I’ve shopped many times with my husband, an avid hunter and firearms enthusiast, but never felt drawn to any particular piece until last week.
Warming up to hunting has taken a while because I’m the kind of person that doesn’t even squash bugs (except for the Minnesota state bird). I respect life at every level and species…even the alligator at our back door on vacation in South Carolina this week. The fact that the alligator presented himself with a soccer ball in his mouth is proof that even the most ferocious members of creation have a playful side* and a purpose.
*It is also possible that he was hoping to trade the ball for my leg.
I’ve begun to flip through my fella’s hunting magazine collection and can even tolerate hunting programs on cable now. Seeing a majestic animal fall is still hard to watch but humans are predators and meat is paramount in my own personal food guide pyramid.
Unwavering support of the second amendment has also prompted further exploration of my constitutional right to bear arms, a freedom unique to our republic. It’s not just about eating or spending weekends in the woods. Hunters have a higher calling–They are a third tier army of capable hands who just so happen to lean right.

I have no doubt that hunters are a significant invasion deterrent. Wisconsin hunters alone number 600k, making them the eighth largest "army" in the world, larger than Germany and France combined. And in Michigan, an astounding 700,000 armed men and women tap wild fodder for sport and sustenance.

It was time that I got my own rifle so we browsed every possible brass junkie megastore. Problem was, the rifles at big box venues were bulky and ugly…too much moose and not enough gazelle.
I’m a practical woman and a function over form kinda gal but I couldn’t seem to find a set up that I’d be proud carrying through forty acres of marsh (read: knee deep mud) in northern Michigan. Because finding your gun is like finding that perfect pair of tennis shoes. Just because they’re your size doesn’t necessarily make them a good fit. It’s the look, feel, and comfort level, that ultimately makes one pull the trigger. Recoil was also a concern…I’d like to avoid a scope kiss or swift punch to the shoulder every time I pulled the trigger.
After several unfruitful gun shopping trips I turned to the internet and found one of interest, the 270 Tikka. Hendershot’s in Hagerstown, Maryland, just happened to have one on hand. So as soon as the kiddos left for school last Thursday, my fella and I climbed in the pick up and headed west.
I was last there in 2011, helping my husband decide on a 300 Win Mag to take to South Africa. And he chose wisely, missing the book for Greater Kudu by a mere 1.75". He also brought home several smaller antelopes and a gift for me, a beautiful imposing Burchell’s stallion, who now lives on the floor. The meat from those kills fed a local village for a week and they were exceedingly grateful for the protein.
I walked into Hendershot’s and headed towards the familiar gunroom filled with new and consignment rifles neatly displayed by make along a wall between a cape buffalo and a nice sized stuffed zebra. Eric Exline, my husband’s favorite guy there (and also the sales manager) asked what we came to look at and I asked to see my intended Tikka.
But then something unexpected happened. As I cradled the Tikka in my arms, my eyes wandered back to the wall, curious after seeing a hardened case that vaguely resembled a watercolor of oxidized metals. Eric grinned. "That’s not in the range you’re looking for" he chuckled, picking up the 275 Rigby by Dakota.
She was a beauty…a classic caliber with a XXX walnut stock, ebony and brass accents, and color case hardened falling block action, a gun that suits both lefties and righties.
I immediately took to the gun. Not only was she a knockout and already outfitted with a decent scope, she felt great in my arms and was easy to handle. The butt effortlessly tucked into my shoulder pocket, not bullying me in the process as the previous trials with equal caliber rifles had. She was neither clumsy nor awkward and I was certifiably smitten.
I tooled around with the Dakota brand a little more, trying the 270 and 300 as well, just to be sure. Eric offered for me to shoot a few rounds at their indoor range to help me decide but I declined. I was determined not to totally fall for that 275, so I told the husband that I was ready to head home. He was at once disappointed and relieved.
The following day, without telling me, he set up an appointment to shoot the 275 Dakota at Hendershot’s. Because the gun is a classic and not commonplace, Hendershot’s custom made the ammo for my appointment–7x57mm brass with a polymer red tip.
By the third shot, I was done (first photo above). My first gun. All mine. A real beauty that will be as much an heirloom as an investment. Even my husband has case envy. Best part? I can take my girl anywhere and get instant respect. She’s a refined looker with a pocket full of badass.
Karamojo Bell killed nearly eight-hundred elephants with the very same caliber back in the golden safari age. And although I have no desire to put down an elephant, I would like to challenge my husband’s kudu.

0 0 votes
Article Rating