Varmint Hunting (back in 1964)

      I'm not sure exactly when I got hooked on shooting, but anyone that knows me will tell you - that I'm still seriously hooked on all types of shooting.   I developed a real interest in varmint hunting long before this picture was taken.   In the early sixties there were very few gun magazines like there are today.   Back then Field & Stream was about the best shooting publication around.   The most interesting articles seemed to be about varmint hunting, and there were varmints all over the rolling fields around Rochester, New York.   It was common to find pickup trucks (left by hunters) parked along the roadside early on almost any morning.   The countryside where I lived, was covered with experienced varmint hunters that were always shooting woodchucks at extreme long range.

Varmint Hunting
      We often shot woodchucks (like this one) well beyond
100 yards, using .22 rimfire rifles.   I was about 14 years
old here with my first real accurate varmint rifle.


      I remember one particular magazine article that explained why it was a good idea to always ask the landowner for permission to shoot on his land.   Well, this sounded like a good idea until you ask yourself "What if he says No?"   Then you would really get in trouble if you ever got caught shooting on his land.   However, that article sounded like such an honorable idea that I couldn't resist.   Imagine how awesome it would be if the farmer actually said Yes.   (Remember, this was before the 1968 Gun Control legislation).

      Well, I walked up to the farmers house one day to meet him.   The closer I got, the more I felt like turning back.   I've seen him before on many occasions (from a long distance) and one day I decided to just ask him, and let the chips fall where they may.   As I got closer it almost seemed like he was expecting me to stop by.   Well, I finally got the words out, and I was shocked at his reply.   He mentioned that sometimes there are varmint hunters on his land shooting woodchucks without his permission . . . . gulp . . . . imagine that.   He went on to say that he was still plagued with woodchucks in most of his fields, and he would be thrilled if I'd help thin them out.   Well now . . . . I told him that I noticed lots of woodchuck mounds that were visible from the road, and I was ready for the challenge.

      I couldn't believe how motivated he was for me to get rid of those woodchucks.   He invited me into his home, introduced his family and he showed me his gun collection (mostly shotguns).   His wife brought out some milk and cookies, while he drew up a detailed map of his property, showing the exact location of several massive woodchuck dens.   Wow . . . . I must be in heaven.   Whoever wrote that magazine article about asking the landowner for permission to hunt - Thank you!


      Several months later . . .   My favorite varmint rifle was this Anschutz Model 64 with a 15 power Unertl scope.   The stock needed to be glass bedded and refinished, and I just couldn't wait for winter to get started.   Notice the "unfinished" gunstock on the rifle in the picture above?   I just completed glass bedding the stock, and I was in the middle of refinishing it.   I had the stock 99% sanded down, almost ready to apply the finish, when one of my shooting buddies came over and announced "the woodchucks are back in that farmers field again".   Oh crap! . . . . what bad timing.   I knew that if I let him hunt that field without me there would soon be very few woodchuck survivors.   It was now or never.   So, I assembled my rifle and headed out with him to plaster more woodchucks than we've ever seen in a single day.

      So, by now you're probably wondering, where's the "Tech Tip" in this story?   Well, here it comes . . . .     Always keep a spare hunting rifle on hand when you decide to refinish your favorite gunstock.   Especially after you've just spilled the beans (to your hunting buddies), as to exactly where your favorite new hunting spot is located.   Another good tip is to always ask the landowner for permission before you hunt on his land.   I felt pretty lucky getting permission to hunt that particular woodchuck field.   Since then I've had very good luck asking permission first.   It's even more important to get permission today.   Americans are now getting slammed with some of the most rediculous lawsuits.   Today's litigation problems would have never been imagined forty years ago.   I've found that you might even make a new friend just by asking permission to hunt varmints on farm land.   You'll also avoid a surprise visit from your local S.W.A.T. team.   These sure are different times we live in today.  

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