I guess that everyone over the age of 50 tends to look back and people under 50 tend to look forward. Its just the way it works. When I was a young writer, all my stories were things I was doing or going to do. Someone asked me my favorite hunting story this week. After all, I have quite a few stories to tell. This is one of my top stories about small-game hunting.

There was a period when I worked at the Gun Runner sporting goods store. I hung out with some friends of a like mind that just happened to include Moon Mullins of Steelers fame. He was quite an accomplished shooter. Moon, whose real name happens to be Gerry, decided to hunt with a few of us attending the Roscoe Sports Clubs annual event.

Back in those days, they held a grouse shooting event. Now all those of you who are young have probably never had the opportunity to hunt grouse but back then, it was great fun. The event had two categories: dog or no dog. Moon and I signed up as partners in the no dog category. Our other friends, Denny and Steve, would be competing together in this same category, so we were getting on each other and messing around about the upcoming event.

Moon and I made a plan. I was great at locating birds and he was maybe one of the best shots I have ever seen at birds. Shotguns have never been my forte. The match began at 8 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. Our first encounter with a bird that morning was a Grouse that came up about 20 yards in front of me as I was walking through some very heavy blowdown.

Moon was disgusted and slapping his leg since I hadn’t gotten off a shot. And that’s how I realized how truly big Moon Mullins was compared to me. He is 6-4 and I was 5-8, or I was. He was still grumbling when I put up the second bird and down it came. He was such a great shot. I enjoyed that day and we both made some great shots.

At this time, the club had a rule that you could take any small game as it was also in season. We shot a few rabbits and did well there, too. By the third Grouse, we were really getting into it and had formed a team. I did well for an amateur and around that moment, I did something I had never done before. I dropped two Grouse with two shots.

At the end of the day, we checked in with our limit and had two minutes to spare. We were quite confident when suddenly here came Denny and Steve at the last possible moment and we were tied. Contest rules said then we go by weight. Doggone if theirs didn’t weigh two ounces more than ours. Moon was very competitive, so I was a bit concerned for their health but I didn’t need to be. He accepted our defeat, and we all went to the Union Grill, where we hung out to discuss our next plan.

It was here in the Grill that I was to ask my friend many questions about the Steelers. We became good friends and I learned interesting facts about football. I asked him whom he thought was the greatest at that time. He thought for a while and said, “Super Man.” I asked who the “Super man” was, and he said Mel Blount because he could jump like a kangaroo and hit like an iron fist.

Some of my best days were spent this way as always with my friends. Life is interesting because you never know who you might meet. Sometimes I think back about my great shooting friendship with Gerry “Moon” Mullins. He has since moved North, and I don’t see him much anymore but we certainly made many memories for me and one of my favorites was the grouse hunt.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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