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Evolution… - Larry Weishuhn



Well not really evolution…unless one accepts the definition as “the process of developing”. Then Yes there is evolution, staring at age 6 and evolving to my present age where deer rifles and hunting guns are concerned.

 

I started trying to convince my dad to let me sit by myself hunting deer when I was five.  Up to that point I had sat with him in his “deer stand”, a 2x4 board nailed between the forks of a cedar or oak tree. Comfortable?  Hardly! 

 

During those early years in the 1950’s we hunted deer, but there were hardly in our area.  If you saw a track, you were very fortunate.  If you happened to shoot a deer, you were a community hero.

 

As a sub 6-year old, I had shot a couple of squirrel with Grandpa Aschenbeck’s single-shot .22. But by then, I had shot a fair number of birds, lizards and big grasshoppers with my BB-gun!

 

When in July I turned six, my dad told me he would build a ground blind for me to hunt from, by myself.  I think the “ground thing” was something my mother “suggested” knowing my Dad could crawl trees better than a squirrel and often hunted from the very top of trees.

My deer rifle? The same one I used for hunting squirrels, a Remington Model 33, single-shot bolt-action .22 rimfire, back then perfectly legal.  Before the annual deer season opened my dad and uncle decided to shoot their open-sight Winchester Model 94 .30-30s, I had my open-sight .22.  They set up a target at 50 paces.  Dad handed me two Long Rifle shells, previously I had only been allowed to shoot .22 Shorts.  I felt like I had stepped up to a Magnum! 

 

I got to shoot first. After bolting in a cartridge I pulled back the knurl to cock the hammer.  Placing the front bead at the bottom of the 3-inch circle bullseye, and that bead in the little slot in the back sight.  I carefully aimed and then pulled the trigger.  To my surprise I heard Dad say, “I think you missed…  Before you shoot a second shot, let’s walk down to check.”  When we got close enough to inspect the target we found a small hole right in the center of the blackened bullseye.

 

“Good shot!  No need to shoot a second! Save it for hunting season!”.  Suggested my uncle.

 

I spent the next four years hunting with that single-shot .22.  It became mine when my maternal granddad died, when I was nine. During those four years I never saw a buck and only a hand full of does.  Only branch-antlered bucks were legal.

 

Then things started changing. Screw-worms, a devastating menace to fawns and adult deer alike, as well as livestock started being controlled.  Deer populations increased dramatically.  

 

I hunted every opportunity I had.  Back then we hunted not far behind our rural home on Grandpa Weishuhn’s land and that of our neighbors who let us hunt in return for helping them haul hay and “work” cattle.

 



 

Turning thirteen I started hunting with my maternal granddad’s 12-gauge single-shot shotgun.  That fall I saw several does but no legal bucks.  The following summer spikes were made lega.  I dearly wanted a “real deer rifle” like my Dad’s .30-30, but did not have the money to buy one. So I again hunted with my granddad’s single-shot 12-gauge.

 

That fall sitting high in an ancient oak tree, I finally became a successful deer hunter.  I have told the story of that first buck many times at seminars, after-dinner talks, radio shows, podcasts and the like. If you’d like to read about that adventure, may I suggest going to my www.larryweishuhn.net website and ordering copies of my two most recent books, CAMPFIRE TALK co-authored with Luke Clayton, and DEER ADDICTIONS. Both are available there.  You can also there listen to my weekly podcast, “DSC’s Campfire with Larry Weishuhn” and watch the weekly digital tv show I do with Luke Clayton and Jeff Rice, “A Sportsman’s Life”.

 

A year after taking my first buck, I finally earned sufficient funds to buy a Savage Model 340E bolt-action .30-30 Winchester topped with a Weaver K4 scope, and one box of shells!   With with that rifle I took several whitetails.  It served me well into my college years at Texas A&M University.  After graduation and working for Texas’ Wildlife Disease Project, I bought a used Remington Model 722 chambered in .257 Roberts from fellow wildlife biologist Ernie Davis.  I added a Weaver K4 scope and started shooting handloads using Hornady bullets. Soon after I bought a semi-inletted Claro walnut stock from Herter’s and after some barrel and trigger work customized it to perfectly fit me. With that combination I “collected” many whitetails with it, as part of my “research work” and during the annual hunting seasons.  I soon added a Remington Model 700 in .270 Win, a round popularized by my hero the late Jack O’Connor. Incidentally, many years later I was the special guest speaker for the Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage & Education Center.  For “collection work” I used 100-grain Hornady hollow point handloads which provided one-hole accuracy.  Soon I also added a 7x57 Ruger Model 77 and then others…

 

Early on I had become enamored with hunting handguns, but could only occasionally borrow a friend’s T/C Contender and Ruger Super Blackhawk.  The Contender in .30-30 and the Ruger in .44 Mag were fun to hunt with.  In time too, I added numerous hunting handguns.

