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November 10, 2008

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The Rifleman's Badge of Honor

This past Friday I was coaching a young hunter in the finer points of riflery when he got careless with the .30/06 he was shooting and received a medium-good scope cut in his forehead. He asked me not to mention it to anyone and I said, Pish tush, you should be proud of it; it’s the mark of the rifleman. I then pointed out three or four of my choicer scars.

Eventually, if you shoot enough, you are going to get a scope cut. Actually, you’re going to get a collection unless you spend all your time shooting .22s or centerfires with IER scopes. (Given the choice between an IER scope on a rifle and a good, bloody scope cut, I will take the latter.)

The two best I’ve ever seen came from a .30/06 with a cheap scope that had no eye relief to speak of, and a .300 Weatherby, whose owner contorted himself into a weird prone position, shooting downhill at a caribou. The ocular lens bell caught him on the bridge of the nose and opened it up like an ax. My own best scope cut came from a .30/378 with a muzzle brake. I was curious how hard it kicked without the brake and fired it prone. I found out.

I came home with blood all over my face and my shirt. My wife summed up the situation in one word:
“A*****e,” she said.

Some people, upon getting a scope cut, are like to swoon, and develop PTSD. Others brush it off. Susan Casey, who wrote a wonderful story for Field & Stream about an elk hunt on which she could not bring herself to pull the trigger, got a medium one, and decided she liked it.

“It makes me look like a badass,” said Susan.

In 2003, I bought a bunch of life-sized whitetail deer targets from the NRA that have been by far the best teaching tool I’ve ever seen if you want to teach someone how to shoot whitetail deer. The vital zones are marked so you can’t see them at a distance, just like real deer.

Last week I tried to reorder, but no one at the NRA seemed to know what I was talking about, and I’m afraid they’ve been discontinued. Does anyone know anything definitive or, failing that, does anyone know of anything similar? My gratitude will be nearly boundless. 


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Dave, I think your wife was right.


PS....stick with Leupolds...they've got more eye relief! And use less gun....you eat more.


A couple of years ago, my supervisor came to work with this cut above his eye, when we finally got to ask him what happened, he said he was in a tree stand when this large buck walked up behind him. Not waiting for it to move out a little, he shot straight down and of course got the cut. it seems that most cuts are due to shooting at odd angles and conditions, but when a large buck comes by, we forget a lot of basics. This week while hunting to fill my doe tag, A doe walks down to the slow moving creek. I shot it and it jumps in the middle of this wide creek, Deep at this point. I throwed arope for about an hour before finally Hooking its leg. .Had to use the winch on my 4wheeler to get it up the bank but finally got it on the trailer. I just didn't want to wade this cold water unless all other methods failed...

WA Mtnhunter

Barsness's website explains that he is freelancing for several magazines, not including Wolfe magazines.

Let's not annoint any of these scribes to sainthood. I did enjoy his articles. I quit buying the Petersen rags because they became "The Craig Boddington Self-Aggrandizement Journals".


I have yet to get ringed by a scope but I am familar with recoil. I have an elderly Interarms Mk X 7mm Remington Magnum being fed a warm load of IMR 4831 and 160 gr. Speer magtips that kicks worse than my Ruger 77 .300 Win Mag and comparable to the 12 ga. tube of my Savage 24F-12T .223 over 12 mag. Having said that, the 7mm has apparently been dethroned at our place as the worst kicker. My son just bought a new Ruger 77 Hawkeye (sweet rifle, well done, Ruger) in .338 Win Mag that kicks much worse. In load development, my son said it came back and hit his cap, knocking it sideways, with only the muffs holding it on. Despite the recoil, tho, it shoots like a varmint rifle, three shots in 3/4" at 100 yards with a handload of WW 760 and Hornaday 200 gr. interlocks. Makes the old man proud to see the son work up a load and shoot it well in a heavy rifle like that, knowing who taught him. I am blessed. Good shooting, all.


I received my come-uppance at the hands of a 7.7 Japanese Arisaka, while taking a steep down-angle shot from a treestand...I actually was dumb enough to put the butt on the rifle on top of my shoulder instead of against it. Nearly knocked myself out of the tree.

The worst part? Having to explain the dinged nose and raccoon eyes to every one of my non-hunting co-workers.

It was a loooong week...at least I got the deer.



I know what paper targets you are talking about. We shot hundreds of them in the YHEC program that I competed in years ago. They came in about 10 different animal versions from squirrel and rabbit to deer and coyote. You might talk to someone in Hunter Services division of NRA. Good luck finding them and let the rest of us know, because as you say, they are really great teaching tools.

T.W. Davidson


I agree with your sentiments about Boddington, although perhaps for different reasons.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I view being out in the wilds as a priviledge, a spiritual blessing, and a personal cleansing of the soul, even (or perhaps particularly) when conditions are harsh and a real mistake will be my last one. Mother Nature's Cathedral--e.g., nature itself, and the wilds--is far more precious to me personally than any produced by man.

