George Block Column
The tales they tell, and from some great distances, too
There is no group of people immune from idiotic behavior. That would include doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Come to think of it, there are a few hunters and target shooters who fall into that category. Sorry, my friends. I know most shooters are apple pie and America, but there are a few who row in a circle because they forgot one of the oars.
Many of those are found in conversations about long-range groundhog hunting. A 600-yard shot is merely for little children, and he hits them in the eye at more than 1,000 yards. I wonder if I entered enough zeros. Yep, that’s right, a 1,000 yards and the shot is placed in the target’s eye.
I have found this group of Sargent Yorks secretive about where they hunt, but open about their outfits and loads. One of them uses a standard Remington in 6mm and, of course, shoots one-hole groups at 100 yards. Scope is Tasco. I can only sit and struggle to comprehend the marvelous shooting they are doing.
One day, a steady customer came in the store and proudly stated that the long range shooters invited him to take part in one of their 1,000-yard hunts. Have fun I told him, and he went hunting. The next day, he came in the store, and I asked him two questions. First, did they hit every groundhog? No, he stated, but they did hit one at a claimed 900 yards. He didn’t actually see the groundhog, but took their word that a hit was made after seven misses. The second question was, “How far do you think it was?”
He told me it was a bit more than 900 yards. I hadn’t ask what they said but what he thought. Finally, he looked at me and said. “I thought it looked more like 400 yards.”
Even if the target was only 500 yards away, it still is a good shot. I will even go a bit farther. If it were 500 and there were no sighting shots fired, it is a great shot.
Yardage and the size of the fish are common exaggerations. The fish grows with time and so does the distance of a good shot.
The young man walked up to the counter with a question. How long is the barrel on a standard Ruger No. 1? I paused for a second and said, “If you are referring to the 1-B, it is 26 inches.”
“Good,” he said. “Last year, I hit a buck at 800 yards with my model 77 with a 24-inch barrel. If I get a No. 1, I’ll be able to hit one at a 1,000 yards.”
“Hmmm,” I thought, “he does have lofty goals.”
The man was thought to have way above the intelligence of the average person and filled in when the principal was sick. He also hunted and reloaded. He was shooting at a local club, testing a new rifle. I heard him knocking at my door, and one look at the forced smile told me something was amiss.
He left his Weatherby in the car and was holding a box of .300 cal. cartridges. He handed me an object that looked like it had been a cartridge casing at one time. The casing was split from the head to the shoulder. What about the neck? It too was a mess. He sat on the couch relating what happened.
I immediately knew he had stuffed the casing with the wrong powder and, to top things off, he had loaded too much by at least 5 grains. Mistakes happened to the most careful of humans. But the kicker was he had three casing like that. I can’t believe it. He should have stopped at the first shot but proceeded to shoot again.
John and I were pushing the aptly called thorn thicket for the young man we had left on the stand. As always occurs, I was awakened by the sound of the shot. It definitely brought me to full attention. I knew it came from the hunter I had placed on stand.
As we approached the stand I could see white deer hair all over the place, some even blowing in the breeze. After the counting of points, it was time to clean the 8-pointer and I was assigned the task. As I knelt down, I noticed something strange. The buck’s genitals were gone. Aha, that explains the whiste hair. There was very little blood and nothing seemed broken internally.
The younger hunter who had made the shot said the buck had nothing to live for.
“What killed him?” John said. “He died of embarrassment.”