After college I worked for a man who really became a mentor to me when it came to precision shooting, I had been shooting for all of my life of course, but he was the person who is responsible for most of my knowledge of precision hand loading for extreme accuracy, Bench-rest shooting, proper cleaning methods for match barrels, a taste for vintage target /varmint rifles and optics and most of my knowledge about firearms history from the early 1900s up until about 1990. He had been a national bench rest shooter, he tested prototype rifles from Ruger, was one of the testers of the rim fire ammo used by the US Olympic teams in the 70s and earl 80s and even had a few wild cats rounds to his name among many other things.
Above is my mentor and friend shooting a heavy varmint Model 70 Winchester in .243WCF using a 12x Unertl sometimes in the mid 80s.
I got to hear a lot of stories from his past over those years and one of my favorites is this story from his boyhood.
He grew up and lived all of his life , not including a few years in the Army with 18 months of that in Vietnam, in a small town in WV named Stollings, which is just a couple of miles from Logan, WV. From his office window I could see the famous Blair mountain. If you don’t know, Blair mountain is the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain. If you don’t know about that, here is some text about it I ganked from Wikipedia. My friend was also paid by the state to help identify fired cases and gun parts found on the mountain while searching it for historic items some years ago.
“The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest labor uprising in United States history and one of the largest, best-organized, and most well-armed uprisings since the American Civil War. For five days from late August to early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders, who were backed by coal mine operators during the miners’ attempt to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired and the United States Army intervened by presidential order”
As a side note. Blair mountain is now history itself. The mountain is gone since it has been stripped mined. Like most things in Southern WV, Logan WV in particular , if the local politicians can get a kick back from it, then history be dakjed
It was a rough area in those days and was through his childhood and honestly it still is. I live and have lived in KY my entire life, but o very close to the border of WV. The Matewan massacre , which you may have heard about or seen the movie, happened only about 20 minutes drive from me, and the entire area was the stomping grounds of the Hatfield and McCoy feud.
I said all that so you can see how wild the area was for some one born in 1948 and had to grow up there. Many places in the outskirts of the town he grew up in was full of less than honest businesses. One of those places of less than high moral standards helped him earn money for ammo.
In Stollings at the time he was about 10 years old there was a building that was like a small hotel. Two or three stories and multiple rooms. The entire building was more or less a brothel. One part was used as a small bar. The occupants of the building would set any garbage out back before some one would come collect it for disposal and this of course drew in rats from all over. It didn’t take long for a population of rats to grow out of control.
My friend some how worked out a deal with the owner of the brothel for his services. So, every summer day my friend would walk down to the area and wade across the little creek and set up on the opposite bank. He would lay there with his Winchester model 1904 and shoot rats all day. At the end of the day he would cross back across the creek and collect up all the dead rats. The owner would give him 25 cents for every 2 rats he killed. He would use that money to buy his 22 ammo and soda and snacks all summer long.
As you can imagine, he had a lot of fun with that rifle and made a lot of good memories with it. I asked about it after hearing this story and sad to say, he told me about it’s fate. When he went off to Vietnam, his younger brother got it some how. His idiot brother decided he wanted to mount a scope to it and in typical Hilljack fashion,found some kind of mount meant for side mounting to a receiver. His solution was to take nails and nail the side mount to the stock on the left side of the gun below the action. This did exactly what you would expect it would do and split the wood and ruined the gun. Having ruined it, the brother just tossed it into the garbage.
I have have been on the lookout for the same model on an off over the years since he told me this story. If I ever find one in good shape at a reasonable price I intend to buy it for him.