Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
After getting out of the marine corps, I was more than a little anxious to get back to my favorite hunting and that was groundhogs. Vietnam was winding down, and now I was out of the jungle and back to a heavy custom 22-250 instead of directing the fire from eight inch self-propelled. I traded in spotting for those 200 pound shells traveling 2300 FPS from ten miles away to a 52 gr. MK bullet out to 450 yds. Piece of cake.
This custom 22-250 was built on a 98 Mauser action which was very common for that era. It had a non contoured 26 inch barrel in a benchrest style stock. It was also fitted with German double set triggers, and the scope was a Lyman Super Targetspot in 12X. Simply put, it looked “accurate.” Weighing in at eighteen pounds, it clearly wasn’t a carrying gun.
Back then one of the excepted ways (and legal) of hunting groundhogs was to pull over at the side of the gravel road, set your sand bags up on the hood of the truck or car and watch for a hog to come out.
On this given night I was hunting a pair of fields close to home that I always “saved” for hunting thru the week after work when time was limited. One field on the west side of the road and one on the east.
When I got there, the field on the west side was to tall to see a groundhog even when he was standing up. The field on the east wasn’t much better, but after about fifteen minutes I saw a head pop up at about 200 yds, I settled the cross hairs on his head, set the back trigger and then touched the 2 oz. front trigger. The Sierra 52 gr. MatchKing was on it’s way and the head simply disappeared. About ten minutes later another head popped up about ten yards from where the first one had been. I sent another MatchKing on its way and that head also disappeared. After waiting awhile a third head appeared not thirty feet away from the location of the second. By now I’m thinking this is the same groundhog and I’ve missed him with the first two shots. Bearing down even harder, I sent the third MatchKing on its way.
Thirty minutes passed and no new heads appeared so I decided to take a walk out in the field to see if I’d connected on the last shot. To my surprise I found three groundhogs all head shot. I went from irritated thinking I’d missed three in a row to WOW-WEE !!!!
When I got back to my rifle I heard a truck start up at the house on the hill. This farm had sold during the winter and the new owner was a man named Dan DeVine. I heard the truck headed down my way and I thought “he’s coming down here to chew me out for hunting here.” I had hunted here many times thru the years and I just hadn’t taken the time to ask permission from the new owner.
In a few minutes Dan pulled up along side of me.
“Was that you shooting down here?” Dan asked.
“Yea…” I answered.
“What are you hunting?” he asked.
“Groundhogs…..” I replied.
“Have you got any?” he asked.
“Yes, I’ve killed three,” I replied.
“Hot dog !!! Outstanding !!……..I hate groundhogs. I broke a wheel on my rake a few weeks ago running off in a groundhog hole. Do you like ice tea?” he asked.
“Love it!!!!” I said.
“Come up to the house and we’ll have some and talk awhile.” he said.
Dan turned the whole 350 acre farm over to me. Groundhog hunting, deer, turkey, everything. Sometimes you get lucky. I’ve been crazy about ice tea every since.