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GUNS Magazine January 2011 - Page 8
• M I k E “ d U k E ” V E N t U R I N O • P h O t O S Y V O N N E V E N t U R I N O Duke recently sold his preModel 29 .44 Magnum bought in 1968. he let it go because he realized the phase of his life into which it fit was over. A GUN GUY’S LIfE PhASES Growing in both hobby and sport. ecently I sold a handgun in my possession for more R than 43 years. It was a Smith & Wesson (pre-Model 29) .44 Magnum. Why let something like that go? Because it hadn’t been fired in many years. Its primary purpose in my youth had been as a sidearm when much of my horseback activities were in the grizzly bear habitat north of Yellowstone National Park. A good friend who will actively use that big revolver wanted it and the realization finally dawned on me the phase of my life into which it fit was over. I would never roam around the mountains of Montana on horseback again. That handgun went to a better home than I was giving it. In a way the above sounds sad. It is not. I’ve realized my life as a shooter has been comprised of many such phases. Age, health, and not the least of all economics, have been factors in those phases. For instance, the area I grew up in had little in the way of rifle shooting or big-game hunting tradition. Therefore, as soon as I was issued a driver’s license much of my time was spent at the local gun club where pistol target shooting reigned. Therefore, two of my early handguns were a Ruger Mark I .22 LR target semi-auto pistol and a Smith & Wesson K38 revolver. Soon after buying that second handgun, I saw it was necessary to also become a handloader and a bullet caster. Otherwise economics made it absolutely impossible for me 8 to achieve any degree of skill with a centerfire handgun. Therefore, when other boys my age were sitting in front of a TV watching ball games, I was sitting in front of a lead pot or reloading press building .38 Special ammunition. Searching for the utmost in firearms freedom, life drew me to Montana, where it was not only possible to own guns, but also to actively take them outdoors and use them. Thus began another phase of my shooting life both in regard to varmint and big-game hunting. Because shooting meant more to me than the actual hunting, I tried to experience as many suitable rifles as possible for those endeavors. I learned the various small-capacity .222/.223 cartridges were better for me than the big ones like .220 Swift or .2506. And in big-game hunting, I wasn’t prone to try flinging bullets out to long range. Therefore, a .308 Winchester or .30-06 found favor with me much better than one of the big magnums. I also learned that although I was never a very good hunter, just getting a critter in my scope and shooting it got rather boring. That’s when the firearms of the 19th century grew so attractive. Not only did using the big, single-shots and leverguns of the late 1800s put spice back into hunting, but also figuring out the intricacies of making ammunition for those fascinating and long obsolete calibers hooked me. Time spent at the reloading bench had never seemed onerous so all the case forming, bullet casting, and even paper patching chores were labors of love. To that end, a couple dozen modern bolt-action rifles were sold, with only a Remington Model 700 .222 Remington Magnum and custom-stocked Winchester Model 70 Featherweight .308 sticking. In Just a few years back if anyone had told Duke he would be handloading for the 7.92mm Kurz round to fit in a World War II German MP44 he would have called them crazy. now he is because it fits in this phase of his shooting life. WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JANUARY 2011