Here’s the second in a series of guest blog posts graciously provided by our friends at the Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA).
We always encourage our customers and followers to get out there and make new memories with their old guns. And because there’s always a story attached to their classic lever action or side by side, we hope they build on that history with their own experiences. WACA member Jake Grizelj (#9571) is doing just that with his prized Winchester Model 1895, originally built in 1902.
WACA is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation with a worldwide membership of over 3,000. The members are devoted to the preservation, understanding and collecting of Winchester firearms and related products as well as the role these products had in forging America’s heritage. As WACA members ourselves, we’re proud to play our part in this mission.
Our goal with this guest blog series is to share WACA members’ outstanding knowledge and passion for Winchester firearms. We will share articles aimed at informing Winchester owners and enhancing their collecting experience, along with personal stories and memories related to Winchester firearms that we hope will resonate with you as much as they do with us.
And with that, here’s our next WACA guest post. We encourage your thoughts in the comments section below.
Rusa Hunt with a ’95
By Jake Grizelj #9571
My love for Winchesters came about because of my grandfather. He is an unbelievable shot and had me shooting his Model 1894 from the age of four. It was an instant addiction to all things Winchester. The first time I saw a ‘95 was on the famous “The Kind That Gets Them” poster as a teenager. From then on I knew I would endeavor to own one of these majestic rifles.
I’d been searching for years on an internet site we use here in Australia to buy and sell guns but with no luck. Then about six years ago I found it—in Tasmania of all places.
The factory letter from the Cody Firearms Museum Records Office states this Model 1895 Rifle, s/n 39298, is .303 British caliber, with all other features standard, except it’s fitted with a ‘76 style Sporting Leaf Rear Sight.
Instantly I started developing a loads and testing them at 50 yards. The final results were flawless: 46 grains of 2209 (this is an Australian slow burning powder), a 180 grain Sierra round nose soft point, Remington case and a CCI Large Rifle primer. So, with that sorted, it was off to the field for a hunt.
A very good farmer friend of mine has a small pig problem, so I grabbed the ‘95 to see if I could help. I was able to help him out while grabbing some great practice and confidence at the same time. Then we started organizing some deer hunts.
The author with a good Javan rusa stag taken with his 1902 manufactured Model 1895 Sporting Rifle in .303 British.
The plan for this particular trip was for myself and a good mate of mine to load up and head north to meet Peter Richards for a four-day chital (axis) deer hunt for meat. On the drive up it just so happened that we were going past another private property with a different species of deer—a much larger deer known as rusa.
There are two main types rusa in Australia. Javan rusa are the larger of these, with males getting to 110 cm (43inches) at the shoulder and can weighing up to 140 kg (308 pounds). These deer originate from the Indonesian islands. Moluccan rusa are the smaller type. The Javan rusa were liberated in Australia at the start of the 19th century and were released into New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. These deer thrive in hot humid places such as the New South Wales Eastern Coastal area and now number in the tens of thousands.
We arrived to the property at 1:00 pm, not the best deer hunting time, but we grabbed the ‘95 and some bino’s and thought we would try our luck. Signs were promising, the wind was perfect and there was plenty of green pick for the deer. We moved slowly and stopped to glass a bit. As quiet as we were, we still spooked some rusa does on the timber line. They didn’t run off too quickly and we were able to wait five minutes and press on.
We kept following the timber line, and as we came around the next corner there he was—a good rusa stag with two does. We had the wind perfect but we had the sun in our eyes. We guessed he was at about 120 yards. I crawled to approximately 106 yards and laid down to wait for a broadside shot. He wouldn’t turn and it posed a problem. If he came any closer, I would lose him down a very small rise in the landscape. It was now or never. He turned broadside and WHACK, straight down. I quickly jumped to a knee and reloaded but it was not needed. I turned to my best mate and he said stunned “great shot!” With no time to spare, I phoned Peter to turn on the cool room. After a couple quick photos we prepped the animal. Then we got it into the truck the best we could and headed off. We hung him up in the cool room to set and grabbed a well-deserved beer.
We continued on to the chital hunt but with over a fridge full of meat we weren’t too concerned on harvesting and instead concentrated on fishing fresh water bass. Once we finished fishing, we headed back to Peter’s house to butcher the meat now that it was set. Butchering our own meat is something we are very fortunate to be able to do. The meat is a great resource and to get the process started with a 116-year-old ‘95 just makes it a whole lot better. I think Teddy would be proud.
I feel this rifle is an extension of my arms. I can’t wait to continue hunting with it in the future and next plan to take it with me overseas for caribou. The Model 1895 to me is the pinnacle of a hunting rifle.
Reproduced with kind permission from the Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA). All images courtesy of WACA.
More About the Winchester Arms Collectors Association
This article was previously published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Winchester Collector. To greatly enhance your collecting experience, join the Winchester Arms Collectors Association (WACA). It’s only $50 per year, and you’ll receive our quarterly magazine with great articles on historic Winchesters and Henry rifles, along with many other member benefits such as 15 additional record searches for Cody Firearms Museum members. It’s easy to join online with a credit card by clicking here.