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The cunning, fearless and hated wolverine

This large furbearer is cunning, and fearless. He is the scourge of the woods. He is a member of the weasel family, and was prominent in all the forested areas of North America. Today, his range is in southern Canada, and in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. His evil cunning and sagacity were well known by Indian and French trappers. The Indians called him Carcajou, or evil spirit.

The trapper regards the wolverine as the worst that can happen to him. If a wolverine chances onto your trap line, he will eat whatever animal you have caught, and will chew up the remaining fur, rendering it valueless. If a trapper has an established line of sets, an invading wolverine will find all of them, springing each or taking what you've caught. You're out of business until you have removed him!

The wolverine is fearless of larger animals. A single wolverine will drive off a whole pack of wolves that have made a kill. Mountain lion, elk, or moose will not challenge him. About the only way to dispatch him is to trap the critter and end its life with a 22 rimfire bullet.

Among the more superstitious trappers and woodsmen there lived a profound conviction that only a silver bullet could end his life. Some elements among Eskimos are said to wear bits of wolverine fur in the hopes that the strengths of the beast will be magically transplanted to himself or herself.

The adult male wolverine weighs up to 50 pounds, with sturdy legs, and a bushy tail. Few have ever been successfully raised in captivity, hence very few are on display in even well equipped zoos. The male wolverine is a compact bundle of steel hard muscle, wrapped in fur and cunning determination. He fears nothing and will rush into the fray of whatever warrants a fight. He is a terror to all other animals, to trappers and woodsmen.

The wolverine has incredible strength and stealth. If a trapper has a line cabin he will gain entry, spoiling or destroying anything that had been left or stored there.

Even in remote regions where traps have appeared for the first time, the carcajou will outwit the most experienced trapper. He'll eat your bait and will carry away the trap. The unlocked cabin that a trapper has built will contain a cache of commercially canned foods, such as pork and beans, corn peas, tomatoes. Jams or jellies in glass jars will be found smashed upon the frozen floors. His sharp teeth, at times, penetrate the steel can we've come to provide foods for future use. The carcajou is equipped with glands that secrete an evil smelling liquid. He uses this to spoil anything he cannot eat. He tears beds and furniture to shreds, gnawing this into large parts. His short legs do not permit him to pursue other, larger animals. He relies chiefly upon the kills of others, including those of the trapper.

The wolverine is now protected in Minnesota, but the appearance of a wolverine on a trap line used to signal a feud that must end with the death of the beast or the ruin of the trapper. At the first sign of this wily demon along his trap line, the trapper ceases all other activity and concentrates upon getting rid of his tormentor. If his efforts are rewarded by the capture of the wolverine, the trapper has an extremely valuable fur that is good for trimming a parka hood that surrounds the wearer's face.

This inveterate wander travels alone until he strays onto a trap line where kills may be taken easily. He will often follow stealthily, the path of a wolf, cougar, or bear, until they make a kill. Then he rushes in, driving off the real killer-hunter, and gluts himself on the carcass.

Today, his range has diminished to but a fraction of its former size. Now, these animals are thinly distributed within the big timber areas that remain.

The 28 Gauge

You probably are not the owner of this small bore. Most shooter-hunters begin with a 12 gauge. If they've had the guidance of a parent, the choice was a 20 gauge. With these two, most shotgunners stick with a 12 and a 20.

My one and only 28 gauge came up when I was a devoted 20 gauge shooter. The shotgun was a Ruger Red Label, a relatively heavy shotgun. But I shot it well, wondering where have you been all my life? The 28 is a marvel of efficiency. It seems to have the proportions of bore and length that a shotshell needs.

Back in the 1960s, there was a television program named "American Sportsman." It featured such notables as Bing Crosby, Roy Rodgers, and Phil Harris. When a viewer saw these notables hunting and shooting 28s, they were amazed, but still didn't aspire to ownership and use of the smaller gauge. The popularity of the over under accelerated ownership in 28s. Here was born the ideal upland hunting gun. Those few of us who went to a 28 continued to be fascinated at the successful adaptation in the uplands. Indeed, the 28 killed pheasants as dead as they would have been with a larger bore. The one-ounce 16 gauge and the 3/4 ounce 28 gauge loads are considered balistically equal, or "square" loads. Both are great in the field when conditions aren't ideal. The 28 is an excellent beginners gun. Winchester Super X loads come in a full one-ounce charge, in the poplar sixes and the 7/2 shot loads. Bottom line is kills out to a full 30 yards, which is a long way out in the grasslands, and the distance at which most all shooting will encompass.

My first taste of actually hunting with the 28 was on pen raised chukar partridge at the Misty Meadows shooting preserve. Chukars will sit very tight, refusing to take flight until the dog makes a grab for him. Pheasants, whether wild or on a preserve, end up in your game bag if you're a cool shot who takes the time to track the bird and allowing proper lead. In any case, a 28 gauge will deliver the four or five pellets necessary for a clean kill.

In addition to a slew of over-unders in 28 gauge, the gun can be had in Remington's popular 870 slide action, the 11-48 semi automatic. Of course, there are also pricey Ithacas, Elsies, and Brownings from decades ago. But these cost big bucks.

The 28 gauge may not make it as a waterfowler's shotgun. Ducks are a bit more tenacious, and a shotgunner can use a gun that delivers more shot per load.

But for everything else, the 28 gauge will deliver satisfaction, leading to leaving the 12 in the gun rack and using the 20 gauge less.

If you haven't discovered this delightful small gauge, or seen it used by a hunting partner, well, I urge you to get with it. You'll fall in love with this lightweight shotgun bore.