DOC has lived a bit of an adventurous life. Some few of his adventures are documented here. As time goes on, we will post his new adventures and, hopefully, a lot of the old ones, even if this means digging out old scrapbooks and going through the mounds of photos that he has accumulated over a lifetime of curiosity. After all, there is adventure in almost everything, from crashing a full size Maule S-4 Skyrocket airplane (really happened) to crashing RC models (happens a lot), from designing and building innovative new guns to using them in the field. After all, a new design demands a hunt, a new adventure, a foray into the unknown. Come enjoy as we take a look at real life adventure!!
1956- THE ADVENTURE OF A MISSION FOR THE LDS CHURCH IN BRAZIL
I spent three months in this teeny village, in the interior of the state of Santa Catarina. The streets were dirt, the living primitive, without bathrooms or running water, we had the use of a Land Rover. The town ladies washed their clothes in the same river that we fished in.
We built a new chapel, the first brand new LDS chapel built in Brazil. It was quite innovative for the area. It even sported running water and bathrooms. There only 2000 members in the whole country then. Now (2014) there are over a million.
When I say that these folks were poor, I really mean it, in the best backwoods, poverty stricken, destitute way. They were also tough, good hearted and generous with what little they had. Living off the land was what they did. They ate anything that moved. A big snake was a real protein treat. They used their cattle for milk and to pull plows. They never ate one unless it died in harness first. Note the bare feet.
Here they are, all dressed up in their Sunday best, in front of their new chapel, ready for Sunday services. .
I was there for 31 months, learned Portuguese, spent most of my time in big cities teaching the Gospel door to door, but a little of it in the interior, like Ipomeia above. I spent more time in Sao Paulo than anywhere else. The three photos above were taken in Vila Mariana, a suberb of Sao Paulo.
There were very few modern guns available, most available shot blackpowder. Muzzloading and re-loading black powder cartridges was common among the folks who lived in the woods. I found a beat up 1892 Winchester, loaded up some blackpowder cartridges and got in a few shots, as in the lousy photo above. Never did get to go hunting, although plenty was available in the interior.
Fall 1959- What captured me- back from Brazil, I borrowed a 10 ga percussion shotgun and killed two birds with the first two shots. Missed one too but I’ve been a muzzleloader fanatic ever since. That cloud of smelly smoke gathered me into her arms and has remained my obsession and passion ever since.
1960 MUZZLELOADING DEMONSTRATION FOR THE BOY SCOUTS
The rifle I’m holding is the second muzzleloader that I had built to that date. The first one was a shotgun, built when I was 16 in 1952. Sorry, no picture of it. This one was pretty plain, but had an original Golcher lock. There were lots of original parts available then. I’m on the left.
1961- Medical school was tough, living with other med students was even tougher, so I got married.
To my surprise, she didn’t own a rifle, so I built her one. We ‘s called it, ‘the Bride’s Rifle’.
437 caliber rifled, no particular school, just pretty, sort of like her. She turned out to be a pretty good shot, too. Pretty and a good shot is all right!
On the Kenai, (right) 1966. I had been drafted during the Viet Nam years and sent to fight the Battle of Alaska. Army pay was so poor in Alaska that we just HAD to fish in order to eat.
(left) 2000- Here she is on a Christmas tree hunt. Our kill is on top of the Suberban.
2012. She’s 72. Not bad. I like it.
GRADUATION FROM MEDICAL SCHOOL- 1964. WASHINGTON, D.C.
Four long years of hard study, the studying part of it pictured above, left, the practical part illustrated middle, (let me introduce you to Remus Aponuerosis, a deceased gentleman who taught me a lot, despite my foolish grin), led to graduation day in June 1964, above, right. Was I ever glad to get it over with. I went hunting once and to a single muzzleloading Rendezvous during that 4 years. Then it was off to Salt Lake City for Internship and residency.
1964- Residency LDS Hospital, SLC, UT- I spent many long hours in training at the hospital. Every other hour I could I spent in my shop, hunting or shooting. Never got enough, never did catch up.
My shop on the back stoop of our century old house. Cannon parts and guns all over the place, we built that howitzer during my year of internship.
1964. Mule Deer at Madsen’s Boat Camp on the Strawberry, Utah, about 60 miles from home. I killed the middling 4 point I’m standing by with an original Browning single shot in 45/70. It was marked, Browning Bros. Ogden, Utah, on the barrel. Wish I still had it. That was the biggest deer I had ever taken at that point in my life. We hunting in the mornings and evenings and fished the rest of the day.
1964-65 THE ADVENTURE OF AN 1842 HOWITZER
HERE YOU ARE JUST OUT OF MEDICAL SCHOOL, INTERNING AT A BIG CITY HOSPITAL, LONG DAYS AND LONGER NIGHTS, NEEDING SOMETHING TO KEEP YOU FROM GOING NUTS. YOU START WITH A CHUNK OF 90 MM CANNON BARREL FROM A LOCAL JUNKYARD, LEFT OVER FROM WWII, FIND A BACKYARD MECHANIC WHO JUST HAPPENS TO OWN A HUGE LATHE AND LOVES CANNONS, TOO.
YOU FIND A SET OF WAGON WHEELS AT A FARMERS MARKET, THEN BUY THE OAK PLANKING NEEDED FOR CHEEKPIECES AND TRAIL AND THE IRON STRAPPING AND PLATE FOR THE METAL PARTS. WHILE YOUR MECHANIC FRIEND IS COMPLETING THE BARREL, YOU CUT AND PLANE THE WOOD TO SHAPE, THEN FORGE THE IRON INTO SHAPE TO FIT THE WOOD. THEN YOU BOLT IT ALL TOGETHER AND PAINT IT. IT TAKES A YEAR OF WEEKLY LATE NIGHTS TO FINISH AND MORE MONEY THAN YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE OR AFFORD.
THEN YOU MOULD 6 LB ROUND BALLS OUT OF POT METAL AND SHOOT THEM WITH A 1 LB. CAN OF BLACK CANNON POWDER EACH SHOT. WHAT A WAY TO KEEP YOUR SANITY. THEN YOU DISCOVER YOU NEED A CUSTOM MADE TRAILER TO PULL IT ON AND A TRUCK TO PULL IT WITH. YOU DISCOVER THAT A CANNON IS SOMETHING YOU STUFF MONEY IN JUST SO YOU CAN BLAST IT OUT. SORT OF LIKE A BOAT. OR WORSE, AN AIRPLANE.
1966- SPRING BLACK BEAR HUNT, KENAI PENNINSULA, ALASKA
I was drafted out of residency in 1965. I arrived in alaska in febuary of 1966. the hunt took place in May. RAINY, MUDDY, MUCKY, BREAKUP JUST GETTING STARTED. DIDN’T SEE A BEAR. TOO ANXIOUS, TOO EARLY. Camped out of my then new International Travelall. Hunted with an original Austrian 60 caliber double percussion rifle by Novotny.
1966- ANOTHER BEAR HUNT A FEW WEEKS LATER, COOPER’S MOUNTAIN, KENAI PENINSULA, ALASKA.
WE WENT BACK LATER , SPOTTED A BLACK BEAR IN THE FOG ON COOPER’S MOUNTAIN, CLIMBED THROUGH SNOW AND ICE TO GET TO HIM. I MADE THE KILL WITH A WILKINSON & GREY DOUBLE RIFLE IN 450 X 3 1/4, SHOOTING A 365 GRAIN HOLLOW POINTED LEAD BULLET OVER 120 GRAINS BLACK POWDER. YOU CAN READ THE STORY OF THE HUNT BY CLICKING ON ‘FOGGY BEAR” UNDER “DOC’S BEST’ TO THE LEFT
1966- Kenai River, Kenai Penninsula, Alaska. My first red salmon of many. We could leave Anchorage at 5, be on the river by 8 pm, fish until 11, catch 3, which was the limit then, get up at 1-2, catch another 3, then get back for sick call by 8 am. Week-ends it was combat fishing, week-days a lonely river, just us and the bears.
1966- Coopers Landing, Kenai Penninsula, Alaska. A bear hunt in Bill Fuller’s back yard. Actually, the argument started over his garbage can. The only gun handy was a real, honest to gosh, original Hawken, which dispatched the bear just as it was designed to. About 52 caliber, fullstock, percussion, plain as a yard of pumpwater, no finish left on the stock.
The photo on right shows him with a very unusual Hawken, which I think was originally flintlock, later converted to percussion, probably in the St Louis shop. (See a full write up on this rifle in ‘DOC’S RAMBLINGS’ ) I got to know this guy real well. He had a half dozen original Hawkens. We shot a few of them. He was the Alaska gunsmith who designed the 450 Alaskan, a model 71 Winchester re-bored and re-chambered to take the 348 cartridge necked up to 45 caliber for 400+ grain bullets. They were very popular at the time.
1966- MOUNTAIN & GLACIER TRAINING, MATANUSKA GLACIER, NEAR ANCHORAGE , ALASKA.
I was stationed at Fort Richardson, just outside of Anchorage, which boasted of the only mountain trained troops in the nation. We had a glorious time rappelling down 300 foot cliffs and walking that treacherous glacier. Those skills came to fruition on later sheep hunts in the high mountains.
1966- fall hunt for moose on the Denali Hiway, Alaska
Downard and Swift pose on the cow moose Swift just shot. We were a mile and a half from the truck, all muskeg and mostly uphill, so did a ‘homesteader’ cut, skinned the moose out on its belly, pulling the hide off then cutting off legs and backstrap and such then boning out the meat.
We ended up with ten packs of about 50+ lbs. each. Downard, who was an optometrist, had a triple arthrodesis of both ankles with no calf muscle at all, so he made a single trip. Swift was a psychiatrist and made three, I made the other six. Playing basketball with the troops at noon instead of eating paid off big. We were all in the US Army, stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska at the time, belonged to the same medical unit.
1966- DALL SHEEP HUNT, NEAR GRIZZLY LAKE, NORTH OF GUNSIGHT PEAK, ALASKA
THIS WAS MY FIRST SHEEP HUNT. I HUNTED WITH THE NOVOTNY DOUBLE MUZZLELOADER, MUFFED WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AN EASY SHOT, BUT THE EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME A LOT. JUST LOOK AT THAT SCENERY. IT’S EASY TO SEE WHY A HUNTER CAN FALL IN LOVE WITH THE MOUNTAINS. AND WITH SHEEP HUNTING. IT BECAME AN ADDICTION. I WROTE THIS HUNT UP FOR “MUZZLE BLASTS”. I’LL SEE IF I CAN get YOU ACCESS TO THE STORY. IT’S AMUSING FROM A DISTANCE. SEEMED TRAGIC AT THE TIME. the hunter pictured is master sergeant charles barnes, a great hunter/mentor and tough as nails.
Antlerless moose hunt, in the snow, near Petersberg, AK. We killed two moose, both cows. Mine was a small yearling cow (sorry, no pictures), took it with the Novotney percussion double rifle. We looked on the kill as a Gift from God. It meant good eating without having to buy expensive beef on the Alaskan economy.
1967- SPRING BEAR HUNT, ONCE MORE WITH THE NOVOTONY DOUBLE RIFLE.
ONCE AGAIN, WE WENT TOO EARLY, STILL HAD A BIT OF ICE AROUND COOPERS LAKE. BEST TIME TO HUNT FROM THE KYAK IS WHEN THE ICE HAS MELTED 75-100 FEET OFF THE SHORE. YOU SPOT FROM THE KYAK, THEN CLIMB AFTER THE BEAR. NO BEAR THIS TIME, BUT GOOD EATS AND SOME TARGET PRACTICE. YOU CAN NEVER GET IN ENOUGH TARGET PRACTICE.
1967- Summer-Fall. This is one of the first fully carved and engraved flintlock longrifles that I made and one of the few that I did without any machine tools at all. Everything was done with adze, saw, files, knife, hand drills, etc. I remember how long it took, compared to the ease of production with a full machine shop. I built it in the basement of our Anchorage rental house where I built in a little shop. I learned a lot on this one. Of course, every one you make teaches you something new. That’s why guns carry female names.
1967- WHAT A MESS! AN ORIGINAL SWISS .41 MUZZLELOADING MILITARY RIFLE BLEW UP ON ME.
THIS RIFLE HAD A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON MY THINKING REFERENCE MUZZLELOADING HUNTING RIFLES. IT HAD COME TO ME WITH AN ORIGINAL MOLD FOR A 235 GRAIN TRIPLE CHANNELURED ELONGATED BULLET THAT JUST BARELY FIT THE BORE AND WAS EASY TO RAM HOME. RECOVERED BULLETS SHOWED THAT THE BULLET HAD CONSIDERABLY SHORTENED AND FATTENED, BULGING OUT INTO THE GROOVES TO CATCH THE RIFLING. IT WAS VERY ACCURATE. IT WAS IN USE AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME AS OUR CIVIL WAR AND THE MINIE BALL MUSKETS OF THE DAY AND WAS FAR SUPERIOR TO THEM.
IT WAS PROBABLY MY FAULT. THERE WAS A BIG CROWD GATHERED AROUND. I PROBABLY LOADED TWICE WITH ALL THE FUSS AND TALK AND ATTENTION. NOBODY GOT HURT, WHICH WAS A MIRACLE. I LATER RESTORED THE RIFLE WITH A FAST TWIST 451 BARREL FOR LYMANS 45 CALIBER 400 GRAIN MINIE BALL.
1967- Moose Hunt Kenai Alaska
At least it started as a moose hunt. We ended up with a few grouse and an old gold mine. We found it three miles up a steep, windy canyon off the Kenai Hiway. It appeared that no one else had been there before us. The last calander on the wall was 1947, twenty years before our arrival. That yellow tractor I am standing by (far right) looked like it was pre-WW II. We did not see a moose but missed a stalk on 2 black bear.
1967 Fall- Winter. I built a copy of a famous J P Beck rifle, once again entirely by hand, with only the help of an electric drill and a borrowed band saw. I have loved Beck rifles ever since. He was the quintessential craftsman of his day. I wish I was as good.
1967-DALL SHEEP HUNT, THE SECOND OF WHAT BECAME AN ADDICTION
We flew into the Wrangell’s by Super Cub, then spike camped for a week while we hunted sheep. We were hunting sheep for meat at the time., the meat being the best of all the wild meats. even better than Impalla. I took this 5 year old with a 7mm Mag, downhill, at 175 yards. Killing sheep is not hard. Getting to them is. And watch out for the grizzley’s. They come to gunfire, so shoot, cut and run.
1968- UBIC– Uintah Basin In Celebration- Roosevelt’s summer celebration, gets off to a good start with cannon fire. I left Alaska in 1968 for Roosevelt, Utah, joining two doctor friends in a busy small town practice. I thought it would give me lots of time for hunting and shooting. It didn’t.
Here’s some photos of my near full size model of the 1842 rifled howitzer. We shot it on the street corners during the annual UBIC parade, using a bag of confetti for wadding. The blast broke the windows out of Steve’s Cafe, halfway down the street. We also did some long range shooting with it. It was fairly accurate with a foot long 3.5 inch can full of cement with wire chunks soldered on to take the rifling. It takes one lb. of powder each shot.
1968- CARIBOU HUNT, ALONG THE DENALI HIWAY, ALASKA
I WAS JUST GETTING BETTER FROM RUPTURING KNEE LIGAMENTS DURING A “MORMON MURDER” BALLGAME, IE- BASKETBALL PLAYED ROUGH AND TOUGH WITH THE LOCAL COWHANDS AND OIL FIELD WORKERS. I USED THE SAME RIFLE ILLUSTRATED BELOW ON THE ROCK CREEK MULIE HUNT. THE COLORS IN THE PHOTO ARE REAL. NO TOUCH UP. ALASKAN FALL COLORS ARE SOMETHING YOU JUST CAN’T BELIEVE..
1968- Mule Deer hunt near Rock Creek, just off the Ute Reservation, 30 miles from home.
Muzzleloading season for Utah mule deer was in November back then, close to the rut. We caught this one crossing the big sagebrush flat you see behind me and the buck. He was following some does that had come past a few moments before. The dumb cluck about ran us down. That’s what the girls do to us boys. The rifle is another in my progression of thinking about muzzleloading big game rifles. This one is was built with a 45-70 barrel, .451 caliber, 1-22 twist, grooves .004 thusandths deep, shooting 70 grains FFFG black Powder and Lyman’s 300 grain 45 caliber mini ball. The bullet hit the deer in the chest and exited out in front of the opposite flank for excellent penetration and multi-organ destruction.
1969- THE GOLDEN SPIKE CENTENNIAL SHOOT, OGDEN, UTAH
IT HAD BEEN 100 YEARS SINCE THE LAST SPIKE WAS DRIVEN IN THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD, NEAR OGDEN , UTAH. OGDEN WAS ORIGINALLY SETTLED BY JAMES BROWN AND A FEW OTHERS. THE SETTLEMENT WAS A FUR TRADING POST TO START WITH, CALLED BROWN’S FORT, (NOW FORT BUENVENTURA), THE SETTLEMENT LATER THRIVED AS BROWNSVILLE, THEN SUFFERED A NAME CHANGE TO OGDEN, NAMED AFTER PETER SKEINE OGDEN OF FUR TRADING FAME. I GUESS JAMES BROWN GOT MAD, AS HE LEFT OGDEN AND UTAH AND WENT SOUTH WHEN THE US PROHIBITED POLYGAMY, ESTABLISHING THE FIRST OF THE MORMON COLONIES IN CHIHUAHUAH, MEXICO. HE EVENTUALLY MARRIED 17 WIVES, A FEW FRIENDS FROM MY TEEN YEARS WERE DESCENDED FROM THEM. MITT ROMNEY IS ALSO A DESCENDENT. IT WAS THE NATURAL PLACE TO CELEBRATE THE GOLDEN SPIKE (WHICH IS NOW IN A MUSEUM)
I WON THE RIFLE AGGREGATE, ALSO THE PISTOL MATCH AND THE GRAND PRIZE TROPHY GOLDEN SPIKE PISTOL.
