Next step was to give the wood some pre-stain, which it drank up like a thirsty dog. I used Minwax Sedona Red in an effort to get close to the original finish color. It took five coats, buffing each one into the wood, at a rate of a coat a day. I think it approximates the color and character but so too might a darker stain with a bit of red in it.
Then I used Formby's Tung Oil finish (in matte). I know that this isn't a "pure" oil, and I'm okay with that. The light amount of varnish in it was a good thing in this case, as it sealed the areas that were still left with gouges to prevent any possible splintering or catching on things like a gun sock. I applied five coats, knocking each down in between with 0000 steel wool. Although matte, it was still somewhat shiny, as you'll see in the below photos taken after coat #4. Again, a coat per day...sometimes the hardest part of refinishing is having the patience!
Final step was to give it a coat of wax; I have applied two coats of Johnson's paste wax and will probably apply another and periodically recoat. The paste wax is great - you just buff it in.
The finished refinish, which is now much more usable and in my humble opinion, looks great! It retains the character of the stock with its many bruises but feels a million times better:
(The stock isn't shiny - that's due to the flash because the picture was taken indoors at night).
I hope this perhaps help some others who are deciding whether to refinish, whether the decision is yea or nay. And if you see me at the range with my rifle come on up and say hi, or give me a piece of your mind for vandalizing a collectible, whichever...I can take it...