…suitable for what?
We continue with that theme
The MASTERS of the art of ONE shot – Making it more than enough
Becoming a MASTER of any discipline suggests accomplishment well above average. A Master’s degree in a specific field from a university is usually rewarded by greater recognition in society with better economic status. That’s usually, but not always! It largely depends on the field of accomplishment, the individual’s ability to market themselves and who they know. To become successful one must actually know something that’s marketable in today’s society as well as somebody important in that field.
A number of years ago about half of my responsibilities were in travel within Canada, the USA and Europe, as Canadian head of a mission organisation, and I was sitting in the Hamilton airport waiting for the fog to clear so my flight could take off – which didn’t happen that day. While waiting, I entered into conversation with a bright looking young man. He had a Master’s degree in English but was driving a taxi in Hamilton – waiting for an opening for placement as a teacher. The only openings that had been available for the past year or so was in Intermediate school and they said they couldn’t hire him because the pay scale would be below his Master’s level… he was too educated to be hired, and his Master’s wasn’t marketable in Ontario’s educational system anyway, but it didn’t keep him from driving a taxi! He’d decided to go back to university for a doctor’s degree in medicine. He was not trained for what he wanted to do, and didn’t qualify for the pay scale expected! But, at least he’d convinced himself that driving a taxi for the rest of his life was far less appealing than a few more years of graduate work!
So when I speak of being a Master of the ONE shot…. it has something to do with skill and training, but more to do with desire and hard work! “Heart” for it is the key! Not different really than becoming a master of the bow! Or to use John Barsness’ words to define distinctiveness in the use of rifles: some he refers to as “generalists” and others as “specialists” – identifying himself as a “generalist”. That would be someone who uses multiple rifles of various styles and calibers. A “specialist” is someone who’s main focus might be varmint cartridges, or big bores, or even a single caliber such as a .50-cal ML. Then, some spend their spare time and money on competitive shooting. I know such a guy, and have met up with him at the range going back for thirty years. He’s now a retired anesthesiologist and somewhat crippled, but when he shows up it is always with a couple or more of his highly specialised, heavy barrelled, single-shot target rifles.
To become a master of the one-shot is similar to the retired doctor who now competes with himself – that’s dedication and perseverance. He’s been devoted to his passion. Very rarely does he show up with a rifle that holds more than one.
To become a Master of the ONE Shot means we often leave our bolt-action repeaters at home when we go to the range. At the very least, it means we shoot our singles AS MUCH AS the repeaters!
Other than aesthetics, which is somewhat subjective, what are the field advantages, if any?
Being comfortable within ourselves in using a BIG-BORE single-shot rifle for a particular BG hunt, I’m thinking “overkill” – that’s what I want! I want – insist on – a bullet and load that will do more than it has to. The psychological factor is: If two, maybe three shots might be called for to finish the job, then I want a load that will finish the job with a single shot, right there, DRT!
That was my Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT. Range to the bait to the left of the tree was 135 yards. The right side trees are east – a ravine beyond that. The trees beyond the bait is north. That’s where the Queen Elizabeth 11 Wild Lands Conservation Area is. It is wild and no hunting permitted there.
<This is the ammo on that hunt – 300gr Barnes TSX at 2650 fps.
<And this is a bear that showed up when I was absent! It was a good 350 – 400 pounder! That was at 8:59 A.M. !
To put a face on this, I’ll share some details of two Alaskan Peninsula brown bear hunts that I recently watched on YouTube for 2 hours. It was videoed by the outfitter-guide, and involved two clients, one following the other. Both hunters were successful and took a brown bear each: the first a bear slightly over 10 feet and the other just under 10 feet.
The outfitter, quite well known, was in his mid forties and very experienced. His rifle was in .375 H&H. The first hunter was in his mid-sixties, average size and physically fit. His rifle was also in .375 H&H with handloads, and it appeared he was well practised at home in the Lower 48. The hunt was for ten days. It was a spring hunt that involved a few days of waiting for the bears to get moving. By the second day of the actual hunt, several were sighted but none close enough to camp so they went over a mountain, that was on a salt water shore line, to track down a good bear sighted from camp. When they finally sighted the bear again it was moving at a good pace well below them and within a few seconds would be disappearing behind a cliff and into thick brush. The camera gave one angle and the hunter was to the right and below that. But I was thinking: “He’d better shoot as that bear is about to disappear!” The guide shouts: “Shoot now”! The hunter was seated on a sharp ridge of the mountain with his rifle pointed at the bear waiting for the guide’s command to shoot, and it seemed like a delay before I see the first shot that sends water (It had been raining for a few days) and steam from near the top and back end of the bear! The bear kept going! Another shot – all the camera picked up was the back line of the bear- a hit – looked like a close spine hit. “Shoot again!” yelled the guide… another shot fired that hit the earth well before it reached the beast that was fast disappearing. Finally, a fourth at the animal that had disappeared from the view of the camera. Then congrats from the guide as they ran toward where the bear was supposed to be. Instead of a dead bear flattened on the side of the mountain, they saw a bear rolling down the mountain, over the cliff and into a thick alder-choked stream with huge boulders and strewn with sharp rocks — about 300 yards below them! The shots, BTW were from 250 yards according to the guide, but from the time in which a first shot could have been fired until the hunter got comfortable seated and mounted his rifle involved several critical seconds. And from the time of the first shot to the last the bear had travelled some distance – probable at least fifty yards. The following two days were spent retrieving the skull and hide. The outfitter said that was one of the toughest hunts he’d ever conducted! Or language to that effect.
