I Should Have Used The .30-30

Ron Spomer |

Young Andrew Hollenbeck, back from college for the weekend, started the action by rattling cast off antlers. The bucks weren’t long in coming.

_MG_3324Four. Four whitetail bucks, all inside of 80 yards, the biggest carrying a burdensome rack of 8-point antlers that towered high over his head. A good buck, a great buck, a dream buck, and all standing in the open woods at the range for which the fast-handling, smooth shooting, hard hitting M94 lever-action .30-30 was tailored.

And there I sat with a scoped M70 .30-06.

“Take him,” Andrew hissed. “Take the big one.”

He felt it necessary to say “the big one” because even the small ones were worth a second look, especially the 5×5. His rack was wider than the 4x4s, slightly heavier, but not as tall. Decisions…decisions.

I decided to hold fire. Five minutes into the season and 4 bucks already in range? This was too good to rush. Besides, trail cam pictures captured by Andrew and his dad, Wade, suggested Laughing Water Ranch near Bassett, NE, held some spectacular bucks, the biggest a wide, tall 5×5.

For the next four days — under clear skies and cloudy, wind and calm, we rattled in a dozen bucks, most of them at perfect .30-30 Winchester distance. A 150-grain Power Max Bonded at 2,390 fps would have delivered 1,900 f-p of energy and a heap of venison.

In the end, I held out long enough to take the spectacular 5×5 from 200 yards after my Rattling Forks antlers lured it out of the woods to the edge of a hay field. The .30-06 and 150-grain Extreme Point Deer Season bullet dropped it in its tracks. No complaints. But my oh my, how fine it would have been to take one of those rattled up, big bucks with a classic, open-sighted M94 .30-30 Winchester.

Maybe next year.