By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
It was in the fall of 1966.
I was just out of high school, and my parents had given me an awesome birthday present: a brand new Marlin semi-automatic .22 rifle. My first real gun.
As a kid, just like a lot of my friends, I had a BB gun. Don’t mean to brag, but that BB gun saw plenty of action. Birds. Telephone poles. Flower pots. My Daisy always got a big workout. And I never missed. So, now I was the proud owner of a real honest-to-goodness rifle. It fired .22 shorts. Always wondered what would happen if I used .22 longs, but it never happened. The manual said to use .22 shorts, so that’s what was done.
Nobody in my family ever hunted, so I’d sit around and think about what I could shoot. I had a real itchy trigger finger. All that was needed was a target.
I told a few of my high school buddies about my new rifle, and they couldn’t wait to see it. Fact is, one of them asked me to go squirrel hunting. My first hunt!
If memory serves correctly, I went squirrel hunting with three or four guys. George Glodosky probably. Maybe Jim Duggan and Barry Fecteau. I include Barry cuz I know we all went to his house after our big hunt to watch Lombardi’s Packers on color TV. Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke and those guys.
So it must’ve been a Sunday morning, and it was chilly out. I waited in my nice warm house for the boys to pick me up. Had on a sweatshirt, winter jacket, long pants, boots, gloves, stocking cap and brought along my Marlin, ammo, a gunny sack for the game, binoculars, and a compass just in case we got lost in the woods.
DISCLAIMER: My knowledge of local geography and directions is very limited. Hell, I once got lost in Edgar and still haven’t been able to find Amherst or Lake Emily. Pretty sure one of the guys said we’re gonna hunt somewhere around Lake Emily. Lake Emily? Could’ve been Bulgaria for all I knew.
We drove around for at least an hour. Then someone asked me if I brought along my hunting license. Hunting license? What the hell was THAT? You mean to tell me you needed a LICENSE to shoot at a dang squirrel? I lied and told them, ‘Of course I had my license’. What did they think I was? A hunting rookie?
Pretty sure it was George who asked, “Have you ever been hunting before? What do you know about a hunt?” I kinda figured it was a trick question.
I said, “Well, some Hunt owns the Kansas City Chiefs, and I think Hunt’s makes spaghetti sauce.”
He just shook his head.
So our car finally pulled up to the woods. Lots of trees.
The guys said, “Now remember, nobody shoots unless they see something!” Made sense to me.
I kept the safety on and we split up. And walked all through the woods. And walked some more. And some more. We walked around for a good three hours. And didn’t see a single squirrel. No grey squirrels. No red squirrels. Not a single creature with a tail.
There were more squirrels in my backyard than there were in those woods that morning.
We got dizzy just looking at tree-tops. Nobody shot at anything. It was like Squirrel Nation knew we were coming. A total bummer. It was pretty hard to shoot at a squirrel when there weren’t any to shoot at.
After about three hours of walking through those woods, I was pretty sure we were lost. We all seemed to meet in the middle. Luckily I had the compass. Only bad part was that it didn’t work.
(NOTE: A compass that doesn’t work is fairly useless. I grabbed that compass, gently placed it on a fallen tree, and blasted it from point-blank range. Scored a direct hit. Felt mighty good to shoot the Marlin.)
Then we walked some more, going this way and that, and finally came to a small clearing. And then you won’t believe what we saw — just resting there, right in front of us squirrel hunters, was an old abandoned car!
One of the guys opened up on it with his shotgun. KABOOM. Then another guy fired.
And then it was MY turn.
Now let me tell you something about my Marlin. It was almost like a machine gun. You just kept pulling the trigger and POW…POW…POW.
I aimed for the middle and must’ve shot that thing ten times. Felt like a gangster in “The Untouchables”. I halfway thought Robert Stack would come out firing from behind a tree. We “Bonnie & Clyded” that auto big time. Man, was that a blast.
We hunted for squirrels for another hour and saw none. Saw no more cars, either. Then someone spotted a road, and we managed to make it back to our car. Our total “kill” was one compass and one abandoned car.
And on the drive home, we ran over a squirrel with the car. And the Packers won.
And a week after our hunt, a guy I barely knew asked if he could use my Marlin, and I let him do it. Haven’t seen him or the Marlin since.