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Old 07-11-2009, 05:20 PM
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The .44 Spl. and The Scapegoat Mtn. Bull The .44 Spl. and The Scapegoat Mtn. Bull The .44 Spl. and The Scapegoat Mtn. Bull The .44 Spl. and The Scapegoat Mtn. Bull The .44 Spl. and The Scapegoat Mtn. Bull  
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Default The .44 Spl. and The Scapegoat Mtn. Bull

Seein' how there's a whole gaggal of new members and all.
Hope you all enjoy this as much as I enjoy tellin' it.

Part. One
Tall Tales & Steep Trails.

The .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull.

by D. Keith


Snow was bankin’ up against the door on the north end of the cabin. The view from the small four pane window gave a glimpse of the mountains
that stood guard over the southern entrance to the ‘Bob’. The Hobnail Tom Trail, named after one of Montana’s great legendary wilderness guide Tom Edwards. The Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, a hard land of extreme beauty and adventure.



Having straightened up the kitchen, I made my way to the barn. I’d built a fire in the sheepherders stove. It was gettin’ warmer in the gear room now, I pulled off my heavy coat, unhitched my gunbelt and rolling it around the holstered Smith & Wesson. It’s ivory handles startin’ to yellow with a little checkin’ on the butt ends. Even though she’s riding in a newer rig now, with engraving covering her shapely lines, it’s still a tool of the trade. I laid the .44 Special on the work bench, under the window. Looking out at the snow flakes swirlin' so, them ol' memories came flooding back like the water that cascades below Falls Point near the trail.




I believe it was in the fall of ’88.
What had started many months before, the planning, the shoeing of the pack stock, repair of equipment and the anticipation of another adventure. As I recall it was unusually mild weather when we packed that camp into the Scapegoat, every thing falling into place, camp was up and squared away with supplies. The cook and wrangler were un-packing their rifles, bedrolls and other needed gear.



I arrived back in camp with another load of hay and grain for the horses and mules, Ronnie the cook met me as I was unsaddling my horse, “Listen to this here weather report” handing me the small transistor radio. It was calling for snow in the upper elevations, a front coming in from the coast. “Another run to the trailhead tomorrow for hay?” he queried. I just answered with a nod. “Well better pick-up some more canned good.” he stated in a matter of fact tone.
I knew even the boss don’t sass the cook if he wants things to run smooth, so I withheld my retort.


That evening, by the glow of the hissing gas lantern I wiped the hay dust off the recoil shield and around the hammer, rubbing an oily rag from my kit over the steel frame, cylinder and short 3 ½” barrel. I carefully wiped the cartridges on my shirt tail, each one a handload with their hard cast bullet shiny against the brass cases. While loading the cylinder up and kinda thinking aloud, she sure has been a goodin’. This Smith 44 Special, a blue worn model 27, long before converted to that chambering. Turning in early I couldn’t help but think, that revolver has been on many adventure and hundreds of miles a horseback. And with that thought, sleep came easy.

It seemed like only a few minutes had past when the old familiar clatter of the wind-up alarm clock stirred me from my slumber. Rising on wool socked feet, I made my way to the stove, opened up the damper while reaching for a stick of wood so laboriously cut with an old cross-cut saw just a day or two before. The cook and wrangler stirring now, this high country camp was coming to life. I could smell the coffee beginin’ boiling as we grained and saddled the pack mules, I told the young man that had taken on the chore of wrangling the stock, “Son, you go on to breakfast, I’m fixin’ to saddle my pony and I’ll be on in directly.”

Finished with the morning meal of eggs and country ham, you know the salt cured kind imported directly from Tennessee, with spooned out ‘cathead’ biscuits and washed down with strong black coffee. Now that’s the real breakfast of champions.

I was busy lining out the pack mules and just mounted my bay horse when the cook summoned me as I turned to leave out. “Here you might want this before you get back.” He handed me something rolled up in a rag that look every bit like an old sock. I could smell the ham, taking an impolite peek, inside was two biscuits stuffed with the savory meat. With a quick glance and a, “Thank ya kindly.” I was outta camp and on down the trail.



