By Gary Brown, Conklin, Mich.
Growing up in rural southeastern Missouri in the 1950s and 1960s, it was very natural for me and my friends to explore and hunt all the neighboring farms and forests. Beginning with slingshots, BB guns, homemade bows and arrows, and eventually store-bought bows, .22 and .410 caliber single shots, we hunt grasshoppers, mice, birds, frogs, snakes, lizards, rabbits, squirrels, and quail We got a lot of shooting, stalking, and general hunting experience, but it was all small game. In those years there were no deer or turkeys in our area. It was great news if we saw a deer track.
I was 20 years old and in my junior year of college when a fraternity brother invited me to go deer hunting with him at his uncle’s house in south-central Missouri in the Mark Twain National Forest. I took advantage of the first opportunity to hunt deer, but I had a big problem: I didn’t have a deer gun! I borrowed an Argentinian Mauser model 1891 7.65 from my brother, Roger, who said he had never shot it, but he gave me a partial box of cartridges and told me to try it. No scope, no scope and no goals. I placed a beer can and backed up about 80 meters. I fired several shots on the spur of the moment and actually hit the can once. Good enough for me. I got my first buck (a whitetail doe) on that trip with a single shot to the neck. I was ecstatic! I had joined the ranks of successful deer hunters, not many in my home area at the time. I bought that gun right after the hunt for $15. That was in 1969 and I have continued to use it to this day, 51 years later.
But this story is not about me and my rifle. It’s about my children and grandchildren. He had bought another 7.65 Argentinian Mauser, one that had been customized, but was still chambered for the 7.65mm cartridge. I have never used this gun for hunting, but my oldest son, Nate, wanted to use it on his first deer hunt in 1987. I told him I would give him the gun if he made any money on it. Well now Nate owns this gun: he got a dollar big enough to win our pool of dollars from camp. The following year my second son, Chad, got his first whitetail (a doe) with my 7.65 which I let him use.
Now, fast forward to October 2020. Nate and I were in Montana for our annual elk/deer hunt. Nate’s family (wife Angelique and sons, 11-year-old Ethan and 10-year-old Dillon) and my wife traveled to Ennis, Mont., to spend the weekend with us. There was a two day juvenile hunt going on so I told Nate to get his 7.65 and bought Ethan an antlerless whitetail tag for his next 12the birthday. We had a lot to pack on the day we had to hunt. We had to go to a local shooting range and let Ethan get comfortable shooting his first high powered rifle. Then we had to locate areas where we could hunt and get permission from ranchers. At the end of the day, we found a large group of Whitetails in a large irrigated hayfield. After getting permission from the owner, we had to figure out how to get into open view range for Ethan with his father’s 7.65mm Argentinian Mauser. Ethan and I finally made it a long way (about 400 yards) and crawled to the irrigation ditch. We then crawled down to get within 75 yards of an unsuspecting doe. I was able to push my backpack up into a spot to use for resting and Ethan did the rest. One shot, one big dead doe. Nate and Dillon had been able to watch the entire stalking and killing with binoculars from the truck and quickly joined us in celebrating. I was a proud dad!
Thus continues the legacy of the Argentine 7.65mm Mauser and the Brown family. Next year, I hope that Dillon will have the opportunity to carry on this legacy.
Do you have an exciting, unusual or fun hunting experience to share?
Submit your story (800 words or less) to [email protected] or for American Hunter, MH Department, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA. 22030-9. Include your NRA ID number. Good quality photos are welcome. Make sure you have permission to use the material. Authors will not be paid and manuscripts and photographs will not be returned. All material becomes the property of the NRA.