< That’s a black bear rug from a good black bear. It was shot by my first 1895 Marlin in .45-70. This Marlin is my second in .45-70. The first shot put the bear on its back in an alder patch. A second was insurance. The Ruger on the left was my second. It has the extended throat. I would have had ample time to have done the same thing with a single-shot as I did with the Marlin repeater.
My observations and thoughts on the first hunter: The mid-sixties hunter was in good form, good natured and meticulous. It took him a while to shoot after the command. His shooting was excellent but slow in my opinion. In my view a larger bore, more powerful rifle would have been better (also the guide said he considered a .375 H&H to be better than a .300 mag or .338 mag for those 10 foot bears), and secondly, an accomplished hunter/shooter armed with a single-shot big-bore rifle could have fired as many aimed shots within the same time frame. To his credit, the hunter was aiming his shots, not just blasting away. Again, in my thinking a more powerful, larger bore rifle was called for in that particular urgent situation. But there again, hunters of DG tend to rely on multiple shots. There was ample time for a single shot to be placed where it would do the most good. But everything was rushed because of not seeing “the right bear” til that bear, that was fast disappearing from sight.
The second client, that came a couple of days later, was ten years younger, a big man in stature and ready to “roll”. He was totin’ a .338 Lapua with handloads. Incessant rain followed for nearly a week! By then more bears were out, but not about due to the weather. Because the first client was done in four days on a ten day hunt, the outfitter added those days to the next client so he’d have a chance on a good bear because of being “holed up” in tents for nearly a week.
So up they went on the same mountain, and almost following the script of the first bear, it was shot several times by the .338 Lapua on the far side of the mountain with the same results – it rolled or fell or stumbled (all that off camera) into the same stream on the 12th day (I think – I sort of lost track of exactly how many). And two more days to retrieve the skull and hide. I know there were at least four shots fired from the .338 Lapua. Would one shot in the right place have been enough? I’ve no doubt that less rushing to “get ‘er dun” would have saved a lot of time and expense of energy in the end. Four “rushed” shots from the .338 Lapua would have given me ample time for at least two from my Ruger No.1 in .458 Winchester Magnum, had a second been needed as insurance! The farthest any shots were fired by the two hunters was 250 yards.
The old adage again: “It’s where you hit ’em”, but also what you hit ’em with!
<This 6-footer took one shot from my 9.3 x 62 and made 20 yards on a dead run… it died in stride without a sound. But those teeth caused some reflection when skinned the next day…. What about a brown bear that’s twice as large?
The point of the foregoing should be obvious: Assuming MASTERY of a BIG BORE single-shot, and an excellent premium bullet such as a North Fork or Woodleigh, carefully placed into vitals (brain, spine, heart-lungs) should be more than ample. The “insurance” could then be paid!
When I shot a bull moose with my .340 Wby Mag, I ended up shooting it three times. All good hits where aimed. But there was ample time to have used my first Ruger #1 in .45-70 (not modified) to have fired three aimed shots. But I doubt three would have been necessary. I used my .340 as the main rifle because of potential distances – anything up to 600 yards was possible in the clearcuts. I shot the moose at 165 yards, and it didn’t travel more than a yard after the first shot. None were CNS. Two through lungs at 165 and a third at 35 yards when spooked by my son getting too close, and it stood up in a very wobbly condition — I gave it another in the rump and it went down to stay.
The moral of that story is that unless you hit a big bull moose in the shoulders or spine, they can absorb a lot of lead, and may travel some distance before being retrieved. However, I’m convinced that a bigger hole through the lungs would cause a much faster loss of blood pressure and a quicker demise of the beast. I’ve seen it in bear killings. But the “right bullet” must be used – and that’s a topic that has been discussed here in specific blogs.
So, the complex answer as to why I choose to often use a BIG BORE single-shot rifle for big game hunting – is in summation of the foregoing:
1) I like ’em!
2) They are a special challenge, and teach discipline
3) Only one shot is necessary (usually). Anything I’ve killed using a single-shot, died from a single shot.
4) They kill like nothing else – being a BIG BORE, IF…
5) They are used by a MASTER of the ONE SHOT!
AND! … I’ve watched kills of African BG, including Cape buffalo, where the hunters used single-shot Rugers. Another was on a Newfoundland black bear… one shot and done! That was in 450-400. Etc…
You’d like something more upscale than a Ruger No.1 ? Check this out: Google, JT Haug – Hagn Single Shot Takedown, Dangerous Game Rifle, .470 N.E.
Til the next… The Advantages and Disadvantages of a bolt-action repeating rifle vs a BIG BORE single-shot – P3