April Pic of the Month

Ross Tuckwiller, TRCP field representative for New Mexico, shot this Merriam tom near his hometown of Durango, Co. earlier this month.
Send your hunting, fishing or conservation photos to Brian McClintock.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick

In April of 1909, Teddy Roosevelt and his son Kermit headed to Africa for what would be a nearly year-long safari. They took many guns with them, and while TR had a bigger, more powerful .500/450 caliber Holland & Holland double rifle along he called his .405 Winchester model 1895 lever action rifle the “Big Stick!” With the .405’s he and Kermit shot the continent’s most dangerous game. The 1895 was never as popular as Winchester’s model 94 or model 1886 (which had been a favorite of T.R.). Given the drop of the stock and accompanying heavy load, the .405 was a real “kicker” and hardly a pleasant gun to shoot. In fact, the Russian Army purchased more of the rifles than were ever sold in the U.S. Nevertheless, Roosevelt liked the gun and used it extensively, along with his model 1903 Springfield in 30.06, with which he killed at least one elephant.

In addition to his rifles, Teddy also took along a 12 gauge Fox side by side, of which he said, “No better gun was made.” There are many nice Foxes on the secondary market, many responsibly priced. If you’d like a new, custom-made one (and have escaped the current economic problems) take a look at the Foxes being made by Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company, but be prepared for some sticker shock.

In 2008, Winchester issued a T.R. Commemorative version of the model 1895, along with special ammunition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of T.R.’s birth. The 300 grain bullets leave the muzzle at just over 2,200 feet per second, which would prove lethal medicine for all the big critters in North America and many that Teddy and Kermit pursued in Africa. It’s engraved with a couple of likenesses of the 26th President and sports iron sites. It’s a top ejector and not well suited for use with a scope. But for gun collectors and history buffs the “big stick” is irresistible.

April Trivia

What did Theodore Roosevelt describe as: “beautiful and terrible and unearthly?”

Congratulations to Tony Grossman, who was the first to correctly identify that Maltese Cross and Elkhorn were the name of T.R.’s two ranches. Send your answer to this month’s question to Brian McClintock for your chance to win a DVD collection of the TRCP’s Life in the Open.

Steve Walker

I expect everyone has either a big-rack story or the fish that got away. However, I can unequivocally state that getting thrown out of the raft while floating the Snake River was the most memorable day of my life, in fact, almost the termination of it. It was our second run and everything looked perfect when we lined up on Skull Rock, suddenly the raft swung sideways, and I was airborne. A moment later, I was pulled under. I didn´t think I would ever surface, and when I did I was half drowned. I thought my troubles were over because the raft was right below me, however, I shot by the raft, bounced over rocks, and flew through Class IV rapids for about a mile. If running the rapids in a raft is exciting, try it wearing only a life preserver. When extracted, I was hypothermic, half drowned, shaking violently and could barely walk—a real lesson in mortality.