The old rifle sits in the corner of our house. It's a Remington Score Master model and was purchased by my dad sometime after World War II. The rifle has history written all over it.
It's probably not considered appropriate by some to write about firearms these days. There have been abuses and tragedies caused by firearms in the hands of those who should not have them in their hands and that is very sad.
The old rifle that sits in the corner of our house is a .22 caliber long gun that was never used in that manner. It was purchased much as a tool on that small farm on which I was raised. Purchased with the purpose of possibly securing a cottontail rabbit or rooster pheasant for dinner or to chase a marauding hawk away from the chicken coop.
The thoroughly dented and scratched stock tells a story of it having been used roughly at times. It took its place for many years tucked between the levers of the Allis Chalmers WD tractor as it plied its way through the standing cornfield during picking time.
My first chance to have the rifle in my hands came from that time when Dad was about to finish picking the cornfield east of our farm place. There were only a few rows of corn left to pick when he stopped the tractor and told me to climb out of the wagon being pulled behind and come to the tractor.
"There's a cottontail rabbit hiding ahead of the picker," Dad said. "Here's the rifle. Go get us a rabbit dinner. Just remember, aim straight and be careful. You can never take a bullet back once you pull that trigger."
That was the only gun safety training I ever received. I've never forgotten that advice.
For a kid who had been thoroughly indoctrinated by his grandfather and uncles in the sport and excitement of hunting, this was the chance I'd been waiting for and a sign that at the ripe age of 10, I was being trusted to secure a meal for the family. It was a heady feeling. We had a tasty rabbit meal for supper that night.
The old rifle made its way to Minnesota when the family moved here. Although no longer used for rabbit hunts, it took its place in the corner of the kitchen of our home. A destructive red squirrel or two was dispatched by the old gun. Somehow it just seemed that a part of the farm remained with us by its presence.
I looked closely at the old rifle just last week. I saw the plastic butt plate on the stock had somehow been broken and that my dad had hand carved a new one out of wood and thoroughly screwed it back in place. There is a bit of house paint decorating the stock and the front site has some red-orange paint dabbed on it, no doubt making it easier to aim with 85-year-old eyes.
The old gun is not beautiful by any standard and shows the wear and tear of years in one family. When I look at it, I can still feel, smell and picture that late afternoon fall day when I cradled it in my arms while walking slowly ahead of that rumbling corn picker, waiting to see a rabbit make its dash from beneath the grass.
I rode home in the wagon load of corn that day, the rabbit by my side and the rifle in my arms. You don't forget days like that.
See you next time. Okay?