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Bernie Kuntz: One rifle or two

In 1972 I embarked on my first pack train hunt. This was in the Peace River country of British Columbia for moose, mountain caribou and mountain goat. We were out 18 days, and I managed to take a very good mountain goat billy that measured someth...

In 1972 I embarked on my first pack train hunt. This was in the Peace River country of British Columbia for moose, mountain caribou and mountain goat. We were out 18 days, and I managed to take a very good mountain goat billy that measured something like 9-1/4".

On the trip I brought my 7mm Weatherby Magnum, which I carried in a scabbard on my horse. On one of the packhorses I had in another scabbard my .280 Remington, custom built on a Sako Forester action, Ackley barrel and Reinhardt Fajen stock. (I still own both rifles.)

I still remember how my heart leaped into my throat when one of the packhorses walking a couple horses up in the line, suddenly pitched over a four-foot back and into the creek, landing on its right side where my .280 was strapped. Mercifully, I needn't have fretted as I learned that the horse in front of the one that had fallen was carrying my rifle.

I never used the .280 a single time on that trip, so when Jake and I went to southeastern B.C. the following spring to hunt grizzly and black bears, I left the .280 at home.

However, in 1974 a trip Jake made to Northwest Territories changed my thinking. Upon arriving in camp he found the stock of his .300 Weatherby Mark V broken at the grip. Luckily, he had an old Remington Model 740 in .280 Rem. along as a backup rifle, and he used it to take a grizzly bear, Dall ram, mountain caribou and a black wolf.

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I brought along a second rifle on many trips after that, but never had to use the second rifle a single time. In 2002 I took along as a second rifle my .338 Win. Magnum on a Stone sheep hunt to the Pelly Mountains of the Yukon. Since the .338 is the only rifle I own with a stainless barrel and synthetic stock, I figured I'd use it instead of the .270 if the weather turned bad.

Well, the day we rode from our base camp ten or twelve miles to the spike camp, it was bluebird weather so I left the .338 in my cabin in base camp. Three miles from base camp it clouded up and began to rain. It rained all week. The fine Claro walnut on the 270 swelled from the rain, but many years ago I had the entire barreled action glass-bedded on that rifle, and when the time came it held its zero and I killed a decent 8-1/2 year old ram.

In 2004 I took the old 7mm Weatherby to South Africa along with a .375 H & H Magnum built on a pre-war Super Grade Model 70 action and Bastogne walnut stock. I used them both on the safari, although I could have gotten along with one rifle.

I embarked on my final wild sheep hunt in 2012-this one for desert bighorns in the Monte Cristo Mountains of Nevada. We operated out of a motel. I used my .270 and killed a 10-1/2 year old ram on the fifth day of hunting. I never took the old 7mm Weatherby out of the motel room closet.

If there is a message here, I guess it is if you want to bother bringing a long a second rifle, do so. There is an outside chance it may save your bacon. However, the odds are you won't need it.

Related Topics: HUNTING
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