2008 Mexico Hunt with Ruger No. 1AH .25-06

In field judging game, Jack O’Connor is often quoted: “The big ones always look big!” That quote is found at least in one place on page 326 in Hunting Big Game in North America. The December 1973 Petersen’s Hunting magazine contained an article titled “The Big Ones Look Big”.

I will remind myself of that many times on future hunts!

It was Friday, our last day to hunt. At 3:30 PM, I decided that the “Flaco Nueve” would be shot on sight. At 4:40, he stepped out of the brush, at about 125 yards, right where I had taken his picture some 5 hours earlier. I only put the binoculars on him long enough to ascertain that he had not broken off any points in the last 5 hours. Then I got my rifle into position with the steadiest rest I could in that old tripod.

This hunt all got started last July when I visited with Judge Joe Clayton in Tyler, Texas. I had gone to pick a supply of his new printing of the Ruger No.1 book. While admiring several of his whitetail mounts taken in South Texas and Mexico, the discussion naturally turned to deer hunting. Joe mentioned he had scheduled a Mexico hunt the first 5 days of January, 2008 and there might still be an opening.. I knew of the rains that nearly all of Texas received in the first 7 months of the year; I knew that rainfall is highly correlated to the number of B&C quality bucks taken in that year. It had to be a super year for taking big bucks in South Texas and Mexico. In anticipation, I had entered the Los Cazadores Big Buck Contest in Pearsall in December. I was returning from a trip to the Chaparral WMA. I also signed up for the Los Cuernos de Tejas Contest at Carrizo Springs.

I was to meet Joe at the Circle V Ranch Center at 10:00 AM. I left home at 3:30 and was in Carrizo just after 8 o’clock. The McDonalds looked good. We left Carrizo Springs at 10:30 AM Monday (New Years Eve) morning to drive to the Colombia International Bridge to cross into Mexico. There were 6 in our group; Joe and myself, Howard Britain and Chris Petty, also of Tyler; Jim Schmidt of Granbury, and Howard’s Brother-in-law, Tim Weedo of Florida. We were to meet our Outfitter, Dr. George Vogt of the Laredo Hunt Club at the Bridge-USA side. All paper work was in order on our Gun Permits and Hunting Licenses. We were supposed to just drive right over, have our Gun Permits validated for entry into Mexico, go to the Ranch (about an hour from the Bridge) and be hunting by 3: PM. Well, it didn’t go quite that way- Guess What?? New Years Eve was a Holiday and no one was there to check the guns in! It was known that Christmas Day and New Years Day were Holidays, but take note-New Years Eve is not a good day for entering Mexico to hunt with your own rifle. We made a U turn and headed to Laredo and left the rifles and ammunition with a friend of Georges. Since it was expected to be sometime on Wednesday, January 2, before we could cross the rifles, on arrival at the Ranch our first order of business was to scrounge up loaners and shoot them. This was a little more time consuming than would normally be the case as we were not expected to show up at the Ranch without our rifles!

Judge Clayton was the first to get a rifle; a .300 Win. Mag. It took 18 rounds to get it on the paper and sighted in well enough to go hunting. The remainder of the rifles turned out to be an odd assortment; a .30-06, a .270, a 7mm Rem. Mag, and a couple of .243s.

Since Joe had such difficulty getting on paper, we moved the paper plate targets to 50 yards. Several rifles were “dead on”; mine was a Ruger Ultralight in .243 which shot an inch to the right. One shot and that was good enough! Several other rifles took several shots before the shooters were confident enough to take them to the stands. We finally were off; I was in my tripod at exactly Sunset that first afternoon. Even so, I saw a couple of does with fawns and was anxious to return the next day.

Returning to the main house, we all had a great dinner and were excited and optimistic that we might have our rifles the next day-New Years. George had contacted an Angadi representative, who was at the camp to pick up the Permit paperwork. He knew the General in charge; could get the paperwork processed and we would have the rifles to us on Tuesday. Joe and I went out Tuesday morning with Horacio, the Head Guide. I had deer all around me from daylight on! Three were bucks; a spike, a small 8 point and a really old buck with broken and palmated antlers; quite unusual. Horacio picked me up at 10:30 AM and we were anxious to see what Joe had shot at 7:15 AM. Seems as Joe was testing his rifle on a coyote! Prior to shooting light and trying to get settled in the tripod, the rifle had slipped out and went bum

pity-bump down the ladder. I didn’t laugh, as several years ago, I managed to knock a rifle out of a stand and broke the stock. It was a really nice No. 1, too! Anyway, no coyote, but Joe was satisfied the stainless laminate Model 70 was still good to go. That afternoon, we both went to a different stands. I had 2 smaller 8 points around all afternoon, along with several does and fawns. No rifles on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, we both returned to the same tripods as Tuesday morning.

