The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

January 7, 2013

Use of guns was common on the homestead

Home from the Hills

My Dad and his two brothers were avid hunters. It wasn’t a big thing to have guns in the house. I am not sure if we were taught not to mess with them or that it was just something bred into us. Actually as kids we never saw them in the house.

Dad never had hunting dogs, he had three sons. Whenever the three of them would go hunting they would take my two brothers and I. The three of us would walk a very short distance in front of them in a harvested corn field to flush the pheasants out.

There was a small patch of woods in the center of the corn field. Dad and my uncles positioned themselves strategically around the woods then sent us traipsing through.

We spent quite a few summers on Turkey Creek with my grandparents. When Dad and his two brothers were together there would be plenty of gun shooting. All three of them had 12-gauge shotguns. Of course they all had pistols and those interested me. One time Dad let me shoot one of his pistols up by the barn.

You know how Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger would hold their pistol; close to their faces to aim? Well that was all I ever saw and did the same. When I pulled that trigger the pistol kicked like a mule and the trigger hit me right between the eyes. Lesson learned. Ouch!

One year my family came in to the homestead. I believe it may have been for Thanksgiving. Uncle Denny, an uncle we all loved dearly, and Dad wanted to take us hunting. So Dad armed all of us with guns. Unfortunately he gave me Pop’s single shot 12-gauge shot gun. I was about 13 years old and only shot a shotgun once or twice.

We got a heavy snow the night before and the trees were weighted with fresh heavy snow. Uncle Denny put on a silly looking straw hat; he sure looked funny. Pop had beagles that could sniff out a rabbit at 100 yards. Those dogs would run those rabbits, they were fast. They were always so close to the rabbits and would manipulate them to come around to us.

Dad and my uncles could shoot a running rabbit with a dog behind 18 inches at 40 paces. They were raised on shotguns and rifles. I never took a shot, even when I had the chance. I knew it would be a bad afternoon if I shot my Grandpa’s prized beagle.

There was an old wrecked car right next to the road. The dogs went crazy and were whining. They couldn’t get to the hiding rabbit. Uncle Denny climbed up on the roof and bounced the car. That rabbit would not come out. I bet my uncle jumped up and down on that car for 15 minutes.

Finally the rabbit made a dash for his life. The dogs never saw him and he ran right down the middle of the road. A total of 11 shots were fired and not a hair on that rabbit was singed. Ever see a rabbit grinning?

Up in a clearing where the ravine had two sides sloping down into each other, Dad, Uncle Denny and Raymond took one side, Ronnie and I took the other side. The dogs jumped a rabbit between us and suddenly I got a chest of hair and fired. The rabbit got away. I think that was because I freaked the other three out. My shot landed about 3 feet in front of them. Hunt was over for Ricky!

We did bring home four rabbits, though.

Grandma would let my brother Ronnie and I take a box of 22 rounds and shoot until the box was empty. We must have been 13 and 11 years old. We used to set bottles and jars up on a firewood pile. When the bottles broke they would leave a circular disk from the bottom.

Since we still had a few rounds we set them up one at a time. Just as Ronnie moved his hand, I shot it, while his hands were 2 or 3 inches away. He had a fit and said something about shooting him in the hand. We both laughed.

When it came to my turn Ronnie, being the joker and never listening to me, shot that darn disk. My hand was probably a half-inch away. I was glad he was a good shot. Lefty would not have been a good name for me.

(Pack may be contacted at Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to


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