Here’s where you can join me for my latest adventure. Sometimes it will be hunting, (sometimes even when we don’t get the game), sometimes shooting, sometimes travel or just plain adventuring, sometimes the discovery of a new product or principle. Anyway, it should be fun and hopefully entertaining.
Forgive us while the new website developes. Getting all the photos pasted in is a long process. Finding the time is always a problem, but it’s fascinating to read about what I used to do, especially now that my 80 year old body will not tolerate the jolts and bumps of earlier years. Old age ain’t for the weak and wimpy.
STONE CLIFF RENDEZVOUS- APRIL 2011, near Cedar City, UT.
Camping in the Junipers and a colorful tipi.
Most camps well hidden and very private There were plenty of traders
Including Jim Salmon who has been around almost as long as I have. The most popular trader of all- your choice of root beer or cream soda.
Looks bright and sunshiney but the thermometer said 34 F. I have on almost all the clothes I brought with me, including waffle weave underclothes, a sweater, frilly shirt and Ohio style padded wool winter waistcoat, as well as heavy gabardine pants. The wool cap is not for show, keeps my bald head warm. The walking stick is functional, too. I stumbled in a ploughed field hunting turkeys a few days before this photo was taken and wrenched my good right knee.
Fremont Indian Rendezvous 2011
Here I am, with my Sunday go-to-meeting hat. I was waiting for lunch.
Held right close to the largest Fremont Culture setting in the country, beautiful place. Lots of pictographs in the cliffs behind camp, even more across the canyon in front of the camp, not shown. There was elk sign all over the place. They winter in this pasture. It’s 6000 feet high, 45 at night 70 in the day in late April, windy with wild changes in the weather the general rule
OLD EPHRAIM RENDEZVOUS- CACHE VALLEY, UTAH 2011 –
Oone of the locations where the trappers of Ashley’s day wintered and cached their furs- just south of Bear River, on the Utah-Idaho border
This rendezvous is named after a huge grizzley that roamed the local mountains, finally killed in the 1930’s- the last known grizzly in Utah. It’s usually held in Blacksmith’s Fork Canyon, but got flooded out this year what with the heavy winter snowfall. This new location is at the top of Sardine Canyon, known for its lousy weather, right at 8000 feet. Temperature never got above 45, rained every day, snowed a little one night. Of course, I only took pictures when the sun was shinning.
The boys above on the left have been around, they camped high and dry, well above the mud line. The family camp on the right illustrates the youth coming into the movement. There’s lots of interest in rendezvousing locally, generated by the history of Cache Valley, with Ashley, Provost, Ogden , Bridger and others common names hereabout.
Trappers turned buffler men on the left above, Eastern longhunters talking it up with a Scotch booshway, somebody from Hollywood above right, he got really exited about the situation shoot, which was shot against time in teams of four against Brits and Injuns, who shot tennis balls back at the team. It was indeed fun.
Trader’s row, or at least one arm of it. It was thronged by tourists, “porkeaters’ in local parlance, on Saturday and Sunday. Good. We’ll see a few of them back next year with costume and rifle. There were lots of folks there in costume just enjoying the spirit of the game.
RED SALMON ON THE KENAI- ALASKA 2011
HERE IS A DAYS CATCH FOR THREE OF US: ‘REDS’ AS THEY ARE CALLED IN ALASKA ( SOCKEYE IN THE LOWER 48) THEY MIGRATE OUT OF THE OCEAN AND UP THE KENAI RIVER BY THE MILLIONS AND WE GET TO CATCH A FEW. THEY WERE LARGER THAN USUAL THIS YEAR, UPWARDS OF 10 LBS INSTEAD OF THE USUAL 6-8 LBS AND PUT UP QUITE A FIGHT IN THE KENAI’S SWIFT WATER, ESPECIALLY ON MY 9 FOOT FLY ROD. (SIGH) BROKE THE ROD ON ONE THIS YEAR. RIGHT: MY FRIEND Mc CORD AND A MEDIUM SIZED KING SALMON. HE THREW IT BACK SO HE COULD CATCH A BIGGER ONE.
Bridger 2011 Labor Day
I first came to Bridger in 1968, asked about having a Rendezvous here, got politely escorted off the property. 4 years later , in 1972, we held the first of many yearly Rendezvous. It took a lot of politicking, but finally happened. It’s now the largest Rendezvous in the USA.
First thing you see driving towards Bridger is an enormous encampment of tin teepees with a tent camp in the background. Get a load of the Welcome to Bridger sign. It boasts a whole 150 population.
Here’s Jim Bridger himself welcoming you to the Old Fort. Just across the street, and off the Fort grounds and officially not part of the Rendezvous, are sellers of all kinds of stuff from pretty good art to junk. There are always a good number of motorcyclists at Rendezvous, their trusty steeds pictured to the right.
Lots of folks come to Rendezvous just to get a taste of the fun. Tourists dressed as tourists, Mountain Men in leathers, Indians in breech clouts, Pilgrims in Immigrant costume, probably more of the latter than any. Many of the current day participants had ancestors come through Bridger on the way to the Mormon settlements in Utah, including me.
Lots of primitive camps, hundreds of them, scattered over the Fort grounds. Teepees, miner’s tents, Colonial Marquis tents, Revolutionary tents, all kinds and varieties, and all of them lived in.
The affair is more family oriented then any old time Rendezvous. Of course, the mountain men had their (usually Indian) families with them, so did the immigrants from the East who came along a little later.
One thing I really enjoy about Bridger is the mix of participants. This place allows anyone in, as did the old time rendezvous of the past. If you brought money, pelts or other trade goods, you were welcome. Same today!!
Both Indian and White camped together back in the old days, same now. I haven’t shown it, but the land surrounding Bridger is the best horse and stock pasture in the world. That ample pasturage is why Bridger is here. Hundreds and even thousands of Indians with all their horses would arrive and stay for trade and merriment. The pasturage had to be good to keep that many close.
Here is a reproduction of the Old Fort, taken from old drawings and descriptions. It’s not very large and would not stand any kind of determined assault. It wasn’t meant to, really it only protected trade goods from thievery. Demonstrations are held daily in the Old Fort, in the middle above is a blacksmith, to the right trade goods litter the ground, just like in the old days. The original Rendezvous was nothing more than an old fashioned trade fair. The more the profit, the merrier.
Another demo to the left above, the gentleman is a real live MD from Payson, UT., with original surgical tools and a lecture on the medical care of the day. Middle and right photos above depict the Trader’s Row activity, which is considerable.
More of Trader’s Row. Lots of silver crosses palms in this place . Lots of paper too, but it’s not worth much. Right above is the old original jail. They still use it. Costs a lot of silver to get out of it, even today.
Even the kids get in on the action as well as the Indians. The one on the left above is a college educated Shoshone from Lander Wyoming down to wow the tourists and pick up a few bucks. The kids were doing a brisk trade in kid goods.
Shooting is a familiar activity. There were about a hundred shooters at most of the events. Considering the 10,000 people present daily, that’s not a huge percentage but what started as a muzzleloading event has become a multi-faceted event with a montage across time.
All the shooting is done in costume and with traditional round ball rifles. The ladies get in on the action ,too. They have their own competition but many shoot right along with their men. Some are damn good, too. I would not want to get into their sights.
My Great Grandfather, William Banks, made the trip across the plains in 1852, along with his parents and a younger brother. He walked all the way. They stopped here at Bridger, met Jim and traded horses and hides. Bridger is a family tradition. I’ll keep coming back until I go under.
