It’s the early 1950s, and my dad is about 12 years old. He’s hunting rabbits in an overgrown field near his house using a Stevens Model 87A. It’s almost dusk, and rain clouds are looming overhead. Dad spots a rabbit and takes his shot. He’s pretty sure he hit it, but the rabbit scampers off.
Foolishly, he sets his rifle down on the ground and looks for his prize. Unable to find the rabbit, and with daylight running out and rain beginning to fall, he decides to abandon his search and head home. He turns to grab his rifle, but he loses sight of it in the tall grass. Luckily, his dad doesn’t notice when he comes home empty-handed, so the next morning he heads straight to the field to search for the rifle. Again, no success, and he now realizes that he has to face the music and tell his dad what happened. As you would expect, the news didn’t go over too well.
That’s not the end of the story, though. Fast-forward about 46 years, and dad is back in his little home town for his high school reunion. He’s visiting the home of a childhood friend and sees a Stevens 87A in the gun cabinet. He tells his buddy about the one he used to have as a kid and asks where he got his. The guy says his brother was walking home, some 40-plus years earlier, and tripped over a rifle that some idiot left in the middle of the field in the pouring rain. Dad recounts the rabbit hunt and says, “I think you got my rifle.” Without question, his buddy pulls the rifle from the cabinet, hands it to him and says, “Try not to lose it this time!”
As you can see, dad cleaned the 87A up real nice, and now it sits front and center in my gun cabinet. Dad has passed on now, but I always enjoy telling his story of the lost rifle that finally came home.
—Michael Leach, NRA member