The Great Oregon Varmint Massacre II:
Revenge of the Fuzzballs

By Crazy Charlie

.17 HMR w/V-MAX bullet
.17 HMR cartridge. Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

You might find a bad apple in any barrel (of apples), but what if the whole barrel was full of bad apples? That is essentially the situation that pertained at the end of April 2006, when a hunting party of four malcontents from Eugene, in Western Oregon, once again began the long trek to Christmas Valley, in Eastern Oregon.

There was not a politically correct, anti-gun, anti-hunting PITA supporter in the whole group. How could the People's Republic of Lane County have spawned such bad apples? Clearly they must be genetic throwbacks, perhaps all the way back to Eugene Skinner, the explorer/pioneer/hunter/despoiler who founded Eugene and for which the city is named. (No doubt to the embarrassment of its modern inhabitants). Rumor has it that these losers are somehow associated, in some nefarious way, with Guns and Shooting Online, a respected online family publication, but surely that could not be the case.

In any case, the morning of the last Saturday in April found a Lincoln Town Car (proud symbol of American excess) stuffed with slavering rodent murderers and guns. They were speeding along the circuitous collection of highways and byways required to journey from Eugene to Christmas Valley. It's a situation where, "you can't get there from here," at least not directly. But it can be done if you want to badly enough--or are deranged enough.

In this case, deranged might be the operative word, as in that Lincoln luxury car were Bad Bob, Rabid Rocky, Jungle Jim, and Jagged Jack. The future of the sand rats of Christmas Valley hung in the balance.

And the guns! A collection to make any rodent's blood run cold--or at least run all over the place. Having learned during the first Great Oregon Varmint Massacre that more sand rats preferred .17 HMR, that was the caliber of choice for all of the participants.

Bad Bob brung his favorite of Ruger varmint rifle, a Target Gray K77/17VMBBZ in .17 HMR, as well as his Ruger Target Gray .220 Swift varmint rifle. (The latter was not used.) Rabid Rocky was depending on a Winchester Low Wall .17 HMR rifle. Jungle Jim carried his .17 HMR Marlin Model 917VS (Varmint/Stainless) and .22 LR Browning A-Bolt Rimfire Medallion rifles. Jagged Jack packed his Marlin Model 917VS .17 HMR varmint rifle and a Ruger 22/45 Hunter pistol. Let's see, that makes 7 guns among 4 shooters.

All of these highly tuned firearms were carefully zeroed to take full advantage of their maximum point blank range (+/- 1.5"), which in the case of a .17HMR rifle is about 165 yards. All of the .17 HMR rifles were using Hornady or Remington brand ammo shooting the ultra-deadly Hornady 17 grain V-MAX bullet at a chronographed MV in excess of 2550 fps. And the .22 rimfire rifle and pistol had been carefully zeroed with hyper-velocity CCI Stinger ammunition, the deadliest .22 LR ammo on the planet, with a MV of 1640 fps from a rifle barrel and 1395 fps from a pistol. To make matters potentially worse for the long suffering sand rat population of Christmas Valley, all of the aforementioned rifles wore telescopic sights with maximum magnifications of between 9 and 25 power.

Once again, the motley crew would be shooting as the guest of, well, let's just say a local land owner, since he doesn't want to be pursued through the night by a mob carrying burning torches. We will henceforth refer to the scene of this crime as "The Farm," and its owner as "The Farmer." The sand rats, doing their rodent thing by hungrily gobbling up the The Farmer's alfalfa, were to be the victims.

Having pretty much worn out their welcome in the tiny hamlet of Silver Lake, where they stayed the previous year, this year the motley crew had actually reserved rooms right in Christmas Valley, at the Desert Inn Motel. This turned out to be a good choice, within walking distance of a cafe for breakfast and a pizza parlor for dinner. The rooms were basic, but clean and reasonably priced.

The next morning found the motley crew up bright and early, ready to murder sand rats . . . but wait, where are the cute little fur balls? Not at the edge of the field, not in the field and not even peering over the lip of their burrows.

THEY'RE NOT ANYWHERE TO BE SEEN! How could this have happened? Could the Bad Apples really have been outsmarted by a bunch of sand rats? Are rodents in ascendancy?

Well, not all rodents, as it turned out. However, the pickin's were mighty slim. Basically, just a few shots taken at jackrabbits that mistakenly thought that they were out of range. And they would have been had the boys been using .22 rimfire rifles instead of .17 Magnums.

Rabid Rocky scored on a jackrabbit at a laser verified distance in excess of 260 yards, the longest range hit of the trip and the longest range Guns and Shooting Online certified kill with a .17 HMR rifle. Note that this was achieved with a High Wall single shot rifle equipped with a Bushnell Elite 3200 5-15x40mm AO scope, not a bolt action centerfire rifle.

Over the course of the entire weekend, VERY few sand rats were seen. Game, match and set to the sand rats. The fuzz balls definitely outsmarted the Bad Apples on this trip. As the crew pulled up stakes to head back to Eugene on Sunday evening, some high pitched titters were reportedly heard emanating from sand rat burrows, adding insult to injury. Or, as Jan and Dean once sang, "You really know how to hurt a guy . . .."

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