I recently queried Phil Massaro, the editor of GUNS DIGEST, about an article regarding some of the rifles, shotguns, handguns and muzzleloaders I have used over the past 70 years hunting whitetail deer and other big game. Graciously he consented to let me do so!
I have been fortunate to have written an article or two for the GUN DIGEST annuals! Blessed actually, because I remember years ago saving money from working cattle and hauling hay to buy the GUN DIGEST annual, then edited by John Amber. In its pages I could read about past and present guns and ammo, the newest and best, plus great hunting stories told by those who lived those adventures. Like with the Herter’s catalog of yore, I drooled all over the pages wishing and hoping someday I could have a rifle like was found in their pages and to go on some of the hunts written about. For a young kid growing up in rural Texas, those dreams seemed forever unattainable. But through hard work, diligence and never letting go of a dream I have been able to do so, far beyond the former dreams I dared to have.
Going back, I well remember my first “deer rifle.” It was a single-shot Remington .22 rimfire. from there I “graduated” to a 12-gauge single-shot which had belonged to my maternal grandfather, A. J. Aschenbeck. Then finally, I convinced my dad I needed my own real deer rifle. My “first” was a Swiss military rife, purchased through the mail. It was chambered in .308 Win and was a straight pull bolt-action that at 50 yards would put my shots within a 48-inch circle, if I was lucky! Seeing how “accurate” it was I returned to my grandfather’s 12-gauge with which I took my first whitetail. I have often told my story of its taking. If you have not heard it, you can read about it my latest book, DEER ADDICTIONS, available through either the www.larryweishuhn.net or www.catfishradio.org websites, and Amazon as well.
While working on the article for the GUN DIGEST I recalled many of the firearms I hunted with in the past.
That article led me to possibly shooting a critter with something old and something new… Recently I thankfully had an opportunity to hunt both whitetail deer and wild hogs with Heart of Texas Outfitters near the Texas with Oklahoma border. The outfit’s owner Travis Wright has been a friend for several years. We had talked about hunting together for several seasons. Finally, he had some openings and I was able to do a hunt with him.
One of the things that interested me about hunting with Travis’ outfit was the ranch we were to hunt held not only whitetail deer but also an abundance of good-sized feral hogs that in all honesty look more like European wild hogs than any I have seen in Texas. And yes, I have hunted in several European countries where I saw and dealt with wild hogs. I do know what true European wild hogs look like.
Plans made, I hoped to take a mature whitetail buck and hopefully at least one wild hog.
My choice of firearms for the new/old hunt included two rifles chambered in widely separated cartridges. The old was a .30-30 Win. But the ammo was updated in the form of Hornady 160-grain grain FTX LEVERevolution. The rifle was Rossi’s R-95 lever action, also a new rifle but along the lines of some of the original lever actions chambered for the .30-30. The new rifle round was a 7mm PRC, fast becoming a personal favorite. Mine is chambered in a Mossberg’s Patriot Predator. Topped with a Trijicon AccuPoint it shoots Hornady’s175-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter to perfection.
Prior to heading to hunt with Travis, I took the Rossi R-95, open-sight, lever action to my home range and there shot it at 50-yards. My eyes not what they were back when I was in my pre-teens. But I was still able to put 3 shots into a 3-inch circle at 50-yards. If I got into within 50 or less yards, I could undoubtedly put a Hornady LEVERevolution’s bullet into a wild hog’s vitals.
With my Mossberg Patriot Predator 7mm PRC and Trijicon AccuPoint scope, shooting Hornday’s 175-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter I can put three or five shots within considerably less than 3-inches at 300-yards from a “hunter’s rest”. From a reasonably solid rest, I can put that same number of shots within less than 3-inches at 500-yards and beyond. However, as I have often stated, while I love shooting at steel at long ranges, real hunting is to me getting as close as earthly possible before pulling the trigger.
The idea of shooting a hog with my .30-30 Rossi R-95 greatly appealed to me, same with shooting a mature buck with my 7mm PRC. Goals were set!
A deer came first. I was able to place a bullet precisely in the vitals of a really nice, though extremely old 10-point whitetail buck with my 7mm PRC. I did the same moments later on a doe.
Finding a wild hog was not difficult. We saw numerous sounders but all at great distances. Getting reasonably close shooting the open-sight .30-30 Win would not be easy.
It was well into the hunt when late afternoon we spotted several hogs, large sows without pigs. It took some doing but by playing the wind, taking advantage of limited cover, I finally cut the range to nearly within touching distance of a big sow, one that weighed well over 200-pounds. Weight was estimated based on years of working with domestic hogs in our brood pens and feed lot when I was growing up.
I settled the front bead in the crux of the Rossi lever action’s back sight, just behind the big sow’s shoulder then pulled the trigger. She shuddered then went down almost immediately. Surprisingly as broad through the chest as the sow was, the bullet passed through. Frankly I had hoped it would lodge on the opposite side of big hog’s skin so I could recover it. I really wanted to see how the bullet performed. But, then it quickly and humanely killed the wild hog. And that was the job it was supposed to do.
Thanks to being on a lease where we are under Texas’ Managed Land Deer Permit, I still have several bucks and does I can harvest before that special season ends the last day of February. My intentions for the rest of hunting season are to hunt with the Rossi R-95, my Mossberg Patriot rifles and Taurus Raging Hunter handguns using appropriate Hornady ammo.
Life is varied and good in Texas! Thankfully too, there are hunting opportunities for things using both old and new!