Shootin’ Turtles with My Ruger Single Six WMR

Posted on July 24, 2008. Filed under: Guns and Hunting |

My Dad's pond and donkeys in Oklahoma

My Dad's pond and donkeys in Oklahoma

Thursday, July 24, 2008– After over three long years Dawn and I were able to go to Oklahoma and visit my dad and step mom in the Osage Hills west of Bartlesville. The last three years have largely been spent taking care of my mom in her final days so we simply were not able to get up to visit dad. Combine that with my job only giving me one week of vacation per year and you get a lack of time with family at the old homestead! My brother came up from Houston and on Sunday morning we took off and got to Bartlesville around 1630. I packed light on this trip, knowing that we did not have much time and that we were going during the heat of summer- I only took 4 pistols and no long guns.


On the trip up I noticed that for the first time in the past 40 years of driving through Oklahoma City there was no construction! We took the fastest, most direct route from Ft. Worth: I-35 to OKC and then the Turner Turnpike, I-44, to Tulsa, then HWY 75 to Bartlesville. I drove the speed limit most of the time, 70mph but coming home we took the more scenic route and drove way below the speed limit at 55-60mph. I will figure out my gas mileage later so we can see how Dawn’s Caravan does on the HWY at fast and slower speeds.

We took Frank Phillips Blvd through town when we arrived at Bartlesville and noticed the changes in the beautiful downtown area. For those of you not familiar with Bartlesville, it is an oiltown, the former headquarters of Phillips 66. A few years ago Phillips and Conoco merged into Conoco-Phillips and moved their new combined HQ to Houston. Much of Phillips stayed in Bartlesville, and in fact, the town has continued to grow and prosper. B’ville is a unique place and I feel privileged and blessed to have grown up there from the 4th grade on. At one point in the 1960’s B’ville was known as being one of the richest per capita towns in Oklahoma and having the highest Ph.D. ratio of any town other than Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University.

We finally pulled out of town to the northwest into the hills and wound around the dirt road to see my dad’s house. The dogs greeted us with tails a waggin’ and not a few warm licks on the hands. My dad and step mom came out looking just as fit and fun as I last saw them almost 4 years ago. It was very comforting to see folks in their 70’s and 80’s full of life and pretty healthy and fit. Clean livin’, eatin’ healthy and hard work combined with a vital Faith keep them young.

I won’t go into to many details of family life that took place on Sunday night through Tuesday morning other than to tell you that my dad and I grilled some inch and a half thick Sirloin steaks Monday night that were better than any you can buy at any five star restaurant. This is a long standing Walker family tradition that I have yet to practice, but now I have the recipe and some practice and will soon try it out. I also really enjoyed having some quiet times with the Lord sitting on the screened in front porch, reading my Bible while watching the dogs, goats, donkeys and birds amidst the beautiful garden my dad has built over the years.

I decided to finally go out to the pond and do some turtle shooting Tuesday evening. It was still about 96-97 degrees so I wasn’t planning on staying out long. I only brought my Ruger Single Six, single shot, cowboy style revolver and my S&W mod.66 .357 mag double action revolver with 6″ barrel. I left my Ruger P-89 9mm and Dawn’s Sig P-230 .380 ACP at the house.

As I passed the goat pen the small herd of goats eyed my expectantly, but I was not there to feed or pet them. Jenny Mae, the female donkey, eyed me suspiciously and trotted away. As I approached the pond I heard the wet plop of a turtle diving off a rock at the near bank; I saw the ripples in the water, but the turtle was long gone. I noticed the pond was higher than I had ever seen it. Oklahoma has had a very wet year; my dad said he is 17″ above normal for the year in rainfall so far. He had also deliberately raised the water level in the pond so it was right up to the floor of the dock for the first time in my memory. This proved detrimental to my turtle hunting!

As I set up at the dock, using the table to store my gear, I saw at least ten turtle heads above the water at various places. In years past I have always used my various rifles in seeking to cull the turtle herd in my dad’s pond. I do not own a scope, I have only used open sights for this challenging shooting. I do not know how sharp the turtle’s eyes are, but it seemed to me that any sudden movement on my part caused the turtles closer in to dive under the water.

