Not the Air Rifle of My Youth
“Larry, can you meet me at Jeff Rice’s Buck and Bass Ranch tomorrow? Hogs are there in huge numbers right now.” I responded that I most certainly could, despite the nearly five-hour drive from my home to Jeff’s land of dreams near Lake Fork in northeastern Texas.
This all started when I was in the middle of a segment with Luke Clayton, someone whom I have been doing a weekly segment, “Campfire Talk” on his “Luke Clayton Outdoors” radio show for the nearly eleven years (available on www.catfishradio.org). Luke and I also do a twice-monthly radio show titled “Hunting Wire Radio” on The Hunting Wire and The Outdoor Wire.
But his offer got more interesting as the conversation kept rolling. “No need to bring a gun, I’ve got a Seneca Dragon Claw air gun from Pyrmyd Air for you to use. Got it sighted-in to shoot, broad head bolts, what you would likely call arrows.” I may have hesitated, so Luke continued, “I know you’re partial to guns shooting Hornady ammo. But I’d really like for you to try this rig. After all, didn’t you tell me you’d consider shooting arrows if you could do so from a rifle? That’s what you’ll be doing!”
“Luke, you know I love Ruger’s No. 1 single-shot rifles and single-action revolvers shooting Hornady’s hunting ammo… I’ll give the air gun a go. But I will also admit I have not shot an air gun since I was a youngster, shooting a Daisy Redd Ryder BB gun.” I could hear my friend chuckle.
“The Dragon Claw, is a whole lot different from that BB gun you shot in your youth. Jeff and I will make certain it’s sighted in before you get here. When you do, you can shoot it to get familiar with it….”
The following afternoon I pulled into Jeff’s comfortable camp. After some quick “Howdies” and stowing my gear, Luke handed me the Dragon Claw. It reminded me of an over-under shotgun. From the top barrel protruded a cut-on-contact broadhead-tipped Seneca Airbolt. Looking at the action, it reminded me of a semi-auto shotgun. “To cock it, pull back on the short lever, just like you were loading a shotshell into barrel. The safety is on the trigger guard and works just like a right-handed shotgun.” I pointed the gun in a safe direction, pulled back the lever, cocked the gun, made certain the safety was “on” then grabbed shooting sticks and headed to where a target had been set up 25-yards distant. I settled crosshairs on the target, pushed safety to fire, pulled the trigger, felt slight recoil, but watched the “bolt” strike exactly where I had been holding.
We retrieved the arrow, which had completely penetrated two bow targets and lay about ten feet beyond. I removed the broadhead and shoved the bolt back into the .50 caliber barrel. I made certain that it was seated properly in the barrel before screwing the broadhead back on and shooting for a second time. It simply made a slightly bigger hole. While retrieving the second arrow, I told Jeff and Luke, I was ready to go hunting.
That evening Jeff and I sat in one of his favorite ground blinds, in sweltering, humid temperatures. Hog sign was fresh and abundant. But alas, the most exciting thing we saw were several colorful birds, endemic to the Lake Fork area. For whatever reason, the local hogs decided they needed to be elsewhere that evening… Even so, I had a blast.
That night, enjoying camp cuisine fit for royalty Luke, Jeff and I shared more than a few memories of the past hunt in lands distant and near. Before heading home that next morning, we managed to catch five perfect eating-size channel catfish. Also before leaving we made a joint promise to make a second attempt for wild pork in the very near future. I am truly anxious to use the “air-bolt shooting” air gun on a wild hog. For the next hunt, I will be using my own, personal Seneca Dragon Claw….
Regardless of what is going on in the world, there are always small things, of beauty and splendor, for us to enjoy, admire and appreciate!
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