Because of this, it bothers me when I see Boddington (or any other gunwriter) out there in Mother Nature's Cathedral pretending to be a hunter but actually acting as a corporate pet advertising that corporation's products. Even though I am not a religious person, but for the same reason I would never accept a corporation's hired pet advertising its products in a church, nor should Boddington (aka Mr. Gander Mountain, Inc.) and his ilk do so amidst the sacred wilds of Mother Nature's Cathedral. It is a form of littering. And it just seems sleezy.

Again, maybe I'm old fashioned and out of date, but if I were a gunwriter, while I might proclaim the rare exceptional product in blogs or articles discussing "The Best of . . .", with complete and total disclosure about any bias or conflict of interest--like a fat paycheck--I might have regarding the product I was touting, there would never be a day where there would be a picture or video of me advertising some company's products out there in the wilds. I wouldn't litter in Mother Nature's Cathedral, so to speak.

Is no place sacred anymore?

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

Jim in Mo

T.W. & WaM Hunter,
I agree that C. B. can be quite a shill for manufacturers. But, that being said, I still very much enjoy his writings. He tells me the things I want to know. The gun, the load, and the exact bullet. And often the velocity too. Pay attention to many of the others only talking about how well their Tikka, Benneli, Ruger performed. And nothing else.
I know, that close up shot making sure we see the scope brand seems to be mandatory. Well crap, I guess thats what its come to. But I do enjoy his stuff.



I'll have to look up NXT on the internet. The polycarbs that I usually use are whatever bulk order variety we have purchased for ourselves and our field employees as safety glasses. So mine are pretty inexpensive.


You can go to www.24hourcampfire.com, look under forums, choose Ask The Gunwriters, and scroll back a few months and read a discussion about Mr. Barsness "not working for Wolfe" any longer. He didn't really give many specifics. He seems to always handle things with a fair amount of class. Sounds like you'll be able to find his writings in other mags. like SA and Guns to name a couple.


I think that you have a strong enough since of self to weather Joe C.'s (Does the C stand for Crazy?) overly serious comments.


I can give you the NXT web site,
There are several sports sunglass companies that use this lens material.


WAMnthunter, as I read your last post, I had tears in my eyes... Not because of what you wrote,but as I was reading this I heard some one shoot down by the creek where I had been watching a large buck....


Not sure if you have seen this guy's blog, but I check it everychance I get, just like yours!! I found it blog rolled off of Gun Shots that you have blog rolled.

Check it out at:




TW and WHunter;

At least Boddington takes the stuff hunting. The average gun test is a writer takes a rifle and three boxes of ammo to the range, mounts the scope (if the gun isn't already wearing one), anchors the gun into the sandbags, shoots thirty rounds (or twenty, or maybe forty), and writes his story. Be still my pounding heart. Until somebody better comes along I'll read Boddington's articles (hey, I'm never going to get to Africa in this life) and enjoy every word. And as to his African hunting, all I can say is if I every find out what concoction he uses to drug the gun companies into bankrolling his globetrotting hunting trips, I'll order a case of it. Are you a general in the Marines?


Those Model 100 Winchester autoloaders would often double. I think the problem is that the firing pin flies forward and hits the primers, just like the AR rifles do. The AR rifles should be used with MILSPEC primers, meaning that they aren't that sensitive. I'm going to get some and load up some .308s and see if that will solve the problem. I have the new firing pin, but it has still doubled on occasion. No scope cuts . . . but it is surely something that gets your attention!

T.W. Davidson

Eyeball . . .

Via his corporate sponsors, CB travels the world and apparently kills just about every animal that comes within range of his what-shall-I-advertise-today?-rifle, all while posing in his what-shall-I-advertise-today?-clothing and assorted what-shall-I-advertise-today? gear. I'm not aware that he eats what he kills, and I often left to wonder if an animal has just gone completely to waste in order to earn CB a paycheck and some corporation increased stock value.

CB appears to "hunt" for no other purpose than to advertise manufacturer's products and make money for the corporations and himself while doing so. To me, that's not hunting. It's needless killing, it's a form of littering, and it is unsportsmanlike conduct.

Let's review for a second:

Did Jack O'Connor ever do what CB does? (Not that I'm aware of.)

Has or does DP? (Not that I'm aware of.)

Do real sportsman do that? (Not that I'm aware of.)

On another note, CB is or was a Marine one- or two-star in the reserves. This, however, has zero relevance with hunting, sportsmanlike behavior in the wilds, or being a corporate gadfly, just as my own time on active duty is of zero relevance to these things, too. Indeed, whether a person is a doctor, lawyer, insurance agent, teacher, carpenter, librarian, dentist, soldier, writer, member of the Marine Corps or member of the Peace Corps, nurse or nun, priest or principal, is also of no relevance as to whether he or she is a true sportsman and real hunter in the wilds.

