Friday, April 29, 2022

Granddad's gun

 For an outdoor minded kid, our duck camp was a favorite place to be, particularly in the fall when it was gunning season. But there was more to it than that. The long narrow lane in was a good place to start teaching a youngster to drive a car -- that's when I was first allowed behind the wheel. In the summer there were fishing and swimming to be done and boat handling was learned by accident. The sandy river-bottom soil was home to a great watermelon patch, and the surrounding hardwoods were meant for exploring. Fox and raccoons to be seen; muskrats and mink and turtles and frogs along the river. A boy with a handful of traps could get some fine nature lessons. Still, those autumn flights of waterfowl remained the year’s foremost attraction.  

Dad used his old Remington Sportsman 16-gauge and knocked ducks from the air with little apparent effort. It was his gun and he knew how to use it. Being a youngster short on knowledge and experience, and unaware of what I was being taught, I assumed my shooting failures were attributed to being outgunned. So occasionally Dad would shoot with his beautiful little pump-action .410 just to show me it could be done, because in those early years I was using a .410 and not hurting the duck population much. Back in those days before non-toxic shot regulations a good man could wield that little sub-gauge effectively. Yet, as I grew older, I figured I’d pile ‘em up if only I had a 12 gauge. 

When I hit my teens I found some ways to earn a little money with various jobs and fur trapping and before long I’d saved enough to buy a used 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. I figured I was in high heaven then, while Dad stood beside me in the marsh and continued to wipe my eye with the old 16.  

I took that old Remington Sportsman out the other day just to have a look. It had been sitting, unused, since the mid 1970’s when Dad put it away for the new Browning I gave him one Christmas. And, oh, how he shot that Browning till the end of his shooting days! I decided the old Remington deserved a workout at the gun club, but first I had to do something about the ill-fitted, deteriorating recoil pad. I’ve refinished a few gunstocks and had a few used pads laying around, so I was happy to find one that looked like it would work. After I removed the old rubber pad, I found a slip of yellowed, brittle paper inside the hollow of the stock. On that paper was written my grandfather’s name, address, and the date: 7 Sept. 1940. That gun was not only my father’s, but my grandfather’s before him and the sentimental cool factor sudden raised by 100%. 

The fixed full choke barrel was the norm for waterfowl before non-toxic shot became required, but it’s not very conducive to high scores on the skeet range. I was happy to hit more than I missed and am now pondering having the choke opened for a more useable grouse and woodcock gun. I can’t imagine how much game was brought to ground with the old shotgun and I’ll never match it, but perhaps I can add a bit of my own history gunning with it. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Spooling line tips... sort of.

 One day old Bill, a gunsmith and skeet shooting buddy, came to me and said, "Hey, you're a fly fisher, take this," and handed me a big, mostly plastic reel that he assumed was a fly reel. I didn't know exactly what kind of reel it was. but it wasn't any kind of fly reel I'd ever seen. But I took it and found a use for it. I learned later the reel is called a mooching reel used for some type of salmon fishing, I'm guessing big, deep water 'cause it'll hold nearly a half mile of 14# test line. 

I had two old broken spinning rods -- why I keep this stuff I'll never know -- but with a little cutting and epoxy they were fitted together and have made a handy tool for re-spooling lines and particularly for cleaning fly lines.  The big reel works great for that and I've been using it for years. 

So, I decided to put a new line on my oldest trout reel. I've had the new line for a couple of months, purchased along with a couple of new shirts paid with Cabela's points. I figured it was due because the old one had been spooled for a long time, years, in fact. For some reason I decided to do the job from my easy chair, close to my coffee cup, and pulled the old line off and dropped it to the floor instead of getting my tool. I was surprised that that old line was in such good condition -- no cracks or noticeable wear at all -- and I knew then I would keep it as a spare and rewind it to the empty spool the new line came on.  So, after the new line was on the fly reel, I started wrapping the old one and realized it was easier said than done. What a tangle! The spooling tool would have saved some frustration. Lesson learned. I should have known better, though seems fitting for April Fools Day.

 Incidentally, I don't typically recommend or endorse any brand name or products to anyone. There are folks better at analyzing this stuff than I am, and my advice could be interpreted as the blind leading the blind, but I have a couple of the less pricey Cabela's lines on reels and they perform and last as well, for me, as some of my lines costing twice as much. Just saying. Good fishing!