Joe shot again at 7:10 AM! Again deer were everywhere; does, fawns and a couple of small bucks. At 8:15AM, off to my right, the biggest buck I had seen so far stepped out of the brush. He looked like a black Angus bull! After a few minutes of him studying my tripod, he joined the other deer. I put the binoculars on this buck and started to size him up.  He was not wide, about 18”; he had a huge body.  His right antler was a perfect 5 and very heavy; something was quite wrong with his left! There were 4 points; G-2 and G-3 were noticeably shorter than the right side and the main beam was considerably shorter and differently shaped. I decided he was not what I was looking for this morning! While he was off in the brush after a doe, I got my camera out and took some pictures of him when he returned a few minutes later. He had scrapes and scars on both sides of his neck and shoulders.

At 10:30 Horacio picked me up and we went to get Joe. George and Horacio had told us this pasture had not been hunted in 7 years and there were some good bucks here. I was sure Joe had nailed one! Joe shot the freak 9 point I had seen the previous day! Joe’s explanation was that he likes “kinky horned” bucks, has quite a collection of them and this one fit the bill. Also, it was just 32 yards away and he was confident in that .300 Win Mag. We returned to the Ranch House for lunch; today was the day we were expecting our rifles. After lunch, word from the Guides was that the rifles would be delivered at 2:00 PM.

Then it was 3:00 PM- no rifles; we decided to go back out for the afternoon. Also, we went to a different pasture than we had been to before. Joe had hunted this pasture the previous year and was very optimistic about it. Had deer all around me all afternoon; a small 10 point; a really good 8 point, fairly heavy, long tines and 20” wide. I thought him to be a 125-130 class buck. There were does everywhere and a few smaller bucks. Joe had a very nice 9 point at his stand. It was a long dusty ride back to the Ranch House. Dinner was ready, AND our rifles had finally made it across! Tim Weedo was interested in the big 9 point Joe had seen that evening, so that is where he went on Thursday morning. Now that I felt adequately armed, I intended to go back to the tripod I had hunted the first two mornings and stay all day.

Joe Clayton Mexico Kinky Horned 9-Point

It had been my plan to stay out all day each day, but with my doubts about that Ruger M77 Ultralight in .243, I just could not muster up the determination. It was 24 degrees F Thursday morning when I got out of the truck, the coldest morning of our hunt. I eagerly awaited shooting light! This tripod was exactly like one I have on our Ranch; a 10’ Strongbuilt. It was set on a fence line that separated 2 pastures. There was a ranch road running along side the fence on both sides. I could see to my right and left much farther than I was capable of shooting; it was probably 600 yards to half a mile. I set facing the North looking up a very old sendero that I could see through the brush to make a 200 yard shot. A light wind was out of the North.

I was looking for the bruiser that had beat up on the big-bodied 9 point. What I started seeing was cows! A bunch of cows, the whole herd! They were in the pasture behind me, coming down the road from my left. About 4 cows with calves had gotten through the fence and were coming down the road on my side of the fence. Now my experience with deer and cattle on our own ranch is that while deer are wary of the cows, they do not seem to be afraid of them and sometimes will feed along in close proximity. These Mexico deer were very alert to the cattle and would not stay anywhere near them! So as the herd (about 40-50) came down the road behind me and in front of me, the deer vamoosed! I stayed very still during all this as I thought the cows were going to a water trough way back to my right. As soon as they passed by and went on to water, I should start seeing deer again. Well, they didn’t pass on by; they stopped in an opening behind me and started grazing on grass. This went on from 7:00AM(shooting light) until 10:00 AM. I saw only a few does at a distance and only the little spike buck from two days earlier. Needless to say, when Horacio came by at 10:30 to check on me, I was in no mental state to stay here the rest of the day.

We picked up Joe and went to Lunch. There was some excitement at the Ranch House, as Tim had shot the big 9 point Joe had seen the previous afternoon.  We took pictures, had lunch and got ready to go back out to a new pasture. This pasture was way out to the far back Southeast corner of the Ranch. We went through 11 gates! It took about 45 minutes driving(and gate opening) to get there. There was about 25,000 acres in el Rancho San Antonio, divided up into about 20 pastures. Horacio told me that about 500 head of cattle were on the entire ranch.  This tripod was also a 10’ Strongbuilt; Horacio told me it was his favorite! I was out in a more open pasture and not on a road or fence line. The seat was broken and this stand had not been hunted this year. We checked on replacing the seat, but that was not possible with the tools we had. Actually, the seat was not broken; it was just a little loose. I got on it and could tell that it was not a problem. It wiggled a bit when you rotated the chair, but with setup presented, there was never a need to move the chair.

