more stories about Elmer

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gunsmith's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010

Some Elmer stories I picked up off the Internet. Humorous. Any one that knew Elmer will say, Yep, that was Elmer.

from Beekeeper wrote 5 weeks 3 days ago

I dropped into a wood shop in Sixes Oregon last fall and the first thing I see is several photo's of Elmer Keith with the owners kids and also a much younger (obviously)owner.

I struck up a conversation about old Elmer and found out they had formerly been neighbors in Idaho. In one of photos Elmer was holding a catfish and had that famous S&W with the Ivory grips on his hip and equally famous Stetson on his head. The shop owner volunteered that that was Elmer's last fishing trip with them and that something interesting happened on the way out.

It seems Elmer was riding in the middle in the truck and as they passed a neighbor's farm Elmer spied a cat in barn yard. It seems he snatched the Smith from his holster leaned across the shopowner who was riding shotgun and dumped the cat. The truck was doing about 30 MPH so the shopkeeper said. The driver who was likely day dreaming slammed on brakes at the report and about the same time the farmer ran out of his farm shop mad as... well you get the picture. As he ran up to the truck Elmer leaned over and said, "I busted that wild
$%&#! $%&* @#Q%$% game thieving cat for ya!" All the farmer could muster was, "Gee, thanks Elmer." He then went on to bury his house cat...

from blackdawgz wrote 5 weeks 3 days ago

Not to be a character assassin, but I have a couple that are consistent with that.

From eye witnesses who lived in a small Western Montana town where I stayed for a few months.

Elmer came to town for a couple of days and wuz quite a celebrity, and wuz introduced around and there were some trips to go shooting.

My neighbor was a gunsmith and co-owner (along with his business partner) in some English double rifle in Mega NE.

So they set up next to a CJ-5 at the local excavation and Elmer fired it.


It punched him kinda hard and the acoustic wave broke out the CJ's windshield and Elmer lost interest in shooting it immediately.

Good Guns, Good Friends, and Good Whiskey. I beleive Skeeter was on to something.

gunsmith's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
Elmer and Double Rifles. This

Elmer and Double Rifles. This comes from the rare book,by Keith. Big Game Rifles and Cartridges.By samworth

Chapter Four

Double Barreled Rifles.

In England and on much of the conti­nent of Europe, double barreled rifles are considered as all around rifles by a great many sportsmen. To my notion, they are primarily brush and timber rifles, although when chambered for a suitable long range cartridge they may be used for about all hunting. It is in the brush and timber, under the stress of quick snap shooting at running big game, that they

really come into their own. For such use, I prefer them to any other type of rifle. They are short for the length of the bar­rels, balance perfectly, and for those two shots are just as fast as the automatic. I prefer the two quick shots from the dou­ble rifle, to a whole magazine full from the repeater for such hunting. Such double rifles have the fastest of all safeties, just like a fine double shotgun, and placed exactly where it is the handiest--on the top of the grip. Such rifles should always be ejectors, to facilitate reloading as quickly as possible. When suitable calib­ers are used, those two quick shots are enough for most all American game. dou­ble barreled rifles seem to me to come up to the shoulder and swing onto moving game faster and smoother than any other type of arm, probably because I have also used double shotguns for all my shooting with the scatter gun since a small boy and am accustomed to such hammers double barreled guns. I do not consider a hammer double rifle as good as almost any single shot or repeater, be-cause it takes too long to cock two sepa­rate hammers, and in the following pages I am going to deal with only hammers, double barreled rifles.

Many British and Continental makers of double barrel rifles, build them for rim-less as well as rimmed cartridges. I con-

sider this a mistake as several of my friends have written me that they have occasionally had misfires from such rifles due to headspace variation from different makes of cartridge cases. The ejectors have to be regulated exactly right for the rimless case also, and I, for one, consider the double rifle chambered for a rimless case as impractical.

When chambered for any of the good rimmed cases, it is about the most reli­able of all rifles. Several times in my life, I have seen something or other go wrong with the main spring, or lock, of single shot and repeating rifles; and sometimes a striker or ejector broke in bolt action rifles and often put them completely out of business for the time being. many times, I have had misfires and some of these were when shooting at game. With the single shot, or repeating rifle, when one has a miss fire it is well to leave that rifle closed for some seconds before ejecting the snapped cartridge, for safe­ty's sake and I remember the last year I shot on the Idaho National Guard Team at Camp Perry, we had orders to leave the bolt closed, keep the rifle pointed to-ward the targets and wait for five seconds before opening the bolt. This for the sake of safety and a s a precaution against hang fires, which are liable to ignite after being ejected from the rifle chamber.

