By: Rev. Bob Ford
I stop by Lion Country Supply with some regularity. I like to browse through the shotguns and the guys always know a rabbit hunter when we come through the doors. We are the only customers that shoulder a shotgun and point it at the ground! The bird dog guys will inevitably mount the shotgun and track an imaginary bird across the ceiling to test the gun for fit. If you are like me, then you may have what my wife calls “too many guns.” She bases her opinion on a fact—I can only shoot one gun at a time. Okay. Granted, that is true, but different guns fit me better at different times of the year. Also, I like a .410 when the cover is thick and the shots are all at close range, and a 16 gauge when I might get further shots or chances at grouse and woodcock. This is why I disagree with my wife and say I have enough shotguns, but not yet too many.
A couple summers ago I walked into the store wearing a heavy coat to test a 16 gauge, side by side Lefever. I had been in the store a few days earlier and admired the gun, and it seemed a little short for me, which would make it perfect for second season bunnies while wearing more clothes! So, the next time my work travels took me past the store I put a wool shirt and a warm jacket in the backseat. I donned the cold weather gear in the hot summer parking lot and walked inside.
“You can turn the air conditioner down in your car,” John teased me as I walked in, “There is a dial to control it.”
“Ha!” I said as I picked up the old Lefever from the used gun rack, “That’s a good one!” I pointed the old gun at the floor, right at an imaginary opening in some imaginary multi-floral rose, where an imaginary rabbit had just emerged. I put the gun back and went outside to remove the extra clothes.
“I think I will buy that gun,” I said, returning into the store.
It fit perfect. Also, I have a warm spot for old, American made shotguns, especially 16 gauges. In these hot, summer days it is difficult to work the hounds for more than a couple hours in the morning. I like to get out in the evening and shoot my old double barrels a little bit. I am not shooting an entire round of skeet or anything, and I am careful not to overheat the old guns. When the mercury rises I like to do so some things that remind me that glorious autumn will return! So, I shoot a few clays, or bouncing tennis balls that have lost their oomph and are no longer good for the tennis court. If you can hit a bouncing tennis ball you can hit a rabbit. My friends think that it is this tennis ball practice that makes me a good shot when hunting rabbits. Honestly, the summer practice doesn’t have as much to do with my success as two other factors: the dogs and the ammo.
Good dogs give us good opportunities, and I have no problem listening to hound music for another circle in order to get a shot that I can easily make. Oh, and if you want to make all of your shots a little easier you may want to buy some Spred-R loads made by Polywad. I get them at Lion Country Supply and they really do make me a better shooter. Even after all these years of shotgunning I still find myself wanting to aim a scattergun as if it were a rifle, which is not the correct thing to do! The Spred-R loads open the pattern more quickly and give an amazingly wide pattern that can make anyone shoot better. As if that were not enough, the spreader loads are available for guns that are chambered in the shorter 2 ½” length—like all those old, American shotguns! Old guns do much better with the lighter loads. The other thing that helps is British snap caps, so that when I clean my old guns I can store them safely with no tension on the firing pins. This greatly extends the life of the springs and guarantees that I can get many more years of life from my cherished octogenarian double barrels. If you will excuse me, I need to go dig out my wool bibs and blanket weight mountain man shirt. I have been looking for a 12 gauge to take to Maine for snowshoe hare, and I may want to look at an LC Smith at the store tomorrow. I hope they don’t laugh at me.