While still in my teen years, I used to compete against a cobber called Murray Potter. He was a nationally ranked smallbore shooter and was a first class shot. He had an Anschutz 22 magnum which he used on some farms on Waiheke Island. His tales of the effectiveness of the magnum on rabbits really caught my interest. Best thing since sliced bread, he reckoned.
My first chance to use the magnum was when I was working for Forest Service in Hokitika. Part of the possum control operation involved night shooting on the current years pine plantings. The possums would devour the fresh planted seedlings. The night shooting had a couple of objectives. First was the immediate relief from possum damage while the second was to establish possum densities to justify further work. When all the protection forestry workers were in the hills I would be the third man on the spotlighting team. The rifle of choice was an Anschutz 22 magnum. We sometimes used a 222, the cost of ammo was an insignificant part of the whole operation. While doing the shooting myself and watching others, I was seriously impressed with the performance of the Anschutz.
The next time I used the magnum was again on the West Coast , this time in Westport. The two pest board staff would get me to accompany them on night shooting possum control operations. Again, the rifle of choice was an Anschutz 22 magnum. The rifle was excellent for night shooting possums. As Mickey and Dalk had a side hustle going involving skinning the possums, everything had to be head shot. No misses were acceptable. Interestingly, whenever they had spotted a deer during their regular work, Mickey would ensure that I went with them the next night and I was to bring my 270 as well. We got a lot of possums and quite a few deer.
The magnum was both accurate and effective.
Working in the King country on goats showed me one of the shortcomings of the magnum. A young bloke turned up to work with us, a “good keen man”. He was useless as tits on a bull and his rifle was worse. It was an inexpensive Philipino 22 mag which was hopelessly inaccurate. The bore was heavily rust pitted and the rifle couldn’t reliably hit a cardboard box at fifty yards. The 22 magnum has a jacketed bullet which does not coat the bore with wax as a regular 22 does. The magnum needs cleaning every time you use it. A lot of the magnums I examined while in the gun shop had rust pitted bores. We lent the bloke a regular 22. He didn’t last long on the job.
Eventually, I got my own 22 magnum, a Sako Quad. It turned out to be a very accurate and useful rifle. Living in Auckland limited my range of target species. I used it mainly on rabbits, hares, turkeys and peacocks. The peacocks were a bit different to hunt. On a couple of occasions I had made a good hit only to have the bird fly off. About a hundred yards from where they took off from they died in mid air and crashed to the ground. The Quad had a 17HMR barrel with it but I came to favour the 22 magnum over the 17 for the bigger critters I was chasing. It may have been just an impression but I gained a lot of confidence using the 22 magnum barrel. I didn’t use the magnum on bigger animals, goats and pigs, but a couple of professional hunting mates used it and were very impressed. I hold the 22 magnum in very high regard. Murray was right.