Some Call Them Wall Hangers

I believe that the most challenging and certainly most underrated hunting must be the lowly unappreciated dove.

Really, when was the last time you heard someone say “man I can’t wait for dove season”! But for pure fun, excitement and number of missed… er; I mean shooting opportunities, what compares to dove hunting?

The Dove CrewDove, commonly believed to be stupid are drastically underrated in intelligence. Dove purposely distract us by sending decoys to fly far out of range, meanwhile other dove suddenly appear directly over our heads. Dove also have the ability to control our minds.  When the above mentioned dove magically appear one always starts yelling “there’s some, Shoot em’!” completely forgetting he has a shotgun in his own hands.

Over Labor Day Weekend Bill, his daughter Mariah and our friends Sam and Vicki James joined my son Cullen and I for a dove hunt at a nearby neighbors place.

The action was fast, the shooting was constant and the birds were dropping… at least some did (To discuss the ratio of shots fired to birds recovered would miss the point of the article).

Can a father really describe seeing his seven year old son take his first bird? Cullen took a dove with the same twenty gauge H&R Topper I used to harvest my first bird (quail) when I was ten. Having your friends there to witness the event only made the memory more priceless.

Bill was sure proud of his seventeen year old daughter Mariah. Mariah was the Top scorer for the night with a total of eight birds. I followed closely with seven but my cataracts have been acting up and don’t get me started on my medulla oblongata.

Sam also got some but mostly Sam and I just keep laughing at jokes other people don’t get. We must have an overly sophisticated sense of humor.

Mariah is an interesting girl; she shares my passion for double guns. At a gun show a couple of years ago Mariah decided she had to have a double barreled shotgun. Mariah had $175.00 to spend. Now bear in mind that was $175.00 a fifteen year old girl earned working at the mall. Mariah didn’t want shoes, a new outfit or more texting minutes, Mariah just had to have a Twelve Gauge, Double-Barreled, Shotgun. Yea I know what you’re thinking, I didn’t know any girls like that when I was young either, if I did I wouldn’t be married to my old ball and…

Oh, uh… where was I? Yea… the gun show, so Mariah finds a Stoeger Double in good shape and the guy only wants $225.00 for it. Well I am kind of the deal guy so Mariah asks if I would try to talk the guy down. I wisely told Bill to send Mariah over to work the deal, sure enough one look into the pleading eyes of Mariah and that crusty old trader caved like a Kentucky coal mine. He didn’t even try to counter her offer!

A few weeks later Bill and I watched Mariah go 2 for 3 on quail on her first hunt with the Stoeger.

You know I’ve always been suspicious of those hunting shows that show attractive young women hunting on trips I’ll never be able to afford. In the back of my mind I see a Hollywood agent taking a group of aspiring models to the range, picking out the best shot and saying “how do you look in camo”? Well, Mariah could hold her own anywhere from the runway to sporting clays and probably drop a charging rhino while she’s at it. (If any Hollywood agents are reading, I get a standard 15% finders fee on Mariah’s first three season contract).

Bill Hunts with a beautiful browning pump action. Which begs the question, how can Bill look himself in the mirror knowing that his teenage daughter hunts with a manlier gun than he does and out-shoots him in the process?

The Wall HangersBut I digress; I’m dove hunting with a couple of my treasures. A twenty-gauge double, American Gun Co. Knickerbocker circa 1920, and a Belgian, Damascus Barreled Hammer Gun certainly pre 1900 (black powder only). Some call em’ wall hangers but I love these guns! I knocked down three dove with the Knickerbocker (coolest name in weaponry). I switched to the hammer gun and got four. The only real draw back (other than cleaning) with black powder is that you need someone to spot your bird. I mean BOOM, powder smoke and shreds of paper all over…cough, cough… and then… the bird is not there. “Did I get it”? “Yea he fell over by that fence post” or (more likely) “no you missed, he’s gone.” “Oh.”

I admit I get a kick out of shooting black powder shotguns and these old hardware store guns can be found cheap. Sure shells are expensive ($17.00) but I can shoot a LOT of shells from my old Belgian gun before I make up the difference between the cost of a Holland & Holland or a Westley-Pritchards.

