Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz
This all started years ago. How many I’m not sure but it has been a while.
My local gun shop had gotten a InterArms Churchill 270 Winchester rifle in and while I don’t recall if it was used or new I do remember the floor plate latch didn’t want to work. The owner knowing I could fix it offered it to me at a price I couldn’t refuse. I have to admit that I didn’t need this rifle. I already had my trusty 7×57 Ruger M77 tang safety but my pal Jimmy had a 270 Churchill with a full length Mannlicher style stock that shot very well so not wanting to be out done I fixed the floor plate and put it “in the safe”.
Years passed and the Churchill went unfired residing peacefully “in the safe”. Until one day my son mentioned he might like to go deer hunting. My trusty Ruger was off limits but when I handed him the Churchill his eyes lit up and that was the rifle he choose. Of course I didn’t have any ammo loaded so the search was on for some brass. I had already gotten some RCBS dies so that part was taken care of and who doesn’t have a #3 shellholder? A brother in-law provided a box of Remington fired cases and we were in business.
I got the dies set up to give a minimal full length resize for smooth function and good case life. I chose the classic 130 grain bullet weight and I had the foresight to pick up a box of #1820 SBTs earlier. But Sierra had just introduced the 135 grain 270 MatchKing® #1833 and I just had to try them so I loaded a short 3 shot ladder test and headed for the farm. At the time I had a great liking for Winchester Magnum Rifle Powder and if memory serves me 58 grains gave exceptional accuracy. So I loaded all the cases and got a solid zero after fitting the Burris 4-16x Signature while I broke the barrel in. I gave the rifle to my son with stern instructions that the 135 HPBT MatchKings® were not for deer hunting.
I needn’t bothered. He was way too busy building a winning wrestling program to take time out to hunt deer. For several years he took coyotes and other nuisance critters around the farm with this rifle and he got the job done very effectively. He’s a great shotgunner and excellent hunter but was not so disciplined as a rifleman. But the discipline developed and he has become a pretty good rifle shot so at age 53 he decided he could make some time to go deer hunting for the first time. After all, he helped set up the blinds. Okay, fair is fair I guess.
This year Mike had a big tournament in St. Louis on opening day so I hunted by myself. I saw deer but nothing to satisfy the regulations (4 point minimum per side) and although I had an any deer tag I wasn’t ready to harvest one of our does. I didn’t go Sunday morning but went to the farm to see if Mike was hunting that afternoon. He was going to go but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. So about 2 PM I told him I was going to my area and he said he’d go to the “coaches stand”. “OK, call me if you need me” I said and I took off to the peace and quiet of the deer stand. I took the Teryx because I was hunting on the ground and had some extra “stuff” with me. I found the perfect tree and settled in for the afternoon.
I heard the 4 wheeler go past about 2:30 so I knew Mike would be in his stand shortly. I kind of leaned back and let my eyes shut and in that short time between real sleep and sub-conscience a shot shook me back to awake on guard status because I knew there could be deer headed my way any second. But look as I may nothing materialized. A few minutes passed and I got a text “got blood”. So I abandoned my nest and went to help. For just the fleeting of moments I considered staying put and continuing hunting but I knew he would need help eventually so off I went.
When I got there Mike was standing at the edge of the timber looking in. He gave me an idea of what had happened. He was watching the edge of a patch of timber when three does materialized at the edge of the timber walking south but looking back as they went. He said he just knew there had to be something following them. They looked nervous. As he looked back, following the does gaze there was movement, it looked like brush but not really. Then he recognized tines and silently a body materialized under the tines and the buck came up the bank into full view. And what a buck he was, tall with plenty of points. He was at a fast walk now and Mike had to make a choice, try to stop him or shoot. He put his binoculars down and grabbed his rifle. He tried to stop him with a bleet, then another but the buck was intent on the 3 does just ahead of him. It was now or never as the buck was about to disappear around the edge of the timber. He swung the cross hairs from back to front touching the trigger just as the crosshairs cleared the shoulder. The sound of a solid hit followed the shot but the buck ran hard right into the timber. Mike watched as the buck ran into the timber and looping to the north before losing sight of him. A few short minutes later and that’s about when I got the above mentioned text. When I got there there was blood but not much and I had my doubts as we proceeded. No more blood than I was seeing if he ran very far he’d be hard to find. I needn’t worried. About 40 yards in Mike spotted him and sure enough there he was and he was a good one. He shot his first ever deer last year on a Monday while I was working and less than an hour after getting into the same stand but I got to share in the excitement of this one and this one was worth the wait. That wait was all of about 30 minutes!
So now the work begins. We decide that we should call our friend Randy Beasley and let him know since Randy’s daughter Jessica had just taken a nice 8 pointer the day before which began a friendly rivalry. Of course he said he’d be right there so I went to pick him up while Mike stayed behind. After we got the big boy moved out of the timber where we could take a good look at him we knew we had our work cut out for us. After the pictures were taken the work began. We decided the gut pile needed to be in view of the stand for predator control purposes. It was near dark when we finally got back to the house and had hanging meat.
Randy and I both told Mike he might just as well get ready for it to get harder because it is very doubtful it will get any easier than this for him. Randy and I both have unfilled tags so while Mike and the Missouri Valley College Wrestling Team are off doing battle Randy and I have some hunting to do. The bar has been set. It could be a long season for us.