This week, I, along with my wife, Ruth, went out to the Izaak Walton League Clubhouse on Files Creek for the monthly dinner/meeting. The member who regularly does the cooking for our monthly meetings had to be in Fredericksburg, Va., for the annual Izaak Walton League National Convention, so another member who enjoys cooking for large crowds took over.
We went out a few hours early. I wanted to sight in two rifles that had not been fired for a few years, and Ruth was ready to help the cook. But when we got there, the cook had things very much under control.
The first rifle I started to sight in was my favorite squirrel gun. This is a .22 Long Rifle rimfire Winchester Model 69A bolt-action clip repeater. Santa Claus left this under the tree for me in 1957. At the present time, I have taken more bushy-tails with this rifle than any other gun or any combination of firearms. The rifle itself has no collector value. It has been a lot of use, and it shows on the barrel, receiver, and stock.
When I started shooting this rifle for the first time in at least three years, it was perfect at 25 yards using Cascade Cartridge Inc. (CCI) ammunition. The load I was using was 40 grain high speed solid points. When I went out to 50 yards, the rifle was shooting high and to the right. I was able to make the necessary adjustment on the scope. When I fired the last five rounds, it look like the rifle was ready for squirrel season that comes in on Sept. 14. This is less than two months away. However, if I go hunting on that day, I will most likely be using my grandfather's J.C. Higgins 12-gauge shotgun. At this time of the year, most of the leaves are still on the trees. Getting a shot with a .22 rifle is often a difficult task.
The other rifle I wanted to sight in is more than 90- years-old and has not been fired in 10 years. My father bought this gun used in the late 1930s. This is a Savage Model 99 lever action. Like my squirrel rifle, it has no collector value because there have been several changes from the original manufacture, and it has seen a lot of use.
It was in 1973 when I wrote down the serial number and sent it to the Savage Arms Company asking for date of manufacture, along with the name of the retail outlet that it was shipped to. I told dad that it would be about 1930, but dad said that it would be closer to 1925. When we got an answer from Savage, we were both wrong. The rifle was made in 1919 and was shipped to Goshorn Hardware Store in Charleston.
Goshorn Hardware could be the oldest established business in Charleston over the years. The hardware store was founded in 1833. After being in several locations in downtown Charleston, they finally closed their doors in 1960.
After firing two shots with the Model 99 at 50 yards, I had to make a small scope adjustment. After doing this, I moved to 100 yards. At this range, I fired a few rounds with three different loadings (one factory and two different handloads). All three loads grouped well. Right now, I am considering using this rifle for the bonus deer hunt I have applied for, if I get selected. Between now and hunting season, all I need to do is give these two rifles a good cleaning.
When I got back to the Izaak Walton Clubhouse, a few more members had showed up to help the cook, but he still had things well under control. About half of the members who showed up brought a dessert.
When we sat down to eat, everything tasted great. We had tossed salad, rigatoni with a meaty tomato sauce and hot sausages in a spicy sauce and garlic toast. The desserts included an iced brownie with M&Ms, peanut butter cake, lemon meringue pie, a yellow cake with walnuts on top and ice cream. Ruth made pink lemonade pies. With so many desserts, we brought some of the pie home which didn't displease our family.