by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Two eventful hunts
  • The moral

Two eventful hunts

A friend of mine received the following call several weeks ago.

“Hey, man. Wanna go hunt some pigs?”

“You’re out of your mind. You don’t have pigs in Maryland.”

“No. The pigs are in Texas. A friend of mine just got special permission to hunt on a big ranch that’s infested with them. The landowner got fed up with the helicopters buzzing his cows, so he grounded them and now the place is overrun!”

“Texas, you say? We’d have to fly because I can’t take off work that long.”

“No problem. He’ll meet us at the airport Friday night and he has guns for both of us. You don’t need a license to hunt pigs in Texas, so all we gotta do is show up. We’ll be back Saturday night.”

“Then I’m in. I’ve got this Friday off already. Can we do it that fast?”

“Sure. I’ll book the tickets and you can pay me. But get here a day early, ‘cause I have another surprise for you.”

So my friend drove from his West Virginia home on Thursday morning, arriving at his buddy’s house in Maryland just after lunch. His friend told him to hop in his car and they drove a short way to Aberdeen Proving Ground where he worked. When they got there they drove through the main gate to the post headquarters. On the way my friend noticed the large number of marmots that were standing along the side of the road. He told me there must have been hundreds! Oh, and I should tell you — marmot is the proper name for the varmint we all know as the woodchuck! On the grounds of the post headquarters he counted 13 ‘chucks standing calmly next to their holes.

“I can’t believe it! This places is overrun with woodchucks!”

“Yeah. Since it’s an Army post, they don’t allow hunting, so the chucks know they are safe. It’s like Rapid City, South Dakota that’s swarming with whitetail deer, ‘cause nobody can shoot them in town. Anyway, I have permission to hunt on a farm near here that has almost as many chucks as you see here. They are destroying the farmer’s irrigation dikes with their holes. We have to use air rifles, but I have a .22 caliber TX200 for you.

After checking in with the owner of the farm they went back to the buddy’s house and he pulled out the TX200. It looked okay, but my friend asked to shoot it, to see where it was zeroed. When he did the best he could do with the pellets his pal said were the best was 5 shots in about 4-inches at 40 yards. When the rifle’s owner couldn’t even do that well he said, “I don’t get it. This rifle has always been spot-on with these Crosman Premier Hollowpoints.”

“When was the last time you shot it?”

“About 6 months ago, I guess. Ever since I got my .25 Marauder that’s all I shoot.”

“When was the last time you cleaned the barrel?”

“I never clean it. You can’t clean a TX200 barrel. The patches fall off inside the baffles.”

“Get your cleaning kit. This barrel needs to be cleaned.”

When the guy brought out his cleaning kit, my friend saw why he never cleaned the barrel of his TX. All he had was a piece of monofiliment line that had a loop at one end for patches. He also had a black nylon brush that went on the end of an aluminum 3-piece cleaning rod, but he said it wouldn’t work, because to clean the TX200 barrel you have to take the gun apart.

“Who told you that?”

“I read it on the forum. But I know it’s right because this brush is too long to go in from the muzzle end. It’ll get stuck in the breech when you try to pull it back out because it’s too long to clear the breech with the gun cocked.”

“Get your keys. We’re going to the store.”

Long story short they went to the local discount supercenter and bought a pistol cleaning kit. When he screwed the pistol brush to the three-piece cleaning rod his friend protested, telling him that a brass brush would scratch the barrel. They had a long conversation about whether steel is harder than brass, but the owner finally consented to let him clean the barrel from the muzzle. Obviously the shorter pistol brush was just what was needed. It cleared the breech so it could be pulled back out again. Half an hour later they were both shooting half-inch groups at 40 yards. But the groups were about 6 inches too low. [NOTE: The link given is to a nylon pistol brush, but what you need for this is a brass or bronze brush. You are removing lead.]

“Yeah. Now I remember. I dialed the scope as high as it will go and the groups were still too low. I forgot that.”

“Got a 2-liter soda bottle?”

“I think there are a couple in the trash. Why?”

“We are going to shim the scope.”

I won’t repeat the next argument but the owner thought that shimming ruins scopes. It was something he learned on another forum. His partner promised to buy him a new scope if they wrecked this one, so they shimmed the scope with two pieces of plastic and got the rifle hitting the target at 40 yards.

The next day they bagged 7 woodchucks (three for the TX) before they had to quit to go catch their flight to Texas. When they landed it was late in the evening. The Texas friend picked them up at the Houston airport and drove them to his house for the night.

The next morning they awoke at 3 a.m. and were at the ranch by 4:30. The guy from Maryland wanted to shoot the Ruger Mini 30 they were offered, so my friend got the well-worn Garand and a box of softpoint ammo.

“Looks like this old girl has seen a lot of rounds. I doubt if she can put five into 6 inches at 100 yards,” said the reluctant West Virginian.

“I’ve never shot her that far, but I bet you’re right,” said the Texan. “No problem, though, because you won’t be shooting past 30 feet. We are hunting in some real thick brush!”

Sure enough, when they got out of the truck the place they headed into was so thick they could hardly see 25 feet. But that was where the pigs were! Within ten minutes of walking less than 50 feet from the truck, a herd of 10-12 animals came crashing past them, snorting and rooting and making all sorts of racket. My friend dropped one old boar with the Garand and was about to drop a fat sow, but nothing happened. He looked at the rifle’s action and the empty cartridge case was sticking out of the ejection port!

“Not again!” he whispered hoarsely. Then he examined the rifle’s action with a small flashlight. The parts were as dry as a desert! He walked back to the truck. When he popped the vehicle’s hood, both other hunters joined him.

“What’s up?” asked the truck’s owner.

“This Garand is bone dry. I’m going to lubricate it,” he whispered as he pulled the engine’s dipstick.

“Garands don’t need lubrication. They can swallow a beach full of sand and keep on running.”

“Then how do you explain this?” he asked as he showed the cartridge stuck in the ejection port.

“It’s been doing that for years. I figure it’s worn parts. All you have to do is pull the bolt back and you’ll clear it.”

“When I get done lubing, you won’t have to do that again,” he answered as he applied the oily stick to the bolt channels.

“Listen!” said the hunter from Maryland. “Here comes another group! We need to get back into position!”

The second herd was twice as large as the first one and my friend shot three more pigs. The Garand functioned flawlessly. Those were the last pigs they saw on the hunt. In all they bagged 11 animals. The landowner was delighted and gave the Texas friend his choice of animals to take home. And the Texas host also got an important lesson in battlefield maintenance.

The moral

Sometimes what you read on the forums is either incorrect or an exaggeration. Also, it pays to know something about the technology before you venture into the field. If you are new to airgunning or to shooting as a whole, keep an open mind and you will learn new things all the time.