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His Old Coat


LHarris

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oldcoat.jpg

Written and Lived by:

Len Harris

It is a classic. The padded shoulder and many

pockets for game and shells. Inside the pockets there

are memories. Memories of years past.

As a young boy I always waited for my father to

announce we were going hunting. Usually our dog Ginger

gave out the first alarm when my dad took the hunting

coat off the hook near the gun cabinet.

She would howl and run around like her tail was on

fire. Her body would quiver because she was so

excited about going hunting. My dad would even pump

her up a little. Ask her if she wanted to go get some

Chippies (squirrels) or dirty birds (pheasants). She

howled so much that my mother would kick all three of

us out the door.

We would load up the dog and make an inventory of

what we had in the pockets of Dad's Old Coat. If we

were going squirrel hunting...It was checking for the

.22 shells for Dad and the .410 shells for me. It was

a ritual. We had to have the squirrel call and 2

plastic bags for the squirrels

The same ritual was made during pheasant season.

The plastic bags and the 20 gauge shells for the

doublebarrelled 20 gauge. We usually loaded one of the

pockets with candy bars. Both of us are sweet tooths.

Not to mention the dog.

The coat was also used for many duck and rabbit

adventures. There was one thing that was always the

same about each outing. It was that my mother would

come out to bid us farewell before each venture into

the outdoors. I can still remember her speech.

She would tell me the same thing every time.

"Guns are not toys." "Treat your gun like it is always

loaded." " Always identify your target." "When in

doubt do not shoot."

Mom had a different speech for dad. His speechs

varied from season to season. It usually ended by my

mother looking at my Dad's Old Coat and telling him

that she was going to wash that NASTY thing when he

arrived home. It was a joke between my dad and mom..

Mom knew that if she washed the coat it would take

all of the magic and memories out of the pockets. She

really didn't like the tattered blood stained thing

that my father called a coat......but she knew that

she should NEVER wash it.

Many adventures came and went during my childhood.

I added a few stains to the pockets and I took over

the ritual of checking the pockets as each season came

and past. I kept the coat ready for the next outing

I always pestered my dad about the coat. I

told I wanted one just like it. He would kid me and

tell me that it was one of a kind and that he would

give me the coat when I grew in to it. I remember

showing him a catalog with a coat that looked like his

and telling him that the coat came in my size. He

finally explained to me that he was NOT going to buy

me a coat like his. He said that coats are grown into

not purchased. He had been given that coat by his

father and that I would be given the coat when i grew

in size and hunting skills.

Years flew by. It is 1984. I had just got out of

the Army. I went home to visit my mother. She picked

me up at the airport. We talked all the way home. She

told me that my father would have been very proud of me

if he were still around. Dad passed away in 1967 of a

heart attack while deer hunting. I was 10 years old

when he died.

I stayed with my mother for the first few months

after getting out of the army. Fall came and I had the

itch to go hunting. I put my army coat on and took the

410 out of the gun cabinet.. I filled the pockets with

the proper tools. A squirrel call and 2 plastic bags..

I took a couple candy bars from the kitchen and was

headed out the door.

My mother stopped me as i left. She said "Are you

prepared for hunting?" I was little taken aback by the

question. I told her: "Of course." She told that I had

forgotten a key part of my hunting adventure.

We went back into the house. I was little befuddled

at what my mom was up to She led me to the gun

cabinet. She reached to the hook on the side and

grabbed IT. She said " It should fit now."

"I am going to wash that NASTY thing when you get

back."

She smiled and sent me on my way.

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A smile and a tear for me to. Many memories of hunting with my dad comming flooding in. Take care and N Joy the Hunt././Jimbo

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