From 2000 to around 2012, the highlight of my year was the week I hunted in South Dakota. That was back during peak pheasant (see chart below), and it was to see a few hundred of those birds a day along with dozens of sharptails and huns.
Most years I went out for the season opener in October. One year I held off until November, once the crops were out of the fields all the hunters had gone home.
The day after I arrived, temperatures dropped from the 50s to the 20s and a blizzard rolled in and buried us. I spent the rest of the week hunting in conditions like you see in this video. I had a 12g Fox Sterlingworth and a chocolate Lab named Jack. For four days, we had thousands of acres of land, and thousands and thousands of pheasants, to ourselves.
As I’ve said before, the Fox Sterlingworth is the gateway drug for a lot of people who become addicted to vintage shotguns. These side-by-sides were rugged, reliable, and great deals when they were introduced and they still are today — especially when they’re in this kind of condition.
Even though there are lots of 12g Sterlingworths on the market today, few of them are as nice, or as unique, as the one you see here.
This is a 12-gauge Fox Sterlingworth Deluxe Brush with automatic ejectors and it appears to be in excellent original condition.
Back in the day, standard Sterlingworths came in four models: Trap (32″ bbls), Standard (30″ bbls), Field (28″ bbls) and Brush (26″ bbs). “Brush” guns were the lightest Sterlingworths available and they came standard with the most open chokes (Cylinder & Mod). I’ve always thought of them as the perfect Sterlingworths for upland hunting, especially if you’re into grouse and woodcock.
In addition, because this one is a “Deluxe” model Sterlingworth, this gun came with twin ivory beads and an original pad. Automatic ejectors were added as another feature.
More info about this one from the seller: My personal benchmark gun. Decided after it being in the safe for several years that someone else needs to own it. Will start it out here for a week and see what happens. Specs are 26″ barrels choked .013 and .020 and bores of .729 per my Skeets, and 2 3/4″ chambers and ejectors. LOP to end of wood 13 1/4″. To end of Antiflinch Pad 14 1/4″. DAC 1 5/8″, DAH 2 7/8″. Weight and this is downright lovely is 6 lb 9 oz. A 12 bore made for bird hunting as they say. Serial Number. is 122114. Call this my benchmark gun because the case colors are just about mint. Slight fading on the underside, but they are all there. Blueing is 100 percent except for some small spot right around the top rib where Dan Rossiter from Custom Stocks and Steel, believed there may have been a bit oil or whatever missed when the factory did the barrels. Gun has been apart one time and that was by Dan when he checked the internals. He added the Antiflinch pad (forgot what was on it). Bought this at a small in Va from a collector. Gun’s bores were covered in cosmoline and per the house the gun had not been fired for over 50 years (who knows). Wasn’t fired much if at all. Some flaking on the finish in spots. I’ve done nothing to the gun and its time to move it on. Serial Number: 122114, Barrel Length: 26″, Chambers: 2 3/4″, Ejectors: Yes, Condition: Excellent, Metal Condition: Excellent, Wood Condition: Small bit of flaking, Bore Condition: Mint, Gauge: 12, Butt Pad: Jostam Anti flinch, Weight: 6 lb 9 oz, Choke Left: Mod, Choke Right: IC. PS. This is a Savage marked gun with all the best Philly Fox features. Also had twin Ivory beads (front and rear).
Patrick Flanaganm Border to Border Outfitters, is a wanderer, a dog lover, and a bird hunter. Living-the-dream he chases wild birds from Minnesota and South Dakota to Arizona. The guys at Project Upland caught up with him and some clients on a wild quail hunt. Check out this great film to join them: All Wild – An Arizona Quail Hunting Film
Hemingway went to Africa in 1933 and 1954. On his second trip, the .577 Nitro Express Westley Richards you see here and in the video above was the gun he carried.
