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The Fox

In 1982, I was first introduced to firearms, specifically a Fox Model B 16 gauge double barrel, with ventilated rib. This was given to me on my 11th birthday by my Grandmother Kline, along with a small wooden gun cabinet made by my grandfather and his old hunting knife. The year prior my “Pappy Kline”

In 1982, I was first introduced to firearms, specifically a Fox Model B 16 gauge double barrel, with ventilated rib. This was given to me on my 11th birthday by my Grandmother Kline, along with a small wooden gun cabinet made by my grandfather and his old hunting knife. The year prior my “Pappy Kline” had passed away, and the next year my grandmother and father Gene (aka Butch) saw fit to pass the shotgun down to me. It was not long after that I shot it for the very first time at my dad’s cabin, “Bear Creek Farm,” located in Sullivan County. “Bear Creek” was passed down to my father from my grandfather. My dad hung an old/expired five pack of Ballantine Ale from a tree limb, had me stand about 10 yards away and I fired. The cans exploded, and I was proud of my accomplishment. Before this, I had only shot a BB gun or pellet gun. This was a huge step up for any boy.

In 1983, after passing my Hunter Safety Course, I was ready to hunt. In the 1970s and early 1980s, my dad was a Deputy Pennsylvania Game Warden, PA Hunter Safety Instructor, and a science teacher. Most kids from the early ’70s to the early ’90s that graduated from Warrior Run took the Hunter safety course in school with my dad; I was no different. It was always an adventure climbing into my dad’s 1979 International Scout II that he had painted “Game Commission Green” and heading off to “answer a call” -retrieving a road kill, injured animal or helping a farmer or landowner. As a child growing up in Watsontown, we always had an attraction — fawns, owls and more were “temporary” residents at our house until my dad found suitable homes for them. My father has always been a true outdoorsman, with a masters degree in biology and knowledge of all state plants, trees, and animals he was the best “guide” growing up. When I turned 12 and was ready for my first deer season, he quit the Game Commission in order spend time teaching me not only how to hunt safely but to learn more about the outdoors — tracking, identifying and locating game. From that point on we hunted almost every weekend and every season — deer, bear, turkey, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, geese, ducks and coyotes. My dad had many friends and people he met while being a Deputy Warden, so he had no shortage of places to hunt — something scarce today.

That first deer season came with my dad, and I was leaving the cabin at Bear Creek in the dark and starting up a mountain on foot. After about 15 minutes, he placed me by a large rock and explained to load the Fox when it got light enough to shoot. He said he would be back to get me later and not to move, he gave me a bag that contained my lunch and some snacks. I would like to go on and on about how I sat there, still, quiet and eagerly waiting for the monster buck to come by — truth is I was cold, and this was the first time in my life I was alone in the woods in the pitch dark. I sat there dressed in my grandfather’s old patched tan canvass pants and jacket, thinking that my dad must be miles away in his secret spot. I spent my time trying to figure out my plan when I became lost for days in the woods or attacked by wolves! It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that he revealed he was not even 50 yards behind me all day long, watching me and my actions. From his vantage point, I am sure he watched me eat my snacks before it got daylight and then eat my lunch probably by 9 a.m. Although I didn’t see a buck that year the memories of my first year hunting with my dad at Bear Creek will last forever. I still often look at the picture of my Grandfather Kline, wearing a shirt, tie and vest during the late 30s while standing with a hunting party from the Sonestown area — my dad learned from a true “gentleman” hunter.

This past deer season was the 36th year that my dad and I hunted deer together, and for the last 20 years, we have been back where it all started, Sullivan County. I grew up in a family that had family reunions in the mountains and celebrated holidays at Bear Creek Farm along the Loyalsock. Most of all went hunting together, cut wood together, mowed fields, went fishing, swam in Bear Creek and enjoyed the outdoors together. In an age where there was no internet, video games or cell phones this was normal activity for many families in Pennsylvania — I wish everyone today could go back to those days, even if just for a day.

I still own the Fox and will never part with it. There were a few times in my life that I could have really used the money but selling the Fox was never an option. While I no longer carry the Fox afield, I do take it out of my safe each year and wipe it down — during that time I think about the men that taught me everything I know about the outdoors, Pappy Kline and my dad. I never got to thank my pap, but I want to let my dad know that I couldn’t have had a better “teacher”!

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  • Avatar
    Pauline Huebner
    February 8, 2019, 6:01 pm

    That is a story that every child should read. Of course some would say what a boring life but to me everyone should have the experience you had with your dad and grandpa. That is true family love. I never had any experience like that but I had family that was there for us as that is true love . Thanks.

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    rob hontz
    February 12, 2019, 5:29 pm

    A great tribute to a father/sportsman. You could switch some names, dates and places and it would be my story and my dad. Thanks for the memories, Andy.

    Rob

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  • Avatar
    Adam McCall
    February 15, 2019, 9:11 pm

    Hi Andy,

    Those are great memories and such a well written story! Although I was much younger I was right up stream and across the bridge with my grandfather fishing for rainbow trout. Just reading your story makes me long for those times at Bear Creek. I really need to get back up to PA and get back into the woods again with you. Thanks for sharing this.

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