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Thread: An interesting chat with an old cowboy.

  1. #1

    An interesting chat with an old cowboy.

    Last evening I met an old cowboy from around these parts and we got talking deer hunting and reloading. His major regret in life was hitting a hard stretch a couple of decades back and having to sell his Savage Model 23B bolt action in 25-20 WCF. He said that it was his favorite deer rifle when shooting from the saddle; for either mule deer or whitetails out to "...100 yards or so."

    I shoot 25-20 from a Martini Cadet and a Winchester Model 92 lever gun and my son owns a pristine Savage 23B in 25-20 so we had a lot to talk about. I confessed to him that I'd only shot lesser game and paper with my guns but really enjoyed the cartridge for its inherent accuracy.

    Now here's the thing: This gents "deer killing" load was a 82 grain home-cast lead bullet loaded over 9 grains of the old Hercules 2400 powder. As nearly as I could figure that load generated a whopping 1700 fps... if that.

    That man must have been a heck of a marksman because he didn't seem the type to be a liar.~Muir

  2. #2
    Be careful of the man with only one gun

  3. #3
    Hello Muir,
    I knew a WW2 sniper - a good friend - who had a brief shooting blip when he treated himself to a new rifle after eighteen years and began switching to and fro from one to the other. .243 and .308.

    The simple truth was that he got so used to the performance of his estate issue .243 that he forgot what he was using at first and expected the .308 to behave the same.

    It's difficult to respond to your comments backed by exerience without sounding patronising and nothing is further from my mind, but setting aside the rules on hunting firearms which have been set up to save fools from themselves and animals from unneccessary suffering, just about any rifle will kill a deer if the user knows how to use it accurately, within it's killing range and in the right conditions - and has lots of experience with it as well as having observed those who went before and learned by their mistakes.

    How many animals were condemned to misery after being hit with badly placed shots from low power rifles is anyone's guess, but I know that there's been plenty sent away to die in a bad state from modern rifles of legal bore and energy.

    Rook rifles were commonplace starting deer rifles in the old pre-WW2 days, and pretty well all the highland estate stalkers' sons had experience of that. There was little tolerance from most of those old fellows and they had to make the best of what they had.

    When people survived on what they HAD to kill, not playing at it, I suppose that any rifle or musket was a good tool if it put the beast on the ground.

    You meet some interesting people in your travels.

  4. #4
    And that is exactly my point. A good shot can about make due with anything on deer provided he knows both his (or her) limitations as a shooter and the limitations of the cartridge. This old guy hunted with the 25-20 from the saddle which means he could get fairly close to deer, I'm sure, but he must have been a confident marksman. He did say that his "hiking" rifle was a 300 Savage.~Muir

  5. #5
    I agree. I suspect that the ability for many of us to treat ourselves to new rifles - like many celebrity marriages which change with the wind - does us no favours. We have the technology but does it make us better hunters. I suspect that is some cases it degenerates the native skills and makes us lazy to use them as the technology is used as a substitute.

    When I was a lad, John Wiseman, retired police Inspector and formerly in the Black watch during WW1 would humourously compare his turnip field in a wet season to the mud at Ypres. He was a solid big man and used his BSA, single shot .22 long rifle, (From which he flicked the empty cases with the tip of his little penknife as the extractor was broken), from the free standing position, and I never once saw him miss a rabbit. Head shots in order to save meat for the pot . The rationing years always saw us hungry and there was little room for wasting expensive ammo.
    There was a .22 long rifle behind most farmhouse backdoors in those days, but no firearms crimes that I recall. The rifle was a tool, pure and simple.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ecoman View Post
    I agree. I suspect that the ability for many of us to treat ourselves to new rifles - like many celebrity marriages which change with the wind - does us no favours. We have the technology but does it make us better hunters. I suspect that is some cases it degenerates the native skills and makes us lazy to use them as the technology is used as a substitute.

