Tag Archives: carving gunstocks

Coues Deer Rifle

Custom Gunstock Carving of a Coues Deer

Coues deer & cactus carving image

   This rifle is one of my own.  An ongoing project with the end finally in sight.   It started as a 1909 Peruvian Mauser bolt action rifle in 7×57 caliber that I found used in a small gun shop in Mesa AZ.   It caught my eye because the receiver was not blued, it was what is known as “in the white”.   It had a shiny, bare metal receiver.   It had  an old military, stepped barrel with most of the bluing worn off and a basic sporter stock from the 60’s or 70’s .   But, it was a Mauser action and I saw another fun project.


    It took a couple years to get this rifle to the carving stage.  First, there was installing a new barrel in .257 Rigby caliber to replace the old short military barrel.  I removed the action from the old stock.   The new stock was shaped from a beautiful aged blank of Maple Burl. The blank was sent to a gentleman in Texas to shape it and I inletted the stock by hand to fit the action when I got it back.   I had initially carved fish scale and leaves on the grip and forend of the stock a couple years ago but was waiting for the right inspiration for the butt stock carving design.


    Coues deer & cactus rough out carving imageIn the design phase of a gunstock carving, I ask all my clients what type of hunting or shooting they do.   I ask them what their favorite game animal is and where do they like to hunt.   Are they looking at telling a story about a particular hunt on the stock?    I had to do the same for my stock and decide what this rifle would be used for.    I knew it would be my go-to rifle to hunt Coues Whitetail Deer here in Arizona.


   For those who have no idea what a Coues deer is, think about a common whitetail deer in the rest of the country and Coues deer buck imageshrink it in size by half or more.   A big Coues deer buck may only weigh 85 to 90 lbs.  My dog is the same size this deer.   They are a desert animal and have the nickname of “Grey Ghost” since you see them and they just dissolve into their surroundings and are gone.


“Arizona’s ‘Grey Ghost’, the coues deer, is one of the smallest deer species of the whitetail deer. This small, elusive deer is one of the most popular deer to hunt and one of the most challenging of the deer species.    The country these deer inhabit is some of the most beautiful, rugged country in the United States. They are found from the desert floor to over 8,000 feet.”


   A carving of a Coues deer buck was what I wanted to do, but it took a long time to get the design right.   I wanted to make sure not to cover up the beautiful areas of burl in the butt stock so the carving had to be smaller than normal.   Since the grain of this stock flows freely , I decided not to have a definite border to the carving and let the carving edges flow like the wood grain.


Coues deer & cactus closeup image   Since the Coues deer is a desert animal, a prickly pear cactus had to be included in the carving along with the deer.   You’ll notice I left the front half of the butt stock untouched to show off the beautiful wood grain.  It would have been a crime to carve over this area.  After I completed the carving, oil paints were used in a diluted form to stain and highlight the cactus, the antlers, and the white areas on this buck. 


   This rifle goes on it’s first hunt with me this fall but, as with all old mausers, I’m sure it’s been out there many times before.   But it never looked as good as this before.


  If a carving like this appeals to you for your deer rifle, contact me and we can talk about your ideas.   You can make your rifle a one-of-a-kind.   Life’s too short to hunt with an ugly rifle.


Thanks for stoppin’ by…..

Lance Larson  

A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story

Cape buffalo carving on Sako gunstock image A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story

Custom gunstock carving is very rewarding.   The creative relationship between you and your carving client is a truly enjoyable collaborative effort.    In the time I have been carving gunstocks, I’ve found that many clients had the ideas for their stock for quite a while but couldn’t find a way to accomplish it.

Most clients will have you carve something in their gunstock that really means something special to them.  It may be initials; it may be a type of game animal they love to pursue.  But it may also be a very special animal they want to remember and celebrate.   Their son’s first buck, their once-in-a-lifetime huge bull elk, or a project like I just finished.  A hunter’s trophy Cape Buffalo carved in the rifle he used to take it.

I really wanted to find a way to personalize this carving.   To acheive this, I ask my client for photos.   I have my clients provide me photos of the hunt, photos of the animal taken in the field, and photos of the mounted animal.   If the animal has horns or antlers, I ask for as many photo angles of the head as possible.   Since I am going to carve a portrait of this animal to the best of my ability, all the reference material possible is needed.   Then the design starts………

When I talked with my client about his Buffalo, he explained to me how the buffalo bull was standing when came out of the bush.  My client wanted the carving to show the buffalo just like he was at the shot.  He wanted to save the memory of that moment.  And I intended to do everything in my power to do just that for him.   I found a few Cape buffalo photos that showed them standing at the angle I needed.   Then I decided which of the photos the client gave me showed the head and horns at the best angle to fit the body.  After tracing both pictures they had to be sized individually to make sure the head fit the body.  Then I reduced the size of the carving pattern to fit the gunstock.  This is a time consuming but necessary step for success.Leopard Carving on Sako gunstock image

I took the time to do three pattern options for his Cape buffalo carving and let him choose the pattern he wanted.  I also asked him if he wanted anything on the side of the rifle.  His Stock had fantastic checkering and we had decided not to touch that part of the stock. He said he liked the big cats so I agreed to put an African Lion carving on one side and a Leopard carving on the other side of the rifle.   We also decided that since the walnut stock had such beautiful grain, the carving would be done in an inlay style.  That way it added to the beauty of the wood grain, it didn’t cover it up.

I won’t go into all the carving steps here.  But it is important that you research any animals you intend to carve.  We’ve all seen Mule deer and Elk, but do you know how the horns differ between an Eland, a Kudu, or an Nyala?  Carving African animals are very different than North American game animals, so research, reference photos, and practice is imperative to give the client the animal he wants.

Thanks for stoppin’ by……

Lance Larson