Hunting With Handguns

Hunting with Doug Wesson and the .357
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by James F. Swidryk a.k.a. jamesfromjersey     Last updated: 2012-05-23 15:15:09

After reading Doug Wesson`s Outdoor Life article detailing his Wyoming hunt using one of the first 357 Magnum`s I can say with certainty that the outdoor writers of the day, with their poor opinions of hunting with handguns, really ( for lack of a better word ) pissed him off....Mr. Wesson`s hunt was two fold, first to prove the writers wrong and second, to show what an excellent handgun S&W had produced. Besides the hunt pictures I`ve included an original letter , signed by D. Wesson, along with their 357 brochure and order form. As handgun hunters we owe much to Wesson and all he did to promote the sport.

After consulting with members of the Camp Fire Club of America, one of the members urged Wesson to go with him to Wyoming where he would show him more antelope, elk and moose in two weeks then he`d ever seen in his whole life. These words proved true. In the words of DW "when I got off the train early one morning in late September, I had a duffle bag, filled with my Maine hunting clothes, a Magnum revolver, a Sam Browne belt and holster, 250 rounds of ammunition and high hopes for big game, but not a plan in my head". He soon met guide Jim Taylor at the ranch of Charles Belden where he was also introduced to a horse that would help climbing those steep Wyoming moutains even though Wesson was not completely happy with the idea of such transportation. He did not like horses....

First up, antelope. When the animal closed to a distance of 125 yards, Wesson drew his

8 3/4" barreled 357 and with the gun sighted at 25 yards with a dead center hold he snapped off a shot and was rewarded with the sound of a hit....They trailed the antelope for a mile and a half and were later to find that his first shot had just nicked the rear leg enough to slow him down. His 2nd shot was paced off at 230 steps and in his words "that dosen`t sound far, but, if you`ll look at one of those beast`s over a 1/10" McGivern front sight,you`ll find the sight looks alot wider then the buck". The second bullet had gone through both hips leaving a .50 caliber hole at the exit. The antelope finally gave up allowing for a finish shot with his open sight handgun...

His next goal was an elk which had him pack train up the Buffalo River to Turpin Meadow at the foot of Terrace Moutain. When the hunters reached an altitude of 11,000 feet Wesson heard for the first time the bugle of an elk which to him, "was distinctly startling". They spotted a nice bull at 130 yards, fired, and his words "I could see him wobble a bit". He fired at the departing bull two more times, both double action and both missing. The bull stopped at around 300 yards and he fired again which caused the elk to jump and disappeared into the brush. They found the dead elk not fifty yards from the last shot and determined that Wessons first shot passed through both lungs and his last had nicked a back leg. As for his two missed shots Wessos say`s "to hell with them. Glad I missed. They helped prove that the one shot did it"....

In Doug Wessons words "next to the wild turkey, the moose represents the most desirable of all American game". With these thoughts in mind Mr. Wesson and his pack train covered over 20 miles taking them over the Continental Divide to the Yellowstone River and finally making camp at a spot dubbed Hawks Rest. The group hunted for a couple of days without seeing any decent bulls when for the heck of it Wesson and his guide tried to see how close they could get to a bunch of cow moose. When they were within 15 feet of the nearest cow the guide poked Wesson and pointed to his left. There stood a bull that in his words "the very one I dreamed about for years years". At 100 yards he fired with the bull going about 40 yards and dropping flat out dead. After inspection he found that the bullet had entered the base of the neck, cut the second rib, passed through the lungs, sheared a rib on the other side, and lodged under the skin....

I`ll finish by repeating the last paragraph from Doug Wessons "Big Game with Six-Gun" article published by Outdoor Life in 1936. "Now I`am here to state, that, if a hunter wants a real kick, all he needs to do is to forget his rifle, take a powerful revolver, and go after big game. I believe there will be fewer wounded animals get away to die later, for the Magnum bullet has higher impact value then many of the small-caliber, high-velocity rifles. The large-diameter, sharp-shouldered bullet cuts a clean hole, and upsets beautifully. A single chest or shoulder shot is all that`s needed. And you`ve got to do a good job of hunting, and then, at the last minute, you`ve got to squeeze the trigger. Of course, you`ve got to work harder and more carefully, and you are more likely to miss. But it`s a thousand times more sport when you do connect".....

I`ve added another picture of a newspaper article which shows a 700lb. grizzly that Wesson shot with his 357 in British Columbia. This was long before the handgun restrictions that Canada is so well known for.


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Recent Comments:

Poster: TCTex.    Date: 2013-02-18    Top

Great article James! I think you need a job at Elmer's museum. (They couldn't afford you though...) Duane
Poster: S.B.    Date: 2012-11-22   Top

The author(jamesfromjersey0 of this post emailed me a copy of the original magazine article. Man was it interesting! Steve
Poster: S.B.    Date: 2012-09-30    Top

What year and month were these in Outdoor Life? Are reprints available? Steve
Poster: SChunter    Date: 2012-07-09   Top

Thanks James! As we've discussed, the 357 paved a bunch of ground for today's modern handgunner. And we can thank Doug for his efforts. I'll be traveling down that road this season some as well ;)
Poster: KRal    Date: 2012-06-03    Top

Great article, James! I still believe you should open a handgun hunting museum... ;)
Poster: Russell    Date: 2012-05-23   Top

Thanks for the article, James. It's a 'good read'.

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