    When I was a lad, John Wiseman, retired police Inspector and formerly in the Black watch during WW1 would humourously compare his turnip field in a wet season to the mud at Ypres. He was a solid big man and used his BSA, single shot .22 long rifle, (From which he flicked the empty cases with the tip of his little penknife as the extractor was broken), from the free standing position, and I never once saw him miss a rabbit. Head shots in order to save meat for the pot . The rationing years always saw us hungry and there was little room for wasting expensive ammo.
    There was a .22 long rifle behind most farmhouse backdoors in those days, but no firearms crimes that I recall. The rifle was a tool, pure and simple.
    That Sir, is as good a description of the state of modern shooters as I have ever read. Well spoken and 100% true. Young shooters should take heed to your words because the secret to (shooting) life lies therein. Well done, Sir!~Muir
    Last edited by Muir; 25-07-2010 at 12:52.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Muir View Post
    That Sir, is as good a description of the state of modern shooters as I have ever read. Well spoken and 100% true. Young shooters should take heed to your words because the secret to (shooting) life lies therein. Well done, Sir!~Muir
    Very true

  8. #8
    Thank-you. I cannot set up in judgement of those who look for something better, and I've seen good friends who have gone through more rifles than hollywood marriages, but they all settle down in the end and become good partners with the tools, one tool for deer and one for vermin which they get on with and get used-to.
    The only thing to worry about then is the reliability of the ammo.

    On the morning my eldest daughter was dumped on the range with the .243 in order to put a couple up the spout, she got careless and stood up shame-faced with blood dripping down from her forehead. She had not held the .243 properly and the cheap old nikko sight whacked her on the eyebrow.

    I was silently gutted inside, but asked one of the younger stalkers to get a handful of nearby spagnum moss for her.
    Then I advised her to change the cold moss now and then and to get up that hill and stalk into her first beast. The two shots from the P-Hale had gone into the postage stamp mark on the iron stag.

    So, off she went with one of the younger stalkers and came home with another sort of blood on her forehead. I think she was fourteen at the time. She still has the antlers on the wall but her children will probably never know of what went into that day. Her hurt and embarrassment, then the steep climb out to the plateau, the first shot at a beast, One was needed, and helping carry the gear as it was dragged back down to the glen.
    She was smiling - but she earned it.

    The thing was that I had encouraged her to have dry clicks with that rifle whenever she passed and I was tinkering at the bench or on the short testing range I had down below the house. She had got used to the feel of it and it WAS best that she carried on that day - got back on the horse - so to speak.

  9. #9
    Great story! I'm sure that her memory of the day is etched into the part of the mind reserved for ones most pleasant memories. My son turns 24 tomorrow and currently owns almost forty firearms of his own. One rifle is a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in 6.5x55 that I bought for him in Yuma, Arizona about 10 years ago. It was his first centerfire sporting rifle. We had shot it many times at the range while stationed in California. When I moved back to Montana we started to plan on a hunt and the last time JAYB came over for a summer visit, he showed Jr his tricks for handloading the 6.5 and while I worked, they spent much time at the range and at the loading bench. School stole him away every September though, so we never hunted deer together. Last fall, after a 4 year stint away at University studies, he finally returned to hunt his first deer. He stalked a fat whitetail doe up a hillside of sumac scrub and took her off hand at 80 yards with a single shot. As I have often said, you couldn't have knocked the grin off of his face with an axe.

    He is currently in his Master's Degree program but we are planning to get together and hunt this fall. When I asked him what rifle he was planning on using he said that he only had one hunting rifle. So far, the others were just for shooting. I think he's got it figured out.~Muir

  10. #10
    Uhuh ! It must be very satisfying for you. Men have dreams about what the will do with their children and grandchildren, but so often the dream stays just that.
    The daughter I mentioned is now in her mid 40's. (She'd probably slay me for mentoning that), but one afternon she descended the carpeted stairs to hear her ex-mother-in-law telling a friend of hers that the antlers on the wall were gained by her son - now daughter's ex-husband !
    I think that this was the beginning of the end.

    It was about the time of the cut eye incident that we had a problem with the cantilever spring in the floorplate magazine of one of the old estate Rigby 275's. It was not delivering the last two cartridges to the bolt receiver and it was a bit disconcerting to slam a bolt home on empty space and click on a beast.

    I extracted the offending spring, heated it to a dull cherry red and pulled it evenly back out to shape, then re-heated it again to an even dull red and allowed it to cool gently in its own time.
    The re-shaped spring was then re-heated in a small bath of molten lead and after a few minutes lifted out and plunged into warm oil.
    This re-set the spring tension as near as could be. There's plenty of fellows out there who might experience this, so if it helps - - - - - .

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