Memories of Christening TC Contender 375JDJ
Don Schroder HHI Member #2813
Guilt can be a wonderful motivator. Iíve been a member of HHI since May 1985, and have been enjoying the stories and technical articles in THE SIXGUNNER all these years. Each time I saw JDís appeal for member stories, I felt a twinge, promised myself I would give it a try, then, procrastinated. Now that I am 76 years young, an age at which memories are to be enjoyed but not relied upon, Iíd better get on with it.
Until age 48, all my hunting involved shooting birds in flight, primarily ducks and doves, and collecting squirrels with a .22 rifle. Handgunning began with a colt woodsman .22 caliber pistol, for plinking and later in Bullseye competitive matches. Uncle Sam provided a Colt .45 ACP as an accouterment to clothing in Korea.
A major change in hunting interests occurred when I accepted an invitation to hunt turkeys in Alabama. That was great. Our host suggested we should return during deer season and help control the deer population, as they were competing with the turkeys for food. As the saying goes, a dirty job, but someone had to do it. Thus was launched my deer, turkey and hog hunting.
My first buck was taken with a borrowed rifle, and many more with a couple of rifles quickly added to my collection. One day my son suggested I should buy another handgun of greater power than the 22. I responded by asking, ďWhy? What would I use it for?Ē Looking back, I realize that was a silly question.
Not much later, I began shooting metallic silhouettes with a Super Blackhawk in 44 mag, then progressed to the Dan Wesson revolvers and Thompson Center single shot pistols in a variety of calibers, and my hunting changed.
At first, I carried the Blackhawk in addition to a rifle, and shot my first handgun buck with it. After a few more handgun deer and my first at more than 100 yards, my son suggested I no longer needed the rifle. Since then, Iíve used eleven different handguns to kill 81 deer, some turkeys and a significant number of hogs. No comparison to The Hit Man, Dr. Rogers, but I was pleased to take several deer at ranges over 200 yards, the longest at 241 yards. Iíve come to understand that it is the placement of the bullet rather than the particular handgun make, model, or caliber that kills the game. My latest is a black powder barrel on my encore. Love it, but, if the animal runs after the shot, itís hard to see the direction it went. My hunting has been in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, with one side trip to Colorado. Iím blessed in that I am still able to climb trees and drag deer at this tender age of 76 and after double bypass coronary artery surgery.
Heaven forbid that I would ever be limited to one gun, but if I were, Iíd want it to be my Thompson Center in 375JDJ. After range testing my new toy, I settled on a load of 37.5 grains of MP5744 pushing a Hornady 220 Flat Point bullet. This would print 100 yard 1Ē groups from my 12Ē barrel when I did my part. Let me tell you about my first hunt with this gun, which occurred some years ago.
We were hunting on private land south of Montgomery, Alabama, and had high expectations attributable to prior experience on this land. And, I had an unusual plan. I wanted to christen the new gun by shooting a buck, but I had a couple doe tags and wanted to take one with my bow. My plan was to take both up into my treestand. If only a doe appeared by the time it was growing dark, I would use the bow. If I was lucky, a buck would appear, and I would christen the 375JDJ.
On past hunts, I scouted to find a tree dropping acorns with fresh sign of deer feeding. Then Iíd choose a nearby tree to place my climbing treestand, with due consideration of wind direction and approach trail. This simple plan proved to be not so easy to implement on this trip. I walked my legs off in search of fresh dropping acorns. All my usual places were barren. Persistence finally paid off when I found one big oak dropping beautiful acorns, and it was adjacent to a creek crossing. The only problem was finding a suitable climbing tree within bow range. If I didnít mind sawing off a few limbs, and didnít mind my butt hanging over the creek, and didnít mind that I couldnít get higher than 12í, and didnít mind an absence of cover except moss in the background, there was one small oak that might work.
It was to be an evening hunt as I fastened my climber around the base of the tree, attached a hauling line to the bow, slung the 375JDJ over my shoulder, and narrowly avoided falling into the creek as I climbed into the stand. The ascent was uneventful until I reached the first barrier limb that had to be removed. With unfounded confidence, I reached into my pack for my trusty folding pruning saw only to discover it wasnít there. Iíd forgotten that Iíd loaned it to my son. What to do? Pulled out my Buck folding hunter and spent the next half hour whittling away to remove three very hard oak limbs, all the while cussing myself for not having my saw. Eventually, I was in position with my handgun hanging above my left shoulder and my bow in a gun rack on my stand. I hung some moss on the stand for a little cover. Below and to the rear was the creek. To the front was a long narrow pasture, bordered on the right by woods. To my left front was the acorn dropping oak and more open pasture.
About a half hour before dark, several does appeared out of the woods to my right and went directly to feed on the acorns. Soon after, another three joined them. Light was fading and it was decision time. It looked like the christening of the 375 would have to wait, and I slowly eased my bow up to shooting position, selected a mature doe and came to full draw.
Just as I was about to release the arrow, my peripheral vision caught movement. Here came two bucks, and one was a beauty. They trotted over and joined the does. There were now eight deer within 25 yards, with no cover between them and me, and me at full draw and shaking. I was so fixated on my plan to christen the 375 if a buck showed up that it never occurred to me to arrow that buck. Instead, I risked scaring them all away as I very, very slowly eased the bow down from full draw and tried to return it to the gun rack without taking my eyes off the deer. Twice I fumbled that task before getting it in the rack and freeing my hands to reach for my handgun. At one point three of the does bolted out into the pasture and turned to look back. I just knew Iíd blown it, but it was the buck rather than I that chased them away.
When I finally got my gun from behind my left shoulder, I wasted no more time, taking a 25 yard offhand shot, which would have been easy except for the tension and my shaking. The buck was hit just behind his front shoulder and took off running at top speed down the pasture to my left. After about 40 yards, he made a U-turn, continued a short distance, and somersaulted. There was celebration in camp that night as my friends enjoyed the story and rejoiced with me as we photographed my fine 10 point buck, the first taken by our group and a proper christening of my 375JDJ. Incidentally, that stand later proved to be my favorite, accounting for a number of good bucks.