My Marlinitus Is Acting Up Again

I’ve been a lifelong Marlin fan since I was a boy due to my father’s Marlin Golden 39A. If I had the resources, I’d have one in every caliber available. However, I don’t have the resources, much to the pleasure of my wife.

Today, I came one step closer. I managed to snag a deal on a 39A this morning to add to the other Marlins I do have. It’s a sweet little gun and everyone needs a 22 lever action right?

I picked it up from a sale that Gander was having. Evidently the guns at this sale were from a store that was flooded back east. Not sure why  our store had this sale, none the less, I fought off the 600 and some odd other buyers and managed to snag this one.

Gander said they inspected and cleaned all the firearms before the sale. Not being that much of the trusting type, I broke her down and did my own cleaning and inspection. I didn’t find any issues, but it did appear that the rifle had been shot. I probably need to pull the furniture off and see how that looks underneath.

I hope to get it to the range soon and see how it shoots. While this is a good looking rifle, I can see some differences from my dad’s 39A For one, the fit and finish is a bit looser than my dad’s. And his has some detail that this one doesn’t. Mine doesn’t have half-c0ck either. His doesn’t have the cross-bar safety like mine. I also thought it weird that Marlin would put a rubber stock end on it. I mean, its only a .22, not much worry about recoil.

But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not disappointed. It will look great next to my 30-30!

Keep your powder dry.

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!

The Marlins Are Set Up!

I finally have the Marlin 336 rifles set up and I’m ready to get to the range – as soon as I get some time. Seems I’m either busy or their closed. But anyway, we both found straps we like and I finished mounting the scope on the good wife’s rifle yesterday. I decided to leave mine with open sites for the time being. I think they both look pretty nice.

2 Marlin 336's

I really like the straps we found for them. Glynne’ picked hers up at the last gun show we went to. I found mine on eBay.

Marlin Close UpBill's Marlin

I really like the single bullet holder on my strap, although it kinda swallows a 30-30 round. So there they are, ready to get sighted in.

And speaking of 30-30 rounds, has anyone out there used the Hornady LEVERevolution round? It seems to be reasonably priced (I’ve seen it for a lot cheaper than what’s on that page) and the specs look interesting. Just wondered what kind of experience anyone else has had with it out in the field compared to the other rounds from Winchester, Remington and Federal. I use the Winchester Super X in my Enfield and love it. If you haven’t used the Hornady, what’s your favorite 30-30 hunting round?

Charlton Heston’s “A Torch With No Flame”

No one could say it like Chuck could. Let’s never forget or get lazy. And actually, this is pretty sad, when you think about it…

NRANews — November 15, 2009 — Charlton Heston discusses passing on the legacy of the Second Amendment. In this spellbinding performance, the NRA past president challenges Americans to keep freedom’s flame alight from generation to generation. Delivered with unedited authenticity reflecting a deep love for his nation, Mr. Heston’s eloquent message radiates truth as it lights the American way.

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

Hunting Info From Around The Web

Here’s several stories and articles from around the web I thought were interesting.

I think these guys do a great service, Outdoor Mentors

Why I hunt. It’s a little sappy at times, but interesting. Other good ones are here and here

I’ve always wanted to learn how to tan hides, it doesn’t look too hard, just very time consuming.

The Kansas Upland hunting season outlook is shaping up to be a pretty good season and here is another regional report.

Deer population efforts and how hunting and hunters help: and

An awesome sounding turkey and wild rice soup recipe.

This guy has some great black powder and muzzleloading information.

And then some that’s obviously a concern of mine, gun control: The Downside of Gun Control and The Media Bias Against Guns

And this both amuses and horrifies me, The Deer Hunter.

That’s all for now, keep your powder dry.