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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Smith & Wesson .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull.
Capt. David 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 getting’ warm in the gear room of the barn, I pulling off my heavy coat, unhitched my gunbelt and rolling it a round 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 the memories came flooding back like the water that cascades below Falls Point near the trail.



I believe it was in the late 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 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, “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 it 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 fall 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.

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 roller going in his nose acting all broncy.
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 was just 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, hell that ain’t no mule. That’s, a bull elk and a darn good one. Reach down for rifle…

Hell fire, lost rifle. Think, hell no 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, good. 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 pawing in the snow, 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 ass ride back to camp.
Cook comes out to meet me,”Find the mules, did ya?” “No, but I found your horse though. I need a cup of coffee”, to Joe the wrangler I say, “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 either, 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.












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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

I was privileged to read it elsewhere ;)

Didn't have the chance to comment then...but was hoping when you joined this forum you post it here....The story is enough to make you imagine what you saw and felt...great writing style ~ because it is true to the tale....

giz
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

onenut58 said:
I sure wish my 350 remington magnum had the power of that 44 special.
I don't think power had all that much to do with it.
The reason I took a chance on the revolver was there was a good tracking snow on and I felt I had gotten close enough to have good penatration with a hard cast bullet.

But most of all, I just felt Lucky... :mrgreen:

Su Amigo,
Dave
 

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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

Capt. Keith,

I really enjoyed that.
Thanks for posting. :D
 
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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

Great story and very nice pics capt. Dave! I also had the opportunity to read through it earlier, and was glad to have the chance again. Don't hesitate to give us more!
 

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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

Excellent telling of a great adventure !!
 
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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

Hey capt dave, I've heard tell that that there river gets outta hand sometimes...any truth to that? :D
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

spearcrow said:
Hey capt dave, I've heard tell that that there river gets outta hand sometimes...any truth to that? :D

Sir Crow,

That little branch ain't hardly ankle deep, we've got her dam'd up down below there a piece.
If'n she starts gettin' to wild we just open up the gate and turn 'er out... :mrgreen:

Su Amigo,
Dave
 
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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

Very good post, thanks for sharing it. You'd ought to be a pro writer?
Steve
 

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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

In my opinion, you could make money at this! By the way, you have me thinking about converting one of my 27s into .44 specialI did a model 28, in a 4", back when I couldn't find any available and have since traded it to another shooter. I have a 27-2 in 3&1/2" and 27-5or6 in 5"(Skeeter Skelton design). If any would probably do the 5"?
Steve
 

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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

I assume your ivory grips are made from the antlers of Elk? And if so, wouldn't the Indians call these medicine grips?
Steve
 

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Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

If there's a way to make ivory outta elk horn...someone needs to pm me fast! :D ...I been volunteerin' to bury dead elephants at the zoo for no reason!
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Re: The S&W .44Spl and The Scapegoat Mountain Bull

S.B. said:
I assume your ivory grips are made from the antlers of Elk? And if so, wouldn't the Indians call these medicine grips?
Steve
Steve, the grips on the revolver in the photo above are pre-ban Ivory.

Below is a pic of pre-ban Ivories that came from Ajax in Dallas and a pair of Elk Horn Stag grips, you can see the differance right off. :mrgreen:

The one on the far right has elk antler stocks and the one on the far left has pre-ban ivory



Su Amigo,
Dave
 
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