Diamond Mountain Rustlers Sept 2011 shoot –
Cowboy all the way
The range is dedicated for Cowboy shooting with storefronts and steel targets. Speed is the issue. You miss and it costs 5 seconds on your score. I figure my score by doubling the fastest score of the day. Usually that’s right on.
Some of the young guys are really quick. It’s hard to compete with young eyes and reflexes but it sure is fun. I didn’t hear the phone ring all day.
Doc, dressed as Paunchy Villa. Yes, I know that the name should be Pancho, but Paunchy fits the figure better. I shoot 1872 open top Colts with a Winchester brass framed 1866 rifle and a double hammer shotgun. And not awfully fast, either!.
TURKEY SAFARI APR 2012
I made a Safari of the the usual Spring turkey hunt. Went to Texas with the friends you see below then Kansas with another group then back to Utah for the final hunt. I managed to get 7 Toms all told, 6 of them with muzzleloaders. As usual, I had built some new guns over the winter for this spring’s Extravaganza. We saw only a few hens and jakes where usually we see lots, but the gobblers were wandering and anxious to please.
Even my very amateur calling was effective. I think we caught the season just right. Most of the hens were on the nest, leaving the Toms looking for leftovers. Saw lots of Javelinas too.
Above is my over-under double gun with back action percussion locks. The upper barrel is 20 gauge with interchangable chokes, an extra full installed for turkey. The lower barrel is a GRRW 50 caliber for patched round ball. Both are regulated with 90 grains FFFg to hit in a group at 25 and 50 yards. The 20 bore barrel with a patched .600 ball will group into 4 inches at 50 yards, the rifled barrel into less than half that. This is a great gun for treestand whitetail. I shoot 1 1/2 oz. Italian nickel plated shot surrounded by a tapered plastic shotcup. It’s a killing load at up to 40 yards. You can see a full photo workup of the gun in Archives.
Now we are in Kansas, with the Kelso brothers, great guys and great guides. I used the percussion over under in Texas and the 20 gauge NorthWest Gun pictured here in Kansas, using the same load in both guns. The bird on the right above is the biggest Rio Grande turkey I have ever seen, an apparent 4 year old weighing just short of 25 lbs.
You can see a full photo workup of this NW Gun in Archives, # 743. It is a real sparker, it’s very quick, seems like the trigger tripped and the bird was down. Very fast.
I got back home to Utah on a Sunday and we got the two birds shown left and middle above on Wednesday. These two idiot birds came running on my call at first light. They must really have been dumb. McCord Marshal, left above, used a Browning pump on his bird at 15 feet, I followed with a 20 yard shot using a Benelli semi-auto, sorry about that. (middle, above) I had just cleaned the muzzleloaders and wasn’t going to dirty them again, especially when Utah hunting is so poor. Oops! The surprised look on my face belies our success. I took Les Bennett (right above) out the next Saturday and called in 4 Toms, he killed one at 20 feet.
ANOTHER WHEEL-LOCK ADVENTURE–
WE’RE GOING TO SHOW PHOTOS OF THIS LATE RESTOCKED AUSTRIAN WHEEL-LOCK AS IT BUILDS. I SAY LATE RESTOCKED AUSTRIAN BECAUSE THE LOCK IS AN EARLY ONE WITH SQUARE BACK. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY USED IN A CHEEK-PIECE RIFLE. IT IS AUSTRIAN IN STYLE, VERY TYPICAL OF THE CLASS. WE WILL PRETEND TO RESTOCK THE LOCK AND BARREL, ALTHOUGH REALLY, ALL PARTS ARE NEW.
I HAD ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO SHOW THE PLANK AND THE PILE OF PARTS THAT THE GUN STARTED WITH BUT LOST SOME OF THE PHOTOS SOMEHOW. I WILL SHOW WHAT FEW I HAVE LEFT. SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT THE GUN STARTED WITH AN EXPENSIVE EUROPEAN WALNUT PLANK. FIRST STEP WAS TO BANDSAW IT TO ROUGH SHAPE, THEN INSTALL THE BARREL, THEN THE LOCK..
HERE ARE A FEW PHOTOS SHOWING THE ELEGANT PARTS THAT WILL COMPRISE ITS SUIT OF FURNITURE. THE CASTINGS ARE BEAUTIFUL, BUT COME FROM AN EARLY AUSTRIAN JAEGER, APPROPRIATE FOR THIS RE-STOCKED RIFLE. MANY WHEEL-LOCKS ARMS WERE MADE WELL UP INTO THE FLINTLOCK ERA. SOME OF US JUST LIKE OLD WELL-PROVEN THINGS, INCLUDING GUNS AND WOMEN.
THE EUROPEAN WALNUT CAME AS A PLANK. TALK ABOUT EXPENSIVE! THE PHOTO LEFT BELOW SHOWS THE RIFLE CUT, ‘IN THE SQAURE’ WITH A BANDSAW, THE LOCK-PLATE AND BARREL IN PLACE, THE MIDDLE PHOTO SHOWS THE BEGINNINGS OF THE INLET AND THE SWAMPED BARREL INLETTED. THE BRASS FURNITURE ABOVE AND LOCK BELOW ARE QUITE ELEGANT. THE CASTINGS ARE TAKEN FROM ORIGINALS. THY ARE ALSO QUITE DETAILED AND WILL REQUIRE A LOT OF CARE TO INLET PROPERLY.
THE RIGHT PHOTO ABOVE SHOWS WHAT THE ASSEMBLED LOCK WILL LOOK LIKE, AT LEAST IN PART, IN THE FULLY SHAPED STOCK. THE MIDDLE PHOTO SHOWS THE FIRST FEW CUTS ON THE WAY TO GETTING THE LOCK INLETTED. THE LOCK IS SO COMPLEX THAT EACH PAST HAS TO BE MOUNTED THEN INLETTED SEPARATELY. MORE PHOTOS TO FOLLOW ON THE INLETTING JOB.
THE RIFLE IS NOW FINISHED
The barrel is browned, the iron furniture is antique rust blued. All the screws are fire blued. The brass castings had to be de-burred, finish filed, then polished, carefully, to keep the detail without blurring it out.
The patchbox locks and slides open. The cheekpeice is low, but then the butt is pretty broad to compensate.
Cock the lock with the spanner in a clockwise direction, about 3/4ths of a turn. The trigger pull is soft and the wheel snap is sudden and loud. Fire is instant.
Pyrites or flint were used in the jaw of the cock in the old days, but require adjustment with every shot. A modern improvement is 2-3 strike-lites cast into a block and fixed in the jaws of the cock.
The castings are just beautiful, twice the cost of ordinary castings but well worth the expense in artistry.
I hope the same can be said for the carving and engraving. There is a line of poetry on the barrel upper flat’ “Quick of hand, sharp of eye, let him who wields me be, to get the game, win the prize and keep this land of liberty”
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL RENDEZVOUS JULY 2012 ON THE BLACKFORK, SOUTHERN WYOMING
THE RMNR IS USUALLY NOT A HUGE RENDEZVOUS BUT IT IS AS AUTHENTIC AS THEY COME. EVERYONE DRESSES TO THE TEETH, MOST VERY AUTHENTIC, LOTS OF HAND SEWING SEEN. THE ABOVE PHOTO SHOWS ABOUT HALF THE CAMP.
USUALLY THERE ARE MORE TIPI’S THAN OTHER STYLES OF TENTAGE, THIS YEAR ‘TWAS THE OTHER WAY ROUND.
