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March 09, 2007

Why You Need to Know Old Elmer

By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

Not Elmer Fudd, Elmer Keith--one of the four pre-eminent gun writers of the 20th century (the other three being O’Connor, Whelen, and Page). In 1974, while at the National Sporting Goods Association show, Winchester Press gave me a book titled Keith—an Autobiography. (Snappy title, huh? No wonder they’re long out of business). I wasn’t a fan of Keith’s, but I started to read it on the flight home and I was hooked for fair. The plane could have crashed and I wouldn’t have stopped reading.

High_muley13
Elmer Keith in his 20s or early 30s. The photo is from the Field & Stream archive.

Elmer Keith was born in 1899, and spent much of his early life in Montana, which at that time was still the Wild West. When he was 11, he was terribly burned in an arson fire, and by all rights should not have survived. Reading about his suffering makes your skin crawl. But survive he did, and he later became a cowboy, hunting guide, competitive shooter and, in the late 1930s, a highly successful gun writer.

Keith became famous as the father of the .44 Magnum, and as the Exalted High Poobah of big-bore rifles. He staged a legendary and long-lived feud with Jack O’Connor, who often ridiculed him in print, but to thousands and thousands of shooters, Keith’s writings were the Revealed Word.

Keith was a rarity in that he was an expert with rifle, revolver (he was no fan of automatics), and shotgun, and wrote influential books about all three. I never saw him shoot, but I knew people who did, and they said it was like watching a snake strike. His most famous single shot was at a mule deer at 600 yards with an iron-sighted (no scopes on handguns then) revolver. He said he killed it, and he probably did.

There are lots of Keith books around, but the place to start is with his full autobiography (the Winchester book is considerably shortened) Hell, I Was There. If you become a fan, I also recommend Sixguns and Guns and Ammo for Hunting Big Game.

Keith died an especially cruel death. In 1979 he suffered a stroke, and spent the next five years in a nursing home until he passed away. They are not making gun writers like Ol’ Elmer any more.

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from john reinhart wrote 5 years 17 weeks ago

Enjoyed note on Elmer Keith but you're off a bit on the year he had his stroke. One of my most prized items is a photo of Elmer with his arm around my shoulder taken at the 1980 Outstanding American Handgunner Awards Foundation party in KC, MO. Elmer was there with wife Lorraine. Seems to me Elmer had is stroke later that year. I know it was the last NRA/OAHA event he attended. A great man ... big bore handgnners all owe him much.

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from Patrick G. wrote 5 years 37 weeks ago

I believe that he did make that 600 yard shot - unless I'm mistaken, that elk had already been hit, so it wasn't really a matter of being reckless - the other guy was out of ammo so Elmer asked if he could get in on it and lobbed some rounds down range. Let's put it another way - it seems so fantastical that anyone who would claim such a thing would instantly be labeled a liar, right? Don't you think Elmer KNEW that? And yet, he chose to tell it like it was anyway. I think that it was probably a fluke more than anything (and the way he wrote it, I think he thought it was a fluke too) but I do believe that it happened, and exactly like he said it did.

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from rmcnabb wrote 5 years 44 weeks ago

It is not possible to kill a mule deer, and especially not an elk, at 600 yards with a 44 magnum pistol, especially with iron sights. It cannot be done, it has not been done, it will not be done. I would love to be proven wrong, but do not expect it in my lifetime. Ask yourself - would you shoot at an elk at 600 yards with a scoped Marlin lever action in 44 magnum, and expect to have any chance of actually killing it? Then what chance would you have with your model 29? I don't care how many boxes of ammo you put through it practicing. Keith was a good writer but he was also a fearless self promoter.

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from roger estes wrote 6 years 6 weeks ago

Dave - Do you know if Rick Jamison writes for an gun magazine anymore? I'd take a subscription to the magazine if I could just find one! Thanks,Roger

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from Del in Kansas wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

In 1979 the NRA convention was in Kansas city at Bartle hall. While there I had the great fortune to run into Mr. and Mrs Elmer Keith in the exibit hall. My all time favorite writer was friendly, gracious and took the time to talk guns with me while a small entourage waited. He was the real deal. Back when he was young most bullets were poorly made and often failed at high velocity. Large heavy bullets don't go to pieces and fail to penetrate. It's as valid today as it was then but now we have quality bullets by Nosler, Barnes,Swift and others that hold together at high velocity. Spelling be damned Elmer was a hell of a good writer and I don't doubt for a minute he made the shot.

