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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Guns in Camp

I love this time of March. It is sunny today, and as I took my Lab for a walk into the far fields it was 10 degrees. That allows us to walk on top of the crust without snowshoes until at least 1 PM, when the snows begin to soften. There are bare spots all over the Southern slopes now, but still about twenty inches of hardpack in our woods and North facing fields. It's gonna go fast now, because though it may be way below zero in the morning, it can reach 50 degrees by 2 PM. . Nice walking in the woods, no sticks, branches or blowdown to walk over. They are still covered. Sidney puts his head flat against the snow, and his front legs strait out behind. He pushes himself along like an otter, with his hind legs. He loves the coolness of the snow, and except for the occasional yelp when he engages a tree trunk, it is funny to watch.
So, about Camp and guns...You've seen our pups, you've been told about our hunters, what about the guns we use to hunt deer? This is a question I often fielded when writing a column for an outdoor publication. Well, like the diverse hunters we have, they show up with diverse weapons and calibers. Never minding the occasional visitors, here are the calibers used by the seventeen regulars:

30-06 eight hunters, mine a Winchester model 70 Featherweight, the rest are Remington 700, Savages, a Wetherby, and a Remington 7400

308 four hunters, A Remington 700, two Ruger compacts, a 14 pound Remington Sniper rifle ( I know, I know!)

30-30 one hunter, Winchester Model 94

7mm08 one hunter, Remington 700 I believe

270 one hunter, Winchester model 70

32 Win Splc one hunter, his Grandfather's lever action..

12 Gauge one hunter, a Remington 870 pump

There you have it. We have a camp rule that no loaded rifles are allowed inside camp. Loaded pistols/revolvers are. Since some of these folks are cops, police calibers predominate - 357 Sig, 9MM, 10mm in Glocks, Kahr, Kel-Tec, Dan Wesson etc.

We have had our discussions on the relative merits of various calibers. All the above will take deer cleanly at reasonable ranges if the shooter does his or her job. Why the preponderance of 30-06? Well, at the very least, most of these hunters take other game with these rifles, including moose, bear, coyote, and hogs. History is clear. There is no better all around North American game cartridge. Period. Don’t argue. Research, read, talk to the best, talk to guides in every state that guide for every type of game there is. People argue all the time about various calibers, and their relative effectiveness. But no one ever makes fun of a 30-06. Especially if you can afford only one rifle. So there you have it from Long Ridge. What do you folks hunt with?


  1. It is always nice to go for a hike in the woods and to do it with your dog is even better.

    For the past 18 seasons I have hunted with shotgun and muzzleloader. This past season was the first time I added a rifle to that list. I was able to pick up a nice Marlin 336 30-30 caliber. I really like how it shoots and is just as accurate as my other guns.

  2. I now have a .270 Ruger Featherweight that I call my very own. Have also harvested deer with a .243 and 30.06 and my very own muzzleloader that my husband put together from a kit. I also have my own .22 rife with scope that I like to practice with and take my grandkids for a fun shoot. Nice post Jack! I know you will be glad when it warms up. Spring has sprung here in Mississippi.

  3. I love the site you have here. I don't really hear about "deer camps" in Iowa (aside from a bunch of guys getting together in a barn or garage to eat during shotgun season). I like to think I have a gun for every occasion: couple good .22's with scopes, .22 Ruger revolver, .243 Rem pump, couple 20 gauges, and a Rem 870 pump with both smooth bore and slug barrels. I love the 870--with both barrels and a few choke tubes, it is an extremely diverse gun.


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