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Mid America Buckskinners Info Page

The Buffalo Hunt?

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No, it's not skinning bucks............ Developed and maintained by JP Finn

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I wandered out to the gun range the other morning, to develop a load for Ol' Thunder, a 50 cal flint Thompson "hawkin".
It seems that I have been invited to a buffalo hunt. It is scheduled for early - mid November. A guy at work set it up and asked if I would be interested, since he doesn't hunt. He wants the hide and some of the meat. All the rest is mine, including half the fee. The hunt will be on a 24k acre ranch in South Dakota. The owner raises buffalo on open range, and sells them on the hoof. My job is to locate the herd (should be easy - the owner should know where they are), sneak up on them, pick one out and shoot it. But he won't allow roundballs. He's not had any black power shooters out there yet. His rule is 1500 fps and 250 gr bullet, minimum.

I wandered out to the range. After studing the loading data for a while, I decided on a couple likely loads to try. They would need to be refined after I found what Ol' Thunder seemed to like. 95 grains ffg, topped with a 385gr Hornaday Great Plains bullet was to be the first load tested. Posted 2 targets at 25 yds and 2 at 50 yards. Figured, since I haven't shot anything but roundballs for about 25 years, I'd shoot a couple and then adjust the sights, zero in at 25 yards, then shoot off the bench at 50 to tighted the groups up, finishing with a few at the last target offhand to see how much practice I'll need to put in. Don't you just love a plan?

Cleaned the grease out of Ol' Thunder, and loaded her up. Haven't shot that rifle for about 3 years. Grease seemed to do the trick - no sign of rust. Felt really funny, not putting in a patch.

There was a sit down bench on the 25 yard line. Wanted to take the target in to work and show off, so I sat down. Elbow on table, bottom of rifle above my eye. Sit up straighter. Hold endcap and lean way forward to line up the sights. Touched her off. Snap..... Pricked touch hole again. Changed flint. Back to the bench. Snap, poof, KA-BOOM!, crack,crack..AHHHHHHHHHH!

I'm not sure what the crack, crack was, but it felt like I broke my shoulder. Whole arm went numb, then, when the feeling came back, it HURT! Rub, Rub. Check to make sure Ol' Thunder didn't lose any parts, like the breech plug. All still there.

Guessed that I leaned forward enough that the butt sat on the top of the shoulder, instead of the crook. Reloaded and stood up this time. Took a rest against a tree on the firing line. Snap, poof, KA-BOOM...AHHHHHHH! That first shot must have left a bruise!

Well, at least both holes were close together, about an inch apart, but low and to the right. Adjust sights and reload. Time to get this right.
Snap, poof, KA-BOOM!......was that a flinch? Quick review of shot...Cock, align sights, set trigger, finger on trigger, hold breath, realign sights, squeeze trigger, cock starts to fall, jerk head back - pull butt back as hard as I can, poof, can't see sights - but get a good view of flash, KA-BOOM! Yeah, I think that may have been a flinch.

Time for a review of past flinches. First time I shot a flint lock, I didn't flinch. Everything happened so fast there was no time to do anything but watch. Second shot was a different story. Somewhere in the brain a recorder had made a film and ran it through seveal hundred times. When the cock started down, the little guy in charge of the review jumped up and started screaming "There is going to be an explosion 3 inches in front of your eye!" The guy in charge of the eye swung it around to see if that information was true. It was, so he shut the eye. The guy in charge of the head sent a signal to yank the head back. It took several dozen shots to convince those guys that it was ok. If it wasn't those guys, who might it be?

Rub, rub. Even hurt to swab the barrel. Must be time for a break. Wander down to the targets like it would help to see those holes up close. At least they were all on the paper. Found myself looking for patches on my way back to the firing line. Laughed at myself, a creature of habit.
Prime, sight, Snap, poof, cringe. Ah-Ha! It's the shoulder guy! I felt the shoulder tense, twist and everybody else act in sympathy, yanking and jerking to show their support.
Wipe down lock; flint, battery and pan. Prick touch hole. Reprime. Snap, poof, cringe - jerk. Now what? No powder? Dig out ball puller. Sure did forget the powder. And the bullet. Gather erverything up and go home.
What a day. Now I have to beat the flinch before I can worry about accuracy. And I was worried about working up a load for buffalo. I wonder what 40 grains fffg under a spit patched 45 caliber ball would do to a buffalo?

It turns out the the exercise was all in vain. He backed out. Now I just have a really good flinch with the semi-annual Club shoot coming up. One day everything is going to work out and I won't be in the last three at a match. But I expect it will be another time.....


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If you want to plaver, do so. Hey, jp!