“During my years of study on high velocity and killing power, I have come to one definite indisputable conclusion. Velocity plays the most important part in killing power.”—Roy Weatherby, “Killing Power,” The Gun Digest, 1951
I’ve never known a first-rate shotgunner who didn’t have terrific reflexes and hand-eye coordination. If you lack these qualities, you can train yourself to the point where you are good, but you are never going to be able to compete with the really gifted scattergunners.
Hit me with a hammer Wham bam bam What good am I Without my ham?—Roy Blount
One of the more interesting cultural phenomena in recent weeks is the uproar over the 1,051-pound feral hog shot on May 3 by an 11-year-old named Jamison Stone. To make things more interesting, this Paleolithic porker was taken with a customized Smith & Wesson .500 revolver, a firearm at least as huge and fearsome at the swine itself.
Like most of what goes on today, this is all very baffling to me. Young Jamison finds himself a celebrity even outside of hunting circles—why? The pig is the least glamorous of our game animals (and no, it is not the new whitetail, at least until one grows antlers). Does this mean we’re finally tiring of Rosie O’Donnell and looking for a replacement? Is it the size of the swine? The age of the hunter?
About the .500 S&W. I can distinctly remember when the .45 ACP was thought of as a veritable cannon, and the .357 magnum was considered so terrifying that only FBI agents were manly enough to shoot it. Yet here is an 11-year-old shooting something with one hand that kicks as hard as a .338. I shot a .500 S&W when it first came out in 2003, and it reminded me of the time when, as a kid, I tried to catch a 12-pound shot put.
Does this mean we can look forward to 9-year-olds taking Cape buffalo with .577 Nitro Expresses? Seven-year-olds dropping elephant with .700 Holland & Hollands? Where does it all end?
“The police are the ones coming to get the guns. I know they don’t like the job much either, but since there are so many funny laws now I guess they just have to go ahead and do what they have to do.
“I must let you in on a secret unlawful thing I did. I took the guns I liked best and buried them down in the field behind the barn…I just couldn’t stand the thought of having them melted down or thrown in the ocean. I saved a few to turn in, and I hope that does the trick. It seems that you can get away with a lot of pretty bad crimes, but if they catch an honest man with a gun he hid away, out of sentiment, it goes pretty hard with him.”—Gene Hill, The Day They Took My Guns
I’m currently reading a book titled Africa’s Most Dangerous, by one Kevin Robertson (Safari Press, 07). It’s all about hunting Cape buffalo, and has much interesting and useful stuff about guns and cartridges for old nyati. Mr. Robertson, who appears to have considerable experience in the field, is vehement about avoiding push-feed rifles, and particularly Remington Model 700s with their small, hook-type extractors.
“By and large, today’s deer hunter is not a skilled hunting rifleman. I say hunting rifleman in the effort to make a clear distinction between the hunter and the target shooter, for there is a marked difference. The majority of these men are not hunting riflemen of any marked degree of skill even after a lifetime of deer hunting.”—Larry Koller, Shots at Whitetails
Now I am a simple fellow, uneducated in the ways of science, but I have a serious problem believing that scent-blocking clothing can make a difference while hunting. Since this is a blog, and not a place for a systematic argument, I can only offer some notes from my decades in the woods.
“My God, Warren, why are you taking a cannon like that?”—Larry Koller to Warren Page, on the phone, when Page said he was taking his 7mm Mashburn magnum on an antelope hunt. Larry thought the .250 was just about ideal for deer, and couldn’t see why anyone needed anything bigger than a .30/06 for anything.
“In summing up the reasons why the magnum cartridges are the best choice with the right load for shooting all classes of North American big game under varied hunting conditions…the answer is quite simple: If you need the extra velocity they afford for longer sure hit ranges, you have it, or the extra punch they pack for heavy animals, you have it; if you don’t need it no harm is done. I have always been highly skeptical of the word overkill." –Bob Hagel, Game Loads and Practical Ballistics for the North American Hunter.
It’s fashionable to write about Cape buffalo as bovine Hillary Clintons—malignant engines of destruction, filled with cunning and rage, living for the chance to get the horn into something. But the truth is, I feel sorry for the poor bastards. All they want is to wallow in the mud, eat, make little buffalo, and generally be left alone.