The challenge I alluded to earlier is that with the increased water level in the pond, there were no horizontal logs showing. In years past I could shoot the larger turtles off the logs using my M-1 cal. .30 Carbine, my Chicom SKS in 7.62x39mm, or my Ruger Mini-14 in 5.56mm or even with my Ruger 10/22 in .22LR. I had good success in the past making 50 yard shots on the larger turtles that would be a foot long or maybe even larger. On this trip, I did not see a single whole turtle sunning themselves anywhere. I did not use my binos even though I took them to the pond. There were likely some turtles around the shoreline like the one that took a dive as I approached, but I chose to not even try that since I only had pistols with me.

Let me describe what my targets looked like. From the dock, with the sun at my back, the calm waters of the pond perfectly reflected the woods on the opposite shore, 50 meters away. The far corner of the pond, where the foot bridge is, lies a hundered meters off. At about 30 meters lies a thin line of tree stumps angling off to the northeast. The turtles will stick their faces above the surface of the water, you cannot see their bodies at all, so you only have a small white target of about one square inch. The nearest turtles were at about 20 meters, the farthest were about 75 meters. I was armed with my Ruger Single Six with the magnum cylinder loaded with .22WMR 40grain jacketed hollow point ammunition from Winchester. No scope. You see the problem.

I used the handrail to fire from a supported position, but shooting at such tiny targets at such long ranges was pretty futile…but also fun. At least for about the first 24 rds. I can absolutely say that the turtles won the match Tuesday evening! I did not hit a single turtle head. After about 4 cylinders I was hot, and a little bit frustrated. It was a good challenge, and fun, but I using a pistol for a rifle’s job. I noticed a wasp landing on the water about 5 meters to my front and spent a few rounds chasing him. I actually blew the wasp away and then tried one a bit further out. After the wasps were gone, I returned to shooting at the turtle heads, to no effect.

Toward the end of my box of 50 rounds I took time out to pull out some shot shells for my revolver. I goofed up and brought a box of .22 LR instead of .22WMR so I had to switch cylinders. I fired 6 shots at different ranges to see the pattern on the pond. At about 2 meters the pattern was very nice and tight and I am confident any snake in my sights would have been shredded. I upped the range to 3 meters and again was quite satisfied with the pattern I saw in the water. As I upped the range to 5, 10, 15 and 20 meters what I saw was a very narrow pattern that was stretched out in length. I had expected the pattern to be much more rounded than it was. This aroused my curiosity so I think the next time I go shooting at Barry’s ranch I will bring some pieces of posterboard and try this shot shell patterning again to see if the spread is different on land with an upright target. The point is that I gained confidence in the .22LR shot shells for being a good defense against the occasional rattler or copperhead.

Now in case there are any turtle lovers out there who are aghast that I spent an hour shooting at poor defenseless turtles, let me say that turtles are carnivores that will eat cute baby ducks, fish, etc. My dad likes baby ducks and likes the fish. A lot of folks from my dad’s church come out to the pond for fishing. Turtles kill fish, so he always expects me to shoot some turtles when I come for a visit.

Though I had no success, this was a good challenge. Next year I will definitely take a couple of long guns with me and I may even put a scope on one of my rifles for a change. My 49 yr old eyes are still in great shape for this sport, I had no trouble seeing the turtle heads or my sights. But I think I need to try learning how to use a scope soon.

Wednesday morning I helped my dad pick some squash and cucumbers in the garden. We then came in to eat breakfast and chat for a while before we had to load up the van and depart. Dawn and I and my brother took off about 1130 and took HWY 75 to Indian Nations Turnpike SE of Tulsa for a more scenic drive home. We got back to Ft Worth at about 1830, had a huge meal at our favorite Bar B Que place in Fort Worth, Cousins.

Dawn and I got a digital camera for this trip and I did take some pics. Once I figure out how to use it I will try to put some pics of the Walker homestead on this blog. But that might take a while….


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