ROC Rank: Sophomore
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: southern Maine
Model: *Not a Ridgeline owner
Model Year: 2006
Color: Steel Blue / Gray
Thanksgiving Day rememberance of a hunting partner
I recently had a memory of a good friend pushed to the front of my minds eye this past week and I realized the parallel of our friendship being like that of a son, which he never had, and a surrogate father although we were really just two good friends and I did lose my dad in January of this year but we had never hunted together being several states removed. I originally wrote this as a Father's Day message and with Thanksgiving and deer hunting winding down I'd like to share this and wish all everywhere the best of the season and holiday.
I have hunted for a long time. Part of the draw for me was to sort of understand the gun could be used for more than the kill. You see I saw some combat and ended up using the weapons for their intent, this had a major effect on my life that cannot be relinquished.
I still had plenty of service time left on my enlistment when I returned home so having a safety net of active duty and the need to perform the mission gave my military time a chance to make a different impact in my life unlike some who ceased combat and the military only to then find themselves in civilian attire with a world of civilians who were in different worlds from they.
I teamed up with two fellows from aboard my ship and we went on my first ever hunting escapade in the Santee Cooper Forest in South Carolina with deer as our quarry but it was also wild boar season. We made some crude drawings in the dirt to lay out a plan and had one of the fellows setup on a stand then we'd willy our way toward him hoping to spot deer enroute.
As we meandered we saw plenty of sign of game but nothing in the way of quarry. We neared what we believed to the rendezvous area we heard much movement and noise then yelling and screaming. We beat feet in the general direction of the ruckus only to see our companion in a tree throwing rocks and yelling Get the F out here!............
Neither Tom or I could believe what Shorty was doing and then we saw a half dozen razor backs hastily retreating while we stood by laughing with our eyes filled with tears. Seems that Shorty had tried to answer the call of nature and was startled by the pigs he skun up the tree post haste and left his shotgun at the bottom. This was my introduction to hunting.
I got out of the military and found my way home to New England again that had been only a memory for the past 4 years. As is the case I settled back in and began life anew. I met the lady I would marry and we found ourselves moving to Maine a few years later.
Once in Maine the call of the wild sought me, woodsmoke fires in the woodstove, public suppers, apple orchards and wildlife, life was very very good. I'd began using my machinist skills to repair some guns I had purchased and eventually added wood skills for stock work. I would purchase rifles and shotguns that had been used but were still very functional but needed some TLC to once again look as good as they once did. I'd then sell these to move up to something better fitting or better suited for what I needed.
I met new folks who became part of my hunting adventures and one of these was my friend Charles who introduced me to the man who would become his father in law, his name was Paul.
Nearly 30 years my senior did nothing to squelch the bond of friendship between Paul and I that lasted until his death from Leukemia. Paul had served with the Marines in WWII and was only a short distance from one of the dropped bombs and it was thought this is where his Leukemia was from although the final findings from the VA came after his death.
An avid hunter with access to some of the finest deer woods I'd ever imagined made for many fond memories for both me and Paul, and Charles when we could get him to accompany us. I have witnessed days when 16 different deer would cross the stand I was on in the course of a days hunt and a season when none would cross. Then the state instituted the bucks only law to bring the herd back.
Paul and I spoke about the changes happening in Maine many times and the effect it was having on everything and he saw the day that the shotgun would be the method for taking deer. To be honest I did not relish the thought of this as I did not have very good grasp of what the shotgun was really capable of with a few exceptions from my military time.
I began studying ballistics for the shotgun going all the way back to the old Punkin Loads for the black powder smooth bores they began life in and purchased my first shotgun for deer a 20 gauge Remington Model 11 which was based on the Browning A 5 patent. As most of you have already surmised it was a failure and I once again returned to studying.
I decided the 12 gauge would be the best performer as there were some exciting changes happening in 12 gauge projectiles with the advent of new loads and bullets. I picked up a Browning Twelvette, a 2 shot semi automatic shotgun developed by Val Browning the son of John Moses Browning. The Twelvette was Val's idea of offering the gunner 2 shots like the SxS's they were used to but with the visual plane of the single barrel. Atop the Twelvette was a Weaver 1x scope and a Cutts Choke on the business end of the muzzle.
