The Ripple Effect

   02.11.14

The Ripple Effect

When I graduated high school, my brother-in-law gave me a fantastic gift: a Marlin 336. I carried that rifle for eight seasons (many of them shortened by college, grad school, and work obligations) in my home state of Pennsylvania before I finally shot my first deer with it in 1988. The small eight-point rack is still on display in my living room, constantly reminding me of a great hunt with my cousins in Cambria County.

The following year I took a button buck in York County during what turned out to be my last hunting season as a Pennsylvania resident. In January 1990, my wife and I relocated to her home town: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I had packed up all my hunting gear and stashed it in Mom’s basement because our original plans envisioned five years in Rio. I adapted so well to the culture, however, that we live in Brazil to this day. Fortunately for me, the fishing was so good that it compensated for the lack of hunting in this country. While visiting family in the States in 1994 (by then we knew we’d be staying in Brazil for the long haul), I figured my .30-30 deserved a better fate than solitary confinement in a box. I had to find it a good home.

The brother-in-law who had given me the Marlin already owned several rifles. My brothers don’t hunt, so giving either of them a gun made no sense. Selling the lever action just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. In the end, I gave the rifle to a cousin, Ray Sutton. My father wasn’t an outdoorsman (but he always encouraged me to pursue my interests), so Ray and his brothers had acted as my mentors in the wide-open world of hunting and fishing. And his branch of the family tree, like mine, honored our Irish-Catholic roots with an abundant crop of children. I knew that many of Ray’s kids, nephews, and nieces would grow up to become hunters, and the gun would go to good use.

I left my deer rifle with my cousin, never suspecting the ripples of that gesture would generate a tsunami of heartfelt satisfaction for me two decades later. I recently received this email from Ray’s oldest son, Pat. Bold and italics are from the original message:

Hello!  It’s your cousin Pat. I was just cleaning the rifles after another deer season in Pennsylvania, and I realized something that might make you smile.

My daughter, Cheyenne, has been deer hunting with me the last two seasons. She’s far from a die-hard, but she has managed to sit in the stand long enough to shoot a doe both last year and this year.

Last year she was in the stand with my brother, a group of does went past, and she pulled up and dropped one with a beautiful shot to the neck.

This year, I was with her in the stand when I saw two does appear. She was facing the wrong way, but when I whispered to her about them, she casually spun around and whipped up her gun with a 4x scope. With no hesitation, she made a 100-yard shot at a moving deer through open timber and dropped her second doe with a shoulder shot.

Two seasons, two bullets, two deer.

As I was cleaning her gun this evening, I smiled when something occurred to me. You see, the gun she has used the last two years is an old Marlin .30-30 lever action… one that somebody left with dad a long time ago.

I just wanted to drop you a line and say thank you, your rifle is still shooting as straight as it ever did, and still making memories!

Cheyenne 2013

Read More