CANADA: Moose & Elk Hunt British Columbia 2020

Rick Cox

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Dense foliage was making it tough to find a place to call from. Wait, there was an opening. As I stepped up into it; I noticed a lot of elk bones on the ground. Most likely a yearling. No vegetation was growing for about a six foot radius. Ground was turned up, but the blood on the bones was almost dry. Looking up and I saw sets of
long rake marks on some poplar trees a few feet over my head.
I thought to myself: “Well, there’s another sign there elk are here” and proceeded to start calling. “ Nice start to retirement” I thought remembering this was my official first day.

My brother Bret was back at the lick, watching. After calling a bit I continued up the hill, a hill I had not climbed for about 48 years when I had set wolf snares along the rim of the riverbank, over the course of several snowy, frozen winters. I made my way around this area calling, waiting, moving on, till I eventually returned to meet Bret. We had been very close to a cow elk on arriving, but she jumped off chirping her alarm, and since then we had not seen more than tracks.

Back in the jet boat we continued up-river, past a long ridge that dropped from the plateau to the river flats. I remembered catching several wolves on that knife back ridge many years ago. I had a good snare set tied to a young tree growing out of the ridge. Once in the snare they would fall off the ridge and hang from the tree, dead in seconds.
Returning in the boat, we approached a shallow waterfall and despite the best efforts of my brother, we hit a submerged boulder hard! The boat launched into the air for a moment, saved by the welded aluminum hull covered by a half inch cladding of UHMW. But now we were headed for a series of boulders and boiling water, Bret opened the throttle and spinning the boat on it’s stern gained a bit of ground back upstream, spun it again, and choose an opening of deeper water about the width of the boat. Hitting the throttle hard we surfed through the opening to slower, deeper water.