ABOVE-RIGHT IS A WELL DECORATED TIPI, NOT TOTALLY AUTHENTIC BUT ATTRACTIVE. THE CAMP IN THE MIDDLE LOOKS PRETTY COMFORTABLE.
A MULETEER-WAGONEER BROUGHT IN ICE DAILY, BROUGHT IN HEAVY GEAR AND SUCH FOR FOLKS MOVING IN OR OUT. HE WAS BUSY MOST OF THE DAY. THE WERE LOTS OF ACTIVITIES. OUR MULETEER WITH HIS CRITTERS, MIDDLE SIZE MULES HE SAYS, BEAUTIFULLY KEPT AND CARED FOR. SAME GOES FOR THE WAGON, ON THE LEFT, NEW AND HAND MADE.
YOU CAN SEE TRADER’S ROW IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE PHOTO RIGHT ABOVE WITH A PILE OF BUFFLER ROBES FOR SALE IN THE FOREGROUND.
ABOVE, RIGHT, THE WELCOMING SIGN AT THE TRAIL WALK.
THE SITE ABOVE WAS ALSO OBVIOUSLY THE KNIFE AND HAWK AREA. THESE DUDES ARE PLAYING MUMBLY-PEG WITH BIG KNIVES. NOTICE HOW FAR APART THEY ARE. THERE WERE SOME CLOSE CALLS BUT NOBODY GOT STUCK.
AND HERE IS THE TRAIL WALK, RIGHT OUT IN THE SAGEBRUSH, 20 STEEL TARGETS, SOME LARGE SOME SMALL, SOME CLOSE, SOME LONG, A BUCKET OF WATER AT EACH STATION IN CASE A PATCH STARTS A FIRE. I MANAGED TO HIT 16 OF THE 20 TARGETS WITH A GREEN RIVER RIFLEWORKS LEMAN HALF-STOCK THAT I HAD JUST AQUIRED AND NEVER SHOT BEFORE. SOME FEW DEADEYES HIT THEM ALL, ONE DID 16 OF 20 WITH A SMOOTHBORE, BUT I KNOW HIM AND HE CHEATS. HE ACTUALLY PRACTICES.
THE MOST ENJOYABLE PART OF RENDEVOUS, FINDING A CAMPING PLACE IN THE SHADE BETWEEN A COUPLE OF COTTONWOODS, RIGHT NEXT TO THE ORIGINAL OLD HOMESTEAD, WITH VERY LITTLE AMBIENT NOISE IN THE DAYTIME AND ABSOLUTELY NONE AT NIGHT. THIS WAS THE QUIETEST RENDEZVOUS I HAVE EVER ATTENDED, SO PEACEFUL. READING IN THE SHADE IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY WAS A JOY. SO WAS LUNCH. YES, I KNOW, IT ALL DOESN’T LOOK VERY PRIMITIVE , AND IT ISN’T. THE FAMILY AND I CAMPED IN A TIPI FOR YEARS, EVEN TRAILED ONE THROUGH CALIFORNIA ON A FAMILY TRIP BACK IN THE 1970’S, BUT THE BIG KIDS, WHO WERE SUCH A HELP WITH THE TIPI AND THE CAMP CHORES, ARE ALL MARRIED AND GONE, JUST ME AND THE WIFE LEFT, AND WE ARE NOT UP TO THE EFFORT IT TAKES TO DO A TIPI CAMP RIGHT. SO WE BRING THE TIN TIPI. AT LEAST, WE ARE HERE! THAT’S A LOT BETTER THAN SOME CAN SAY.
2012 FORT BRIDGER RENDEZVOUS –
WHILE DRIVING OVER THE MOUNTAINS WE RAN INTO A MODERN CATTLE DRIVE. NO LONGHORNS, ONLY BLACK ANGUS. YUM! THE COWBOYS WERE LUNCHING WHILE THE CATTLE RESTED. THE CHUCK WAGON WAS A BIG COMMERCIAL TRAILER WITH INSIDE STOVES, FRIDGE AND FREEZER, STORAGE AND ALL THE AMENITIES OF HOME, CAPABLE OF SERVING A CROWD.
SOME OF THE CATTLE EVEN RESTED IN THE SHADE . AFTER A BIT, THE COWBOYS TIGHTENED CINCHES AND DROVE THE CATTLE DOWN THE MOUNTAIN. THEIR DESTINATION: RECEIVING PENS, WHERE THE CATTLE WILL BE SEPARATED BY BRAND , LOADED AND TRUCKED TO THEIR WINTER HOMES OR MARKET.
FORT BRIDGER. I TOOK PICTURES OF THE OLD BUILDINGS RATHER THAN THE CROWD THIS YEAR. ALL THE BUILDINGS WERE BUILT IN THE 1880’S AND THEN RESTORED. THE TWO TO THE LEFT ABOVE ARE BARRACKS BUILDINGS. THE ONE ABOVE RIGHT IS THE CURRENT MUSEUM. THE OLD ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS ARE SHOWN LEFT LOWER ROW ABOVE, THEY ARE NOW USED FOR REGISTRATION AND ACCOUNTING FOR THE RENDEZVOUS. AT RIGHT LOWER ROW IS THE OLD GUARDHOUSE AND JAIL.
THE PHOTO ABOVE IS INTERESTING, IT COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN AT A 1775 GATHERING. THE LADY IN THE TOP ROW LEFT IS PLAYING A HOME MADE HARP. THE TWO ON THE RIGHT ARE PURVEYING HOME MADE WARES OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE RESTORED ‘ORIGINAL’ FORT BRIDGER, WHICH WAS NOT A FORT AT ALL. IT WAS A TRADING STATION, AND A VERY SUCCESSFUL ONE, OFTEN ATTENDED BY HUNDREDS OF PIONEERS AND THOUSANDS OF INDIANS AT A TIME.
THERE’S A LECTURE GOING ON INSIDE THE ‘FORT’ ABOVE LEFT. MIDDLE: RIGHT ABOVE, A LADY SHOOTER FRIEND WITH A GOOD SCORE. I WOULD NOT WANT HER SHOOTING AT ME.
THESE LADIES ACCOMPANIED THEIR MEN TO THE SHOOT. MAKING AND DISPLAYING QUILTS IS A PASSION FEW MEN ENJOY.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE SHOOTERS, ALL DRESSED FANCY TO PLEASE, ONLY A FEW OF THEM TRULY TRADITIONAL. THERE WERE BETTER THAN 100 SHOOTERS ON THE LINE DURING THE 2 DAYS OF SHOOTING. THERE WERE 20,000 PEOPLE AT THE RENDEZVOUS. MOST WERE THERE TO ENJOY THE COSTUME AND TRADE SHOW. ONLY A FEW SHOT. RIGHT lOWER ROW: A FEW OF THE WINNERS DISCUSSING THEIR TARGETS, ABOVE. IT WAS RARE TO SEE A GREYBEARD WINNING ANYTHING.
IT’S INTERESTING THAT THE RENDEZVOUS WAS STARTED IN 1972 BY MUZZLELOADING CLUBS WHOSE MAIN INTEREST WAS SHOOTING, WHERE NOW THE RENDEZVOUS IS DOMINATED BY TREKKERS, DESCENDENTS OF UTAH AND OREGON PIONEERS, ALL OF WHOM PASSED THROUGH THIS PLACE ON THEIR WAY WEST.