Horacio told me there was a really big 10 point(maybe 160 class) here and a skinny 9 point(the flaco nueve). I should mention here that all my communication with Horacio was in Spanish, as he spoke very little English. I had spent 3 years working in Monterrey, Mexico from 2000-2003, but had not really picked up that much conversational Spanish. I often joked that I did well in Restaurants and Banks; I knew the food and the numbers! I guess my Spanish was adequate for deer hunting too as you only need to know a few words. Words like the numbers from 8 up to however many points you want to say; that venado is buck, venada is doe and muy grande, muy ancho, muy alto and muy hueso is big buck, very wide, very tall and very heavy! Points is puntas and now you can go deer hunting in Mexico.

This tripod was setup in the most picture perfect location that one could imagine for hunting deer. I have often been guilty of hunting the “Pretty Places”; a setup where deer should just want to be because it was picture perfect! This was it! Only drawback was that the setting sun went down very nearly in your face.

View from My Stand

I could handle that for a 160 class 10 point. Deer were everywhere; several bucks and a lot of does. The best buck that came in was about a 120 class 8 point. Also, there were no cows! I was ready to return the next day and stay all day. With the sun coming up at my back, Friday morning had to be the morning. Temperature was about 40 degrees when I got out of the truck; Horacio was going to check on me at 10:00 and then come back at dark. At shooting light deer were everywhere. My shooting lanes were straight ahead and to my right.

There were too many bucks to count, but I think there were about 10. They were all very young 8 pointers and it was hard to tell them apart and get a count. Does were everywhere also and these bucks were chasing them around, sparring with each other, and two of them actually squared off for just one serious clash. The lesser one ran off with the more aggressive buck hot after him. At 9:20 AM, way back to my right, I picked up new buck coming in. With the binoculars on him, it was clear he was 9 points, very wide, nice tine length, but not very much mass. It was obvious this was the Flaco Nueve and aptly named! I made no move for my rifle, but continued to concentrate on him with my binoculars. I tried to estimate what he would score. This was a fun process, but as I was later to learn- I am not very good at it! I decided he had a 20” spread, gave him 50” (25” each) for his main beams, 28” for mass (14” per side) and 50” for the 7 tines. Well, that is easy math-148”! Not a bad 9 pointer! At 10:00 I could hear Horacio’s truck coming to check on me. Why not just go ahead and shoot him, load him up, go and be done. I got my rifle up, was on him, slipped the safety off. He was facing me at about 100 yards; I didn’t really want to shoot him head on. As soon as he turns, I will shoot. Well, you have seen this picture show before- when he turned, he was gone. He never saw me, but he heard the truck too. Horacio only stayed a few minutes. He told me he would return to the area in the afternoon when he brought Joe back and would come if he heard me shoot. He had no more than left and deer were back in sight. At 11:00 the Flaco Nueve returned for about and hour. Since I was committed to the rest of the day, all I did was take his picture.

Except for about a 5 minute period, deer were in sight all day. Several interesting anecdotes of the day I will relate here. These tripods were covered in the black weed barrier that my wife uses in her garden. It is a very tough material, but the constant wind of the area generally had these covers torn so that they were constantly blowing in the wind. The deer paid no more attention to the tripod when I was in them, since they were apparently used to the constant movement on them. Secondly, the wind blew from my left to right all day and at no time did any of the deer on my right seem to have awareness of my presence. I know it is contrary to everything you read, but at 10:00 when Horacio came, I got down out of the tripod, walked about 40 yards directly behind it and relieved myself. Well, at about 2:45 PM , an 8 point with 2 broken tines decided he would bed down, facing me, about 30 yards directly in front of the tripod. He was still there at 3:30. I knew I had to get down once more or I would never make it to 6:00PM. I could just envision the big 10 coming out about 5:30 and me about to pee in my pants! So I got down, walked the 40 yards behind the tripod, did my business and returned. Just as I was at the top of the ladder, I managed to bump my rifle and nearly knocked it out of the tripod! These tripods are not that easy for old, fat and clumsies like me to get into! I caught the rifle and made just the slightest noise. It must have woke up the 8 point, as he got up, and walked off stiff-legged to my right. He was not spooked, never looked at the tripod and never saw me. Even though I had brought a lunch and plenty of snacks, there was never a time to eat. I drank one small bottle of water. At about 4:00 the deer started moving; the big 8 point from the previous afternoon came out. I had already decided that the skinny 9 would be shot this afternoon if he came back. I was holding out for the big 10, but I did not want to go home without a story to tell. At 4:40, there he was; he stepped out of the brush right where he had disappeared 5 hours earlier. At the shot, my .25-06 sounded nearly like it was a squib round. It just wasn’t very loud. I could see he was hit; watched him run out of sight through the scope, and then just set there for a few minutes, reflecting. I knew Horacio would be here shortly, as a couple of hours earlier I had seen his truck on a distant road through my binoculars. I gathered my gear and walked over to find him. He had fell just out of my sight, having ran not more than 20 yards. Horacio arrived with 2 of the Ranch vaqueros. We took a few pictures, loaded him up, went back to the road and waited on dark-thirty. Next day, Joe and I were leaving to go home.

