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Joined: 06/03/2010

            I suppose my first “kind of real” shotgun was a broken old Crescent Arms single barrel 12 gauge that resided in a corner of an unused room at my Grandma Lee’s farm. The old shotgun was a catalog gun my great grandfather August had purchased many years ago and it had been abandoned because the mainspring broke and the fore end fell off and got lost. Some inventive soul had found an old piece of wood that was kind of hollowed out and resembled a fore end so it had been strapped to the barrel with a piece of khaki strap with a buckle off of a WWI backpack.
            I was about eight years old when I spied it in the corner and being in love with anything “Gun” I asked my Grandma if I could see it. She astounded me by saying I could have it to play with while I was at her farm. Of course it didn’t shoot but that didn’t matter, there were no shells for it anyway but it was a real gun and I was carrying it around proud as a peacock! I played with that old gun for years whenever I stayed at the farm and walked the old fields and woods along the river pretending I was a great hunter. I grew out of that when I got my .22 rifle and could shoot for real.      
            My next almost “my” shotgun was an old double barrel rabbit eared hammer gun my Dad got somewhere and gave to me and my older brother Larry. No one knows where he got it or if it was even supposed to be fired anymore because its barrels looked suspiciously Damascus but I don’t think that mattered to us back in those bygone days, it was a shotgun and it would be shot! Larry was old enough to buy a small game license and hunt so he used that old 12 bore for a couple of years , luckily without a hitch, and I got the privilege of cleaning it every time he was done using it but I never got to shoot it. Seems like I was destined to be without a real shotgun I could shoot for some time!
            Larry traded the old hammer gun in on a new Stevens 311 double 12 and I was lost. Just when things seemed real glum I was offered a babysitting job, yep, me a boy babysitter, but money is money and the people were offering me a good deal to watch their kid after school while they worked. I did that for a whole school year and was paid enough money to buy a new shotgun and shells and a hunting license. My mother had to actually sign for it but that was no big deal in those days so my new Stevens 67 pump 12 gauge took its place in my meager armory. That was the first “real” shotgun I could call my own and actually shoot.
            That old slider lasted for many years as my rabbit and bird gun until I finally retired it when I went in the service. When I got discharged and back to regular hunting I needed a shotgun so I picked up a nice little 20 gauge Stevens 311 side by side. That was one neat little rabbit and partridge gun and it held sway in my stable until someone told me about a used Remington 1100 12 gauge. I traded off the sweet little 20 for the big semi-auto and that shotgun kept me in birds from Michigan to New Mexico. It was a bit heavy for quail but worked nicely on prairie chickens and pheasants.
            Back to the U.P. and my favorite bird, the ruffed grouse, and I needed a fast handling brush gun, or so I thought. I picked up a used 311 12 gauge with 28 inch barrels and used that for my grouse gun and saved the 1100 for pheasants and such. I was now able to keep two shotguns in my possession and felt like a rich country squire! The 1100 stayed with me until my wife decided I needed a special birthday present and gave me a very, very nice Browning BSS 20 gauge. The twenty now replaced the old 311 12 and the 1100 and I have only occasionally regret their departure.
            I have had to down size my collection lately mostly due to health but also because it is time to turn some things over to the next generation or the ones after to carry on the hunting and shooting traditions I love. Be that as it may I still do seek a little solace in a new acquisition. Over the years now I have had single-barrels, double barrels, both O/U and SXS, and semi-autos but lately I have been really thinking a nice little SXS 28 gauge would be just the ticket for a one shotgun household. I suppose it is the ease of carrying a small gun afield or the fact I rarely shoot many shots any more but the dream of one neat little gun is there and I just might make it come true if I can manage it.