Bret had to work the next day, so I headed off to an area I knew well. A pipeline was pushing through there, but I had a hunch that there might still be game around. I parked my rig and started off through a huge old cut block of maybe 1200 acres. It was growing up, but many of the old skid trails were still open and there were good sight lines and meadows here and there. I saw enough tracks to be encouraged and walked as far as I could, almost to the rim of the river we had been on the day before.
I did some calling for elk, but no answer. Climbing an old slash pile, I set up a makeshift blind and sat there for a few hours, watching an open skid trail and the surrounding area. In the early afternoon animals started moving… first a doe whitetail and fawn walked down the trail towards me, moving off after a bit. Then young and legal two point bull moose stepped out and gazed off in my direction before disappearing on the opposite side of the open trail. Suddenly I heard the bugle of a bull elk maybe four hundred yards away. I called back and he responded, and although he replied several times he moved away.
I took the time to admire my new rifle, a model 70 Winchester Super Grade I had had re-barrelled to 35 Whelen. It has real nice wood, was accurate, but I had had a few issues with mis-fires at the range. I was not sure why but before leaving home I flushed Brake Clean through the bolt hoping any assembly grease would be removed. I had bought new brass and loaded some 250 Woodleigh’s. Taking it to the range I shot off a number of rounds with no issue and felt confident with the gun. But I also brought another 35W in a Nosler as a boat gun and as insurance. Both guns had good optics; a Leica 2-10 on the M70 and Leopold VX6 3 -18 on the Nosler. I had loaded the 250 Woodleighs for the M70 and Nosler Accubond 225 gr for the Nosler.
That evening Bret told me he had been talking to a older native fellow, an avid hunter, who said he had not heard an elk bugle Since the first of September. And that was the last one I heard. The first rut was done, now it was a waiting game for the ‘echo’ rut.
Bret was having some issues with his feet and couldn’t walk far at all, much to his chagrin. We spent another couple of part days in the jet boat checking out river flats and a day in the side by side, looking around old logging slashes. We saw three different cow moose, all with calves. I think the provincial wolf cull program is working.
Nearing the end of my hunt, we decided to re-visit the logging slash and area I had hunted before and use the side by side. The plan was he would find an over view spot and I would go for a hike, and meet later. Late that afternoon, we trundled down an overgrown skid trail, now only a game trail and trap line, till we came to a windfall across the trail. Bret said “Why don’t you carry on for an hour and half or so. I will wait here and at 4:30 I’ll cut this windfall out of the way and come find you.” And so I did, passing trap sets for martin, and some fresh elk and moose, not to mention deer tracks. I knew that somewhere down here there was a nice pond and I hoped to be able to get to it. In the end I stopped here and there to call for elk in some open woods. Deciding it must be time to head back I very shortly ran into Bret in the side by side. This trail eventually opens up to a large meadow with a good-sized pond at the near end. We stopped the side by side and proceeded on foot to get a look at the pond and surrounding meadows
As we approached the opening our thoughts were on dinner but I was keeping one eye open and good thing! There spinning around to get a look at us, I saw a good bull moose through a thick screen of bush roughly 55 yards off! He knew we were there and was starting to move. Pointing I hissed “Moose!” and started running ahead to get to the meadow and a clear shot. The moose started to trot off. Bret gave out a loud bull moose grunt which stopped him in his tracks. I was clear, the moose was looking straight at me and I could see at a glance the pronounced triple points on the front palms which would make him a legal moose. I aimed and pulled the trigger: “CLICK”. What the??? Bret said something like “It’s legal, SHOOT”. I reloaded as the moose started to move again, sighted and pulled the trigger. “BANG!” The moose was hit hard, went twenty feet and laid down, I could see his horns but that was it. I had to move around some dense willows to get another shot. I heard the thud of hooves at the same time Bret now off to the left side said “There!” and there was the moose moving diagonally away from me. I aimed at the back of his ribs and pulled the trigger: “CLICK.” Ejecting that cartridge I reloaded and sighted on his butt end, now it was my turn to call, a loud “waauugh!” and the bull turned slightly towards me, giving me another shot at the rear ribs. Hoping the gun would fire I pulled the trigger again, this time with a satisfying “BANG!” The moose was obviously hit very hard but still standing, I took a rest on a sapling and aiming at his head shot again. “CLICK”. This was really not performance. I reloaded again and aimed at his head again, which was now covered by a five inch poplar tree. I waited…. And finally said to heck with this and shot through the tree. The moose threw his head straight back, his hind quarters collapsed and he dropped to the ground. Now Bret said “ I hope it’s legal”. “What do you mean legal? You said ‘it’s legal, shoot!’” “I did not! I said “Make sure its LEGAL before you SHOOT!” I was sure it was legal but now I began to doubt myself. However it only took a few steps towards the moose to see the pronounced triple points sticking above the grass. And that is what it is like to hunt with a now-retired tradesperson who spent 45 years working in industry….
I slit the bulls throat, he stretched and shuddered a few times and lay still. Bret and I shook hands and now the work began…

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Rick Cox

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- Note the velvet on the antler bases. He had been scraping it off. Still had some blood on his horns.
- The photo of the red leaves are high bush cranberries. You could smell them in the air.
- The photo of the guy hanging onto the horn is my steadfast brother Bret.
- I'm the guy with big grin. Also the one showing off his new camo...
- the photo of the mud hole is a lick churned up by activity. Moose and elk.

As to the issue with the gun misfiring: if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them. The gun is currently getting checked out by the gunsmith that installed the barrel. I suspect that if there is not an issue with the bolt/firing pin mechanism then I may have to make sure that use once fired brass from that rifle to load, so that it is fire formed to that chamber and tight in the action. When at the range if there was a misfire, you could see a small dent where the firing pin had struck but not hard enough to cause the primer to fire. As to the misfires in the bush, well, they are still in the bush.
 
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BRICKBURN

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Nice Moose.
I hope the smith can figure out what's going on.
 

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Awesome! So glad that, first it was legal, second your rifle fired! Great photos!
Has that rifle misfired at the range?
I had a new rifle that just occasionally misfired. I finally soaked the bolt in light oil and blew it all out. I think it was either very dry from cleaning in the manufacturing process, or had some machining filings I flushed out. Hasn't failed again with hundreds of rounds.

