“Dad gum my hand is cold!” I thought. I had removed the glove from my right hand because of the double triggers on the old Westley Richards, and stuffed it in my shooting vest. I was blowing hot air into my cupped hand when it happened. The old rooster exploded at the nose of Roger’s large pointer and all thoughts of a frozen hand vanished. My right thumb cocked both hammers with a single sweep and the old muzzleloader found its way to my cheek like it was born there. I thought, “Wait….wait.…too close to the dog.” The magnificent bird yelled a loud cackle as he quickly gained altitude. Then white smoke exploded from the right barrel followed with a deep throated BOooom! The rooster, flying left to right, collided with a string of lead 6’s and he fell from the sky like a large rock. “Well, that ain’t something you see every day!!” yelled Roger. My friend wasn’t talking about my shooting skills or lack of…….he was thrilled with witnessing an 1855 Westley Richards 14 bore Muzzleloader, historically known as a ‘Detonator,’ come back to life on his farm in Mitchell, South Dakota! My son Matt yelled, “Nice bird Dad,” as my 7-year-old Grandson Sam stared at me with bright blue eyes and a toothy grin! Sam trotted over and picked up the great rooster. “Grandpa, look at him……he’s beautiful!” I replied, “Yes he is son, and he’ll eat good”. We walked to the end of the harvested corn field when Roger spotted a rooster run into a patch of native grass about the size of a basketball court. I said, “Hold up! Let me reload!” With the right barrel ready again, we waded in. Almost immediately the rooster flushed in front of Matt who quickly killed the bird with his Benelli auto 12 bore. Oddly, the bird fell on top of a round bale of hay. I said, “Great shot Son!” as Matt walked to retrieve his bird. I walked in the opposite direction towards the end of the grass cover thinking, “Who knows…….maybe that bird has a brother with him.” Unbelievably, another rooster exploded at my feet with a loud cackle!! It was another left to right…….the old gun found my shoulder and I cleanly killed the bird at 25 yards. White smoke and its fine aroma filled the air like fog…….and we all smiled.
The sun was popping up on a cold January morning. I sat in a duck blind with a good friend over flooded corn as steam drifted off the water. The sound of jets flying overhead put my heart in a ‘giddy up’ mode as a dozen Mallards cupped their wings to settle in our decoys. Gripping my 1898 Parker DH 10 bore double gun I stood, and took an eye on a bird settling in. The KABOOOM of the old Parker’s black powder load sent the green head to the water like a giant tennis racket had swatted him from the sky. The white smoke and smell of burnt powder made me smile. Oh, how I love to hunt……and oh, how I love old guns!
I said to my friend, ”Ross, what a beautiful morning, and what a beautiful place you have to shoot ducks”.
We live in a camo world……Mossy Oak, Real Tree, BassPro ,Drake, and many more make great products that relatively control the market. These patterns simulate trees, leaves, reeds and moss. But what about the old camo of the 50’s, 60’s and early 1970’s? Why did it give way to the modern patterns we see today? And, does the old camo of our Grandpa’s still work in the dove fields, duck ponds, turkey woods and deer stands?? You better believe it will!!!
I drove a 1969 yellow Dodge Dart all through college. It had a standard shift on the column, no air conditioning, no power steering – it was a plain car. But when you stepped back and looked at the old car, she was downright pleasing to the eye.
I have found that rifles are the same. Personally, I prefer walnut and blue steel. Now, I don’t want to throw off on many of the fine plastic guns on the market. These rifles represent the norm of hunting today and many of my close friends use them – they are just not for me… most of the time. They also remind me of modern cars… can’t tell one plastic one from the other. But make no mistake, the younger generation, the Millennials, like plastic stock rifles.
I want to tell you about two old, plain… some say gangly… beautiful rifles. Without a doubt, I love and admire the classic fine lines of a Winchester pre-64 Model 70, or the 6.5 x 54 Mannlicher Schoenauer, and the beautiful custom stocked Springfield Sporter… but there is something quite wonderful and special about a few old, plain rifles that time has turned into real pearls.