Mexico 9-Point “Flaco Nueve”

Postscript 1: The adventure is still not over, as we still had to check the rifles out of Mexico and clear Customs on the US side with our antlers and my cape. We left the Ranch House heading for the Border at 8:00 AM in a really dense fog. Horacio drove in front to keep us from getting lost! We met Dr. Vogt’s daughter Andrea at the River Ranch Headquarters and she was going to walk us through the rifle checkout. We were at the Colombia Bridge by 9:00 AM, but the Check Station was not scheduled to open until 9:30. Knowing how time works in Mexico, I was anticipating about 10:00! Surprise, surprise! They arrived at 9:15. By “They” and “arrived”, I mean a Military Humvee pulls up, machine gun mounted on top, ammo belt clearly visible and manned. Two other very young soldiers with FNs got out and the Captain came over to the Inspection Table, looked at our two rifles, signed the forms and that was that-nothing to it. That has been my experience in Mexico, with the Car Permits and the Work Visas; sometimes there was nothing to it and sometimes it was not quite as smooth- always got done, just took more time! That is why I would offer this advice on hunting Mexico: if you lack patience and tolerance, you might should consider staying Stateside! Mexico is another Country and things don’t always work out like you might expect them to at home. Don’t get excited, stay calm and plan on having a great time.

Postscript 2: Bringing the antlers and cape back is all you can cross with. The cape must have been frozen for 48 hours. There are other ways; check out **. Horacio had caped Joe’s “kinky horned” buck and the cape was frozen. Joe did not intend to use it and since my buck had been shot less than 16 hours earlier, I used Joe’s cape.

Postscript 3: My .25-06 Ruger No.1 was one of the Special Distributor’s Exclusives made in late 2006. There were less than 200 made with the 24” lightweight barrels, Alex Henry forearm and no sights. Less than 50 were stocked in Circassian walnut. I continue to be impressed with the shooting and handling qualities of this rifle. I had first mounted a Leupold VXII 2×7 on it for the Texas Deer Season and hunting on our Ranch. For this trip to Mexico, I mounted a VXIII 3.5x10x50. By next hunting season I hope to have a VXIII 2.5×8 matte with the B&C reticule mounted on it. I used Federal Premiums loaded with the Barnes 100 grain TSX on the 2 bucks taken this year. Both ran 20 yards; both had very small entrance and exit holes; very extensive internal damage, but there was no visible blood trail on either. I didn’t have to look for one, because each was easily found in the open. I am planning on using this same bullet next year, but will be watching its performance very closely. Many hunters more experienced than I with the Barnes TSX bullets report the game just don’t go far enough ( if out of their tracks) to need to have to trail!

Postscript 4: This is the second time I have ended up shooting a buck that I had previously passed over. I am resolved that this will be the last time. With regard to my 148” field estimate, other than spread, I missed the other 3 measurements rather badly.
Spread was 20.75 versus 20 estimate; main beams were 44.5 vs. 50; mass was 24.5 vs. 28 and tines were 42.5 vs. 50 making for a 132” score. He was skinny!
In field judging game, Jack O’Connor is often quoted: “The big ones always look big”!
That quote is found at least in one place on page 326 in Hunting Big Game in North America. I will remind myself of that many times on future hunts!

The Ruger No.1A in .275 Rigby-A Lipsey’s 2016 Exclusive

Jack O’Connor wrote in the October, 1966 issue of Outdoor Life about the introduction and his testing of the new Ruger No.1 single shot rifle. He concluded the article with these words:  “I am going to try to sneak enough dough out of the budget for a Ruger No.1. It is to be a light, handy rifle for a lazy old man to hunt sheep with. I think it will be a 7×57, a 270, or a 280 with a 4x scope and a 24 or 26-in. barrel to weigh about 8 pounds complete. I wouldn’t want anything better!”(1)

Over 10 years later, J O’C wrote in Petersen’s Hunting magazine an article titled Sheep Rifles: Fast, Flat and Accurate-With a Punch.(2) He wrote:  “A rifle that I have had my eye on and would like to take on a sheep hunt is a Ruger No.1 single shot in .270, .280 or 7×57. Because it does not have the long receiver, a No.1 with a 24-inch barrel is about 4-inches shorter than a bolt-action rifle with a 22-inch barrel”

Jack O’Connor never got his rifle! In fact, with the exception of two 24” A weight barrel .270’s that were made up by Lenard Brownell in 1968 for two close friends, these Caliber/ Configurations were never cataloged by Ruger. As O’Connor and Brownell were reasonably close and had hunted together, I guess Jack just never asked Len or Bill Ruger for his “dream” No.1 sheep rifle.