LATE SEPTEMBER 2012
MUZZLELOADER WHITETAIL HUNT, KANSAS TERRITORY, NEAR THE MISSOURI BORDER. MY LEGS HAVE GONE BAD, SORT OF, IN MY ADVANCING YEARS SO CAN’T CLIMB AFTER SHEEP AND ELK AND MOOSE LIKE I USED TO. CLIMBING IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE BUT COMING DOWN IS. SO I AM A FLATLAND HUNTER, WHITETAIL AND TURKEYS AND VARMINTS. I HUNTED WHITETAIL IN TEXAS LAST YEAR, KILLING THREE, BUT WITH A BROWNING 243. THREE SHOTS, THREE DEER. TOO EASY! I DECIDED TO GO TO KANSAS WITH A MUZZLELOADER THIS YEAR, BUT IN THE EAST NEAR THE MO. BORDER RATHER THAN THE MID-KANSAS AREA I HUNTED IN 2007. I WENT WITH THE KELSO BROTHERS AGAIN, THE FINEST WHITETAIL GUIDES I HAVE EVER KNOWN. THEY ARE SPECIAL.
I FOUND THE EAST KANSAS COUNTRY LUSH AND THICK WITH MIXED TIMBER AND FARMLANDS. THERE WERE 6 OTHERS IN CAMP, ALL FROM PA., ALL FINE MEN. I REALLY ENJOYED IT. HUNTING WAS MOSTLY FROM STANDS & BOX BLINDS BUT I DID GET TO SIT OUT A LITTLE, WHICH IS WHAT I PREFER. BEING DOWN ON THE GROUND WITH THE DEER IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE AND ONE I REALLY ENJOY.
THERE ARE ALWAYS LOTS OF TURKEYS IN THIS NECK OF THE WOODS. I SAW AT LEAST A DOZEN EVERY DAY. THE WHITETAIL DOE ABOVE RIGHT IS THE BAIT. I SPENT MOST MORNINGS TROLLING DOES THROUGH THE GRASS WAITING FOR SOMETHING BIGGER TO COME TO THE BAIT. EVENTUALLY SOMETHING DID. SEE BELOW
THIS BASIC 8 POINT (11 POINTS INCLUDING THE KICKERS) WHITETAIL BUCK FINALLY SHOWED UP. HE INITIALLY APPEARED AT 150+ YARDS, STARTED A SCRAPE, NUZZLED AN OVERHANGING TREE BRANCH AND APPEARED TO BE GETTING READY FOR THE RUT. HE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A SOMEWHAT SMALLER BUCK SCORING ABOUT TEN B&C LESS. HE EVENTUALLY CAME TO THE DOES, ABOUT 105 YARDS OUT. I WAS USING THE WHITE THUNDERBOLT .541 RIFLE WITH CARBON FIBER BARREL AND LEUOPOLD 2 X 7 SCOPE YOU SEE ABOVE. THIS IS THE SAME RIFLE I TOOK TO AFRICA IN 2005. IT IS 451 CALIBER, SHOOTING MY 45/40-350 POWER STAR BULLET, (45 CALIBER SABOT WITH A 40 CALIBER, 350 GRAIN PURE LEAD HOLLOW POINT BULLET), OVER 80 GRAINS OF BLACKHORN 209 POWDER WITH A 5 GRAIN BLACK POWDER IGNITER, A 1600+ FPS LOAD. PRIMER WAS MY 336. YOU CAN SEE WHERE THE BULLET HIT THE BUCK, SLIGHTLY HIGH MID CHEST. THE BULLET ANGLED SLIGHTLY TO THE REAR AND DOWN, (I WAS IN A HIGH STAND), BUT PENETRATED ALL THE WAY THROUGH. THE BUCK JUMPED ONCE, TOOK THREE STEPS THEN FELL OVER. THERE WAS A BUCKET OF BLOOD IN HIS LUNGS, THE KILL QUICK AND MERCIFUL.
LOOKS TO BE THREE YEARS OLD, PROBABLY. 16 INCHES INSIDE, 11 TOTAL POINTS IF YOU COUNT THE THREE KICKERS , 1 RIGHT, 2 LEFT, AT THE BASE OF THE ANTLERS. THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN A GREAT DEER IN ANOTHER 2 YEARS. IT’S ALMOST TOO BAD THAT I HARVESTED HIM NOW INSTEAD OF THEN. BUT I EXPECT HE WILL TASTE PRETTY GOOD. I ALWAYS APOLOGIZE TO THE DEER AND THANK THEM FOR THE SACRIFICE OF THEIR LIVES. THEY BLESS OUR LIVES WITH THEIR BEAUTY AND GRACE AS WELL AS WITH THE MEAT IN THE FREEZER.
THERE IS A LESSON IN THE HUNT DETAILED ABOVE.
THERE WERE 6 OTHER HUNTERS IN CAMP, ALL OLDER, ALL SERIOUS, ALL VASTLY EXPERIENCED WITH MODERN RIFLES AND ARCHERY, EVERY ONE OF THEM SHOOTING THE LATEST CRAZE IN MUZZLELOADING, THE 250 GRAIN, SUPPOSEDLY HIGH VELOCITY HOLLOW POINTED JACKETED PISTOL BULLET OVER 150 GRAINS OF PELLETS. ( 3 EACH 50 GRAIN PELLETS OF PYRODEX OR 777) BY THE TIME I LEFT CAMP, ONE HAD KILLED A GOOD BUCK, BUT WITHOUT COMPLETE PENETRATION, ALSO RAN OFF A WAYS AND WAS HARD TO FIND. ONE MISSED A BUCK AND ANOTHER SHOT AND LOST A BUCK. THERE WAS NO BLOOD TRAIL TO FOLLOW WITH EITHER HIT, AS IS TYPICAL WITH THE LIGHTLY CONSTRUCTED BULLETS THEY WERE USING. THE KELSO’S COMMENTED LATER THAT THEY LOST WAY TOO MANY BUCKS IN MUZZLELOADING SEASON.
LET ME BE BOLD ENOUGH TO MAKE SEVERAL COMMENTS ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF THE HIT AND LOST BUCK:
BRIEFLY, THE BULLETS THE OTHER HUNTERS WERE USING ARE SO LIGHTLY CONSTRUCTED AND ARE SHOT AT SUCH A HIGH VELOCITY THAT THEY EXPAND TOO RAPIDLY, YOU MIGHT SAY THEY EXPLODE , CAUSING A FAILURE TO PENETRATE AND DESTROY MULTIPLE ORGAN SYSTEMS. REMEMBER, THOSE BULLETS WERE MANUFACTURED TO DISABLE OR KILL MEN AT CLOSE RANGE AND AT RELATIVELY LOW VELOCITY, USUALLY LESS THAN 1000 FPS , WHERE THEY ARE FIRED AT 1700-2000 FPS FROM MUZZLELOADERS WITH THE HUGE 150 GRAIN CHARGES COMMONLY ADVOCATED. EVERYBODY IS FORGETTING THAT THE GOAL IN PLACING A BULLET ON A DEER, OR ANY OTHER GAME, IS TO CAUSE THE PROJECTILE TO STRIKE IN SUCH A PLACE AND AT SUCH AN ANGLE THAT MULTIPLE ORGAN SYSTEMS ARE DESTROYED, WITHOUT WHICH THE GAME CAN’T TRAVEL OR LIVE FOR LONG. HOPEFULLY, THAT WILL BE ONLY SECONDS AT BEST, REMEMBERING THAT A DEER CAN RUN 100 YARDS IN 4 SECONDS. IF NOT INSTANT DISABILITY AND DEATH, THEN WHAT WE WANT IS COMPLETE PENETRATION THROUGH AT LEAST 2 ORGAN SYSTEMS WITH A GENEROUS EXIT WOUND SO THAT A GENEROUS BLOOD TRAIL IS LEFT FOR FOLLOW-UP.
