting to go back down.

When at the desired height, pull one knee up place it on the sling seat and turn around in the stand. Allow yourself to sit in the sling seat, which will seem a bit strange the first time you do it. Hoist up your gun and accessory bag.  This is the time to install the tree wedge between the back of the stand and the tree if you need it to level the bow platform.  Ready your gun and put it into the gun rack, arrange everything else in the stand, get comfortable and wait for your game to arrive.

Before you start down the tree, take as much weight off the stand as possible by lowering it to the ground with your hoist rope. It is easier to climb with extra weight on your stand than to descend. Turn around in your stand and once again face the tree.  Run your toes through the bottom of the foot piece and stand. Pull the stand up with the hands which will free it from the tree. Allow the stand to sink about six inches on the tree. Sit and lower the foot piece with the legs about another six inches, stand and lower the top section. Repeat this process until you are near enough to the ground to step out of the stand. Unbuckle your safety belt and put it well out of the way on the front of the stand.  Take care to keep your feet  from catching on the seat or straps as you dismount.

Practice using your stand before taking it on your first serious hunt. Pre-hunt practice will have you hunting safer and will have you ready to shoot sooner once you are on location.

Written by hoveysmith

August 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

An Original Alonzo Selden Adirondack Rifle Gets Ready for Bear

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Remington Stamp

Remington Stamp

Adirondack rifle

Adirondack rifle

End result.  Stew and biscuits.

End result. Stew and biscuits.

Hunt to be featured in new E-book.

Hunt to be featured in new E-book.

Set triggers and guard were later additions.

Set triggers and guard were later additions.

The old gun still knows how to shoot, as this 50-yard target attest.

The old gun still knows how to shoot, as this 50-yard target attest.

Click on the iBooks image to order Book

In order to get an original 1860s-70s Alonzo Selden rifle  ready to return to the Adirondack Mountains to go on a bear hunt, some modifications and shooting test were necessary to confirm that the old gun was functional and physically sound. At something like twice my own age of 72, the old gun had already passed through several hands. This history that I know is that a  New York airman based at Davis Monthan AFB  had traded the gun to “Arizona Al,” who owned a pawn shop/gun store in nearby Tucson.

I don’t know what new gun the young airman got, but he likely purchased a lesser gun that the rifle that he traded in. Al was an avid muzzleloader target shooter and shot that gun at matches for a decade or more by the time I purchased it from him. At that time he was about the same age as I am now and could no longer see well enough to shoot iron sights. He was willing to pass the gun along to someone else who could make use of it.  I did, and I shot  the old rifle well enough to garner a bucket-full of shooting metals at matches in Arizona and Georgia.

Even by the time I received the gun, it had previously been outfitted with two types of adjustable sights. This was obvious from the plugged holes in the barrel. Even before that, someone had installed set triggers and a trigger guard from a rifle that may have been built in the 1700s. This was an old repair and Selden may have even done it himself, but it was quite unlike the trigger guards that he put on his own guns. He designed the gun around a 3/4-inch Remington .45-caliber  barrel that was 32 inches long.  When he built the gun he used a slim walnut stock and  fitted it with a pored German silver nose cap and silver thimbles, However, he used brass for the butt plate and patch box.

By the time this gun was made, hunters in New York were using picket bullets, so this gun had rather shallow-wide rifling designed to shoot elongate bullets, although it would still shoot round ball very well.  This was repeatedly demonstrated at all of the matches that Al and I won with the rifle.

Time had not been kind to the old gun. It had apparently been left loaded for some time during its history and the rear of the barrel was pitted for 2-inches where the powder charge had been in contact with the bore. The stock was also cracked near the fore end cap, but the metal cap had retained all of the wood. In addition, the tang was soldered to the barrel which ultimately resulted in it being snapped off during cleaning.

Replacement ramrod and nipple.

Replacement ramrod and nipple.

Fiberglassing.

Fiberglassing.

Before I ever started shooting the gun, I epoxy-glued the sprung stock and glass-bedded the barrel to strengthen the entire gun, installed a new tang and restored the false breech to functionality. These alterations plus welding and refitting the lock’s sear made the gun strong enough to use. However,  these accumulated modifications put the gun into the category of “a shooter,” meaning that much of its collector’s value had been diminished with each change of the original rifle. Although true in spirit to its original intention as a hunting rifle, it was no longer a collector-grade gun. To give this hunting gun added durability,  I also fitted it out with a beryllium-copper nipple and a fiberglass ramrod. These are as near as can be had to being indestructible components to replace parts of the percussion rifle’s original design that were most likely to fail.

Although I cleaned it annually, the gun sat in my closet for something like 20 years without being used.  It and I were not getting any younger and if it was going to go to hunt in New York we had best be about doing it. In the meantime I came into the acquaintance of Kaido Ojamaa who happened to live in the state and also made some 240 and 255 grain bullets for percussion revolvers that I thought might work in the gun. I thought that a load of 85 grains of FFg black powder and the 255-grain bullet might be just the ticket for bear. The first shot demonstrated otherwise.

I had forgotten, but was quickly reminded, that this particular gun was stocked very short for my arm length. When I fired the charge the gun slammed black, and I gouged my face with my fingernails under the force of recoil. The bullet was stabilized, but struck the target a foot below the point of aim of the iron sights and about 10-inches to the right. The bullet was hard cast and very difficult to load. Cutting back to 70 grains of FFg and the 240-grain bullet, this was still a stout load and blew the hammer back to the full-cock position, but the recoil was stiff, although manageable. However, it still shot low and right, although not quite to the degree of the previous shot.

Remembering the load that I had used at the target range, I loaded 85 grains of GOEX FFg and a patched .451 round ball under which I placed a lubricated Wonder Wad. This load hit very nearly the exact center of the 50 yard target and would have scored an “X.” A confirming load hit nearby. Clearly this was the load that this rifle liked. It is not a puny load and is stepping out at about 2100 fps. and giving some 1400 ft./lbs. of energy at the muzzle.  At 50 yard is still providing the 500 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy recommended for deer and black bear.

In short if the beastie is within 50 yards and I place my shot well, this should result in a dead bear. We will see.

Click on the iBooks image to order Book

Written by hoveysmith

August 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized