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Old 12-17-2017, 06:02 PM   #1
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My lee-enfield rifle and the bear hunt

MY LEE-ENFIELD RIFLE AND THE BEAR HUNT

By Doug Bowser

I have a Lee Enfield No 1 Mk III* made by Enfield Lock in 1918. I was 16 years old in 1958, when the first large group of military rifles were imported after WW2. Countries all over the World were re-arming themselves with semi-automatic and full automatic rifles. Many of these Countries were still armed with rifles designed and sometimes made before the turn of the 20th Century. Some of these Countries were never involved in a serious conflict and they had military rifles in their arsenals that were never used. Argentina, Chile and Columbia had rifles that were brand new. To see the as new early Mauser rifles in 50 foot racks was impressive. I could not afford the price tag of $39 for a new Argentine 98/09 with matching bayonet, so I looked at the British .303 rifles. Besides the .303 Surplus ammo was available and 7.65x54 Mauser was not. E.W. Edwards had bargain basement .303 rifles starting at $8.88. They were brought into the basement in barrels of grease. The Brits stored their rifles in barrels of grease since he days of the Brown Bess that is why the stocks on No 1 Mk III* rifles are almost always black in color. The store employees had the greasy rifles on the floor of the basement and we were allowed to clean them off and clean the bores. I picked one out, paid for it and went home to have my Mother go to town on the bus to pick up the rifle. I also bought 100 rds. of .303 ammo made by Winchester in 1946.

I was supposed to go deer hunting with my Brother-in-Law (Ted) and my 1894 Winchester .30 W.C.F. broke a firing pin. I wanted a lighter rifle than the .303, so I chopped off the stock. Later, I took off the clip bridge (so it would look like a Lee-Speed sporter), installed a recoil pad, took the rear sight off & mounted a Williams 5-D peep sight (5-D stood for $5)and installed a sling swivel on the forearm. I drilled and tapped a huge screw for a trigger stop. Remember, I was only 16 and I thought it was beautiful at the time. In 1990, I found a stock set that was not grease soaked and I replaced the old wood. The rifle is quite accurate. It shoots 2" at 100 yards.

On my deer hunting trip with Ted, I was using Rem-UMC .303 ammo loaded with 215 round nose soft pointed bullets. We had permission to hunt in the Number Four, New York area, near Big Moose, NY. I was on the side of a ravine and I heard a lot of movement behind me. There was a good sized black bear running toward me. I don't think it saw me and when I fired the rifle the bear fell instantly. The 215 gr bullet entered the right front near the neck and angled through the body smashing the heart. I waited a few minutes and there was no sign of life. I already reloaded the chamber and I touched the bear's eyeball with the barrel of the rifle. It did not move. Ted showed up and said; "What did you shoot that thing for"? He also told me I would have to drag it out of the woods by myself. We field dressed the bear and I tied a length of rope around it's front legs and started dragging the beast out of the woods. There was snow on the ground and the bear slid easily. Sometimes too easily. Going down one hill the bear started sliding and it ran over me twice as we rolled down the hill together. I got the critter on the car and took it home. I did not like the meat from the bear. A local butcher wanted it to make sausage. The sausage wasn't bad.

The whole trip proved one thing, a .303 British was potent medicine against a 250 pound black bear. I gave the .303 to my Uncle Frank and when he passed on, my Aunt gave it back to me. It is still quite accurate and it reminds me of a great hunt I had many years ago.



My sporterized No 1 Mk III* .303 British
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 303 overall.JPG (323.4 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg 303 action.jpg (659.0 KB, 2 views)
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