Pack guns: the wood's loafers delight.
Compact, rucksack-portable shotguns can add another dimension to an otherwise pedestrian hunt. Their utility was brought home to me years ago when I was hunting deer and bear regularly in the most remote areas of New York State's Adirondack Mountains.
The hunting was pack-in and pack--out. Deer and bear were never abundant in the Adirondacks, but in a good year, it seemed grouse were everywhere you trod.
Now I love to eat grouse more than any other wild meat, and the answer to my appetite was to begin packing into camp an inexpensive, light, folding 20 gauge and a box of 7-1/2s along with my Model 71 Winchester. I never did take a lot of grouse, just enough to offset the dehydrated meals on occasion and to make what was often an unsuccessful hunt memorable.
A decade later in Arizona, I stumbled across an area in the desert with an unusually large population of Gambel's quail. It was hot habitat, but there was an access issue to address. The only reasonable approach was along a heavily trafficked USFS trail. I would have been entirely within my rights at the time to walk up with a shotgun under my arm and hike off to my honey hole, but that's not the way to make friends and influence people these days.
My solution was to break down a Model 870 Remington 12-gauge pump fitted with a cylinder bored 20" barrel, tuck both halves in my rucksack and mosey along into quail country. It worked out perfectly for all parties except the quail.
Walking down an isle at this year's SHOT Show, I ran headlong into another piece of folding shotgun history. There at the Marble Arms booth was a display of their long out-of-production Game Getter Gun and a sign indicating they were once again going to put that unique folding model back into production this year.
The pending reintroduction of the Game Getter rifle/ shotgun combination really brings back memories. I've only handled two in a lifetime. The first was a .22/.44 shot combination hanging in its original long, leather holster with shoulder strap in the family closet of a friend of mine. I lusted after that gun. It just seemed to be the perfect trail gun for a woods loafer, plus I had recently acquired by trade two boxes of Winchester .44 shot cartridges along with a little, take down, Stevens single shot smoothbore.
The little Stevens lacked an extractor so the previous owner hand fashioned an extractor from a large nail formed into a ring to be worn around one of your fingers when afield. The idea worked, but the .44 shot cartridges were less than impressive on winter hardened pheasants. My ardor faded for a Game Getter.
Years later I was doing more wilderness hiking and like Marble's founder, Webster Marble, an experienced timber cruiser, trapper and outdoor minimalist, I yearned for a light firearm that could take small game standing, running or flying. It was then I stumbled across the second Marble Game Getter in my life.
While the Game Getter had been out of production since 1942, in 1961, Marble assembled a batch of Game Getters from existing parts and put them on the market.
They were chambered for the .22 Long Rifle and .410 2-1/2", and as I remember the price was $165; however, it could be defined as a smoothbore pistol or a short shotgun with a stock, so the Game Getter fell under the terms of the National Firearms Act, requiring it be registered with Treasury and a transfer tax be paid before purchase.
I found complying with the terms of the NFA was not difficult. It just took a bit of time, paperwork and money and before long, I was the owner of a Game Getter.
The Game Getter proved to be the ultimate pack gun. Weighing only 3 pounds, the Getter is is a minimalist's dream as are a box of .22s and .410s. You hardly know they're there.
It's as handy a firearm as you can imagine. Between the .410 and the .22 barrels, I've taken a slew of rabbits, squirrels and stationary game birds. The Game Getter is too wispy to be a wing shooters delight, although it performs just fine on airborne cans and hand thrown clays.
In fact, the only change I made to mine was to replace the rear leaf sight with a small peep sight I made to improve the sight picture and speed target acquisition.
So shotgunners, don't overlook the advantages a small, folding shotgun can offer from time-to-time. It could get you into rich game country you couldn't otherwise access conveniently or let you take advantage of a target of opportunity or two in the wild.
And by all means, stay tuned for the exciting introduction of Marble Arms' 3rd generation of Game Getter Guns.
420 INDUSTRIAL DRIVE
GLADSTONE, MI 49829