His PURPOSE: to use a weapon suitable for the hunt. Since the topic is hunting rifles, we’ll not be discussing handguns, bows, shotguns or other possible means for success in the field. Rifles for hunting are numerous. Without going into the details of each one, usually they fall into five groups: bolt-actions, lever-actions, semi-autos, doubles and single-shots. Depending on the type of hunt, the species persued and the environment, certain types of rifles might be more suitable than others. For example: In a mountain hunt for goats in the Rockies…
Having never personally hunted the Rockies, that eliminates personal experience of all species hunted there. So I’m not about to write anything on such an expedition. Yet I’ve watched videos and read stories of how difficult and even treacherous such a hunt can be in any mountainous terrain. So I have some second-hand knowledge but I’d want to check it out with some who have real experience. I know that O’Connor was a “great” mountain sheep hunter (not on “sheep” farms) and often used numbers like a .270 or .30-06. I’d, therefore, would likely choose a .300 Win Mag for myself, but would still want to hear from someone I personally knew who has had ample experience.
Why would I choose a .300 Win Mag and not a .270 or .30-06, or some other number of that class? The answer is simple: I have a lot more experience with numerous .300 Win Mags than any .270, .30-06 or .308 Win. I know what I can do with one and have more confidence in a .300 mag than the others mentioned in more challenging circumstances. In fact, I’ve only owned one .270 that was an investment buy, and did one (unsuccessful) deer hunt with it. I started handloading with a .30-06, having owned a total of two, and moved on to a .300 Win Mag of which I’ve owned eight. So that may answer any questions as to preferences and confidence… which a hunter MUST have in his weapon of choice no matter the game or terrain.
Then, a .300 Win Mag (or Weatherby, and others of their ilk) is less limited and more versatile than those three common deer rifles when conditions, range, angle of the shot and game sizes are uncertain.
<This bear was taken near the southern border of Algonquin Park, Ontario. A 175gr Nosler Partition at 3000 fps from my 7mm Wby Mag between neck and shoulder flattened the bruin.
That’s given as an example of:
The hunter’s PERSONALITY:
BEST = better in my view of the world! That’s not to suggest that perfection is always possible, or EVER possible, but I think we should aim for, at the very least, the BEST possibles. Anything that’s inferior is…. well, INFERIOR! And I’m NOT talking ART here, but CHARACTER.
I don’t want inferior tools in the fair chase of live game of any DIMENSION or DISPOSITION, and in particular ANY that can turn on me and do me harm! So… as one example: I believe a .338 Win Mag is a BETTER choice than a .270 for where I”ve hunted moose in the Far North of our Province. I recommended that to a fellow range member who annually moose hunted in the mid-north of our Province when he expressed some frustration with the results of his .270 on big moose at ranges beyond 300 yards (Where their group had permits to annually hunt could take in ranges beyond 500 yds.). He relunctly moved on to a 7 Rem Mag and found it not a whole lot better than his “beloved” .270 – which was expected in my view. Finally, he agreed (but never admitted it) that a .338 Win Mag might be a better solution. A couple of years later he was jubilant in meeting me – he had shot and killed two bulls: one at nearly 400 yards and the other at over 400 yds using the 210gr Nosler Partition at 3000 fps from his new M70 in .338 Winchester Magnum!
A testament again to my personality: Better IS best. And best may at times be too much, but nothing is lost! But too much is better in the long run than not enough! Which would you rather have: too much money in your bank account or not enough to pay your bills?
I apparently have the mindset of Bob Hagel. I never knew or heard of Bob Hagel until I purchased a book with this title: Game Loads and Practical Ballistics for the American Hunter by Bob Hagel. I’ve read sections of the book multiple times and have to agree with him… or found that he agreed with me!
Enough for the average situation may NOT be enough in different and more demanding situations. The main problem is knowing in advance which of those kinds of situations may confront us!
So (like Hagel) I always go prepared for the worst possible and not the best possible, because only God knows what lies ahead, and He has told me to prepare by prayer and prudence! (Ecclesiastes 7: 11 ” WISDOM IS A SHELTER…” , ” WISDOM PRESERVES THOSE WHO HAVE IT.” – King Solomon)
The hunter’s PROGRESS
In every stage and experience of life there should be progress or further development. That’s ideal, but many get “stuck in the mud”! There are diverse causes, no doubt, some of which may be outside the pail of personal fault… BUT, from sixty-plus years as a pastor-counselor I firmly believe that at least 50% of any blame for lack of progress in a person’s personal life – intellectual, maturity, achievements, rising above any negatives, etc…, must be owned by the individual himself/herself! And the same for myself after eighty-seven years on this earth living with the times and conditions delt to me.
In all of this, as hunters we must accept personal responsibility for our degree of expertise! True, many – perhaps even a majority – have had it “dumped into their laps”! That is, they grew up at a time and place where hunting activities was a fact of every day living.
