I'm doing something a little different here by posting the following worthwhile request from Jim Beers.
You may read my response at the end of this.
Your letter/comments are welcome! Thank you. Roni
From Jim Beers
I am writing you because I think you could make a contribution to a worthwhile project. I am helping Will Graves, the author of the popular 2007 book "Wolves in Russia", assemble material for a book about our common heritage and traditions of hunting, guns, and associated culture and how that relates to the broad social changes that worry many of us today.
What he is seeking is remembrances and observations about guns, hunting, animals, and associated incidents from men and women that were raised anytime after the First World War up to the social turbulence of the mid-1960's. He hopes to contrast the changing perceptions of and behavior toward guns, hunting, and animals in this period with the era from the mid-1960's down to the present day.
This period since WWI, when gun control began in Europe down to the social turbulence, environmentalism, animal "rights", war on traditional culture, and the ascendancy and dominance of urban political values beginning in the 1960's is worth examining and describing in order to make some comparisons with subsequent years down to today.
Since the 1960's, radical changes such as the decay of public education, the explosion of fatherless children, and the concentration of political power at ever-higher levels of national and international government at the expense of liberty, families, traditional values and local government authority have given us all concern for our culture and our children's future. Simultaneously during this period of anti-gun, anti-hunting, anti-animal control, and anti-animal use movements; the lives and values of our children have been assaulted and demeaned by ideologies and individuals that are attempting to change history in order to impose their values and their rule on us and our descendants.
With the foregoing in mind, I ask you to give some thought to your youthful memories (be they from the USA or elsewhere) of certain guns or relatives or teachers or incidents in your home or on a hunt (whether for elk or crows) or anywhere else that would be worth sharing with people today. It might have been some animal control work on a farm or for a friend; it might have been some urban incident or an event when someone's life was saved. It might have been something when you went into the military or even an incident that happened in your hometown when you were growing up. The purpose would be to give a glimpse into how a freer and more self-dependent (as opposed government-dependent) era thrived with gun availability, gun use, gun proficiency, hunting, animal management for the good of man, and strong families.
Then, if you would, please write it down; be it a paragraph or two, a page or two, or whatever it takes. You can sign and date it or just sign it Anonymous. Will's hope is to use what he can, based on what he gets. Your help is really what would be the heart of this effort and the key to any success. Please give this some thought and then send me something at email@example.com
Your help is not only greatly appreciated, it just might be a way to assure a better future by helping others to understand what is right and to defend what is important. It has been my experience that too often we never hear about the good that we did but when we are fortunate enough to hear about how we affected others in a positive way, there is a feeling of gratitude and pride (good pride) that cannot be gotten in any other way.
Thank you for any and all help.
Just yesterday (October 29, 2009) I shot another squirrel with my Henry 22 Rifle.
We keep this dandy little gun right by the kitchen door.
Fifty one years ago, I sold my Holstein cow, and rode my bicycle 3 ½ miles into town where I purchased the 22 rifle I'd long admired from its perch in Sutton's Hardware store.
Every time Mom's Kennsington, Eastern Star, or Women's Club would have a bake sale in the hardware store window, I'll while away the time looking at "longs" and "shorts" bullets, and the handful of guns Mr. Sutton had in stock.
I'd tried shooting Dad's shotgun, but it sat me so squarely on my behind it begins throbbing just thinking about it these 55 some years later.
Borrowed my brother's air gun, winged a pigeon in the hay loft, ran in the house crying, told Mom and learned the first tough lesson, "The humane thing to do Ronita, is to go back and kill it." Never, will I forget standing over that flopping pigeon and pulling the trigger.
My rifle brought me a whole new world of adventures.
My dog "Beno," who I'd trained impeccably, would actually stop breathing and freeze into whatever body position he was in when I'd stop, gun on shoulder, to look and listen.
Beno would crawl under the corn crib and flush out rats for me to pop!
Mostly I just made nightly rounds shooting sparrows. Using a big lantern to spot that tiny patch of white feathers assured bringing in around 20 birds a night.
Momma Kitty would follow along gathering the dead sparrows into a pile in the driveway, where she'd distribute them to her babies and any litter that was dropped on her to raise.
My cousin and I would ride our bikes out to the Fairview Cemetery, where we'd try "crow"
hunting. Never nailed any; although my cousin did capture one, split its tongue and taught it how to whistle at the girls walking home from school.
Crows became my heavy pursuit.
The "still one on the fence" could spot the glint of the barrel over our barn's Dutch doors, and mysteriously vanish!
Some 30 years later, I had the privilege of visiting with Roy Weatherby. His eyes absolutely lite up when he leaned into me and whispered, "To tell you the truth, I loved hunting crows. I'd have to say those wily birds proved great sport."
It wasn't long after that, when my friend Bob Magness (The cable tycoon.) shared the same.
Here I thought crow hunting was some lowly deal for poor farm kids like me. Certainly nothing like the exotic big game hunting my friend Jack Jonas engaged in.
One of the reasons Fall is my favorite season, lays in those 3:00 am days Mom would wake me to get ready for the far drive (60 miles from home then...was FAR) near Lincoln, Nebraska, "Where pheasant hunting was the greatest!"
She'd make canned corned beef sandwiches on her homemade bread, and the way Dad and I would go.
Being his "flusher" made me feel tall!
We'd crunch along through the cut corn fields, crispy cold snapping our noses shut, until Dad would get his quota in time for us to drive home and milk the cows.
Mom and I would de-feather and clean the birds, carefully scouring them for buckshot. I'd ferret away all the "pretty feathers" to later make Indian headbands (I assumed for many years that I was an Indian. But that's a whole different story.).
Oh I could jaw on and on about my 22 - or watching my Dad and brothers "do bluerock shooting;" which I didn't know until well into adulthood was "skeet or clay pigeon shooting."
Where in the world did I get "bluerock?" Anyone know?
Sold my beloved 22 when I put myself in the position of being a young, poor mom with a baby.
Was a gun-less city girl for 40 years.
Married a farm boy, and well - here I've gone. Full circle.
Guns and farms now stand, as telling little book-ends of my life.
Roni Bell Sylvester
October 30, 2009 1:20 PM