Arriving back just about dusty dark with snow flakes the size of half dollars falling pretty steady, I was greeted by the pair of would be elk hunters. “See any thing from the trail?” I shook my head, upon seeing their disappointment I replied, “Oh, just a little band of cows, calves and a pretty good 5X5 bull that’s all.” We all had high hopes that this hunt would be a successful one. If this snow drives any of them old bulls out of that black timber and down lower maybe, just maybe…

As we were preparing to turn in for the night, the snow was getting heavier and the wind was picking up, “I sure hope you boys picked a good ridge pole.” I said to anyone that was listening. Unrolling my wooly chaps and placing them between my cot and bed roll hoping to keep the cold from coming up from the dirt floor of our canvas home.

Taking the oily rag and caressing the big Smith, it was smooth and cold to the touch. Placing her back in the hand tooled holster and rolling the cartridge belt around it, I tucked it under my goose down bag, laying the butt within easy reach, with the flashlight by her side. I’d saw some big bear sign near camp only a few days before. I guess looking back I should’ve laid the .348 Winchester out as well.

Awaken to the wind whipping the tent flap and the stove huffin’ like a steam engine, I fumbled with the flashlight and pocket watch, 3:30. Reaching over and flipping the little lever on the back of the alarm clock, just to keep the rattling chime from startling the morning. Stoked up the stove without getting too much smoke in the tent, put the coffee pot on to boil. The night before the cook had thrown in a hand full of coffee on top of the old grounds and filled the pot with water, she was ready to go. I took a look outside, still snowing hard, wind blowing about 20 knots and about a foot and a half of new white stuff on the ground.


Continued below...
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Old 07-11-2009, 05:21 PM
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Part. Two


The stock had been turned loose the evening before and would be showing up in camp pretty soon for some hay. I’d corralled my bay pony in a stand of big timber behind camp out of the wind for the night. While the cook prepared breakfast, I retrieved my hat and gun belt to take a look around. Gatherin’ a nose bag of feed and a few flakes of hay, as a I neared the stand of timber I could hear that horse kinda stompin’ around and when I stepped up to him, he had them rollers going in his nose, acting all broncy and such.
I guess on account of the weather, you know how ol’ cow ponies can be. He stuck his head in that bag of feed without any fuss. Finished with the grain, I hayed him good and returned to the tent and the fire. “You boys gonna brave this blizzard to chase the elk?” smiling as I said it. Their look said it all.
Say, “You boys bring a deck o’ cards or you just going to whittle some shavin’s for the stove all day?” After a week of packing in I thought a holiday was in order, my attempt at a little humor was not well received.

After playing cards, whittling, each one takin’ his turn at tellin’ a tall tale.
Had a lunch of rat cheese and crackers and all seemed well. Except my mules and the riding horses hadn’t came into camp and it was the middle of the afternoon. I was getting kinda curious as what might be keeping ‘em. “I believe I’m going to ride out a ways and see what those knot heads are up to.” I stated as I hitched up my 44 on my gunbelt, I glanced a the Winchester lying on my duffel bag thinkin’ my scabbard under the equipment tarp buried under all that snow, instead on on my saddle, oh well.

The wind had pretty much laid and it wasn’t snowing nearly as hard as it had been earlier. Not to bad really, the stuff was light and powdery, the kinda snow skiers like. The bay horse was making it ok, we cut some sign about a mile out of camp where our horses and mules had cross the trail not too long ago. We're trackin’ them girls along there just as pretty as you please, not too far behind ‘em now. Dug around in the saddle bag and found my field glasses, a pair of Zeiss 8X with the green rubber on them, wife bought ‘em for me at Christmas last year, what a gal.
Glassin’ off in the direction the tracks were headed. No mules.
Follow tracks farther, it’s as fresh as rat sign in a sugar bowl. Glass some more, wait there, that ain’t no mule. That’s, a bull elk and a darn good one. Reach down for rifle…

Hell fire, lost rifle. Think, dang it, broke my own cardinal rule, never leave camp without a rifle. Big bull 150 yards on little bench pawing in snow, think, come on now, need a plan. Got Smith & Wesson revolver in .44 Special, good handload of 250 grain hard cast SWC heavy load of 2400. Turn horse around, duck behind low bank outta sight of bull, step down and tie horse to nearest tree. Check revolver, loaded, so far so good. Take glasses and ease around the bank. Bull’s still there. Glass terrain for stalk, pretty good cover, some big rocks and blow downs. Check wind, coming to me, should be able to smell bull. Look back at my horse, he watchin’ me, I put a finger to lips and whisper ‘shush’, I don’t know why, just didn’t want him to nicker at me I guess.

