CHRISTMAS, 1979, and my Old Man was at it again with his traditional – “Well, Jake,” he’d say with as mischievous a smile as my Old Man ever mustered. “You’d better look under the couch. There just might be something there for you.”
Or maybe it was another of his favorites, the box of ammunition with the handwritten note inside; the note, like his one-liner, directing me to peer into the darkness that was the underside of the davenport. Either way, the Old Man got his point across – there was something under the sofa, and I best be looking for it.
I was 15 that Christmas, and a veteran, or so I thought, of some seven hunting seasons. I had graduated from school to school in terms of field firearms, many of which you folks have read about here – a single-shot H&R .410, a Stevens M107B 20-gauge, and a Winchester M24 16-gauge double, to name but a handful of my diplomas.
But this year – 1979 – Boy Howdy, I’d hit the big time, for there was something underneath the sofa. A long green cardboard box bearing the white script REMINGTON across the top. Inside, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, including any icky ‘ole girl I’d encountered throughout the whole of my middle school career.
Laying there, encased in flaking white styrofoam, was THE shotgun – Big Green’s Model 1100 semi-automatic. Mine was identical to the Old Man’s never-without field piece, only instead of his 12-bore, mine was of a gauge to which I’d grown most accustomed – the 16. Here was my version of Ralphie “A Christmas Story” Parker’s Red Ryder BB gun, minus, of course, the compass in the stock. From his perch in his faux leather reclining chair, the Old Man watched, just a hint of a grin on his lips. Christmas, that year, was a success on several different fronts.
That was – Holy Cats! – 32 years ago, and since being first assembled later that same Christmas morning, the M1100 16-gauge has accounted for multitudinous species of North American game and fowl, including several whitetails.
It’s interesting to note that upon my receipt of the shotgun in ‘79, dedicated slug barrels, smoothbore or otherwise, weren’t available. Fortunately, my Uncle Jim owned a sporting goods store, and was able, I know not how, to obtain a shortened, no-rib tube for the 16 to which he had brazed a set of adjustable iron sights.
At least half a dozen Ohio whitetails fell to that combo over the years, including my first buck. Prairie chickens, sharp tails, ruffed grouse, doves, pigeons, snipe, rails, woodcock, teal, Canada geese; the only fowl not on the list for the M1100 is a wild turkey. But, should you be interested, I’ll keep you posted on that matter following this Spring season here in Iowa.