52 years ago, my father handed me a very long birthday present box. Inside was my first real rifle: a spanking new Winchester 67A.
Dad liked the fact that the gun was not cocked when you loaded it. We also discovered a secondary safety feature: I did not have the strength in my 6 year-old fingers to cock it. For almost the whole first year , Dad had to cock it for me.
Short Hollowpoints were the fodder, Winnemucca Cottontails were the game, and with Dad being a G.I. with a wife and three kids (and 4 horses), we ate a LOT of Cottontails. No provisions on this gun for peep sight or scope: those would come later on other (but none better) guns. I learned the buckhorn, learned it well, and learned the value of a well-placed headshot.
52 years later (3 weeks ago), the very same gun was the companion of a neighbor kid on his very first hunt. Note the level of hug previously reserved for Mom:
April 15, 2005
March 20, 2009
June 11, 2014
August 15, 2012
Spitpatch, your story brought back fond memories of the years 51-57 on the high plains of northwest Kansas. My dad had given me a steer to raise and when I sold it, it was a short trip from the bank to the Firestone store across the street where I plopped down $47.55 for a spanking new 61. Also bought a brick of WW .22LR hollow points for 3 bucks and change.
In those years, jackrabbits were as thick as flies on a cowpattie on a hot day. From the day Dad let me drive in 1952, 3 or 4 friends and I would load up in the old 48 IH pickup and head 5 miles south to the Smoky Valley river bottom to shoot jackrabbits on the run, there were few still targets. This was a regular occurrence on Saturday and/or Sunday from the first hard freeze until about mid March.
The group would shoot anywhere from 100 to 250 jacks in an afternoon. We loaded them into the pickup and on Monday, on the way to school, I’d drop them off at a local gas station that had a corn crib set up to hold the rabbits. We received 35 cents per rabbit that would keep us in ammo and gasoline–actually I think the gas came out of the farm bulk tank. We each took a brick of LR HP’s–when the ammo was gone we were done for the day.
When the crib would fill with rabbits, the gas station would make a call to the mink farmers in North or South Dakota. They would drive down with a couple of semis, haul them back, run them through a grinder(guts, fur and all) then feed them to their mink for protein.
Unless you grew up in that area, at that time, few can imagine how many rabbits there actually were. At the end of the post is a link to a rabbit drive video from 1934, a year before my mother and father were married. Ironically, a rabbit drive was the destination of their first date in 34–depression days, no one had any money to speak of.
Around 1940, the rabbit population decreased greatly, then made a comeback about 1950 but the high populations were found in creek and river bottoms.
The old 61 is on it’s third cartridge cutoff and the second extractor. It’s not a real "looker" anymore but what great memories it brings back every time I take it out of the safe to rub down. The magazine tube is so worn out, I think it would fall out if I didn’t keep a fine coat of white lithium on it.
December 30, 2011
Great picture. Great stories in this thread.
Sounds like jackrabbits are good target practice…I think I just read that in Jack O’Connor’s The Hunting Rifle too.
That old film is amazing. Makes me realize how much easier I have it right now than people in those times. One of the reasons I like to read the history books and listen when people older than me talk about it. Many people now have no idea.