|The Remington and the Red Wing||February 1993|
Though I've been a life-long fisherman, only this last year, have I been getting into this guns and hunting thing. So far, I've gone out for coyote, turkey, and quail and have been skunked every time. I really don't mind being skunked. I've always liked to hike. So far for me, hunting is little different than hiking armed.
The men in my family were outdoorsmen. My uncles were huntsmen more than Dad was. Dad lived to fish. Since I'm Dad's son, I guess that's where I get my bias. Dad did own two long guns, though; a 16 gauge Remington Wingmaster, and a 30-06 bolt action, make unknown to me. He sold that '06 some years back.
The uncles would get all fired up about deer season, and Dad would tag along. He too, loved just to be out there in the wild. It didn't matter to him whether he brought back any game. Good thing, because he never did.
One year, the uncles were revved up about archery deer season. They got Dad revved up too, and soon Dad brought home this beautiful, polished, laminated wood, Red Wing Hunter recurve bow. At that time, recurves were state of the art, of course. That gorgeous shiny wooden implement was a sight to behold.
I still remember trips to Sierra Archery in Culver City, California. Dad and the uncles would need more arrows, or some other archery doo-dads, and this little guy would get to tag along. I remember staring up in awe at all the beautiful wooden recurves hanging on the wall, and in the glass counters, those nasty looking arrowheads made out of razor blades. Boy! The Indian arrowheads never looked like this!
One day, Dad brought home a hay bale so he could practice in the backyard. He explained that those razor blade arrowheads are called "broadheads," and that they are only used for hunting. For practice, you use these little target points.
Well, soon my brother and I wanted to try archery too, of course. We were around 7 and 8 at the time. Dad bought us boys those green Ben Pearson fiberglass bows. Nowhere near as beautiful as Dad's, but they were ours!
Dad practiced, my brother and I learned, practiced, and had a lot of fun shooting there in our back yard. That deer season, like all the others, Dad was skunked again.
Though I learned to shoot bow and arrow at an early age, I never bow hunted. Through my youth, every couple few years I would pick up the bow and arrow to target practice, never any longer than a week or so. So I would never call myself expert at it.
When I was in 6th grade, I got to go to camp for a week with my classmates. My school district owned a chunk of land in the San Bernardino mountains. Every year, the current class of 6th graders spent a week at the camp. We were taught all about that nature stuff. We put on skits, grilled burgers and sang songs around a camp fire, all that kind of thing. And oh yes, archery.
The week culminated with various competitions in the skills we had been learning all week. With my early exposure to archery, I led my cabin to victory in the archery competition. Too bad we didn't do as well in the other events.
In my community college, it was mandatory to take a 1 unit P.E. class every semester. Luckily for me, they offered archery. The standard bows in use for the class were these 25-30 lb. target-shooting longbows. I used them for the first couple of classes, but to my amazement, when I asked Dad, he let me borrow his fabled, but starting to fade Red Wing recurve. Over the years, the bow had developed some scuffs and lost some of its shine, but it still held the aura of sacred object for me.
I used the Red Wing for the rest of the semester, somewhat to the disapproval of the female instructor. I really couldn't group very well with that bow, and when I wasn't shooting all the way through the bale, I was at least burying arrows to the fletch.
Dad passed away in '91. I inherited the Remington and the Red Wing.
If I was buying a new shotgun and hunting bow today, what would I pick? Probably something like the new Remington Peerless over-under; a Bear or PSE high-tech compound bow, in full camouflage.
Well, you learn to use what you have. Dad was a smaller man than I am. His Wingmaster had a short, junior-size buttstock. I replaced it with a full-size black synthetic Speedfeed buttstock. It sure looks funny now, because the forestock is still walnut.
And the Red Wing? I've drilled holes in it to mount sights and a quiver. Then I covered it over with camouflage tape. I took it out hunting for javelina and deer the first weekend after our massive winter rain attack. Saw not one pig, and blew a stalk on a herd of deer. Gee. I guess I'm no good at this hunting thing either. I must be Dad's son.
Today, the Remington and the Red Wing are just old pieces of obsolete gear, right? Actually, those two old, scuffed and banged up hunting tools are my most valued pieces in a collection which includes such modern wonders as Colt Sporters and a Bear compound. Now what kind of sense does that make?
It's because I'm Dad's son.
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