ARE YOU AS EFFICIENT AS THE RIFLE YOU USE?
By CAPT. W. H. RICHARD
World's Champion with the Small Bore Rifle
Many of our Sporting Magazines are again being filled with endless arguments and controversy of the high power, light-calibered rifles vs. the shocking power of the slower, heavier caliber. Vivid description of the oneshot results covering many pages of what happened to a bear. "The writer shot at a hundred yards" with a post mortem description of the remains of said bear, shot with some new fangled soft or solid point bullet thrown at heretofore unheard of velocity, is eagerly read by the chap who has visions of this combination with which to accomplish the demise of the woodchuck.
Equally versatile some adherent of the heavier bullet breaks into print along the same line of discussion and then wakes up the ballistic or near ballistic nut who proves his theories on the same pages by exhaustive geometrical formulas, which neither himself nor his readers understand.
What the most of us fluent pen pushers fail to tell is what happened or what did not happen to the bear we shot at five times at 50 yards with the same combination. If we did this it would of times spoil our story at so much per line.
The point we wish to make in this article. Even at the risk of incurring the derision of some of "America's Greatest Rifle Authorities" is that the majority of us "Greatest" overlook the human equation constituting the successful hunter and game getter. Right here we are going to make the assertion that the average man who goes into the woods after large or small game, carries over his arm a weapon that is just about 08 per cent more efficient for the purpose than himself.
Despite the improvement in hunting arms and ammunition of the past one hundred years, we cripple and lose more game today than at any time within the above period, considering the number of shots fired. The weapon of any particular generation has always been adequate for the task set for it, for, while it is undoubtedly true that the game has learned new tricks and has often changed its habits in the efforts at preserving its hide, it is also true that the average man of today is not the hunter of earlier periods.
To be a successful and sure hunter one must first of all know the nature and habits of the game to be hunted. How many of us who go into the woods each fall are qualified for the job?
In the early day, game was plentiful and the hunter lived with it and by it. He understood it and placed himself in such a position to secure such as was needed. There was little discussion in print as to the killing power of the rifle in the days of Boone. Kenton and Whetzel. Those chaps took what equipment they had and made good.
Isn't it a fact that the man who lives by and understands the game in his territory, who is successful in his territory, who is successful in his pursuits, takes little or no part in the endless arms and ammunition discussion? His old odd Winchester keeps him in meat and that's the end of it.
We knew a 12-year-old boy, who, through the summer months hunted woodchucks for the bounty of 20 cents per scalp paid by the township clerk. This boy had never been told that it required a 3000-fps bullet to kill chucks, so he assassinated Mr. Chuck with a 22 short. He could have done the same with a high power rifle because he knew chucks and hunted accordingly.
Dr. H is one of the most successful deer hunters of our acquaintance. For years he has gone to the big woods for a couple of weeks and never fails to secure the quota of deer allowed him by law. "Doc" never sees his 30 until he cleans and oils it up for the trip. He is a very mediocre target shot, in fact would be termed a poor shot if he could be induced to give an exhibition, yet it makes little difference whether his deer is running or standing, he seldom misses.
One day we coaxed him to go for a quail hunt to show us how it was done. To shorten the story, we watched the "Doc" miss his seventh consecutive trial on the birds, then we turned to him and said:
"Doc", how is it that while with a rifle you can kill a deer as he is running from you, yet, on these birds with your old Zulu which must give a six foot pattern at 30 yards, you are absolutely the most rotten wing shot we have ever seen."
"Well", said Doc, as he sat down on a log and filled his pipe, "you know I was thinking about that myself."
"Overlooking your base insinuation as to my $300 Franz-Premier being a Zulu, I figure it like this: In the woods I know deer and deer sign. I am never surprised at anything the deer may do for I have sort of a mental picture of him doing it and am prepared for it. Here, on these birds, which I have never hunted to any extent, I can not figure just what is going to happen. If I expect a straightaway the fool bird goes back over my head. If I expect him high he goes skimming the ground or the reverse. Yes, it's lack of experience, boy."
We have in minded another occasion in which the above conditions were exactly reversed.
The late Col. Chas. B. Winder, who in his day was the premier long range military rifle shot of this or any other country, and who by the way was the most deadly and unerring wing shot with a shot gun on quail, grouse or duck, we have ever met.
Winder and the writer were members of a party who were guests of a duck club in Michigan. During our stay a hunt for deer was arranged. The members of our party were stationed at various points about a slashing which lay between two swamps and a drive was made to start the deer from one swamp to the other.
Winder had never hunted deer, but was full of confident an<* enthusiasm and armed with an automatic rifle, with an extra filled cup in his pocket. Before leaving camp he had sighted in his rifle, placing rapidly five shot through an ordinary playing card at thirty yards.
In due time at Winter's station we heard the shooting begin. With a fine, even cadence like a man nailing a board on a fence the first five shots were spaced and after a short interval in which a new clip was being inserted, followed by six more.
Hurriedly we scrambled across to the scene of action to be in at the kill, but upon arrival found the Colonel dazedly looking for the lost clip which he had in his haste thrown out on the ground, but never a sign of the deer. That deer had run in a half circle around one of the most expert rifle and shot gun shots in the world within fifty yards, never receiving a scratch from one of the eleven shots fired. Excited ? No. That bounding, dancing, bucking deer was simply presenting an unusual picture to an inexperienced hunter. Yet that same man had bagged more grouse and ducks than all the combined eight men of the rest of the party. He was a bit touchy afterwards on the subject of his first experience with deer. What we wonder is, would our "greatest rifle authorities" consider he was equipped with too low or two high power in his rifle.
If we were giving advice, we would say do not be too fussy about discarding your pet arm on the strength of discussion of velocity, shocking power or description of one-shot results. In selecting a rifle for your hunting trip take the one that appeals to you. A few grains weight of bullet, or of foot seconds velocity more or loss will not change the ultimate results, especially if placed right.
As an old, philosophical neighbor of ours once remarked: "It all depends upon which way a tack is pointed, as to what it will do when you sit down on it.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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