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from silvertip-co wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

The 600 yard kill was an elk. One day he shot one with 44 magnum handgun, probably one of the first Model 29 that were available to him as the creator of same. Since so many were skeptical of the shot the next day he did it AGAIN.

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from Paul Kowalski wrote 7 years 3 weeks ago

Being 55, life member of the NRA since 1973,reloader since the first clinton administration (lower case intentional)and having read everything more than once including my American Rifleman magazines since 1971(still have them all on file.I am glad to see Skeeter Skelton get a vote. He was loved and will be missed.As for current writers, I enjoy Mike Venturino, Rick Jamison and Sheriff Jim Wilson. Why Shooting times lost the first two is beyond me. I may be rethinking my subscription.About Hoppes: as someone with a background in Chemical Engineering, I loved the original Hoppes with nitrobenzine. ( Still have a quart stashed away). Loved the smell.For general purposes, I've been mixing my own "Ed's red bore cleaner" Formula on the web and from a cleaner recipe from Maj. Gen Julian Hatcher in "Hatcher's Notebook" A must read for anyone interested in firearms and ballistics. He wasn't a writer, but boy did he keep notes on his experiments!!!.Ed's Red: Equal parts, I use one quart each, of: Acetone, Turpentine, Kerosene and DexronII auto transmission fluid.You can use paint thinner instead of the turpentine, But real turpentine smells better and is available. The Dexron II replaces sperm whale oil from the original recipe. Pure lanolin can be added as well, but I have not done this.Great for rimfires and shotguns. Save the good stuff for the copper fouling. And may the last good smell you remember be Ed's Red

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from Visitor wrote 7 years 4 weeks ago

I have many orig. letters wrtten to a friend of mine by Keith. $$ cannot buy them ( 50 or more letters) Spelling was not his best suite, but you can understand what he his saying and trying to convey to us so called marksmen. Yes, I believe he killed the deer at 600 yds with a handgun, as much pratice will help all of us when the game is there. I just wish I had the time and WANT TO to pratice more. I do a lot pior to hunting season, but need to each week. Last year I was hunting in Montana and did kill a nice 4 x 4 deer at 345 yds with a 30-06, one shot, He fell in his tracts. I also hunted Antelope in WY and killed a nice lope at 325 yds, one shot using a 25-06. Both guns had good scopes ( Nikon's Monarch's) each gun was zeroed in @ 200 yds and I shot them a lot prior to the hunts. I knew where the bullet would strike each shot and knew how my guns would take certain ammo over other brands. To be successful, you got to have good equiptment, Ammo, scopes and pratice a lot to know where your bullet is going to hit. I bet Elmer shot more in a week, than most of us shoot in a lifetime. Wish I had had the opportunity to visit with Elmer, but we put off the important things in life until its too late. Many outfitters tell me, that 50% of their customes come out on a dream hunt and buy a high $ gun, scope, etc and never fied it prior. They tell the guide, that it was bore sighed at 100 yds by the dealer. We all know thats more or less a guess, just to hopefully get you on paper at 50-100 yds. .O well, to each his own. At 72 yrs of age, I hope to take a nice animal with a 44 mag Blackhawk with 7 l/2" bbl before my hunting days are over.Another piece of equiptment I would not go West with out is a quality rangefinder. The way the land rolls and tumbles, we may think is only 200 yds to the game, but in reality is near 400 yds. I learned that the hard way many yrs ago, when I shot under a nice Elk, thinking he was 200 yds away and he was 300 yds out. Happy hunting guys.

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from Blue Ox wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I am all about big bore wheel guns. Was happy with my super blackhawk (.44mag) untill I outgrew it. Moved up to a redhawk in .454 casull. Found it lacking. The S&W .500 wasn't bad, but I wanted more. My current love affair is with Magnum research's BFR in .450 marlin. The recoil doesn't phase me but I'm having trouble with the grip- it's waaay too small. (my hands are 5 1/2 inches across at the knuckles.)Can anyone give me a suggestion on where I can have some custom grips made? Go F&S!!