One time, when shooting at a running coyote in Montana, with a service Spring-field using some of the first, tinned primer, Remington, umbrella point 150 grain spitzers, i had a snap and worked the bolt quickly and just as I was letting off the next shot, that darned snapped cartridge exploded in the snow behind me. Another time, with the same ammunition, i was shooting at a coyote running in the hay meadow and had a snap; as I was

shooting off hand, I lowered the butt of the rifle slightly and grasped the bolt to reload, when the rifle went off, shooting through the roof of the porch. I was standing on the porch of our house at the time and have killed several coyotes from there on different occasions. Such expe­riences leave much food for thought and are very disconcerting to say the least.

With a snapped dud cartridge, and automatic, single shot or repeating rifle, either lever, trombone or bolt action must be reloaded before you can attempt to shoot again after a miss or hang fire, and it is apt to be a long time; while with the double rifle you can shift to the other trig­ger and go right on with the next shot as thought nothing happened; and as your sights again find your game and you shoot, what matter if both barrels, do go off then, the hang fire and the second barrel, you will get results anyway. It is very seldom any such occurrence hap-pens in hunting, but it has happened with me and with others, Any automatic is to-tally dependent on perfect ammunition.

If a main spring or striker breaks in the double rifle while on a long trip, you still have the other barrel, with its separate action, and f this occurs while shooting at game you can still get in the shot with the other barrel. All told, I consider the double barreled the most reliable of all rifles. It is very, very hard to put both of its barrels and their locks out of commission at the same time.

Another feature of the double rifle that most real hunters will appreciate, is the fact that you have two shots without re-loading and those just as fast as you wish to shoot. Many times, while hunting big game, I have seen the need of those two shots without having to reload. Two years

ago Bud Leek and I were hunting elk on the Lochas. I had killed a fine elk and did nto wish to shoot again unless absolutely necessary to fill our licenses. Bud was in the lead and we were following an old elk trail along the top of a long ridge, when a big seven point bull with a royal head jumped and ran quartering across in front of us, not fifty yards away. Quite a few small fir trees and plenty of Salalle or snow brush intervened. Bud waited wunil the bull was going through a thick clump of small firs before shooting, and when he did shoot, his 225 grain Peters belted .30-06 load struck a glancing blow on a fir tree and missed the bull. The old boy stopped dead still and stuck his big ant­lered head and neck around the tree and looked at us, but bud had to work the bolt of his rifle, of course the noise scared the old boy, and he whirled away from us and soon got behind some heavy timber. I asked Bud if he had hit him and he said yes. At the same time I had moved the safety off the old Howe .400 Whelen and had a bead o his fast disappearing rump, but when Bud said he had hit him I of course, refrained from shooting, though Bud was very disappointed that I did so. He was uable to get in a second shot, owing to the timber from where he stood. Bud and I both know, that had he been armed with a double rifle he would habe killed that fine bull the instant he stopped, but as he was using a bolt action he failed.

I have many times missed running game with the fist shot in dense timber and then, just as I threw another cartridge into the chamber, saw the game go through a nice open space where it would have been ease. Maybe when I did get another shell in the chamber, I took an-other shot in too dense a timber and struck another tree, then saw the game

again in the open as I reloaded. This is a case that has happened to me many times and I know if I had been using a double rifle I could have killed those ani­mals easily.

The on a trip into Northern British Co­lumbia in `27, I was hunting caribou in partly open, partly timbered muskeg country. On coming through a thin strip of small stunted firs, I came to a big log come four feet high. Placing my left hand on the log, I started to vault over it when a flash of hair just where I would have landed caught my eye. I do not know yet how I did it, but suspect the subconscious part of my brain took care of my actions. Anyway, I landed back on my side of the log, as a very startled cow caribou scrambled out from the other side. I do not know which was the most startled, she or I, but I have often wondered just what would have happened had it been a big and ornery tempered grizzly, with my .300 Magnum Mauser, with its slow safety. I was in very good grizzly country at the time and the party killed five in that season.

Another time when hunting elk in the Lochsa, two friends and I were spread out some fifty yards apart and working around the side of a steep, very heavily timbered mountain on the left side of Brushy Creek. I was the furthest up the mountain. Elk tracks were crisscrossing everywhere in the damp earth. The logs were so thick and so high it was very slow work still hunting in such country. I came to a very large log some five feet from the ground and had managed to climb on top of it for a general look around me, when a fine bull elk jumped out from his bed against the other side of the log. I could not get the safety off my .400 Whelen in time for a shot before he

whipped around a big tree in full flight. Had I been using a double rifle I know I would have gotten a bullet into him before he got out of sight. I killed him after he again showed up further up the mountain with just his horns showing over the tops of the alders, shooting through all that heavy brush. Which shows the value of long heavy slugs at moderate velocity for such timber shooting. No very high veloc­ity bullet could ever have penetrated through so much alders as those 350 grain .400 Whelen slugs did on that oc­casion, as I had to guess where his body was as I saw nothing but the tops of his horns.

