A Sportsman’s Triad

1– A Few Old Guns

I haven’t really hunted since I was a teenager, but I’ve always had a few firearms, pieces that I’ve grown familiar with. The guns I’ve pictured aren’t worth a lot of money but they help me level the playing field around my home when I feel like walking with some thunder-iron. Like it or not, the balance of nature is out-of-whack in most rural areas, especially near our homes where introduced species, or those without adequate predator controls, run rampant and victimize the native plants and animals.

Top gun is an Ithaca Model 37 20-gauge repeater with a ventilated rib, engraving, and a sense of classic upland beauty. My dad gave me this scattergun almost 30 years ago. It was second-hand at the time. My dad didn’t hunt and had never used the gun. I never bothered asking him where he got it. The middle gun is an old Ward’s Hercules single-shot 20 gauge with engraved stock. It came from an auction a few years ago for $75. I love its modest lineage and simple form. It’s practical and always ready to go. The bottom gun is a Remington .22 Speedmaster 522 with Bushnell 4x scope. Very accurate. I bought it second-hand in Virginia in the late 1970s. Like the Ithaca 20 gauge, it’s in great shape, dependable and never jams.

2– A Few Old Rods

I have all kinds of fly rods that I use for various types of fishing and for even more various conditions of water. Hey, a golfer needs a bag of irons to perform well on the course, right? A fly-fisher needs… well, maybe I do have more rods than I need, but I use them all, so technically I am not a collector. If a rod has no practical/aesthetic use for me on the water, then I sell the thing or give it away. Here’s a few of the bamboo sticks I like…

Top rod is a Thomas & Thomas “Classic,”  8-foot, 5-weight, with 2 pieces and an extra tip. It’s fitted with a Scientific Anglers #6 reel. I’ve been fishing this great bamboo since I bought it second-hand (can’t afford to buy a new one) in 1999. Middle rod is an E.W. Edwards “De Luxe,” 9-foot, 5/6-weight, with 3 pieces and an extra tip. It’s fitted with an old Hardy Uniqua reel. Eustis Edwards, who once worked with the legendary H.L. Leonard, built some of the finest rods that came from the so-called “golden age” of bamboo rod production. Bottom rod is a F.E. Thomas “Maine Special,” 8.5-foot, 5-weight, with 3 pieces and an extra tip. Rod has intermediate windings and is fitted with a Hardy LRH Lightweight reel. Fred Thomas built some of the loveliest fly rods I’ve ever seen or had the pleasure to cast. (Click photo to enhance image.)

3– A Few Nice Trout

With the sun on display this January 7th, and with temperatures rising into the 40s, I had to see if I could still say howdy to a river trout. I could! My first trout of 2012 were rainbows caught on a Pennsylvania rivertop. No, they weren’t wild fish, but these 15 to 16-inch rainbows gave some pleasant winter action at a time when, typically, snow and ice blanket most of our streams and rivers.


About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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6 Responses to A Sportsman’s Triad

  1. Alan says:

    Nice post.
    I have the same Ithaca 20 ga. A great gun.
    Your collection of rods is beautiful.

  2. Ken G says:

    My old Stevens single shot 12 looks a lot like your old Hercules. Nothing fancy about those guns, dead on accurate and kicks like a mule.
    I really do need to put my fly rods to use. Those are some nice old bamboo rods.

    • Ken, With guns or rods (and other tools that help us get beyond ourselves a little), there’s nothing like a quality piece reflecting craftsmanship, tradition, and gentle use. Walt


  3. Cary Voss says:

    Hi. My grandfather gave me a Thomas & Thomas rod before he died. I haven’t used it yet but my fly fishing guide and mentor say’s that it will do just fine this spring. Can’t wait.

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