Some lessons about firearms and the outdoors are learned the hard way, I thank the good lord that this one didn\’t end in tragedy!

Becoming a gun nut at an early age allowed me plenty of opportunities to try different guns and ammo, I guess the older guys got a kick out of watching a skinny kid get the stuffing knocked out of him when the rifles weighed more than he did. Anyway the 12 guage quickly became my favorite.Using an old 22 I would hunt magpies from morning till night and with a bounty of 25¬Ę per pair of legs, it wasn\’t long till I got my first 12 guage, complete with a dandy recoil pad on it. Shells were quite expensive but with more game on the table sometimes a box or two would appear along with the groceries after a trip to town. Safety was always taught to me from the first time I layed eyes on on a firearm. All the dangers had repeatedly been told to me, so putting off cleaning my shotgun after tripping and getting some mud in the barrel was taboo, but I did done it anyways.

A couple of days later I came down with a terible flu and was bed-ridden for days forgetting about the mud hardening in the barrel of my 12 guage. Mom was down the road at the general store getting the mail and groceries. I was home from school, slowly recovering from the flu and dying to get back to the woods and fields. I was forlornly looking out the window when a huge flock of sharptails sailed past my eyes and out into the wheat stubble behind the barn. Right behind them was my dog and soon behind her was me. The flock began to spread out in the stubble and I filled up the magazine with birdshot thinking I had 3 shots before they would be out of range. My dog was off to my left anticipating the rush of wings and the blast of the scatter gun and the falling birds.

Suddenly they all lifted. I drew a bead on the bird first in the air and let loose with the gun. There was a deafing exlosion that knocked me head over heals, smoke and acrid fumes burned my eyes and lungs! When I got back on my feet my dog was howling and heading for home and I still had the smoking shotgun in my hands. Instantly I knew what had happened after looking at the barrel of the gun. You know how in cartoons the gun barrel looks like a banana peel, that\’s what it realy looked like. Along with the cracked stock my gun was destroyed. Running home to check on Dusty I found her nursing a wound on her tail. We had both survived to hunt another day. A few people commented on my short barrel and open choke on later hunting trips. I still have the old shot gun as a reminder to always check and clean my guns after each outing.

Dusty has since gone to the great hunting ground in the sky, her son Teddy has been my hunting partner ever since.


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