THE BALLISTIC COEFFICIENT (BC)) OF THE BULLETS USED ON THIS HUNT ARE ILLUSTRATIVE. MY 45/40-350 BULLET (45 CALIBER BARREL AND SABOT, 40 CALIBER BULLET WEIGHING 350 GRAINS) THAT I USED IS AN INCH LONG AND HAS A BC OF .300. THE LIGHTER PISTOL BULLETS USED BY THE OTHERS ARE SHORT AND FAT AND HAVE BC’S IN THE .12-.18 RANGE, WHICH MEANS THEY FLY THROUGH THE AIR MUCH LESS EFFICIENTLY AND PENETRATE FAR LESS WELL, LET ALONE EXPAND WAY TOO FAST.
NOW, HOW DO WE SOLVE THE PROBLEM? FOR ONE, USE LONGER, HIGH BC BULLETS, LIKE THE WHITE BRAND BULLETS THAT I DESIGNED WITH THE PRINCIPLES DETAILED ABOVE IN MIND. THEY ARE HARD TO FIND, BUT YOU CAN GET THEM AT ‘WHITERIFLES.COM’, ON THE NET. IF YOU ARE USING SABOTS, OTHER GOOD BULLETS ARE THE MORE HEAVILY CONSTRUCTED 300 GRAIN HOLLOW POINTS MADE FOR HIGHER VELOCITY MAGNUM PISTOLS AND RIFLES BY HORNADAY AND OTHERS, AVAILABLE IN BOTH 44 AND 45 CALIBERS. ALSO, THE POINTED SPITZER 300 GR. ‘ SCORPION’ AND RIBBED SABOT MADE BY HARVESTER IS GOOD, AS WELL AS THE NEW 300 GR COPPER AND 350 GR LEAD “NO SABOT’ BULLETS BY FEDERAL THEY SHOOT A LITTLE SLOWER BUT HOLD TOGETHER BETTER AT HIGH VELOCITY, HAVE A BETTER BC, FLY BETTER THROUGH THE AIR AND GIVE YOU A BETTER CHANCE OF COMPLETE PENETRATION. AND OF COURSE, YOU CAN ALWAYS SWITCH TO THE HEAVY SLIP FIT BULLETS MADE BY WHITE AND OTHER MANUFACTURERS AS WELL.
THE BEST SLIP-FIT BULLET I EVER DESIGNED FOR DEER WAS A 435 GRAIN, DEEPLY HOLLOW POINTED .450 CALIBER MULTI-GROOVED, LUBRICATED BULLET THAT I SHOT OVER 70 GRAINS OF PYRODEX P. THE GENEROUS HOLLOW-POINT EXPANDED EXPLOSIVELY ON IMPACT BUT THE SOLID BASE HELD TOGETHER WELL ENOUGH TO PENETRATE ALL THE WAY THROUGH A DEER LENGTHWISE. I SHOT A NUMBER OF DEER AND SMALL COW ELK WITH THAT BULLET AND NEVER DID RECOVER ONE, THEY ALL WENT OUT THE OTHER SIDE. MY SUCCESS ILLUSTRATES THAT BC IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN VELOCITY, ACCURACY BEING EQUAL. THE KELSOS TELL ME THAT THEY ARE GOING TO DEMAND THE USE OF AT LEAST 300 GRAIN BULLETS IN THEIR WHITETAIL CAMPS BEGINNING NEXT YEAR. I THINK IT’S A WISE IDEA.
LAST, GET OVER ALL THE HYPE ABOUT HEAVY POWDER LOADS. THAT GARBAGE IS MEANT ONLY TO SELL LOTS OF PELLETS. HEAVY LOADS ARE RARELY AS ACCURATE AS LIGHTER LOADS. SHOOT A LOAD THAT IS ACCURATE RATHER THAN ONE THAT IS FAST. BESIDES, MUZZLELOADERS ARE NOT FAST. THERE IS NOT ONE MADE THAT SHOOTS AS FAST AS A 30-30 LET ALONE A .300 MAG.
I MUCH PREFER LOOSE POWDER TO PELLETS, SIMPLY BECAUSE IT’S MORE ACCURATE, EXCEPT WHEN I KNOW I WILL NEVER SHOOT AT MORE THAN 50 YARDS. AT THAT RANGE, ANY LOAD IS OK, EVEN PELLETS. I RARELY SHOOT MORE THAN 120 GRAINS IN A 50 CALIBER, OR 80 IN A 45. USUALLY , IT’S 100 IN THE 50 AND 70 IN THE 45. AND I HAVE KILLED LOTS OF GAME OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS WITH THOSE LOADS.
AS I REMEMBER, I LOST ONLY ONE DEER, A SIKA, IN OVER 50 YEARS OF HUNTING, OFTEN TAKING 6-10 ANIMALS A YEAR, MANY OF THEM REALLY BIG GAME, LIKE ELK AND MOOSE AND KUDU AND SUCH, AND THAT DEER WAS LOST BECAUSE THE SCOPE GOT KNOCKED OFF KILTER AND I MADE A BAD SHOT.
CHOICE OF PROPER BULLET AND POWDER CHARGE IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT, BUT PLACEMENT OF THE BULLET ON THE ANIMAL SO THAT IT DESTROYS MULTIPLE ORGAN SYSTEMS AND KILLS QUICKLY IS PARAMOUNT.
SPRING-SUMMER-FALL 2012 –
The adventure of a Pannabecker flintlock, slim and curved. AA maple which doesn’t show well in the photo. New old stock Sharon 50 cal barrel 7/8th by 42 or so. Siler flintlock, brass furniture, single trigger. #734 IN ARCHIVES.
First you trade for the pre-carved stock, which you found sitting in a friend’s garage, left there for years, dusty and cob-webbed, then trade for the Sharon barrel, new but stored a long time, still in good shape, never before used, despite manufacture in the 1970’s. The Siler lock turned up at a Rendezvous and the brass furniture, except for the new patch-box and single trigger which I happened to have on hand, came with the stock. The brass was tarnished from long storage but was essentially new. It’s been 2 years since you started gathering parts.
Now you put it all together over the spring so it looks dimly like a long-rifle . That’s the easy part. It takes about an hour to finish mill the breech and tang then install the counter-bored stainless touch-hole, another hour to inlet the barrel, another hour to install the barrel keepers then another one to inlet the three pipes, maybe a little more, the rear pipe being stubborn, an hour to inlet the butt-plate, an hour plus for the lock and sidelock inlet, and an hour on the trigger guard and trigger. Opps, forgot the time to rasp down the stock to fit all this stuff, then another two hours at least to carefully inlet the patch-box after a brief rough sanding. You’ve got at least 10 hours in the rifle and you have been doing this for 50 years already. Easy? Right!
Now it’s summertime. Why does it take so long to get ten hours into the rifle. It’s because you are building seven other traditional longrifles in between doing Endoscopy and running a medical clinic.
Now draw your decorative designs on the stock, in pencil, because you erase a lot, then try again. There aren’t any patterns , this is all done freehand, with Kindig’s big book in front of you. God Bless Kindig. He was a great guy by the way. This takes at least 2 hours if you don’t count the study time to get the patterns right in your head. That’s 12 hours or more so far.
