By: Randy Tucker
I was the highest bidder at an April farm auction about a dozen miles from our place. My prize was a Ford 2N tractor. I didn’t have a clue how that little ton-and-a-half power plant would change my shooting style just a few years later.
For those of you who don’t know about or appreciate the Ford tractors of the 1940s and 50s, they revolutionized agriculture.
This 2N was manufactured in Dearborn, Michigan in 1946.
In our era of hundreds of horsepower in a compact car, the 12 horsepower at the drawbar, and 23 on the PTO seem minuscule.
I used the 2N to plow snow, pull a disc, and run a brush hog.
Back in June, my Massey Ferguson 1105 threw a rod cap bearing. My son had been on me for years to buy a new tractor, so I picked one up from my best friend’s son at an implement dealer near Greeley, Colorado.
The Kubota 6000 did everything the Ford did before, but with a cab, a heater, and brand-new hydraulics. It lifted one-ton big bales better than the Massey 1105 did as well.
The little Ford 2N was still a great tractor.
I decided to list it on Facebook Marketplace. Just minutes after I posted the listing, my cell phone pinged with an incoming text message.
It was my friend Brian. He was a kid I’d coached years ago in football, basketball, and track. Brian was retired now, as a Warrant Officer 4 after 23 years in the Marine Corps.
“How about trading your tractor for a rifle?” Brian’s text read.
Intriguing, I thought, but what kind of rifle would be worth the price of a utility tractor?
He sent me a photo of the beauty. It was a Springfield M1A 6.5 Creedmoor.
At that fateful moment, a lot of boxes were checked in my brain.
I’ve always wanted an M1, and on several of my last hunts for deer and pronghorn antelope, I’ve used my son’s 6.5 Creedmoor instead of my venerable Remington 788 .308.
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a flatter, faster round than the .308 and has a much greater range.
We arranged to meet.
Brian drove his pickup behind our house adjacent to the feedlot.
The best trades are always made on the tailgate of a pickup truck.
Brian test drove the tractor, testing the three-point hitch, the PTO, and running through the three-speed transmission. It was exactly what he was looking for. He wanted a tractor to plow snow, move dirt with a blade, and run a brush hog. This little filly did the job well for me, and after 75 years, it was still running the strong.
The M1A was gorgeous. The synthetic stock, attached sling, and custom scope mount with peep sights under the scope and 6×24 Lucid optics scope were exactly what I was looking for.
We shook hands, and the deal was finished.
Brian borrowed one of our trailers to load the tractor on for the trip to his place. In the process of backing it up, he noticed a two-bottom, one-way antique plow.
I hadn’t used that plow in 15 years. It was a match for a Ford Jubilee tractor that Brian owned, the original one that came with it back in 1953.
“How much for the plow, Coach?” Brian asked.
I didn’t know what it was worth and was about to give it to him with the deal, but he sweetened the pot. “One hundred bucks enough?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said. “But how about you just take it?”
Brian grinned and said, “I’ve got something better.”
He went back to the cab of his truck and brought out five boxes of 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition.
“That’ll work,” I said.
We shook on the deal, and the trade was complete.
It’s funny how life can lead you.
A knocking in the Massey Ferguson one afternoon led me to sell it to a mechanic from Idaho Falls, Idaho. I took the extra cash and made a down payment on a new tractor in Northern Colorado. At zero percent interest, I wasn’t going to pay for the tractor in full as I usually do, but decided to use someone else’s money for a few years instead.
The new tractor led me to try and sell my old Ford.
Instead, I’ve got a Springfield M1A long-range rifle, capable of accurate shots up to 1,000 yards. The 20-round magazine was a bonus, too. You can fire the M1A as quickly as you can pull the trigger, but it’s loud, and it gets hot.
With the price of ammunition, I’m not likely to just blaze off a full magazine “Rambo-style” to show off.
Brian took a coyote at 527 yards with the M1A. The scope was still set at 600-yards when he traded it to me. That’s a long distant shot on a varmint as small as a coyote. But, he was a Marine marksman and a kid from Wyoming who grew up hunting before that. His marksmanship skills remain excellent.
The only drawback with the Springfield is the weight. With the scope, a full magazine, and strap, it tips the scales around 12.5 pounds. That wasn’t much when I was a bit younger. In my 20s through my 50s, weight over distance didn’t matter much. Now, as I’m approaching Medicare, with a new left knee, hiking the plains, foothills, and mountain ridges of Wyoming has taken on a new challenge.
As my dad often said when shooting a long-range rifle, “It barks here, but it bites way out there.”
Long-range could mean less stalking, but no matter how far the shot, you have to bring the buck or bull back.
It was one of the better, maybe the best, trades I’ve done out here in the wilderness.
Randy Tucker is a retired history teacher and freelance writer from western Wyoming. He has a lifetime of experience in farming, ranching, hunting and fishing in the shadow of the Wind River Mountains. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.