SIEVERT NIELSEN FROM ZANE GREY
That was the inscription on a ‘95 Winchester carbine held by Tommy Hunt when I met him near Parks, Arizona on the edge of what Zane Grey termed the Tonto Rim. Officially the Mogollon Rim, named for Juan Ignacio Flores de Mogollon (pronounced ‘muggy-own’) who was Capitan-General of Spanish held New Mexico 1715-1717 and home to a flourishing elk population it was a favorite bear and turkey hunting ground for Grey, who became one of America’s most successful authors.
Tommy Hunt inherited the gun from his great grandfather, Babe Haught who was Grey’s guide in the rugged canyons and forests along the rim near Payson, Arizona. Very little is known about Nielsen except this laconic account left by Grey (1986: 373-374)
“My companion on this trip (into Death Valley in March ,1919) was a Norwegian named Nielsen. Nielsen accompanied me on two trips into the wilderness of Arizona, on one of which he saved my life, and on the other he rescued all our party from a most uncomfortable and possibly hazardous situation….”
To equip for his annual fall hunt in Arizona later in 1919, Grey (1986: 246) recalled later that:
“I had the fun of ordering tents and woolen blankets, and everything we did not have on our 1918 trip. But owing to the war it was difficult to obtain goods of any description. To make sure of getting a .30 Gov’t Winchester I ordered from four different firms, including the Winchester Co. None of them had such a rifle in stock, but all would try to find one. The upshot of this deal was that, when after months I despaired of getting any, they all sent me a rifle at the same time. So I found myself with four, all the same caliber of course, but of different style and finish…One was beautifully engraved and inlaid with gold-the most elaborate .30 Gov’t the Winchester people had ever built. Another was a walnut-stocked shot-gun butted fancy checkered take-down…The third was a plain ordinary rifle with solid frame. And the last was a carbine model, which I gave to Nielsen.”
Zane Grey and his party had successful hunts for turkey, deer and bear, leaving alone the recently introduced Rocky Mountain elk which were struggling to fill habitat emptied of Merriam’s elk by over hunting in the previous century.
Grey’s use of the venerable ’95 Winchester in the justly popular .30-06 eventually came to the attention of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and in 1924 they presented him with yet another fabulously engraved and gold inlaid ’95.
Tommy Hunt for permission to relate the story of his rifle.
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center for the photographs of the ’95 presented to Zane Grey by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co.
WINCHESTER, AN AMERICAN LEGEND by R. L. Wilson, copyright 1991, Random House, NY. for the photograph of the deluxe ’95.
Text and photographs of Zane Grey from his TALES OF LONELY TRAILS, copyright 1986, Northland Press, Flagstaff.