By David E. Petzal
Life is filled with mysteries. Is there a sasquatch? What happened to Amelia Earhart? Why does Attorney General Eric Holder lack a chin? And did Elmer Keith really kill a mule deer at 600 yards with a .44 magnum handgun? It is, as Churchill said about Russia, a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
The bare bones of the story are these. In the mid-1950s, shortly after Smith & Wesson introduced the Model 29 .44 magnum revolver, Keith and a rifle-toting friend were hunting mule deer and the friend, who was out ahead of Keith, shot and wounded a mule deer buck on an adjacent ridge. Since the rifleman was making a mess of things, Keith assumed a reclining position bracing his gun arm along his leg and commenced to shoot at the deer with a 6-inch-barreled Model 29. The first four shots were misses but Keith was able to walk the rounds onto the buck; the fifth hit him and the sixth killed him. Keith claimed the distance from him to the deer was 600 yards, and he was challenged on it the rest of his life.