The carving is drawn on but not yet done. You will do all the carving by hand, tap, tap, tap. You better get it right the first pass. This not like surgery. Ma Nature gives you a second chance with surgery. Carving doesn’t. The wood doesn’t heal if you make a mistake. You are going to apply some brass embelishments at the wrist and behind the lock You take some photos as the rifle finishes to show off. You think the winged beast on the left rear butt is right charming, but it’s a challenge to cut the wood out around it to give it that bas-relief look. You want to make it jump out of the wood at the beholder. Takes time. Then you have to sand and polish it- carefully- so the edges remain sharp and defined. You spend at least 5 hours on the carving . The engraving needs finishing as well. That comes last. Time spent is up to 17-18 hours now.
Now that you’ve done the carving, , the rifle needs sanding with 80, then 150. 220. 320 and 400 paper , then staining with your special mix of colors to get just the right hue, which of course demands a different mix with each individual stock, , then oil soaking the stock until it won’t hold any more, then finishing with gunstock varnish in thin rubbed coats, steel wooling between coats until the sheen is just right, then waxing, But first you have to file the patch-box so it fits the wood so well that it appears grown in, as well as nail down and file the brass thumb-piece and the teardrops at the wrist behind the lockplate.
The brass furniture also needs finishing, which means filing, shaping, then sanding from 150 grit through 600 then polishing with steel wool, all hand work. By this time your old rotator cuff injury is acting up. You do most of this hand work at night while watching the political shows on TV. The frustration of politics makes your hands fly. You put at least another 4-5 hours doing all this stuff, probably more. You don’t count the time very well because you enjoy the work. Total time now minimum 21-22 hours.
Pannabacker was known for the roman nose curve in the buttstock. They are pretty. You have to shoot them old style, straight up, head not forward at all, for the eye to aquire the sights. Higher sights help a bit.
After better than 22 hours of skilled work, this is what you’ve got. (below) A pretty good looking rifle that will actually shoot. You might be able to hit something with it if you put the sights in, and the lock might even stay in the mortice if you install the sidelock screws, likewise the barrel and the tang screw.. Those screws, and of course all the rest of the screws need fire bluing. You’ve engraved your name on the top flat of the barrel, but the patch-box, toe plate and other furniture still need engraving. Now you’re going to have to design a pattern, again God Bless Kindig, draw it on paper, then draw it on the brass, then get out the engraving tools and go after it. Better be in a good mood, with artsy juices boiling when you do this or you’ll screw it up. There’s no starting over.
The photos hardly show how the Cockatrice jumps out of the wood at you, below, but it does when you have it in hand. A Cockatrice is a mythical beast with wings that can kill just by looking at his victim. You hope the gun will do it, too.
The brass has that antiquey sheen to it because of the hand work. You could polish it on a muslin wheel and get it brighter, but lose that old time look. Rub it with a handful of green grass and it will tarnish up quick. No shine in the woods that way and it looks old.
You can see that the touch-hole is sun-setted just right for quickest ignition. The lock is a proven sparker. Trigger pull is 3-4 lbs. Length of pull about 13 1/2 inches.
HOW MUCH MORE TIME TO COMPLETION?. DEPENDS. PROBABLY ABOUT 4. MAYBE 5 BY THE TIME YOU FIX ALL THE LITTLE GLITCHES THAT SEEM TO ALWAYS SHOW UP AT THE LAST MINUTE, LIKE THE PATCH BOX LATCH YOU FORGOT TO INSTALL. THEN SHOOT IT TO MAKE SURE IT FUNCTIONS LIKE IT SHOULD, THEN CLEAN IT UP AND TRY TO SELL IT. HOW MUCH WILL YOU GET? DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH SOME ASPIRING SHOOTER WILL PAY, MAYBE DEPENDS ON THE FULLNESS OF THE MOON, OR GOD FORBID, THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY. IT’S GOOD YOU DO IT FOR THE SHEER JOY OF CREATION. YOU PAID ABOUT $600 FOR ALL THE PARTS, IT WOULD BE 20% MORE AT CURRENT PRICES, YOU WILL HAVE AT LEAST 25 HOURS IN IT IN THE END, PLUS THE COST OF RUNNING YOUR SHOP AND ADVERTISING, YOU MIGHT HARVEST TRIPLE YOUR COST IF YOUR AGENT DOES HIS PART. YOU MIGHT END UP WITH $1000 PROFIT FOR ALL THE FUSS. WITH 25 HOURS IN THE PROJECT, THAT’S A RETURN OF $40 AN HOUR, ABOUT WHAT SKILLED , EXPERIENCED OIL FIELD HANDS MAKE IN THIS NECK OF THE WOODS.
THE ENGRAVING IS ALL DONE. (SEE ABOVE) IT TOOK ANOTHER THREE HOURS TO DESIGN AND EXECUTE. THEN POLISH IT UP, INCLUDING THE SIDEPLATE, TOEPLATE AND PATCHBOX. IT TOOK ANOTHER HOUR TO FIX THE TRIGGER WHICH DECIDED TO LOCK UP ‘CAUSE YOU LEFT IT TOO TIGHT IN THE WOOD AND THE WOOD SWELLED JUST ENOUGH TO LOCK IT UP AFTER YOU PUT SOME OIL TO IT. THEN A FINAL POLISHING AND A PATCH DOWN THE BARREL, ADJUST THE FLINT IN THE JAWS OF THE COCK AND ITS READY TO SHOOT. OR LOOK AT. OR SELL
Fall 2012 –
Hunting Chukar with family and friends. This a a twice annual affair, usually about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I rarely get pictures because we do it so much it doesn’t seem special. Chukars are my favorite bird, they are fast and challenging. They also eat really good. There is nothing like a Chukar pie.
APRIL 2013- TURKEY HUNT IN TEXAS & KANSAS
Here are three Toms I took in Texas and Kansas. shooting a 20 bore French fowler copy. The big load of 1 7/8th # 7 shot in my super-full inter-changable choke was very effective. Left- A tom that fell to the fowler in Texas, 32 yards, suddenly dead. The other two are Kansas birds. I called in one with a buddy, the other I had to call in the Boss Hen to get the Tom close. Only got one in Utag this year, not pictured.
Below are pics of the finished gun. There is a full photo workup on it found in Custom-Traditional, to the left. It’s light and handy, quite handsome and typical of French production for foreign export in the 1740’s.
THE ADVENTURE OF AN OLD FRIEND COME HOME June 2013
This is the first GRRW Leman Indian Trade Rifle, built by ‘BlueJacket” Sanders , modeled from an original Leman in my collection. I hunted with it several times. I thought I owned it.
Despite my sense of ownership, the rifle was eventually sold to a local collector, who let it sit un-used in a closet for 40 years, then sold to the gentlemen seen with me above. He eventually brought it over to verify that it was the original #1. It was like an old friend, thought lost, resurrected from the dead. You can see it in the saddle scabbbard in the three hunting photos, an elk hunt in Montana in the 70’s. A new gun is always an excuse for another hunt
A beautiful, elegantly functional design, perfect for horseback Indians. That’s why they liked it so much.
There is a GRRW Collectors Club nowadays. Phil Meek is the Honcho. You can find him and it on the web.
July 2013 RMNR- Southern Wyoming.
Fort Bridger is about 20 miles north of here.
Beautiful place to camp, good water , lots of pasture. More miners tents than tipis this year. That’s my better half in the middle. The weather produced some great evening scenes.
Bridger Rendezvous 2013.
Lots of younger shooters coming into the sport nowadays. I think I was the oldest shooter on the line. No, didn’t win a thing .
