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The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
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October 17, 2012     The New Era Paper
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October 17, 2012
 

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Page 16 ~"~1 JTBC'~OI~,~ - October 17, 2012 The morning of Oct. 28,1998 was one of the best of my life. The feeling of accomplish- ment was even greater because I used a rifle that I built myself, with my own hand loads, to kill the big- gest bull elk I have ever seen in the wild. This one would have scored around 335-340 points in Boone & Crockett if he could be scored (more on that later). He's not the biggest bull I've ever seen taken by any stretch - I know other hunters who have killed bulls in the 400 to nearing 500 range, absolute monsters. That morning was opening day of Eastern Oregon Bull Elk Jeff Hutchins season and I was more than a little discouraged at my previous lack of success. I'd finished off two other bulls in prior years, but had "The Real Deal" PRIMAS N6 2011 CHEVROLET IMPALA 2FL Black Beaut ' FEex Fuel! 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There is no checkering and this would be my last elk hunt on never will be as it can abrade you public land. pretty badly on a large caliber gun. The rifle is a 1909 ArgentineIt is extremely dense walnut- very Mauser action chambered in .458 dark, and has good figure as well. Winchester Magnum. I built it to There is even a tastefully rounded, be of reasonable weight as noth- very dark ebony forend cap. ing off of the shelf in this caliber I put more time in the bluing was light enough for me to carry on this rifle than is sane but the re- all'season long, even all day long. sults are a frosted deep black that I couldn't find a barrel blank I don't know I could ever pull off with a light enough contour to again. Not totally soldon my abil- even build the weight of rifle ities with iron sights at the time, that I wanted. I had a Winchester it had to have an optic so the re- .375 H&H Magnum barrel sitting ceiver was drilled and tapped for around and the contour was just modified Leupold Quick Detach- what I was looking for. able bases. For the three elk sea- The problem obviously was sons I hunted with it, including the that the hole in the barrel was the successful one, it wore a beat-up wrong size. I remedied for that 2.5x 20mm Gloss finished Leu- by sending the barrel off to be re- pold EER. bored. Now it has a Burris 1.5-6x Once that was done I had to 40mm Electro-Dot Bums Signa- fit it to the action which I had al- ture Series in matte finish. ready modified to a magnum bolt The finished rifle turned Out face and extractor, as well as mod- precisely as I wanted it to. The ifying the feed rails for the much weight with sling, four cartridges larger cartridge - a very tricky job and scope is 9.25 pounds. Because that you get one shot at. The bar- of that this thing kicks! Many a rel was cut to about 20 inches. As "tough guy" has been beat into a Model 70 fan, I wanted a safety submission, scope cut or just ab- that was similar so I installed a solutely refused to shoot it after side-swinging conversion, watching someone else fire it first. No dangerous game rifle I sighted it in behind a stand- should be without open/iron sights ing position shooting bench my (even if it will never actually be Dad fabricated and I still could used on dangerous game) so I in- only fire one round, take a break stalled a barrel band front off of a and fire another. Believe me, Ruger rifle and a three leaf rear off when you sight it in, you do not of an lnterarms Whitworth Express flinch because if you do you know since all three of the leaves on it you are just going to have to do fold fiat and out of the way. I also it again. Most people, including located the forward sling swivel my wife, can fire it from a normal stud forward of the stock directly standing firing position and get on the barrel. On a heavy recoiling through a full magazine without long gun, a forend mounted sling too much trouble, but on a bench stud can hit your support hand it gives mini concussions. very abruptly and painfully! The area I was hunting in was Since I have absolutely no ar- pretty thick. I stayed to these areas tistic ability, making a stock was since my rifle was/is by no means a out of the question for me. Luck long range weapon. How that bull came my way again as I had ac- of 800 to 900 pounds got through quired literally the perfect stock a spot so thick that I couldn't have from my gunsmithing mentor ear- gotten through without sounding lier on when I acquired the action, like a heard of elephants, I'll never I had to do some fitting and understand. bedding but whoever built this I was stopped at the time stock knew exactly what they and would have heard any sound. ,I I learned a habit from hunting jackrabbits and turned around to check my back trail, which caught him flat footed. I will never know whether he stood in that thicket and let me walk past or he came through after I went by not know- ing I was there but when I turned around he had a definite "Oh $%*&#" look in his eyes. My intention was to have this exact scenario play out. He was broad side, less than 50 yards away, the perfect opportunity to put almost 5,000 foot pounds of bone-crushing lead and guilding metal through both front shoulders and that was my full intention. As we stood there staring at each oth- er in surprise, all that I could think was, "Don't screw up! Don't screw this up!" I have hunted with rifles with all kinds of safeties, hammers, loaded chambers, empty cham- bers, two triggers, single triggers, set triggers - you name it, and I don't ever remember loading a round, flipping off safeties of all kinds in all different locations, or cocking a hammer, but somehow it always got done and the firearm went off. It may be from handling and working on so many different guns but on this occasion I distinctly re- member watching my thumb flip that side-swinging safety forward. This took so much time (about a third of a second, in reality) that all that I could think was "Hurry up, idiot, he's gonna run away!" That's when the bullet place- ment plan went out the "window, when that duplex cross hair swung to the front half of his body the gun went off. I heard a distinct ex- haling groan that I was pretty sure hadn't come from me as I didn't feel" one iota of recoil. I remember looking past the recoiling rifle that was at about 30 degrees but I didn't feel a thing. The next half of a second (that seemed like an hour) was spent watching the bull pivot 90 de- grees and run straight away from me and thinking "I just put a Cape buffalo load through that elk and he doesn't even have the respect to See Hunt, page 17 CheckOut ourOnline Dealsat: lassenauto.com