By Ron Spomer
GENTLEMEN, CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS
Over the years writers, movie stars, and other famous folks have lent waterfowling considerable positive cache’. Here is a short collection of celebrated “shootingest gentlemen” and their waterfowl-hunting shotguns of choice.
Nash Buckingham (1880-1971) – this noted Southern gentleman, outdoor writer and conservationist is best known for duck shooting with a 3-inch 12-gauge side-by-side, custom Super Fox, made for him by gunsmith Burt Becker. “Bo-Whoop,” Buckingham’s nickname for his fowling piece, is displayed at Ducks Unlimited’s national headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.
Gary Cooper (1901-1961) – The star of *High Noon *and many other Hollywood feature films during the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, Cooper, a contemporary of Clark Gable, Robert Stack, Ernest Hemingway, and other period notables, was known as a crack rifle shot. When hunting waterfowl, however, “Coop” chose a 12-gauge Parker.
Clark Gable (1901-1960) – Accomplished skeet shooter and wingshot Gable often hunted with Ernest Hemingway in Sun Valley, Idaho, and occasionally with the late Jimmy Robinson, the longtime shotgun editor for Sports Afield magazine, on Manitoba’s Delta Marsh. Considered a superb sportsmen, Gable, like Cooper, shot a 12-gauge Parker when duck hunting. On the rare occasions he missed and the duck had gone with the wind, Gable was known to confess “Frankly, my friends, I don’t give a damn.”
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) – This Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-wining author was well known as a hunter. For duck hunting his choices in shotguns were as varied as his women. In “Papa’s” hands English-made Boss side-by-sides, Beretta SO over-and-unders, and a Winchester Model 12, all in 12-gauge, made the bell toll for many a mallard.
Robert Stack (1919-2003) – During WWII this Emmy-award-winning television star (The Untouchables) and motion picture actor served the military as a gunnery instructor. Perhaps that why he became a champion skeet shooter and accomplished wingshooter, too. Stack was yet another star who hunted with Hemingway in Idaho and Robinson in Manitoba, using a 20-gauge Parker to prove that, even with such a light gauge, most ducks were not untouchable.
Gordon MacQuarrie (1899-1956) – MacQuarrie’s tales of the “Old Duck Hunters Association” and other drivel have been revered by generations of duck hunters. A genuine waterfowler of the first order, MacQuarrie worked a basic-grade 12-gauge LeFever Nitro Special. Mac’s father in law, Al Peck, the model for “Hizzoner,” the president of the Old Duck Hunters Association, shot a Winchester Model 97 pump in his early years and later switched to a Remington Model 11 auto.
Jimmy Robinson (1986-1986) – This cigar chewing Sports Afield writer, trapshooter, semi-pro baseball player and raconteur shared his famous Manitoba Delta Marsh duck lodge with celebrities, wealthy industrialists and common folk for nearly half a century. He undoubtedly saw, used and could have owned any shotgun in the world, yet he clung to the simple, reliable, effective Remington Model 870, and many a duck resented it.