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Memories of the hunt.

Advice for the Shooter

Recently, I was out hunting turkeys with my favorite hunting companion, my wife Doris. Even though she’s been around guns since we married some 37+ years ago, she’s really a new shooter and hunter. I looked over at her as she was sitting against a large oak tree in full camo and it brought to mind all those who mentored me over the years as a new shooter and hunter.

My brothers Shelby, Charlie and Frank were there at various stages in my life to help me sharpen my skills as a shooter and to take me with them on hunts, long before I was able to carry my own gun. There are pictures of my Dad holding a .22 rifle to my shoulder shortly before he died when I was 4 years old, so I’ve been shooting most of my life and have had help throughout all those years.

My brother Frank supplied almost endless supplies of .22 ammo that I burned up with both his Winchester single shot .22 and his High Standard “Double Nine” revolver.

Shelby took me hunting and allowed me free range to his woods to hunt and shoot. He also gave me my first gun, a Winchester 37-A, when I was 11 years old.

Charlie took me hunting and fishing and delighted in making me find my way back to the truck, in a strange woods. A little scary but good experience.

The Boy Scouts were responsible for my a portion of my marksmanship training that included visits to Ft. Knox and the small arms range. I have to thank Walter “Buck” Buchanan for that. Buck Buchanan was a Master Sergeant  in the army when I first met him. He was the father of my best friend Mike and gave us access to most areas of Ft. Knox, including Patton Museum. As I grew older, he also became a hunting partner who taught me a lot about how crafty a grey squirrel can be.

There were many others over they years who taught me how to shoot various firearms. Captain Emmett Paul and Colonel C.J. Hyde were great influences. Either of those men could fire perfect scores on the range with a variety of weapons. There were others who guided me though long-range rifle and combat shooting skills courses. Those men were demanding but patient. They encouraged and corrected in equal measure.

Glynn Shubert was my mentor and teacher when it came to turkey hunting. We hunted together on my first turkey hunt and he was the first person I called when I finally killed my first long-beard.  My good friend Lloyd Fowler taught me to hunt turkeys in the fall. Lloyd could find turkeys when no one else could and never hesitated to share his knowledge with this friends. He saw me make more mistakes than can be imagined but he was patient and never critical of my lack of skill or knowledge. Lloyd and I hunted together just a few months before his death.

As I looked at Doris yesterday, all these memories came flooding back to me. I remembered past hunts, mistakes I’d made and the patience that was shown to me as a true novice hunter. I began to wonder what she or others that I’ve hunted with would say when I’m gone or can no longer hunt. Would they remember patient counseling or would some other memory dominate their thoughts.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m older and that I realize that any hunt could be my last that makes me want to enjoy each part of each hunt. I enjoy the preparation, the trip to the woods, setting up, calling and most of all, the companionship of good friends, including my wife Doris.

It truly is the hunt that matters…all the parts of the hunt. I have decided that I will be patient and understanding with all my hunting partners, experienced and inexperienced. I’ll try to remember the way that others were patient with me and helped me hone my skills and increase my knowledge. It’s really the very least that I can do to honor those folks who’ve meant so very much to me.

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