The next day we feasted on squab! Here’s my recipe if you’re interested.

You will need bacon, pickled jalapeno peppers and toothpicks.

De-bone dove breast and cut into two pieces.

Cut bacon strips in half.

Cook bacon until about half done and remove.

Cook dove breasts in bacon grease until half done and remove.

Place jalapeno slice on dove breast and wrap with bacon. Pin the bacon in place with toothpicks.

Place on charcoal grill and cook until done.

They are great appetizers and I guarantee you will not have any left over.

There is a down side to hunting dove. I took Cullen out to scout for deer, but now dove hunting is the greatest shooting sport in the world. Cullen has spent the past several evenings looking  for dove coming in. Consequently the deer scout goes something like this:

“Dad, there’s some doves.” Yea I see em.’ “Dad, There’s some doves.” Yea, I see em,’ now keep your voice down.” “Dad, there’s some doves.” I see em,’ we’re scouting for deer so you need to be quiet. Okay?” “Okay”… Dad there’s some doves”…

In spite of Cullen’s incessant chatter, squirming and deep sighs of theatrical boredom I was actually able to spot the buck I’m going to kill (or more likely the buck that will frustrate and elude me this year).

Oh, and further proof of the superior intelligence of Dove? Several landed on the barbed wire fence just feet from where we were scouting. They just stared at us. Dove can actually tell when you are not carrying a shotgun!

Chisholm Trail Gun Show Rifles

Okay so I went little nuts at the Chisholm Trail Antique Gun Show in Wichita Kansas last weekend. I bought five (count em) five guns! I sold two. An Enfield Jungle carbine .303 and a La Corunna Spanish carbine.

I’m left with a Yugoslavian SKS and a pristine Universal M1 carbine. I’ll probably sell or trade the SKS. The M1 I plan to hang onto.

The rifle that has really captured my heart however is the one rifle I almost passed on. I bought a US Springfield Model 1898, 30-40 Krag-Jorgenson. After the US government replaced the Krag with the Springfield model of 1903 (30-06) literally thousands of these fine old Krags were dumped on the market. The NRA obtained a large number of these rifles to sell through the NRA Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The NRA had a number of these CMP Krags “sporterized” by bobbing the barrel to 25 inches and cutting the stock accordingly. AN NRA modified Krag could be purchased through the CMP in the 1930’s for between seven and twenty dollars. For many Americans this was the first opportunity to buy an affordable, bolt action, smokeless powder hunting rifle.

The Krag was prized by hunters for its reliability as well as low cost. To this day the Krag has the smoothest bolt action of any rifle ever produced. The 30-40 round was designed around a 220 grain bottle nosed bullet. At 2200 to 2400 feet per second this round could reliably crack the chest cavity of any North American Game animal.

I bought this rifle the Sunday morning of the gun show. In short order two men told me nostalgic tales of the first deer they ever killed. With a Krag rifle.

The Stauth Musem in Montezuma Kansas houses the mount of the largest elk ever killed until 1957. This elk was harvested with a 30-40 Krag (Man that’s a big elk!).

Ultimately the Krag is cherished to this day for the rifles legendary accuracy. The Krag was banned from military shooting competition soon after it was phased out. The other military weapons of the day simply could not compete (This might only be legend. But when legend meets fact, print the legend!).

This is not to say the Krag did not have its drawbacks as a military firearm. The bolt of the Krag contains only a single locking lug instead of two. Hence the unbeatable smooth action of the Krag is inherently weaker than the Mauser and Enfield. The Krag magazine protrudes from the right side of the weapon. Consequently stripper clips can not be utilized for rapid reloading (Loading single rounds into a magazine in the heat of battle is a serious disadvantage!) Also the Krag magazine can only accommodate five rounds, a disadvantage in a military weapon competing with the Mauser (eight rounds) and the Enfield (ten rounds). The 1903 Springfield that replaced the Krag was closely copied from the Mauser design.

The Krag enjoyed a brief but colorful career in the US history of armed conflict. Krag carbines made the charge up Kettle (often wrongly identified as San Juan) hill in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt. The Krag also fought the Spanish and the Morro in the Philippine conflict of the same time period.

The US Army Department of Ordinance, impressed by the performance of the Mauser held trials that led to the adoption of the 1903 Springfield.