 

After college my wife and I started our family, which soon included daughters, Theresa and Beth.  Any extra money I made doing taxidermy, trapping, working a variety of jobs in addition to working as a wildlife biologist, which soon included writing.  Money not needed for my family, I spent on guns, optics, ammo and hunting.  Hunting fed my family directly and indirectly for many years in numerous ways!

 

During the ensuing years to present, after working as a wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and leaving State employment I set up my own wildlife management consulting company, started writing more and more, went on staff with numerous shooting and hunting publications like Shooting Times, Deer & Deer Hunting and many others.  Then I started doing hunting videos, and soon a bunch of outdoor television shows.  Early in all this, I fell in love with single-shot rifles, more handguns, muzzleloaders.  I spent time with Bass Pro’s RedHead ProHunting Team, Realtree Camo on their television shows, served as PR/Media person for Thompson/Center Arms, served as a Ruger Ambassador starting back when it was only Kelly (Glen) Kimbro and me, doing lots and lots of magazine and even book writing, considerable television, many seminars and after-dinner speaking engagements. 

 

With this profession, I got to shoot and hunt with a great variety of muzzleloaders, handguns and rifles, including many different calibers and rounds.  I hunted big game throughout North America and on several continents including dangerous game in Africa.

 

Over the years I was convinced I had found the perfect hunting rifle and round, same with hunting handguns.  This happened several times as I gained more and diversified hunting experience.

 

The list of cartridges I hunted with after leaving my .22 rimfire deer rifle behind is substantial, including shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns and single-shot, lever-action and bolt-action rifles.

 

Each step along the way was part of my “evolving”, although I have to admit loving blued steel and nicely grained wood stock firearms, in the beginning and still do.  This as opposed to fancy plywood, aka laminated or plastic, aka synthetic, stocks. I do own such stocked rifles several in stainless steel.  I  appreciate them for what they are, but they are not in my opinion “beautiful”.  I think it may have been David Petzal, or possibly Colonel Townsend Whelen, who said, “Life is too short to shoot an inaccurate gun!”  To me life is also too short “To hunt with an ugly gun!” I apologize for stealing that line from whomever first stated it.  We are indeed kindred spirits.

 

I personally do not consider modern military style based firearms sometimes referred to as “modern hunting rifles” to be “pretty”. Functional, of course!  But “pretty or beautiful”, again in my opinion, “No!”  However, if you disagree, then more power to you!  I am simply glad you shoot and hunt, whatever you use, and that also includes archery, crossbow and air gun.

 

Since I started hunting there have been many changes in guns, the introduction of many different new rounds and rifle styles, huge changes in optics and tremendous advancements in ammo as well as in hunting opportunities, and attitudes. 

 

One thing has not changed, with an accurate firearm, the bullet still goes where the barrel is pointed when the trigger is pulled.

 

My current favorite guns are my Mossberg Patriot Predator chambered in 7mm PRC shooting Hornady’s accurate deadly and dependable ammunition.  Mine is topped with a Trijicon AccuPoint variable scope.  While suppressors are daily gaining in popularity, I do not yet own one, but, I am considering such. 

 

Were I to make any suggested changes to the Mossberg Patriot it would be to offer a 20-inch barrel version.  Then, even if I added a suppressor the rifle would still only have a 24- or so inch, total barrel length.  Where and how I hunt, longer barrel rifles are cumbersome.  And the beauty of Hornady’s new 7mm PRC very little is lost with a shorter, as in 20-inch, barrel.

 




 


 

While I still own numerous single-shot and single-action revolvers, I have been hunting with Taurus’ Raging Hunter double-action revolvers chambered in .44 Mag and .454 Casull, and .460 S&W Mag. Shooting appropriate Hornady ammo they are extremely accurate and fun to shoot.

 

Starting back midway of the past century I have seen a lot of “evolution” in guns, optics, ammo, hunting equipment and hunting itself.  I also have seen what I consider the finest hunting/wildlife conservation organization in the world, Dallas Safari Club or DSC as it is more often referred to these day, start and continue to grow in stature and importance in making the world aware of the importance of hunting in wildlife conservation!  If you are not a member and you love the outdoors, you should be (www.biggame.org).

 

My “evolution” from those extremely early years has been fun, rewarding, educational and dynamic, and, that is as it should be!

 

 

 

 

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