1969- THE ADVENTURE OF A TURKEY SHOOT, THANKSGIVING TIME. THE TURKEYS WERE HIDDEN BEHIND A LOG. YOU HAD TO CLUCK THEIR HEADS UP THEN HIT AND KILL THE TURKEY TO WIN IT. IT WAS A LOT HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS. THEY DON’T HOLD STILL LONG.
FRED GOODHUE ON THE LEFT, DOC ON THE RIGHT. WE HAD SIX TURKEYS AND IT TOOK 30+ SHOOTERS ALL DAY TO KILL THEM IN THE FOG.
1970- Utah was nuts about cannons back in those days. Most shoots/rendezvous had a half dozen, the big ones twice that. A recycling place in Provo had a pile of cannon barrels left over from the second World War. Short pieces were cheap. That’s where my cannon came from, plus the three others that I have built since.
The tradition lives on. Fort Bridger still has a big cannon shoot every year.
1970- I loved target shooting, went to every muzzleloading shoot that I could get to- never enough- sometimes traveling long distances through the night to get there by daylight then shooting all day. Staying up at night wasn’t uncommon with me, I was on call at least one of three nights and week-ends. Guess I got lots of practice staying up late and all night.
The 1970 Colorado State Shoot left, a mountain shoot staged by the Mountain Men of the Wasatch at Silver Creek, 9000 ft high,middle, a small shoot near Pleasant Grove , Utah, right. The place we shot then is now covered with houses. The 4 guys in the middle are all gone, only me and the boy left.
1970-MOOSE HUNT ON THE CHISTOCHENA, ALASKA
THIS WAS THE FIRST OF MANY TIMES THAT I RETURNED TO ALASKA. I HUNTED WITH THE JOHN HAYTON DOUBLE RIFLE THAT I HAD RE-BARRELED TO .451 DURING 1966-68 IN ALASKA. THE RIFLE FIRED A 475 GRAIN MULTI-CHANNELURED BULLET OVER 70 GRAINS fffG BLACK POWDER, THE BARRELS REGULATED AT 100 YARDS INTO A SAUCER SIZED GROUP WITH OPEN SIGHTS. The expanded bullet taken from the moose
I KILLED THE MOOSE WITH A SINGLE SHOT AT ABOUT 70 YARDS. THE KILLING BULLET IS SHOWN ABOVE. IT WAS THIS RIFLE THAT FINALLY STIMULATED ME TO DEVELOP THE ‘WHITE SHOOTING SYSTEM’ AND THE WHITE BRAND OF INLINE RIFLES IN THE 1990’S.
THIS PHOTO APPEARED ON THE COVER OF ‘MUZZLE BLASTS’ MAGAZINE WITH STORY INSIDE. YOU CAN READ THE STORY BY CLICKING ON ‘CHISTCHENA MOOSE’ UNDER ‘DOC’S BEST’ IN ‘BOOKS AND ARTICLES’ TOP OF PAGE.
1971- PHEASANT WITH A FLINTLOCK. FOUR OF US TOOK TURNS USING THE J P BECK FOWLER IN 16 GAUGE.
THE OTHER THREE ARE ALL PEDIATRICIANS FROM THE U OF U IN SALT LAKE CITY. THEY PROVED TO BE EXCELLENT SHOTS, OR WAS IT THAT THE FOWLER WAS SET UP SO WELL THAT IT FUNCTIONED JUST AS WELL AS THE MODERN SHOTGUNS THEY USUALLY USED. PROBABLY BOTH.
THESE ARE BIG, HEAVY BIRDS. THE FOWLER TOOK THEM DOWN JUST FINE. ALL INSISTED ON USING IT AND ALL WERE SUCCESSFUL, EVEN ME.
1972- COLORADO STATE SHOOT, ONE OF MANY.
THAT SHINY BRACELET ON MY WRIST IS AN INNOVATIVE PRIMITIVE TIMEPIECE. HOLD IT UP TO THE SUN AND YOU CAN SEE THE TIME OF DAY. FUNNY THAT I FORGOT TO TAKE IT OFF. WE WERE ALL TRYING SO HARD TO RE-CREATE HISTORY BUT OFTEN FORGOT SMALL DETAILS, LIKE A WRISTWATCH.
1972- Rabbit hunt south of Roosevelt with a recently built Bedford Co. longrifle.
We hunted cottontails in the red rimrock country south of town On cold days, the rabbits sun themselves on the south- facing rocky hillsides, staying close to their holes. You have to head shoot them to get them. A hit in the body usually allows them to escape down their holes. We wander by out about 25-50 yards from the rocky prominences, looking for gray bundles hunched up against the cold. Naturally, we got lots of shooting for just a few rabbits.
This rifle had a skinny Bill Large barrel in 40 caliber. Bill was a good friend. When he finally retired, I bought several rifling machines, deep hole drills and planers from him. The first of the famous GRRW barrels were made on those machines. The brass bird is holding a silver fish. THAT’S AN EAGLE ON THE CHEEK-PIECE ROUNDEL.
1972- PHEASANT HUNT WITH A DOGLOCK FOWLER- Johnney’s Ringneck Ranch, Roosevelt, UT
In 1971-2, I built a poor man’s flintlock. The gun was modeled on a famous fowler brought over on the Mayflower. The barrel was a cheapo 12 gauge with a breechplug built up from a 7/8 X 14 threaded bolt with a welded on tang. It was held to the hatchet and rasp carved stock by brass bands. The wood was a plain piece of birch, finished with stain and soaked-in oil. The buttplate and trigger guard were brass, surface screwed to the stock. I made the lock from iron sheeting, cutting out the parts with a hacksaw and filing to shape except for the main and frizzen spring, which I bought from Dixie GunWorks. The lock internals are classic doglock, with a horizontal sear bearing through the lockplate on the tail of the cock. It was actually rather easy to build and sparked quite well when the frizzen was half-soled with hardened saw blade. It was finished with black paint. Cost for the lock at the time was less than $15 and the cost of the whole gun less than $40. I killed many pheasants with it. This one was the first of many doglocks to follow.
Johnney Faucett put in a pheasant ranch outside of Rosevelt a few miles in about 1970. It was great, because the birds were so wild. Instead of releasing birds the day of the hunt, he turned them out continually, so they had a chance to acclimatize to freedom and gain strength. They stayed close because his river bottom lands were surrounded by desert and he fed them well, as well as hunting the predators out. I could appear without warning any day I pleased, hunt a few birds then report at the ranch to account for the kill. I hunted with a pointer and a Lab. The two worked together very well. The pointer had by far the better nose and would point birds and hold them. The Lab would charge in and scare them up on command. Once in a while she caught one, right out of the air. I loved it. I thought at the time that if I had to take a choice between bird hunting and big game, I would take the birds. Still do.
1972- ALASKA WITH THE FIRST LEMAN TRADE RIFLE FROM GREEN RIVER RIFLEWORKS
I organized GRRW in the spring of 1972 , designed and built the first 6 Leman Trade Rifles myself , the first one #101 shown above with me shooting it. Wish I knew where it is now. Having the rifle in hand was an excuse for a hunt, so I went back home to Alaska, hunted near Mt. Blackburn, a pack trip into grizzly country. The caribou fell to a neck shot at 70 yards, the Dall sheep to another at 20 yards and the brown bear was an accident, taken while hunting for horses with a borrowed .375 Mag.
1972-Colorado deer hunt with Greg Roberts, who was managing GRRW at the time, Ed Trump, who worked there and “Liver Eatin” Sweeny, a sure ’nuff Colorado Mountain Man.. We nick-named him ‘Liver Eatin” because he hated liver. The weather was nasty, so Roberts, Trump and me stayed in camp ready to hunt the next morning.
“Liver Eatin” camped up a canyon in the drizzle. Of course, you know who got the deer. See ‘Liver Eatin” with his deer, see Roberts and me enjoying the fire in camp.
1973- The GRRW boys follow Ashley’s trail down the Green River. There were several canoe loads, two trappers to each canoe. I took the photos , so didn’t get pictured myself. You can see Greg Roberts, Captain of GRRW in the back of the canoe and Ed Trump, gunsmith, in the front. The middle photo shows Roberts shooting at a duck. He got it, too, using a NorthWest trade gun.
This was the last leg of Ashley’s 1823 ride down the Green River. He went as far as the White River, which runs west out of Colorado, then turned back up and debouched to the west at the mouth of the Duchesne, where he met some Ute Indians dressed in sheep skins and already armed with trade guns from the Hudson Bay post in lower Idaho. Trade routes had been well established for centuries by the time Ashley showed up in 1823.
1973- Pink Mountain BC Canada Moose – August
Even though I had started GRRW in 1972, that did not stop me from experimenting, attempting to define what the best of muzzleloading hunting rifles really was. I had become interested in elongated bullets a la Whitworth, and designed a heavy breeched Minie ball shooting .575 caliber percussion rifle. It sported an octagon, 1-48 twist , shallow grooved barrel with a ported breech and back action lock, otherwise came out looking much like a Dimmick St. Louis rifle. I used 180 grains of FFg Black powder and the English version of the Minie, designed by Pritchett, which weighed 570 grains. It was a moose killer for sure.
The photo upper left shows me and the moose I shot, not really big but OK for a mid-country Canadian moose, taken against the light. Sorry about the lack of detail. The photo upper right details the lock and breech set up of the rifle.
Here is a better look at the rifle. Very Dimmick-like, except for the back action lock and patent breech. Some argue that a back action lock removed less wood and is thus stronger than a front action or bar lock.
American Mountain Men Rendezvous, July, 1974- Henry’s Fork, near Mckinnon, Wyo, site of the 1824 Rendezvous, 140 years too late.
The camp was set right smack in the middle of the original encampment, or at least part of it. If I remember right, this was the first of the AMM Redezvous. I had joined AMM early on, member #9.
There was no-one here not in 1820-40 costume. Most everything was terribly “authentic” or at least a dedicated try, right to the cut off musket with which one of the psuedo fronteirsmen used to kill a young moose, practically right in camp. When hauled off to the judge, he protested, ” wouldn’t any original mountain man have made meat if a tasty young moose ran through his camp” Well, then yes. but not nowadays.
The boys above are fixing vittles, the Injun, trader and courier de bois in the middle are contemplating the trade taking place in the right-hand photo. One gun original, the other a GRRW copy.
October 1974- Mule Deer hunt , Blue Mountain, near Monticello, UT
We climbed the south face of Blue Mountain, which lies just to the West of Monticello, Utah, in the dark on the opening day of Mule Deer season. It was a mighty climb and I was exhausted as I reached almost the top just as it was light enough to shoot. I sat to huff and puff, not being in the best of shape, and this huge buck strolled out of the pines. He was uphill about 100 yards. I was carrying the GRRW #1 Gemmer-Springfield 45-70, made by Ed Trump the previous summer. He fell with the shot and rolled downhill to within a few yards of me. It took the rest of the day to get his big body off that consarned mountain. His head has graced my living room for nearly 40 years. If you want to read all about it. goto ‘Blue Mountain Buck” in “Doc’s Best” under ‘Books and Articles”.
November 1974, Elk Hunt, Montana
I took the Hayton re-barreled double rifle on a horseback meat hunt for elk on public land in Western Montana. This was the rifle that fueled my interest in long-bullet, long-range muzzleloading that finally led to the White Shooting System and the White line of rifles. I was shooting a 475 grain slip-fit bullet over 70 grains of FFFg black powder. Black powder substitutes were unknown then.
I managed to kill a raghorn bull from behind a tree at 25 yards with a shot to the neck. The weather suddenly switched to snow and cold, giving us a chance to track the animals. I got into a small herd, passed up an old downhilling bull with scraggly antlers and his ribs showing, then snuck into the herd, crawling through the snow until I was surrounded by them, then popped the young raghorn when he reached down for a blade of grass. I just pointed the rifle where I thought he would eventually put his head, then when he did I tripped the trigger. He was tender and juicy, just what I wanted.
NRA/AMM RENDEZVOUS- Summer 1975- near Raton, NM
Photos above: Left- Paul Mantz, ‘Runner’ they call him, he doesn’t know how to move at less than a trot. Middle: My lodge, early in its career before it got all smoked up. Right: They are either trading or playing Monte. There was lots of both going on.
AMM Rendezvous, July 1975, Henry’s Fork, Wyo. same place as last year.
Since last years 1974 Rendezvous, I had come to understand that not everyone in the mountains was bearded, dirt and scruffy or dressed in ‘skins. So I went as William Drummond Stewart, the Scotchman who traveled the West in the 1830’s.
Not everyone liked the impersonation. I was visited by a few of the scruffier, proud in their impersonation of ‘true’ mountain men, who loudly complained until I showed them Stewart’s biography, “‘Scotchman in Buckskin”, documenting the arms, clothes and accutrements he brought with him, including canned goods and a two wheeled cart in which to store his red silk lined campaign tent.
I had brought along my original English side by side double rifle by John Hayton. I had re-barreled it in 451 caliber with 1-20 twist for a heavy 475 grain bullet. Late in the week, Paul Mantz came by waving a blanket, the sign for a blanket shoot. He had put up three gongs, a two foot barrel end made of thin sheeting, a foot diameter round platter of half inch iron and a saucer sized roundel an inch thick. He hung them all in trees at about 70 yards. Everyone started shooting at the bigger gong, then a few graduated to the middle gong. Mantz took a shot at the smallest one and knock it flying, swinging it around so that it came to rest on a fork with its edge facing us. Mantz said, “Shoot it down, White”. So I shot it down, the heavy bullet hitting it so hard that it tore the chain apart and threw the roundel on the ground. There was a sudden silence, then most everyone left midst mutterings of ‘ringer’ except Mantz, one other brave soul and me. Nobody seemed to realize that the hit was pure luck. I could hardly see the thing at that range.
One afternoon, I was standing just outside my tipi with my 8 year old daughter Jennifer. Down the hill behind us came a horse and rider. The horse was a paint, with its mane roached, tail tied up, a rope halter on its lower jaw and a yellow handprint on its butt. The rider was a white man, painted red on one side and black on the other. His blond hair was dyed black and double braided, Injun style. It was easy to see he was pretty well gone, ’bout three sheets to the wind. Just as he passed our tipi, the horse stopped, the rider slid off face first, rolled over and came to rest face up , arms akimbo, legs spraddled and head thrown back, unconscious. He was also other-wise naked. Jennifer approached him, inspected him carefully, then anounnced, “Dad, he’s dead”. We called a funeral party and carried him off to the nearby creek, where a cold water bath restored his spirit to his body. I spotted him later in the evening under a tree, curled up on his side, moaning and and holding his head and wishing he was dead.
SAGE GROUSE HUNT FALL 1975- AVINTAQUIN CANYON
That’s Carl Walker, GRRW’s first employee in the left photo, Charley Winn in the middle, he operated the GRRW stock carver part time, DOC White on the right with an English single flintlock fowler he built.
BUFFLER at COVALT’S RANCH near ALLIANCE, NEBRASKA, FALL 1975
COME FALL, SIXTEEN OF US DECIDED TO CONVERGE ON COVALT’S RANCH FOR A BUFFLER HUNT, ALL IN COSTUME, ALL MUZZLELOADING. WE PAIRED UP AND KILLED EIGHT BUFFLER OVER THE NEXT THREE DAYS. THIS WAS THE FIRST OF MANY HUNTS AT COVALT’S. I ENDED UP WITH A TOTAL OF 32 BUFFLER FALLING TO MY RIFLE OVER THE YEARS. IT WAS ABOUT ALL MY FAMILY ATE. FAR BETTER THAN BEEF. IT ONLY ENDED WHEN COVALT WENT TO THE BIG PRARIE IN THE SKY.
STINKFOOT KILLED THIS ONE ON A DEAD RUN, THE BULL WENT NOSE OVER TEAKETTLE WITH A SHOT THROUGH THE HEART. BRANDENBURG AND GUTHRIE, BOTH FROM GRRW, SEEM PROUD OF THEIR KILL
GRIZZ ROBERTS TOOK AN END RUN AROUND THIS STRUGGLING BULL, THEN CENTERSHOT HIS HEAD RIGHT UP CLOSE.
OOPS, LOOKS LIKE HE’S GOIN’ TO GET UP. HUNTER AND SKINNER DANCE AROUND A BULL NOT QUITE DEAD YET. THE FELLER IN THE MIDDLE WITH THE BRIDGER HAT IS ME. THE QUIZZICAL LOOK BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS A SLICE OF LIVER ANOINTED WITH GALL POINTED RIGHT AT ME. YUUK! TO THE RIGHT IS THE TWO YEAR OLD BULL I KILLED WITH A 58 CALIBER LEMAN COPY BY GRRW. I SHOT 200 GRAINS ffG AND 280 GRAIN PATCHED BALL. DESPITE THE STOUT LOAD, A HIT JUST BEHIND THE HORN AT 40 YARDS FAILED TO PENETRATE THE BRAINCASE ON THIS HARD HEADED CRITTER. IT KNOCKED HIM DOWN, BUT NEEDED A SECOND SHOT.
THE BOYS FROM STEAMBOAT STALK A PAIR OF BUFFLER. USUALLY BOTH SHOOTERS GET A SHOT AT THEIR SINGLE BULL, ONE IS NOT NORMALLY ENOUGH. THE STAIN ON THE FACE IN THE RIGHTWARD PHOTO IS GREEN, BY THE WAY. IF THE MOUNTAIN MEN SEASONED BUFFLER LIVER WITH BILE, THEY WERE A LOT TOUGHER THAN THE REST OF US. WE ROUTINELY CHALLENGED EACH OTHER TO HAVE A TASTE BUT NOBODY WOULD. FINALLY WE FORMED A CIRCLE, DIPPED OUR SLICE OF LIVER IN THE OPENED GALL BLADDER. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BITE AND SWALLOW ON THE COUNT OF THREE. ONE…TWO….THREE… AND EVERYONE THREW THEIR LIVER ON THE GRASS AND FLED. ME, TOO.
