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.