A gun named Pappy
Ever wonder where all those guns end up that were given away as prizes at the Eastern Primitive Rendezvous?
Here is a true story about one such gun given away at the Eastern of 1999.
I moved to the farm when I was 11 years old along with my brother, mother and father. Mostly city bred this was a wonderful new experience for us. My brother and I went to it like ducks to water. In no time we were running in the woods like we were born there. We loved the country life.
My Dad taught me how to hunt and how to fish. He was a survival teacher in the Air force so he loved the woods. When most little girls were playing dolls I was out with my Dad and brother shooting guns and camping and fishing.
The years passed quickly and I grew up and married my high school sweet heart. We had 2 boys and they now live on the farm with their families.
My father continued all through his life to be an active adult and kept youthful. At age 79 he started not feeling quite his self. He started getting out of breath and tired. After a few weeks the doctors diagnosed him with terminal lung cancer. My mother's health was not very good so I would be the one to care for him in his last days. As he became more and more bedridden and unable to do all the things he loved we would get out pictures and we would reminisce of the times gone by.
One day we were looking at some pictures of the annual Eastern Primitive Rendezvous. We attend every year and compete in the muzzle-loading matches. Many years the top prize is a custom made muzzleloader. This year I knew I would be missing it to take care of my father. When he asked me if I wanted to go again this year. I told him, "No I would stay with him." He suggested I call my brother to stay for a week and for me to get away for a rest and enjoy the Rendezvous. I felt funny about leaving him at this time but knew my brother needed to spend time with him and I really needed the time off. I called Les and he assured me that this was a good thing to do for everyone concerned.
I felt guilty leaving Dad. What if he should need me while I was gone? My brother had worked in a hospital as a medic for a number of years so I knew I was being silly.
We packed the truck and called our friends and told them we would be going after all. As I kissed my father good by I told him we would talk 2 times a day, morning and night. I put the phone next to his bed and he hugged me and smiled. As we kissed good- by he squeezed my hand and said. WIN THE RIFLE FOR ME!!!!!!! WILL YA????????? I answered, "You sure put the pressure on me don't you? I'll win it for you!" See you in a few days. I love you!"
The trip was wonderful. The weather was perfect. I really did need the get away.
We set up camp and I walked to the phones to call Dad. He sounded strong and was so glad I was there and having a good time.
The rifle this year would be an award for an aggregate including rifle, smoothbore, tomahawk, knife and bow. I didn't even own a bow. Oh well I would just have fun. I'm sure Dad didn't really expect me to win the rifle. But wouldn't it be GREAT!! To win it for him!!!
I shot my best and was surprised come the end of the week I was in real contention for the rifle. I even threw the tomahawk and knife well. If you had even seen me do this you know I had an angel looking down on me because I am the worse tomahawk thrower in the world.
The last part of the aggregate would be the archery match. Hmmm bow. How in the heck do you shoot a bow instinctively? Instinct being the operative word! That was the trouble. I had NO instinct! This was little more than a stick shooting a stick. Wait a minute. I had done this before. When I was 7. My brother and I made bows from sticks. Oh Boy! This was going to be worse than I thought!
I guess step one would be find a bow to shoot. There are many traders at these rendezvous so after a few hours of searching we found a good deal on an Osage bow. Frank is Welsh so bow shooing comes natural to him but for me it was like.... well.. like throwing a tomahawk. I was not a natural. I practiced and practiced. Up at first light and down to the bow range. My arm was black from bruising and I was still terrible. I would lie in bed at night and ask Frank questions on technique. It was finally the day for the bow match. I was as good as I could be in one week. The only trouble was I seemed to be tied with my dear friend Christie for the gun. I didn't tell her I was trying to win it for my Dad for fear she would back out of the competition. So I would have to beat her to win. Kind of a bittersweet victory to say the least. The bow match was a woods walk of about 15 life size animal targets at different distances. I was really nervous. I really wanted to take that gun home to Dad.
I shot my targets and Christie shot hers. We couldn't see how each other did because she was well behind me. I had done fair. Not good but fair. I knew in my heart she had WON. She was a much better bow shot then I. I was happy for her.
She looked my way and neither of us said a word. We just looked at each other ......trying to see if we could see the score in each other's eyes. Knowing she must have beaten me I drew a deep breath, smiled and finally asked, "how'd you do?’ She had not been too lucky this day. I had beaten her by 5 points. Now how could I be happy for me and sad for her all at the same time? WE hugged and cried and told each other how much our friendship meant to both of us.
I took the gun home to Dad and presented it to him. He was now completely unable to get out of bed but he shook his head in disbelief as he struggled to hold the gun up he told me it was a dandy. He gave me a hug and told me how proud he was of me.
Two weeks later I sat on the edge of his bed and he asked me if it was all right for him to go now. I told him to go ahead and find us a new farm. A place where we could hunt and fish and camp. And to wait for us there. We would see him soon. He said he would do just that. Just like he did when I was 11 years old. . He held my hand till he was gone.
I look back at the times spent hunting and fishing and camping with my father as cherished moments.
He showed me how wonderful the woods and nature and all Gods' creations are.
I named the gun Pappy.
I very seldom shoot the gun I won for him but it hangs on my wall and reminds me of my father ........ and the wonderful days I spent with him in the woods.
As I look back on the days with my father, I smile and I hope. I hope there are other fathers spending time with their daughters. Teaching them the ways of the woods. Hunting, fishing and camping. And teaching them all about natures wonders. These are the times no daughter will ever forget.
These are the cherished times…………………As Always……….
Keep On Trekking,
Dad and me with my first deer taken with my flintlock rifle.