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Thread: The final word on 'What caliber?'

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    Member highestview's Avatar
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    Default The final word on 'What caliber?'

    I was in Fairbanks this weekend to join my family for my grandfather's memorial. It was bittersweet, being he was 82 and had health trouble, but difficult to accept his passing. But it offered some time to catch up with one of my favorite people in the world: my great-uncle Charles Gray and his wonderful wife. My wife and I stayed in their mother-in-law apartment. Between the memorial service and staying at his house, I got to sit and listen to stories about Alaska from someone who moved to Fairbanks in 1943 and has lived there ever since. That has to be one of my favorite things to do. I would prefer to sit and listen to my grandfather, but with his passing, his brother was the next best thing.

    I had no internet access while I was there, but this forum came to mind while we were chatting about hunting. Uncle Chuck became a licensed big game guide in 1953 and actively guided until 1994. He owns 5 acres in the Brooks Range with an airstrip and has spent over 40 seasons there guiding for sheep primarily, but with brown bear, moose and caribou thrown in there. I had to ask him about his rifles and what he used. His answer, a 270 and a 30-06. He liked the 270 for caribou and sheep but used the 30-06 for everything bigger. He used it to guide for brown bear, and stopped more than one in DLP with it. He's hunted Kodiak and Hinchinbrook and used the trusty old 30-06. He was one of the last white men to shoot a polar bear in Alaska before they listed them as protected. I asked him what he used for it. "The same one, yeah." Yep, a .30-06.

    As we were talking and I remembered all the caliber threads over time, I baited him for a good quote regarding the need for big super magnums. I asked if he ever used anything bigger. His answer "Well, I've shot some bigger ones like a 375 H&H. They're good. I just never used one in the field. No need."

    So there it is. The final word on whether a .30-06 is plenty enough for AK. Apparently its good enough for polar bear and some people go into the field for 41 years professionally with it and never feel the need for more.

    I'm sure it wont take but a week before someone asks the same question again, by I thought of this forum and felt like sharing this. It sure is something special when someone from that generation, with that sort of life experience opens up and tells you what it was like then. They didn't buy new guns every two years back then like some of us do now. If they had something good, they kept it and used it as long as possible. Before I left, he read my mind and opened up his gun safe and showed the same rifle he had used since 1953. It looked brand new. It was amazing to hold such a piece of history, responsible for keeping my Uncle Chuck alive before Alaska was even a state.

    My Uncle Chuck's advice: "Buy a good .30-06. Shoot it. Keep it."
    Born in Alaska: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

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    Sounds like good advice from a grand old hunter.

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    Higestview, sorry about your Grandfather. Men of his age are a different breed, I know my father was one also although a bit older than your grandfather. I am amazed as you are with some of their stories. They went through so much in their lives, we can't imagine. Just curious, was his beloved 30-06 a Winchester? Lots of good stories with that gun for sure.

    Thanks for sharing
    Mark

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    Highestview, I truly enjoyed reading that. Kinda made me regret selling my 30.06, but at least I have the .270.
    You are truly fortunate to have that salt-of-the-earth, old time Alaska legacy in your family. Condolences on your loss BTW.

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    Please accept my condolences on the passing of your grandfather. I loved my dad who has long passed but my grandfather holds a higher special place in me. There's just something special about them. The caliber debate will rage on forever.

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    Great read guy.....Thank you. Yep.....I too love listening or reading about the old AK. sourdoughs. I have to say, that after I talk to them or read about them, I tend to think that we are "wussies" compared to what they did on almost a daily basis, AND with the gear they had to use. If any of you still haven't read "Alaska's Wolfman" be sure and do so.....Hey, when we get off the boat in Valdez why don't we walk to Fairbanks in the middle of the winter....???!!!

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    Sorry for the loss of your grandfather. That's great write up you did there. I'll be taking my son on his first moose hunt this fall and he'll be using a 30-06. Can't wait to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markopolo50 View Post
    Higestview, sorry about your Grandfather. Men of his age are a different breed, I know my father was one also although a bit older than your grandfather. I am amazed as you are with some of their stories. They went through so much in their lives, we can't imagine. Just curious, was his beloved 30-06 a Winchester? Lots of good stories with that gun for sure.