Well, Jack O’Connor’s dream sheep rifle has now been made. If you don’t have one by now, it is very likely that you are just out of luck!

In 2016, Lipsey’s Exclusive Ruger No.1 line up included for the 1A configuration a .275 Rigby with a 24” A weight barrel and Express sights.  We all know that the .275 Rigby is just a 7×57 Mauser called by its English name.

Only 110 of these rifles were delivered to Lipsey’s in the time frame from September, 2016 to May 2017. Serial# range that I know of is between 134-4678X to 134-4757X. The one I kept, I did not get set up to hunt with last deer season (2016). In February this year (2017) I did get it scoped and sighted in well enough to participate with the 24 Hour Campfire group in the 2017 Hog Hunt in Crystal City , Texas. By sighted in, I just knew I could hit a hog at about 75 yards! First afternoon hunt, I shot a sow that weighed 131#.

Ruger No. 1 .275 Rigby
The stand where I shot the hog from the first afternoon
Ruger No. 1 .275 Rigby Target
Target shot with the .275 Rigby


During middle of the day, a lot of shooting went on at the Thompson Game Ranch range. I took the No.1 Rigby down to see just where it was shooting. My friend, Bob Kolesar, had a target up at the 50 yard distance that he had one hole in, shot with a Boddington Leopard(7×57) that I had sold him several years ago. He said to go ahead and shoot at his target because his one shot showed very plainly. I had some Remington 140 grain soft points that I had sighted the rifle in with, so I thought I would shoot these first, rather than use my Hornady 275 Rigby headstamped ammo. My first shot was in the same hole as Bob’s, just slightly to the lower left.  Another of the Remington 140’s went right next to it, again just to the lower left. I decided to fire one of the Hornady 275 Rigbys; there you see it-just to the lower left again. Not bad for 2 different rifles with 3 different brands of ammunition, without a really solid bench rest!

This is to be a continued story, as I plan to use this rifle this year on Texas whitetails. There is also a Mexico whitetail hunt planned for December with Joe Clayton.

(1) Curiously, I have the original manuscript for this article- and in my old age, I have no clue where I got it.

(2) May, 1978 issue of Petersen’s Hunting. Published 4 months after Jack O’Connor’s passing in January of 1978. In this article, J O’C mentions that the last ram he took was a Stone near Colt Lake in northern British Columbia in 1973 with one of his favorite 270’s. I have a recollection that O’Connor hunted Stone sheep one last time in 1974, but did not take a ram. I do not have, at this time, have the the source for this.

Five Editions of the Clayton Ruger No. 1 Book

Five Editions of the Clayton Ruger No. 1 Book

I would think that everyone with a serious interest in the Ruger No.1 rifle, whether collecting, shooting or hunting, would have a copy of this book.
But, did you know there are 5 different editions?
  • 1st Edition -Numbered-500 copies
  • 1st Edition -Trade
  • 1st Edition -Leather-100 copies
  • 1st Edition -Special Leather-100 copies, but JDC believes only about 10 were made up. This Edition only has green leather (4.5″x7″) on the front with Title & Author. The binding appears to be a fine weave grey cloth
  • 2nd Printing-Softcover.
I have been told there were only 2000 copies printed in the 1st Edition.
If you have any of the first 4 Editions, consider yourself fortunate. I would also expect the Journal Supplement to be quite scarce!
Photos below are:  Below-Books, Left to Right; a 1st Edition without the dust jacket,the rare green leather title edition, the leather edition, the latest softcover reprint, with the covers same as the original dust jacket. NOTE-See Books for Sale to order a 2nd Printing Softcover. The 2nd and 3rd Photos are the front and back of the 1984 RCA Journal Supplement.
5 Editions of the Ruger No. 1 Book
The Five Editions of the Ruger No. 1 Book
An 8 page RCA 1984 Journal Supplement was also printed advertising and promoting the book. This Journal Supplement is the only place that the Cover Rifle pictured on the DJ is identified as a .222 Remington with the 200th Year Anniversary barrel marking. Also noted is that it is one of two such rifles in existence.
RCA Journal Supplement for the Ruger No.1 Book
RCA Journal Supplement- .222 Description



