Gun-Totin' Hosses

By William Curtis
The American Rifleman magazine, October 1952

Anyone who hunts big game long enough is apt to find himself astraddle a horse some day. If he doesn't know some of the better ways of sheathing a rifle for horse travel, the hunter may bring back a previously fine rifle that now appears as if it had gone through a hammermill. Like packing in a deer, there are many methods of buckling a scabbard to a saddle. In the accompanying pictures I've tried to depict a few of the more popular ways and point out some of their advantages and disadvantages.

A popular method of carrying, offers protection and easy access.

I would like to mention, also, a few things not to do. Never try to shoot while still aboard your cayuse. In the first place, you can't take a steady aim; and in the second place, there are mighty few horses that will stand for such abuse. You'd probably wind up getting piled.

An often used method of mounting scabbard. A disadvantage is brush will get wedged in between gun butt and horse.

If you're not acquainted with the mount between your legs and wander off afoot searching for signs or tracks, take your firearms with you. Some horses try to roll, despite the saddle on their backs, if they have been sweating. If they rolled on old Betsy just right, you'd be minus a gun for the rest of the hunt and out a sizable repair bill upon returning home. Some horses will paw a gun out of idle curiosity, so always place one beyond the nag's reach. I still own a .300 Savage with gouges pawed out of the stock by a curious broncho.

Scabbard carry used in open country. It is not recommended for brush.

Finally, I think it's okay to carry a rifle in a scabbard with cartridges in the magazine, but not in the barrel! You never know when the horse may fall or get tangled in the brush, causing you to lose all control of where the gun is pointing!

One of the most popular methods of buckling on a scabbard. It is low and out of the way in mounting or dismounting.