I grew up along the banks of the Sabine River in deep East Texas. I had the privilege of knowing numerous colorful characters that taught me of the outdoors and sometimes just enriched my childhood by being in it.
One such individual was Mr. Jake Alford. Mr. Jake was already an old man in my earliest of memories. He was a principle character at our hunting and fishing camps. We fished and hunted together and some of my best memories of him are cooking in camp. As the years went by and I had more and more great stories with Mr. Jake.
One such memory started off in and around December of 1980, deer season to be exact. Back in the 80’s it was common practice to hunt deer with dogs and shoot them on the run with shotguns and OO buckshot. One day as the hounds were cut loose I was partnered with Mr. Jake. We took up a post on an old logging road. I only had my old 410 with a slug in it so Mr. Jake told me to use his Browning Sweet 16 because it had buckshot in it. So proudly I grabbed the 16 gauge and awaited the sound of the bawl mouthed hounds to come our way…In moments the first sounds of the yelping dogs could be heard as they picked up the scent then that unmistakable BAAAAWL! As the lead hound cut the hot track and the race was on headed right at us.
Within moments the brush erupted with deer crossing the old log trail. I raised the shotgun and took a bead on the next buck to break from cover…..BOOM….BOOM….BOOM…But nothing happened. No deer even acted shot. I quickly walked to where the deer had been and no blood, no hair not even a dragging track of a shoulder wound.. I walked back to the spot I had stood and shook my head imagining the ridicule I would endure for flat out missing. As I stood there I noticed the empty hulls from the shotgun laying on the ground. I picked them up. To my surprise all three had the unmistakable number 7&1/2.
That’s right I had fired off 3 loads of bird shot at a deer 40 yards away. No wonder I hadn’t even cut hair on the buck. I turned to Mr. Jake and asked him if he had put Buckshot in the gun. Mr. Jake apologized and said “Jepp I couldn’t read what was wrote on them shells. I shook them and they didn’t rattle so I figured they were buckshot”…
I learned a valuable lesson that day…Always check whatever gun you have and never take it for granted that a gun is loaded or unloaded or even loaded properly ….