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from Charles Benoit wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

One thing I have to give credit to "Sixguns", it really gave me a lot of confidence in shooting a handgun. I always doubted my ability to shoot well in my earlier years, but after reading the book many, many times, I begin to look forward to practicing handgun shooting and to improving my skills. Skeeter Skelton also had an influence on me too, but Elmer's books really had a big impact. Both men agreed that practice was the constant key to improvement.I still consider myself a very poor shot with any type of firearm, but I've got better over the years. The 44 mag is my favorite gun thanks to Elmer. Regards,Charles Benoit

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from O Garcia wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Both O'Connor and Keith were right. Problem was, they were too proud and stubborn to see that.

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from SH00T2THR1LL wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I read 'hell i was there' in 9th grade before i started hunting (none of my family hunts, or anyone is so cal for that matter) and it converted me. It is a great read cover to cover and the reason i started hunting. I owe every outing in the woods to Elmer Kieths writings

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from al the infidel wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

600 yds? The better you are, the luckier you are......

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from Concerned_Soldier wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Dave,I'm no sycophant (read asskisser), but your a pretty good writer yourself.Still I look forward to more of "The Guns I own" segmants!!Or maybe some segmants on new guns?ThanksC_S

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from SteveC wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

In the world of writers from the 50’s and 60s, Jack O’Connor or Elmer Keith were the two I disliked the most. Some of this initially had to do with my envy of their access to anything and everything hunting/shooting and how they clearly took it for granted. Most of it had to do with their overt egotism in a world of egotistic writers.There were always two things that bother me about Keith’s (and O”Connor’s) views that prevented me from him too seriously. First, he characteristically viewed his opinion as fact. I don’t question his vast, first-hand experience. But, as another outdoor writer once quoted, he suffered from believing his experiences comprised all there was to know about a subject (i.e., if he could kill a grizzly at 300 yds with a .44 magnum handgun then any hunter that couldn’t was at fault). Second, as accomplished as he was, he took shots that can only be described as stunts and which no responsible hunter should ever attempt.Reading Keith is interesting the first time around. After that, his all-knowing, “Hell – I Was There” attitude rings of bragging from a know-it-all. I also don't like having to trust a writer who's expliots too often smack of BS.

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from Michael wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Always loved reading Keith. His book Safari (now a collector's item) was filled with beautiful pictures. As a teenager, I was enthralled with that book. Another excellent writer is Col. Charles Askins. Read his autobiography "Unrepentent Sinner"for highly entertaining reading. He takes shots at Keith and O'Connor both in this book.

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from John B. wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Years back I ordered some of Elmer's books directly from him in Salmon Idaho. He autographed them of course, but also hand corrected publishing errors. Captions wrong, etc. It was really neat. Always wished that I had gone down to Salmon and dropped in on him for a chat. He was apparently quite accessible.

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from J.Broussard wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Many people have discredited Mr. Keith's 600 yard handgun shot as impossible. I have watched shooters regularly topple rams at 200 meters during IHMSA shoots and do believe it could be done consistently at distances much beyond that range. I have personally put all six rounds from my 7.5 inch Redhawk into a coffee can at 100 yards, so I know that modern handguns are certainly capable of fine accuracy.I never met Mr. Keith personally, but his friend and fellow pistolero, Bill jordan, answered the question best when he offered anyone who thought Elmer was a liar the opportunity to let him shoot at them at the same distance. There were no takers.

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from Dr. Killdeer wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I cannot disbelieve Keith's shot, as I do believe the famous 2,500 yd. shot of Hathcock. Different target, same super-human skill.

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from William Limpert wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Agree with all prev comments re Keith. Just imagine the fun he could have had with the S&W .460 or .500.

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from Visitor wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Being a BIG BORE Fan, I liked Keith's writings and I seem to appreciate them more so as time goes on. I would say he is "old school" in a fast paced World that helps me slow down and smell the roses.