Shot a newly percussed fancy Jaeger rifle, below, but young eyes and reflexes counted more than experience this time around.
This started out as a plain jane rifle using a second grade stock full of worm holes. But the artistic juices got flowing all of a sudden and this is what turned up. It was originally flint but the lock didn’t function any to well so percussed it in the original fashion. Then I aquired a second better flintlock to match , so now you can shoot it with either flint or percussion, or both.
A beautiful day, the kids playing in the crick that runs through camp (Black’s Fork). The plentiful water is another reason Bridger is where it is. All those folks on the right above are getting ready for church. There were about 1000 there, most of them descendants of Mormon pioneers.
FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR ENCAMPMENT 2013 –
coming fall time at Fort Buenaventura in Ogden, Utah. A small camp but very authentic 1740-60 era. The French and Indian war time period was the one that originally attracted me into muzzleloading. Unfortunately, most of it is in the East. It was great to see how carefully these men dressed and comported themselves.
The shooting here is done with smoothbores. The accuracy some demonstrated was amazing. It’s easy to understand why about half the original so called Kentucky rifles were actually smooth-bored. They can be used with shot, naked ball or patched ball, making them very versitile.
This shooter had obviously been wearing his outfit for a long time, it showing the ravages of time, none of it faked. ‘Doc Mark’ is seen on the right with wife and authentic 1740’s camp.
GOIN’ FISHIN’ summer 2013
I have long said that if I could shoot fish that I would fish a lot more than I do. Here is a morning’s catch with my primitive 1950’s vintage spinning rod. those are rainbow trout, better than 15 lbs. worth. I have an older friend who lets me access his otherwise private pond. In exchange, I trade lies and stories for entertainment.
TURKEY 2014- Texas.
This year had been cold and dry, when we got there it was hot and drier yet. The hunting was poor, but the last hunt on the morning we left was a classic. I managed to position myself perfectly, had a dozen toms gobbling in roost trees 50 yards away. Called a few times and had them flying in, landing 12 feet away. The first one took a look, saw the surprise on my face and flew away.
After I put on my face mask, the next one made the fatal mistake of sticking around. I was using the triple barrel Wender seen above. This elegant rifle-shotgun combo is a triple Wender, with a 12 bore shot barrel, plus a 62 caliber rifle and 50 caliber rifle both for patched round ball. I usually use Magnum loads, 1 7/8th oz. shot and 100 grains black powder for 90% first shot patterns through my custom Super-Turkey choke. It shoots as well as any modern contraption. You can see a full photo work-up on this gun in Archives, #791. It is very versitile, perfect for a man who wants only one gun..
I had taken another earlier with the Baker foraging gun seen above. Most Bakers were 20 bore Infantry Rifles, used by the British against Napolean, 1812-15 and as late as 1835. This one is a smoothbore Forager, 20 bore, equipped with one of my Super-Turkey chokes, shooting 90% first shot patterns at 40 yards. It can also be used with patched ball with a #1 skeet choke, which is cylinder bore. It started life as a non-shooter made in India 30+ years ago. It was a mess when I traded into it. You can read the story and see a full photo workup of the transformation in Archives #777.
Bridger Rendezvous 2014
This year we are concentrating in the tin tipi camp. The usual count is 1000-1200 trailers spread over several thousand acres of private property. People come from all over to ca,p and enjoy the Rendezvous. Many arrive in jeans and sneakers and go home in homespun and leather. Everybody is welcome, as long as you have plews to trade. You have to be dressed primitive to get into or camp in the Fort proper, or pay a fine, and fur trade dress is a must on the firing line or if you are a trader.
Left above is my old tin tipi. When my kids were small we camped in our tipi literally everywhere we went. Now they are gone, so are their muscles and strong backs, so we camp with the rest of the Pork Eaters.
There were a good bunch of shooters this year. More youngsters than usual. No greybeards won nothin’. Eyes too old!
Whitetail in Kansas during the rut, with a crossbow, no less. I started shooting a bow when I was ten. Eventually I was pulling an 80 lb. Howard Hill 4-layer bamboo Tembo. Ruined my right rotator cuff shooting that bow way back in the 80’s, had not hunting archery since. Then Kansas made crossbows legal. I opted for a PSE Tac 15 and got in way over my head. Spent the summer developing loads, after a ton of money and time, had a few arrows that would group into 4 inches at 60 yards with broadheads. Naturally, I was thinking of making this heroic long range shot on a monster buck.
It turned out that this buck came strolling past at 21 feet. The worst arrow I owned would have done the job. The buck is basically a 5 x 6 with a few extra spikes thrown in for good measure. The Tac 15 is a technical marvel, but be prepared to spend lots of money and time to get the ultimate accuracy you want, sort of like a rifle. The guy in the background on the right is Kendall Kelso, the finest whitetail guide in the world.
THANKSGIVING 2014 –
My extended family does a bird hunt after Thanksgiving. This bunch of dead shots took 31 birds out of 33 jumped.
2015 Spring Turkey, Kansas
I made a brand new flintlock fowler for this years turkey extravaganza but somebody offered too much money for it- I couldn’t pass it up. So I went back to my old Tominator, the in-line muzzleloading shotgun I invented back in 1990, offered through White Systems at the time. There isn’t a better turkey gun, for at least the first shot. 90% first shot patterns if you follow directions. The bird on the left was a 50 yard shot. The tom on the right, killed with a modern Benelli (ugh!), went down at less than 30. I used the modern contraption only because I lent another hunter the Tominator. He was successful, too.
I killed a 3 year old in Utah with my TAC-15 crossbow but failed to get a photo in the hurry of the day.
2015-FORT BRIDGER RENDEZVOUS
I had waited all summer to get to a Rendezvous. Missed them all for one reason or another. Too much to do.
Hadn’t even got to a Cowboy shoot. So it was wonderful to finally get time. Except the Wednesday we were supposed to leave soured with too many last minute duties to get away. So we left Thursday, only to have the truck spring a leak in the cooling system. We broke down in Manila, Utah, a teeny mountain town with no auto parts store and the nearest mechanic 60 miles away. We went home in a tow truck, fixed the truck then tried again on Friday, arriving late, too late to register for the shooting on Saturday. The photo to the right above is my reaction to the situation. Then a guy showed up who wanted a rifle and had to have the 54 caliber Sporting Rifle I had brought along. I had only brought one, where usually I bring a half dozen, but couldn’t refuse his generous offer. At least I didn’t hear the phone ring for four days. The weather was pleasant and the friends all delightful. Life is full of blessings.
Bridger sports an afternoon cannon shoot with a 2000 yard target ring on a hillside. As you can see, some of the guns can be quite accurate. There were about 20 cannon this year, about a half dozen full size.
Above is Bridger’s version of a Mountain Man Run. First you cut off a stake with your rifle from 25 yards, then you run around the shooting range (about 300 yards) then you start a flint and steel fire, then bring an egg to a boil and eat it. They say that slightly warmed raw egg is quite tasty. Fastest man wins.
2015 -Late Sept., Kansas Whitetail
The week had been hot, I mean for September in Kansas, really hot. It started off on Monday at 85F., which was bad enough. The deer hardly moved, only a few young critters showed and those mostly does. By Thursday the temperature was 103F and not a deer showed a hair the whole day.
