Thursday, December 25, 2008

The first rifle

My sons, like me, grew up around hunting. It was fun, and natural. A great way to spend time outdoors with family and friends. I had that “old .270” that I had used since I was a teenager. My father had done a bit of horse trading gun wise, and had ended up with both a .30-06, and a .243, both in the form of Remington 700s. The .30-06 was of the same ‘old’ model as my.270 with pressed checkering in the glossy stock. He favored the 30caliber and the .243 was and ‘extra’. My oldest son used it when he started hunting several years ago.

When my first son started hunting with me, I thought then that I wanted to build a rifle for him. But ability and opportunity came slowly and by the time I was almost ready to attempt something like a rifle project, he had saved up his money and purchased a brand new Ruger model 77 in .308. He had been reading the hunting magazines, and looking at all the gun catalogs he could find. He worked and saved and purchased the gun with his own money. He had bought his “special first gun” on his own, and I was proud of him. He was proud of the rifle, and I knew that building one then would be kind of a mixed feeling for both of us. One day maybe he will get a “special” gun from me, but for now I have missed the opportunity.

My middle son is now 12 and has started hunting with me, and until he gets another, is using that ‘extra’ .243 of my fathers. Truth be told, it’s a good gun, but I don’t like the .243 round. You see, all the time my oldest son hunted with it, and shot a few deer, all of them ran off and required tracking. Most of them were good shots too. Thus far, the middle son has shot only a wild hog with it. It was a great shot at 150 yards or so, and the hog dropped in its tracks. That was the first animal I’ve seen do that with the .243. I know that is just anecdotal evidence. I know also that many other folks take game all the time with a .243 and have nothing run at all. But, I also know that all of the deer I have shot with a .270 or .30-06 have not taken one step. I have even seen whitetail deer gut shot with a .30 and drop where they stood. Anecdotal again, but I have a bias against the .243

After 2 years of hunting, the opportunity to build a special rifle came again. I wanted to build a special rifle for my middle son. One that would always be his. One that would cover almost all the hunting he might ever do. But mostly I wanted to build him a rifle because I am selfish. I wanted to give him something very special from me. I wanted it to be something more special than just any Remington, or Winchester. More special than an expensive Saur, or a fancy Weatherby. I wanted it to mean more than a ‘store bought’ rifle. And I wanted to try to get it ready for hunting this year. I really wanted him to be able to kill his first deer, with his own rifle that dad built. If that is selfish on my part (and I think it is) then so be it.

I talked to him about having his own rifle, and he was excited. I asked if he would like me to build him one. He said he would. Keep in mind that he has seen me ‘build’ more than a few guns; FALs, and AR’s to name a few. He also has seen me refinish/restore some old C&R rifles. I don’t think he realized how different of a ‘build’ this would be. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be. And I seriously underestimated the time it would take.

I had a plan. I went to the gun safe and brought out one of my Mausers, a Yugo M48. I handed it to him and asked if he wanted a deer rifle made out of this. I’ll never forget that his eyes lit up, and he smiled and I could tell he was happy. He looked up at me and said “I can have this one?” I realized that he thought that the military version was what he would get, and he was excited just to have his own. I told him I had plans to fix it up a bit, and make it look different, add a scope and generally make it nice. His smile got even bigger. He wasn’t seeing a version of that dream rifle I want, or wanted to build. He was seeing an old bolt action getting a scope and being his first deer rifle. I told him that I would order one just like it to start with, and in fact ordered 2 Yugo Mauser M 24/47 barreled actions. Then we sat down and looked at pictures and through the Brownells catalog to pick out what he wanted it to look like. We began to develop a plan...


Mr Fixit

2 comments:

Ambulance Driver said...

First seven deer I shot were with a .243 at 125-150 yards, using 90 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips. None moved from their tracks.

Then again, I was 30 years old and not as prone to buck fever, and I watched them for minutes sometimes before I shot.

Shot every one through the near shoulder, and waited until the deer had shifted their weight onto that shoulder.

Incidentally, blood-shot shoulder meat ain't as hard to salvage as one might think. ;)

Can't wait to see what the new rifle looks like.

Brigid said...

Good for you. . it's not up yet, but I wrote a post early today about my first shooting experience, and then I came on here and read this and my heart smiled. Glad the skills and the knowledge are going on in further generations.