Mom was dying of cancer and I'd recently learned how to log on the Internet. After discovering "gun forums" I kept returning to one in particular. Some guy was always posting pictures of critters he'd shot with his sixgun. His name was Dick Thompson. Reading his adventures helped me momentarily escape the harsh realities I was living. Mom died shortly after and I found myself accepting Dick's invitation to go on an elk hunt in Idaho, Land of Elmer. The rest is history. I shot a cow elk with a sixgun, a first for both. Over the years I made more visits to Dick, along with many phone calls and texts.
REUNION AND RENDEZVOUS
Let me introduce you to Dick. He actually met Elmer Keith a couple of times, driving to Elmer's home in Salmon, Idaho. Dick only hunts with handloads, using cast bullets of his own making. He hasn't hunted with a rifle in 40 years--something I still struggle with, but Dick forgives me. He says he'd rather shoot a grasshopper with a sixgun than a 6x6 bull with a rifle. What's not to like, right?
Dick and I are long overdue for a rendezvous of the hunting kind. Having permission to hunt a private ranch, he invites me out. In need of some wide-open spaces --along with catching up with my good buddy--I eagerly accept.
When I land in Pocatello I'm met by our mutual buddy, Steve Call, and visit with him for a day or two, before he drives me to Dick's. After backslaps and hugs, Dick hands me an S&W Model 696 to strap on during my stay. Now that's a buddy! I ship my guns to Idaho to avoid any airport shenanigans.
Goofing off for three days, we pack in a lot of fun. We sight-in guns, make sixgun stocks, buy freshly dug Idaho spuds to ship home, and drive around, enjoying the beauty Idaho has to offer. And we eat a lot of Mexican food at El Toro, our temporary "base camp."
For this hunt I'm using a Ruger 5-shot .454 Casull/,45 Colt loaded with HSM 300-gr. softpoints, along with a 14" TC Encore Pistol in .30-06. It's loaded with HSM 165-gr. soft points. My two-gun strategy? Use the Ruger out to 75 yards and the Encore for farther shots.
Dick's carrying a Ruger Old Model Flattop .44 Magnum, loaded with Keith-style cast bullets over 10 grs. of Unique. We're getting around on 4-wheelers to hit our chosen spots.
Opening morning, we see a group of six mule deer with a decent buck among them. It's barely legal shooting light...