Hunting On A Bicycle
Buffalo and Bear Killed with Rifles Strapped to Wheels.
NEW SPORT FOR BIKERS
Small Game Easily Bagged with the Weapon that Swings from the Handle-bars.
(Copyright, 1896.)Only a few days and the poor horse will be still further displaced from his normal element of carrying man to work and to play. A new accomplishment has been discovered, that of gunning on wheels, and where once the hunts and meets were the delight of horse owners the same are being held with wheels as a means of hunting.
Hunting on bicycles began about a month ago. Well-known sportsmen say that they have been using a bicycle for a long time when wishing to reach a certain portion of woods, or make certain mountain climbs and descents quickly. But the actual gunning on wheels, as it is now known to bicycle riders in general, is less than four weeks old.AFTER SMALL GAME.
It began with those riders who are marksmen and whose weekly tours take them through the country. Seeing a quail scurry in the brush they would wish for a gun to catch its flight. Or noting a flight of wild ducks over a stream they would sigh for a rifle to fire in the flock. Consultation with the leading sportsmen and a little practice developed the idea, until now the bicycle gun is part of the expert cyclist's outfit.
The way to hunt on wheels is to carry a rifle strapped to the top bar. The rifle as you purchase it is as long as your forearm, maybe shorter. It is the shape of a policeman's club, and does not look like a piece of firearms. But it has an inside compartment. By screwing a small projection one end comes out like a telescope, and there comes down into perfect rifle shape a rifle stock, at sight of which you feel at home with your firearms. When through shooting the stock is pushed hack into the barrel. When screwed out again there is a snap and the rifle is in shape.
This is carried strapped closely to the top bar, and run between the legs without being noticed by any one passing. At the same time it is a means of protection to the cyclist as well as a ready sport.
The rifle has a small bore and is hammerless. It is very light in action as well as in weight, and brings down its game quickly and surely. Having no hammer, it cannot catch In a cyclist's clothing, and its bore is so small that it makes no bulk between the legs.
A ce[r]tain well-known amateur cyclist experimented with this rifle at glass balls. He hit 27 out of 29 the first time shooting. He was a good marksman, but not a "crack" by any means. As a cyclist he is an expert.
It is necessary to be very clever upon the wheel before undertaking to shoot while riding For a second the hands must be off the handles while the shot is being fired. Then the rifle must be replaced or laid down, or disposed of in some way before the handles are taken in hand again. This is nothing for an expert cyclist, who finds no difficulty riding without the handles for a considerable distance. He guides the wheel with the knees. Once expert enough to do this, and it is nothing to shoot upon a wheel. One can practice and become a marksman. And many will do this who have never before cared for shooting.THE APPROACH.
The advantages of shooting upon a wheel are great. You can glide up noiselessly with your pneumatic tire and crack away at the game without taking any chances from a distance. Footsteps are necessarily noisy, and of course the clatter of a horse's feet alarm game, while prowling through the brush and lying in wait for game is tiresome to any but the most devoted sport lovers.
But the wheel takes away all these difficulties. And there is another important point in favor of gunning on a bicycle, and that is the small space through which one can go. Given a woody path and the choice of wheels or on foot, an expert cyclist will take the chances of the wheel every time. The overhanging brush he pushes back with his hands, and the heavy path he can tread better upon his steady-swift wheel than by foot.
But it is for coast shooting that the wheel is best. Along ponds, in the open, in hilly countries and where game abounds in fields and meadows, there the bicycle excels. It is true and quick. It cannot leap fences, to be sure, but on the other hand, it is not apt to throw you after being lifted over a fence, and it gets three times as near as a horse could.
For pistol practice the cycle has even better advantages, because the pistol is more easily carried. Little pouches come into which the pistol is slipped. The handle is left exposed. This is hung upon the handle bar and is within a second's use of the rider. If you see an odd-shaped bag, with a handle sticking out of the top, you may know it is a pistol, and that the rider is a crack cyclist out for sport.
The law against carrying concealed arms, now so strictly enforced in some parts of the country. Is not infringed in the carrying of cycle arms. The weapons are not concealed. They hang out in plain sight, and there comes in another legal question as to whether the cyclist is "carrying" them or not. They are part of his baggage. This was a point well ascertained by sportsmen before putting forward the cycle rifle practice as a new and desirable sport.WITH A PISTOL.
At pistol practice from a bicycle an amateur rider made a good record. This man was a crack shot but an ordinary rider. This fact handicapped him to a great extent. He was not confident of his balance. On the other hand, he was a good shot and could fire with lightning speed. He would ride well along, until under fire headway, and with well-balance wheel; then, quick as thought, he would release the handles, steady the machine with his knees and fire. His record was thirty bullseyes out of thirty-five.
Several crack marksmen have beaten this, and without much practice. This, indeed, is not a record, but merely a note of the first few performances. One of these shots was skillful enough upon the wheel to ride with one hand upon the handle. With the other hand he sighted the pistol and fired again and again. His record was a little better than 30 out of 35.
This kind of game brought down when cyclists go out to shoot are squirrels, quail, woodcock, wild rabbits, and game of the woods. They have great success, and you see them returning with their strings of game hanging over their top bars.
A sporting dealer says that in a few days there will e game baskets to hang to the top bar, and that specially contrived receptacles for game of different kind will be placed upon the market. These will fill all the requirements of game baskets and probably have places for ice and storage where birds are to be kept in good feather.
Ammunition belts, carrying about 100 charges of cartridge, can be worn. A rifle weighing, about two and a quarter pounds and costing about $5 is very satisfactory. Though any rifle that a sportsman has been accustomed to does for this purpose, provided it can be carried upon the wheel with safely.
Several of these hunting parties have started out of a Saturday and returned Monday or Tuesday with such game as the season would allow. Shooting for fun alone is not countenanced, and no true sportsman would touch the song birds that are his orchestra by early morning light, when he goes out upon the road.THE WHEEL.
The kind of wheel for this sport is immaterial. Any good wheel, road or tourist, light weight or heavy, providing it is in itself a reliable machine. There are certain light weights that are liked by some riders, but others find they must have the heavy wheel. That is a matter of taste with the rider every time. It does not affect the rifle practice.
Upon a lady's wheel the rifle can be carried easily. It can be strapped to the handle bar or laid lightly along the saddle bar. There are several places to put it, each to be decided by the length of the rifle. With a pistol this is easily managed, as it can be hung upon the handle bar with ease.
Improvements are so constantly taking place that it is hardly safe to predict what the next one will be, or where it will stop. But gunning on wheels has been taken up so quickly that it is a sport that will be a summer and autumn craze.[The Morning Times, Washington, [D.C.] Sunday Morning, July 05, 1896. Vol. III. No. 841. Pg. 16]