When I came up with the concept for The Broke Bespoke Hunter I was out on a walk with my eight month old son Owen. We had decided earlier that morning that we would head to the mall after his nap for a stroll, to get a birthday gift for my wife, people watch, and, maybe get a fancy coffee of some kind.
While we were walking through the mall I was surprised and honestly a little bewildered by how many people were wearing camouflage of some kind or another. I mean, I love bargain hunting like anyone else but to get dressed up in camo may be taking the concept a little to far.*
*I should state that I’ll wear camo when I’m out hunting but only then and never in public unless it’s to go into a gas station on my way to or from a hunt.
What I found so interesting was that it wasn’t limited to a specific gender or or age. Standing out in my mind was the young mom I saw pushing a stroller in camo leggings and man in his late fifties sitting on bench sporting a well worn Cabela’s sweatshirt. The Mossy Oak Break Up of the sweatshirt seemed so out of place next to the Aldo and Kernels that it made me wonder whether anyone who would wear camo in such a setting has ever actually put it to use in nature? This got the gears turning in my head; if these people looked to hunting for their fashion cues maybe it was time for hunters to start dressing up a little more often! I’d like to think that besides the benefits of herd control, and conservation, hunting could save society from a future where Sitka Optifade Waterfowl is considered appropriate for a fine dining restaurant.
For the entire drive home I thought about what I had seen and how it would be a nice change of pace to get dressed up to go out hunting with classy firearm. Mind you not so classy a gun or so well dressed up to the point where I would be afraid to get a little dirt or blood on my gear, but enough so people would go, “wow, that guy looks pretty sharp.” When we arrived back at the house and the birthday gift was secreted away, Owen and I went down to my gun room* to continue to ponder what was fast becoming a storm of thoughts and ideas in my mind.
*Yes, I am lucky enought to have a designated gun room and it is a glorious thing filled with firearms, hunting gear and reloading related equipment.
In the gunroom, as I looked at the wall displaying my firearms, it was with a slightly torn heart, a one way conversation with Owen and a few encouraging texts from my dad that I decided to sell my tactical and target pieces to free up the funds to acquire what I would consider to be broke bespoke guns. By this I mean fancy older (1900-1970’s) guns that have been used but not abused, may have some minor cosmetic issues but do not prohibit their safe use, and, are relatively inexpensive so that someone starting out in hunting wouldn’t be afraid to spend the money on them. So the plan I developed is, I will list three of my current guns for sale in order to acquire ones that fit my new parameters and provide reviews of them as I use them. I’ve set my new purchase limit between $150 and $800 dollars per firearm. Some might criticize this as to broad a range, especially at the extremes of the budget, but it probably will encompass the majority of what people are comfortable spending.
Now a quick note before I go on, if you’re reading this and are already knowledgeable about guns and hunting I’m not saying that one can’t do broke bespoke hunting with modern firearms or that you shouldn’t buy a Savage Axis, Remington 783 or Ruger American. Most firearms manufacturers these day make great sub $500 budget hunting guns, just like those I listed. They will perform remarkably well and some instances likely a litttle better than anything I plan at looking to buy. But that’s not the point here. The idea is to do the business with classic wood styling and blued metal guns from the early twentieth century. There is, in my mind, something about composite stocks and gun designs that just doesn’t jive with what I want to get from this journey.
So what guns and in which calibres am I looking for? Here’s my list in no particular order which you can research at your leisure:
Savage Model 99 – 300 savage or 308
Winchester Model 94 – 30-30
Marlin 336 – 30-30
Savage 340 – 30-30
Winchester Model 70 – 243
Mauser Model 98 – 7×57 or 257 Roberts (or Bob, Bobby as it is affectionately known)
Double barrels – in 12,16, 20 or 410 gauge. Side by Side’s (SxS) or Over Under’s (O/U)
Browning Auto 5
Winchester Model 12
Ithaca Model 37
I’ll try to get the fanciest grade or model I can to keep with the theme of the project. Also as a heads up with time and after some use I may choose to trade some of them to acquire different models and do reviews on those as well.
Now that I’ve covered the guns I can speak a briefly about my plans for the clothing.
Buying new nicer clothes to take hunting doesn’t make sense and won’t fit in my budget. The firearms, and the ammo for them will almost assuredly use most of the funds I free up by selling my guns. So the plan is to go bargain hunting (not in camo) at the local thrift shops as well as undertaking some sewing projects for the things I can’t find or buy. All of it I will blog of course and the sewing should be hilarious as the last time I did that was grade 10 home economics class.
I have in my heart and minds eye what I think a Broke Bespoke Hunter should wear and carry, once I start to acquire them I’ll post the pictures and stories to go with them. Please check in occasionally to see how things are progressing.
I’ll try write again soon.
All the best,