The Best

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Joined: 06/03/2010

The Best
            I often find myself trying to figure out what draws me to some particular writer. I think what it comes down to is that the best writers have the ability to make the written words and paragraphs reach out into the readers mind and allow the reader to feel as if he or she is actually experiencing the written scenario in person. I’ve read all kinds of stuff that may or may not have had merit and I find as I have grown older (and hopefully wiser) a lot of stuff didn’t but that is what learning is all about. Helping the reader sort out what is good and what isn’t is what separates the best writers from the ordinary.
            Ted Trueblood was such a writer. I read a lot of his writings in Field & Stream magazine over the years but the one essay that most draws me into it was his story about boxes, especially wooden boxes. Ted had boxes for almost everything and he wrote about making them and using them for camping and hunting along with a host of other things. I related to that story because I was also a lover of boxes and made them, collected them and dragged them all over the country with me. I still have several wooden boxes I made for storing reloading equipment and tools that hang around in my shop.
            When I was old enough to go hunting I read everything I could find about guns and hunting and one of my first “go to” magazines was the old Argosy magazine of the fifties. That magazine had stories about explorers and hunting and that is where I discovered Robert Ruark. I don’t recall the exact story but I soon found his books on Africa and then I got a hold of the “Old Man and the Boy” which I have since read many times just for the memory of the initial excitement I had on the first reading. I wanted to do all the same things the Boy did and wished I could have been a part of all those adventures, especially the hunting. Bob had a distinct style but his meaning came through loud and clear.
            I read about Roy Weatherby shooting his new “magnum” rifles and dreamed of hunting Kodiaks with a 300 Weatherby Magnum someday. I had no idea what a magnum really was back then but reading those articles made me want to find out. I slowly became a bit more knowledgeable about firearms and hunting and how they related to my outdoor experiences. Just a side note: I have never had a Weatherby rifle but reading about them got me interested in calibers other than the 06 I had in my late teens and I thank him for that. One of my all time favorite rifles is a Remington 700 in 375 H&H.
            I discovered Skeeter Skelton when I started scrounging gun magazines in the service so I could dream about all the guns and reloading stuff I needed after I got out. Handguns really excited me and I already had my .22 Colt Scout but I realized I now needed bigger handguns. I couldn’t afford much, especially a S&W so my next purchase was a used Ruger Blackhawk in .357 caliber like Skeeter wrote about in several of his articles. I bought a Lyman 310 tong tool and that was the start of my reloading career. My very next purchases were always guns which I could use for both target shooting and hunting. I added large bore calibers like 45 and 44 magnum as finances permitted and built a serviceable stable of guns that fit my needs.
            Elmer Keith will always be in my library and his articles on sixguns and shooting were delightful and taken as gospel to me. He was instrumental in my adopting the large caliber position in my hunting and shooting life. I likened Bob Ruark’s advice, use enough gun, to Elmer’s advocating large enough calibers when hunting game. I am still a fan after all these years and wish I could have met him in person. Elmer also helped firm up my adoption of the 375 H&H as my go to rifle. I have read and reread Elmers articles on tuning sixguns and his advice on Colt and Ruger single-actions is priceless.
            One of my favorite how to gun writers was Tommy Bish whose articles on home gunsmithing had actual how to advice and I tried several of his projects for my own handguns and rifles. Tommy had several books out with all kinds of great home tinkering projects and my favorite was how to make a cartridge trap for a rifle stock. I made several and they are great. He made handgun grips from horn and silver inlays for decoration and even detailed how to plate metal surfaces at home with easy to find ingredients and equipment.
            Bob Munden raised handgun shooting and fast draw to a pinnacle equaled by very few if any at all. I have watched his fancy shooting and am amazed at how he could do some of the things he did and no one could ever doubt his showmanship. His gun tuning is legendary and his action jobs are said to work “as slick as butter” and the shooting world has lost a great one with his passing.
            Soon a whole slew of writers crossed my path and their contributions to my education are too numerous to list here. I read both father Major Charles Askins and son Colonel Charles Jr. along with George Nonte, Jim Carmichael, Jeff Cooper, Jon Sundra and any other writer I could find that talked serious about guns and shooting. John Amber introduced me to fine custom firearms through the Gun Digest and although I can’t afford those high-end guns I sure do appreciate that they are around to look at and marvel at the craftsmanship they exhibit. John Taffin has used and studied handguns in depth for more years than I can match and his books are treasures to be read as well as reference works.
            So I doubt whether I could ever add to what is already out there other than to say how much I have enjoyed reading it and doing some shooting of my own. I guess that is praise of sorts to all the writers and shooters who have made my life a great adventure.