The .577 Nitro Express is one of the most bad-ass hunting rounds of all time. Hemingway’s rifle fired a 750 gr. bullet, and generated a crushing 7,010 ft⋅lbf. By comparison, a .30-06 Springfield shooting a 220-gr bullet generates a wimpy 2,981 ft⋅lbf.
Famous Africa hunter John “Pondoro” Taylor wrote that the .577 Nitro Express was “a magnificent killer – it literally crumbles up an elephant”. Unfortunately, it could have the same impact on the man shooting it.
“The primary reason I go (grouse hunting) is to get away from everything and to be in that moment. It’s really special to be 100% completely present and committed, and it probably talks a lot about the flushing dogs. You know, you’re not listening to a beeper or a bell in the distance waiting for it to stop, you’re 100% focused on what’s going on in front of you the entire time…”
I’m pretty sure I posted this video from the Quail Coalition before. But it’s such a great look into a type of hunting I would love to experience that I figured why not check it out again.
This video shows as sorts of wild Texas quail doing what every hunter wants them to see them do: busting out in crazy flushes. And notice they hunters not using cockers or flushing-whips to get the birds in the air. That’s because these quail are the real deal.
Bobwhite quail are not one of a America’s conservation success stories. Over the last 30-40 years, their populations have collapsed throughout the south and across the southwest. Fortunately, some people, and some state agencies and working hard to try and these birds back. I hope they’re successful.
“For many, the bobwhite quail is a symbol of their youth in the South. Small game is often where many cut their teeth in the hunting world. Adam Keith, wildlife consultant, ventures back into his past to take a journey into the public lands of Missouri with state biologist Frank L. Loncarich and Kyle Hedges.” WatchFighting Back – A Bobwhite Quail Film by Project Upland now.
E.J. CHURCHILL PREMIER QUALITY OVER UNDER DOUBLE BARREL SHOTGUNS PAIR: BOTH GUNS ARE THE SAME DIMENSIONS, 28″ SOLID RIB, CHOKED .007″ AND .014″ with 2 3/4″ CHAMBERS, DOUBLE TRIGGERS, EJECTORS, FIELD FOREARM, PISTOL GRIP, CHECKERED BUTT MINT CONDITION MAKERS CASE, 7 LBS 4 0Z, DIMENSIONS: 2″ DAH,1 9/16″ DAC, 14 1/8″ LOP. Matched pair E.J. Churchill O/U The Premier Quality. 12 Bore game guns. Gun I made in 1926, Gun II Made in 1929. Serial Nr. 4220 was made for Abercrombie & Fitch and 3173 for a Mr. Wilson in San Francisco. They were both originally pigeon guns with 32” barrels. They were matched up as a pair and re-barreled to 28” through Churchill, Atkin, Grant & Lang, and Don Masters chocked IC/M and probably restocked by the maker, work which was done for a Danish nobleman whose coat of arms are on the escutcheon. Both guns have a full London proof. The actions of these guns are exact copies of the Woodward O&U actions, and were made by the firm of Hills, who also made the actions for Woodward. It was said at the time that Woodward built the Over & Under guns for Bob Churchill. This may be indeed true, but it is not likely, I believe Hill did all the actioning and in addition, they both used the same outworkers. A marked difference is the ejector system, which differs from Woodward and shows the Churchill input, as Bob Churchill felt it needed improvement. In total only 15 Over & Under guns were built by Churchill before WWII, of which this pair is believed to be in the best condition of those remaining. One of these guns is pictured in the book “The House of Churchill” by Don Masters. Price:$46,500
Stephen Grant Classic Hammer Sidelever SxS with original Nitro Proofed Damascus Barrels: Serial Number: 3822, Ejectors: No, Barrels: 30″, Barrel Type: Damascus, Action: back-action side lever with rebounding hammers, Gauge: 12 gauge, Stock Comb: 1 7/16″, Stock Heel: 2 1/4″, Stock Cast: 1/8″, LOP: 14 1/2″, Weight: 6 lbs. 14 oz., Choke Left: .003 Near Cyl., Choke Right: .003 Near Cyl.
