IT WORKS SO WELL
Sometimes you go back to what worked in the past. It was 35 degrees in obscure light on a cold October morning as I silently moved down a shaded canyon with Ponderosa pines on both sides towering up like skyscrapers. I was moving only about 300 yards every hour or so, glassing both sides of the ridges and cliffs above me. Looking through the trees for that black or brown shadow I had seen so often in this Arizona canyon that was part of the Apache National Forrest.
It might be my age or that I am a died in the wool American and love showing how well the 30-06 kills game - or just a nostalgic old fashion guy that decided to used it for this hunt. For so many years since I owned my first 06 as a teenager, I have watch it dispatch game from coyotes, to elk, to black bear and some up close stuff in Africa that made me draw up in places I can’t talk about. The 30-06 has never failed me. Maybe it is because I was lucky or just used the right bullet or was a fair shot and hit the right place or the Lord was just good to me, or all of the above.
I was already satisfied with my hunt that day, even though my quarry was not yet found or taken. It was because of two things. First, was the fact that I was carrying my favorite rifle. Second, it was the place in all it's beauty that captured my imagination as I moved slowly along in anticipation of bagging a certain black bear, that left his mark all over that place. Around every bolder or turn in that canyon I expected that day to see him. I had all the confidence in the world that I would make a good shot and that my 06 would more than handle the task at hand.
The 30-06 over the years has been a main stay in performance as one of our best and certainly most flexible all around cartridges for the hunter who hunts a variety of game. It’s potential today is even more enhanced by the new and stronger steel in the rifle actions and barrels. Then there is the great selection of powders, primers and brass that are used to propel faster and farther than ever before, an awesome selection of bullets to match the game that one is hunting. It is a flat shooter and can be loaded to the same pressures as the 25-06 and the 270.
Four and a half hours I moved getting further away from the mouth of the canyon. The wind changed 180 degrees and I had to turn back. I thought to myself "man what luck, I was so sure that the conditions were right and now this". As I turned to go back I said to myself, "don't just walk out, hunt every step of the way back and don't rush it." After an hour and a half of working my way back, I stopped to glass an open place in the trees above me and there he was about 90 yards away. The wind was in my favor and the bear had not seen me. I lifted my Ruger Mk II and put the cross hairs right on a perfect double lung shot and pulled the trigger. He leaped in the air, hit the ground and slid about 30 yards down the side of the canyon and never moved.
I truly believe from my experiences that the 30-06 with its wide range of power, sufficiently flat trajectory, unquestioned accuracy, reasonable recoil and unusually broad variety of bullet choices, is the world’s most versatile center-fire cartridge ever developed. With all the new powders, bullets and especially new light match grade rifles of today, I find it very questionable as to whether we can name any standard caliber or cartridge which is more versatile. We would be hard pressed to find a better cartridge when all things are considered, to meet the requirements of the majority of American riflemen and hunters.
Now at this time in my life I had moved away for the most part from my fast Weatherby cartridges. So why have I gravitated back to my 30-06? I guess my reason is out of nostalgia, affection for a cartridge that I have hunted most of my life with and the fact that it has worked so well through all these years. Even though I really like fast, big, hard-hitting magnum cartridges, I still have a place in my hunting life for the 30-06.
As Waters put it, "men like Warren Page, R.M. Hanson, Jim Stewart, Hosea Sarber, Grancel Fitz, Wendell Swank, Dr. George Petrides (who took everything from kob, wart hogs, hartebeest, lion, buffalo and hippo) Andy Russell, Myles Brown, Frank Golata, Alf Madsen, Jay Williams, Bill Rae and Bill Ruger also Stewart Edward White (who used it on lion as I had to once), Fred Barnes, Colonel Whelen used the 06 for just about everything and for all but a few of the above mention men it was the rifle of choice in the field. Jack O’Connor said that much of the criticism of the 30-06 stems from the use of unsuitable bullets for the job at hand and if used on brown bear use 200gr and above bullets of proper construction."
No matter where you hunt in North America, Europe and even in Africa, the stores will have ammunition for the 30-06. There are many hunters every year all over the world who buy a new 30-06. When hand loading the 06 we are able to drive a 165gr bullet at 2900-2950fps, allowing it to be flat shooting like some smaller calibers while hard hitting like the 300H&H and 300WSM. It will take game on which the smaller calibers are inadequate and when the 30-06 is loaded with the heavy for caliber bullets, it does not deliver anywhere near the recoil of the big magnums, but is highly effective on bigger game. The 30-06 has a wide range of power, good flat trajectory, unquestioned accuracy and reasonable recoil. It is capable of even driving a 220 Grain Semi-Spitzer Partition at 2600fps – 2648fps, using Norma MRP, or a 240gr Woodleigh Protected Point at 2500fps.
The 30-06 will be here until a completely new and radical way of killing game is developed. If the new radical way comes before I die, others can use it. As for me I have in my 30-06 all that I will generally need. The question or debate is not whether certain other cartridges will dispatch game more quickly. The question is, will any of the other cartridges do all these things better than the 30-06 of today? To be honest and truthful, one has to answer that it is doubtful. And what is so amazing with all the shooting advances in bullets and powders with match grade rifle barrels in 30-06 being manufactured by major gun makers and custom shops everywhere, the 30-06 just keeps getting better.
As I stood there that day looking at that black bear, thinking to myself as I drifted back in my memories, remembering the many occasions where success was the order of the day, when hunting with my favorite cartridge. For those who buy the 30-06, surely they are not doing so out of a lack of knowledge. It is like a good horse that you ride because he won't surprise you or let you down. Like that good horse that you trust to take you where you need to go. So with confidence, I take my 30-06 into unexpected terrain and circumstances where it is good to have something you know will work and won’t let you down.