Why don't I own a 30-30? (Long, Long post)
20 and 21 years ago I took my first and second bucks with an old 30-30 that belonged to my step father. Thats the last time I used that caliber. I love lever guns and the way they handle. Well today I carried a 30-30 Marlin in the snow and it did it's job and took me back in time.
I've been going the simpler route this year. Filled a Dmap in early muzzleloader with my Kodiak Pro and took a doe yesterday with it. I've been trying to get my 17yo BIL on his first deer this year, but it has'nt happened yet. After hunting yesterday and taking that doe when I was done skinning and quartering her, he told me he did'nt think his 30-30 was up to the task. We joked back in forth as you would with a brother in law that's half your age. Anyways we decided he would carry one of my rifles (his choice) today and I would carry his 30-30 and push the mountain for him.
He wanted the kodiak, but with the weather I brought the 308 M77 when I picked him up this morning. He's shot it at the range and is more familiar with it than the Kodiak. Another Brother in law came along as well. So we arrived at our place just before legal light and already had an inch of snow. Plan was the other BIL (Mike) who came along was going to hunt from his usual spot near the parking area level 1 of the hill and I would take Matt (BIL useing my M77) Up to a spot on level 3. (about 600 yards from Mike) Then I would walk East on level 3 about 3/4 a mile then drop down to level 2 and still hunt It back twards the 2. Level 2 is thick and holds deer. Was logged 5 years ago.
So on my way out level 3 I jumped several deer some of them cut back twards my BILs. 1 I'm sure was a legal buck stood from his bed, I know he has forks but I can't see browtines through the fogged scope that I have to carry under my arm because the kid does'nt have scope caps. Buck isn't very alarmed gets bored watching me wipe the scope wanders down into the thick stuff below. It was such a great morning hunting in the snow. So silent except for the distant shots now and then. It really brought me back to my youth carrying that old Marlin. Crappy scope and horrible see through mounts. It was like I was 12 again skipping school on the second day. (took a spike that day 20 years ago in the snow on my grandparents property. A mountain not unlike the one I hunt now)
Well about 830am I hear a shot infront of me, probably 500 yards. I'm as far as I want to walk out this level anyways. I've hit atleast 6 different sets of deer tracks moving down to level 2 so I know It's about ready to push. I pause for a bit at a spot I like to sit, nice view in all directions and a crossroad of old logging trails. Steep mountain laural behind me and briars below me. Lots of acorns this year, I'm sure they are wormy by now but the deer still hold in this area. Briars to browse and plently of thick nasty cover.
As i'm standing there listening to the silence of the falling snow. You know that slight hiss it makes as it's comeing down good. I'm just enjoying the hunt and happy the snow came on a day I had off from work, the last day off of 6 days. Enjoying that I took a doe the day before and my father in law a 7pt. I notice movement 75 yards below It's a deer standing from it's bed! I have the scope on it instantly. It's fogged again but the deer is just standing there, head behind a tree. I clean the scope again, In disbelief that a deer was bedded 75 yards in front of me for the last 10 minutes and I never saw it. I watched that deer for what seemed like forever but was only 2 minutes or so. I had a perfect broadside shot but could'nt tell what it was. I knew it was'nt a yearling by the deep chest and droopy belly. Finaly it walked a few steps forward moving broadside to me. I saw it was a clean doe, no bumps on her head. Her attention was looking dead away from me and I placed the shot where I needed.
She only traveled 40 yards. Both lungs gone from that 170gr RN bullet. Was an easy drag in the snow but The brush even on the old logging trail is so thick she got hung up more times than I care to remember. Was a 2 and a half hour drag. Drug her back on level 2 to complete the little drive I had planned. Heard several shots infront of me.
To shorten this long story Both brother in laws got deer this morning. Mike took a doe with his 30-30 and had it down to the jeep by 9am. Matt using my M77 took his first deer, a buck, That little forkhorn I couldnt make out in the foggy scope did have browtines and is indeed a 6pt. 30yard shot (he wanted a bigger gun then the 30-30).
So the 3 of us were out by noon with 3 deer. On public land! Only ran into 1 hunter. I got to take 2 teenagers out who never got to hunt in the snow. And got to teach them how to skin and quarter they're own deer. Our group of 4 has taken 2 bucks and 4 doe off that mountain this year. (not to shabby for public land)
I can remember being 17 and buying a 300WM for deer. After several deer and many lbs of wasted meat I saw the light. I'm not saying the 30-30 is perfect by anymeans. I've actually been looking for a .308 Marlin to satisfy my lever addiction and have the range and power I want, and if I find one for the right price I will get one. But a day like today, stillhunting in the snow with an old marlin, showing a kid you can still get it done with the old war horse, well it kinda makes you look back. I'm not sure how many deer I taken in the last 20 years in 3 states, and 2 bear in Pa. I can only think of 2 deer that I could'nt have taken with a 30-30. Only because those 2 were shots over 200 yards.
So why don't I just pick up an old used 30-30 for those wet snowy days? It would be nice to find a .308 Marlin under $500 but I can't think of many uses that I could'nt fill with an old 30-30 with a good 2-7.
Sorry for the long post, and I don't know what happened to my spell check. Thanks for joining me on my stroll down memory lane!