1975- The First Bridger Hawken
Carl Walker made me a copy of the Bridger Hawken, first one GRRW ever did, using a custom made steel britch and a tapered GRRW barrel in 69 caliber. I came to love this rifle dearly. It was a boomer. I usually shot 250 grains of FFG under a patched .678 ball. I don’t remember how many buffalo I killed with it but it was a bunch. The guys we took buffler hunting over the years would poke a few .50-.54 caliber balls into a bull, he would run off and then I got to clean up the mess with a shot to the ‘lights’. as the heart-lungs were called in those days. I ended up with 32 buffler to my credit, not all taken with the Hawken, but the majority were. It seemed no matter how much I taught that the buffler’s heart lay low and far forward in the chest, and that the target was the aorta where it comes off the heart, most shooters would plant a ball in the biggest part of the bufflers chest, which was a high lung shot. A buff could run six miles with a ball or two high in the lungs. So I would place one low, which worked every time. Most observers thought it was the rifle that was so deadly, but really it was just understanding where the target was.
The rifle was a close copy of my favorite Hawken of all time. This one had a 38 inch barrel, 1 1/16th inch diameter barrel without much taper, a walnut stock with a 14 1/2 inch pull and was about 60 caliber. It had been made late in the Hawken era, with a cast buttplate and all iron furniture, including a a squarish side opening iron patch-box on the right side of the butt. It was marked S. Hawken St. Louis. It was probably made on order for a bigger man, about my size, which is why it fit so well. It’s in the Cody Museum now, I believe.
1976- MULE DEER HUNT NEAR MONTICELLO, UTAH with Paul Mantz. I took ten year old James, Mantz brought two of his kids and a neighbor.
We went primitive, dressed primitive, camped primitive, ate primitive. Paul and his son Kip each killed a mule deer. All I got was a coyote, called in with a faun call. James was with me, you should have seen his eyes bug when that dog charged at us. I used a 62 caliber short fullstock Leman Indian Rifle that I built as a prototype for the later GRRW model of the same name.
1976-ELK HUNT, BOB MARSHALL WILDERNESS, MONTANA. I took the very first GRRW Leman Indian Rifle, built by BlueJacket, you can see the butt of the rifle sticking out of the saddle scabbard in all three photos. We had a grand ride through those beautiful mountains, but never even saw an elk.
We take a rest on the way up to the Chinese Wall. What I am resting is my butt. You can see that the horse is doing all the work, sweaty and wet. it was an all day ride to get to first night’s camp, then ten days of hitting fly camps after a days riding after elk. We covered an enormous amount of steep country but the elk eluded us at every turn.
Here is Blue’s masterpeice. He did the toolwork for the molds that the buttplate and trigger guard were cast from, as well as built the rifle. he copied an original Leman in my collection.
1976- BUFFLER AT COVALT’S IN NEBRASKA.. Biggest bull I ever killed, 9 years old, 2200 lbs. He had been chased off the herd by a younger bull. Used the 62 caliber Leman Indian Rifle with 340 grain ball and 200 grains FFg black powder. The hit to the heart hardly fazed him. He strolled off twenty steps then sat down and fell over. Another shot behind the horn caused him to turn his head to look at me. He expired shortly after to my great relief.
The temperature was 40 below. I stalked up on him by approaching from behind and standing still when he looked in my direction. I got to within 60 yards. He was huge. The Suberban was a mile away and I was alone. I waited until he took a step forward, exposing his heart area and shot low, behind the elbow. I wanted to cut the aorta but succeeded in centering his heart. He made twenty counted steps, thankfully angling away from me, before he went down. I was throwing powder and ball all over Nebraska in the meantime, trying to get reloaded.
1977- BUFFALO AT COVALT’S IN NEBRASKA. This time I went as an English dude, the costume I mostly wore to Rendezvous these days. I took the original British double rifle by Hayton that I rebarreled.
The buffalo came by at a dead run, almost ran over me. When I shot she sumersalted, nose digging into the ground. I instinctively jumped away to avoid getting smashed, then gave the cow a second shot with the other barrel. Very tasty. “Fat Cow’, as the mountain men said.
1978- NMLRA Western Rendezvous, near Buffalo, Wyo.
I took my twp boys, James and David, 15 and 14. Gas was cheap then, about $1 a gallon. We drove up in “Many Horses”, my BMW Bavaria, camped in an open face lean-to. It’s in between the tipi’s in the upper left photo and shows the two boys in the upper right. David is now a CRNA anesthetist and James is a physiatrist, an MD specializing in non-surgical pain. Above right, Art Ressle and me.
This was a very pleasant camp.
1979- MULE DEER HUNT, ROCK CRICK, ABOUT 40 MILES INTO THE MOUNTAINS FROM HOME
THE MULE DEER POPULATION IN UTAH WAS PRETTY GOOD AT THE TIME, FAR BETTER THAN AFTER 2000. THE MUZZLELOADING HUNT WAS HELD ABOUT A WEEK BEFORE THE RUT STARTED IN NOVENBER, SO USUALLY WE GOT TO SEE SOME BIG BUCKS, THE ONES THAT GOT INTO THE RUT EARLY. THE GROUP OF HUNTERS ABOVE WERE ALL FROM THE UINTAH BASIN, NEAR ROOSEVELT. THE COUNTRY WE HUNTED WAS HIGH SAGEBRUSH AND QUAKIES, JUST BELOW THE PINES OF THE HIGHER MOUNTAINS. WE KILLED A LOT OF BIG DEER IN THOSE DAYS.
1980- BUFFLER HUNT , NEBRASKA, COVALT’S RANCH, IN COSTUME.
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME MY BOYS GOT TO GO ON THE ANNUAL BUFFLER HUNT. JAMES WAS THE OLDEST AT 16, AND HAD A NEW GRRW LEMAN TRADE RIFLE STILL IN-THE-WHITE THAT HE HAD HELPED HIS DAD BUILD FOR HIM. HE WAS ON THE CLEAN-UP CREW AT GRRW AT THE TIME. DAVID WAS 15, AND ENDED UP WITH THE CAMERA ASSIGNMENT. HE DID A FINE JOB.
LEFT: JAMES, ON THE LEFT, GOT IN THE FIRST SHOT, THEN MURRAY STOWE, IN ‘SKINS’, PUT IN ANOTHER. LEFT MIDDLE: JAMES AND HIS DAD, RIGHT MIDDLE: DAVID LEFT, JAMES RIGHT, RIGHT: MURRAY STOWE WITH ANOTHER LEMAN.
1982- BUFFLER AGAIN, AT COVALT’S, ALLIANCE, NEBRASKAI TOOK KENT WILLIAMS WITH ME THIS TIME. HE WANTED A TROPHY TO HANG ON THE WALL. WE SHARED THE SHARPS-GEMMER 45/70. IT DIDN’T KILL BUFFLER ANY BETTER THAN THE LARGER CALIBERED MUZZLELOADERS. YOU STILL HAD TO HIT THE ‘LIGHTS’ JUST RIGHT TO BRING THE BULL DOWN QUICK.
COVALT’S PLACE IS LARGELY UNCHANGED FROM THE ORIGINAL PRAIRIE. THE PLACE HAS NEVER BEEN PLOWED, THE PRAIRIE IS THE SAME AS IT USED TO BE. THE PHOTO RIGHT SHOWS WHAT OUR FORBEARERS SAW WHEN THEY CROSSED THE PLAINS BACK IN THE 1840’S.
1983- MULE DEER HUNT ON INDIAN RIDGE, 90 MILES SOUTH-EAST OF HOME
THIS IS PREMIER UTAH MULE DEER COUNTRY, LOCATED ON THE EDGE OF THE MILLION ACRE UTE INDIAN RESERVATION, KNOWN LOCALLY AS ‘THE RES’. IN 1983, ANYONE WITH A DEER LICENSE COULD HUNT THERE. AFTER 2000, IT CHANGED TO A SPECIAL PERMIT BIG DEER DRAW SYSTEM. IT’S AT 8-9000 FEET, COVERED WITH JUNIPERS, NOT MUCH WATER. THE GUY ON THE LEFT, ABOVE, KILLED THAT BIG DEER WITH A NECK SHOT AT 200 YARDS WITH A GRRW LEMAN TRADE RIFLE, PROVING THAT NOT ALL NECK SHOOTERS ARE LIARS.
1983- DOC and David hunt ducks on the Tridell Canal with McCord Marshall. The Tridell Canal is a warm water stream that harbors a lot of ducks during the freezing months of the winter. We wait until freeze up, then jump them off the open water. they are mostly all mallards and are delicious. they feed in the grain fields scattered around the canal. once in a while, a few geese show up, the evidence in the photo right above. Jumping mallards with a double flintlock shotgun is especially challenging. If you can learn to wing shoot with a flint, you will be able to shoot anything.
1984- BUFFLER AT COVALT’S IN NEBRASKA
Covalt put up a soddy for his hunters. it was warm and cozy . the Cheney brothers are on the left, above, with me and then Larry Nielson. Same crowd inside the soddy with a kerosene lantern. you get some insight into how your ancestors lived under these conditions. the soddy was dirty, drafty, with mice and hornets all over the place and hardly waterproof. Kerosene lantern light is better than a candle but not much.
LARRY LIKED TO COOK, SO WE LET HIM. HERE HE IS SLAVING AT THE KITCHEN STOVE. INSIDE THE SODDY. YOU CAN SEE HOW CRUDE IT IS. MY BUFFLER AND MY .69 HAWKEN
LARRY, IN THE GREEN CAP, KILLED A BIG, TROPHY BULL. THE REST OF US TOOK YOUNG COWS FOR EATING. AT RIGHT IS ONE OF COVALT’S BOYS. A REAL COWBOY!
1984-CARIBOU, SILVER SALMON, EMPEROR GEESE ON THE DAVID RIVER, SOUTH OF THE PAVLOV VOLCANO ON THE ALASKA PENNINSULA
THE PAVLOV VOLCANO IS ON THE LEFT, TYPICAL ALASKAN TUNDRA COUNTRY ON THE RIGHT. THIS PLACE IS FULL OF BIG BROWN BEARS. THEY FEED ON THE SAME SALMON THAT WE WERE FISHING FOR .I HUNTED CARIBOU WITH A BOW BUT MUFFED A NICE SHOT. I WAS USING A BEAR TAKE-DOWN RECURVE BOW, SHOOTING IT JAPANESE STYLE, AND MANAGED TO STICK THE BULL IN THE HEAD JUST BELOW HIS ANTLERS. I WAS CONCENTRATING ON THE ANTLERS INSTEAD OF HIS HEART SO THAT’S WHERE THE ARROW WENT.
I DID GET A SMALL BULL FOR MEAT WITH A 7MM MAG, CAUGHT SO MANY SILVER SALMON THAT I HAD TO SIT DOWN AND REST AFTER A BIT. WE WERE THROWING SPOONS, EVERY THIRD CAST GOT A FISH. THEY WERE EXCEPTIONALLY BIG SILVERS AND WEIGHED 10-18 LBS. THE BEARS LIKED THEM TOO. THERE WAS ONE DOWNSTREAM AND ONE UPSTREAM. THEY WERE SO INTENT ON FISHING THAT THEY HAD NO TIME FOR US. WE KEPT A .338 NEARBY ANYWAY. ONE DAY GUNLOGGSON, THE GUIDE, FLEW ME OUT TO AN ISLAND, LEFT ME THERE FOR THE TIDE TO DEVOUR, RETURNING JUST IN TIME TO RESCUE ME FROM THE RISING WATER. MEANTIME I SHOT EMPEROR GEESE FOR THE TABLE. THAT AIRCRAFT IS A MAULE S-4 SKYROCKET, SAME MODEL AS I JUST ABOUT BOUGHT BEFORE A FRIEND CRASHED IT. A WONDERFUL BUSH PLANE.
1984 – MUZZLELOADING MULE DEER HUNT ON INDIAN RIDGE, ABOUT 90 MILES SOUTH-EAST OF HOME, ANTELOPE IN THE SOUTH DESERT..
DAVID WAS COMING 19, AND GETTING READY TO GO ON A MISSION FOR THE LDS CHURCH TO CHILE. I TOOK HIM HUNTING DEER AND ANTELOPE ONE LAST TIME BEFORE HE LEFT. WE WERE DRIVING A SMALL CANYON WHEN THIS THREE POINT MULE DEER RAN OUT. DAVID TOOK A QUICK SHOT AND MISSED. I PULLED UP, AIMED CAREFULLY AT THE HEART AND BROKE HIS NECK. DAVID HOLLORED. “GREAT SHOT, DAD, YOU GOT HIM RIGHT IN THE NECK,” WHACKING ME ON THE BACK AT THE SAME TIME. HE WAS A BIG, TOUGH KID AND ABOUT PUT ME DOWN, TOO. I NEVER DID TELL HIM WHERE I WAS AIMING. THIS ADVENTURE BECAME THE BASIS FOR AN ARTICLE CALLED, “ALL NECK SHOOTERS ARE LIARS.” I WAS SHOOTING A PISTOL GRIPPED BRITISH SPORTING RIFLE WITH TAPERED 54 CALIBER GRRW BARREL THAT I HAD MADE THE PREVIOUS YEAR. IT HAD A SINGLE SET TRIGGER AND PEEP SIGHTS AND SHOT A LOT BETTER THAN I COULD HOLD IT. IT WAS AMONG THE FIRST OF THE MANY SPORTING RIFLES THAT I HAVE MADE OVER THE YEARS.
I DREW AN ANTELOPE TAG THAT YEAR AND ASKED DAVID TO COME ALONG WITH ME SO I WOULDN’T HAVE TO HUNT ALONE, WHICH IS NOT A GOOD IDEA IN THE DESERT COUNTRY SOUTH OF HOME WHERE THE ANTELOPE ARE FOUND. WE WERE FAR OUT IN THAT LONELY COUNTRY WHEN A NICE HERD SHOWED UP WITH A NICE BUCK SHEPHERDING HIS DOES. WE STOPPED BEHIND A LOW HILL, I HANDED DAVID MY RUGER SINGLE SHOT 30-06 AND TOLD HIM TO SHOOT THE BUCK. HE JUMPED OUT OF THE TRUCK, RAN UP THE RISE, THREW HIMSELF INTO AN OFFHAND POSITION AND TRIPPED OFF A SHOT, THEN CHARGED OVER THE HILL. WHEN I GOT TO HIM, 300 YARDS OUT, HE WAS STANDING BY THIS SMALL BUCK, WHICH HE HAD DEFTLY DRILLED DEAD CENTER. THE BUCK WASN’T VERY BIG, BUT HE ATE REALLY WELL. YES, WELL KILLED AND CARED FOR ANTELOPE IS QUITE TASTY. NO, THIS WASN’T THE BIGGER DOMINANT BUCK.
1986- STONE SHEEP in Northern British Columbia on the Toad River- the toughest mountain hunt I ever went on.
LONG HORSEBACK RIDES THROUGH HEAVY STANDS OF TREES AND BRUSH FOLLOWED BY LONG CLIMBS IN STEEP MOUNTAIN COUNTRY THEN LONG RIDES BACK TO CAMP TYPIFIED THIS HUNT. WE RODE OR HUNTED 18 HOURS A DAY AND SLEPT ABOUT 6. I WAS BEAT TO PIECES, BRUISED AND SORE EVERYWHERE BY THE TIME THIS DELIGHTFUL ORDEAL WAS OVER. I WAS USING A HANDLOADED 30-338 WITH 180 GRAIN LOADS AT 3000FPS. THE GOAT WAS MINE WITH A SINGLE SHOT TO THE NECK AT 350 YARDS. THAT BEAUTIFUL SHEEP TOOK 8 SHOTS, STARTED AT 450 YARDS, (BROKE A FRONT LEG), PUT ONE THROUGH A BACK LEG, ANOTHER THROUGH THE CHEST, (IT DIDN’T EXPAND), AND A FINAL ONE AT 650 YARDS, ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE BUTT AND OUT THE CHEST FOR THE KILL. BY FAR THE BEST AND MOST LUCKY SHOT I EVER MADE ON ANYTHING. I’VE NEVER USED ANOTHER SPEER BULLET SINCE.
1986- WE THREW A BATCHELOR PARTY FOR MY SON JAMES, WHO WAS TO MARRY THE NEXT DAY. IT WAS ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL, WITH BOTH DUCKS AND GEESE FALLING TO ALL OF US.
LEFT: DOC, McCORD MARSHALL AND JAMES HOLD A FEW OF OUR CATCH. ON THE RIGHT: JAMES HOLDS ONTO HIS CATCH FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW. HER NAME WAS LORI. SHE PUT HIM THROUGH MEDICAL SCHOOL WHILE GIVING HIM TWO SONS THEN LOST HER LIFE IN THE CAR ACCIDENT WHICH COST HIM AN EYE.
1986- ANNUAL HUNT FOR BUFFLER AT COVALT’S IN NEBRASKA.
MARK CHENEY (LEFT) SMILEY ARROCHIS AND DOC (RIGHT). SMILEY KILLED THE BIGGER BULL, I GOT AN EATING SIZE COW WITH A SHARPE’S 45-70. MY KIDS GREW UP EATING BUFFALO, FAR BETTER THAN BEEF, IF YOU STICK TO SHOOTING FAT COW RATHER THAN BLUE BULL.
1986- NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BLACKTAIL
THIS SHOWS YOU WHAT THE SUN BEHIND YOUR BACK AT DUSK AND JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS CAN DO. WE HAD HUNTED HARD ALL DAY , SAW SOME NICE BUCKS BUT HELD OUT FOR BETTER IN EVERY CASE. JUST AT DUSK, THIS DEER SHOWED UP 200 YARDS DOWN SUN, THE SUN GLOWING ON WHAT APPEARED TO BE A GREAT SPREAD OF THICK ANTLER. THE GUIDE GRUNTED ‘SHOOT’ BUT I ALREADY HAD. MADE A NICE SHOT WITH A SAKO 270, ONLY TO FIND A TWO POINT IN THE DARK. I GUESS YOU LEARN THE HARD WAY THAT YOU SEE WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE, NOT NECESSARILY WHAT IS. NOTICE: NO BROW TINES.