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from Roger E. Reeves, Sr. wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

If you have not read Keith's books, you have missed teh best books ever written on guns and hunting. Too bad he nefver got to write anymore. Thanks to Keith, we have the 44 mag. His Son is still alive and well. He does have a few of the 44 Mag with Keith's name on it for sale. Sorry, I don;t have his address. But, once you begin reading, you cannot stop. By far best guns books and Autobiography I ever read

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from Scott Campanaro wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

600 yards seems doable - you have to remember Elmer shot more in a month than most people will shoot in their whole lives.With natural ability and practice you can do quite a bit - I shoot with some guys who regularly (75%) hit a 20" gong at 200 meters with .22s I banged away at it for about 10 rounds until I put a .44 on it (once you get the hold over you should be able to hit the target at about 50%... better as you practice).IF you were to make a practice of it you could get to where you hit consistently and not have to waste as much ammo as I did walking it on... on a 6-7" brrl you are probably going to have to hold past the front site post base an have some brrl in the rear sight. Using the "shoot over the leg" hold (kind of an old creedmore shooting position) you should do quite well.If you set up a 55 gal drum at 600 yards and committed to 1500-2000 rounds of practice... I think most people would get it down.

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from Dr. Killdeer wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Agree... But still having a hard time with this one. Sounds like Davey Crockett or Daniel Boone lore

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from John wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Mythbusters determined bullets falling straight down, after being fired straight up, pulled soley by the force of gravity, are not lethal. They said that bullets travelling at an arc after being fired at an angle can indeed be lethal.

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from Dr. Killdeer wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Seriously... that 600 yard shot with a .44... you'd have to sight the gun like a mortar. Besides, Myth Busters determined that falling bullets are not lethal. Something's wrong here.

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from John wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

D Boone shot a bar

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from Allan wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I have read several accounts of how poor Keith was in sentence structure, grammar and spelling. His manuscripts had to be severely edited by his publishers. It is a credit to his technical ability that he was able to become a writer at all. Can you imagine that happening today?

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from Charshooter wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

I enjoyed reading both Keith and O’Connor when I was young and although I agreed with Keith on the 44 magnum and like shooting the 35 caliber, I have always liked the 270 Win thinking it the most practice open country number, and now I have taken to the 260 Rem as it has many similar qualities. Along with the 308 Win. and the 7-08 Rem these and the 30-06 remain favorites.However, I think it interesting that the 45-70 has captured so much attention; despite some exaggeration, I do agree that the ‘old solder’ is a great heavy woods caliber and will take the heaviest game in North America. This seems to be indicative that the words of Keith, as well as O’Connor are alive and well!

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from PbHead wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

Mr. Keith is another author worth collecting and studying. If you follow all of his advice, you could wind up with bruised shoulders, detached retinas and migraine headaches. But you would also have a great time.

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from Mark wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

O’Connor didn’t have much use for any caliber over .30, except for the 375 H and H*. Keith didn’t have much use for anything smaller than .30-caliber, or so in the books and articles I read by these two. Obviously, the real hunting world is somewhere in between.*Not a fan of the 375 as a dangerous game rifle or for plains and mountain hunting. I believe the .338 and .35 calibers are better balance cartridges and can use standard length actions.

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from Charles Benoit wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

Sixguns is my favorite book of all time. Could not keep track of the number of times I've read it. This book should be in everyone's home library next to the Bible.Regards,Charles

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from Idaho_oldtimer wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

If you ever make it to Boise, Idaho, stop by Cabelas and see their permanent Elmer Keith exhibit, where many of his trophies and guns are on display. Well worth a visit.

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from john reinhart wrote 5 years 17 weeks ago

Enjoyed note on Elmer Keith but you're off a bit on the year he had his stroke. One of my most prized items is a photo of Elmer with his arm around my shoulder taken at the 1980 Outstanding American Handgunner Awards Foundation party in KC, MO. Elmer was there with wife Lorraine. Seems to me Elmer had is stroke later that year. I know it was the last NRA/OAHA event he attended. A great man ... big bore handgnners all owe him much.

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from Patrick G. wrote 5 years 37 weeks ago

I believe that he did make that 600 yard shot - unless I'm mistaken, that elk had already been hit, so it wasn't really a matter of being reckless - the other guy was out of ammo so Elmer asked if he could get in on it and lobbed some rounds down range. Let's put it another way - it seems so fantastical that anyone who would claim such a thing would instantly be labeled a liar, right? Don't you think Elmer KNEW that? And yet, he chose to tell it like it was anyway. I think that it was probably a fluke more than anything (and the way he wrote it, I think he thought it was a fluke too) but I do believe that it happened, and exactly like he said it did.

