VOLUME 39-----------SEPTEMBER 2005
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
September 1, 2005
Gonna' start this month with a little nostalgia.
I have a birthday coming up this month, and just realized that it will mark the 50th anniversary of owning my first 'real' firearm. I received a brand new .22 rimfire rifle for my 13th birthday that year. (Don't sprain somethin' inside yer head tryin' to figger it out, I'll be 63 this month)
Winchester Model 61 - .22 S, L, & L R
It would be interesting to have cartridges in one pile, equivalent to all those that have been pumped through this little rifle. I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to the number, but I'm sure it would be a heck of a stack!
Growing up in northern Missouri, most of the table fare harvested with this rifle, consisted of fox squirrels and cottontail rabbits, although bullfrogs legs were often on the menu as well. Ammunition consisted of ordinary high velocity long rifle cartridges for the most part, with head shots being the norm. I learned, early on, that hollow points destroyed too much meat on body shots for rabbits and squirrels, but did anchor the bullfrogs better.
Again, I won't try to guess numbers, but many, many sparrows, starlings, pigeons, rats, and other pests were eliminated with this rifle during my 'formative' years. Head shots on raccoons and 'possums produced pelts with minimal pelt damage as well. I don't remember shooting any coyotes with this rifle, but do recall taking at least one red fox.
This Winchester Model 61 Pump, would start a mini-tradition, as my younger brother, Eddie, would receive an identical rifle two years later on his 13th. Our son, Rick, was presented a .22 rifle on his 13th birthday, and says that his daughter's present on number 13 will be a .22 as well!
Too bad the rifles couldn't all be identical down through the years, but times and manufacturing methods have changed a great deal. I would hesitate to guess what a Model 61 Winchester would cost today if it were produced with the equivalent machining and hand fitting expended on the originals.
Introduced in the early 1930's, this hammerless pump action competed with similar guns of the era, by makers such as Remington and Savage. Built to exacting standards with many hours of skilled labor, the rifle priced itself out of the market, and was discontinued in the early 1960's. I understand that specimens in pristine condition are highly valued in the collector's market.
This rifle featured genuine 'controlled round feeding' a' la' the Mauser and Springfield, albeit with a much more complicated mechanism. It was more complicated by virtue of pulling cartridges from the tubular magazine, and sliding them up along the face of the breechblock, as opposed to pushing them forward from a box magazine.
Since the Model 61 had long been gone when Rick turned 13, his first .22 was the Winchester Model 9422 lever action. This model has also been very popular and is a first class rifle in its own right. Unfortunately the 9422 is experiencing the same high cost problems that beset the Model 61, and 2005 will be its last year of production! Be interesting to see what's available when Jennifer turns 13.
Also residing in my gun safe, is a Remington hammerless pump of similar vintage to the Model 61, that belonged to my late Father-in-law, Lyle Hart. This one, is a Model 121, also chambered for .22 S, L, & L R. Little Heifer remembers the trip to Sears Roebuck in Des Moines, Iowa, with her Dad when he purchased this rifle in January 1950.
Remington Model 121 - .22 S, L, & L R
The Model 121 also became a victim of high production costs and was dropped from the Remington line around the time Winchester discontinued the Model 61.
I doubt this rifle has been shot nearly as much as my Winchester. The Remington was basically a 'farm gun' that resided in a corner of the kitchen, and was only brought out to address problems of chicken house marauders and other pests around the farmstead. I understand that Rick and his cousin Chris did some tin can plinking with this rifle when Grandpa had, or would admit to having, ammunition for it.
Obviously Lyle, was better than I at keeping documents and records. Here is a picture of some of the original paperwork that came with the purchase of the Remington.
If you look closely, you can see a date of 1/21 on the bill, but no year is shown. Ann is pretty sure it was 1950. Note the price of $49.95. Add 2 boxes of 'short rifle' ammo and tax, and you have a grand total of $51.61!
