Finding The Perfect Rifle For A Once In A Lifetime Hunt
By Jackalope Jordan


My mathematically inclined friends laugh when they see lottery tickets in my pickup’s center console. Like almost everyone who plays the lotto, I never win. But dreaming about the big payday while waiting for a drawing has always been worth my $2.

Applying for hunting tags with low draw rates offers the same opportunity for idle fantasies. Only instead of searching the web for mountain shaded plots of land, I spend hours looking for the perfect rifle and cartridge combination for a theoretical sheep, moose, mountain goat or bison hunt.

A Missouri River Breaks bighorn sheep tag application may prompt an online auction quest for a pre-64 Winchester Model 70 chambered in .270, like Jack O’Connor’s favorite sheep rifles. A classic firearm intended for a classic sheep hunt.

For the imagined Gardiner Bison hunt I waffle between a large loop Marlin 336 lever action in .45-70 and a Ruger No. 1 single shot chambered in .35 Whelen. The Ruger is about triple the price but hey, what’s the point of daydreaming with your current bank account balance?

Of course there are cartridges and rifles versatile enough to carry on any Montana. So I search for the ultimate all-purpose rifle, settling on a Kimber 84L in .280 Ackley Improved. The rifle is light enough to comfortably pack around the alpine and packs a punch nearing the 7mm Remington Magnum with less recoil.

This goes on for months. Inevitably the few bonus points I’ve accrued prove too few for a successful draw. But elk  tags and Powerball tickets can be purchased over the counter so the daydreaming continues.

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