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from rmcnabb wrote 5 years 44 weeks ago

It is not possible to kill a mule deer, and especially not an elk, at 600 yards with a 44 magnum pistol, especially with iron sights. It cannot be done, it has not been done, it will not be done. I would love to be proven wrong, but do not expect it in my lifetime. Ask yourself - would you shoot at an elk at 600 yards with a scoped Marlin lever action in 44 magnum, and expect to have any chance of actually killing it? Then what chance would you have with your model 29? I don't care how many boxes of ammo you put through it practicing. Keith was a good writer but he was also a fearless self promoter.

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from roger estes wrote 6 years 6 weeks ago

Dave - Do you know if Rick Jamison writes for an gun magazine anymore? I'd take a subscription to the magazine if I could just find one! Thanks,Roger

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from Del in Kansas wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

In 1979 the NRA convention was in Kansas city at Bartle hall. While there I had the great fortune to run into Mr. and Mrs Elmer Keith in the exibit hall. My all time favorite writer was friendly, gracious and took the time to talk guns with me while a small entourage waited. He was the real deal. Back when he was young most bullets were poorly made and often failed at high velocity. Large heavy bullets don't go to pieces and fail to penetrate. It's as valid today as it was then but now we have quality bullets by Nosler, Barnes,Swift and others that hold together at high velocity. Spelling be damned Elmer was a hell of a good writer and I don't doubt for a minute he made the shot.

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from silvertip-co wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

The 600 yard kill was an elk. One day he shot one with 44 magnum handgun, probably one of the first Model 29 that were available to him as the creator of same. Since so many were skeptical of the shot the next day he did it AGAIN.

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from Paul Kowalski wrote 7 years 3 weeks ago

Being 55, life member of the NRA since 1973,reloader since the first clinton administration (lower case intentional)and having read everything more than once including my American Rifleman magazines since 1971(still have them all on file.I am glad to see Skeeter Skelton get a vote. He was loved and will be missed.As for current writers, I enjoy Mike Venturino, Rick Jamison and Sheriff Jim Wilson. Why Shooting times lost the first two is beyond me. I may be rethinking my subscription.About Hoppes: as someone with a background in Chemical Engineering, I loved the original Hoppes with nitrobenzine. ( Still have a quart stashed away). Loved the smell.For general purposes, I've been mixing my own "Ed's red bore cleaner" Formula on the web and from a cleaner recipe from Maj. Gen Julian Hatcher in "Hatcher's Notebook" A must read for anyone interested in firearms and ballistics. He wasn't a writer, but boy did he keep notes on his experiments!!!.Ed's Red: Equal parts, I use one quart each, of: Acetone, Turpentine, Kerosene and DexronII auto transmission fluid.You can use paint thinner instead of the turpentine, But real turpentine smells better and is available. The Dexron II replaces sperm whale oil from the original recipe. Pure lanolin can be added as well, but I have not done this.Great for rimfires and shotguns. Save the good stuff for the copper fouling. And may the last good smell you remember be Ed's Red

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from Visitor wrote 7 years 4 weeks ago

I have many orig. letters wrtten to a friend of mine by Keith. $$ cannot buy them ( 50 or more letters) Spelling was not his best suite, but you can understand what he his saying and trying to convey to us so called marksmen. Yes, I believe he killed the deer at 600 yds with a handgun, as much pratice will help all of us when the game is there. I just wish I had the time and WANT TO to pratice more. I do a lot pior to hunting season, but need to each week. Last year I was hunting in Montana and did kill a nice 4 x 4 deer at 345 yds with a 30-06, one shot, He fell in his tracts. I also hunted Antelope in WY and killed a nice lope at 325 yds, one shot using a 25-06. Both guns had good scopes ( Nikon's Monarch's) each gun was zeroed in @ 200 yds and I shot them a lot prior to the hunts. I knew where the bullet would strike each shot and knew how my guns would take certain ammo over other brands. To be successful, you got to have good equiptment, Ammo, scopes and pratice a lot to know where your bullet is going to hit. I bet Elmer shot more in a week, than most of us shoot in a lifetime. Wish I had had the opportunity to visit with Elmer, but we put off the important things in life until its too late. Many outfitters tell me, that 50% of their customes come out on a dream hunt and buy a high $ gun, scope, etc and never fied it prior. They tell the guide, that it was bore sighed at 100 yds by the dealer. We all know thats more or less a guess, just to hopefully get you on paper at 50-100 yds. .O well, to each his own. At 72 yrs of age, I hope to take a nice animal with a 44 mag Blackhawk with 7 l/2" bbl before my hunting days are over.Another piece of equiptment I would not go West with out is a quality rangefinder. The way the land rolls and tumbles, we may think is only 200 yds to the game, but in reality is near 400 yds. I learned that the hard way many yrs ago, when I shot under a nice Elk, thinking he was 200 yds away and he was 300 yds out. Happy hunting guys.