I decided to go home on Friday. Just couldn’t take any more of the heat. I had anticipated a great hunt with the Kelso brothers, the best whitetail outfitters in Kansas, let alone the nation. Usually the weather in September is a pleasant 55-65 F in the daytime with chilly nights and the deer are feeding avidly, getting ready for winter. Usually conditions are perfect for an early fall muzzleloading whitetail hunt.
Well, not this time. Too hot, deer not moving, even the hunters seeking the shade at mid-day in shirtsleeves and shorts between sessions in a tree or blind. I got my stuff all packed up, ready to go on Friday morning before the heat got started again.
Got up Friday at 4 am to a cool breeze, about 45F. Goodness, what a releif. Maybe the deer would start moving. I decided to stay for the morning hunt, just to see how it went. I was all packed up so I could leave anytime I wanted if things didn’t pan out.
The morning brought out the deer, more than we had been seeing and bigger ones too. I saw several 8 pointers just none big enough. I didn’t want the meat, had plenty at home in the freezer. I wanted a big set of horns. If I got one, the meat would go to the local orphanage. The change was encouraging enough to make me want to stay for the evening hunt. I would go home on Saturday.
The evening hunt was even better, the weather cool and pleasant, more deer than ever, several bigger bucks, but again just not big enough. It was tempting to think of staying for the morning hunt. It would be the last day anyway, I could always drive half way home in the afternoon and still make noon church on Sunday.
Saturday morning broke even cooler than Friday. I actually needed a light jacket in the early morning cool. I was planted in a different blind than the day before, really a different blind every day, depending on wind direction and feed conditions. I saw a good half dozen shootable bucks but didn’t want to waste a bullet on any of them. All were fairly close, all easy shots with my WHITE Thunderbolt .451 rifle. just not quite big enough. but it was enough to get me to stay for the evening hunt. It was getting dark about 8 pm, so I would hunt till eight, then head for home, drive all night if I had to.
That afternoon saw me at a water hole I had seen before, had hunted turkeys there several years before. I was in a bale blind- bales of hay stacked around and me hiding behind them. I had a 100 yard shot to the near edge of the water. Far to the right was another glint of water, about 200 yards away. The guide said,” them deer will come out right in front of you, don’t worry about that other water, too far away anyway”. He was used to muzzleloaders with less range than my ThunderBolt.
The buck looking back at the doe was the one fighting with the much larger buck later in the day. This one had a broken horn, so was easy to identify
Sure enough, right away I starting seeing deer around the near water, totaling about 30 as the day passed. I saw 2-3 at the far one too, but still nothing I wanted to shoot. Finally it was getting dark, the sun setting behind the trees to my right, deer in plain sight at the water 100 yards away. It got darker and darker. At ten to eight I started putting my shooting equipment away. I had stacked it in plain view on the bales for a fast second shot should I need it. Something caught my eye at the far water, two bucks fighting, one much larger than the other. I could see a mass of horns above the larger ones head, but it was so dark by then that I couldn’t make out any detail., even with my 10 power glasses.
I had rested the rifle in my lap when the thought came that this was the only chance I was going to have. It was now or never. Never was very tempting. But I put the crosshairs on the bucks chest, the rifle resting steadily over the hay bale. I had sighted the rifle in at 140 yards with its 350 grain saboted hollow point bullet. The combination of bullet, sabot and rifle was one I had invented and marketed under the White brand over two decades ago. I knew the combination to be capable of great performance, so the 180+ yards to the buck didn’t bother much, I knew the bullet would get there with plenty of energy, more than 1200 ft lbs. I also knew from extensive testing that the bullet would drop only 6 inches below point of aim at 200 yards and that 2-3 inch groups at 200 yards were ordinary.
Once the bucks stopped fighting and stepped apart a little, I held 6 inches high on the bucks chest and tripped the trigger. There was a solid “WOP” following the shot. The bucked whirled around once and tipped over, flopped briefly on the ground then was still. It was five minutes to eight.
This is what we found 180+ yards away right next to the far water. There are ten points, fairly symmetrical, scoring well up in the 140’s. The buck was easy a four year old, weighed more than me and I weigh 220. The bullet had hit just a little lower than mid-chest , went across the top of the heart, blowing the big dorsal aorta off the heart than taking out the far shoulder. That shot into the aorta is always deadly, instantly dropping blood pressure with a quick death. The deer hadn’t traveled six feet. This is not a bad result for the last ten minutes of the hunt. It just goes to show that the hunt isn’t over until the hunt is over!
Naturally, when it came time to take pictures it was dark, then my camera broke down, the flash would not work, so we took photos using a bluish area light. As you can see, it didn’t work out very well, but then the hunt darn near didn’t either. Another couple of minutes and it would have been too dark to shoot.
Here are the last few years of whitetail trophies, all taken with the Kelso boys. Their mother is really proud of them. She should be. They are the best whitetail guides in the world. These are all wild deer. Not a high fence on the place. This years are the new ones on the left. I guess I should have taken the photo from the left- it would have made this years horns look bigger.
I did get a photo from the left, but the set on the right is still the biggest by a smidgin.
Sept 2016- Went trophy whitetail hunting in Kansas, took my O So Fast Shooting PSE crossbow. Hunted in the middle of the rut. It was fun, seeing those big deer, but I discovered that fast as that PSE bow shot, you still have to center the target, just like with a rifle. I got two shots at big enuff bucks and missed both, one under, then one over, if I’d had a third chance I would have centered him. In the Artillary, they used to say, ” One under for the Queen, one over for the King, then a third in the center for the Pope” Waren’t no Pope on this hunt. No pictures, either.
Jan 2017. Decided to take a winter vacation hunting exotics in Texas. Once again took the PSE bow to a bow only hunting ranch. My buddy Les took his PSE, too. We were out back sighting in our bows, making sure they hadn’t got jangled inaccurate with the trip, (they had). I was taking my last careful shot, shooting a 2 inch group at 30 yards, when I forgot to keep my left hand back on the under-stock of the bow and caught the tip of my left thumb in that damned 400 ft sec. bowstring. The force of the hit tore off the last quarter inch of my thumbnail and ripped a nice flap. Odd, but it didn’t hurt all that much. It was also odd to watch your own blood squirt three feet in two streams out of the near amputated tip of your thumb. Of course, no pictures. We went to Del Rio for a stitch but the ER there was so full of sickies that I steri-stripped and glued it back together myself with the help of the kind folks at the local Walmart. Got a good result, too. Looks pretty normal now.
May 2017, Utah
Turkey with a copy of the Forbes snapphaunce fowler. Lots of Toms this year. Called a bunch in for my buddies and finally took one myself. It’s as much fun to call a Tom in and see someone else kill it as it to do the deed yourself. Guess I’m getting a bit jaded.
Clear but cold, 33 F. that morning.
Sept 2017 Kansas whitetail hunt
This monstrously fat whitetail buck made the mistake of strolling past my hide. I put him down with a neck shot at 100 yards. We got photos of me with the buck, but turned out to be movies, so now I have to learn how to get a movie onto the website. Watch me struggle. The guy with the deer is Keaton Kendall, who knows more about whitetail deer than anyone in the world.
The buck was enormous, looked much older with that Roman nose and turned to have much smaller antlers than I thought when I took the shot. It’s amazing how they shrink once they hit the ground. He had the smallest set of horns and the biggest body on any Kansas deer I’ve ever killed.
5 May 2019- Just think, in 17 years I will be 100 years old- so I went hunting turkey in Kansas. As usual, I did well except that I took an experimental fowler, which muffed two shots on the first two toms, but finally got one with (ugh) my grand old Benelli at the last moment. At least the birthday party didn’t miss fire.