Recent historians, relying on letters and journals written by soldiers and officers during the conflict find few complaints regarding the Krag and no ill comparison with the Mauser. US Soldiers often described favorably the powerful 30-40 cartridge to the opposition they encountered.

From my own perspective the CMP did a wonderful job in sporterizing the Krag. It feels handy. The twenty-five inch barrel is still rifle length, but definitely preferable to the original thirty inches. Other than being cut to half-stock the rifle maintains its original military dimensions. One can easily discern the original military design of the rifle but unlike most military weapons the Krag is quite slender. Due to the magazine protruding from the side of the rifle the weapon has an almost “needle gun” quality.

Perhaps I have seen too many Mauser’s and Enfield’s in movies depicting WWII and later. The Krag, elegant looking with its old world machinery exposed on one side looks like it belongs in the 19th instead of the twentieth century. In a line of weapons that includes the trapdoor, the Martini-Henry and the rolling block, the Krag looks more like what it is, a bridge to the Mauser’s, Enfield’s and Springfield’s that dominated martial conflict in the twentieth century.

My sporterized Krag seems more at home on safari in Victorian Africa or in an early twentieth century deer or elk camp than on a battle field in the time of mechanized warfare.

In closing I will say that a 30-40 Krag Jorgenson still in original military configuration will cost dearly beginning at around $1,000. A carbine will run over $2,000. An NRA CMP Krag might set you back between $500 and $700. I might mention the workmanship on these conversions is superb.

Ultimately if you enjoy vintage shooting with a rifle in a proven hunting cartridge, a sporterized Krag might just be the ticket!

The Lum

Buying A Rifle For Your Wife – An Expert’s Opinion

Your wife wishes you to purchase a new rifle? Allow me congratulate you on marrying such an intelligent and insightful woman! My wife… not so much.

However to the uninitiated, purchasing a firearm for one’s spouse is fraught with hidden dangers. Before embarking on such an undertaking the smart husband will consult with an expert. In this case, ah hem.. me.

One might be tempted to believe that a wife’s desire for a new rifle is all a man could wish for.

Not so fast.

The true enthusiast will ask himself “How do I turn my wife’s desire for the new rifle SHE wants into the rifle I want.”

As mentioned in your article, we must first define sexy. You are correct Bill, a lever action rifle is very sexy. A wife who WANTS her husband to buy a new rifle is the DEFINITION of Sexy!

Next we must define expensive.  A new Marlin might cost 7 or 8 hundred dollars. A vintage Marlin might cost twice that. But a vintage Marlin is an INVESTMENT (More on that later).

Follow these simple steps and your wife will get the rifle she REALLY wants.

Ideally find the rifle YOU want. Perhaps an investment grade, vintage Marlin or Winchester in in the calibre YOU want.

Next, buy the rifle.

With much fanfare and ribbon cutting, present the rifle to your lovely wife, beaming with anticipation as she opens the package (NOTE: Be sure to beam).

Upon opening the package your lovely wife will certainly  express her disappointment, “You bought me an OLD gun?” and her outrage “This OLD gun cost HOW MUCH?!!

Immediately, don the mask of shocked, hurt feelings (Find your motivation here, you are grievously wounded). You only bought the over one hundred year old rifle as a symbol of your undying love. After all diamonds are millions of years old. Does a woman scorn getting an old rock, because it COSTS too much?
(NOTE: do not attempt this analogy if one has not actually purchased a diamond for ones wife in the past).

Finally, and for most men this is the hard part…APOLOGISE!

Explain that you are sorry. Sorry that all the time and care you put into choosing just the right rifle for her went so horribly wrong. Tell her you will try to make it up to her. Insist that you must sell the rifle  immediately… probably at a profit because the vintage rifle is such a shrewd investment. Dejectedly mention that you will probably only realise a fraction of the profit the rifle will return in just a few years.

Be Firm: The important thing is that she must be happy with the new rifle that SHE wants… rather than your thoughtful gift.

At this point sigh theatrically (don’t over do it) slump your shoulders in hurt resignation and leave the room.

