As I’ve mentioned before, when we lived in Montana I hung around with an old hound dog man. At the time he was in his 70s. His name was Mike. Back then I had a couple of hounds, a big Plott cross and a smaller Walker cross. At times Mike’s kennels had over 30 hounds.

Together Mike and I ran our hounds on cats and coons all over the state. But the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, decreed that, in Montana, bears couldn’t be run by hounds. Thank you, Ben Lilly. Still, that stupid law only proves the state’s game agency knew little and cared less about the sport. Apparently the political winds have finally shifted and recently its new governor has signed legislation legalizing hound hunting for bears. A small victory for sportsmen perhaps, but a victory nonetheless.

Over the years while living up there, when hunting medium-big game, I used an ancient model 1892 Winchester .38-40 rifle I’ve had since Hector was a pup. Between my .357 Ruger Blackhawk revolver and that beat-up old rifle, a lot of mule deer were added to the freezer. Again, all legal in Montana and, since nobody wanted those old rifles back then, dirt cheap.

One of my friends back then, during the period we were living out by Four Corners, lived down by Shed’s Bridge. A sometime construction worker, he would borrow a gun to use during hunting season, fill his tag and then return said firearm. Although he didn’t invest in firearm ownership, he always had the money to put in for all the tags.

One year he pulled a moose tag out of the mix. He showed up wanting to borrow my old .38-40. So I lent it to him, along with the remainder of a box of 180-grain Winchester soft point cartridges. Short story version is, you can fill a moose tag even with an obsolete .38-40. Other than a half dozen shots to see how the old gal shot, Evan only used the one shot to fill his tag.

Would I try it? Not hardly. My last moose fell to one shot from a model 94 Winchester lever action chambered in .356 Winchester, delivered from under 100 yards. A .35 Remington or a .30-30 Winchester would have served as well. I took the bigger rifle because some of the big shaggys that live in the neighborhood where I was hunting can be a bit protective of their food resource.

Point is, even though mostly unnecessary, those big bores can be a lot of fun. Especially in a revolver. I guess one could say it’s more about want than need. Like the AR-15 black rifles now called modern sporting rifles. At last count, I understand that 20 million Americans own one or more. We don’t need reasons if legally allowed to own such. This is still America, and we, as free citizens, for the moment anyway, can do that. We can own several automobiles, have three bathrooms in our house or even dye our hair purple if we want to.

Several years ago I discovered the arthritis in my hands was becoming too painful to shoot those big old revolvers like my .500 Linebaugh. Even a .44 magnum was getting to be a bit much. So I sold all those revolvers and bought a government model 1911 .45 ACP. Up to that point, I had no use for semi-auto firearms. To paraphrase a line from the movie “Quigley Down Under,” I knew how to use them, after Vietnam I just never had any use for them. OK?

Originally, Browning designed the 1911s as a military firearm and it operates as a semi-auto, same as those evil, military-looking, black, modern sporting rifles that everybody involved in the television entertainment shows, including the international news media and the national news, calls assault rifles, but really aren’t.

Military rifles, the true assault rifles, have a “happy” switch. Goes from semi-auto to full automatic fire. Modern sporting rifles and civilian semi-autos don’t have that capability. The ones qualified civilians can legally own don’t have the ability to “rock and roll,” despite what some want you to believe.

Anyway, the arthritis finally subsided and I could go back to enjoying shooting my big bore revolvers, but I hung on to my 1911 simply because I enjoyed shooting it. I didn’t really need it, but I enjoyed having it on me and it’s usually what I carry on a daily basis in the admittedly unlikely event it’s ever needed for social work.

A lot of well-intentioned citizens forget that this is America and citizens don’t have to justify our legally protected wants and needs to noisy and nosey citizens who don’t have any more sense than to watch the major networks’ nightly news for their world viewpoint and to listen to the propaganda that big brother and the socialists want you to absorb. It’s all about citizen control.

However, as far as the practice of homeowners or the average citizen owning any type of semi-automatic firearm, consider the felon up in Billings recently, breaking into homes to escape the cops. After killing that young man from Sheridan, stealing his van and wrecking the van while being chased by the local police, that felon started looking for homes to break into when the cops came after him. If anyone had been in the home he finally was able to break into, you bet your buns they’d have given anything for one of those evil black rifles to defend their family from this killer. Think about it, the cops were there also, complete with a full contingent of fully equipped military infantry assault vehicles, but remained outside, and despite all of their latest SWAT-style kit, impotent to capture the killer.

So, as the years have shown us, even if you live in little old Clark, or Cowley or Byron, Powell or, God forbid, even staid old Cody, immediate access to modern firepower could be a lifesaver. Maybe even yours. If you know how to handle it.

Point is Opel, as good as our LEOs are, they can’t be everywhere. Some things you just have to handle yourself.

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