ONE OF THE OLD-TIME 20 Gauge
By I. W. BOOTH
I have just been reading in the H. T. T. about the 20 gauge and as I've had some experience I will try to tell a little about it.
My first gun was a 20 gauge single barrel. I was eleven years old and 1 thought I was getting up in years to not possess a gun. This was in 1871. Now new guns were a scarce article in those days and cost money and money was also scarce.
I just had to have a gun. So I commenced to figure out a gun that would not strain my cash account. I had seen an old gun barrel up in the village blacksmith shop and I stopped in one day and began to barter for it.
After being told that it was a fine barrel, all steel from breach to muzzle and with a genuine silver front sight, we closed the deal. I gave him a big two-dollar bill and carried away the old barrel. Then I went to a hardware store and purchased a lock for $1.25. I paid 30c for a maple board and I knew Dad would do the rest.
Now father was not much of a gunsmith but he was a good carpenter. I finally got him started fixing up the stock. When I came from school one evening what did I see lying up in the gun rack. A gun all stocked up and the stock finished with linseed oil. But I must not handle it until it dried. The next three days were long ones, but after about a century, Saturday came and Oh joy, father said I could try my gun that day. The dimensions of my gun may seem odd but true just the same. It was a 20 gauge with barrel 42 inches long. Length of stock 54 inches. Stock was full length of barrel and about 12 inches to rear it weighed about six pounds.
Now come all ye jolly sportsmen who like a nice balanced gun and just 'heft' that one. Well it was a real gun, just what I had been wanting ever since I quit wearing dresses. I rustled up a bottle of powder, a box of G. D. caps, some shot and paper and then proceeded to load. I set the butt of the gun on the ground, walked out to the muzzle, poured in some powder, stood the gun up so it would run down then pushed some paper down with a hickory pole. I started some shot in and how they did chase one another down the barrel. I wadded these in lightly and then I stuck a G. D. Cap on the tube, threw her on my shoulder and hiked for the woods.
About a quarter mile before coming into the woods I heard some bluejays making a racket in a vine covered tree. I thought one of them would do to try my gun on. I sneaked up to a nearby tree but they kept jumping around so I could not get a bead on them. Soon I discovered the trouble, there in the vines for there sat a big owl. I believe I would have had buck ague if I had had time but it was all so sudden. I put my gun against a tree pulled a bead and let her unhook. Down came the owl dead enough but I rushed up and beat his head with a stick until I was sure he would not come back to life. I looked at my gun and then at the owl. Talk about sensation, ye big game hunters. 1 have killed most all kinds but never had chills to chase up and down my back like that day. Since then, which has been about 50 years, I have shot all sizes and gauges and have decided in favor of the good little 20.
At present I have a 20 ga. Ithaca with 26 inch Krupp barrels and it weighs about 5 lbs. Have had it seven years and many is the duck and sage chicken it has brought down.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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