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from Blue Ox wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I am all about big bore wheel guns. Was happy with my super blackhawk (.44mag) untill I outgrew it. Moved up to a redhawk in .454 casull. Found it lacking. The S&W .500 wasn't bad, but I wanted more. My current love affair is with Magnum research's BFR in .450 marlin. The recoil doesn't phase me but I'm having trouble with the grip- it's waaay too small. (my hands are 5 1/2 inches across at the knuckles.)Can anyone give me a suggestion on where I can have some custom grips made? Go F&S!!

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from Charles Benoit wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

One thing I have to give credit to "Sixguns", it really gave me a lot of confidence in shooting a handgun. I always doubted my ability to shoot well in my earlier years, but after reading the book many, many times, I begin to look forward to practicing handgun shooting and to improving my skills. Skeeter Skelton also had an influence on me too, but Elmer's books really had a big impact. Both men agreed that practice was the constant key to improvement.I still consider myself a very poor shot with any type of firearm, but I've got better over the years. The 44 mag is my favorite gun thanks to Elmer. Regards,Charles Benoit

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from O Garcia wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Both O'Connor and Keith were right. Problem was, they were too proud and stubborn to see that.

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from SH00T2THR1LL wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I read 'hell i was there' in 9th grade before i started hunting (none of my family hunts, or anyone is so cal for that matter) and it converted me. It is a great read cover to cover and the reason i started hunting. I owe every outing in the woods to Elmer Kieths writings

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from al the infidel wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

600 yds? The better you are, the luckier you are......

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from Concerned_Soldier wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Dave,I'm no sycophant (read asskisser), but your a pretty good writer yourself.Still I look forward to more of "The Guns I own" segmants!!Or maybe some segmants on new guns?ThanksC_S

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from SteveC wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

In the world of writers from the 50’s and 60s, Jack O’Connor or Elmer Keith were the two I disliked the most. Some of this initially had to do with my envy of their access to anything and everything hunting/shooting and how they clearly took it for granted. Most of it had to do with their overt egotism in a world of egotistic writers.There were always two things that bother me about Keith’s (and O”Connor’s) views that prevented me from him too seriously. First, he characteristically viewed his opinion as fact. I don’t question his vast, first-hand experience. But, as another outdoor writer once quoted, he suffered from believing his experiences comprised all there was to know about a subject (i.e., if he could kill a grizzly at 300 yds with a .44 magnum handgun then any hunter that couldn’t was at fault). Second, as accomplished as he was, he took shots that can only be described as stunts and which no responsible hunter should ever attempt.Reading Keith is interesting the first time around. After that, his all-knowing, “Hell – I Was There” attitude rings of bragging from a know-it-all. I also don't like having to trust a writer who's expliots too often smack of BS.

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from Michael wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Always loved reading Keith. His book Safari (now a collector's item) was filled with beautiful pictures. As a teenager, I was enthralled with that book. Another excellent writer is Col. Charles Askins. Read his autobiography "Unrepentent Sinner"for highly entertaining reading. He takes shots at Keith and O'Connor both in this book.

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from John B. wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Years back I ordered some of Elmer's books directly from him in Salmon Idaho. He autographed them of course, but also hand corrected publishing errors. Captions wrong, etc. It was really neat. Always wished that I had gone down to Salmon and dropped in on him for a chat. He was apparently quite accessible.

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from J.Broussard wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Many people have discredited Mr. Keith's 600 yard handgun shot as impossible. I have watched shooters regularly topple rams at 200 meters during IHMSA shoots and do believe it could be done consistently at distances much beyond that range. I have personally put all six rounds from my 7.5 inch Redhawk into a coffee can at 100 yards, so I know that modern handguns are certainly capable of fine accuracy.I never met Mr. Keith personally, but his friend and fellow pistolero, Bill jordan, answered the question best when he offered anyone who thought Elmer was a liar the opportunity to let him shoot at them at the same distance. There were no takers.