Now for the hard part, this will test your resolve. How bad do you.. er,  I mean your lovely wife, want that rifle! You must go outside (this time of year is perfect because the temperature is like single digits) and set upon some distasteful task. Choose a task like yard work or fixing something on the house. Even though you have been neglecting this task for months, within the context of the subject at hand, it will demonstrate the:

  • Guilt and pain you feel for buying the wrong thoughtful gift.
  • The routine hard work you put into the:
    1. Marriage
    2. Kids
    3. Home

How could she be so heartless?

Make sure to stay outside until your face is red and you nose is runny.

Meekly enter the house as if you are ashamed that the brutal weather conditions drove you from your outdoor mission to make your family’s home into a more beautiful and better place.

Plaintively explain that you will go back to work outside as soon as your hands thaw enough to work the pipe wrench.

Following the best case scenario,  by this point your wife should be cradling the rifle and crying. She will exclaim that she did not realise the amount of care and expense you put into finding just the right rifle for her! She loves the rifle and wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING! Your spouse might even ask how she can make up for her thoughtlessness? The true operator can par lay this situation into:

  1. Special food.
  2. More “ME” time in front of the TV, hunting, etc.
  3. More frequent and special bedroom activities.

You get my point. If the above fails, and remember this IS an advanced technique. One must be prepared to fall back on plan B:

  1. Spend the week sleeping on the couch.
  2. Promise to sell the gun immediately then explain that in this economy it is difficult to find a buyer willing to pay what the gun is REALLY worth.
  3. Keep the gun out of sight while continuing the stream of excuses for why the gun hasn’t sold.

Continue to stall indefinitely. Soon you will do something so egregious, that if your wife doesn’t actually forget about the rifle (she won’t), at least the subject will move to the back burner.

CAUTION: Be prepared to hear about the ugly, expensive rifle for many, many years. The half life of an angry wife’s memory is roughly twice that of uranium.

The willingness to initiate plan B is what separates the true enthusiast from the fair weather shooter/collector.

At any rate, following these careful steps will ensure your lovely wife will enjoy years of shooting pleasure from the rifle you’ve always wanted.

The Lum.

Deer Hunting with an Original Spencer Rifle

The title sounds pretty cool doesn’t it. It would be, if I had actually taken a deer with it! You see, I am writing to you as a failed hunter.

I am deerless for the Kansas rifle deer season of 2009 and it’s my own fault. See I had this plan; I was only going to shoot a big buck if the opportunity presented itself during muzzle loading season. Because my plan, was to shoot a deer (any deer) with my original Spencer 56-50 rifle during rifle season.

Plains Hunter, dedicated to hunting with historical weapons, I thought my plan would be cool, right?

So I was not upset when I did not get a deer during Muzzleloading season.

Flash forward to Opening evening of rifle season. I’m on the stand when a really nice buck (the one Bill missed during ML season) presents itself 135 yards out. I draw a bead and fire. A clean miss. I forgot to take into account the 183 MPH cross wind. Some where in Oklahoma a farmer is thinking “How did I get that giant bullet hole in my John Deere”?).

One hour later two smaller bucks, a spike and a ragged six point, run down the hill 20 yards to my right and stop 30 yards in front of me. This is where my plan went south. I start thinking: “You know… that big buck will probably be back… It’s only the first day of rifle season… It would be a shame to end the season sooo soon.”

Meanwhile, Dad and Jim are hunting without much success.

Bill arrives Thursday and begins his tragic battle with Buck Fever. In Bill’s case Buck Fever doesn’t properly describe it. Is there such a thing as Buck Cancer? Or at least Buck H1N1? Seriously Bill should see someone. If cost is an issue maybe the Shriners can help. I don’t believe anyone should have to suffer like that. Three shots, ALL at BUCKS! Not a single doe shot. Deer know, I swear they know! If a deer can sniff out Buck Fever maybe they can sniff out other deadly diseases. I think I’m on to something here. I’m going to contact the Mayo Clinic.

Speaking of animals with extraordinary abilities; Every time I walked to any deer stand, carrying only a rifle, a pheasant would flush perfectly; RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!

But while pheasant hunting just a month ago, carrying a shot gun, DEER WERE FLUSHING EVERYWHERE! They Know!… I’m telling you they know!… DON’T CALL ME CRAZY! THEY KNOW!

