Remington & Winchester: How their stories helped shape mine.
Admiring my first whitetail buck
In 1816, on a cool fall day in New York, a young man, just 23 years old, participated in a shooting match with a flintlock rifle that sported a barrel he made on his father’s forge. The young man came in second that day, but the fine craftsmanship of his rifle so impressed his fellow shooters that it ensured his name would be remembered 200 years later. His name was Eliphalet, but many hunters and shooters know him better by his last name, a name the company he founded over two centuries ago still bears. That company is Remington Arms.
Winchester Horse and Rider by Phillip R. Goodwin circa 1919
In 1810 Oliver Fisher Winchester was born in Boston, his first stride into business was as a maker of men's shirts, but seeing that the true money was in the fast growing firearms industry, with the help from investors he secured controlling interest in Volcanic Repeating Arms Company from two gentlemen named Horace and Daniel. Now you might not know them by their first names, but their last names are know the world over, Smith & Wesson. Oliver Winchester kept refining firearms designs and on May 22,1866 the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was born. Well that's the backstory on how two of the biggest names in firearms industry got their start. There are plenty of places you can read the res of the story of Remington and Winchester online or in books, but this blog is how their stories shaped mine.
Over 100 years after Eliphalet founded his company in New York, another young man sat on the edge of a North Carolina swamp watching the sun sink low behind the trees. A few squirrels stole cobs of corn from the pile while he sat waiting. As the last of legal shooting light neared, he looked up and noticed a black shape that had stepped out of the trees at the edge of the pile. His eyes adjusted, and it did not take him long to recognize the shape was a deer. He knew he had time to make the shot, but he needed to hurry. He raised the rifle and rested the cross hairs behind the shoulder the same way he had rehearsed so many times in his mind. The shot shattered the silence of the fall afternoon, and after a short recovery, I had my first deer. A small doe, I had taken her with a Remington Woodsmaster that was chambered in 30.06, a rifle that I had saved for and bought with my own money. A rifle that was mine, and I had used it to take my first big game animal. While this was not Boone and Crockett buck, I could not have been any happier if I were holding a world record set of antlers in my hands.
Two thousand sixteen marks the 200th anniversary of Remington Arms and the 150th anniversary of Winchester. I debated writing a blog post about the historical milestones for these two companies simply because I have never waterfowl hunted with a Remington or a Winchester shotgun, but both of these companies have played major roles in my hunting life. To not mark these events with a blog on my Fowl Weather & Co site would be something the history buff in me would regret, so allow me this.
Oliver F. Winchester
I cannot remember a time when the old Winchester Model 67 single shot .22 was not in the corner of the barn. The bluing had long been replaced with a layer of rust, and the stock was battered and dented, worn from years of use. It was the rat and occasional snake killer. It was also the first rifle I learned to shoot on. I remember the many paper targets, cans, and bottles that went into my training as a marksman and helped lay the foundation of that as a hunter. The rifle belonged to my paternal great grandfather, who himself was a sportsmen and part time hunting guide. Behind the iron sites of that old Winchester, I not only learned to squeeze a trigger instead of jerking it, but I learned respect for a firearm, and that you don’t point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot. The time spent with my daddy while he showed me how to load and unload the rifle and how to shoot are some of the fondest memories of my life.
Advertisement for Winchester Model 67
The Christmas tree stood in the corner and strewn on the floor was wrapping paper, ribbons and emptied boxes, the result of Christmas morning. I can’t exactly remember what Christmas it was or how old I was, but I do remember the box. It was a long rectangular shaped cardboard box with big green letters on the side that simply read Remington. Daddy brought the unwrapped box from behind the couch. I lifted the lid, and there inside was a Remington 870 express magnum chambered in 20 gauge. I stared down at the disassembled shotgun with pure joy and an excitement that can only be described as euphoric. It might of well have been Nash Buckingham’s famed Bo Whoop laying in a felt lined case. I doubt a kid could have smiled any harder or been more excited. My shotgun before that had been a single shot 20gauge this new Remington would see action in the dove fields
The results of a good a good dove hunt
Several years later I would have the opportunity to finally try my hand at deer hunting when a family friend allowed me the chance to hunt with him on his property. It was sitting in that box stand on the cool fall day staring down a shooting lane, that I would use the Remington Woods Master I named “KillDeer” to take my first whitetail deer. KillDeer would be my rifle of choice for several more years, and when the magnum bug bit, as it does, I moved to a Remington 710 chambered in 7mm Mag. The Remington 710 took quite a beating during our adventures together. It was the rifle I had with me when I fell from a tripod stand after breaking a golden rule of hunting by getting into a rush. In a hurry to move to another stand for an evening hunt, I lost my footing and fell from the ladder. Luckily, nothing was broken and my rifle was still on target when I checked it later. I used that rifle to take my first buck a three point, and later on, when I purchased my own hunting property, my biggest buck to date.I am now back to where I started, using a Remington chambered for 30.06 once again. Several years ago, I did add another Remington to the family. Remington Gauge, my faithful yellow lab, has been as reliable a hunting partner as my Remington rifle. Thank you to Remington & Winchester for making quality reliable products that have been such an important part of my story and great memories made. Here's to many more years!