Posted 08 November 2008 - 09:22 PM
John's thread about "What was your first airgun", reminded me of a story I wrote a couple years ago. Maybe some of you guys can relate to it.One Rifle, One Hunt, and A Life Was Changed Forever.There are a few firsts in life that a guy just never forgets. His first car...the first ever kiss from his first ever girlfriend...his very first piece of..................property, and in my case, my first varmint rifle, and the first varmint I took with it.Now you've got to remember that I didn't know as much about this stuff back then as I do now. If I had, I would've made some very different choices. I'm not sure how, but I think this all got started with reading articles in Outdoor Magazines about varmint hunting. Somewhere along the way I got the bug to become a varmint hunter. It took me quite some time to save up enough money for the rifle that I wanted, and I kept going back and forth between getting a lever action, or a pump action. Hey, I said, that if I knew then what I know now, I would've made a few different choices. I finally settled on the lever gun. Mostly because it was a few bucks less. Optics were never even a consideration. It was a real stretch for me financially, to even buy the gun and some ammo. I would be doing my varmint hunting over open sights. At least at first. I had to special order the rifle, because my local gun emporium at the time, didn't stock the one I wanted. It finally came in, and I was very pleased and impressed. To my eyes, the fit and finish were flawless. The stock was beautiful, and the metal work was perfect. I could hardly wait for the weekend, and a chance to sight her in. Saturday finally rolled around, and I got a chance to put a few rounds down her bore. Wow! What a nice shooter. The sound and feel of the action, as I jacked that first round into her chamber, was exciting. She was shooting a little low and left, but with a quick sight adjustment we were dead on.In my scouting of the area, I had found a location where there was a lot of critter scat. This would be my place of choice to set up for my first ever varmint hunt. I knew that my quarry mostly hunted at night, and that I'd have to hunt over bait, and from a blind. I would also need some way to illuminate the critter when I thought it was on the bait. I built my blind so as to have an unobstructed view of the limb to which the bait would be tied. I easily solved the illumination issue by taping a flashlight to the side of the barrel and magazine tube just in front of the fore end piece. From there my hand could easily reach the on/off switch.LET THE GAMES BEGIN! I tied the bait to a branch that would give me a clear shot. I excitedly slipped into my blind and wondered if I'd have any takers. I jacked a round into the chamber and sat back to wait. I tried to sit absolutely motionless with my breathing very shallow and quiet. The air was dead calm. I was straining to hear even the slightest sound that would tell me something was approaching the bait.I started thinking about the shot I'd have to make, and knowing that at the distance I was dealing with, I'd have to hold a little high to allow for some drop. I sure didn't want to miss low. I couldn't believe how quiet it had gotten. I had been in the blind about 30 minutes and hadn't heard a sound. Hmm, maybe I'd picked the wrong place at the wrong time. I was thinking about leaving and trying another time, when a slight sound caught my attention. Just a light rustle at first. Then louder and closer. It was coming in from my right and sounded like it was headed right for the bait. My heart started to race and my hands quivered slightly.C'mon guy, get a hold of yourself. The anticipation was killing me but I forced myself to be patient. I could tell by the rustling sound of leaves, that he was on the bait. It was hard to do, but I forced myself to wait a little longer. I wanted to be sure he was thoroughly engrossed in gorging himself on the bait before I hit the light.SHOW TIME! As I slowly brought the rifle up to my shoulder my thumb slid up to the on/off switch. I put my cheek on the comb of the stock and turned on the light. What a sight. This bad boy was fully illuminated. He looks right into the light, and I can see his teeth as he chews on a chunk of the bait. I was surprised to see how big and shiny his eyes looked.I put the front sight just behind his shoulder, held a tad high, and squeezed. I wasn't even aware of the gun going off, but I could tell he was hit, and hit hard. The shot knocked him off the limb the bait was tied to. He hit the ground hard and rolled on his back. There were a few out of sync, involuntary jerks and kicks, then he lay still. I realized that I'd been holding my breath and it was ok to breath now.I kept the light trained on him the entire time. I could see a trickle of blood running down his side from the entrance wound. Just to be sure he was really dead, I waited a few minutes before approaching him. I jacked another round into the chamber just in case. After a bit, I decided it was safe to slip out of my blind, venture closer, and take a look at my first ever varmint trophy. I didn't want this bad boy to jump up and run off on me, so I put another round into him at close range. I reached out, and poked him with the muzzle of my rifle. Not so much as a quiver.As I'm looking down at my first ever varmint, I'm thinking about all of the effort and sweat I had put into earning the money that enabled me to buy my first varmint rifle. The success of this hunt had made all of the hard work worthwhile. Waiting for the rifle, scouting for a suitable hunt area, planning for the hunt, building my blind, and the shot that collected my first ever varmint, was an incredible experience.I stood in the quiet darkness for a minute savoring my success. I then turned around and flipped the switch on the wall that turned the lights on in the basement. I looked at my Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, and knew I was one lucky 12 year old, and the rifle in my hands was one mean killing machine. It was worth every penny of the $11.00 that it had cost me. As far as I was concerned, the field mouse that lay stretched out on the basement floor, might as well have been an African Leopard. In my mind it was.I looked over my setup to see if I might change anything for next time. I decided, if it ain't broke don't fix it. I knew that the big woodpile in the basement had quite a few field mice living in it and would be a target rich environment. I had broken off a small branch from our cherry tree and stuck it into the side of the woodpile. To get to the big piece of cheese that was tied to the end of it, any interested mouse would have to venture out onto the limb, and into my line of fire. The plan worked to perfection.Something that was really cool, and I had not expected to see, was the flight of the BB as it arched across the basement and connected with br'er mouse. The beam of the flashlight lit up the trailing edge of the shiny BB as it twinkled all the way across the room, and right into br'er mouse's boiler room.One of the coolest sounds ever, is the sound BBs make as they are being poured into the tubular magazine of a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. That sound is a sure sign that the next varmint hunt is about to begin. My Daisy Red Ryder was a constant companion for several years. Together, we collected many more trophy field mice out of that woodpile. The adventures I had with that little gun taught me a lot about nature, the out-of-doors, hunting, and myself. That little rifle started me on a 45 plus year journey into the wonderful world of airguns, varmint hunters, and varmint hunting.That exciting journey is still underway today, and I can hardly wait to get out into the woods and be 12 years old again. Thank you Daisy. Life is good.