I’m low crawlin’ in this snow from rock to rock, stopping to glass, yeah he’s still there just makin' a living, uncovering a little grass. Drop down crawl some more, stop behind big ol’ rock, about the size of a voltswagon car. Don’t need glasses, bull standing broad side at thirty five or forty yards, damn he’s big. Draw Smith, damn it’s small, think now, hell they shoot elk with arrows. I’m in good position, I’m in range and I’ve got a .44 Special. Just rest your forearms on the rock, cock the hammer back, front sight right behind the shoulder, that’s it squeeze…

Couldn’t find mules, caught one of the guys horses, long cold *** ride back to camp.
Cook comes out to meet me,”Find the mules, did ya?” “No, but I found your horse. I need a cup of coffee”, to Joe the wrangler I says, “Young man, feed and saddle Ronnie’s horse for him.”

“Well, what the hell’s going on?” he quizzed. I reply, “You ain’t gonna believe this, you know all that shootin’ we’ve done over the years?”
Ron is lookin’ over his steamin’ cup, “What about it?”
“You ever know me to miss anything as big as a yearling steer?” I sorta whispered. “No, why the twenty questions?” The cook asked, a little peeved now. To which I replied, “Well, I didn’t miss today neither, I got a good bull down over in that draw, kinda where the trail crosses at the foot of Scapegoat, shot him clean through broadside at about forty yards. He wheeled and ran straight towards me, I pop’d him again in the chest at less than twenty steps. And that was all she wrote. He’s a layin’ up there just a waitin’ to be skin’t and quartered. You comin’ or just gonna hang around camp and drink coffee the rest of the day?”


And Boys that’s how my .44 Spl won her Ivories.


.

My bull now hangs out on the veranda at the ranch in Texas.



.

(All pictures came from my personal photo album)
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  #3  
Old 07-11-2009, 06:11 PM
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And Boys that’s how my .44 Spl won her Ivories.
A first class story about a grand revolver. I love the 44 specials too. Thanks!

Charlie
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:18 PM
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Default Great Story!

Love to read stories like that. Thanks!

-Jim
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:43 PM
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Great story! In the same league with Skeeter Skelton, for sure. Thanks!
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:14 PM
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What a great story - very well written! That .44 is still a beauty. You can post photos of it again anytime you want.

Thanks,

Jerry
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:48 PM
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GREAT STORY Keith!! Now tell us about that pistol! She is a beauty, as is the rig.

Thanx for takin the time to re-share this with us.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:06 PM
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GREAT STORY Keith!! Now tell us about that pistol! She is a beauty, as is the rig.

Thanx for takin the time to re-share this with us.

Sir,

Had that 27 re-chambered back in the 70s when that was the 'thing' to do...

The saddle tan rig I cobbled up here on the ranch in the saddle shop.

Jeff Flannery of Union, KY did the engraving in early '90 or '91.

The Ivories were made by Ajax in Dallas.

Flip side;



Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:36 AM
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Great story and a great looking .44 special...... Congratulations....
I really enjoy your stories so please keep them coming!!!
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:28 AM
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Great story! In the same league with Skeeter Skelton, for sure. Thanks!
Skeeter may be passed.. but his spirit and talent lives on in keith44spl.

Thanks for a great adventure..
Sal
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:20 PM
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Great storytelling, reminds me of ol' Skeet.
Steve
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Old 07-13-2009, 03:27 AM
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Great story! I'm saving that last picture for the computer background at home.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:40 AM
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Very cool! I wouldnt have guessed a re-chambered 27, but what a neat platform you chose. And even cooler that you made the rig yourself! Outstanding engraving as well, and she sure deserved the grips. Again, thanx for your stories. I always enjoy when you share one of your tales, especially with pics!

Adam




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Sir,

Had that 27 re-chambered back in the 70s when that was the 'thing' to do...

The saddle tan rig I cobbled up here on the ranch in the saddle shop.