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from Dr. Killdeer wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I cannot disbelieve Keith's shot, as I do believe the famous 2,500 yd. shot of Hathcock. Different target, same super-human skill.

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from William Limpert wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Agree with all prev comments re Keith. Just imagine the fun he could have had with the S&W .460 or .500.

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from Visitor wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Being a BIG BORE Fan, I liked Keith's writings and I seem to appreciate them more so as time goes on. I would say he is "old school" in a fast paced World that helps me slow down and smell the roses.

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from Roger E. Reeves, Sr. wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

If you have not read Keith's books, you have missed teh best books ever written on guns and hunting. Too bad he nefver got to write anymore. Thanks to Keith, we have the 44 mag. His Son is still alive and well. He does have a few of the 44 Mag with Keith's name on it for sale. Sorry, I don;t have his address. But, once you begin reading, you cannot stop. By far best guns books and Autobiography I ever read

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from Scott Campanaro wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

600 yards seems doable - you have to remember Elmer shot more in a month than most people will shoot in their whole lives.With natural ability and practice you can do quite a bit - I shoot with some guys who regularly (75%) hit a 20" gong at 200 meters with .22s I banged away at it for about 10 rounds until I put a .44 on it (once you get the hold over you should be able to hit the target at about 50%... better as you practice).IF you were to make a practice of it you could get to where you hit consistently and not have to waste as much ammo as I did walking it on... on a 6-7" brrl you are probably going to have to hold past the front site post base an have some brrl in the rear sight. Using the "shoot over the leg" hold (kind of an old creedmore shooting position) you should do quite well.If you set up a 55 gal drum at 600 yards and committed to 1500-2000 rounds of practice... I think most people would get it down.

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from Dr. Killdeer wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Agree... But still having a hard time with this one. Sounds like Davey Crockett or Daniel Boone lore

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from John wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Mythbusters determined bullets falling straight down, after being fired straight up, pulled soley by the force of gravity, are not lethal. They said that bullets travelling at an arc after being fired at an angle can indeed be lethal.

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from Dr. Killdeer wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

Seriously... that 600 yard shot with a .44... you'd have to sight the gun like a mortar. Besides, Myth Busters determined that falling bullets are not lethal. Something's wrong here.

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from John wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

D Boone shot a bar

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from Allan wrote 7 years 5 weeks ago

I have read several accounts of how poor Keith was in sentence structure, grammar and spelling. His manuscripts had to be severely edited by his publishers. It is a credit to his technical ability that he was able to become a writer at all. Can you imagine that happening today?

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from Charshooter wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

I enjoyed reading both Keith and O’Connor when I was young and although I agreed with Keith on the 44 magnum and like shooting the 35 caliber, I have always liked the 270 Win thinking it the most practice open country number, and now I have taken to the 260 Rem as it has many similar qualities. Along with the 308 Win. and the 7-08 Rem these and the 30-06 remain favorites.However, I think it interesting that the 45-70 has captured so much attention; despite some exaggeration, I do agree that the ‘old solder’ is a great heavy woods caliber and will take the heaviest game in North America. This seems to be indicative that the words of Keith, as well as O’Connor are alive and well!

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from PbHead wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

Mr. Keith is another author worth collecting and studying. If you follow all of his advice, you could wind up with bruised shoulders, detached retinas and migraine headaches. But you would also have a great time.

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from Mark wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

O’Connor didn’t have much use for any caliber over .30, except for the 375 H and H*. Keith didn’t have much use for anything smaller than .30-caliber, or so in the books and articles I read by these two. Obviously, the real hunting world is somewhere in between.*Not a fan of the 375 as a dangerous game rifle or for plains and mountain hunting. I believe the .338 and .35 calibers are better balance cartridges and can use standard length actions.

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from Charles Benoit wrote 7 years 6 weeks ago

Sixguns is my favorite book of all time. Could not keep track of the number of times I've read it. This book should be in everyone's home library next to the Bible.Regards,Charles

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from Idaho_oldtimer wrote 3 years 12 weeks ago

If you ever make it to Boise, Idaho, stop by Cabelas and see their permanent Elmer Keith exhibit, where many of his trophies and guns are on display. Well worth a visit.

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