    Thanks for sharing
    Mark

    His .270 is a pre-64 Winchester Model 70, but his .30-06 is a BSA (Birmingham Small Arms co, England). They were only made for a while and as far as I can tell, they were an unashamed replica of the model 70, just made in England. Even the checkering on the stock is almost the same as the old model 70's. Very beautiful and apparently just as good in function. I lloked around for them online. Some people don't know what they have and sell them for uber cheap. I'm sure you all know where my thoughts are going.... (the voices say 'new gun')
    Born in Alaska: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highestview View Post
    His .270 is a pre-64 Winchester Model 70, but his .30-06 is a BSA (Birmingham Small Arms co, England). They were only made for a while and as far as I can tell, they were an unashamed replica of the model 70, just made in England. Even the checkering on the stock is almost the same as the old model 70's. Very beautiful and apparently just as good in function. I lloked around for them online. Some people don't know what they have and sell them for uber cheap. I'm sure you all know where my thoughts are going.... (the voices say 'new gun')
    Oh my gosh, my old hunting partner had a BSA in '.06. It was ported at the muzzle, a lightweight, and could that sucker kick compared to my model 70. And loud!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Oh my gosh, my old hunting partner had a BSA in '.06. It was ported at the muzzle, a lightweight, and could that sucker kick compared to my model 70. And loud!
    Yep, that sounds exactly like what I looked at. Ported, lightweight and with a really long length of pull stock.
    Born in Alaska: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highestview View Post
    Yep, that sounds exactly like what I looked at. Ported, lightweight and with a really long length of pull stock.
    Yup, light and loud. But walking up hillsides and through alders, and over wet tundra... his BSA was the nicer rifle by far. Now my old hunting partner is living in Portland, OR and no longer hunts. I offered to buy his Beezer but he wanted to keep it for the good times he had with it. Don't blame him.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I feel your loss and the whole state should.We are losing the old Alaska as fast as the old timers before us.Old timers knowledge be it white-man or native is lost to the many and many don't want it anyway.The older BSA's were the poor mans Jeffery and very nice rifles to boot.Didn't know your gramps but I truly miss him. God Bless
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Right on! My Grandfather left me his .308 win. model 70 featherweight from 1952. That is probably my favorite rifle in my entire collection. The picture I have of him with it over the spread of a caribou and my Grandma with it after she smoked a black bear are my favorite of the two of them!
    I know, not quite a 30-06, but it's the history in the rifle that makes it worth hanging on to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by highestview View Post
    The final word on 'What caliber?'
    Until the next short magnum comes out and Cabela's army goes, "Oooohhhh...shiny."
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    I feel your loss and the whole state should.We are losing the old Alaska as fast as the old timers before us.Old timers knowledge be it white-man or native is lost to the many and many don't want it anyway.The older BSA's were the poor mans Jeffery and very nice rifles to boot.Didn't know your gramps but I truly miss him. God Bless
    Trapper Nelsons, wool, leather, walnut/blue... and no dam draw tags.
    I miss men like that too, but most of all I miss Alaska.

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    I think that most, if not all, the debate over "what caliber for Alaska" combines two different questions, "what caliber to hunt big game in Alaska" and "what caliber to stop a charging bear". Two very different things. The .270 and .30-06 easily kills everything up here and always has. If you're afraid of bears charging get a bigger caliber.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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    Quote Originally Posted by .338-06 View Post
    I think that most, if not all, the debate over "what caliber for Alaska" combines two different questions, "what caliber to hunt big game in Alaska" and "what caliber to stop a charging bear". Two very different things. The .270 and .30-06 easily kills everything up here and always has. If you're afraid of bears charging get a bigger caliber.
    I agree. & there is still time for uncle Chuck to change his mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet eNuf View Post
    I agree. & there is still time for uncle Chuck to change his mind.
    He's had two-thirds of a century to change his mind, I dont think he's going to now. I personally shoot a 300 Win Mag. I just enjoyed getting his view on the matter, and wanted to share it with the folks here.

    BTW, he did stop more than one charging bear with the old 06, pushing 220 grain bullets. Afterward, no upgrade. Like I said, different mentality. He probably thought the idea of buying a 458 a waste of money. Talk about men of steel.
    Born in Alaska: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    We must remember the 30-06 was the big boy on the block for a long time here.When my grandpa hit the dock around Valdez in 03 they said get the biggest gun you can buy and tag along with us.He bought a 94 in 32 Wichester and carried it the rest of his life.His only other guns were a single shot 22 and a bolt action shotgun 16ga.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Thanks for sharing this. What stories your Uncle must have. We lose a lot of ourselves when we lose our elders.

    Out of curiosity, did your Uncle's rifles have scopes or iron sights?

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