From the editor

from the editor

Keefe, Mark A IV

The light was fading fast on the last day of a five-day hunt. If I were to take the nice, high, eight-point buck a mere 40 yds. from my treestand nestled in a clump of Arkansas pines, it had to be now. I placed the crosshairs just behind the shoulder and the Steyr SBS’s trigger broke as a surprise. It was a chip shot. At least until the shower of pine needles exploded a few feet in front of my scope. The buck and its accompanying doe just tentatively walked into the trees, leaving me confused among a whirlwind of descending pine needles. Invisible to me below the line of the scope-but in-line with the barrel-had been the top of a small pine tree. But that little piece of pine bough couldn’t have deflected the 165-gr. bullet, could it? I was sure I had to have hit the buck.

Joe Coogan, the wildlife manager at Frank Lyon’s Wingmeade at the time, drove up, asked me to tell him exactly what the animal did and when, looked for sign in the light of the headlights and then had us mount up to help a different hunter with a definitively downed deer. He was polite, but he knew that bullet hadn’t connected long before I was willing to accept it, and he had work to do. Joe wasn’t being rude or brusk or insensitive to the possibility that there was a wounded animal out there-as a matter of fact, he went back the next day to make sure there was no wounded animal. There wasn’t. No, he has shot or seen shot thousands of head of game all over the world. His experience and judgment told him right then and there that I’d missed-and he was right.

Joe spent his teenage and young adult years living and hunting in the game fields of Kenya when the place was truly magical. He then set out to become a professional hunter-which he did and does well to this day. He has hunted lion, Cape buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard and countless other game species as well as guiding on innumerable other hunts. Simply put, he is the real deal-an experienced professional hunter and a gifted writer.

As I write this, Joe is guiding in Tanzania with Tanzania Game Tracker Safaris, working with his old friend and mentor, the legendary professional hunter Harry Selby. Since Arkansas, I’ve hunted with Joe several times and spent several nights around campfires chatting about guns and hunting. He knows guns, bullets and loads. He knows the history and development of hunting guns-especially African rifles and cartridges-as well as their real-world performance on game. He’s also one of the finest wingshots I know. From his experience, he has formed some of the most insightful and practical opinions on cartridges, bullets, hunting and guns I’ve ever encountered. That is precisely why I asked him to write feature articles for us, including this month’s “Rigby’s Excellent .275” beginning on p. 76.

In talking to Joe around the fire on a small island in the Finnish Archipelago a few years ago, I couldn’t help but wonder what a fantastic experience it would have been to spend some time with both he and late American Rifleman Field Editor Finn Aagaard. As a matter of fact, in his knowledge of guns and game and his practical observations, he reminds me very much of Finn-another professional hunter who knew how to pass on practical advice on hunting and guns. I miss Finn and his writing immensely, but I’m glad to have Joe Coogan working with us today.

Mark A. Keefe, IV

by Mark A. Keefe, IV

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Nov 2004

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