Ruger No.1, The Untold Story

Ruger No.1, The Untold Story

By Carl Ross

It was a beautiful October day in the Big Hole area of Montana. The Elk season was underway so Don Hartmann and a hunting buddy Bob Perkins decided to hunt in the area southwest of Wisdom. Don had picked a location in the Cow creek area. He was scouting along a ridge overlooking Cow creek and he spotted a Bull Elk across the draw on the next ridge. The rifle Don was using was a Ruger No 1 with a twenty-two inch barrel, Alex Henry forearm and no sights in 7mm Rem Mag. It was equipped with a quarter rib and scoped with a 2×7 Leupold. Don had the scope set on 4 power and as he sighted the Elk in the crosshair he could not quite make out the full rack because of the trees. Don estimated the range at 400 to 500 yards so he held the crosshair at the top of the Elks back. He took the shot and saw the Elk disappear in the brush. Don hiked down the ridge and across the draw and up the other side to where he thought the Elk was. As he approached the spot the Elk got up and staggered about 50 feet and collapsed. Upon examination Don saw that he had shot the Elk right through the rib cage. The bullet had passed through both sides making a clean kill. It was a huge 6 point bull and was one of the largest Elk Don had ever taken. Don was very pleased with the rifle he was using and decided he would like to purchase it or one like it.

Ruger No. 1, Serial number X-1, 7mm Magnum

Well, you probably think this is just another hunting article, what is the big deal? As Paul Harvey says here ís the rest of the story. During my thirty some years of collecting Ruger No1 rifles you hear all kinds of stories but very few that are verifiable, this one is.

While conversing with a friend, Kelly Lorge of Bowman ND a few months ago this story came to life. Kelly had been to a gun show in Glendive MT where he met Don and first heard the story. Kelly found out that Don also collected Ruger No.1’s and had a couple of early non-prefix rifles. Kelly gave me Don’s phone number so I could get the story first hand from him.

I called Don and he related the story to me and told me he had documentation to prove it and would send it to me. The letter arrived about a week later and was I astonished.

If you are knowledgeable about the early Ruger No.1’s we know that it was announced in late 1966 but the earliest production rifles were not shipped until April 1967.

Don’s hunt took place in October 1966, so what was he using?

Larry Koller from Monroe NY who was the Supervising Editor of Guns and Hunting magazine and a very good friend of Bill Ruger in 1966. Larry was a very popular gun writer during this period so he was loaned one of the prototype Ruger No1 rifles to test and comment upon. Larry took the rifle with him to Montana that year for range testing and hunting. Larry had to return home early for some unexpected reason and did not get to hunt with the rifle. Larry left the rifle with his good friend R.D.Shipley to use on an Elk hunt that fall. Ship, his nickname had several other rifles and decided not to use the rifle, so asked his friend Don if he would like to use it. Don was elated to try out the new rifle.

Now for Don’s proof of the story…


Letter to Mr Don Hartmann, Miles City, MT dated December 2 1966 from Larry Koller, Letterhead GUNS and HUNTING from Seven Springs Rd Monroe, New York

Dear Don

Just had a note from Ship telling me that you killed a good bull elk with the Ruger S.S. which is just great. Hope you got some pix for me. If so, I would appreciate your sending me the negs so we can make the right blow-ups. Ship says also that you want to buy the Ruger. I’m sorry; it just isn’t possible for that particular one. In fact, I can’t even get it myself. It’s a first pilot model with the light barrel and in 7mm Magnum so they really want it back for further test purposes. I’ll get you one just as soon as they are available if you will write me just what you want: barrel length and weight, caliber and forend style. The price will be right, don’t worry. I will appreciate it if you will ship the Ruger back directly to: Ed Nolan, Sturm-Ruger, Inc., Southport, Conn. And ship it express collect, insured for $2000. Nolan originally asked me to have you insure it for one grand but I just now talked to him on the phone and he said to make it two. I do want to thank you once again for your kindness in giving us the hunting courtesy on your ranch and, most of all the pleasure and fun of your company.

Best Regards
Larry Koller
Supervising Editor

Letter to Mr Don Hartmann, Miles City, MT dated December 2 1966 from Larry Koller, Letterhead GUNS and HUNTING from Seven Springs Rd Monroe, New York

Don shipped the rifle back to Sturm Ruger as instructed in Larry Kollers’ letter and received the following document as his receipt.

Ruger No. 1 X-1 Prototype Invoice
Ruger No. 1 X-1 Prototype Invoice

Invoice for Ruger No. 1, Prototype X-1

Original Invoice from STURM, RUGER & CO., Inc. Southport, Connecticut 06490

Sold To Don Hartmann 12/20/66 Powderville Stage Miles City, Montana 59301

Date Received: December 16,1966 Our Invoice No 28979




Now there is not always a happy ending to every story. The sad part is that Mr Larry Koller passed away unexpectedly at a young age in Aug. 1967. And to this writers knowledge did not write the article about the hunt.

Larry Koller Memoriam
Larry Koller Memoriam

What is the distinction about the Ruger No.1 rifle that Don Hartmann hunted with? It was PROTOTYPE RIFLE NO. X-1, the first Tool Room model.

