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I felt the need to record this due to some recent events in my life.

I never knew the history of Papaw's old single shot 12 gauge shotgun. It was stamped "White Powder Wonder - 1886" and the first time I ever saw it was when we were taking a heated retreat from Papaw's house in 1984. I was 12 at the time, and my dad and his dad were NOT getting along (nothing unusual here) and my dad's temper was cutting our christmas trip to kentucky short. In a fit of anger, my dad had loaded up the celica with all our bags, and was ready to leave when Papaw came out carrying the gun. I had NO clue what this was all about, but heard thru the closed doors that he wanted me to have it, when I was old enough, and didn't know if he'd ever see me again. So my old man took the gun, loaded it in the trunk and off we went.

He gave it to me the minute we returned to Omaha and told me not to shoot it. Over the years, I dry fired that old gun so many times the firing pin should have been shattered. I hunted lots of imaginary ducks, geese, squirrels and pheasants. Even a deer or two. I practiced loading it with a pair of empty shells from a reloading session at a friends house.

My dad was not a hunter. He disliked hunting about as much as he disliked the Air Force. Not I...I was a sponge soaking up everything my highschool buddy Todd and his dad said about hunting. The first non- .22 gun I ever shot was Todd's 12 guage and his .44 muzzle loader pistol.

I brought the old WPW with me to PA when our family relocated the year I graduated. Once we got to PA, I got a newfound love of the outdoors and got a wild hair up my rear to go hunting the second year we lived here (1992) and went to get a license and ask some questions. I was told then that semi-auto .22s were illegal and that killed my plans until i remembered Papaw's shotgun. But dad told me it wasnt safe to shoot...but what did HE know? He didn't know anything about guns...so I took the old girl up to a couple gun shops.
I chanced upon an aged fellow that took one look at my gun looked at me with a lost puppy look and said he had one just like it when he was a kid. He mounted it and shot an imaginary critter and handed it back to me...Said it would be fine, stick to low brass, low dram field loads, and shot smaller than 7 shot. I bought a license, a vest, and a box of remington shells. I then asked him where I could go hunting.

he chuckled a little, and told me to go to the Wexford Game Lands. It was just a couple blocks away from the Big Bucks Sport Shop, so I drove up there to check it out. It was opening day of small game and there were ALOT of cars there. I could not find a place to park, so i went fishing instead and decided I would try the hunting thing when there were less guns in the woods.

I returned a couple days later, and geared up by the car. Walking up the logging/access road, I had NO idea what to expect, but i was ready to blast anything legal. I took my time walking and eventually made it to a feed plot. A short pause to look for sign (like i knew what sign was at the time) and took a couple steps into the plot.

Life went to slow motion the second I stepped on that twig. Like the shot from a starter pistol, that snap sent two cock's straight up in the air. PHEASANTS! Like so many times before, i mounted that old shot gun, cocking it on the way to my shoulder and drew a bead on the first bird as it transitioned to level flight. He was close...maybe 25 yards and he disappeared in a cloud of feathers. All that practice reloading in my bedroom paid off, and i had the gun loaded and aimed at the second bird before the first one hit the ground. The second bird made a big mistake. Rather than fly into the woods, it went straight down the field and kicked in the afterburners. BOOM - feathers, still flying reload, BOOM! He dropped on the second shot - really a lucky shot, it was easily 40+ yards away at this point and I had not hit it hard. it was flopping pretty good on the ground. One quick look at the first one confirmed his fate and I set off after the second bird to finish him.

Not knowing any better, i blasted him a third time (trying for head shot) and dispatched it. Noone ever taught me to wring their necks yet.

There are few times in my life when i can honestly say i have had a smile that big, and that much pride in my chest. I had to share the moment with someone so I drove up to Big Bucks again looking for the old timer. They were closing up shop for the day and he was getting into his pickup. I gave him a quick index finger which he understood with a nod...popped my trunk and showed him the two magnificent pheasants. A tear and a sniff and I knew he understood. A stiff pat on the back and a "good job kid" sealed the deal.

