October 11, 2020
Columbus Day Weekend
Dad loved the outdoors and all that comes with it – camping, fishing, hunting. He took the time to introduce us to this love of his and saw that each of us had the opportunity to experience this part of him.
I was brought up with Field and Stream and Outdoor Life. Fishing and hunting were passions I developed early in life, not that I was able to do that much of either back then, but maybe it was the desire for more that set the pattern so deep in my psyche.
Dad gave me a Winchester Model 12, 16 gauge shot gun for my 16th birthday – the age and the gauge matching. His new Remington Wingmaster was a 16 as well, its a more sporting gauge was his rationale. The gun was one of the very few luxuries he ever bought himself.
I cherished my gun and still do. It was manufactured in 1928, from what I can figure from the serial number, and was well worn but very functional. It is light and has a short barrel with an adjustable choke, although I have never really figured out how to operate it as it doesn’t click into place but rather turns and turns and turns.
I used it in the fields around our home with Kenny Mica, upstate with my cousin Tommy Kennelly, and out east with the Heyden’s when they lived in Bridgehampton. Since then Manny and I toured the pheasant farms within the Tri-State area and then there was Calverton with its sand pit DIY trap range and Southhaven.
Bob Walker, Joe Nally and I went to Calverton in the 70’s, and I think Mike and John came too, not knowing all that much about what we were doing. I brought Tom and Jason even though they were too young to shoot. The result was Tom getting bonked on the head with the trap machine handle that was left in the wrong position as we let him pull the release.
I have been there over the years and more recently with John and Joe. It is a casual place as long as you follow their rules. This Sunday we added Shane and Hunter to the family tradition of sport shooting.
The line of cars is backed up on to Edwards Avenue when we arrive. John and Joe are closer, about number 30 in line. It’s popular just before hunting season opens. We are hoping most are here to sight in their deer rifles as there are only 5 or 6 trap tables.
It works out and we have the last position where we can spread out and set up our chairs. In younger days we never brought chairs. Sign of the times.
John gives the boys and Tom an orientation to the guns available – semi auto, over under, pump lefty and pump bottom ejector. Each a little different in weight and feel, all 12 gauge, as well as my 92 year old Winchester.
Brother John supplied the ammunition which is in short supply in these Covid times. I have custom ammo for mine as it was made for 2 inch shells, not commercially available. A good gun smith could fix that problem but I kind of like it as it is. Joe and John operate the trap machine but Shane and Hunter quickly catch on and rotate turns.
John and Joe shoot followed by Shane to start it off, then Hunter, Tom and me. None of us expect the newbies to hit too many but Shane opens up with 6 out of 10 hits. His proud Dad is smiling.
Hunter steps up. Shane had shot before with his friends but this is Hunter’s first time. He hits at least half the clays. Wow!
The six of us rotate between shooting and launching and each time the boys did better, trying each of the guns in turn. A couple of naturals.
At the end of the day there is talk of what guns to buy and where to get them, new or used, pump or over and under? (In the car both boys tell me they liked the Winchester the best.)
We are planning a day at the Southhaven sporting clay course during Thanksgiving break. The fourth generation is well launched. Dad would be proud.