This should not be confused with the production SN 1 which is a 30-06 caliber, 22 inch barrel Alex Henry forearm and factory sight’s or currently as model 1A. Don later purchased a 4 digit Ruger No.1 in 7mm Mag, 22 inch barrel, Alex Henry forearm, quarter rib rings just like the Prototype he used in 1966 and still hunts with it.

The configuration of the Prototype No X1 was made only in the non-prefix rifles and was not standardized. There are currently 23 rifles known in this configuration starting at SN 70 to SN 5529. The projected total made for this model is 107 of a total production of approximately 8000 non-prefix rifles. If any reader can furnish any further information about Ruger No 1’s please contact this writer or Classic Sporting Arms.

Carl L. Ross

Addendum to this Story

When I originally wrote this article I did not know that there was more information for the story. When I conversed with Don Hartmann during the months that followed he told me he had photographs of the Ruger No.1 X1 Prototype rifle and the October 1966 hunt.

I inquired if he could send me some duplicate photographs that I could use for a revised article in the future. Don said he didn’t have access to any photographic facilities at the time but said he would be glad to send me his original album of black and white photographs so I could get the duplicates made.

I was able to get two complete sets of duplicate photos made from his originals and had some of them colorized to bring them up to date.

I sent Don a complete set of new photographs along with his original photos and he was very appreciative for them and the color photos.

When I received the photographs I was surprised to actually see the very first Prototype Ruger No.1 rifle. The original Ruger X-1 prototype rifle had a 22 inch light barrel with no Quarter Rib. The Scope was mounted in a set of Rings unlike any I had Ever seen. There were two separate scope blocks on the barrel.

The barrel band was also a lot wider than the standard barrel band on the Production rifles. The Checkering pattern on the buttstock was also different from the first Production models. The Checkering pattern on the X-1 prototype had a two pointed pattern on the pistol grip. A similar pattern like this was used on the Ruger No.1 model celebrating one hundred years of the 30-06 cartridge.

The forearm checkering looked very similar to the first production models. During the years after I found the information on this rifle I have inquired Several times to the factory records and other sources to determine the whereabouts of the rifle but to no avail.

Don later acquired a new production Ruger No.1 SN 4192 of his own. The Rifle was an AH configuration in 7 Mag with 22 inch barrel and Quarter Rib with Horizontal Rings. Don hunted with his rifle many years then sold it to a friend who is a Ruger No.1 collector.

Final Chapter of this Story:
Carl Ross has informed me that Don Hartmann passed away on October 18, 2009, at the age of 79. Don Hartmann was a collector of  Ruger No.1 rifles. He is the only person known to have hunted with X-1 Prototype No.1 rifle.

Don Hartmann Obit Page 1
Don Hartmann Obit Page 2

Real Life – Larry Weishuhn

“You’re so lucky!  All you do is travel throughout the world and hunt.  Must be a great life! I wish I could do that!”  He hesitated then added, “Don’t you feel a little guilty about having it so good, compared to the rest of us who like to hunt?”

I smiled, having just finished an hour long talk capped off by an additional thirty minutes of questions and answers at Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention..  From their actions it appeared the audience had had fun!  I knew I did!  I immediately replied to to his question, “You’re right I am indeed extremely lucky and blessed to get to do what I do.  I dearly love it!  And, you’re right it is indeed a great life I get to live! Wish everyone who loves the outdoors, hunting and guns could do what I do.”  With that I thanked him for coming to my presentation, watching my shows, and reading my “stuff” then turned to the others waiting to visit with me, have a photo taken with me, get an autograph or to tell me their hunting stories.  An hour later finally got back to the Ruger booth. I was helping work, there I continued visiting with hunters. Those who wished to have their photo taken with me, I grabbed a Ruger rifle, usually a Number 1 (because I dearly love Number 1s) handed it to the person who wanted a picture of him or her and me, got them to hold it in his hands for the photo a friend of was taking . With a Ruger Number 1s in their hands I could talk to them about that particular gun. Then I could tell them what was great about Number 1s and other Ruger guns and why they should own such guns.  Quite often before they left the booth, they are ready to buy a Ruger!  This sort of thing continued until the show closed for the day.  Then it was off to the evening events and auction.  Long day and night! day after day after day after…. Tomorrow would be much the same.

Let’s back up to that morning’s events.  It had started at 3 am, up early to get an article written that had been assigned a couple of days earlier and was now due to the editor.  Back up now even farther to the day before, it had been much like this day, late night and up early that morning to write a column that was due.  Two to three hours of sleep per night for days on end.DSC’s Hunter’s Convention (in my opinion DSC is the finest and best hunting show in the world, but not only their “show” certainly also their organization.  With it completed I was again on a hunt, a whitetail hunt we were trying to finish on a ranch southeast of Dallas.  I had hunted the ranch for 5 days earlier in the fall, saw some nice buck and got some decent footage.  But I had not pulled the trigger on a deer.  The reasons were many…because there was not enough light, or the buck had been too far away, or the buck charged in while I rattled horns and the cameraman was either looking the other way or had not yet turned the camera on.  So I simply watched the deer as it left unscathed.  Whereas had I simply been hunting hunting the 150 class mature buck I had rattled up would have been headed home with me.