When I got home, I showed them to my dad who responded with "get them feathers out the house, boy"...my mom was much more receptive. She was proud of me but my world came down when she said "whatcha gonna do with 'em?"

oh my gosh...i have NO clue how to clean birds. Papaw used to raise chickens in the back yard...there was no way in [censored] that my dad was gonna help me. He's still traumatized by that experience. His horror movie is called "silence of the chickens and rabbits."
I called my hunter uncle in south dakota. Rocky talked me thru the whole thing, and when i was done, i had 4 nice boneless pheasant breasts and leg quarters to work with. The first bird's back was destroyed, and the second bird was just plain full of shot. But i floured them up and pan fried them and ate the whole lot for dinner with gravy that mom helped with. She cringed at every piece of shot landing in the bowl with a "tink" but nothing could take that smile off my face.

Over the years after, that old shotgun sat in my parents dungeony basement getting rusty. It was still there the day i moved to vegas. I planned on getting it someday but right now I was concentrating on raising my family, not scouring my house for heirlooms. At one point, my now diagnosed with bipolar disease father decided to move to the southwest too, to stay close to his kids and his grandkid. He hated me and my wife for moving so far away. In prep for his move, he threw alot of stuff away. My fly tying box is one such lost relic. It had tail quills from those two pheasants. Somehow, the shotgun got taken by my aunt who's son also lived in the southwest. My dad gave her the gun given to me by Papaw and told her I didn't want it...so she took it to her son.

I moved back to PA last year and went back to the parents house to find much of their old stuff missing. It looks like the old man purged alot. I managed to salvage a couple things but my gun was missing...seems noone could remember my aunt being given the gun. I thought it was gone forever and I quickly realized the only thing i had of Papaws was an old german bayonet from WWII.

Last week, a chance conversation with my cousin in Arizona and he mentioned to me "thanks for letting me have Papaw's shotgun, it means alot to me."

Taken aback for sure, but not mad at cousin...upset with dad yeah, but at least the gun was still in the family, right? So I asked him if he wanted to know the story of that gun...just to add some more family value to it, you know? I told him the same story I just told you, in it's entirety.

He's now sending the gun back up to me, to give to my oldest boy (who is Papaw's oldest great grandson) in a few years.

I'm looking for tissues as I write this...things have a weird way of working out. Had that gun not gone to arizona, it would have been cut in half by the Ross Twp police during a Guns off the Streets campaign that my dad got rid of a couple old .22's at. Luckily, Papaw's 1986 Ruger 10/22 carbine was spared...I now have that little pearl in my safe now, and soon the shotgun will be reunited with it. I will post pics when i get the old girl back. I'm sure she still needs some TLC...I'll give her a good Browned metal treatment, and the wood will need some sanding and some linseed oil. But she'll be back. I had told my cousin to hold on to it...but he insisted that my oldest boy have it. So there you go.

Thanks for reading...Sorry it was so long.
 

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Man, that's a great story! Thanks for sharing. I know you'll be showing your boy how to reload just like you did!
 

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I'd leave her just as she is and cherish every scratch and ding!Great story!
 

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I agree with 410er leave it the way it is except for a real good cleaning..every one of those scratches has a story..you are a part of them.

I too have a very old shotgun of my paps..a nice 410 pump loaded with scratches and dings..I was going to redo the whole gun till it hit me everyone has a story to tell..

I cherish that gun, take it out every chance I get..cant tell you how many birds,rabbits,squirrels etc. it has claimed..and every time it fires I hear him over my shoulder saying good shot boy(he passed in 1976)..

This spring I am going to try like heck to bag a spring gobbler with it if I succeed I may just put her away..

great story thanks for sharing end I will watch for the pictures when you get her back...
 

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I also have my grandfather's old 410 Harrington Richardson single with which I shot my first squirrel in 1950. It has a broken part. I should get it fixed....

My grandfather reamed it out to shoot the longer 3" shells. It undoubtedly has had more paper shoots run through it than plastic.
 

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Great story fella! That is very special... thanks for sharing with us!
 

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That is a great story, thanks for sharing. It brings back a lot of memories.

I agree with the others, give her a good cleaning but leave the dings and scratches. They all have a story behind them.

Your Son is a very lucky young Man to get something that is not only precious but has a great story that ties it to his ancestor. I hope he gets a pheasent when he takes "her" out.
 

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Great story. I have my pappy's shotgun that he bought new in 1928. It has nicks & scars & the bluing is worn off on the right side from his stiff index finger [axe accident] that caused him to use his 2nd finger to operate the triggers. I agree that it should be cleaned up & oiled but left the way it is that helps it tell the story.
 
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