I was recently honored to have one of my stories published in a regional magazine. The Eastern Washington & North Idaho edition of THE OUTLOOK MAGAZINE published one of my gopher hunting stories in their August 19th edition. OUTLOOK is published bi-weekly and covers hunting, fishing, skiing, golf, and other outdoor activities around this area.
I spoke with the publisher the other day, and he indicated they would like to see more of my material. I sent in a couple more articles, so we'll see if they turn up in future editions.
Those who follow my website ramblings, know that I have developed a method of ridding the lawn of pocket gophers. I open their burrows and shoot them with a .410 shotgun when they come to plug the hole. Rick and I are now working on a new method.
In many places with gopher problems, it's either illegal or unsafe to shoot a firearm, so we are preparing the 'frog gig' defense! A barbed, multi-pronged gig on the end of a pole worked great for frogs when I was a kid, so they should do OK for gophers, right? Should be able to just stab the little suckers when they come to plug the open hole!
Right now, the problem is: I can't find a frog gig around here! When I asked about a 'frog gig' at the Sportsmen's Warehouse, the largest sporting goods store in the area, they just looked at me funny! Looks like it may come down to manufacturing one myself.
In the meantime, gophers are encroaching on Rick's lawn from the hayfield out back of his property, so he's working on Plan B. Rick's house is in a subdivision, and even though the lots are 1 acre in size, I'm sure some of the neighbors would frown upon shooting a shotgun in the backyard.
Plan B, consists of cutting a groove or slit in the sod above the tunnel a few inches from the entrance that is opened with the digger. In theory, a shovel or other metal object can be plunged into the slit and through the tunnel, to cut off the gopher's escape route when he is out plugging the opened hole.
Had a phone call from Rick last evening, and while he says our theory may be good, in real life, he ain't quick enough. As I understand it, all was going well; The hole was opened, the shovel poised, and the wait began. Mr. gopher came out in about 10 minutes, and began pushing dirt into the opening. The shovel was plunged down, and . . . . The gopher was too quick. I now am told the frog gig manufacturing job needs to move forward soon, so that method can be tried!
Now for the latest edition of the saga of trying to tighten up the groups from Ann's 7MM-08. At the end of last month, I had just removed the little 'pressure bump' from the end of the barrel channel, to 'free float' the barrel, but hadn't shot the rifle yet.
After another range session, I found little difference in the group sizes, but did find something that may be contributing to the accuracy problem. After shooting two mediocre groups, I realized that the crosshairs appeared to move against the 100 yard target as I moved my eye from side to side with the rifle in a steady rest! Ah, the old nemesis, parallax!
What the heck is parallax? While my explanation may not pass muster in the technicalities department, it essentially means that the reticle and the target are not in the same focal plane. This causes apparent movement of the aiming point, thus creating aiming error, if the eye is not held in the exact same spot behind the scope for each shot.
Most low to mid power scopes for centerfire rifles are factory set to be parallax free at around 150 yards, and are usually not adjustable by the consumer. Higher power scopes often have adjustable focus objective lenses so the user can adjust for parallax at any range.
This rifle was topped by a Nikon Monarch 2-7 power variable scope, which is not user adjustable for parallax. At 100 yards, the eye should not be able to discern appreciable movement when moving about in the field of view. I was seeing 3 to 5 inches of apparent movement as I moved my eye from side to side and up and down, with the rifle in a solid rest.
The scope is now en route to the Nikon repair center in California. Hopefully, they will see fit to honor their 'lifetime guarantee' and either fix or replace it. I don't have much experience with Nikon, as this is the only one we own, so we shall see.
The 7MM-08 is now wearing a Leupold fixed 4 power scope, but I won't be able to report on any more shooting until next month. Stay tuned!
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a forwarded internet story, that kinda' hits home with my recent knee surgery, and having another birthday this month:
An older couple is lying in bed one
morning, having just awakened from a good night's sleep.
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!