Best of luck figuring it out. I’d enjoy hearing what the issue was.
Man a lot of fine eating this winter!
 

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- Note the velvet on the antler bases. He had been scraping it off. Still had some blood on his horns.
- The photo of the red leaves are high bush cranberries. You could smell them in the air.
- The photo of the guy hanging onto the horn is my steadfast brother Bret.
- I'm the guy with big grin. Also the one showing off his new camo...
- the photo of the mud hole is a lick churned up by activity. Moose and elk.

As to the issue with the gun misfiring: if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them. The gun is currently getting checked out by the gunsmith that installed the barrel. I suspect that if there is not an issue with the bolt/firing pin mechanism then I may have to make sure that use once fired brass from that rifle to load, so that it is fire formed to that chamber and tight in the action. When at the range if there was a misfire, you could see a small dent where the firing pin had struck but not hard enough to cause the primer to fire. As to the misfires in the bush, well, they are still in the bush.
Awesome! So glad that, first it was legal, second your rifle fired! Great photos!
Has that rifle misfired at the range?
I had a new rifle that just occasionally misfired. I finally soaked the bolt in light oil and blew it all out. I think it was either very dry from cleaning in the manufacturing process, or had some machining filings I flushed out. Hasn't failed again with hundreds of rounds.

Best of luck figuring it out. I’d enjoy hearing what the issue was.
Man a lot of fine eating this winter!
Thanks @Ridge Runner . I will follow up on the gun issue when I know more. Yes it did misfire at the range about 1 in 15 rounds. I first tried flushing with brake clean and then went to the range and shot some rounds. It seemed fine, so I assumed everything was good. I also changed primers and used new brass but I did not full length resize the new brass. At the gunsmiths he checked the bolt action with a go/no go set of gauges and it looked good. His next step is to totally dismantle and clean and check the bolt.
 

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Great bull! Congrats on a successful adventure.
 

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Dense foliage was making it tough to find a place to call from. Wait, there was an opening. As I stepped up into it; I noticed a lot of elk bones on the ground. Most likely a yearling. No vegetation was growing for about a six foot radius. Ground was turned up, but the blood on the bones was almost dry. Looking up and I saw sets of
long rake marks on some poplar trees a few feet over my head.
I thought to myself: “Well, there’s another sign there elk are here” and proceeded to start calling. “ Nice start to retirement” I thought remembering this was my official first day.

My brother Bret was back at the lick, watching. After calling a bit I continued up the hill, a hill I had not climbed for about 48 years when I had set wolf snares along the rim of the riverbank, over the course of several snowy, frozen winters. I made my way around this area calling, waiting, moving on, till I eventually returned to meet Bret. We had been very close to a cow elk on arriving, but she jumped off chirping her alarm, and since then we had not seen more than tracks.

Back in the jet boat we continued up-river, past a long ridge that dropped from the plateau to the river flats. I remembered catching several wolves on that knife back ridge many years ago. I had a good snare set tied to a young tree growing out of the ridge. Once in the snare they would fall off the ridge and hang from the tree, dead in seconds.
Returning in the boat, we approached a shallow waterfall and despite the best efforts of my brother, we hit a submerged boulder hard! The boat launched into the air for a moment, saved by the welded aluminum hull covered by a half inch cladding of UHMW. But now we were headed for a series of boulders and boiling water, Bret opened the throttle and spinning the boat on it’s stern gained a bit of ground back upstream, spun it again, and choose an opening of deeper water about the width of the boat. Hitting the throttle hard we surfed through the opening to slower, deeper water.