Uh hem.. I digress. A few days into the season I’m hunting on a different stand. Two does, a shooter buck, and the FATHER OF ALL MONSTER BUCKS is standing thirty yards away. Then the Monster walks within twenty yards and TURNS BROAD SIDE! Then he stands on his hind legs and FLIPS ME OFF! WHY? Because he is a MULE DEER and I have a WHITE TAIL ONLY license! My Dad has an either species license and Bill has an either species license. I change stands so Dad or Bill will get a shot at the muleys. Neither one sees them. After Dad and Bill return home, I return to the stand and the mule deer are BACK! I’M TELLING YOU THEY KNOW!

Slightly changing the subject, I’m not much of a tech guy, Bill can tell you that. But before deer season, I decided I just HAD to have a range finder. So I bought one. Pretty neat little gadget. That’s how I know I missed that buck at 135 yards. Seems like I paid a pretty steep price for a gadget that’s only usefulness is to tell me how far away the deer was that I missed.

wes with doeI bought another item I thought would be a lot handier. I bought a set of insulated coveralls. And they are pretty nice, warm. The problem is that I have always worn a size XL. So I bought a size XL. I’ve packed on a few pounds lately (Noo problem I’ll lose the weight after the holidays, like I planned last year). I sure don’t want coveralls that are too big. So ultimately I paid a pretty steep price for coveralls that fit like a scuba suit. Which wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but I didn’t try putting a rifle to my shoulder wearing my scuba suit until I was sitting on the ground at my deer stand. Consequently, if …I lean back… Juuust righhht… and stretch my arm just sooo…and lean my head waaay down… I can kind of get a sight picture and almost reach the trigger at the same time.

Ultimately Dad saved us from getting skunked by shooting a white tail doe. He shot it with his 50-95 1876 Winchester (I personally think Dad just put a Sheriff’s Office salvage tag on a doe that was killed in a collision with an 18 wheeler.) That 50-95 messed that deer up!

1876 winchesterThe second week of deer season a cold front moved in. One would think in this day and age of high technology the weather forecasters would have better instruments. Our local weatherman stated the temperature was down into the single digits. I know for a fact that the on my stand the average morning temperature actually hovered around 77 degrees below zero. I’m not kidding, cold like that would have killed a normal man.

On the last Saturday I took a friend and two of his sons out hunting. One of his boys shot a button buck with an M-14 with iron sights at 200 yards (I know it was 200 yards because I used my rangefinder!). An M-14 is a historical rifle, kind of.

The final Sunday of the season I rested against a fence post looking out over a milo field and watched a beautiful western Kansas Sunset. I even relaxed smoking my pipe. The wind was in my face so I wasn’t concerned anything behind me would scent me anyway. The light was fading fast so I decided to hunt my way back to the truck and leisurely set about securing my items and stood up. Just in time to see the whitetails fifty yards BEHIND me hauling away. WHAT THE *#@+!! THEY KNOW! I’m telling you THEY KNOW!!

On the plus side the very historical former chicken coop (I’m not kidding) now hunting lodge has come a long way this year. We have a fridge so we no longer have to deal w/ice for beverages, food etc. And we have a TV and DVD player. Now I know many of you are saying that watching TV ruins the historical atmosphere of our hunting experience. Not True! We only watch WESTERNS! John Wayne shooting Comanches, just after the Civil War with a 94 Winchester is very authentic and only enhances our western hunting lifestyle!

If you enjoyed hearing our tales of woe, send your tragic hunting stories to Plains Hunter. Don’t send tales of your amazing success, we don’t want to HEAR IT!


Deer Hunting With The Northwest Trade Gun

So Bill asked me to post a story of hunting with my North West trade Gun. First the history lesson. I hope this doesn’t sound too lame or condescending.

What is commonly known as the North West Trade Gun (NWG) was developed around 300 years ago by, you guessed it, The Northwest Company! It was designed to be a cheap weapon to trade with native populations around the world.

The NWG was a smoothbore flintlock made by various manufacturers in calibers ranging from .45 (.410 gauge, I know .410 is a caliber not a gauge) to around .72 caliber (12 Gauge). The NWG was crudely made, wood to metal fit was poor; the stock was almost strait. The butt was strait. The butt plate was nailed on with horse shoe nails and the wood had no figure.