1987- MY SON JAMES NEEDED MEAT FOR HIS GROWING FAMILY, SO HE, DAVID AND I WENT ARCHERY HUNTING FOR A YOUNG MULE DEER.
WE HAPPENED ACROSS A YOUNG BUCK IN THE MOUNTAIN NORTH OF TOWN. JAMES DREW DOWN WHILE DAVID AND I WAITED. HE WAS SHOOTING A PEEP SIGHTED WHEEL BOW. HE HESITATED SO LONG THAT I FINALLY SNAPPED OFF A SHOT FROM MY RECURVE, SHOOTING INSTINCTIVE STYLE AND NAILED THE DEER. JAMES SAID, ‘ AHH, DAD’. HE WAS ABOUT TO RECRIMINATE WITH SOMETHING LIKE ‘WHY DID YOU DO THAT’ BUT THOUGHT BETTER OF IT.
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY, AND I DON’T QUITE REMEMBER IT THE SAME AS MY DAD. THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT AS WE CAME ACROSS THIS CRITTER, I MADE THE MISTAKE OF SOFTLY WHISPERING SOMETHING THAT INCLUDED THE PHRASE “DEAD MEAT’ AS I SLIPPED QUIETLY INTO POSITION. NOCKING AN ARROW, I DREW BACK, AND SIGHTED DOWN ON A PATCH OF HAIR RIGHT BEHIND THE DEER’S ELBOW AND WAS IN THE ACT OF A RELEASE WHEN WHAT TO MY WONDERING EYES SHOULD APPEAR, BUT AN ARROW IN THAT VERY SPOT, STICKING OUT OF MY DEER. RELAXING MY BOW, I GLANCED AT DAD WHO WAS LOOKING VERY SHEEPISH. HE GLANCED DOWN JUST A LITTLE BEFORE PROCLAIMING “WHEN I HEARD THE WORD ‘MEAT’ I JUST COULDN’T HELP MYSELF.” – JAMES WHITE
1987-ELK HUNT IN JACKSON WYO. WITH OLD TIME OUTFITTER CHARLIE PETERSON. WE PACKED INTO THE HIGH MOUNTAINS TO THE EAST OF JACKSON, ESTABLISHED A PLEASANT CAMP IN A BEAUTIFUL VALLEY. NEXT DAY SOME FOOL STARTED A FIRE IN THE NEXT CANYON OVER WHICH RUINED THE ELK HUNTING WHAT WITH AIRPLANES AND SMOKE JUMPERS ZIPPING AROUND IN THE SKY. WE HUNTED HARD FOR 9 DAYS , ONLY SAW ONE BIG BULL BUT COULDN’T GET A SHOT, I ENDED UP TAKING AN UGLY BRANCH ANTLERED BULL, LOOKED LIKE A EUROPEAN ELK, FOR THE MEAT AND TO GET HIS GENES OUT OF THE POOL.
WHAT WITH THE FIRE, WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME IN CAMP, LAYING IN THE SHADE. CHARLIE HAD ALL HIS GEAR READY TO PACK AND FLEE IF THE FIRE CAME TO OUR SIDE. FORTUNATLY, IT DID NOT. I WAS SHOOTING A 35 WHELEN I HAD BUILT, USED IT LAST MINUTE ON THE LAST DAY. I SAID, “CHARLIE. WHICH OF THOSE LITTLE BULLS DO YOU WANT ME TO SHOOT. HE POINTED OUT THE UGLY ONE, A THREE YEAR OLD. I SHOT AND IT STOOD THERE. CHARLIE SAID. “SHOOT AGAIN”. I DID AND THE ANIMAL WENT DOWN. WE RAN OVER TO FIND THE SMALL BULL AND A BIG FAT COW LYING ALMOST SIDE BY SIDE.
THE TWO PHOTOS ON THE LEFT WILL GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF HOW BIG THIS COUNTRY IS. SHARP-EYED CHARLIE IS HELPING ED PACK A HORSE TO THE RIGHT AND THE UGLIEST ELK EVER KILLED IS FAR RIGHT. EXCELLENT MEAT, THOUGH.
1987- Mule deer in the Three Corners area of North Eastern Utah.
THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A TROPHY AREA. I DREW A TAG, DROVE UP FOR THE DAY, THEN DISCOVERED THAT THE DEER WERE SMALL THOUGH NUMEROUS. I KILLED THE SMALLEST LEGAL DEER I COULD FIND FOR THE MEAT. I WAS SHOOTING A 30-06 IMPROVED I HAD BUILT.
1987- MULE DEER AND ANTELOPE HUNT IN MONTANA
The hunt was supposed to be for trophy mule deer, but ended up a hunt for trophy antelope. I took a just about B&C antelope, out of the book by a smidgin, with the ’06 Improved. The three point mule deer was the biggest one we saw, also the smartest, he ducked us 4-5 times before we figured out his pattern of escape. If we drove close to his hide, he would circle around a huge rock, keeping himself out of sight, if we got out he would run down a draw then up and around a hill and come back to the same rock. We finally outsmarted him by driving up to the rock, slipping me and my 451 percussion sporting rifle out of the jeep into the sagebrush, where I sat as the jeep turned and drove away. Sure enough, the deer came around the rock, circling and watching the truck. He was so astute that it made me feel bad to shoot him,
1988- DALL SHEEP HUNT, ARCTIC RED RIVER, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, CANADA
I hunted with a 30-338 and handloads, a rifle converted from a Winchester M70 Westerner Liteweight. It was a fine rifle, shot a 180 grain bullet at 3000 FPS. The guide turned out to be a Born=Again Christian, the cook another Mormon like me, the main camp populated with Mormons for the bigger part. We had prayer every morning and before meals. It was a long trip to get there. Drive to Salt Lake City 2+ hours, then a 5 hour jet flight to Edmonton, then another to Fort Nelson, then a prop-jet Beaver to a lake near camp in the MacKenzie Mountains, then a Super Cub deeper into the mountains, then a 17 mile hike to spike camp with a 50 lb pack, then climb for days until the right sheep showed up. I really enjoyed the company. These were good people, the best and most enjoyable hunt i ever went on. I was 52 at the time.
There’s our Super-Cub above on the left, on Slide Lake. Middle is the long ridge that I walked down to get to the spot where I spotted and shot the sheep, way down on the far end. The veiw was fantastic. Right above is where I shot from, about 200+ yards from the sheep, which show as tiny dots on the tip of the ridge in the distance.. Those sheep sure can pick the beautiful places. That’ a creek in the far bottom, not a road. No roads for 400 miles. The photos give you a hint about how big this country is!
The trip back was even more harrowing. I found a creek-soaKED winter-killed SHEEP HEAD with good horns AND CARRIED IT OUT FOR jERRY, THE COOK, SO THE PACK WEIGHED 70 LBS. Once at main camp, everyone wanted to leave at once, I lost the draw to go early and ended up flying an Aeronca champ clear to Edmonton, a long ways. I felt I could have walked faster. Then the flight back to SLC and the drive home. At least I got to pilot the Champ part way. The sheep I took just barely made book, 165 B&C points.
1988 BACK FROM THE SHEEP HUNT, I PICKED UP A DEPREDATION TAG AND TOOK MY 10 YEAR OLD SON JON HUNTING MULIE DOE.
An appreciative patient had given me a 257 Roberts Improved. We made a day trip out of it, hunting the nearby mountains to the North. Jon used the little rifle to smack down this fat dry doe at 140 yards with a single shot. You can see from the shadows that it’s early in the morning. He said, “Dad, it was easy”
1988- My older boys escorted me and my Indian friend ‘Smiley’ Arrochis to Nebraska for a Buffler hunt. James and David brought along their Hawken muzzleloaders that I built for them, Smiley had a fancy remington that “BlueJacket” made for him and I had a Sharps carbine in 45/70.
Smiley, down on his haunches on the upper left, shot that big bull, My boys took a smaller meat animal (better fat cow than poor bull, anyday). The middle photo shows them approaching their kill after putting two 54 caliber round balls through its chest, perfectly typical of a hard hit buffler to stay on its feet despite good, solid hits to the “lights”. That’s me on the right, proving that I was at least there. My boys loved their buffalo bergers so much They would complain if they got just ground sirloin.
1989 Bighorn Sheep with Chester Sands, one of the great guides of the world, in the Goat Wilderness Area near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada.
Tall mountains, deep canyons, spectacular scenery, fine horses and an even finer guide, noted for his concern over the dude having a great hunt. He taught me a lot about serving others, filling their basket full. He was a humble and great man. We didn’t see a shootable sheep until the 13th day of the hunt. I had allowed the young wrangler to come along, mostly to carry our equipment. I shot the sheep at about 200 yards after watching him for 4 hours. We knew others would be close and , sure enough about a dozen boiled out of a draw just below the dead ram. The young wrangler blurted, “there’s a bigger one”. Sure enough, there was a bigger one, but with one horn badly broken. I could not help but tease, “ohh, he’s BIG’, and I rattled the bolt of my 30-338 as if I was chambering another round.. Chester immediately came to my rescue. “Doc”, he protested, “Doc, he ugly. Doc, He’s really ugly” I about died lauphing, Chester was so anxious that I be pleased with my kill. I was.
We rode 32 miles to get to main camp, pictured above. There I learned to be a great cook on a small camp stove, how to throw a diamond hitch and how to take care of a horses hooves when you are deep in the mountains and all by yourself and a long walk out. Chester worked hard, but he also taught as he worked, inducing us dudes to ante up the time and effort to make the trip truly enjoyable for all.
We spent a lot of time watching far off hillsides through big binocs and spotting scopes, then riding as far as we could go, then climbing the rest of the way. Up before dawn, ride and climb all day, take a packhorse just in case you had to stay overnight, back in the black of night and do it again tomorrow. I loved it.
1989- Texas Blackbuck
I discovered Exotic hunting this year. I took the 257 Roberts Improved and went after a blackbuck in Texas, took a 400 yard shot with the animal on the trot and made it. I also discovered that exotics are about as hard to hunt as anything else, none of them like to lose their lives. and they seem to know when you are after them.
1990- Mule Deer hunt on Lake Mountain, 30 miles from home, with my three boys and Bro. in law and his boy. We climbed the mountain the night before the opener so we would be on the face of the mountain when everyone else chased the deer to us opening morning. It worked.
James, in the orange coat, was already marrried. David, in the blue coat, brought along his fiancee, Debbie, also in an orange coat. She had won him for good when she cleaned his deer the year before. Every man needs a Debbie in deer camp.
1990- Whitetail deer in lower Alberta, Canada, with that great outfitter, Chester Sands.
My first whitetail of many since. I was hunting with a home made 35 Whelen. Chester found a scrape, and trusted me to creep in on it. I and the buck came in at about the same time only I saw him first, fortunately upwind. I hid under a tree while he cruised by, forcing me into a left handed shot at about 30 yards. He is definitely not a huge buck but it was a huge experience for me. I have always liked being on the ground and close rather than long distance. It makes the adventure just that much more personal.
1990- OUR LAST HUNT AT COVALT’S AND OUR FIRST HUNT WITH THE THEN NEW SUPER-90 MUZZLELOADERS DESIGNED FOR WHITE SYSTEMS. THESE LATER BECAME THE FAMOUS SUPER-91 THAT WHITE SOLD THOUSANDS OF OVER THE NEXT DECADE..
WE FOUND COVALT DRUNK AS A SKUNK AT TEN IN THE MORNING, PASSED OUT IN BED. HIS ALCOHOLISM WAS FINALLY TAKING ITS TOLL. IT WAS COLD AS YOUR MOTHER IN LAW’S HEART, ABOUT 40 BELOW AND SNOWING. ARCHERY GEAR WOULDN’T EVEN FUNCTION. MY SON DAVID AND MY SON IN LAW ROGER SMALL EACH KILLED A BULL WITH A SINGLE SHOT FROM THE NEWLY BUILT NEVER BEFORE TRIED .451 CALIBER SUPER-90 RIFLES THAT FIRST MORNING. WE BUILT A HUGE FIRE, BUTCHERED THE BULLS OUT AND FLED FOR HOME. WE NEVER RETURNED. COVALT WAS DEAD OF LIVER FAILURE SOON AFTER.
1991- Mouflon sheep with Thomson Temple in Texas, first hunt ever with the very first 410 caliber Super-91, to prove a concept.
A new rifle or a new caliber was always another excuse for another hunt. The 410 caliber seemed like a natural. The caliber was very popular in the buffalo days, the long 400 grain bullet killing every bit as well as bigger, shorter bullets and not kicking near as much. It killed this sheep at 200 yards without any problem, shooting that far purposefully just to prove the point.
1991- The very first Super-91 in 50 caliber went on this bear hunt. The hunt had been scheduled for two years at the time. I had just designed the Super-91 the year before in 451 caliber. I had the first 50 still in parts the day before the hunt. Decided to take it at the last minute, built it that night, finished it at 4 in the morning, shot it the first time in bear camp in Area 9-D on the Alaska Penninsula the next day, then hunted with it the next three days before coming into this bear. I wanted a blond this time rather than a big ugly dark critter and got what I wanted. The then new 600 grain bullet over 140 grains black powder did the job with superb penetration.. The scope also blacked my eye. You can read the story in ‘Doc’s Best’ at the left, see “Katie- a bear for the DOC”
We used photos of this hunt for advertising for years.
1992 Antelope hunt on the Hat Ranch in Southern New Mexico. I had designed the Sporting Rifle, a side lock, English style rifle with fast twist rifling for White bullets, same internals as all White rifle barrels. This rifle was in 451 caliber with a Douglas barrel and a tall ladder peep sight. It proved to be very accurate, capable of 4 inch groups at 600 yards at its best using a 520 grain bullet and 80 grains Black Powder. This buck bounced up out of a waterhole. I broke his neck with the shot. You can read the adventure in ‘Doc’s Best’ , see ‘Never Seen Such Luck”. Enjoy!
This rifle used a Douglas barrel 36″ long, 1-18 twist, .o35 grooves, single set trigger, ladder peep and globe front, recoil pad, Alex Henry fore-end and was suberbly accurate.
1992 WhiteSystems first full year of production
This was the production facility. The sales office was located on the other end of town on the hiway. White systems was destined for great things until our production partners failed to fulfill their agreement with us.
The packing room is shown above. Right is the first of our showrooms, made so that the panels could be quickly loaded into a van and taken to the various shows and expositions that we attended those first few years.
1992- The family always did a lot of bird hunting. Below are my older sons James, kneeling and David, standing beside me, after a pheasant hunt.
1992 New Mexico- Most of the hunting I did at this time was for advertising. A new design was a good excuse for another hunt.
This was supposed to be a trophy muzzleloading elk hunt but turned into a coyote hunt. Never saw an elk.
March 1993- Arctic Canada, St Elizebeth’s Island, 40 below all the time, wind, blow, snow, freeze, chill, . I wrote a story about it, “How Not to Kill a Record Book Musk Ox” It’s in ‘Doc’s Best ‘(click to the left)
This hunt was for advertising too. I had a Super-91 in 504 caliber, but the airlines broke the guncase, the stock and the trigger and it was useless. I had to borrow a 7mm Magnum from my hunting buddy to kill what would have been a new muzzleloading record musk-ox. The airlines just shrugged. They could have cared less. We hunted one day out of seven. The rest of the time it blew a Norther and we never left the tent/igloo. Inuet food is awful, by the way, but they sure are tough and durable folks. I left very much their admirer.
1993 Whitetail MO- By this time, White Systems was doing a lot of video advertising. BKS Productions, captained by Rodger Raglan, was our contractee. Since I designed the guns and they were named after me, I was in a lot of the videos, many of which are still out in the world. I quickly discovered that hunting and making hunting videos are two different critters. One is fun the other is work. If you want some insight into the dilemma, read my article titled “Let’s kill Rodger Raglan”. You can find it in ‘Doc’s Best’, to the left.
The photos below were all taken during a Whitetail hunt in Missouri. I managed to kill a big one, scoring 177 B&C on camera. You can’t imagine the effort this all took, or how stupid that whitetail had to be, to let the hunter, cameraman, director and umpteen kibitzers get in on the action. The only place I ever saw it worse was in Africa, where we were always trailed by a guy with lunch, another with water and another with chairs and table, for lunch , of course.
The rifle I’m hunting with is a Bison with a forward mounted scope, which works exceptionally well on a Muzzleloader that fires from an open bolt. You can see the blue QuichChargers mounted on the butt, they were handy that way and made a reload and shot in 15 seconds doable.
Video cameras were big heavy things then, 50 lbs of camera and tripod and 50 lbs. of batteries, all carried by the cameraman, who was the real hero of these hunting videos. The grip carried anther 100 lbs. of batteries. They didn’t last long.
1993- The Year of the Pig, more videos made for advertising, all the way from monsters like that farm pig, which was raiding crops and needed disposal, to that javelina, a nasty little critter with a Napoleon Complex, small but full of bark and bite and bluster. The biggest I ever killed weighed over 600 lbs. Pinkie, below left, was only in the 400 lb. class.
If you want some insight into hunting pigs, be sure to read “Hank and the Hogs” by my buddy George Grey , to the left under ‘the Adventures of George Grey’. You might recognize a little of yourself in his funny story.
1993 MORE PIGS IN MISSSOURI
1994- the first of the White muzzleloading shotguns. The first one I designed was on a Super-91 action, but the G-Series Whitetail action proved to be a better vehicle once I bulked it up to BG-Series size. The Super-91 proto never came to production but the G-based gun, bulked up to BG-series size, became the famous Tominator.
