Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For October 26th, 2007 Edition.
While attending St. Germain’s annual Ducks Unlimited banquet and fundraiser a few days ago a group of veteran outdoorsmen of advanced age had a discussion concerning how we hunted in “the good old days” compared to the current era. And with all such discussions it sure caused a lot of sweet memories to surface.
First off, as youngsters during our formative age, the concept of “hunter’s safety classes” was something lurking many decades in the future. Back then our hunter and firearms safety instructors were our dads, uncles and grandpa’s, and they did a splendid job of pounding the basic concepts of hunting and firearms safety into our youthful minds and memories!
Today state licensed “teachers” or DNR personnel more frequently accomplish the job of informing our youth on that topic. Nearly all states now require proof that an applicant seeking a hunting license has successfully completed a firearms safety class, unless the person applying for the license is approaching the age of a dinosaur. Colorado and North Dakota’s cut off date of birth for not requiring a hunter safety certificate is the early 1960s!
Another topic we discussed was the change in attitude from yesteryear to today concerning firearms safety in our homes. Back when I was a kid we always had a loaded rifle or shotgun in a handy location for instant use if the need should arise. And I can’t recall any kids shooting themselves, or anyone else because we were taught to keep our hands off the gun “or else” something dreadful would happen to us. The “or else” would be a swift kick in the posterior or a sound spanking. Back then kids were taught that guns were simply tools designed to put food on the table or protect life and property. We were taught guns were no more dangerous than power tools or automobiles when used correctly and were respected for what they were intended to accomplish. And, the system worked!
My personal firearms safety training began when I was six. My instructors, dad and uncle Bud, taught me the basic rules about firearms and allowed me to plink away at tin cans and targets with a .22 rifle, under their watchful eye. Dad obtained my first gun for me when I was nine. He traded an old single shot 16-gauge shotgun for an old single shot .410 shotgun, which I still have and still use.
Hunting safety instruction began when I was 8. Dad allowed me to follow him around in the woods after grouse and brought me along with him during deer season when he sat on his stand. I was by his side in November of 1945 when he bowled over a magnificent 8-point buck that was running on all 8 cylinders through a thick stand of popple and jackpine. That, one of my most memorable pre-deer hunting experiences, really ignited a fire in me. It was here in this type of a classroom I learned how to be patient as we waited for game and while we waited I received mountains of information about Ma Nature and her woodland creatures. It was a super program!
During the fall of my 9th year dad turned me loose on my own, (on our own property) to hunt grouse, rabbits or squirrels. Old Pat, our black cocker spaniel was my companion during these early memorable hunts. But dad had one additional rule during the first year I was allowed to hunt solo. He would give me but one .410 shell. If and when I returned home with some type of edible game I would receive another shell. This served several important purposes. It forced me to only take “sure shots” at critters that provided table value. Also, beginning hunters, especially youthful ones, are often driven by a basic urge to “kill something.” Fortunately, for most outdoorspersons, that barbaric urge disappears after a few years and “the thrill of the planning and the going” becomes the number one reason we hunt.
Back when I was a kid partridge season, as we then called it, began of the 3rd Saturday in September. This was a date I looked forward to almost as much as Christmas or my birthday! Mom and dad made a deal with me that if I kept my grades somewhat respectable, (especially “deportment”, which was a measure of my overall behavior) and kept up with my daily chores without being harped at, I could hunt as often as I wished AFTER the chores were completed. What a deal!
On weekdays, after getting off the bus, I’d race the final quarter mile to our home and change clothes, then fill the wood box, haul out the ashes, fill the ice box, dump out the water from the melted ice, fill the kerosene lamps, call Old Pat, grab my .410 and hunt till dark. Who could ask for any thing more?
On Christmas Eve of my 10th year uncle Bud presented me with my 2nd firearm. It was a Stevens side-by-side 20 gauge, model 311. The following fall, dad and I were hunting on Squaw Creek on the opening day of duck season. I shot my first duck that day and caught a terrible case of duck hunting fever that has not subsided over the past six decades.
Eventually that double barrel 20 was passed on to my son, Chris, who had received the same type of outdoor instruction that I had. Now nearing 50, he too has that same terrible fever. Our oldest daughter, Cherie, also cut her teeth in the world of hunting with that little 20, and besides shooting a good number of ducks with it while hunting with her dad and older brother, she also sunk 3 of my decoys. The gun now belongs to Cherie.
I’m a firm believer that teaching kids to respect all that reside in the wonderful world of Ma Nature is a highly positive personal value. Giving kids the opportunity to fall in love with hunting, fishing, camping and what have you is also something that pays great dividends time and time again throughout ones lifetime. Kids who are given proper instruction during their formative years, and become hooked on what Ma Nature’s world has to offer, seldom get into deep trouble. The sad thing is that today way too few kids get the chance I did.
End of sermon. I’ve got a couple of mallards to clean that this 70-year old kid shot early this morning.
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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