Bobby Cole | Originally published in GameKeepers: Farming for Wildlife Magazine. To subscribe, click here.
When you manage a property, it’s necessary to have a variety of guns for various tasks. I have a special rifle I use specifically for killing does. It’s a very accurate .243 with a 6.5 to 20 power scope. Few things frustrate a gamekeeper like an immature buck killed by accident. But it happens and I have developed a rifle that helps minimize accidents. Like many of you, I have shotguns specifically for doves and another for ducks and yet another for spring turkeys. My guns are tools. I know you know what I’m talking about.
My goal with this new column is to share ideas that can help you, as you walk daily down the management road. Being at the Mossy Oak office I get to hear lots of gamekeepers tell their stories about what’s working for them. Many of the stories gravitate around guns—and I like guns. You can trust the information you get in this column, it’s not for sale, and it will only include guns that we think can help you be a better gamekeeper. Let’s get started.
Recently I purchased a Ruger American .22 bolt action. I wanted to have an accurate lightweight “truck rifle” capable of center punching a coyote in a trap. The Ram Box makes a perfect place to store a gamekeeper’s rifle. It’s lockable yet easily accessible when working on your property. There are a lot of .22’s on the market and I have always preferred bolts for reasons I can’t really explain. Accuracy is so important and all rifles aren’t created equally. I topped this .22 with a Nikon variable scope that’s designed for rimfires. I had forgotten how useful and fun a good .22 can be, and the uses are numerous.
I am amazed by how accurate it is with standard ammo which is about all I can afford these days. The Ruger is a pleasure to shoot and dependable. I’ve fired about 400 rounds through so far and it just seems to get better. I sighted it in dead on at 50 yards and it makes a fine truck rifle. The synthetic stock is durable and doesn’t scratch like wood. It has interchangeable stock modules to make it more comfortable for a scope. The gun is light, weighing only 6 pounds and comes ready to accept a sling making it easy to carry on your shoulder. The 22-inch barrel is short and anything but clumsy. I am also very impressed with the adjustable trigger. I haven’t adjusted it yet but the manual explains that it can go down to 3 pounds of pull. It’s very crisp right out of the box.
Late one afternoon, I got lucky and spotted a coyote hunting mice in a field I frequent. He got to see the business end of the new .22. The accuracy of this gun makes me confident with it in my hands. How many times have you been touring your property and jumped a coyote or armadillos or some other predator that needs to be taken out? I suggest to you that having a truck gun that’s not extremely loud and expensive is a necessity for a gamekeeper. The same gun gets loaded in the UTV while working. It goes where you go and at the end of the year I’m betting it pays for itself in terms of predators taken out.
I’m impressed with the old-school bolt action .22 rifle and it’s made me remember many enjoyable days as a young hunter. In today’s world oftentimes a youngster’s first introduction to hunting is deer hunting in a box blind. This same kid can learn a great deal about rifles, bolt guns, scopes, wind drift and trigger squeeze from time with a good .22 in his hand. Adults can sharpen their skills as well. Check out the new Ruger American. It’s a fine rifle, a tool for all gamekeepers and at just a little over $300 it’s a bargain.