Into the Outdoors: Memories of Christmases Past


With Christmas closing in fast, I thought I would share some of my memories of Christmases past, in hopes of bringing back some memories for you, the readers.

The first one that comes to mind is the Christmas of 1958. That’s when, at the age of ten, I got my bolt action Mossberg 20-gauge shotgun, which is still my primary small game hunting shotgun today. I was, of course, not old enough to hunt yet, but my dad thought that I should get accustomed to a shotgun. I still have an old picture of myself standing in front of the Christmas tree holding that shotgun. In the photo, my left eye is red and swollen. During the day on December 24th, I was hitting tin cans with a stick in the backyard. A cinder flew up and lodged itself in my eye. The pain was terrific. My mother didn’t drive, but, when my dad came home, he took me to the doctor’s office. Believe it or not, you didn’t need an appointment, and the doctor was in on Christmas Eve. He got the cinder out and gave me some ointment to put in the eye. Sore eye or not, getting that shotgun made for one of the best Christmases I ever had.

Another great one was the Christmas of 1960. This is one I’ve written about on many occasions, but a brief recap is in order here. At the age of twelve, I had just completed my first deer season hunting with the aforementioned 20-gauge shotgun and rifled slugs. which were known back then as “punkin’ balls.” The only thing I asked for that Christmas was a deer rifle. I didn’t really expect to get one, as my dad was laid off from his job, and money for my parents was really tight. Even so, they came up with the money to buy me an old military surplus Model 91 Argentine Mauser. When you come right down to it, it wasn’t that much of a gun, but, to an excited twelve-year-old, it was wonderful. In fact, for a variety of reasons, including sentimental ones, the 7.65 Argentine is my pet caliber yet today. Look for more on this in the last column before Christmas, as “The Mauser Story” by popular demand, has become my Christmas standard.

Then, there was the Christmas of 1964. At that time, my buddies and I were really deep into coon hunting. In those days, carbide lights were standard equipment. In those pre-alkaline battery days, a typical flashlight would not last through a night of hunting. The only things I asked for that Christmas were a carbide and a 6-cell flashlight. The latter was used only in spotting a treed ringtail. On Christmas morning, sure enough, both were under the tree. The carbide light was a Justrite, made of brass. The flashlight came from Bill Boatman and Company. Both of them gave me yeoman service for years. Over the ensuing years, both became lost, but I wish I still had them.

I hope this little reflection on my Christmases past will get you to thinking about some special Christmases of your own.

I went most of the summer without any eagle sightings. In the past two weeks, I saw two. I hope that’s a sign of good things to come.

You know, for me, this is a rather strange time of the year. In some ways, I hate it, because of the cold and snow, but, in some ways, I really like it. I guess everything has its good side.

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