By J. A. S.
TO TELL the truth I consider myself one of the most practical duck hunters in the country, barring none. Now when I say practical, I mean the one that gets the ducks, and enjoys the sport. Being of the American type I have grown up with a shotgun my daily companion and pride. My first gun was an old sawed-off musket, and with a horn full of powder and a can full of mixed shot, from No. 10 to No. 1 two or three of the old home weekly papers for wads, those were the days of real sport. We had no up-to-date decoys or duck calls, but tramped to the places that we knew where the game was sure to be found, and as a usual thing the weather never was at the best at that. Rain, snow, sleet, wind and cold had to be withstood, with about the same line of clothing to match the aforesaid gun — a home-made cap, old-fashioned waterproof cloth blouse and pants, and boots that were as hard as any cast iron until they were soaked through with the wet; and if it was cold they were as cold as they were hard, but I can assure you that the shooting was always of the best.
In those days a good gun was hard to get and when it came my chance to get what I thought was a good one I sure stayed with that make and I have had the pleasure of using several makes of guns in all parts of the world, more especially Alaska, the duck-hunter's paradise. It was my pleasure to be in Alaska during the years of 1906-7-8, and I have made several trips since. During my stay in that country I had with me at all times an old reliable No. 12 Ithaca gun. When I say reliable, I mean it. I will give you just one of my little mishaps and it will speak for itself. We were just pulling into the beach at high tide to make camp for our few days' shooting. It being stormy and bad weather it was no small job for two of us in a small boat to make a landing. In the knocking about I had the misfortune to drop my gun overboard.
Being unable to even look for it we had all we could do to land. This we finally made and got settled for the night. I can assure you that it was a mournful old night for me, to have to think that I had lost my gun, and the next day and the next, for it was three days before we were able to hardly look out of the cabin on account of the storm.
After nearly a week had gone by I was down on the beach where we came in, and low and behold, there lay my gun high and dry, as the tide was out and had left the old gun for me to find. To be sure I had no idea but what the friend was only good for the scrap heap. Well, I picked it up and went back to the camp with but little hope. When I came in, George, my pal, said, "Well, did you fish the old blunderbuss up? Well, now, what do you expect to do with it? By the time you get the rust out of it, perhaps you might get a piece big enough to make a potato peeler."
I said nothing, but was doing a lot of tall thinking, so sat me down to do the tedious work of trying to clean the old friend up. To tell the truth, in about two hours I had the old gun looking like it was new with the exception of a few earmarks, such as the barrel being somewhat pitted. The belt action was perfect, the ejector was O. K., and the locks were perfectly clean and all right. It has always been my pride to keep my gun always well greased and oiled. This may have helped to keep the old gun in shape. The accompanying snap-shot shows what 1 did with the old boy a few clays later. The stretch of water in the foreground is the connecting water between Auk Bay and Gasteneau Channel, at the mouth of Lemon Creek. This was one of our favorite places to hunt in the latter part of the season on account of bad weather. Tea Harbor, Eagle River and Julian Ray were our favorite places, as there were good cabins for camping, but the early part of the season we were everywhere, as the bays and inlets are too numerous to mention and the clucks — well, if I should try to tell of them, no doubt some one would have their doubts.
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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