The photo on the left is me and my first Eastern tom and the first turkey I lucked into, taken with the proto Super-91 based gun. The middle photo shows an Osceloa turkey and the first ever production Tominator. At right is John Kersher and me with a bird apiece, taken with Tominators, the straight rifled 12 gauge shotgun design we finally settled on as our production shotgun. There isn’t a better turkey gun in the woods, 90% first shot patterns if you follow directions.
1994- Antelope hunt in New Mexico at the Hat Ranch. The technique was to sit out in the middle of the bare desert and hide under a see through camo cover. It was very effective. This 16 inch buck got within 60 yards before he became suspicious. The 451 Sporting rifle did the job, instant knockdown.
1994- That strange looking exotic critter is a 4 horned sheep, taken with a Javelina pistol in .504 caliber, shooting 890 grains PyrodexP and a 430 grain slip-fit White bullet. This was the trip that proved the functuionality of the Javelina: two hands, a sling and rifle like accuracy and power.
1994- A middle sized chocolate fallow deer, scores about 250 where the record was in the 270’s at the time. But it wasn’t the size of the deer that counted, but the distance of the shot, 220+ yards with the scoped .451 caliber Super Safari using 80 grains PyrodexP and a 460 grain PowerPunch slip-fit bullet. The distance was not a record for me at the time, the longest single killing shot I ever made was 240 yards.
1994- was getting to be the best hunting year I had ever experienced. This big 154 point Missouri whitetail was killed with a Javelina two handed pistol while on a hunt for a much smaller deer. I was still hunting along a trail bordering a hayfield which a small 4 point was known to frequent, heard a noise behind me and turned to see this buck staring at me over a bush at about 20 yards. All I could see was his head and the upper part of his white neck. I planted the 430 grain bullet in that white spot, saw his hooves in the air, all 4 of them, then the thump as he hit the ground.
1994- Biggest bull elk killed in the famous Valle Vidal of New Mexico that year, all seasons included. Scored in the 360’s. I was using a .504 caliber Super 91 with 600 grain PowerPunch slip-fit bullet over 120 grains PyrodexP. Range was 150+ yards with the bull facing me. I put the bullet into the V of his neck. The big bullet went clear through end to end. We found the beautifully expanded bullet under the skin of the rump.
1994- winter caught us in Missouri, filming video for advertising on a game ranch. Along came this Tahr, said to originate somewhere near Afganistan in those tall, rugged mountains. It turns out the Tahr is as rugged as the mountains. I put four .451 caliber 460 grain bullets through this critters heart, a group you cover with a cup, before he went down. Talk about tough!
1994- An old mule deer from the Pahnsagaunt, near Kanab, UT., taken during the regular rifle hunt with a White Super 91. this is a premier area for big bucks. I had just designed a new bullet, medium heavy but wth a deep hollow point. The concept was that the deep HP would prove explosive and the heavy rear would carry through with great penetration. I stole the idea from Gould, who wrote in the 1880’s and designed a 45/70 bullet with those features. The bullet turned out to weigh 335 grains with a 1/10th inch wide 1/2 inch deep hollow point. It proved to be a deadly killer. You will be able to read about soon as I get the story posted. It was written long ago, shortly after it happened.
We trapped this big old buck in a blind canyon, He ran back past us, jumping from scree-pile to scree-pile under 500 foot cliffs. I took him in the middle of a jump. The bullet punched his lights out, he was dead in the air, tumbling over and over before thumping into the ground. there was a three inch exit wound on the other side.
1994-White Fallow Deer taken on camera at Fraley’s Mo. hunting ranch. The one on the left is a big one, # 2 muzzleloading SCI at the time. The shot was offhand through thick brush, with the cameraman whispering, ‘NO- NO- NO’ in my ear as I paused for the trigger pull. He didn’t think I could do it. You can read about the hunt in ‘Doc’s Best”, click on ‘Fallow Deer- or, to be a good shot, shoot a lot’. The smaller one on the right was a “super” size, just right for eating. They are delicious.
These deer are just beautiful. They were scattered all over Europe in the Roman days. There isn’t a wild one left at present. George Washington is said to have imported the first ones landed in the Americas.
1995- A turkey hunt in Texas gone wrong. The hunt started out for turkey, then my buddy who scheduled the hunt didn’t show, then the ticks were so thick we couldn’t hardly stand to sit, then the turkey’s were yet in the strut, so we went pig hunting, which was what the guide specialized in anyway. First thing you know, 4 jeep-loads of Texans showed up, each packing a tied down Colt hogleg, 8 total. So we shied the dogs after pigs, which were plentiful. They soon tied one down in a cactus thicket. The Texans all jumped out and converged on the pig, pistols waving all over. This spooked me so I held back. I was carrying that Javelina pistol- nee- rifle that you see in the photos, something I had invented for WhiteRifles that never went anywhere. I only ever made one.
The pig finally got tired of the dogs and charged through the pack, through the Texans, none of whom could get a shot because they were too tightly bunched and right past me. I put him down with a single 435 grain Super-Slug to the vitals. This happened three times before they got wise and asked me to stand away so they could have a turn. Turns out the Texans were right expert with those hoglegs. They could bounce a can along the ground all day long and from the hip, too.
1995-Turkeys in Kersher’s Missouri wood lot. Well, sort of a wood lot, like 5000 acres of thick oak and turkeys all over the place. And there was more than one. The family raised oak for the lumber, had their own mill to make it into flooring. Jon ran the mill and managed the woodlots.
I had developed the Tominator shotgun for WhiteRifles just a few years before, made friends with Jon at the SHOT show where we were showing off our new stuff. Going back to the woodlot became almost a yearly thing.
1995- Spring float down the Green River with the Boy Scouts. Les Bennett was the mover here. I was along for the ride. We caught some pretty good fish, flies only on this water.
1995- #2 Tur, BIG chocolate fallow deer and the prettiest Mouflon I ever saw. I have grouped these animals all together because I took them all in the same place, Fraley’s Game Ranch in Rolla, Mo., over the year 2000. WhiteRifles sponsored the hunting. We did all the hunting with a camera following us, using the film and photos for advertising. At least that was the intent. The woods were so thick that hunting the critters was tough, especially trying to hunt and get good photos, too. It’s hard to do both at the same time.
I took the Tur in the Spring of 2000, using my Super Safari design in .504 caliber with a 600 grain Super Slug and 120 grains PyrodexP. I took the shot at about 100 yards with a good heart hit. That tough anumal went another 100 yards before he collapsed. I had no isea he was so big or so tough. The chocolate Fallow deer came in the early fall, using the same rifle but with a 435 grain Super Star saboted bullet and 100 grains of PyrodexP. Again a solid heart hit but instantly down at 120 yards. We chased the Mouflon all day trying to get a shot and film, too. It didn’t come together until almost dark. I finally got a 50 yard shot downhill through the oaks. I was using the same Super Star and Pyrodex load as with the chocolate Fallow but in the 16 inch barreled two handed Javelina pistol-rifle. (it has a folding stock for use as a rifle). It is still the prettiest Mouflon ever seen. The combination of colors in the coat and the curl of the horns was just exquisite.
1995- ZIMBABWE, AFRICA. WhiteRifles and BKS Productions teamed up for a hunt in Africa, ostensibly to advertise White Rifles, with Roger Reglan as the star of the show. The video is yet available, called ‘White Smoke, Black Africa’. We collectively killed a bunch of animals including hippo and crocodile, but not the Kudu that I so sorely wanted. The empty place below is where the photo should have gone. You can read about this adventure in ‘Let’s Kill Roger Reglan” by clicking on Doc’s Best and scrolling through the stories until you find it. It details how making videos is NOT hunting.
Hunting Giraffe is like hunting dinosours, they are so tall, twice as high as the trees. Kudu are called the ‘grey ghost’ for a reason. And they jump like whitetails.
Widebeste are nuts, they run this way , grab a mouthful, then run back the way they came. 10,000 eyes, all looking at you at once. It’s a wonder a lion can even get close. Impalla, the best game of all. They are delicious. Leopards love them. So do I.
Zebra are tougher than nails. Despite that, the blacks roast them whole and gobble them down. Buffalo are right scary. Just ask the cameraman.
1995- Moose and Mountain Caribou in Northern Canada- This was a tough hunt, up on the Arctic Circle, far north of Whitehorse. Started out easy with great guides and good horses, except that mine threw me into a puddle full of rocks first day out. I spent the rest of the hunt cripping along with a walking stick and my Super Safari used for a cane. The look on my face in the photo with the caribou tells the story. It took a belly full of Motrin and Percocet to keep me hunting. You can read about it in ‘Doc’s Best’, titled, ‘Sitting in the Mud’. It’s one of my better stories.
The caribou was the longest shot I ever made with one of my rifles, 240 yards with a .504 caliber 435 grain Super Star saboted hollow point bullet and 120 grains of Arco powder. I had sighted in the rifle to be 3 inches high at 100 yards, so held just over the Bull’s back for a hit through the dorsal aorta. He went over, legs in the air with the hit. The guide, who was unfamiliar with White rifles, blurted, ‘you ‘it ‘im’, in an amazed Canadian accent, then blushed bright red. He was amazed and blushed again when I shot the bull moose at 170 yards offhand with the same rifle but using a 600 grain Power-Punch bullet with the same 120 grains of Arco. He said, “you did it again’. On the way back to camp, he wanted a small ‘Mulligan’ bull for meat, found a 30 incher and asked me to kill him. I offered him the rifle, but he refused. I asked why and he said he wanted to see me do it three times in a row. Only then would he believe it. So I did.
1995- Whitetail, Missouri, Video with BKS – Here we were again with Roger Reglan and BKS Productions, killing whitetail,in Missouri. Again, WhiteRifles sponsored the action. Roger had brought along a plastic tree stump big enough to fit two people. It was one of the better blinds that I have ever seen, but was clumsy tp handle. We hid out in it for a couple of days before a high 8 pointer came along. I was shooting a 540 caliber Bison, same as a White Whitetail ut with a heavier bull barrel with open sights. The slip-fit bullet weighed 450 grains and the powder charge was 120 grains of PyrodexP. The buck came in to about 30 yards with cameraman in tree just behind us. The bullet hit the deer mid-chest and blew him about ten feet. Roger whooped like an Indian. Knock-down like that sells videos!
Later that year, I went back to Kersher’s wood-lot for another whitetail. This time I went traditional with a 54 caliber flintlock round ball rifle, a copy of a British Flintlock Sporting Rifle that might have been made about 1820.. It shot a .530 patched ball over 140 grains FFFg black powder, about a 1600 FPS load. I got a shot just at dusk at about 30-40 yards. The deer didn’t go ten feet. The photo was taken next morning. I wished I had done it in costume.
1995- Blacktail deer, Oregon with a peep sighted 504 caliber Super Safari.
The Oregon forest is a jungle, thick and inpenetrable. We hunted from tree stands for the bigger part, but finally took the deer in his bed in the early morning at 140 yards. He never got out of the bed. They tell me this is a pretty good buck, but it’s clear that the bigger Blacktail deer are those that live in the southern part of the state where they cross with mule deer. It turned out that my guide was a crook. He was taking me to private properties, sneaking me in and out. He was a good guide, just unethical. He did it so adroitly that I had no idea of what was going on until the Oregon F&G asked me to testify against him.
1996- I developed a small muzzleloadng pistol, based on the White Lightning action, called it the ‘Bobcat’. It was not a hit with the White Co and went nowhere. But it was an excuse for another hunt. So I took it to the Missouri hardwoods where I popped that little 7-pointer at 70 yards, using a 435 rain Super-Star and 70 grains PyrodexP. It shot as well as any magnum.
Later that year, I went back and hunted Bobcat with Tom Fraley, sitting over bait in the dark of early morning. I got one with a .330 caliber Super-91, the only one in existence. It shot a 270 grain slip-fit lubricated bullet over 60 grains of PyroP. Everyone else shot bobcat with shotguns.
1996- Tom Fraley called and said he had a huge ‘Corsican” sheep that was on its last legs, was so old it lost all its teeth and was fast failing. Indeed the animal was huge, SCI #1 Muzzleloader for a while, but still wild and a fun hunt in the Missouri jungle. I took him with the Javelina folding stock pistol-rifle. He was so decrepit that his hide was no good for a mount. When the SCI muzzleloading chapter went to Texas the next spring I popped the much smaller Corsican with the same gun but got a good hide for a magnificent shoulder mount.
1996- SCI Muzzleloading Chapter doin’s at John Barge’s Africa- like hunting ranch in Texas. It was a unique place, with shambas for accomodation, very much like Africa. The sere country even looked like Africa. This spotted deer, originally from India, fell to a 451 caliber Super Safari just at dusk, a 30 yard shot. I was hiding in a brushpile, near a trail that the deer used. Once again, a single shot kill. These pretty deer eat really well. The meat is delicious..
1996- The success of my two handed Javelina pistol inspired not only the folding stock Razorback rifle but also a folding stock Razorback shotgun, really a variation of the Tominator. It never came to production but got a lot of attention in hunting camp. Below are several Eastern turkeys taken in Missouri using the Tominator and Razorback. Both use the same loads and shoot alike, 90% first shot patterns through my super-turkey chokes at 40 yards.
1996- Doc and daughter Julie go on a photo safari to Fraley’s in Missouri for a big Pere’ David deer. That monster you see below was in the rut and fighting mad simply because there weren’t any females available. Julie was in the back of the pickup to get high enough for good video. That damn deer chased us down and tried to jump in the back of the truck with her. She is right attractive so maybe I don’t blame him. Anyway, I put him out of his misery with a 45 caliber White Bison of my design with a forward mounted scope, shooting a 460 grain slip fit bullet over 100 grains of PyrodexP. A single shot did it, much to Julie’s relief.
Tom Fraley claims that the only reason the Pere’David did not take me out (I was on the ground ) was that he was blinded by the glare from my forehead. My hat got knocked off in all the excitement. I recognize that I can be a bit hardheaded at times, but never thought of my forehead as a defensive instrument, but could be—?
1996- Here’s Doc in his Medical office in Roosevelt, Utah.
and here is the White Muzzleloading display at the SHOT Show that year. ‘Katie’, the bear, was the star of the booth. We named her after Dale Whatley’s wife. He was the president of Knight Muzzleloading at the time.
1997- DOC and son David take a safari to Missouri and Texas.
First to Faley’s Ranch in Missouri for a Red Deer, 297 SCI, second biggest in the exotic book at the time, then on to John Barge’s ranch in Texas for a huge Blackbuck, also second in the muzzleloading book, then on to Katie Prairie for white geese. I took the red deer with a 50 caliber prototype Sporting Rifle, David got the blackbuck with a 451 caliber Super-91 and the goose hunt was modern all the way.
1997- Doc and son David go on a bear hunt in Land of the Lakes, Ontario, Canada
The bear hunting was poor, the mosquitos so thick you couldn’t see the bears, but the fishing for Pike and Walleye was fantastic.
1997- The SCI Muzzleloading Chapter goes to Michigan and two of DOC’s grandsons get a rabbit.
Left- DOC with Mike Will’s big white Fallow deer, killed with a White Super-91. Mike made a masterful stalk through the woods. DOC did the video. Right- Josh (left) and Derrick (right) were just starting their hunting careers. This is the rocky country South and East of Roosevelt, Utah. Lots of jackrabbits, coyotes and oil out here. That poor jackrabbit was their first kill.
1998- Audad, the smelliest critter I ever killed, taken in Texas with a 504 caliber prototype Sporting rifle. The White Co never did get the sporting rifle into production. I made every one ever sold by hand, every one a custom job. doing a run of 50 to see if they would sell. They did but the Co never followed up on it. These big animals are supposed to be tough and hard to put down but a single shot at 80 yards did the job here. This is a bigger one, 32 inch spread but nowhere near a record.
1998- My son James and I went to Fraley’s in Missouri to hunt pig He opted to do it with the Razorback and took a nice hog.
1998- My son David is shown with one of the two whitetails he took in Missouri amongst the hardwoods, both about the same size. The second one was supposed to be mine. When he had the chance, he could not help but take the shot. I grumped and groaned but he smiled all the way to the butcher shop.
1998- I went to Andy Ceroulis’ ranch in Colorado for elk. It turned out to be more a meat hunt than a serious hunt for big elk. I managed to get the biggest one of the 12 hunters in camp. It was a 450 yard shot across a deep canyon, so used my old faithfull 30-06. I bought this rifle for $35 from Golden State Arms back in the 1950’s. It had a war surplus Mauser bolt action and a two groove Springfeild barrel in a poorly finished Bishop’s stock. I later camo’d the stock. Despite the cobbled up specs, it shoots a factory Federal 165 grain load suberbly well. I bought a case of ammo for it and still have most of the case left. I paid $4.00 a box for the ammo at the tima.
I took the shot from the sit, wrapped up in the sling and held a foot over the bull’s shoulder. I hit him in the base of the spine just in front of the shoulder blade. He went right down. After a bit he attempted to get up, so I shot again with him facing me, hitting him in the eye for a brain shot. It was all absolute luck.
1998- My friend Don Kettlecamp and a leopard. My only part of this is that I built the double barreled muzzlelaoding rifle he is shown with. It threw a 54 caliber , 750 grain slip-fit bullet at 1450 FPS with 200 grains of Pyrodex. He later popped an elephant with it.
1999- Turkeys had captured me but good. Every bit as much fun as calling in elk during the rut but not near as much work. I went to New Mexico for these two turkeys, using both percussion and flintlock shotguns. Ric Martin, sitting right in the photo had become a good friend, his son on the left guided me to the first bird and was astounded when I killed him at 40 yards. He didn’t know a muzzleloader would do it except at close range. The second bird I called in on my own, the first one I ever did, must have been an idiot to come to my very amateur calling, but I got him into 30 yards before pulling the trigger.
