Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blast from the Past - Memories of the Hunt

Today's "Blast from the Past" photo is from 1975. This is my dad, Raymond, and his best bird dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer named Fritz. In his right hand is his trusty Remington 1100, which I now own. The cowboy hat was a constant. He came by it naturally, working the McAlester Stockyards as a teen. And I am a very good horseman because of him, but that is another story.

(Click here or on photo to go large.)

About the only time he wasn't wearing cowboy boots was when he was hunting. Then it was wool socks and Redwings. A plaid wool shirt over white insulated underwear because, by golly, it gets cold this time of year. And red coveralls because hunter orange was not yet in vogue. And his ensemble is rounded out with a shell vest and a nail apron because there is much to carry.

This photos brings up many memories for me. My dad introduced me to hunting very early in life. At the time this photo was taken, I was 13 and already quite a veteran of quail hunting. I really wish I knew exactly what age I was when I started hunting, but I don't. I just remember that before Fritz, there was Judd and Lady, American Pointers. And there was also Gent, a German Shorthaired puppy of my own.

The earlier memories come in pieces. Sometimes fragmented and disassociated from each other. I remember a 12 gauge Remington autoloader. Dad cut the barrel down to the minimum legal length and added an adjustable poly-choke that was always set to Improved Cylinder. He also cut down the stock and custom shaped a recoil pad to fit it. Now, most grade schoolers don't shoot 12 gauge! But dad wasn't going to put me at the disadvantage of shooting quail with a 410, which he considered woefully inadequate. And I shot the same high brass extended range shells that dad shot. That gun knocked me to the ground on more than one occasion. But a lot of quail were knocked to the ground too!

The gun fit me well and I had the fast reflexes of youth on my side. I remember the admiration of my dad and and his friends when I would occasionally knock down a surprise flushed quail almost before they even knew what was happening. A kid lives for moments like that!

I remember being woken up in the "middle of the night." Sleepily getting dressed and falling asleep again in the truck. I remember being woken up at a little cafe. It was still dark as we ate our hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and biscuits. Then back in the truck for a few more minutes. We would arrive at our destination at dawn and by the time the sun actually broke the horizon, we were in the field.

Sometimes dad would bring a friend or two; sometimes it was just the two of us. We would walk all day. In sometimes very rough terrain of rocks and cactus. My legs were short, my boots and gun heavy. Thankfully, I carried only my own shells and downed birds in my vest. Dad carried all the extras; our lunch, water and candy bars. It was sometimes very cold, especially early in the morning. My toes and fingertips would ache.

I remember walking back to the truck at the end of the day, leg and shoulder muscles aching and throbbing. Wondering where I would find the power to take another step. Sometimes we wouldn't time it right and it would get dark. I remember walking single file in the darkness, dad leading the way. The dogs would walk behind me, exhausted and content to just follow in our footsteps. We would all sleep very hard tonight. And I wouldn't have missed it for the world.


Beth@playinwiththepaulsens! said...

MY FAV post yet!!!!! LOVE love love the picture! AND love the story! I hope my boys have memories like these!
We had a GSP a few years ago! WHAT a dog I loved seeing her point! just amazing!

Cher said...

Thanks for the cowboy pic!

Both my boys were raised in the country and hunted. Next to the safety rules, the most stressed rule was you eat what you shoot. That rule saved a lot of critters around our place!

Nice post!

The Texas Woman

Primitiques 'n Poetry said...

Such a sweet memory! I have seen this picture numerous times and have never noticed the nail apron. That's funny! ~Mindy

thedomesticfringe said...

A great story and such wonderful memories for you. I really enjoyed this post.


MuseSwings said...

What a wonderful post - lots of good memories with your father. Thank you for stopping by my blog and singing a song!

jen said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's very nice to meet you.

What a great photo and post!! My boys just started hunting this year and their excitement was so great to see.

I enjoyed your post about the nutritional value of venison. The boys brought home three this year, so we have been eatin it like crazy.


Tracy said...

Molly's last hospital stay back in January was 13 days so only ten would be better, compared to that, haha...
I was really bummed out in January to be here but honestly when we left the hospital after those 13 days I knew deep down her lungs weren't all cleared out because she still had a yucky cough, hopefully this time with the different meds they're giving her it'll work better, so I'm past the point of being miserable here and feeling sorry for us, I just want her well so we can blow this joint and have some fun, haha!
Her spring break will be in March so maybe she'll be feeling great then and we will be able to go camping.

trash talk said...

I love family stories and this was wonderful. I felt at times like I was with you getting knocked on the ground.
I wasn't raised around hunting, fishing yes, shooting no. But I have gone target shooting with dates in my younger years and getting my shoulder bruised as a result.
Thanks for sharing! Debbie

trash talk said...

I forgot to say I wasn't raised around horses but I still managed to marry a cowboy! Debbie