As a Hunt-Film Producer, I am often asked about the equipment we use on our show. Once I answer, invariably, I get asked the follow up “if you weren’t sponsored by <<<said manufacturer>>> what would you really tell me?” I’ve made it a point to focus our efforts on aligning with those in the industry who truly contribute to the success of our hunting adventures–simply put, teaming with those who manufacture the gear we use; and, in most cases, before we produced a television show. My business professors might actually give counsel if they new my approach was more about authenticity than revenue (big gulp) but I can’t change the history of the gear we had and I certainly can’t tell someone I love their product if I never used it. We have all sorts of “non-sponsored” gear and equipment and it wasn’t that long ago that I purchased my favorite camo shirt for 14 bucks at a local discount store. Today I found this old ad (featured above) floating in cyberspace and was reminded just how special that Made-in-America Company, Thompson Center Arms, has been to me and my family.
My history with hunting goes back to when I was just a bird dog for my dad and grandpa but, like many of us, I got distracted a time or two during the evolution to what has become Beyond Rubicon. First, I discovered sports, then cars, New Mexico Military Institute, and ultimately the United States Marine Corps where I spent 22 years of my adult life. Though I’ve slept on the ground all over the world, and humped gear all over the back-country, it was not about the hunt. However, when I did get the opportunity to travel home my brother and my dad were certain to ensure that we would venture out to chase birds, deer, or elk even if only for a few hours. Sometimes my plane would land and I’d discover that base-camp was set, my gun was cleaned, and all we had to do was get to the mountains; who could be better outfitters than my dad and brother?
On one such occasion, my entire family was waiting for my homecoming after my first combat deployment to Mogadishu circa 1994. My brother snatched me up at the airport and informed me that everyone was at a big family camp at Navajo Lake eagerly anticipating my arrival. I had a profound moment of awareness at the very moment I reunited with Jeff. I will never forget discovering the lens for which I viewed the world had drastically changed–I realized what being grateful was all about and I was taking it all in. We tearfully took some time to visit our old stomping grounds and swapped stories of our rearing as if we were writing our own history. Inevitably, our three hour trip turned into a much longer journey and we arrived to my empty childhood home. Six months on a ship and this young Marine was literally bursting with joy; that is, until I saw the answering machine blinking. There were no mobile phones so I casually pressed play and listened intently as my First Sergeant’s voice boomed on the recorder to inform me that I had 24 hours to report back to Camp Lejeune, NC for immediate deployment. Little did I know that Haiti was having some problems and our unit, albeit spread to the winds on leave, was the most prepared to respond. You can imagine the look on my dad’s face when I finally stumbled into camp to tell him that I couldn’t stay.
After the aptly named Haitian Vacation, I landed back in the Continental United States (CONUS) only to be let in on my brother’s little plan. Not only were we going to hunt but I better bring my camouflage because we were going after velvet mule deer with muzzleloaders. I laughed, maybe chuckled hesitantly, because it had never occurred to me that our family would actually take a big hunk of lead, top load it over some black powder, smash it down a heavy barrel, and head off into the sticks. This New Mexico homecoming had me learning all I could with an old-borrowed 1978 era Thompson Center .54 Caliber Hawken. As a Marine, we pride ourselves on knowing our weapons to include maximum effective range on a point target with engagements out to 500-800 yards. This smoke stick was a loaner but for the time being it was mine. The gun had a robust octagon barrel, two triggers, and ate Volkswagens as ammunition. And now, to my dismay, I was deadly out to 105 yards. I spent the better part of my leave away from everyone except my dad, brother and his hunting buddies (who quickly became my friends).
My sister joked that the only time she could pin me down was to venture out to hunt camp and I think my mom was worried that I might never get married if I didn’t come back to town. I managed to log some miles on my “Black Cadillacs” and finally got an opportunity to let that old Hawken sing, ending up with the harvest of a lifetime and the biggest deer I’ve taken to date.
Since that time, Thompson Center has been our weapon of choice, a firearm with the quality, engineering, and price point to make it practical for the family. We’ve taken game with the muzzle-loaders (Hawken, Grey Hawk, Omega, Pro-Hunter) and are ecstatic about the new Strike. In 2006, my father gifted his boys the Pro-Hunter Centerfire configuration in .300 winmag (my dad’s absolute fave) and we’ve recently taken game with the Compass, Venture, and Dimension. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to get my hands on the newly released 6.5 mm Creedmoor for my T/C Dimension and topped it with a Vortex Viper HSLR. I was able to swap my .308 barrel, mount the 6.5 Creedmoor barrel, and get it dialed in to 750 yards fairly quickly. It’s easy to question T/C Arm’s minute of angle guarantee but I have proof in the pictures–and on film so you’ll be able to watch the episodes soon.
So, if you’ve made it this far, I will look you straight in the face and tell you with the utmost confidence that you just can’t go wrong with any number of firearms from Thompson/Center Arms. Beyond Rubicon has history with this company and our partnership with them has been natural from the start. No need for a follow on question here because you will get my honest opinion from the start.