Thursday, August 28, 2008

My favorite deer rifle

Yes, it's true. Kinda taking retro to a new high, I know.

It's not original, of course. It was made for me by a maker who did his apprenticeship at Williamsburg and is now a master of his craft. It's a .50 'reproduction' of a French & Indian War period piece from one of the several, classic Pennsylvania rifle types. 

She is wonderfully slender and elegant, nicely balanced, and as accurate as you could ask for. Fifty-yard groups cluster around 1.5". I'm not a proponent of long-range game shooting with patched round balls (all I use in her) as their ballistics fall off like a dropped brick after about seventy yards or so. And keep in mind that this is a woodland gun, where ranges are seldom much more than about fifty yards and often much, much less. (The last four woodland deer I've taken were shot at 28, 7, 55, and 15 yards.)

I'm not a buckskinner and don't go to the authenticity lengths that some flintlockers do, but I do like to use authentic, period-correct gear when I am hunting with 'Nimrod.' There is a great deal of satisfaction in roaming the woods with such a rifle and knowing you are walking in the footprints of your g-g-g-g-g'father, who, in my case, actually was named Nimrod. His stomping grounds were the mountains of Virginia and Tennessee. Mine are now the high plains, where his rifle didn't fare too well.

Plainsmen needed a stouter rifle for heavier charges, a shorter barrel for use on horseback, and a more robust overall build to bear up under the different kind of stresses the rifle would be put under. My slender beauty evolved into the chunkier, less esthetic Hawkin. (No, Jeremiah, there was never a .30 Hawkin. Sorry.)

But there are woods out here, too. Not everything is half a mile away as far as rifle ranges go. And when you get in close, and the chill is in the air, and the sun begins to come up, I'll take ol' Nimrod every time.


Anonymous said...

I have a Hawkins trade gun. Never really got into the black powder thing, but it makes a nice decoration. My brother , on the other hand, hunts with black powder and bow.

Rio Arriba said...

I'm not really a died-in-the-wool blackpowder guy, but I do love loafing around in the woods with Nimrod. It's definitely a different kind of hunting and a different kind of thrill.