I worked with slugs from Winchester and Remington and found that the best I could get was 10-12" groups at 50 yards so I'd have to keep my shots under that and preferably 35 yards or less. I hunted with these loads for 2 years and then began to work with Brenneke Slugs which shrunk my groups to 5" at 50 yards and 8-9" at close to 100 yards and this stood me well for several seasons and several deer.
All the while Paul used his Savage Fox SxS to take deer with 00 Buckshot. He did however feel my method was more ethical with one shot kills but then he did far more traveling and sneaking than I so the Buckshot was more to the task plus he got deer more often than I did.
Eventually I worked with better and better slugs and purchased a fully rifled barrel from Hastings which was custom made for the Twelvette and once I saw the 5" groups shrink to under 3" at 50 yards I removed the 1x Weaver to replace it with a Leupold 1.5-5 Vari X III and watched the Twelvette place sub 4" groups at 100 yards and groups at 1 1/2" or less at 50 yards I knew there was no way I'd feel under gunned in any deer woods with it.
As the years took their toll on Paul and he began to slow down he found he was traveling and sneaking less and inquired about slugs. Knowing he could use screw in chokes on the Savage I told him to buy one of the rifled chokes available for it and to keep his preferred choke for Buckshot in the other barrel and we'd work with some new slugs I was playing with from Remington, called Copper Solids, that were giving me the results I'd spoken about with the Hastings barrel.
The Savage worked well with the Copper Solids out to 50 yards which made Paul happy since he had taken deer with buckshot beyond that and knew he had a nice combination and he got his first slug shot buck that deer season without the need for a followup shot.
I had begun bird hunting with other folks and had added the Parker DH to my battery when I stopped in at the local gun shop with my brother in law and saw it in the rack. I asked to see it and it looked to be bent but quickly realized it was the stock that had been bent for a left eye dominant right hand shooter which I am. When I pulled it to my face I quickly realized I'd found Nirvana so I placed $50 on the counter for a hold and went home to grab the 12 VHE I had lovingly restored several years previous to trade.
The DH has 28" barrels, is IM/IC, swings like a dream, the stock wrist has been broken and repaired but sound, it is not pretty having been sanded down but so very functional. I became an instant success with it at clays with the guys that I ceased being amazed with its point and shoot ability and how good it made me look. As I said pats, pheasant, running rabbits, clays and wood**** including my first double with a shot on the right hand side with the left and a full swing across left with the right after my friend flubbed the shot on the one I covered. I had it in the truck the day Paul had the following conversation with me.
I had come back from grabbing a bite to eat to return to the woods for the afternoon hunt. Paul was standing at the road when I drove up. He told me he witnessed a doe with a skipper get hit by a vehicle and then dash into the woods obviously hurt and he figured they'd be holed up in the pucker brush since he didn't think the doe would live nor the lamb if she died so he was going to check things out and asked if I thought I might fill my tag with the other knowing what he just said. Paul knew I wasn't much on taking a lamb but I understood what he was asking and thinking losing 2 deer from the herd to predation due to a vehicle accident is one thing if you don't know about it but if you ignore it and continue to hunt then you don't care about the herd as much as you care about hunting. I told him I'd grab the DH if he'd lend me some Buckshot since I wasn't putting any sabots through it.
Paul was right and we only traveled about 200 yards when we came upon the duo and the doe was having an awful time trying to get up so he took it and I took the lamb which didn't even try to move. That less than 200 yard walk about done Paul in and I dressed both deer out and dragged them to the trucks with Paul bringing up the rear with his Savage and my DH.
The next season Paul was in worse shape than ever and was putting less time in each day and I knew that our years hunting together were coming to an end. I shot a 128 lb doe (dressed weight) the next morning at 75 yards while Paul was on stand and when he heard the shot he began to head toward me. When he got there he had already seen the doe but acted like he had not since I was sitting on my stand shakily drinking a cup of coffee from my thermos, I always shake after its over.
I dressed the deer out and dragged her to my truck and Paul congratulated me on a fine one shot kill and a beautiful doe. That was the last deer we shared together and Paul died prior to the next hunting season.
"Fly fishing is my Quisisana (the name is Italian for "place where one heals one's self.") "........
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