While hunting in that country, where it usually rains only 24 hours each day in the late season, I have had the action of my .400 Whelen become so soaked with water, that when I did shoot, I was nearly blinded from the water coming back in my eye. this rifle has a Springfield action. Have also seen many different bolt and lever actions get thoroughly soaked with rain, when freeze up when it suddenly turned very cold. A double rifle has the tightest action of any type and offers less chance of dirt, water or snow fouling that action than any I know of.

I firmly believe the double barrel rifle to be the most reliable of all types from the standpoint of safety to the hunter, when facing dangerous or wounded game. Its smooth breech offers nothing to catch on limbs or brush in timber hunting and it carries in one hand at the balance perfectly. Almost any repeating rifle is li­able to jam, or fail to throw another car­tridge in the chamber during stress of ex­citement, through the hunter failing to bring the bolt back far enough to the rear to catch the head of the next shell, wither bolt or lever action; this, in the case of

wounded or dangerous game might very easily prove fatal, as it has so many times in the past. While our game is non-dangerous, do not forget that it will fight when wounded or cornered, I have had three bull elk turn and come for me and they each meant business, with their hair all standing up on end. Have also seen what a mad grizzly looks like when wounded and it decides to square ac-counts. Have seen wounded buck deer turn on the hunter and only last fall one turned on my hunting partner. So the chance of a hunter getting hurt, with even our timid American game, is not too re-mote, if he does not attend to business in a tight place. For most circumstances such as these, a double rifle will be better insurance than any repeater. Double ri­fles, like good single shots, can be re-loaded with much less noise than most any lever of bolt action, and where more than one specimen is wanted from a band of game the double will come nearer getting it in many cases that a repeater. Game will often stop dead still at the first shot, offering a fine chance for a second shot, but if a bolt has to be rat­tled back and forth they will be gone be-fore the hunter gets that second shot.

Double rifles are not the best thing for extreme long range shooting, although some of them are very accurate even at long range; especially with one barrel or the other. I would much prefer one of our fine, modern bolt actions for any long range work. The better quality double barreled rifles show better long range ac-curacy than many of our repeating rifles, especially our lever action arms. One of my doubles rifles, a .375 Nitro Express, a best quality, side lock ejector by Lancas­ter has simply cut out clover leaves at fifty yards with a reload of mine that exactly suited its oval bores. This beautiful little

unless the top lever be held over, they close like a rat trap.

Editor's note: The chapters that follow, Keith writes of sights (ch.5), scopes (ch.6), and stocks (ch.7) for double rifles.

Let us first cover sights for timber hunting and snap shooting. Prior to my experience in the last two years, with some fine English double rifles, I have always preferred peep or aperture sights for all iron sight shooting, using them even for funning shooting at close range and honestly believing them the best and I have so written of them. However, on one occasion a mule deer ran quartering toward me, jumped by my hunting partner in rather thick timber. the buck was less than fifty yards away and to save my nick I could not catch him through that Lyman 48 on the Krag carbine I was using. I doubt if I could have done any better with our American open sights, at least not with the usual buckhorn, which is by all odds the poorest of all, for my eyes at least.

Since that experience, I began to ex­periment on different kinds of sights for fast snap shooting at close range, par­ticularly in the timber. I found that in the open, at reasonable or long range, the aperture rear sight mounted as close to the eye as the action of the rifle would permit, or the recoil allow, left nothing to be desires. I also found it very fast for most timber shooting, especially when the animal ran away from me. Remem­bering what old Charlie Cottar had written about the vary wide shallow V rear sight for dangerous game, or running shooting in the brush at close ranges, and knowing that this type was the preference of al-most all British hunters for such fast snap shootng at close range I decided to give it

a try at least. The first two double rifles that fell into m hands had what I sup-posed to be the best English V type back sights and I did not like them; the V was rather deeply cut and sloped away from the eye at the top and one side or the other always seemed to blur slightly and it was hard work centering the bead front sight in that narrow deep V. I still sup-posed I was right and that the aperture sight was the best of all, until my friend, Frantz Rosenberg, sent me one of the finer quality, hand made, George Gibbs Express rear sights. This sight was a third wider than those on my two double rifles. The V was so shallow as to be almost no V at all, merely a dip starting at each side of the sight and extending deeper at the middle. In the middle was a fine platinum line, extending from the bottom of the sight up to the bottom of the very wide shallow V. This sight was also fitted with four folding leaves, exactly like the 100 yard standard, each with its fine vertical platinum line and very wide shallow V. I tried the sight under all manner of lights, in the open an din the timber, practicing picking up small moving game as well as catching sight on deer wintering near the hose. I tried it in connection with an against all other types of rear sight and finally came to the conclusion that for my eyes at least, it was the best rear sight I had ever seen, for really fast moving game at close quarters in the timber. I also tried this sight for fairly long range and found that I could see it clearer and plainer than any other type of rear open sight I had ever used. The V notch was even wider and shallower than the one in Mr. Ellingers' .600 bore Jeffery Double rifle and I had found that that Jeffery rear sight seemed superior to any other open rear sight I had then seen.

