Friday, November 19, 2010

Reluctant Hiatus...

Today I'm dragging the dog box out of the truck. Won't be needing it much for the next few days. Deer gun season opens tomorrow and while we have a sixteen day season on private land, for the next nine days the public hunting areas are closed to accommodate the army of deerslayers currently girding their blaze orange loins in preparation for the pending battle with their ungulate quarry.

So no bird or duck hunting for me unless I drive to Kansas. Which I might, depending on what and how many deer I shoot this weekend and how accusingly the dogs look at me over the next few days.

Tomorrow's sunrise will find me down on the farm having my "Screw the headgear and shoot the first thing I see and be done with it" philosophy sorely tested. I mean, it is just the first day, right? Maybe I should hold out just a little bit for a, uh...heavier buck. Yeah, that's it. Heavier buck. It's not horn hunting because heavier bucks have more meat, right?

We'll see. Last year I ate a tag waiting for a palpitation-inducing buck that was glimpsed only once and never seen again beyond memory. In all likelihood that particular buck's current physical address is someone else's wall, so that won't be happening again. I may, however, wait a few days, anyway. If I can't bird hunt I might as well be hunting something, right?

Besides, it gives me a chance to carry Sweetness, my beer budget Sako...

Now I am not generally a rifle loony and my personal firearms aesthetic runs strongly to walnut and blued steel, the older the better. But this is my one exception to that rule. She's a Tikka T3 Stainless Synthetic in 6.5x55, a configuration that's a bit hard to get here in the States. She's the only synthetic-stocked rifle I own, and damn it, I don't care if she does look like a cheap floosie, I love her.

Some guys don't care for them, (they're ugly, they've got a detachable mag, they're made of plastic, they're furrin') but I think the Tikka T3s are among the best bang-for-buck guns out there. They're cheap, they're well-made and they shoot insanely well.

Mine weighs in at seven pounds, eleven ounces with the scope, sling and four rounds of ammo and feels like about six pounds in the hand. It shoots MOA or better (sometimes much better) with pretty much anything you care to stuff down its throat (in fact it and a CZ 550 in the same caliber are the two most accurate rifles I own) and the bolt on a T3 feels like liquid ball bearings.

I paired it up with a Leupold FXIII 6x42 fixed-power scope (as close to perfection in a hunting scope as I am ever apt to experience) and the resulting package is my personal idea of the perfect deer/antelope gun. About the only thing I'd change, and I probably will this year, is add a set of aftermarket rings.

Two years ago Sweetness took a pretty nice buck where I'll be hunting tomorrow. Her positive juju wasn't enough to bring last year's bruiser up from the depths for me, but we'll see how it goes this weekend...  


  1. I'll post a pic of my Savage 110E, and then and only then will you know what cheap looks like.

    Good luck to you. Our season is done, and though I had one great hunt with Phillip from HogBlog, I didn't get a deer.

  2. Buck season does not start until 11/29 here in Penna.
    But this Monday duck re-opens and goose I'll be after both all day...
    Good luck and hope you see some big racks...

  3. Good luck, Chad. I'm seven days into a nine-day season and have passed on several bucks I shouldn't have because, well, just because. The freezer is already full so I might as well horn hunt, eh?

    I've shot a few Tikka's and can find nothing to fault about them. Like you, I like 'em cheap and easy.

  4. Git 'em, Chad!

    The Tikka T3 is a really nice rifle, especially for the cost. Like Josh, I've been doing a lot of my big game hunting with a Savage 110, but with the modifications I've added over the years, she's kind of hard to recognize these days. She shoots good, although our partnership hit a little turbulence on my most recent trip. Afraid I have to bear the blame for that one, though.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come out with, head gear or no.

  5. Chad
    I've shot a very similar Tikka and wonder how much better a SAKO would be for the extra cash. One question: what is it people have against 'drop boxes'?

  6. SBW, some people don't like detachable boxes because they say they're too easy to lose, or they can fall out at inopportune times. Dave Petzal, for example, hates them.

    Me, I've owmed, shot and hunted with several detachable mag rifles and never had a problem with them, certainly no more problems than a gun with a hinged floorplate or a blind box, which is easily my personal least favorite config.

    As for the Tikka/Sako comparison, obviously Tikka is manufactured by Sako, so the barrels and (I believe) the triggers are identical. The actions are different. There's no question the Sako is a higher-grade gun, but a Sako 85 or even a used 75 is gonna be quite a bit more expensive.

    Guess it just depends on howmuch you're willing to spend for what you want. The Tikka does have some faults. The bolt shroud is cheap and flimsy, even though mine hasn't broken off yet (you can buy a machined aftermarket shroud). The trigger guard and bottom metal is also plastic, though it doesn't look any worse than the cheap aluminum other makers use. The mag is plastic, too, and although it functions well and I have no concerns about it, if you do lose it the cost of a replacement from Beretta USA will require you to grab the ankles.

    I've read some complaints about the stock, but mine is an older gun and maybe my stock is different because it seems pretty solid. It's a different color and texture than some other Tikka's I've handled. The barrel is floated well within the channel all the way to the action and there's very little flex to it.

    All in all, I think you can't beat it for the money versus performance. I've been wanting a light, walk-around varmint rifle in .223 or .22-250 and when I get one it will most likely be a stainless Tikka.