Gary Duffey is a huge supporter of Rigby rifles and an avid collector of fine English and American guns. Based in Texas, USA he has always been a voracious reader of sporting literature and as far back as he can remember has always been passionate about guns, hunting and the great outdoors.
In this latest blog, Gary looks at the traditions associated with hunting and how they’re passed from generation to generation. As an admirer of traditionally styled rifles, he discusses how using such classics helps transport him back to the era of famous Rigby adventurers, Jim Corbett and WDM Bell – stories of which he avidly read growing up.
Regardless of where you live, there are traditions in all our outdoor sports. These traditions or ideals are most often passed or shared generationally, by a family member or through sporting literature. Geography makes the importance of literature very important to a person, most especially a kid. Growing up in a hot and humid east Texas, I discovered the only cool place in the summer was our public library. This is where I discovered the writings of Jim Corbett, WDM Bell, Burger, Elmer Keith, Townsend Whelen and many others. These books provided a transport of sorts to wild places. I spent much of my summers in the country exploring the woods and bayous with .22 rifle in hand. Though not that far from home, in my thoughts I was in the darkest depths of Africa or the wildest reserves of Alaska. My local train that passed over the wooden railroad trestle morning and afternoon was, in my imagination, the Ugandan railroad and the river Tsavo. As I made my way back to my sister’s home, up a long and sandy road, in my mind, there would be a dangerous beast in every shadow – it made for excellent progress getting home.
These traditions can apply to all aspects of hunting including methods and equipment. Technology, whether electronic or material, has been integrated on some level into almost every variety of outdoor gear. Certainly, we are beneficiaries of all sorts of these applications and I find no fault in using them. If their use makes for the efficient and ethical taking of game, then I show my support.
I own a couple of synthetic stocked rifles and use them occasionally and when I do, they work very well. They do not though, trigger any thoughts of faraway places. For me it takes blued metal and wood in a traditional format to do so. It is in some way a connection to the famous hunters and adventures of the past and to the intriguing and fascinating stories of events in faraway places. I am glad that I still have some of that impressionable kid in me and I am still excited by these stories.
Rigby guns and rifles took centre stage in many of those adventures, with the Rigby name synonymous with explorers and adventurers. To see Rigby return, not only to London, but to producing traditional models, in traditional patterns is indeed refreshing if not exciting. It is reassuring to me that I must not be alone in my appreciation for these traditions. First with the Big Game, then the Rising Bite and now with the Highland Stalker, much ground has been covered. I have seen some who wanted additional calibres for the Highland Stalker, though it is my opinion that the range of appropriate cartridges has been covered, all in fitting with a traditional stalking rifle. Should anything more be needed, in my opinion, a different rifle is called for. As a hunter, collector and user of a range of American and English sporting rifles, I am glad to see that Rigby and others are actively engaged in building truly bespoke English guns to meet the specific needs and dreams of clients worldwide.
I am equally as excited to see that Rigby is again partnered with Mauser to build a rifle that is traditional as to materials (wood and steel) while utilising technology where appropriate, some of it virtually invisible. These rifles are catalogued in this traditional format and are available in what are reasonable waiting periods. They allow us to use optics more efficiently and will serve a broad range of sporting purposes. While we will want to preserve sporting traditions, the availability of these rifles will allow us to further the ideals, and to create our own stories to be told. And as many before us did, we can do it with a Rigby.
Happy to read posts on Rigby rifles from someone here in the USA. Bought a Highland Stalker this spring in9.3×62. I plan on hunting with open sights here in Montana for bear, deer and elk. Would like to hear from others who hunt the traditional way with “iron sights”
I enjoy reading and hearing of the resurrection of rigby. Having owned and hunted with a true rigby best 416 bolt rifle along with 3 other classics the thought of being able to add to the stable with a new classic is exciting.
Indeed it is Colin. It is possible to have what you want just the way you want it.
This is the first time I have read your blog and I found it to be a well written explanation of how classic hunting and stalking rifles, like the Rigby rifles you describe, are still relevant today. The sling and front sight/muzzle protector are just gorgeous and complement the pictured rifle.
Steve, thank you for your very kind comments. The Highland Stalker is a very well thought out traditional rifle that takes advantage of modern technology in ways that are unseen. A bit of the best of both worlds, if yo will.
I relish the morning and cold of darkness descending to contemplate the day, the hunt, and to appreciate being alive. I own a 1907 Rigby Bissel rising bite double 375 belted magnum and marvel how well it comes up and points. It is part of me and Always shoot with iron sights. Born in Uganda, I am going back to Africa on a hunt at 66 and truely appreciate these old rifles. What a story they might tell us.
Euan, that is a piece of Rigby history that you own. Best of luck on your trip to Uganda, creating your own story.
Good Morning Gary,
I have many similar memories of hunting in east Arkansas a young teenager. Thank you for helping to keep our hunting traditions and of course the John Rigby traditions alive. I truly hope that our trails cross some day and we can compare notes of rural life hunting in the 60’s or so and not so very far apart!
I will look forward to that David!
Your passion and knowledge of fine guns is inspiring, it’s always a pleasure to speak with you and to share thoughts.
Thank you Marc.