Bret had to work the next day, so I headed off to an area I knew well. A pipeline was pushing through there, but I had a hunch that there might still be game around. I parked my rig and started off through a huge old cut block of maybe 1200 acres. It was growing up, but many of the old skid trails were still open and there were good sight lines and meadows here and there. I saw enough tracks to be encouraged and walked as far as I could, almost to the rim of the river we had been on the day before.
I did some calling for elk, but no answer. Climbing an old slash pile, I set up a makeshift blind and sat there for a few hours, watching an open skid trail and the surrounding area. In the early afternoon animals started moving… first a doe whitetail and fawn walked down the trail towards me, moving off after a bit. Then young and legal two point bull moose stepped out and gazed off in my direction before disappearing on the opposite side of the open trail. Suddenly I heard the bugle of a bull elk maybe four hundred yards away. I called back and he responded, and although he replied several times he moved away.
I took the time to admire my new rifle, a model 70 Winchester Super Grade I had had re-barrelled to 35 Whelen. It has real nice wood, was accurate, but I had had a few issues with mis-fires at the range. I was not sure why but before leaving home I flushed Brake Clean through the bolt hoping any assembly grease would be removed. I had bought new brass and loaded some 250 Woodleigh’s. Taking it to the range I shot off a number of rounds with no issue and felt confident with the gun. But I also brought another 35W in a Nosler as a boat gun and as insurance. Both guns had good optics; a Leica 2-10 on the M70 and Leopold VX6 3 -18 on the Nosler. I had loaded the 250 Woodleighs for the M70 and Nosler Accubond 225 gr for the Nosler.
That evening Bret told me he had been talking to a older native fellow, an avid hunter, who said he had not heard an elk bugle Since the first of September. And that was the last one I heard. The first rut was done, now it was a waiting game for the ‘echo’ rut.
Bret was having some issues with his feet and couldn’t walk far at all, much to his chagrin. We spent another couple of part days in the jet boat checking out river flats and a day in the side by side, looking around old logging slashes. We saw three different cow moose, all with calves. I think the provincial wolf cull program is working.
Nearing the end of my hunt, we decided to re-visit the logging slash and area I had hunted before and use the side by side. The plan was he would find an over view spot and I would go for a hike, and meet later. Late that afternoon, we trundled down an overgrown skid trail, now only a game trail and trap line, till we came to a windfall across the trail. Bret said “Why don’t you carry on for an hour and half or so. I will wait here and at 4:30 I’ll cut this windfall out of the way and come find you.” And so I did, passing trap sets for martin, and some fresh elk and moose, not to mention deer tracks. I knew that somewhere down here there was a nice pond and I hoped to be able to get to it. In the end I stopped here and there to call for elk in some open woods. Deciding it must be time to head back I very shortly ran into Bret in the side by side. This trail eventually opens up to a large meadow with a good-sized pond at the near end. We stopped the side by side and proceeded on foot to get a look at the pond and surrounding meadows
As we approached the opening our thoughts were on dinner but I was keeping one eye open and good thing! There spinning around to get a look at us, I saw a good bull moose through a thick screen of bush roughly 55 yards off! He knew we were there and was starting to move. Pointing I hissed “Moose!” and started running ahead to get to the meadow and a clear shot. The moose started to trot off. Bret gave out a loud bull moose grunt which stopped him in his tracks. I was clear, the moose was looking straight at me and I could see at a glance the pronounced triple points on the front palms which would make him a legal moose. I aimed and pulled the trigger: “CLICK”. What the??? Bret said something like “It’s legal, SHOOT”. I reloaded as the moose started to move again, sighted and pulled the trigger. “BANG!” The moose was hit hard, went twenty feet and laid down, I could see his horns but that was it. I had to move around some dense willows to get another shot. I heard the thud of hooves at the same time Bret now off to the left side said “There!” and there was the moose moving diagonally away from me. I aimed at the back of his ribs and pulled the trigger: “CLICK.” Ejecting that cartridge I reloaded and sighted on his butt end, now it was my turn to call, a loud “waauugh!” and the bull turned slightly towards me, giving me another shot at the rear ribs. Hoping the gun would fire I pulled the trigger again, this time with a satisfying “BANG!” The moose was obviously hit very hard but still standing, I took a rest on a sapling and aiming at his head shot again. “CLICK”. This was really not performance. I reloaded again and aimed at his head again, which was now covered by a five inch poplar tree. I waited…. And finally said to heck with this and shot through the tree. The moose threw his head straight back, his hind quarters collapsed and he dropped to the ground. Now Bret said “ I hope it’s legal”. “What do you mean legal? You said ‘it’s legal, shoot!’” “I did not! I said “Make sure its LEGAL before you SHOOT!” I was sure it was legal but now I began to doubt myself. However it only took a few steps towards the moose to see the pronounced triple points sticking above the grass. And that is what it is like to hunt with a now-retired tradesperson who spent 45 years working in industry….
I slit the bulls throat, he stretched and shuddered a few times and lay still. Bret and I shook hands and now the work began…