Proof:Nitro: 2 1/2″, Minimum Wall Thickness Left: .030″, Minimum Wall Thickness Right: .028″. Price: $6,900
Webley & Scott 16 gauge SxS Boxlock Shotgun: Nice old prewar Webley & Scott 16 ga. Choked imp and full 29” barrels, DT, AE, LOP is 14 3/4”, leather pad, this piece has a third fastener, really nice old shotgun. Price:$3,895
Ithaca ~ 280 ~ 20 Ga. ~ Side-by-Side ~ Boxlock Shotgun: This Ithaca Model 280 is a side by side 20 Ga. shotgun. It has 25 inch barrels with a solid rib and 3 inch chambers. A checkered grip walnut straight grip stock and beavertail forearm. Has a very nicely engraved receiver with birds in flight. In over all good condition it comes as is.Ithaca-SKB checkered black plate. Weighs 6 lbs. 3 oz. Shows a little use and wear. Price:$1,699.99
I love old, German OUs–especially smallbores. And the 20 gauge you see here really has my heart pumping.
Greifelt & Co used to be a major German gunmaker. Founded in 1885 in Suhl, the company went bust in 1945 at the end of WWII. In those 60 years, they exported shotguns and rifles throughout the world, including to Von Lengerke & Detmold (which was purchased by Abercrombie & Fitch in 1929).
This gun is typical of the German-style OUs that companies like VL&D imported into the US. It looks like it’s built on a Blitz-style triggerplate action with double Kersten locks. I love the engraving and the carving on the metalwork as well as the horn drop points on the stock. All very classy.
German over-unders like this were part of the first wave of the OU revolution that started in Europe and the UK before the first World War and then boomed in the US in the 1950s with the Browning Superposed.
GREIFELT #1 PRE WAR O/U 20 GAUGE VL&D IMPORT: 26″ SOLID RIB, IC AND MOD, 2 1/2″ CHAMBERS, DOUBLE TRIGGER, EJECTORS, 3-PIECE FOREARM, ENGLISH GRIP, MAKER’S CASE, EXCELLENT ORIGINAL CONDITION, 5LBS 14 OZ, 3″ DAH, 2″ DAC, 14 1/2″ LOP. Price:$13,500
I’ve been kicking around the upland world for a while. As my friends and covers get older, I wonder what will become of grouse and woodcock hunting. To keep it thriving, it’s important we to attract new voices and new perspectives. Both bring in new blood.
The book came out a few weeks ago, and if you’re into bird hunting, it’s a must-read. It features lots of cool, full-color pics, and 10 essays with titles like The Quickest Path to Losing Hunting Partners, The Golden Hour, and, my piece, For the Heart. Here’s an excerpt. To read the whole thing, you’ll have to buy the book.
For the Heart
“Love can be hard to understand, especially when it’s for anything other than babies, puppies, and ice cream. Of all the things I love about upland hunting—my Pointers flashing through the woods, the whirl of a flushing woodcock, the cidery smell of old apple trees—my lifelong affair with shotguns is the most difficult for me to comprehend.
I’m not from a family of hunters or shooters. My grandfather never killed a bird in his life. While my dad was a fisherman, he never even owned a gun or fired a rifle. And I didn’t grow up on a farm with cornfields or stands of Aspen outside my door. I grew up in Connecticut, down the street from a 7-Eleven and a strip mall anchored by a bar called the Amber Light Lounge & Cafe. But despite all this, bird hunting, and especially shotguns, have always been my thing…”
I’m not used to nice accommodations, and on past hunting trips I’ve curled up with my Pointers to stay warm, eaten Beefaroni out of the can, and gagged while using outhouses ranker than rest-area porta pottys.
The North Maine Woods are 4-6 hours from Boston, 3Xs the size of Rhode Island, and more populated with moose than people. Once you’re in them, a dirt-road empire rolls out before you in every which way.. It’s lorded over by logging trucks, crisscrossed with brook trout streams, and spotted everywhere with grouse and woodcock cover.
