Semi autos in the hands of professionals I know. Written by Bill McLeod
Professionals are not necessarily better hunters, marksmen, bushmen, or knowledgeable riflemen than amateurs. In fact, on reflection, some of the outstanding blokes in each category I have known have been amateurs.
I make the distinction because I think the professional is paid to produce a result and to keep his employer happy needs to show results or it is the ignominious “down the road”. A firearm is a tool of his trade, just like a carpenters hammer, and if the hunter can get a better tool, he will.
Very few of the hunters I worked with used semi autos. The overwhelming favourite was the bolt gun. The particular make of rifle used was as much by accident as by design and all did a good job. Most of the hunters l worked with either had or wanted one of the legendary rifles, a Sako 222. The consensus at the time was that the Sako could be fed and reloaded fast enough for our purposes and we appreciated their accuracy and reliability.
Bolt guns of every make and caliber were used on deer blocks, very much dependent on the preference of the shooter. Semi autos were used by some of my contemporaries. Russel had a Winchester 308, Keith had a Browning 270, and Murray had a Browning 243. Murray used his Browning for a long time in the Ureweras. Years later he confided in me that he thought that, over the whole time he used the semi, he probably got one more tail with the semi than he would have had he kept using his Sako bolt gun. I don’t recall how much beer we had consumed when this revelation was made.
A newer generation of hunter has, l believe, a different view. The difference was the introduction of the AR15 and the influence of the aerial shooter. The competent professions who I know now have a AR15 or equivalent as part of their tool kit. While most still keep a bolt rifle for a lot of their work, they value the rapid recovery of the semi for quick accurate shooting.