1999- This sharp horned critter is a Nilgai. They came from India originally. They are quite some animal, tough and fast. I guess they should be because tigers love them, to eat, that is. They have a fearsome reputation for speed and fierceness. This one fell to my ‘Bobcat’ pistol in 504 caliber. I took a 30 yard shot with the bull running past through the oaks in Missouri. It was a lucky shot but it only took one. You can read the full story in ‘DOC’s Best” to the left, look for ‘Nigai with a Bobcat’.
1999- Tom Fraley called in a panic, said he had a small red deer deep in the rut fighting with his bigger fallow and whitetail and killing a few. He wanted the buck killed, on the cheap, pronto. I could not pass up the chance. I had just designed the MK-4 rifle you see in the photo, following the lead of the Russian Kalishnakov, placing the barrel low and ramrod above it. In reality, this was a White G-series Whitetail action upside down. The only thing new was the trigger group and side safety, which could be switched to either side. Naturally, it was too much for the White Co. and the design went nowhere, except on a few hunting trips to prove the concept. A new design always demanded a hunt to prove it out. I made 5, the one shown is #4.
This is not a big red deer, just average, but he was deep in the rut and full of piss and vinegar. I killed him as he charged at about 20 yards, the 460 grain bullet hitting him at the base of the throat and taking the aorta off the heart. Fraley said he was mean, and he was.
1999- The Shaefferville aAdventure- caribou in near Arctic Canada.
Jan. 2000- Winter Bobcat
Spring 2000- Missouri fallow deer
Spring 2000- Muzzleloading Hunting School
May 2000- Texas turkey
Sept. 2000- Adventure on Indian Ridge.
Oct. 2000- Goose Hunting in the Uintah Basin
Nov, 2000- A Phamily Pheasant Hunt
Nov. 2000- Michigan Whitetail
Dec. 2000- The Adventure of Coues deer in Mexico.
Spring 2001- Hogs and Bobcats
May 2001- More Texas turkey
Summer 2001- Not enough to do so I turn to Cowboy shooting
Fall 2001- A red bear for the DOC
May 2002- A Safari for Turkey
Summer 2002- Finally bought the shooting range
July HUNT FOR SAILFISH, FLORIDA COAST, 2002
Sept. 2002- NMLRA Manufacturer’s Shoot
Fall 2002- David kills an elk in Michigan on camera.
June 2003- NMLRA Manufacturer’s Shoot
2003- Videotaping a TV program featuring White Rifles..
Spring Turkey Hunt 2006
Here I am 7 months out from a total knee replacement, with no cane or crutch, hunting turkeys in south Texas right near the Mexican border, in costume, with a fancy Frenchified 12 gauge Fusil. This Fusil is the one UPS broke through the wrist for me. I fixed it with a steel pin epoxied long-ways through the wrist, then hid the break with a silver turtle thumb piece and brass tear drop finials behind the lock and sideplate where the original carved-in teardrops were found. I put a Colonial screw-in inter-changable choke in it, used a Super-Full for this hunt and loaded 115 grains Goex FFg under 1 7/8 oz #7 1/2 lead shot. It proved to be a sure killer with terrific patterns. I got two toms, both at 35 yards, both very suddenly dead with 4-5 head hits and several in the neck on both birds. Don’t you believe the nonsense that 7 1/2 lead shot won’t kill birds. It has for me for years.
Six Toms make an impressive picture, but only two are mine. I hunted in that costume. With some mud on the face, it was very affective. Above right: Can’t hardly see the break, can you?
Doc built 12 gauge French Fowler, 42 inch long 12 gauge Getz tapered octagon to round barrel, Lightly figured maple stock, great sparking, quality French Fusil flintlock and brass French furniture, serpentine sideplate, sparse carving and light engraving. Metal finished a deep, deep brown to enhance the stained and oil rubbed wood. Was sent to Track of the Wolf, but UPS managed to break it through the wrist. I fixed it with a lengthwise steel wrist pin and epoxy, added a silver turtle and brass sheet repair in the antique style, added some brass tacks for that authentic look. I put a screw-in Colonial choke in it and took it turkey hunting.
The pics above were taken AFTER the fix on the gun, If you look close you might be able to see the break through the wrist and the fix, using a silver turtle and decorative tear-drop wrist plate on either side to disguise the break. The real fix of course is the 6″ steel pin epoxied inside the wrist. You could run over it with your Suburban now and not break it again.
SIDE BY SIDE DOUBLE FLINTLOCK- RIFLE SHOTGUN
The NorthWest corner of my shop. Most of the guns shown here are assembled, ‘in the white’, ready to be finished.
I usually build a dozen or so reproduction guns at a time, doing all the barrel inletting, then lock inletting then buttplates and trigger guards, etc., on the whole dozen at a time. When I got back from the last turkey hunt, this little double combination gun caught my eye. I just could not resist working on it to near completion. Whims like that hit me once in a while. If your order is late, such things may be the reason.
Double guns are far more difficult than single barrel stuff. Not only is the inletting of locks doubled, the fuss and bother of cutting false breeches for the side by side barrels is a pain and the hand work is time consuming.
The most difficult thing is regulating the barrels. Once the gun is put together, to at least a point where it can be shot, then a load is selected and the gun is shot, usually at 25 yards, using false sights. Normally, the shots cross over. Then the gun goes back to the shop, a thin wedge is re-soldered in place between the barrel ends, and the gun is shot again. It usually takes a 1/2 dozen tries to get the barrels right. If one barrel shoots higher than the other, this has to be fixed too, each fix requiring re-soldering. It can become a real mess.
This combination gun has a .73 caliber (12 gauge) barrel on the right and a 50 caliber GRRW rifled barrel on the left. It is arranged this way so the shotgun barrel is on the shooting hand side for fast cocking and the rifle barrel side is on the left side where the trigger leverage produces a lighter trigger pull. The barrels are 20 inches long, the pull on the English style stock is 14 inches over what is destined to become a leather covered recoil pad. (That is, if I can learn how to cover recoil pads with leather like the English did.) Those are a pair of Siler locks, great sparkers, with a Nock style double hooked breech and double triggers. There is a single fore-arm key. The fore-arm has been left square for barrel regulation. A big risk with doubles is that the barrels may not fit the barrel mortice well at all once the regulation process is over. Note the false wood sights taped in place. These will be replaced by soldered rib and sights once regulation is satisfactory.
I normally try to get both barrels to group at 25 and 50 yards with bullets in the same group using the same amount of powder in each barrel. I want the powder charge to be the same for ball or bullet on the smoothbore side as well as for the rifled side. I chose 100 grains Goex 2Fg Black Powder for the load, using a 490 ball on the rifled side and a 715 ball on the smoothbore side, loading both with the same patch. Obviously, I want to use the same powder measure and patch for both barrels.
To my amazement, the gun shot into a tight group with the first shots, which is a first for me. The bullets groups within a inch and a half at 25 and 50 yards, plenty good for the close range game-taking the gun was intended for. It also guarantees that a shot charge will shoot to point of aim. This will make a great tree-stand whitetail and turkey gun.
Here’s the target. The red patch is the aiming point. The first two shots at 12 yards hit slightly low and right with the ‘try’ sights, but note the closeness of the bullet placement. The top groups was shot at 25 and 50 yards and are still in roughly the same group. This means the bullets are almost parallel all the way out. Once the permanent sights are affixed, they will shoot centers,
The little gun now has the fore-stock contoured and the rear thimble fitted. The ribs and thimbles have been soldered on and a steel ramrod with brass tip fitted. I used a low folding rear sight and low front with a bright bead to catch the light. The walnut stock is finished with Laural Mountain sealer and varnish, but it still lacks checkering and engraving.
This was my PERSONAL gun kit #95. I put matching numbers on the stocks, barrels and small parts kit bags for each project as they accumulate. Some parts are really hard to get and barrels and stocks may sit for years before all the small parts are gathered together. This one had been waiting for at least 3 years to get finished.
Here is the final result, Right : a turkey taken in Kansas on a hunt with Randy Smith. Left: Utah Merriam.
Permanent sights are now on the gun and a Colonial brand inter-changable .670 Super Turkey choke tapped into the 12 gauge shotgun barrel. (If shooting ball, use a .730 choke) I used 1 1/2 oz. of 7 1/2 lead shot over 90 grains Black Powder separated by two WonderWads and a White PowerCup with another WonderWad over the shot. I took the shot at 30+ yards with an instant kill on the Kansas bird and near 40 yards on the Utah tom. The touch-hole insert in the shotgun barrel is stainless steel with 0.100 inch diameter holes for instant ignition. Smaller 0.060″ to 0.080 touch-holes are fine for the rifle side, but you need a big 0.090 to 0.100″ hole for fast ignition on flying game in the field.
2006 WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN
JUST BACK FROM THE MANUFACTURER’S MATCH AT FRIENDSHIP. GUESS WHO WON?
Here are the guys who really won the match. That’s me on the left, then Rusty Cotrell, Lowell Crane, Merle Crane, David Jones and Steven Dick. Steven was the alternate and managed the spotting scope. All I did was cheer.
Congratulations to all for great shooting and great teamwork. An article entitled ‘Designing for Accuracy’ on the rifles can be found under the DOC’S BEST hyperlinc to the left. All the shooters used SWISS 3F black powder and the new White .367 PowerPunch bullet weighing 305 grains with loads of between 35 and 55 grains, depending on range. The team scope was the LEUPOLD Vari-X III 3.5-10 power target model with triple turret and adjustable objective.
BELOW- A photo of the winning rifle, without ramrod or scope. The rifle was designed and developed by DOC with plenty of input from the team. Their insight was a tremendous help.
The ‘Varminter’ is in .367 caliber with 1-15 twist, throwing a tight multi-channelured lubricated almost slip-fit bullet weighing 305 grains. Barrel is 28 inches long, standard 1.10′ at the breech tapering to quarter sized at the muzzle, which is turned to fit the straight-line starter pictured below.
IF YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS RIFLE, GOTO ‘DOC’S BEST’ (TO THE LEFT), LOOK FOR, “ULTIMATE ACCURACY”
The nose of the straight-line starter is turned to fit the bullet. The barrel has a slight choke, which makes it a mite difficult to load with ramrod alone. Since shooting this rifle at varmints and target is meant to be deliberate, I don’t mind the starter or cleaning between shots. Once the lubricated bullet is past the muzzle, it slides easily down to the powder
2006 UTAH MULE DEER IN THE ‘BOOK CLIFFS’ , SOUTHWEST OF ROOSEVELT ABOUT 50 MILES
Late Tuesday afternoon, Oct 24th, I went to the Book Cliffs 75 miles SE of Roosevelt, UT over the roughest roads in the world, on a draw hunt for mule deer, I was one of 65 muzzleloading hunters out of 2002 applicants for 2006. The area measures about 40 X 40 miles with nary a fence in the whole place. I took a homebuilt 62 cal Flinter late Plains silver mounted fullstock shooting 140 gr FFg and .600 cal patched ball. I pulled my little 15 foot trailer down, am getting too old and stiff for camping on the ground. I later wished that I had left it home as the hard bounce getting there blew out the electricity. I was lucky to have a gas lantern along.
I camped over-night Tues. I was like a kid on his first hunt. I Got up at 4, just couldn’t sleep any longer, It didn’t get light until 6:30. At 5 am I went to SteamBoat Canyon where I had scouted 13 good bucks the Saturday before and found 4 camps right in the middle of the crossing. The bucks here this time of year are all together in batchelor herds of usually 2-6, they come up out of the steep bottoms to get to water which strangely is always near the top of the ridges, so you hunt the ridges, watching for them to cross..
I pulled down the road a ways and sat out the dark until it got light enough to see the open sights on the rifle. I was high on the BookCliffs Divide at 8400 feet and could see Price, Utah off to the south about 50 miles away and 4000 feet lower. Several guys on 4 wheelers come roaring past going down country to Tom Patterson Canyon (named after a famous old cowboy), I guess they didn’t know that there are no deer down there, not ’til later when weather forces them down. Strange how the 4 wheeler riders think that they are going to see more deer if they go fast and make a lot of noise. To the contrary, before the morning was over I saw several bucks turn and bounce away to hide from the noisy machines where they would merely watch cautiously as I approached them with my nice, quiet, well muffled Suburban.
Once it got light I went west, with the morning sun at my back, saw several bucks coming up and over the Divide, some others already headed back after watering. I was the only outfit on the road going west. Everyone else, including the deer, had the sun in their eyes. I only saw 2 other outfits, both rushing to get somewhere. I had gone about 6 miles back towards camp when two big three points crossed the road in front of me, coming from a muddy pond on my right. They were not spooked at all. Both were about 22-24′ wide and taller than they were wide with fairly heavy horns. The bigger one had a huge belly on him, fatter than me. I stopped and watched them cross then turn east into the sun. They were really pretty with the morning sun just coming over the hill lighting them up like beacons.
I started away when the thought hit me, why didn’t I shoot? I was enjoying the sights, more tourist than predator. I had not seen any bigger deer while scouting or hunting and the deer were hog fat. I turned the truck around and crept back down the road, trying to guess where they might be. I finally stopped after going about 100 yards, got out quietly, primed the rifle and tiptoed up a little rise. I had gone about 50 yards when I saw a sagebrush move. I knew I had them, the tips of the bigger bucks antlers moving over the top of the brush. They were about 70 yards away, walking slowly into the sun, eyes scrunched up against the glare. They had no interest in me, I doubt if they knew I was there. I waited until the big bellied buck came out of the sage into a more open place, exposing his chest, then stood up straight and assumed my best offhand stance, just as if I was on the target line, and touched off the shot, aiming at the point of the elbow. The buck went almost down to his knees, front legs buckling under him, then regained his balance and stumbled off downhill, hard hit. The other buck ran back the way he came after staring at me bug eyed and open mouthed for a second.
I found his blood trail right off, foamy blood on the brush thigh high on both sides of his tracks. I found him 100 yards down hill. Here was the challenge, getting him back up to the truck. Looked like he weighed better than 280 lbs. It was all I could do to lift his forequarters and head off the ground. He was a lot lighter after I gutted him, so much belly fat that the sticky suet plastered my hands and arms. I tied a rope around his horns and made a sling that I could get into. I found I couldn’t pull him with me facing forward, had to turn around and back up, more power in the legs that way and I could use my considerable weight to advantage. Took me 3 hours of huffing and puffing to get him to the top. I would pull him 3-4 inches at a time through the sagebrush and rocks for 8-10 feet then have to stop and rest. Just as I pulled up to the the truck, two big teenagers showed up. They had been watching from the top of the hill . They helped me load the buck into the truck. Alas, I had forgotten my camera, so had to get a photo at home.
APR, 2007 Went back to Texas for turkey again. This time I took a percussion over-under with back action locks, 12 gauge barrel over and GRRW 58 cal rifle under. The weather was awful with near freezing cold, high winds, rain, sleet and snow. The turkeys were on edge because of the wind, the Toms were just beginning to strut with the hens paying them absolutely no attention. I lucked into a flock with four big Toms, and managed to call three of them in close enough for a shot. I had to call the Boss Hen over to get them there, taking advantage of a big woodpile. I hid behind the woodpile, dashing from one end to the other, calling as if I was a Boss Hen and challenging the flock’s Boss to a fight. The Toms came with her. I took the shot over a low place in the pile from tiptoes, at 25 yards.
My second Tom was a huge one. He came in from 6-800 yards away, gobbling only occasionally and fluffing out into a strut rarely. I got him to 50 yards with the usual low volume sexy putts and purrs then he hung up, walking back and forth , gobbling a demand that the hen come to him. In desperation, I finally did the Boss Hen thing again, and here he came. He was nervous though, ducking and dipping as he came. When he hit 30 yards, I alarm called him to get his head up, put the sights under his chin and pulled the trigger just as he ducked. I tried but could not stop the trigger pull and shot right over his back. then laughed myself silly at the sight of him charging me through the smoke. He ran on past and disappeared in the brush.
My next chance came on two Toms that came in silently, no strutting or gobbling, just curious, occasional putting. I could not get them closer than 37 yards, finally popping the bigger of the two.
The load I used was 110 grains of FFg Black Powder , two 1/8th inch Wonder Wads, then a White tapered shotcup with four 1/2 inch slits, loaded with 1 7/8th oz. of #7 1/2 chilled shot, topped by another Wonder Wad. This produced 80% patterns at 40 yards, using a Colonial Super-Full .670 choke, good enough to put 6-9 shot in each of the two Toms head and neck.
An interesting thing about the gun is that I had the wood, barrels and original back action locks lying around for nearly 30 years, the locks awaiting repair and final assembly into a functioning shotgun-rifle combo. I put the barrels together with tang and double trigger plate probably 15 years ago, inletted the wood for the tang maybe 10 years ago, finally got the locks repaired about 3 years ago and finished the thing on a whim over the winter of 2007
Here’s the third bird of the ’07 season, this one taken in Kansas. Randy Smith hosted me. It was cold and windy and the birds were not calling. I heard only a single gobble the whole time. I finally resorted to an ambush at a crossing place. This Rio Grande appeared 30 feet to my front. I had dozed off and awoke to find him staring at me. Fortunately, I was well enough camoflaged that he didn’t see me lying under a tree like a dead log, and wandered past, giving me a chance to get the over-under up and get off a shot. I have never killed a turkey closer.
And here’s the fourth Tom of the season, a Utah Merriam, killed with that same 12/58 over under, same load, at 8000 feet in the high mountain junipers and pines of NorthEastern Utah. I managed to blunder into this bird, he had just come out of a tree at first light, but I saw him before he saw me, called him in to 30 yards from about 100, just using soft little peeps and sparing clucks. I had acquired some Italian nickle plated #7 shot, which did him in but good. It’s just amazing how good muzzleloading shotgun patterns can be.
The Kanai RIver, Alaskan Penninsula, July 2007
I lived in Alaska near Anchorage for 2 years back in ’66-’68. I was drafted out of residency for the Viet Nam conflict and they sent me to Alaska. I go back from time to time and like always, it was good to be back again. That old blue boat (above, left) has been in the same place near Soldotna for the last 50 years. The photo above, right, gives you an idea of what ‘Combat Fishing” looks like. The Red Salmon come up the Kenai heading for their spawning grounds, the fishermen ambush them on the way.