This sight suited my eyes so perfectly that I decided against mounting my No­ske hunting scope on my .375 lancaster double rifle and sent the rifle, together with the Gibbs rear sight, to Paul Dodge of Yreka, California, to have him properly fit this excellent sight on that double. I tried throwing rocks high in the air and trying to catch sight on them with both the regular type open sights, the various peep sights, scuh as the Howe Whelen, Lyman 48 and the various other receiver and tang peep sights and also with this Gibbs rear sight attached to the top of my double rifle by some rubber bands. Found that I could pick up the flying rocks easier with the Gibbs sight and quicker than with any of the other types. Owing to the ex­treme width of this sight, which projects will out over each barrel of my double ri­fle, and its very shallow and wide V cut, it did not seem to blur in the least and did not grow whiskers as other open sights did. It seemed much easier to catch than any of the peep sights, owing to the fact that the field of view was unrestricted with this Gibbs sight, while it was more or less blocked out with the aperture wights, ex­cept when back almost against the eye, as on some 22 caliber rifles. On big game rifles of heavy recoil it is impossible to have a peep sight too close to the eye, without endangering the eyesight during recoil, so I decided that for my own use at least this Gibbs rear sight, with its shallow and wide V with the platinum lines was the very best bet for snap shooting at moving objects at close range.

To my notion, Chas. Cottar and the English are right, and I was all wet in rec­ommending the aperture or peep sight over any other sight for very close snap shooting. We live and learn and what may seem the best to us today, may not seem the best a couple or three years

hence. All men make mistakes but darn few of them will admit it.

On double barreled rifles,. the ideal combination would be a set of these Gibbs Express sights, with all leaves folding down flat, and a folding peep sight back on the rear of the rib, or on the tang with rifles of light recoil or long stocks...

...The English also so calibrate all their rifle sights, their express sight being al-ways graduated in 100 yard steps. This is the proper thing on all hunting rifles and very much more satisfactory than any minute of angle business, which few sportsmen ever take the time to really learn.

...I do not like ivory beads, having found that when it comes to shooting away from the light, they are some of the worst offenders I have tried. Have tried about everything and still prefer the dull gold bead. Ivory, or even silver, will not always show up at all on snow in some lights...

...For night shooting the English use a folding jack, or large sized bead front sight. This folds down on the barrel, out of the way in ordinary light...

...Scope sights for double barreled ri­fles should, I honestly believe, be mounted with the British and German type mounts and in the low position, as near the iron sight line as possible. These British and German mounts permit of al-most instantaneous removal, so that there is no need whatever for getting the high type mount pierced for iron sights at the same time...

...For an off-hand double barreled rifle, the stock can be a well made straight

grip, as this type of rifle usually has a long stock like one's shotgun and a straight grip furthers the change from one trigger to the other...

...All rifle sticks should be carefully oil finished, varnish having no place on any rifle stock, although it is nice enough on furniture, on fly rods, or hunting bows. The London oil finish is the very best stock finish that can be had, and one should always carry a little linseed oil with him on long trips to occasionally rub into the stock, along with some common cup grease or vaseline for a waterproof fin­ish...

...Ornamentation of fine rifle is not lim­ited to the metal work alone, but can be carried further by the use of finely grained and beautiful dense woods...checkering design can be made with finely cut, floral outlines and in fancy patterns, this to my notion is about all the embellishment the stick should have. Let beautifully figured wood do the rest...fancy wood carving, to my notion, is best placed on furniture or violins, or anything else but a rifle.

Good Guns, Good Friends, and Good Whiskey. I beleive Skeeter was on to something.

gunsmith's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
Elmers House in Salmon Id.

Elmers house

Good Guns, Good Friends, and Good Whiskey. I beleive Skeeter was on to something.

gunsmith's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
Found a note on Sheriff Wilsons Facebook page

found a note on an Elmer Keith blog, done by Sherrif Wilson, by a neighbor of Elmers. Her name is
Kathy Camden she lives in Nez Peirce Idaho, and lived 1 block from Elmer. She remembers someone named Charlie,Bob Dillion the gunsmith, and Elmer shooting, around 1969. I asked her to join the forum. Hope she does.

Good Guns, Good Friends, and Good Whiskey. I beleive Skeeter was on to something.