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    Day's End

    The Club Gun

    I’ve got a gun. It’s a stupid gun I got to settle a feud; or at least, an impending feud.

    The then-club chairman thought it was a good deal and that we could sell it for a ton. So he bought it with club funds. Well, it was a rifle-type guy who sold it to him and said it was a sound and beautiful Parker.

    Indeed, it is a Parker, and it is sound, but it seems that Pop had lopped off a couple of inches fore and aft of the thing to make a grouse gun for his 12-year-old kid. The rifleman/gunsmith, however, didn’t articulate those facts.

    It didn’t sell at the fundraiser. It didn’t even get a bid.

    Photo/Jim Gilsdorfs
    Photo/Jim Gilsdorfs

    The chairman was mystified, the committee was dismayed, and the club rebellion began. I was the treasurer at the time. Anyway, to stop the bickering that kept each meeting more ineffectual than the previous one, I put up the cash to take the thing out of the conversation. So here are the details:

    In other words, a classic among classics, including its goofy dimensions. The huge drop is a holdover from the days of flint, when the game shooter dropped his head to put the bill of his cap between his eyes and the sparks from the flash pan. But nobody shoots that way anymore.

    Then there is the problem with the parental alterations to give his kid a gun that fit. The barrels are shortened and are thus cylinder and cylinder. The stock is shortened from the standard 14½ inches to a lousy one foot long.

    I honor the guy for fitting such a weapon, bought in the days when it was pretty much a yeoman’s gun, to his kid. Nowadays, we tend to strangle our offspring with light guns like a measly 28-gauge with 236 pellets in a standard load or a 20-gauge with 300 shot per load when the kid is going to “fringe” most of his birds at best and needs the most shot in the air possible. Better to give your kid a 12-gauge with 396 shot per pop.

    And besides, when do you introduce your fry to grouse hunting? When the leaves are all down or when the snow is showing the grouse tracks? Nope.

    You take him with you when the leaves are all up, the hunting is all relaxed and fun, and the birds are early and dumb. If he doesn’t connect, you’ll have to talk long and hard to get him back for the march to Bataan that is grouse hunting. If he so much as knocks one bird down, grouse or woodcock, he is your hunting buddy for life. That was the idea of the original owner of my blunderbuss.

    So now what? Nothing to do with the chokes. They are still choked C and C. I added 2½ inches to the stock in an ugly patch job consisting of a piece of scrap walnut I had in the shop. Didn’t even finish it flush with the original stock. Just screwed it on as a thick butt plate. So now the LOP is 14¾ inches and the DAH 3¼ inches.

    Since I had it, I hunted with it one opening day. The first time I went with it, I had only one box of 12-gauge shells, 1¼ ounces of no. 6s, at that. Paired with the C and C bores and shot at the usual 30-foot distance, it gave me as big a shot pattern as I can get. The leaves occlude the view at about 20 feet, so the shot pushes through the last 10 feet of them, approximating the flight pattern of the bird. The load worked so well in the thick foliage that I use it all the time now, and the gun has become my early-season shooter.

    I’ve had the gun for four years so far. Have used it only for the first weekend or so of any season, until the leaves drop, and have collected 18 woodcock with it. That’s a limit a day. I’ve not crossed paths with a grouse in that time but can hardly wait. Besides, I feel like I’m hunting with old friends Burt Spiller or William H. Foster when I knock down a bird with this thing.

    I guess my point in all this is when there is magic in the gun, it is magic. More shot in the air means more birds on the ground. Luck is where you find it. Life is good if you let it be. We need to hunt more.

    And thanks to somebody’s dad for a screwed-up gun.
       — Jim Gilsdorf


    Wolfe Publishing Group