We lucked into a good run of King Salmon, too. I caught a 30 pounder (left above) while my two boys James (standing right behind his fish) and David (standing furthest right) in the photo above, right, caught 51 and 52 pounders respectively. Les Bennet, standing on the left, caught two, turning a smallish 18 pounder back to catch a 30 plus pounder later.
That’s an active volcano across Cook Inlet, seen just at dusk. It had been puffing smoke all day. We fished for Halibut out in the Bay. Hauling those heavy critters up out of the deep is like pulling up your grandma’s coal stove. Can’t wait to go back.
(Photo credits to son James, who in real life is a Physician, but who does great photography)
FORT BRIDGER SEPT 2007
We enjoyed a terrific Rendezvous this year. With the high gas prices and the overlong distances many have to travel to get to the Wyoming high plains, I feared that the festivities would be curtailed, but such was not the case. There were as many participants as usual, if not more, and best of all, there were more shooters than I’ve ever seen, and many of them were younger folks just getting into the game. This is indeed promising as Rendezvous muzzleloading has been getting grey headed for a long time.
This is a photo of the firing line, between shoots. That’s me in the pink striped shirt, caught in a casual pose.
Whitetail Deer Kansas Nov 07
A Big, Fat Kansas Whitetail, corn and alfalfa fed, 10 points, scoring 147 gross, using a White ThunderBolt in 451 caliber, 100 gr 777 and my 45/40-350 saboted Power Star bullet(45 caliber sabot with 40 caliber bullet weighing 350 grains) fired by a 336 primer. I have never seen such a fat deer.
This hunt started at the Safari Club Show in Vegas last year. I met the Kelso brothers there, who hunt whitetail in Kansas, where they have about a million acres leased. They had some good looking deer in their booth, but the real attraction was the brothers. I have met few more ardent hunters. Randy Smith had always been enthusiastic about Kansas deer hunting as well, so I bit.
Kansas muzzleloading season is usually early, late September this year. I drove to Lyons, Kansas, then south a few miles to camp. There were another 8 hunters in camp plus a guide for every two hunters. We hunted from ground blinds, ladder stands and natural cover. As usual, the deer came out early, bedded during the day, then came out again in the evening.
We were hunting in the middle of some gorgeous farmland growing corn, sorgum and hay, a great combination for fat deer. It was cut by smallish streams and bigger rivers, which gave the deer lots of cover and strolling space.
As luck would have it, opening day was cold, with a little rain and a cold breeze. Actually, that was a lucky break, since the deer graze longer when its cold. When it’s hot, they feed less, and feed just as the sun is coming up or going down. We saw good numbers of deer that first day, mostly because of the cold.
I saw three eight pointers that morning, none big enough to shoot, and saw twice that many later in the evening. This bigger deer came out just at dusk, joining a crowd of about 20 assorted bucks and does. We were hidden in a log pile about a hundred yards from a crossing point. I could see 5 points on one side with 4 on the other and a double brow tine, making 5 on that side too. What I really liked was that he was just out of the velvet and was fat as a pig, really sleek and slab sided.
I took the shot at about 90 yards. I was really glad for the fiberoptik front sight as the light was failing fast. There was a solid ‘WOP’ and blood misting in the air on the shot and he walked slowly off about 20 yards and went down. We gave him an hour then walked up on him. He tried to get up and I gave him another in the spine at about 60 yards. I had hit him further to the rear with the first shot than I like, rupturing the liver and puncturing both lungs but with not enough damage for a quick death. The amazing thing was the severe damage to the liver, it was in little peices, with a bucket or two of blood extravasating from it, yet the deer managed to stay alive long enough to need a second shot .
Kendall Kelso. He says that it’s as much fun to guide other hunters to deer as it is to kill one himself. He is remarkably good at what he does.
Maui, Hawaii. Oct 07
This doesn’t have much to do with muzzleloading except that the Axis deer hunt that I had set up on Maui didn’t happen. So that big 135 lb Yellowfin tuna was a decent substitute. Well, almost. What the jerks running the boat didn’t tell me was that the fish belonged to the boat. If I did not want to pay them their $800 trophy fee then they would sell it locally for the tourists to eat. The $40 fresh tuna steak I ate that night probably came from that same fish. It turned out that I paid to be crew for a commercial fishing expedition. Wish I had a racket that good.
If you ever go to Maui, be aware that the place is craftily arranged to extract every last possible dollar out of your wallet.
The boat trolled fast, 8-10 knots. The tunafish ran off 300 yards of line on the strike. Then it was a 45 minute battle. No sport here, just hard work. When it came up to the boat, it took one look then dashed off another 200 yards of line and the fight started all over. I have worked harder taking an elk out of the mountans, but I had the elk down before the work started. Here you have to do the work first.
These guys (the crew) were delighted with the catch. They should have been, it earned them about $200 each. They spread the news all over the marine radio. There was a big crowd waiting at the dock to see the fish. There were also a couple of fish buyers waiting to bid. I got the idea that maybe the catch was a rare thing.
Dunno, maybe I shouldn’t complain. I thought nothing of paying trophy fees for animals killed in Africa. Maybe I’m just spoiled. Too many years, too much success. Dunno. Of course, if you could shoot fish, I would probably fish a lot more than I do.
APRIL 2008 TEXAS TURKEY WITH A CLUB BUTT DOGLOCK 1710 FOWLER
This early fowler is Queene Anne era with English Doglock, club butt, early trigger guard with tang screw extending up from the bottom, walnut fullstock holding a Colerain tapered octagon to round 12 gauge barrel 42 inches long. It will eventually have some flowers chip carved into the butt (there is a famous fowler done this way that I copied) but didn’t get it done in time for the turkey hunt. It has an interchangable choke up front so shoots terrific patterns. I used 2 oz #7 Italian nickle plated shot over 110 grains Goex ffG black powder. The lock is a particularly fine sparker (did the springs and frizzen myself). I had never fired it before the hunt. After the first test load, the next three shots produced three birds, the longest shot at 45 big long steps.
We drove down to the Continental Ranch near Sanderson, Texas. It was in the 90’s there where at home it was freezing. The first bird came in with a group of toms. The strut hadn’t even started and the toms were still traveling together and not responding to calls. They just happened to wander by. I took a 30 yard shot on the largest of the bunch. The second Tom came in to my sexy calls two days later, now in the strut but still cautious. He was with a dozen hens. I had to challenge the Boss Hen to get him close enough for a shot. I took him at 35 yards. The third bird came a day later, striding past a group of Jakes, not looking right or left. He was moving so fast that by the time I realized he wasn’t going to hesitate, then swing ahead of him, he was 45 big , long steps away. He went down just as quick as the others.
The gun shoots terrific patterns. The birds were suddenly dead with the shot with many hits in head and neck. Hunting turkey with a flint fowler is the epitome of thrill, especially when you make it yourself. The fact that it all works and you get the bird is downright exciting.
Later in the season I joined Randy Smith for a turkey hunt in Kansas. The photo the the left shows what I wish had happened. The photo below shows what really did. I made the mistake of having the Browning closer than the Doglock, and the Doglock not loaded when two Toms suddenly showed, practically falling into our laps. We hadn’t even walked into the hide yet and in fact had barely stepped out of the truck. There was no time for the Doglock, which wasn’t loaded, so I killed the two toms with the modern monstrosity, two of the few that I have taken with a back-up gun and the only two not killed when the weather was just too rotten for a muzzleloader.
Once again, my adage that the only birds we kill are the idiots was proven by these two. They already had a passel of hens with them, yet they suckered for a few sexy yelps and strutted right into a faceful of shot while their hens looked on. The Boss Hen didn’t even come with them. Reminds me of some of my friends, they turn into awful idiots when around the ladies.
Apr 08- The Adventure of a Wheel-lock rifle
This is the beginning of an ongoing pictorial project. I started a small caliber wheel-lock rifle shortly ago. The photos will show its progress as it comes along. We will start with the plank and end with the finished gun.
Basically, the gun is a Dutch-German wheel-lock. The original would have been made about 1650 or so in the Old Country although a surprising number of them were imported into the northeast in the first century of American colonization. They were used side by side with the simpler early flintlock variations.. The stock is a plain but nice grained piece of walnut, the barrel a 40 cal GM, swamped and 38 inches long. The lock kit came from The Rifle Shoppe. It is illustrated in their catalogue on a pistol, but is the perfect size for this small light rifle.
We start with a European walnut blank big enough for any wheelock of any style. It came from Dunlap and cost $200
The wood looks a lot better after planning it and bandsawing it to shape, ‘in the square”. It has better color than expected
Once the walnut is ‘squared, the barrel and tang can be inletted. I use a milling machine to partially inlet the swamped barrel, then finish the inletting by hand using liberal quantities of inletting black and chisels. The next step is inletting the buttplate. This particular plate is an early iron meant for Jaeger rifles, but cut down to a more simple shape more in context with the wheelock. I got it from Trackofthewolf and it cost $20
I I I cut the sight slots in with my ancient Bridgeport milling machine. It’s an easy job if you go slow and patient. I like my underlugs staked in then soldered with Brownell’s Force 44, a silver bearing high tensil strength solder. I have seen this done on a few old guns and it makes the joint much stronger.
Now we get started with the lock. The lock kit came from TheRIfleShoppe and 3 years ago cost $125 for the castings. The springs have not been tempered or the wheel hardened, those jobs are left to the purchaser. At the left the lock plate has been inletted. You can see that this is my project #123. Details on the construction of the lock follow.
Here we are heat treating the wheel-lock parts, not all at once as shown in the photo, in an electric oven. The wheel is cased and hardened just like a frizzen, at 1650 F., quenched in room temperature water, then the center drawn with a tiny torch flame to 700 F.- a deep blue color, so that the torque of firing will not fracture the super-hard wheel. The internal parts and the lock plate are hardened by heating to 1500 F., then quenching, then drawing to 700 F., with hopefully a pretty blue color, which achieves maximum strength and durability plus color..
Above left are the lock parts as cast. The first job was to deburr them, file them into finished shape and get them ready for fitting. The photo in the middle shows the internal parts for the lock, now de-burred and file finished. The right hand photo shows the tumbler and bridle in place. Of course, you have to get the bridle hole to match the spur on the tumbler, no simple job. The bridle is pegged into a slot and held with a single screw. It is big and heavy to survive getting smacked by that big mainspring every time it snaps.
Now the pan cover is in place. It is attached to the plate by a lever that is designed and shaped to be knocked forward out of the way by the tumbler knob. An elongated slim spring holds the lever in place when closed or open. The flint or pyrites is pressed down on the cover by the spring loaded cock. Tripping the trigger releases the wheel shaped ‘frizzen’ to spin, knocks open the pan cover and the pyrites drops onto the spinning wheel, scraping off sparks that fly into the priming that surrounds the wheel were it projects into the pan.(See below) The right hand photo shows the two sears in place. The primary sear fits a into a tapered hole in the wheel, which is on the outside of the lock plate, the secondary sear locks the primary sear in the hole. That huge mainspring is huge because it needs the strength to perform all its functions. The resulting trigger pull is soft and easy (The nail holding the primary sear in place is temporary of course.
The photo above shows all the internal parts in their place. They will all be hardened and tempered for maximum strength and life. The right hand photo is of the outside of the lock, showing the squared tumbler projection in place. The lock is cocked by placing a ‘spanner; over the square shank of the tumbler projection and turning it 3/4 of a turn until the secondary and primary sears click into place. Once priming is placed in the pan, the lock can be made ‘safe’ , or at least a little safer, by closing the pan, or pushing the spring loaded cock up and off the pan cover, or both.
The hardened wheel is now in place in the above left hand photo, fitted closely to the square shank of the tumbler. You can see how it projects up into the bottom of the pan. It will be held in place by the decorative device seen just just to its rear. (the proper screw is not yet in place) The right hand photo shows how the cock will eventually fit. It will rotate on a fitted screw, and be actuated by a spring that looks exactly like a frizzen spring on a flintlock, except that it is much heavier. The amazing thing about these locks is how fast they are. The other amazing thing is the number of parts and the effort required to get them adjusted just right. No wonder the much simpler common flintlock won the battle.
The lock is installed in the rifle, is complete and functioning but the case color did not come out. Ugly gray is not desirable, so it will get an antique blue one of these days. The final fit of the small parts of the lock was accomplished by coating everything with valve grinding compound, then rotating the lock parts, without the mainspring, until the parts slicked up and came to final fit. Of course, the parts had to fit fairly well to start that process, a little too tight preferable. I would say it takes four to five times as long to complete a wheel-lock as compared to a late date flintlock. You cannot imagine the tooth gritting as you fit and adjust that huge thick mainspring, never knowing whether you ground and tempered it right (or wrong) and waiting with bated breath for it to flex all the way or break. Cussing, throwing the pieces on the floor, stomping and shouting are legal when it does. The only break on this one was a chain link, which had a void in the casting. I made a new piece by hand and it works fine, if not better.
While waiting for the lock parts to “cure’, I shaped the stock, inletted the ferrules for the ramrod and fitted the front and rear sights. It looks, and feels, quite elegant, points really well..
ABOVE & BELOW:A look at the stock with a coat of oil on it, still needs lock work and sidelock screws. It’s going to be a delightful rifle.
Now the rifle is done and ready to shoot. The lock is blued, sparks really well. Cock it with the combination spanner-powder flask, pull the pyrites down to the wheel and pull the trigger. Pyrite sparks are bright, sharp, quick and set the priming off every time as the sparks are right there in the priming when the wheel spins.
The spanner is mounted on a hexagon walnut powder flask. Fill it from the back- the large knob screws out, dump from the front- the small knob is a stopper and pulls out. There is a bit of incised carving on the spanner. Span (cock) the lock by pushing the spanner clockwise until the sears click audibly into place. Keep it safe by keeping the pyrites off the priming. Close the pan cover to keep the priming in the pan. Fine prime is not required.
The lock is actuated by a simple single trigger. The trigger is pinned from above and impinges on the primary sear. The trigger pull is soft but long, can be adjusted by filing the primary sear bearing surface back. All surfaces must be hardened, the mainspring is very strong and the many parts have to be precisely balanced for it to work correctly. The antique rust blue is very authentic, as browning was known and available but did not become popular until 150 years later in the 18th Century.
JULY 2008 ALASKA, KENAI RIVER NEAR SOLDOTNA
No, it’s not muzzleloading but no apologies either. Probably the best fishing trip I’ve ever been on.
We go to sea, halibut fishing, with a volcano in the background. Above is me pulling in a big one, 87 lbs.
This is one days catch, wet and rainy. This is another days catch, warm and sunny
My friend Les Bennett bringing in a fair sized 41 lb. King salmon on the Kenai river. It was the best King salmon fishing I have ever experienced.
Above is the 57 lb. King that I caught while mooching from an oar powered drift boat. Our host, Dr Nels Anderson, managed the oars, he stands on the left. That’s my son James on the right. The photo on the right shows the product of another days fishing on the Kenai: 3 Kings and a big Silver salmon. We would have had another bigger King, but he broke off my line right at the boat’s side.
The photos are so good because James doctored them.
Sept 2008: Went to Kansas for Whitetail. Freezer still full of meat from last years whitetail. Swore I would wait for one bigger than last years 155. Not to worry. The hunting was terrible. The company was great. Very relaxing and pleasant. Nobody could find me even on the cell phone. No pictures.
Oct 2008: Went mule deer hunting in Utah near home. Private land. Great expectations. Too bad. Hot weather. Deer scarce and spooky. Disappointing hunt. No Photos. No point you looking at the tears. Then again, had a great time. Beautiful mountain country. Pines and quakies. Didn’t hear the phone ring once while I was gone.
April 09- Went hunting Turkey in Texas. Ended up the 2008 year without a flint gun to hunt 2009 turkey so threw a French Type C Fusil in 20 bore together at the last moment. Never did get it completely finished, but did a little brown on the barrel, stain on the stock and blue on the lock. I put in an extra-full screw-in choke, then used 90 gr FFFg Goex under 2 felt wads (which pushed down easily_ a trimmed 20 gauge Double AA plastic shotcup, (which pushed down hard, had to put it all the way down with the small end of the ramrod), 1 1/2 oz. of #7 nickle-plated shot, topped by a card wad.
It turned out to be easy to get the felt and paper top wad in, just turn them a little to get them in the choke at the muzzle, then straighten them out with the big-ended ramrod as they are pushed down. The plastic shotcup was tougher to push down and it held only 1 oz shot, so I expected a lot of flyers. I needn’t have worried, the combination put 9-12 shot into the head and neck of a paper turkey target at 30 yards and proved to be deadly on the real thing.
The best shot I made was on a foolish bird that came in to my very tenderfoot calling. I had made several stands that evening, then decided I would try ‘Success Vizualization’, a mental technique I use in Health Care, in which you visualize or ‘see’ the result you want to attain. I have used it successfully in shooting, especially shotgun games, where I could visualize the clay bird flying and breaking just before I called for the real thing. I have found that it increases my score by 50% or so. I cleared by mind, visualized a big gobbler strutting in front of me, a cloud of smoke and the Tom biting the dust. I did this 6-8 times. Just as I was relaxing from the effort, a flutter in the brush at my right shoulder caught my attention, probably a little bird. Could be a snake, too, so I turned my head to look. There, staring me in the face at about 2 feet was a big blue head, eyes bugged out and beak open. That Tom was even more surprized than I was. He turned and ran, which triggered the predator in me. Without thinking, I jumped to my feet, something I usually very clumsily do because of a knee replacement, and caught the bird running full out at 30 yards. The Fusil went bang all by itself. I couldn’t tell you who pulled the trigger and the Tom went head over heels at 33 measured yards with a headful of shot. Then I noticed that I had shot left handed.
