Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jack O'Connor exhibit

Alright slight warning, this blog is about guns, hunting, and its written by Steve. You have been warned.

So I lived in Moscow for a total of 9 years, yet right up to the end I kept finding cool things that I didn't know where there. One of those things is the Jack O'Connor collection a mere 25 mile drive from Moscow in Lewiston Idaho.

Jack O'Connor was a long-standing writer for Outdoor Life and a major proponent of the .270 Winchester, my personal rifle of choice. All true fans of the .270 are required by man law to make a pilgrimage to the O'Connor exhibit to pay homage to the world's most famous .270. So we drove to Lewiston, I was excited and my sweet dear wife was very humoring.

And there it is, the world's most famous .270, just a simple Winchester Model 70; Jack O'Connor hunted game on 6 continents with that rifle. If it wasn't for that rifle, we'd probably all be hunting with 30-O6's.....the horror is more than I can fathom.

Jack went on several hunting trips, but he didn't go alone. His wife Eleanor with with him on several of his trips. Couple of neat tidbits about Eleanor. The top rifle is a very expensive Mauser rifle that was custom built for Jack. He let Eleanor shoot it once and she loved it so much he never got to shoot it again (does that sound at all familiar to the husbands out there?)

Another tidbit is that even though Jack is the famous hunter, Eleanor was the better shot. The bottom rifle is a 30-06, with that rifle she took two tigers, a lion, and an elephant all with one shot kills. To put that into perspective, taking an elephant with one shot from a 30-06 is kind of like asking a football punter to tackle a big running back: it can be done but its alot easier when a linebacker does it.This is some of the gear that Jack took with him on his many hunting excursions.

The rest of the exhibit is filled with taxidermy examples of the game Jack took on his hunting trips. Jack considered himself to be an educator. In his time zoos were still learning how to keep the more exotic animals in captivity. In that time the only real way to educate the public on many of the world's exotic species was to take a specimen for taxidermy. These are some of the animals he took from Africa.

I really liked this particular mount. First off, I like 70's era hair on this lion, doesn't it just look like he has big ol lambchop sideburns? This lion is a swinger baby! Second, the expression on that lions face reminds us of our place in the food chain. As I looked at the lion mount I kept thinking "without a gun, you are lion food buddy." After looking a lion in the eye at close range I think I'll pass on that African lion hunting trip until they let me take a fully-automatic 40mm grenade launcher. When the quarry can eat you, sporting be damned.

Some more of the mounts in exhibit. After seeing the lion, the tiger was not nearly as scary.

Some examples of North American game taken by Jack O'Connor.

This mount shows one of Jack O'Connor's biggest hunting achievements. Mountain Sheep are a very challenging quarry, have you ever tried to shoot a rifle while walking around rock cliffs? In the 1940s noted big game hunter Grancel Fitz thought the ultimate challenge in hunting would be to take one of each of the 4 varieties of Mountain Sheep. He termed it a "Grand Slam" and challenged hunters to fill a Grand Slam. Problem was, by the time Grancel came up with his "Grand Slam" concept, Jack O'Connor had already done it......3 times.

As we came out of the Jack O'Conner center we were greeted with this site, a family of Osprey's. I'm not sure if we saw the nest or smelled it first. Osprey's feed mainly on fish, I'll let your imagination tell you what a bunch of fish remains smell like on a 100 degree day in July.

Now I've paid my proper respects to the greatest proponent of the .270, its time to truly honor him....now where is that rifle of mine again?

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