It all started in the mid-40’s. My Grandfather was stationed in Europe, and before he came home at the end of the war, he picked up a nice side by side 12 gauge. He was a hunter by necessity, as at that time, most of the people living in the country in America still hunted for food. It was just part of the way of life.
Now, my Grandfather hunted mainly birds and deer, and was never really successful at the deer part. He would always wait for the beginning of September to roll around, and he would start his hunting for partridge. My Grandmother too got into the act, and they always made it a family trip, scouring the logging roads of backwoods Maine, looking for those birds out feeding, or maybe sitting on a poplar tree overhanging the road. When deer season came along, one chamber would be loaded with buckshot, while the other would have bird shot. Getting anything was a bonus for Gramps, even if it was a bird and not a deer. I can only imagine the thousands of miles that were driven by them over the years.
Fast forward to 1984, and in his life, my Grandfather had only shot one deer, a doe, and was still plugging away at the birds. We used to joke about why he had only shot one deer in 40 years. If you knew him, you would laugh. He would go traipsing through the woods, in a nylon snowsuit, humming or singing. Can you imagine being a deer and hearing this “swish, swish, swish”, accompanied by the gentle humming or singing of church tunes? He never would see a deer, let alone get a shot at one. They’d hear him coming a mile away. Well, as was customary, we were up there for the week of Thanksgiving, to hunt and be with family. Earlier in the week, I had been out with him and found a huge 12 point dead in the woods (earlier story). A couple days later, the group headed to an area “down by the camp” to walk some old grown over logging roads. My Grandfather was in the lead, and everyone was strung out behind him. Of course, he had the trusty side by side with him. However, this time (luckily) he had both sides loaded with buckshot.
As my Grandfather rounded a curve in the road, he was met with a sight he hadn’t seen before. There, sticking out of the small growth pines on the side of the road, was the neck and head of a nice buck, adorned by a really wide rack. My Grandfather did not hesitate, as the gun came up, and a volley of buckshot was launched straight at the bucks head. The deer went down, spinning in circles like it’s head was stapled to the ground. A quick follow up shot to the neck with the other barrel anchored the buck there for good.
Hearing the shot, the rest of the party hustled up the road. Coming around the corner, there was my Grandfather, looking just like Yosemite Sam in the cartoons. Picture a grown man, jumping up and down so high, his knees were almost pulling up under his chin. Nobody knew a 60 year old man could be that nimble.
Well, the deer was strapped to the jeep, and checked in. It had a total of 9 points, and weighed in at 199 pounds. As you can see in the photo, the 12 point rack I found earlier could fit inside his rack, as it was so wide. As the jeep pulled into the driveway with a "beep, beep", all the family came out to enjoy the deer. My Grandfather never got another deer after that, but many more trips were made. To this day, those horns still hang above the garage. My Grandfather passed away in the spring of 2009, and the gun was passed to me. The gun saw it’s action, and after this hunt in 1984, the saga would continue.