Ode to a 30-30 Pt 2
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11136: Ode to a 30-30

06/03/02-1:22 PM Posted by: shaman from Shooters.com

Ode to a 30-30

Part II

The Trip to Target World

After the call to Bob, I had pretty much given up on buying a new deer rifle. Oh sure, I still hit Gunbroker.com, and I still read a lot. If a mint-condition Savage 99 came up for auction, you could bet I followed it. If I read a review of one of the short magnums at the barbershop, you can bet I was digging through my reloading data, looking for comparisons.

Still, Bob’s words carried me throughout the Winter and well into Spring. I went to two Gun-and-Nut shows, and saw nothing of any great interest. My only break with routine was one brief Saturday afternoon, experimenting with 70 grain loads in my .223’s (maybe a deer cartridge) that ended with a lot of keyholeing and no-where near the results I’d expected. By April, I’d settled back into my 30-06 rut. It was now just a matter of picking a powder and a bullet.

I was in Bass-Pro Shops looking for some Federal #5’s when I think the bug started to hit me again. Suddenly there was a Browning BLR in my hands, then a perky little Remington in one of those goofy new calibers. I heard myself saying, "Anything in Two-Fifty-Seven Roberts? Whatch y’all have in a seven?

Can you get it in walnut?"

The only thing that shook me from my trance was the salesman coming back with a box of Remington #5’s and the price-tag of $19.95.

"Jeez, I’m gonna shoot those turkeys, not date them!"

"These are the new extra hard shot, Sir." He replied, "It will really tighten up your pattern."

After explaining that my pattern was tight enough already, he finally did bring forth some Federals. I thanked the men at the gun counter and left.

They smiled and waived back like the hometown whore.

Turkey hunting keeps a man’s mind filled well enough, but it wasn’t much more than the day after season, I was beginning to think of deer, deer season, deer loads and. . . and . . . deer rifles!

I convinced myself it wasn’t out of the way to go home a different way one day and check out a gun store in Hamilton. There wasn’t anything of real interest, but I knew that wasn’t the end of it. I started seriously watching about 5 calibers on Gunbroker again. For a change, I actually bought this year’s copy of Guns Illustrated—not the 2-year-old version you find for $1.99 at the used book stores.

What finally did me in was the sales flyer from Target World. "Overstocked on all long guns. Come help us out. Major reductions." They made it sound like a charity auction. I couldn’t resist. Besides, I’d held off this long, I knew I could make it through the summer without buying another rifle. This was just looking.

"Hi, what can I do for you?"

"Got the flyer. What have you got?"

"What are you looking for?"

"Lever, possibly. . . or possibly a Ruger Deerfield, or maybe-"

"How’s this?"

It was a 336AS Marlin. It was 30-30. It had a Simmons 3X9 scope. It had just enough scuffing on the stock to knock the price down, but nothing I couldn’t get rid of. It looked at me in the cold florescence of the gun store lighting like a girl I’d known in high school. I casually looked at the price tag, then shouldered it. The stock was a bit short, but it came right up on the irons. There was no checkering, and the smoothness of the grip and forearm gave it a sense of familiarity and warmth. It was a high see-through mounting, so the scope was a bit of a stretch, but my left eye settled right in. I mounted it again, and it was like we’d grown up together. Yes, this was the girl I'd met at the party, the one I’d felt I’d always known. I was reeling now, in the scent of light oil and just a hint of powder, my mind began to fog.

"I’ve got to think about this." I said, and dashed off to the reloading isle to ponder my fate. Yes, indeed it was a handsome rifle, certainly the perfect vision of the lever deer gun. It’s funny, you know. I’ve hunted Kentucky now for 15 years. 30-30 has been the caliber most fellows choose, but they dream of a 30-06. When a man actually goes out and gets an Ought-Six he speaks of it as a watershed in his life. Ought-Six has a mystique of power, and a myth of knocking deer off their feet. In the schoolyard of the mind, Ought-Six is the varsity cheerleader and Thutty-Thutty is just the girl you know from study hall. For me, the mythology had run backwards—I’d fallen into hunting in Kentucky with a 30-06 already in hand. For me, the .30-30 WCF was the light stalker, filling my head with visions of effortless bounding over the ridges. It was the late season companion that shouldered easily no matter how many layers I wore. It spelled freedom.

A fellow came up to the counter and admired the lever. His back was to me, and I didn’t recognize him as the owner.

"Yes, sireee." Said the man. "This is the finest one I’ve seen in here."

Jealousy leaped from the pit of my being. I suddenly needed to be near that rifle again, and protect it from another suitor. I returned to the counter quickly. I struggled to regain my grip, by asking to try another.

The salesman brought down a Model 94 Winchester. Nothing special. He then brought out the Deerfield—too much like my Mini 14 to get worked up over. My eyes kept drifting back to the Marlin 30-30. There had to be a way out.

"How firm are you on the three hundred dollars?" I asked cooly.

"Sir, that’s the regular price. The sales price is on the red sticker."


"Goodness, " I said. "What a surprise my wife will have."

"Oh, you don’t have to tell her." Said one bystander.

"You can do like my buddy." Said another, "Tell her you’re holding it for a friend, who’s going away for a while."

All in all, I got five suggestions on how to deal with wives and rifles.

"Naw." I said. "She got used to this just before the 2000 election. It’s just I hadn’t planned on getting a new one.

Fifteen minutes later, I was in the car with the Marlin riding in the passenger seat. The sun glinted off the receiver and it seemed like it had always been there.




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