Chandler Lake Camps is an outpost of comfort and graciousness amongst all of this. Built in 1902, it was an abandoned family retreat when current owners Jason and Sherry Bouchard bought in the ’90s. With hard work and grit, they rescued it from decades of neglect and turned it into one of Maine’s finest sporting camps.
For uplanders, Chandlers is a place to get into lots of birds, whether you do it by hiring one of the camp’s Registered Maine Guides or by grabbing a Delorme map book and asking Jason to highlight some likely looking spots like I did.
Lexi, Sky and I averaged 2-3 birds an hour — solid numbers considering it was our first time in the area. We hunted overgrown logging roads and shot into the woods to explore deep pockets of birdy-looking cover and the furthest cover we hit was only 15 miles away from the camp.
On top of great bird hunting, Chandler Lake Camps also has great accommodations. Guests are treated to their own hand-peeled, spruce log cabins, each with a wood stove, electric lights, complete indoor facilities and charging outlets for things like remote collars and GPSs.
Meals are served in the main lodge, and everyone eats together around a large, wooden table. Breakfast is to order, lunches packed for you, and dinner family style. There’s a different menu each night, and everything is homemade in the lodge’s kitchen–even the bread and bagels.
And while Chandler Lake Camps is far away from civilization, it does have internet connection to the outside world. So anyone who needs to stay in touch with home or work can check in.
As it says on his website, “Randy Newberg is a hunter” and “…the voice of the public land hunter in America.” It looks like he also a bit of a TV star and a popular podcaster.
In this video, you can go along with him as he and his buddies do some quail hunting in AZ. As one commenter said “The cussin in these videos makes it so funny. So real. I love it.” I agree. It’s well done, and worth checking out.
I’ve never been to Scotland and I’ve never shot a red grouse. But visiting the first to do the second is at the top of my bucket list. According to this article from National Geographic, I might want to cross it off soon.
This story appears in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.
The article’s well written and worth checking out if you’ve ever dreamed of traveling to the UK for the the Glorious Twelfth (simply August, 12, here) or if you just want to look at some gorgeous photographs.
Here’s one of the finest double-barrel shotguns you’re going to find. These Beretta 686s handle like OUs costing many times more. They’re also reliable, easy to fix, and with this kind of Onyx finish, just plain sexy. For grouse, woodcock, and quail, they’re just about ideal.
With two set of barrels, 26.5″ and 29.5″, and a price tag of just $1699.99, this one is extra special. That’s why I’m saying someone needs to buy this gun. If someone else doesn’t snatch it up soon, I just might be the one to do it.
Beretta 686 Onyx 20 Gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set: This is a very nice Beretta 686 Onyx 2 barrel set. The pictured barrels are 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue, both have vent ribs. The walnut stock and matching forearm are a nice grade of wood with a small hairline crack on the left side of the forearm. All in all a very nice shotgun at a very nice price. Price:$1699.99
Caliber: 20 Gauge.
Chambers: 2 3/4 and 3 inch Over/Under with ejectors.
Metal Condition: Excellent.
Wood Condition: Very good with a small crack on the left side of the forearm.
Bore Condition: All are bright and shiny.
Barrels: 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue.
Triggers: Single silver color.
Stock: Nice mid-grade walut with a checkered pistol grip.
15 inch LOP
Fore End: Matching checkered walnut with finger grooves.
Butt Pad: Replacement black rubber butt pad.
Weight: 6 Lbs 3 Oz with the 26.5 inch barrels.
Sights: Vent ribs with single front beads.
Chokes: Screw in, comes with 9 total chokes.
Extras: Comes with the second barrel and extra chokes.
Here’s something I’m dying to do, and with quail numbers up, I think it’s time for me to head west and check it out. I’ve never hunted quail — wild or pen raised. From this video, the experience looks awesome. The video was produced by the Quail Coalition. They did a great job.