For Skill and Fine Shooting

In 1903, farmer Henry H. Vary of Skaneateles, with little regard for the feelings of our woodchuck population, wrote a letter to Recreation magazine with the following advice and product endorsements:

“For hunting woodchucks I use a Lefevre 12 gauge shot gun, especially if the grass is tall, and by a little strategy I have fairly good success. My load usually is 40 grains Laflin & Rand powder, 1 1/8 ounce No. 7 1/2 chilled shot. With that combination I can get the chuck every time up to 35 yards. I use a 32-40 rifle.

“It does not require much skill to get a chuck with that up to 50 yards; but for skill and fine shooting one should go out after the haying season is over, when a chuck can see and be seen across a 40 acre field or even farther. Then hold steady. At such times I have used the 30-30 with a Mogg telescope. With that combination one does not have to sneak far to get within range. I have killed a few chucks with the 22 Winchester repeater. That does well if one is near enough to make the head the target; but if only hit in the body the chuck will get home.

“For lively shooting one should be in Kansas or Arizona, where the prairie dog pest is. There one can ride along and if his horse will stand fire, can keep a 22 warm. These little fellows look out from the mouths of their holes and if they are not hit in the head they usually get in out of reach. Here in Central New York there is little use for a rifle larger than 25 or 30 caliber, unless it may be for target practice, and even then the 22 with its variety of cartridges will furnish lots of amusement.”

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