The first weekend in January is one of my favorite here, because that’s when my organization, California Waterfowl, does one of the coolest things ever: We take a group of college wildlife biology students from non-hunting backgrounds, teach them to shoot, put them through hunter education, then take them on a hunt. All in one weekend.
The season of Not Hunting is, for me, always filled with a bit of listlessness that can be ameliorated somewhat, but not entirely, by shooting skeet and clays. And occasionally going out for a summer cottontail hunt.
My Dad, who enjoyed hunting and shooting sports all of his life, passed away on June 5, 2013 at age 95. Franklin Lee Marten was living on the farm in the same house where he was born. He was still shooting skeet and hunting doves by his grandson’s pond the year before he died. When I was a little kid, my dad had a 16-gauge Stevens hammer gun. I remember handling it, but Dad sold it to his good friend and hunting buddy, Harry Moore, in 1949 or 1950 before I was old enough to shoot it.
Wing shooting on the farm where I grew up in Montgomery County Illinois, about 25 miles south of Springfield, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was pretty much limited to pass shooting doves down by the pond, jump shooting ducks on local farm ponds or hunting quail along the fence rows and Osage orange hedge rows that bordered most farm fields and pastures in those days.