View attachment 369252View attachment 369247View attachment 369248View attachment 369249View attachment 369250View attachment 369251View attachment 369253
@Bob Nelson 35Whelen you might be interested in this recent story. Also I'd like to get your opinion on the issues I had with my rifle - 35 Whelen.
 

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@Rick Cox regarding your rifle problem: A few years ago I bought a used LH Ruger M77 MkII in 300 WM for a son-in-law. I bought some Remington, Hornady and Winchester ammo for practice and to see if any factory ammo grouped well. Misfires occurred with both the Remington and Hornady ammo, so I thought it was a problem with the rifle and not the ammo. Took the rifle to my GS and had him change out the factory firing pin spring for one that was 2-3 pounds heavier. The GS also check everything and said nothing was wrong with the firing pin or factory spring. We shot the rifle with the new spring and all was good. Went on the elk/deer hunt and the problem occurred again with the Remington ammo. Since then, have shot the rifle with a bunch of inexpensive Privi and some custom stuff from Hendershots and no misfires. So I am thinking it was some bad ammo, although in 50+years of shooting I have never had that happen before.
 

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Congrats on the moose hunt!
 
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@Bob Nelson 35Whelen you might be interested in this recent story. Also I'd like to get your opinion on the issues I had with my rifle - 35 Whelen.
@Rick Cox
A great but frustrating hunt. I am glad you got your moose in the end despite the misfire dramas.
The problem could be one of a number of things.
I would check the fireing pin protrusion first to make sure it is within tolerances
Then dismantle the bolt and check the fireing pin for any burrs and give it a polish while it's out.
Check the fireing pin spring for correct weigh and tension and clean. Replace if needed.
Check and clean bolt body of any gunk and debris. Check for any internal burs and give a light polish.
Check fireing pin hole is the right diameter.
Lightly oil all parts and reassemble.
Check for function with some NEW FLS primed brass.
It would be unusual for the brass to be faulty but it can happen. I recently bought some brand new brass that wouldn't chamber. It was .007 oversize in the base.
If other primed brass goes bang problem solved if not check the brass.
That's all I can think of. Hope this helps you Rick.
Bob
 

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@Rick Cox regarding your rifle problem: A few years ago I bought a used LH Ruger M77 MkII in 300 WM for a son-in-law. I bought some Remington, Hornady and Winchester ammo for practice and to see if any factory ammo grouped well. Misfires occurred with both the Remington and Hornady ammo, so I thought it was a problem with the rifle and not the ammo. Took the rifle to my GS and had him change out the factory firing pin spring for one that was 2-3 pounds heavier. The GS also check everything and said nothing was wrong with the firing pin or factory spring. We shot the rifle with the new spring and all was good. Went on the elk/deer hunt and the problem occurred again with the Remington ammo. Since then, have shot the rifle with a bunch of inexpensive Privi and some custom stuff from Hendershots and no misfires. So I am thinking it was some bad ammo, although in 50+years of shooting I have never had that happen before.

Not sure how " many years ago" you are talking about, but somewhere around 1999-2001 Remington had a major problem with bad primers in various calibers of ammunition.

I had bought a T/C Encore, 7mm-08, pistol off my brother, went and bought 4 boxes of ammo for it. Only had 10 rounds out of 40 to fire. I contacted Remington, sent them the fired and all the unfired ammo to back them.