Now I am wondering, did I call that foolish bird in, or did I think him in. And whence came this skill lefthanded? Did I really send brainwaves into the ether that brought in this dumb bird, or was he just the neighborhood idiot?
PS- I didn’t kill all those Toms on the picnic table, just the four on top of it. First time I have ever taken the Texas limit of four in a single trip.
July 09 Alaska, fishing on the Kenai River. It poured rain, the river was high, fast and murky, the fishing poor.
On the left, you can see the hanging glacier that feeds Kenai Lake, in the foreground. The lake, in turn, feeds the river. The boat on the right is the Halibut fisher , a days catch hanging in the background on the right.
That’s my son James on the left above, with a 30 lb King Salmon. On the right is McCord Marshall, with a 40 lb King hooked up. That’s me in the middle. If I look grumpy, it’s because I didn’t catch a fish that day.
McCord shows off his 40 Lb. King above left. Our group stands on the right, behind a days catch of Halibut. The smaller ones weigh about 20 lbs, the bigger ones 40. I caught a few fish later on, a 31 and a 45 lb King salmon, 4 Halibut averaging about 30 lbs and a half dozen Red salmon weighing in at about 8 lbs apiece. I also caught the flu and spent a couple days not fishing. More pics later when they show up. The four of us brought home 320 lbs of frozen processed fish, 80 lbs apiece.
FORT BRIDGER RENDEVOUZ- Sept 2009 Had a great time.
Left: The first thing you see coming through the gate are the cowboy cops, there’s a whole team of them with matched outfits and horses. Middle: one of the great activities of Rendevouz- talking it up with the neighbors. Right: that handsome woman and her dog belong to me, my wife Carole and Shadow.
Left: We see some strange things at Rendezvous, a pair of Revolutionary soldiers, one Continental and one Militia. Middle: That’s me standing an a bridge across the Blacksmith Fork (creek). Right: Civil War Napoleons let loose. The annual cannon shoot is a big event, usually 15-20 cannon, many full size, shot on a 2000 yard range. That’s Fort Bridger in the background. All the white objects, top right, are tin tipis gathered for the Rendevouz.
That’s me in the black hat. I’m negociating a gun deal with the young man in the broad brimmed straw hat. He bought a Dimmick style plains rifle from me, then used it to win a match later in the week.
Turkey hunting April 2010- BACK TO TEXAS
Here are two of the birds I ended up with. The one on the left was taken in Texas, a lightweight compared to some I saw. I had passed up several bigger ones and settled for him and a buddy on the last day. The youngsters eat better anyway. There were a zillion birds to watch. Just seeing all that many was a rare priviledge. It was hard to kill one- it would have ruined the scene. The Tom on the right was taken in Utah after a long and difficult hunt, probably the biggest Rio Grande turkey I have ever seen, yet proved to be only a two year old. This Spring has been very wet and cold. How he got so big on poor feed is beyond me.
This is the Cookson birding gun that I used this year. I find it hard to hunt with the same gun, so had to build a new one for this years hunt. It is a large gun, 44 inch 12 gauge barrel, solid walnut stock, a big English doglock- a simple lock but a great sparker- most don’t realize how well these large locks work. There is a lot of Dutch influence to the gun, the trigger guard is very Dutch, so is the fore-arm swell. Birds in that day were not shot on the wing, but were ‘ground sluiced’, as my cowboy uncles used to say. They would never have thought of shooting a single sage hen on the fly, they always sluiced a few at a time on the ground. The English of the 1700’s thought the same way. Why waste an expensive load of powder and shot on a single bird when you can get the whole flock with the same load. I guess that’s why it makes such a great turkey gun- it was designed for just that. Look for more photos of the gun under ‘Archives’ above.
Alaska 2010- My annual trip to Alaska, this time in late August, missing the July King Salmon season in favor of the later Silver Salmon fishing, plus, as always, halibut.
Here is a sight you will hardly ever see, the bay as smooth as glass, right at the turn of the tide, with me and the guide pulling up a halibut, the biggest of the day. We prefer the 25 pounders, they eat better.
McCord Marshall, waiting for a bite
My son James, all 6’7″” of him, the guide and Les Bennett, throwing back a small shark.
THE ADVENTURE OF A BALL SHOOTING SIDE BY SIDE FOWLER- summer to fall 2010
This was my project #596- a 16 bore side by side flintlock fowler that would shoot ball as well as it would shot. I had a nice piece of walnut with correct grain in the wrist and fancy figure in the butt. I cut it to classic proportions, bought a right and left pair of Egg flintlocks, milled out a double hooked breech in classic style. I bought a set of iron furniture, but opted for silver trim. The intent was to regulate it to shoot patched round ball as well as shot. This means that the gun has to be completed to the point where it could be fired for group.
The first project was to taper the barrels to fowler dimensions on the lathe and install milled hooked breeches. Second was to manufacture the standing breech to fit the double hooked breech of the barrels. Next, the barrels and breeches were soldered together at the breech and muzzle (no ribs at this point) then inletted into the squared up stock. By ‘squared up’ I mean sawn to rough shape with a band saw. Then the locks were inletted, being careful to get them balanced side to side just right with tapered-to-the-rear lock panels. The triggers were also inletted, as well as the trigger guard. The buttstock was roughly shaped with rasps, the butt-plate originally omitted, being inletted later as the regulating process advanced. A set of wooden fore and aft sights were taped firmly in place and the gun was ready to regulate.
The barrels fit a .662 ball with thin patch best. I used the same powder charge as with a 1 1/4 oz. charge of shot- 90 grains FFg black powder. Groups of three shots from each barrel were fired to calculate wedge thickness needed to get all shots from both barrels into a saucer at 50 yards. Wedges had to placed at the barrels mid point in order to get the groups centered. Wedges were sized after shooting for group then estimated changes needed, resoldering the wedges in place then shooting again. Horizontal grouping was done first. Once groups were centering, even though vertically dispersed, then vertical grouping was attacked, requiring unsoldering, moving muzzles up or down as appropriate, then resoldering and shooting again for group. This process took all summer and fall of 2010 and required many trips to the range, each with an un-soldering, adjusting, re-soldering episode in between.
Here you see the fowler beginning to take shape, with breeching, barrels and locks installed. The breeches for each barrel with hook and the double-hook tang to fit were custom made. The wooden try sights are taped in place to faciliatate regulation of the barrels.
The photo above shows that the Butt Plate is on, the double triggers and trigger guard are installed and the wooden try sights are in place. All that black tape holds the barrel assembly to the stock while I shoot it for group. The groups are not centered on the target at this point as the try sights are crude and just taped on. I found that 90 grains of FFg black powder and a patched .662 ball shot into a cup at 25 yards from each barrel with the two groups a few inches apart but close to the same horizontal plane.
All the fuss of soldering, shooting and soldering guarantees that the fowler will throw it’s shot patterns together and might mean that a whitetail at 25-50 yards is meat on the table. Once I had the barrels regulated with ball, the top rib and bottom ferrules and fillers were soldered into place, being careful not to disturb the positioning of the previously soldered wedges. This required that the ribs and ferrules be soldered on in increments, jumping back and forth so as not to disturb previous adjustments. The barrels were then keyed into the stock permanently and the decorative key surrounded roundels inletted after shaping the forestock. Only then was the gunstock final shaped, checkered, sanded, oiled and finished while the metal was debrided of old solder, polished, engraved and blued or browned..
The photo above shows the ribs and ferrules are soldered on, the ramrod made and fitted to the stock. The Key that holds the barrels in place is itself in place with German silver surrounds as is the decorative fore-end tip to fancy it up. The stock has been sanded to 120 grit to show the figure of the walnut. The gun is ready for the barrels to be browned, the locks, tang, trigger assembly and buttplate antique blued, the wood checkered, finish sanded and oil finishd . Only then will the gun will be ready for grouse and whitetail.
The double fowler is now finished, checkered in the early wide fashion and the decorative wrist eschutcheon is in place, bolted to the rear of the trigger plate.
The locks and breeching as well as the trigger guard and buttplate are antique rust blued. The barrels are browned for contrast.
The buttplate return, tang and fore-end eschutcheon are engraved. My signature can be found on the top rib.
The flints are the originals that I used to regulate the barrels. I never had a single misfire while doing the regulation and there are still many shots left in them. This is a testimoney to the good design of the Egg locks.
It might seem odd, but a plain appearing double like this one, with barrels properly regulated, takes every bit as much time and artistic effort, if not more, to construct as a fancy carved, engraved and inlaid Penn-Kentucky Rifle or Jaeger. The design and decoration are easy. It’s the regulating of the barrels that takes the time and effort. That’s why they cost as much as they do.
Note that the basic design of this elegant fowler is no different than that of a modern side by side except for the ignition system and breeching. The functionally elegant design was available as early as the 1750’s. This fowler mimics one made in the 1820’s.
SEPT 2010 FORT BRIDGER RENDEZVOUS, WYOMING.
THE BIGGEST RENDEZVOUS IN THE WORLD. 20,000 PEOPLE THIS YEAR. A REAL OLD TIME TRADING FAIR.
Wonder of wonders, I won a match, first one in a few years, the middle of three on Saturday morning. My score 86, the nearest two a tie at 80. 25 yards offhand with a pleasant Wyoming blow just starting up. I used ‘success visualization’ to do it. I had to visualize every shot to make it work. Maybe I’ll write a book on it someday. Won 50 trader’s bucks and bought me a new hat. I’m wearing it in the photo with the P-38 below. I’m wearing my old beaver Stetson in the photo of me above, at the Old Ephraim Rendezvous near Logan, UT., with the winning rifle. Sorry for the spills on the photo, don’t know how it happened.
This is the rifle I used. I built this rifle in the early 1990’s as a prototype for White Systems to consider. They wanted nothing to do with it. It is built in the workingman’s Birmingham tradition with black painted stock, recoil pad (originals were leather covered but I never got around to the leather), no engraving or checkering, just a classically designed, elegantly conformed English hunting rifle that would have sold in the 1830’s for the equivalent of a weeks work for the ordinary workman, about the equivalent of what a fellow might pay for a Winchester or Weatherby now. It’s very accurate with its round grooved barrel and very quick, touch the front trigger and the bullet hits the target.
Sept 2010. Took a ride down the Pony Express Trail, 5 hours worth of gravel roads just in Utah. My wife’s great grandfather Erastus (Ras) Egan, was a Pony Express rider, and his father, Major Howard Egan, was the manager of the Salt lake-Carson City route and rode the trail a time or two himself. We rode the trail from Camp Floyd (Fort Crittenden) to the Utah/Nevada border., a half day drive on gravel roads, with a way station about every 12-15 miles, most of them marked with a stone pillar but occasionally with a restored station.
Above: This is ‘Stagecoach Inn’ at Camp Floyd, just west of Lehi, Utah. It was in continuous use from 1861 until 1947. Right above: the greener Utah desert country west of Campo Floyd.
Above: the restored station house and marking piller at Simpson Springs. Once the mountains in the background are crossed, the country changes to real alkali desert, shown right, above. This area is just south of the salt flats west of Salt Lake City. The original PE trail cut far to the south to miss the marshes and soft ground bordering the Great Salt Lake. The modern freeway, I-80, cuts through the Flats 40-60 miles north of the old trail.
There are plenty of mountains on the route, the trail twisting in and out of the low crossings. Two are shown above. We saw lots of excellent locations for an Indian ambush. Average rider speed was about 7-10 MPH, with usually a change of horses at each way station. Average ride about 70-100 miles with a sleep-over station at the end of the days ride. Longest single ride was about 180 miles, ridden by my wife’s great great grandfather, Howard Egan. He was in his 40’s at the time where most riders were late teens-twenties. He must have a tough one. His book, ‘Pioneering the West’, is a classic.
Above: Here I am at the end of the horseback trail in Sacramento, California. The mail went by paddlewheel steamer from here to San Francisco. The station is now decorated in the later Wells Fargo get up,. Wells Fargo took over the trail and the stations after the Pony Express failed. Right above: me and a People’s Line, Nevada, stagecoach., capable of carrying 19 people, each with 25 lbs. of baggage. Nine inside on three benches, a driver and a guard, the others hanging on by tooth and toenail on top and behind on the boot.
The last half of the trip was a fantastic airshow at Mather Field in Sacramento. It was terrific, with not only aerobatic and parabatic routines, but also demos of military goodies , including huge military transports, a B-2 Spirit bomber, a team of T-38 Talon jets from the California Air National Guard, an FA-18 Hornet, F-22 Raptor and best of all a flight of WWII P-38 fighters. I have loved the P-38 Lightning ever since I was a 6 year old kid in 1942 when flights of them would pass over our house in Green River Wyoming flying down Hiway 30 on their way from the Lockeed factory in California to the East coast.. Their engines made such a lovely sound, hearing them again was a treat, near brought tears to my eyes.
Above: My lovely wife Carole and a lovely PT-17 trainer. To the right, above: me and an even lovelier P-38 with gun compartment open. I’m wearing my newly won hat.
A lovely piece of P-38 nose art, original for this airplane.
The T-38 Talon jet above is about half the size of the P-38 and about twice as fast. This one comes from Nellis AFB where is is used as a Red Star Russian marked enemy in the war games there. Right above, 4 P-38’s streaming by, ‘Glacier Girl’ in the lead. Their unique engine sound occurs because the props are contra-rotating to the inside. No P-factor that way and such a lovely sound from those 1100 HP Allisons.
Dec 2010- A Hunt for Christmas trees- An important annual event in my extended family is the hunt for Chistmas trees. We all get together at my place for Thanksgiving (30 people at the table this year) then do a bird hunt the next day (photos to follow), then go hunting trees on Saturday. the tree hunt is usually conducted in the Uintah Mountains just north of home. As usual, the snow was calf high and wet, but lots of trees and lots of fun for the grandkids towed behind son James’ Quad on sleds and tubes.
EVEN DISASTER CAN BE AN ADVENTURE
#582- I built a Dutch inspired Wheelock with authentic lock kit from the Rifle Shoppe and swamped 42 inch barrel in 54 caliber from Colerain during the 2009-10 construction season. The walnut fullstock was pretty plain but had great grain structure especially through the wrist. Pull was 14″. All furniture was iron with a forged trigger guard, double ferrules holding the ramrod and plain fore-end tip. There were two bolts holding the lock in place. The lock was cased a gray-blue, but it turned out ugly and I later browned it. It had front and rear sights. It was amazing how well balanced this rifle was and how well it held. I discovered that manufacturing a wheel-lock from scratch is quite a project, far more difficult than the ordinary flintlock..
The lock is armed by first pulling the pyrite armed cock up and off the wheel, then rotating the hardened wheel with a spanner until the primary sear catches and holds the wheel. The pan is then dusted with priming powder and the pan cover closed. The cock can then be lowered onto the pan cover. When the trigger is pulled, the big mainspring rotates the wheel, knocks the pan cover back to expose the wheel and priming, the spring loaded cock drops its pyrites onto the spinning wheel and sparks ignite the powder.
Disaster! I cocked the rifle for one last flash, it was working so well I wanted to see it spark one last time before I shipped it, when the top link in the chain broke. The link, which was a casting, proved to have a void , thus a weak place and there was some crystallization too, explaining the fractured steel. This released the spring, which unencumbered by the wheel, over-sprang and broke out the walnut on the lower side of the lock mortice. Don’t ask if it made me cuss. I couldn’t even look at it for 2-3 days for the tears in my eyes.
Luckily, the forward piece of walnut came away in one chunk and epoxied back into place so well that it is hard to see the break. (see below) God Bless Two-Tube Pine Pitch!
Search as I might over several days, I could not find the rear piece of walnut. It probably exploded into many little pieces with the blow from that powerful spring. I picked a piece of walnut that came close in grain configuration and character/color, shaped it to fit and epoxied it into place. (see below)
Above left: the new piece of walnut, matched for grain and color, epoxied in place. Above right: Finial finish work done and all parts back in place. Below: Right side view of the repaired rifle. It is flat amazing how well this rifle holds and how reliable the lock is. It took a lot of adjusting and tuning to get it that way, it’s no wonder the much simpler flintlock took over. Interesting, a small piece of pyrites lasts many shots and doesn’t have to be sharp. It does have to be hard and solid, not soft and crumbly like so much of it is..
SPRING 2011 TEXAS TURKEY HUNT
The first turkey hunt of the year was down Texas, near Sanderson. It was the worst Texas hunt I have ever been on, no fault of the turkeys. The Gobble was not on, nothing would respond to a call except to run the other way, the weather was awful, 102 one minute then 60 the next , with lots of cold, blustery wind and rain &sleet. Only saw a few birds where we usually see hundreds. I only took a single. Used the sane gun in Utah, had a long, tough hunt, finally took a bird on the last day of the season, just before I left for the Anasazi Rendezvous. He was truly delicious, good, nice and tender. You can guess why? He was a Jake. That’s a story I will tell sometime. You can see it in Doc’s Ramblings. Enjoy. It’s funny. Or maybe ridiculous.
I always take a new gun for the years hunt. This time it was this one, a Chief’s grade NorthWest gun, at least a copy of the type of gun traded or given to important native figures in the early days. In reality, the so-called ‘Chief’s Grade’ was an English style flintlock fowler, with a few French details, a shorter barrel, and some features the natives liked, like the Dragon side-plate and specific barrel marks that identified the gun as of English manufacture and sale by Hudson Bay. The barrel is 12 gauge, octagon to round, 32″ long with a Colonial choke that I modified to .660 bore. That’s very tight. I used 1 7/8th oz. #7 Italian nickle plated shot contained in a White brand ribbed shot cup, over 2 wonder wads and 100 grains Swiss 2F black powder. Velocity is 1100 fps, pattern is 90% at 40 yards in a 30 inch circle, with many hits in the head and neck on my practice target. It was deadly in real life too. I sold it, so I have to make a new one for next year.
GO TO “DOC’S LATEST ADVENTURE” FOR THE CONTINUATION OF THIS SERIES.