Finally, if a gunwriter takes a new rifle to a range and lives with it for weeks or months on end and fires tons of ammunition and handloads through it at various distances in various conditions (wet and dry, hot and cold, windy and calm, etc.), and if that gunwriter then honestly writes about what he/she experienced with that rifle and makes no excuses regarding whatever that rifle's performance turns out to be, then I'm perfectly okay with that and will likely be very interested in what the writer has to say. Most any avid shooter would be, although I can see why people who are more into hunting would want a story about hunting rather than a story about shooting. It all depends on what the reader is interested in.

What I'm not interested in is seeing corporate sponsorship, advertising and profit in the wilds involving the wasted slaughter of game across the globe, all while falsely disguished as "sportsmanlike" hunting of game for some legitimate purpose. To me, it's not.

T.W. Davidson
Tyler, TX

Jim in Mo

I don't see what your getting all upset about. We all know in reality that game meat is not being wasted, especially in Africa. I don't subscribe to the Outdoor Channel but I do get Versus. Look at the game those shills take. And in this case I say 'shill' in the worst way. Those guys produce and deliver their half hour program to promote themselves. Plain and simple. There is nothing informative about what their doing except they couldn't have done it without their Mathews, Hoyt, Leupold, Sightron gizmo. Thats it . Nothing informative but their mug on tv. How is CB any different with the exeption he tries to educate?
Now with that being said I wonder back in Jack O'Connors days I wonder if the corporate sponsorship had been there would he have more air time? I don't know. But because the era of advertiseing wasn't there for him doesn't mean its wrong now. Hell, back in his day how many people had tv's? JMO

Jim in Mo

I meant to include that I'll bet most of Craigs' and the others 'hunting experiences' happen on game farms. The animals are there to be taken. True African experience (sadly) is over. Been trying to read Teddy Roosevelts 'African Game Trails'. But its slow compared to Ruarks style. Either way those days are gone.

Clay Cooper

Gota run, got a good one for y'all stay tuned!


I didn't know Petzal was married.

O Garcia

DP hasn't been posting for days now. Did we just wear him out?


Still moping over the election...

Clay Cooper

I remember that day like it was yesterday Eielson AFB Alaska, it was Thursday September 30 1989 the day before Moose, Sheep and Grizzly season opens. It was about 9am when I got a call from one of the Squadron Commanders wanting me to open the range during none shooting hours so he can sight in his rifle for a sheep hunt. He was really freaking out because he was flying out that night and he just mounted his scope the night before. No problem Colonel, I’ll be there at 5pm! There he was already with all his gear and target setup ready to shoot. After the 3rd shot, his scope detonated from the shock from his 340 Weatherby Magnum. It looked like you shot a bullet thru it with several linses vaporized and the cross hairs looked like the pubic hairs from the bionic women. I told him I’ll pull the scope of my spare rifle and he can go with it, no dealing he wanted a new scope. I told him what to get and he would have to run into North Pole to Ron Sparks Shooting Supplies to get a Leopold, He returned from the BX with a tasco scope and I respectively told him it would not work. He snapped back with, shut up Sergeant, I know what I’m doing! While he was mounting the scope, I walked back to my truck to get a roll of paper towels. He asked what that was for and I just said nothing. I removed the bolt of his rifle and bore sighted it. The first shot struck blood and did it! I handed him a paper towel and he apologized and asked what he needs to do because he was out of time and leaving in about 2 hours. I ran back to the truck and pulled out my trusty old backup rifle. I asked him to set back on the bench and handed him my rifle. The target was at 200 yards and he flinched so bad he missed a 3’x3’ target backing on the first shot. I started emergency CPR on his shooting skills by slipping in a dummy round I used for training to get the anticipation and flinch out and to affirm follow thru on the shot. After 30 minutes, he was shooting a 3 inch group. I then sat down and placed 3 shots in the “X” ring the size of a 25 cent piece. He was in love with my rifle and asked what caliber is it and wanted to barrow it. I responded, Sir it’s a 03-A3 30-06 loaded with Hornady 190 grain Soft Point Boat Tail. The following Tuesday, he dropped by the office with pictures of the nice Ram he shot.
It’s true what you get is what you pay for! However, you need to match the specifications of that scope to match or better yet to exceed the parameters of the equipment you’re mounting it on. Eye relief is the first specification on a scope I look for.

By the way, his eyebrow several stitches!

Gotta run no time for spell check what the heck!

WA Mtnhunter

T.W., eyeball, et al:

Boddington's work is ok by me (in appropriate small dosage). It is not entirely his fault that those Peterson rags have been stuffed with his writings. He does what they pay him for. But would you read this blog if there were only 2 posters writing all the entries?

I could give a rat's ass that he is/was a RESERVE General in the USMCR. I note that he used to tout his military status as "Colonel Boddington" in his articles. I found that a little arrogant and not particularly in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service, of which the USMC is a part. It seems he retired about the time he was selected as General, but maybe I'm incorrect. In any case, I salute him for his service to the USA.

Maybe I should add "Commander, United States Navy, Ret." to my moniker? Then I could be just as pompous. And maybe my last statement makes me just as pompous?

Jim in Mo

i'm sure most of us has heard by now of the buck taken in Wisc. It is a fine deer but I like this guys deer better. Maybe its the story I like.

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