About 3 or 4 weeks later I received two new boxes of ammo and a discount coupon for four more boxes of ammo. Out of these 120 rounds I ended up with 6-8(?) that misfired and had 2 with the primers in backwards.

I quit buying Remington rifle ammunition after that.
 

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Following up on the rifle misfire issue, I took it to the gunsmith who installed the barrel. Dave Jennings is a very well respected gunsmith in western Canada, and specializes in this sort of thing. (@Bob Nelson 35Whelen, @375 Ruger Fan @Ridge Runner ) He checked the tolerances between the bolt/chamber/barrel and was satisfied they were perfect. He dismantled the bolt and cleaned the components. He measured the amount that firing pin protrudes from the bolt and noted that it was about .010" under or so under and so he somehow adjusted that. But the issue that he felt was of the most concern was the spring of the firing pin. He didn't feel it was strong enough even though this model 70 is new. He is ordering another from Winchester Canada. We'll see. Sure hope I get a rifle I can trust out of this.
IMG_1398.JPG
 
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@Rick Cox regarding your rifle problem: A few years ago I bought a used LH Ruger M77 MkII in 300 WM for a son-in-law. I bought some Remington, Hornady and Winchester ammo for practice and to see if any factory ammo grouped well. Misfires occurred with both the Remington and Hornady ammo, so I thought it was a problem with the rifle and not the ammo. Took the rifle to my GS and had him change out the factory firing pin spring for one that was 2-3 pounds heavier. The GS also check everything and said nothing was wrong with the firing pin or factory spring. We shot the rifle with the new spring and all was good. Went on the elk/deer hunt and the problem occurred again with the Remington ammo. Since then, have shot the rifle with a bunch of inexpensive Privi and some custom stuff from Hendershots and no misfires. So I am thinking it was some bad ammo, although in 50+years of shooting I have never had that happen before.
Thanks for your input. See my post re this issue. Turns Remington had a bad batch of ammo back in the day. All my loads are reloads, the loads for this gun used new brass.
 
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Following up on the rifle misfire issue, I took it to the gunsmith who installed the barrel. Dave Jennings is a very well respected gunsmith in western Canada, and specializes in this sort of thing. (@Bob Nelson 35Whelen, @375 Ruger Fan @Ridge Runner ) He checked the tolerances between the bolt/chamber/barrel and was satisfied they were perfect. He dismantled the bolt and cleaned the components. He measured the amount that firing pin protrudes from the bolt and noted that it was about .010" under or so under and so he somehow adjusted that. But the issue that he felt was of the most concern was the spring of the firing pin. He didn't feel it was strong enough even though this model 70 is new. He is ordering another from Winchester Canada. We'll see. Sure hope I get a rifle I can trust out of this.View attachment 370098
@Rick Cox
You would be surprised at how many people have misfire issues that fail to check the firing pin protrusion and spring weight.
The protrusion issues are an easy fix that shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to fix. Either machine the appropriate amount off the shoulder of the pin or enlarge the hole or a combination of both. People like to blame headspace, faulty reloading or primers and don't understand when this doesn't fix the issue.
In some Winchester 92s and 94s you get primer protrusion that is put down to reloads and headspace when in actual fact it is an oversized firing pin hole and weak spring. The oversized hole is an easy fix by drilling out the hole and bushing it then drill a smaller hole.
Bob
 

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!!
 

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@Rick Cox
You would be surprised at how many people have misfire issues that fail to check the firing pin protrusion and spring weight.
The protrusion issues are an easy fix that shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to fix. Either machine the appropriate amount off the shoulder of the pin or enlarge the hole or a combination of both. People like to blame headspace, faulty reloading or primers and don't understand when this doesn't fix the issue.
In some Winchester 92s and 94s you get primer protrusion that is put down to reloads and headspace when in actual fact it is an oversized firing pin hole and weak spring. The oversized hole is an easy fix by drilling out the hole and bushing it then drill a smaller hole.
Bob
Thanks for your input Bob.
 
 

 

 

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