Jeff Flannery of Union, KY did the engraving in early '90 or '91.

The Ivories were made by Ajax in Dallas.

Flip side;



Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 07-15-2009, 03:45 AM
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I liked that story a lot, Keith. I musta missed it the first time around. Thanks for the re-post.

You do a great service, with your stories, for those of us who pretty much live in arm chairs, nowadays. Thanks very much!

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Old 07-15-2009, 12:06 PM
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Dave,
Great story and well told. I enjoyed it the second time as much as I did the first. I'm just glad you don't read mike "the dupe" venturino or you would have known its not possible with such a crappy cartridge!

Steve

P.S. I've been mad at you since you took that 5" with the chicken scratchin' out of the south. I'd been tring to beat Col. Sanders out of it for a year! Beautiful guns and best of all, they're in good hands and being enjoyed. Good shooting and keep posting the stories.
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Old 07-15-2009, 03:28 PM
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great story! i love my 44 special, mine is not as sexy as yours, post more pics and storys! i realy enjoy your style mike
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:52 PM
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Default Many Thanks!

Thanks for the kind words!

Stay tuned!

More to come!

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 07-19-2009, 10:47 PM
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This is such an incredibly cool thread.
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:24 PM
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Bump, wouldn't mnd seeing an update
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:58 PM
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Great story and pics. Love the .44 spl.. Keep "em" coming.
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:31 PM
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I remember the original thread well !

Thank you for reposting it !

Great stuff !

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Old 10-29-2009, 08:33 AM
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Yep, I enjoyed that fine story also. Makes me wish I lived out there when...
I have a .44 Maggie but she's a bit too large for me, generally speakin', so I bought a model 696 L-frame. The K-sized grips with the L-frame fit my hand size better than the N-frames.
I'm mostly shooting paper these days, just for fun, so I don't have a need to load my 240's any higher than 900 or 1000 fps. Could do less, I suppose, but I like a little power when I shoot.
The 696 is a very nice-sized gun. I'm very happy with it, even though I have quite a few larger-caliber handguns.
It's small enough so that I'm now looking for a decent IWB leather or horsehide holster for it, so I can carry it CCW. It's small enough for that, I think, even here in Florida.
Good day, folks
Sonny
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  #23  
Old 10-29-2009, 12:41 PM
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I enjoyed the story. I have often wanted to hunt in the mountains.

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Old 10-29-2009, 03:04 PM
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Dave,

Great story and a wonderful gun.
Thanks for posting and I look forward to more of your stories.

Regards,
Iggy

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Old 10-30-2009, 08:34 PM
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That is one of the most beautiful revolvers I have ever seen!

There is still some ivory left in the USA that's legal, but it's far beyond my means.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:02 PM
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Beautiful .44 spl One of my favorite cartridges!
May I ask who did your engraving?
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:19 AM
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I've bought both the S&W 44spl's I've ever found, 4" and 6" 624's. They are great shooters and carry easy. But Sir, I wouldn't put them in the same picture w/ yours. Well done.
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:52 AM
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Several years ago I found a 5 screw pre-27 with 5" barrel, I had Hamilton Bowen convert it to .44 Special it is the finest S&W that I own. I have been saving for a while to have it engraved like the gun in this thread. I hunted the San Juan mountains in southern Colorado as a young man, taking several fine bull elk. My sidearm at the time was a 6 1/2" M/29-2, I built a .44 Special on an old police trade in HD using a barrel purchased from J&G Rifle Ranch, it served me well until I could afford M/1950 Target S&W's. I owned all the different barrel length 1950's, foolishly letting a beautiful 4" example slip through my fingers. No regrets though as I like the Bowen converted pre-27 the best of all of them, it has the rather unique serial number S XX2727.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:36 AM
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Stuff like this is why this forum is the best. Great story, beautiful N frame.

I have to have a .44 special.

roosterk
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:45 PM
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Default GREAT!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks, Dave...
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:43 AM
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Great story sir, I love reading tales like that.
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:05 PM
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I grew up reading Skeeters exploits and adventures. Though time and circumstance, I've been able to meet a few that knew him "in the day". While I didn't get the chance to know Skeeter myself, reading every one of his writings and listening to stories about him; I think he would have wanted and would have pestered S&W in his writings for what I feel he would called his favorite handgun: A 5" Mountain Gun wearing his proprietary "Roper" style stocks with a Performance Center action job.