However, the lock was made from the same molds as the British Brown Bess musket. The NWG was (contrary to pop literature), easy to use, quite “pointable” and very reliable. It had to be. A gun in the farthest reaches of the Canadian wilderness which did not fire due to lack of maintenance etc. was not going to be of much use to a native whose livelihood and life depended on it.

The NWG can be recognized by the distinctive brass serpent on the off side from the lock. The brass serpent was a sign of quality to native populations. Old photos even show natives wearing the serpents around their neck for adornment (kind of like 1980’s rappers wore Mercedes symbols around their necks).

Well it appears I write the same way I talk (too much). So I’ll just move on to a description of my NWG and tell you about my hunt.

I bought my NWG from North Star West which makes an excellent kit. My father, Wes Lumry put it together for me and the only way it differs from an original is in the fit & finish. My dad has been building muzzleloading rifles for forty years. The fit and finish is probably the best of any NWG in history!

My NWG is .65 caliber (16 gauge). Keeping with Native American tradition we cut the barrel from 36″ to 30″ (That KILLED my dad!). Then we hammered tacks all over it. Dad mad a leather/red wool sling for it also.

The first hunting season I had my NWG was also the first season I decided to “hunt only for horns.” That’s right, this year I was holding out for a MONSTER BUCK!

The first evening of muzzleloading deer season I walked across the road from my house to a corn circle (do you like the way I casually let the reader know I live in the middle of hunting paradise!?). And settled in to a corner. I was soon surrounded by 18 (I am not kidding) does and one spike buck. I just sat there putting a bead on various deer and thinking of where I would place my shot if indeed that deer was a MONSTER! Ultimately the sun set and I returned home and reported the evening’s activities to my dad (visiting from Wichita).

The next morning me and my old man walked to the same corner of field. Soon three does appear walking from west to east. The set up is about perfect. The sun is at our backs, no wind, and deer coming strait to us.

But remember, I am only hunting horns. I’m waiting for the MONSTER! The does stop short and begin grazing about 40 yards in front of us.

The following conversation takes place over approximately the next 15 minutes (cut to hunting show TV whispers).

DAD– Hey Keith, you gonna shoot one of those deer?

KEITH– No dad they’re does. I’m holding out for a buck!

DAD– I think you should shoot one of those does.

KEITH– I told you I’m going to shoot a buck, it’s only the second day of the season!

DAD– I think you should shoot one of those does!

KEITH– No response.

DAD– Hell, I built that gun! I should at least get to see you shoot one of those does!

KEITH– No response.

DAD– Go ahead, shoot one of those does!

DAD– I can’t believe you’re not going to shoot one of those does!

DAD– After I built that gun for you…

Meanwhile those does are still THERE! By now dad is yelling at me (okay, not really, but you know what I mean).

DAD– I’m not getting any younger. I don’t know how many hunting seasons I have left….

(Okay, so he probably didn’t say that last line, but it was definitely implied!).

DAD– Go ahead, I want to see you shoot one of those does with that smoothbore flintlock.

DAD– That I built!

Damn those does! They’re still there! They’re sooo close! And Dad WILL-NOT-STOP-TALKING!!!

I break like a number 2 pencil.

I throw my Northwest Trade Gun (which DAD built! Did I mention that?) to my shoulder put a bead on the nearest doe and fire. The world is consumed by smoke, sparks and fire. I can’t see…

YOU GOT HER! Yells dad.

I pace off forty yards to a huge splash of blood.

I am on the edge of the corn circle, the scene is somewhat macabre. On both sides of the corn stalks it looks like someone has entered the standing corn with a garden hose in each hand spraying blood. The ball must have gone clean through. I am so fascinated that I almost step on the deer.

So I’m standing over the deer with mixed emotions. The NWG had performed flawlessly and was massively lethal. I had a successful hunt. My dad was fit to bust over the performance of “HIS” gun. But it’s only the second morning of muzzleloading deer season and my hunt is over. With no MONSTER BUCK!

Oh well at least that corn fed doe was delicious.

And I could always hunt for horns the next year… but that’s another story.