Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spoofing Grandad Holt

Grandad Holt-middle, Clyde Holt, right.
Grandad Holt had two Hobbies that he pursued
avidly almost until his death, fishing and hunting. I can’t prove it, but I believe he was born with a fishing pole in one hand and a gun in the other. He was without a doubt one of the most accomplished squirrel hunters ever to lift a gun. His marksmanship was legendary. His favorite weapon for squirrels and rabbits was a small, Fox, 20 gauge, double barreled shotgun. Rarely did any of us who hunted with him bring home more game. When he and his younger brother, Clyde, were in their eighties, each bought a beagle rabbit hound so they would have a dog to hunt with in the morning and another fresh one in the afternoon. He shot his last deer when he was ninety-one. In his last few years of hunting, he was a little hesitant and a bit unstable on uneven ground so Uncle Frank would walk with him to a tree or stump then leave him for awhile. If Frank heard a shot or after a half hour or so had elapsed he would return and they would move to another vantage point.

One Thanksgiving, in the mid-1930's, the family was sitting around digesting one of Mom’s wonderful holiday dinners and talking about the morning’s hunt. Rabbit hunting Thanksgiving morning was a ritual with the males of our family. The season would end on the last day of November and Thanksgiving was most likely the last day we could hunt together. That day the subject got around to whom could shoot best and whose gun patterned best. In typical Holt argument mode, each stoutly defended his weapon and prowess.

To settle the question, Dad proposed we drape a newspaper over the wire fence that set off the back yard from the cow pasture, back off and pattern each weapon. Dad went first and did real well. Uncle Frank was up next and duplicated Dad’s prowess. Dad, who had carried Grandad’s weapon out for him, snapped the gun open, inserted a shell then handed him his trusted 20 gauge. Grandad stepped up to the toed mark in the dirt, quickly mounted the gun and shot. Both Frank and Dad hurried to the newspaper and with much fanfare announced that Grandad had missed the entire newspaper. Grandad frowned in total disbelief, then hurried to the target certain that his two sons were spoofing him. They weren’t. "What the devil?" Must have been the dang shell, "I’ll try again," he said. Back we all trooped to the line. Dad gave him another shell and he reloaded. Again, only this time with great deliberation, he mounted the gun, and did something he never did--carefully aimed--and fired. The whole gang excitedly trooped down to the target. Not a single pellet in the paper. Then the laughter exploded as Uncle frank and Dad literally had to sit down they were laughing so hard. They had taken the shot out of several of Grandad’s shells and then carefully replaced the end wad. We laughed heartily about that incident every Thanksgiving for years. Such wonderful memories.

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