The University of New Brunswick (located at Fredericton, the Capitol) gave two weeks off, during the deer season, to any students so interested. I was a young pastor of four country churches located from 25 to 60 miles northeast of UNB. Two brothers at UNB took that time off for deer hunting. They invited me to join them. Their father was a woodsman and hunter. The area I worked in was farming and logging, and many men (young or old) bought annual deer licences. But that was not my background. Mine was on the east coast in a fishing community, so I got a late start, and my “job” wasn’t in farming or lumbering… and with time I ended up in the “big cities” of Eastern Canada (Montreal and Toronto) that didn’t lend themselves to thoughts of hunting and the outdoors, though it was always in “the back of MY mind”.
That’s cited only as a hint of the challenges that might have to be “overcome” by the majority of our populations that are NOT rural dwellers but urban or suburban, who still love the outdoors and fishing/hunting. Such was my case.
<The 1895 Marlin in .45-70 became a “love affair” as I learned through development of handloads that it was more effective and “powerful” than many “magnums”.
Nonetheless, when the time came, as well as the economics, I unleashed the pent-up desire for the outdoors through handloading and hunting while still living in urban and suburban conditions. And for the past thirty-five years, my wife and I have lived in the same home on the edge of rural Ontario. An hour’s drive to the NW, N and NE puts me in prime semi-wildness areas, some of which is true wilderness. We’ve lived the longest here than on any other part of this planet, which has handed me ample opportunities to develop skills in handloading multiple rifles (bolt-actions, lever-actions and single-shots) and using them in hunting experiences.
The point? Make good use of every opportunity to explore our God-given intelligence, aptitudes, interests and physical abilities for our own welfare, the benefit of others, and the glory of God as we give Him praise and thanks for making us who we are, and the privileges we enjoy for expressing them and knowing Him! After all, we didn’t choose to be who we are or the conditions of our birth! That was not our wisdom and choice! But what we do with it is related to our choices! Or, is it HIS?
The hunter’s POWER
Our mental and physical powers are puny/minuscule compared NOT to “a higher power”, but to GOD ALMIGHTY (“I am God Almighty”, said by God himself in Genesis 17:1, plus scores of other biblical references!) Some poor souls imagine that SCIENCE is almighty god! But so-called “science” (knowledge) is still in it’s infancy! Almost every day scientists fall upon something “new” that startles them which not only changes what thay have believed from past “knowledge”, but REVERSES IT! Some of Newtonian physics has been turned upside-down! And that’s not the end of matters either! More on the way… I’ve, personally, no doubt that GOD, the Only One, will be vindicated at the end of time, and “little” man will be left looking foolish! Time is a creation with the universe (or universes). GOD IS TIMELESS! Outside of time, since He created it!
The biggest and most powerful rifle we could ever tote into a hunting situation is puny compared to missles, rockets and cannons that are being used in wars today, as in Ukraine! And even the “greatest” of men in their fields of influence, command and control, are impotent without the “breathe of life” that is in GOD’s hands! Let’s NOT forget that! Otherwise, God who is timeless, may catch us unaware like a lion from a thornbush!
Many have thought themselves “mighty”, like Putin, and they turned out to be “paper tigers”… they met their Maker when they believed He didn’t exist! I wonder… what did they have to say then?
No “man” is God, he/she, whomever they might be in their own eyes, or the eyes of others, will fail and return to dust! So stop putting trust in mortal, frail human beings, who are weak and sinful at best, and evil at worst!
And let’s stop judging God on the basis of the short-sighted views of theologians, historians and athiests who know neither God nor His power!
And inasmuch as God permits us to own and use rifles as sportsmen and women, let’s be wise in their choices and use.
With my personality and love of the outdoors which takes me into big game country, I have chosen rifles that in themselvs are capable of fulfilling my expectations, dreams and practical hunting excursions into the rough and rugged Algonquin Highlands of Ontario. There, I have encountered both sexes of moose, bear and whitetails, as well as coyote and wolf, and tracks of mountail lion… not even to mention lesser creatures like birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc.
My purpose is to tote the most powerful weapon I’m intimately familiar with and suitable for any creature on my licenses, under any and all circumstances… Period!
Therefore… given nearly four decades of experience in those areas and much farther north, I favor Big Bores and Mediums.
<As recently published, that rifle is my “much loved” Ruger No.1H in .458 Winchester Magnum. It was being used to test some heavy bullets in that box of tightly compressed dry-glossy magazines from close range. Such a Big Bore can be useful for testing purposes as well as for hunting.
Till the next… (Comparing the Super .338s)
Thanks for another inspiring article. Nice to be able to know that I will not be troubled by your thoughts. I am 69 years old. I have hunted all my life. Raised to it. Hope you will continue writing for many more years. Thanks for your Faith and testimony. Your friend Tim