Why?

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Published on: Dec. 22, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

up something I could be good at (sleeping, eating popcorn, spitting for distance, etc.). But every so often, in the tradition of the blind hog and acorns, I shoot well.

It usually happens with a borrowed gun. I can take a borrowed gun with bicycle tape on a cracked stock that looks as if the cat uses it for a scratching post and litter the ground with dead birds. Can't hit the sky shooting straight up with my own guns...but give me a loaner and you'll think I'm possessed by the ghost of legendary hunter Nash Buckingham.

It has happened too many times to be coincidence. Although leprechauns live in my guns and throw my shot in unpredictable directions, an unseen being whom I picture as looking much like Glinda, the Good Witch from Oz, only wearing a shell vest and carrying a 20-gauge wand, stands beside me when I use borrowed guns.

Once, my hunting buddy Spence Turner wanted to try my new 28-gauge American Arms double, at that time the latest candidate to end my lifetime of shooting woes.

He handed me his 20-gauge Winchester 101 over/under. For the next couple of hours, I darkened the skies with eddying feathers. Quail fell like hailstones in a summer storm.

Spence, meanwhile, shot the way old ladies play one-on-one basketball. My leprechauns had gotten confused. They thought I still was shooting the 28 and they stuck with it, racing around in the barrels to push the shot in erratic directions.

Finally, Spence snarled, "Gimme my gun back." The leprechauns, realizing their mistake, leaped from gun to gun as we made the exchange (I thought I glimpsed a furtive shimmer in the air) and now plagued the 101, believing that I was shooting it.

My 28 began to perform the way the lyrical writers of upland prose describe it. I even doubled to limit out. I looked at the little gun with awe, reveling in the unfamiliar weight of a heavy game bag.

Spence, meanwhile, saddled with a full load of little people, fumed forward into the setting sun, firing volleys of shot and curses at covey after covey. "You ruined it!" came his distant cry as I lolled at the truck, waiting for him to give up.

He has not loaned me a gun since and goes to great lengths to tell others not to trust me with their guns either.

Since I can't borrow guns anymore, the obvious solution

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