My Favorite Rifle

favorite-gun-017_Moon102612I enjoy rifles, and have accumulated a few during my hunting career. All of them are special to me for one reason or another, but only one of them was my dad’s favorite rifle. Thus it’s my favorite as well.

My dad passed before I was born, so we never had a chance to hunt together. But my mom kept his favorite rifle for me in case I wanted to be a hunter, too. I am grateful that she did.

My dad’s rifle is a Pre-‘64 Model 70 Winchester in .270 Winchester. Jack O’Connor’s rifle in Jack O’Connor’s caliber. Dad restocked it, including the oil finish, to O’Connor’s specifications. I have a copy of the article he worked from. The wood and stock are beautiful, but if you look closely at the checkering you can tell it was done by a gifted amateur and not a skilled professional.

The bolt is polished, by hand and by use, and the operation is silky smooth. Because I have none of the skills necessary to make such a handsome rifle, I hold it with a sense of awe and a bit of envy. I began hunting and shooting later than most, so it took years to appreciate just how special a rifle Dad left me.

With its 24-inch barrel and good handloads, the velocity and accuracy are wonderful to behold – as are the results. I call it my magic wand. Deer drop, period. (Well, almost always.) The 130-grain Nosler Ballistic tip is perfect for the deer here in Texas. And it shoots 1-inch groups regularly if I do my part, though its best group was fired with factory ammo–a three shot, 1/2 minute of angle group at 200 yards! I wish I were the rifle’s equal.

deer-2007-001_Moon102612I took my first deer at age 27 using factory ammunition and the old Weaver K-4 Dad used. Since then, the scope has changed several times and handloads have supplanted factory fodder. But the results are the same. Dad’s rifle and I have taken more than 20 animals together, including my first deer, antelope, turkey and coyote.

Dad’s rifle also opened less obvious doors for me. Because he was influenced by Jack O’Connor, I began reading O’Connor’s works and was exposed to the world of outdoor writers. Because Dad had handloaded, I tried it, too. I experienced the satisfaction of working up an accurate load, and the pride that comes when an animal is taken with the bullet you chose and the load you developed. Dad’s rifle also spoiled me here. It shot everything well, and it was not until handloading projects with other, more finicky, rifles that I realized again what a gift had been left to me.

I like to think my dad and I would be friends and hunting buddies today had he lived. I’m pretty sure I’m right. He left me a great gift in the .270, a piece of himself. I try to be worthy of it.–R. Bruce Moon



SCI Badgerland Chapter Gets Kudos

At the June 30th annual Sporting Clay shoot and chapter picnic, the SCI Badgerland Chapter collected a large amount of food for the Marshall/Waterloo Food Pantry. Through the Sportsman Against Hunger meat donations and drives like this, folks learn that SCI is not just about hunting.

The Pantry Coordinator expressed his appreciation in the following letter.

SCI, Badgerland Chapter

c/o Steve Scheel

Dear Steve,

Thank you and the rest of your Chapter members for your recent successful food drive for the Marshall/Waterloo Food Pantry.  The food your organization donated will help address the needs of people who may be less fortunate than some of us. While there is always an ongoing need for food to meet our client’s needs, this increases during the summer months as families strive to meet the demands for their children to replace the school lunch programs.  Your food will help the pantry address these needs. It’s exciting to know that you and your Chapter put forth this effort to collect food for other people. I want to express my thanks and that of the pantry board for your contribution to the panty.


Dave Zastrow

Pantry CoordinatorMarshall/Waterloo Food Pantry

Chapter member, Steve Scheel, with some of the donations for the Marshall/Waterloo Food Pantry.


SCI “Makes Strides”


Sixteen participants represented SCI in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, October 28, in Tucson, AZ. The group walked three miles and raised $1,600 to fight breast cancer.

Hunts For Warriors Project at Dakota Hunting Farms

The 2nd annual Hunts for Warriors hunt took place at the Hecla Hunting Farms properties in northeastern South Dakota, near the town of Hecla. Owner Bill Mitchell and Lodge manager, Gabrielle Meyer have gone above and beyond in their efforts to show their appreciation for the service the veterans have given. From the conceptualization, planning and implementation, the two have put together one of the finest pheasant hunts anyone could ask for and they have graciously given three wounded veterans a well-deserved four days of relaxation and enjoyment.

Left to right: Brian McGuire, Bob Donovan, Brian Mancuso.

Gabrielle has worked on putting the event together for a number of months, starting with the selection of the veterans all the way thru guiding these fine men in the field to seeing them off on the final day. Among being the gentleman who initially discussed the idea of such an event with SCI President, John Whipple, Bill Mitchell is credited with preparing some of the finest steaks to hit the table. Not often does one have the pleasure of a lodge owner preparing one of many fine meals after a long day’s hunt.

Left to right: Brian Mancuso, Bob Donovan & Brian McGuire

The three veterans selected were Bob Donovan, Brian McGuire and Brian Mancuso from Richmond, VA, Austin, TX and Pittsburgh, PA, respectively. All have served in the Middle East during their duty. The experience began once they arrived at the lodge. After a meet and greet, Gabrielle took the veterans out to shoot a few clay targets and ready them for the days of shooting ahead of them. Upon the conclusion of the shooting, they retired to the extremely comfortable and home-like setting in the lodge. Rather than talk of their duties, the three easily discussed their families, being outdoors, their love of hunting along with the details of many hunts they’ve done over the course of their lives. Of all the hunting they’ve done, upland hunting is one aspect of hunting they had not done much of. Despite spending more time pursuing big game, the three were quick to down birds and amass a goodly share of pheasants during the hunt. They had the use of some very experienced dogs, which is one of the benchmark features of Dakota Hunting Farms. Each day, the veterans had dogs with fresh legs along with an experienced nose or two to flush the pheasants.

Left to right: Brian Mancuso, Bob Donovan, Bill Mitchell, Sandy Mitchell, Brian McGuire and Gabrielle Meyer.

Dakota Hunting Farms intends to continue to show their appreciation to veterans with future hunts. However, it requires the help and partnership of SCI Chapters to make this happen. A special thank you goes to the Lake Superior Chapter, Delaware Valley Chapter and the Austin Chapter for stepping up to make this event happen. The three chapters sponsored the travel to the event while Dakota Hunting Farms supplied a true South Dakota pheasant hunt to three of our Nation’s finest individuals.

If your chapter would like to sponsor a veteran or obtain more information regarding the Hunts for Warrior’s program, contact Sue Hankner at (520) 620-1220.

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