December 29, 2009
What We Can Learn From Lefty
By David E. Petzal
A friend of mine asked me to write something about Warren Page, Field & Stream’s shooting editor from 1947 to 1972. So be it.
Page, whose nickname was Lefty, started at F&S at just the time that the great wildcatting epidemic began. Every gunmaker who could ream out a set of loading dies had a series of cartridges with his name on it. Page, being a technoid of the first magnitude, was heavily involved in all this, and as he put it, “I wore out the decimal key on the typewriter.”
Yet despite the deluge of wildcats, and the eventual cascade of new factory rounds that followed, Page was essentially a one-gun hunter. He used lots of different stuff, but the majority of his big-game trophies were killed with a single rifle—a 7mm Mashburn Super Magnum. Page got this rifle very early in his career—1949 or so. He called it “Old Betsy,” and used only one handload for everything, a 175-grain Nosler semi-spitzer bullet at 3,050 fps. Throughout her career, Old Betsy wore only one scope, a 4X Redfield with a medium crosshair, and with this combination, Page killed 475 head of big game of all shapes and sizes, at all ranges. He hunted his way to a Weatherby Trophy and into Rowland Ward and Boone and Crockett.
Now, as then, we are barraged by new cartridges. A very few are truly worthwhile, but most are simply part of an effort to sell new rifles. Page wrote about all the new rounds of his day, but he was not taken in by them. When he wanted to kill something he reached for the Mashburn. It never failed him, and he saw no reason to desert it for something newer and trendier.
That is what we can learn from Lefty. If you have your own Old Betsy, stay with her. If you believe in her, that is worth more than any number of feet per second or grains of bullet weight or anything else that may come down the pike.