Nothing to this tv show hunting, get to the place, go out to hunt, shoot the animal, grip and grin, on the way home in less than 30 minutes.  Right? After all most TV shows do an entire hunt in less than 30 minutes.  How difficult can such things be?  Right?

Actually…WRONG!  There’s hunting and then there’s hunting for TV, and frankly, the two have very little to do with one another. other than you’re in the woods.  When hunting for the TV you get into the woods; you set up the cameraman where he’ll have the best angle for the best possible footage. The hunter, he has to set up where it’s difficult to get on any deer that might come in to the area. Camera take precedence over real hunting. When a buck does appear, from the cameraman it’s “Don’t shoot, I’m not on him..” Don’t shoot we don’t have enough light!” and a thousand other reasons for the hunter not to shoot.  Not a complaint, simply a statement! But all part of doing a TV show.

One of the things I hear a fair amount of, “Ah you TV guys, when you go some where you hunt in only the best spots.  The guide probably have a deer “tied up” for you.!”  My reply to that is “I wish!”.  When I go on a hunt, I let everyone else in camp choose where they want to hunt, then I take the area no one wants.

I wish I got to hunt sure things!  I try to do so as much as possible.  But that’s not very often.  Some facts….good cameramen/field producers demand a salary of at least $650 per day plus expenses.  I have t pay for them and their travel expenses, plus my own expenses (travel, licenses, permits, lodging, meals, rental cars and gas and the cost of the hunt itself, tips to guides and others). Frankly, I pay something on every hunt I do…  Yes, I try to get the best possible price because of the promotional value the outfitter/guide will get from the tv show, articles, blogs, word of mouth, etc that I do on their behalf. But again I pay for a lot of hunts, same as any other hunter.  And TV show expenses don’t end there.  It costs a lot to have each show produced usually between $5,000 to $10,000 per show.  Then you have to buy airtime from a network to air your show.   By the time the year is over and you think you might have made some money on the show, then it’s time to start hunting hunting and filming again, and there goes the profit, because you have to invest it into “next year’s crop of shows”.  In a lot of ways doing a TV show is not a whole lot different than being a farmer!

Great traveling around the country and beyond?  It is!  I dearly love people and in doing so, I get to meet a tremendous number of good people.

Between hunting trips, personal appearances at stores, events, outdoor/hunting shows, doing promotional work for sponsors I travel about 300 days a year, sometimes more, and rarely less.  Again not a complaint, merely a statement!  Throughout the year I do between 15 and 20 major hunts a year, so we end up with top-notch shows.  I’m in and out of airports, sometimes in an out of foreign lands.  Some of that is an adventure, some of it is downright aggravating and some of it is even dangerous!  And all of it is downright tiring!  Most of my days start no later than 4am and seldom end before 11pm. Again just a statement of fact.

A few years ago I had a friend of mine who thought he really wanted to do what I did, and this guy was a go-getter, I invited him to “run” a couple of weeks with me part of the time hunting, other parts traveling and doing an in-store promotion.  At the end of day 7 of a 14 day trip, my friend came to me and told me, “You’re crazy!  What you do is no fun, day after day of hardly any sleep, yet still you’ve got a smile on your face.  I wanna go home!  I don’t want to do what you do…I just thought I did.  All sounded and looked so exciting and fun.  I had no idea!  I’m going home.  You can have it!  I’m taking my Ruger Number 1 and going hunting on my own.  I’m outa here! ”

I smiled.  I dearly love what I do.


Bradford O’Connor and The Jack O’Connor Heritage Center

At the Dallas Safari Club Convention in January of 2015, I was able to meet Bradford O’Connor and hold Jack’s #2 Winchester Model 70 in 270 Winchester. That is O’Connor’s Pilot Mountain Dall on the right and the Dall on the left is from the Herb Klein collection. It ranked high in the book when it was taken.

In 1988, Bradford was instrumental in directing me to his sister Kathy that culminated in my purchase of the Jack O’Connor “21 Club” Ruger No.1 rifle, a 375 H&H magnum, serial #20.

The Jack O'Connor rifle, serial# 20 in .375 H&H.
The Jack O’Connor rifle, serial# 20 in .375 H&H.

O'Connor left

The Jack O'Connor rifle, serial# 20. Note the vertical ring in the front position. this rifle is pictured in O'Connor's book, The Hunting Rifle, page 58.
The Jack O’Connor rifle, serial# 20.
Note the vertical ring in the front position. this rifle is pictured in O’Connor’s book, The Hunting Rifle, page 58.