I think S&W missed a bigun' on there!

My 4" MG (629-4) wearing a set of Kurak's round to square butt Coke style conversions and a Verne Trester 3lb single action job is as close as I can come.

BTW: A great story with a very illustrative writing style, by the way!!!!

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Old 12-19-2011, 11:00 PM
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Dave, that was great to reread. If you don't write a book, you'll be doing a disservice to all of us lowlanders that may never see a mountain or walk in a Lawman's footsteps.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:39 PM
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Dave can surely spin a yarn and that's plumb center.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
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Dave can surely spin a yarn and that's plumb center.
Now you ain't too bad yer own self
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:43 PM
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Thanks to the folks that revisit some of these older threads. Some of the best threads I have read are ones that have been brought back to life. Doesn't do much good to try the search option, you have no idea what will interest you until you start reading!
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:57 PM
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I never get tired of this story, and actually heard it the first time in person from the man himself when we did a little swappin.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:55 PM
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Great thread, and pics. Great six shooter too. Thanks.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:03 PM
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Yeah...I liked it a lot.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:39 PM
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I really enjoyed reading your story. Made me feel like I was there. Love your revolver, ivories and leather too. Wish I didn't live in Fl where it's usually flat and our woods aren't the kind of woods I'd like and are more often than not swamps full of mosquitoes and cottonmouths. No elk around here and the deer you see are usually kinda small to medium except for the rare occasional big buck. Best hunting around here is wild hog. Always wanted to live out west so I could poke around the beautiful countryside and hunt and shoot out there. Been there to visit, but never got to just poke around the countryside with a revolver and rifle. Sure would like to do that out west one day before my already bad knees go totally south on me or before I pass on.


.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:58 PM
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Dave,
That's a beautiful sidearm and a great story to go with it.
Wished there was more stories of these kind of adventures.
The hunt is only a small portion of a camp experience as
evidenced by your writing.


Chuck
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Old 05-06-2012, 01:35 AM
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That made some excellent reading, thanks a lot.
TACC1
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Old 12-01-2015, 03:14 PM
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Up again for all ya'll,

Christmas times a comin'


Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 12-01-2015, 03:24 PM
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Up again for all ya'll,

Christmas times a comin'


Su Amigo,
Dave
I don't think we had a Like button back then.
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Old 12-01-2015, 04:22 PM
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That story brings back a lot of hunting trips.. I always enjoy reading it.

Remember one trip where a bear came through camp. The horses left right quick.
Had to hire a plane to find them. 5 miles from camp. Walked the 5 miles to get them then ride'm back bare back.
Got a bull though.
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:35 PM
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Well, I remember it from the last time or two it was up. But I still don't know if the darn fool mules and other horses came back to camp or ended up starving or becoming bear food. Stupid bear should have been sleeping. The darn mules would have been a big help getting the quarters back to camp. Just like them to lay low until the work was done.

Haven't seen Dave in a while now. Seems he's on a different schedule at the gun shows. Gotta figure out when he's showing up.
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:50 PM
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Dave, you're a bard. I'm grateful you brought that tale back up for us to enjoy. I'm proud to call you friend.
Su amigo,
Jim
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:28 AM
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Well, I remember it from the last time or two it was up. But I still don't know if the darn fool mules and other horses came back to camp or ended up starving or becoming bear food. Stupid bear should have been sleeping. The darn mules would have been a big help getting the quarters back to camp. Just like them to lay low until the work was done.

Haven't seen Dave in a while now. Seems he's on a different schedule at the gun shows. Gotta figure out when he's showing up.

Dick,

Well the rest of the short story.....

Got ol bull skint and quartered, hunted up pack stock and
caught the mules, went back to camp saddled two of the
mules and got every thing back to camp shortly after midnight and nobody got kilt.

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:05 PM
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I can believe I missed this thread the other times it came up! Great story and pictures, but Dave's telling is so good that I could have pictured it all in my mind without his pictures!!!
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Old 12-02-2015, 02:45 PM
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This may very well have been the thread that made me notice Dave Keith on this forum. Glad you brought it back up, Dave.
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