THE GIRLS LIKE HUNTING TOO—FARMER’S FOUR DAUGHTERS ARE GOOD SHOTS AND LOVE GREAT OUTDOORS. By Bill Renshaw
Charles Gerhart secretly hoped his first child would be a boy so he would have a hunting and fishing companion. It wasn’t. It was a girl, as were the second, third and fourth. This meant five girls counting Mom, but not one boy who he could teach to love the great outdoors as he loved it.
But by the time the third little girl came along, the disappointment at not having at least one boy had disappeared. By that time Ellen, the first born, had bagged her first dove, and with her first shot too. By that time Little Sue, the second daughter, had forsaken her dolls and talked instead of shotguns, spinning reels, and duck blinds.
Talk with “Dad” Gerhart today and he’ll tell you that a lass with the “right kind of blood in her veins” can be just as good a buddy in the field or on the stream as can a lad. And if you need proof, he and his four girls will break out their shotguns, and take you hunting. And if you aren’t very careful, you may find that vivacious 14-year Martha, with her 20-gauge shotgun, is bagging more birds than you.
Or if it happens to be out of season for hunting, the Gerharts may suggest a little trap shooting. If this happens and if you can’t bust 75 clay pigeons out of 100, you’ll be wise not to talk big. Otherwise you may find yourself eating crow as coquettish-appearing Rose breaks 9 out of 10, as she did at a recent practice shoot.
And if you’re still not positive that dad has some real outdoor companions, just be close to Horseshoe Lake when the family arrives for some goose shooting next fall.
But again, unless you are wise in the ways of the goose, don’t challenge the girls or you may find yourself playing second fiddle to comely, methodical Sue. For Sue, like the other girls, has long since demonstrated that she can get her goose. Martha, in fact got two geese when she was only 13.
Actually, there is no secret to the formula Charlie used in making hunting and fishing cronies of his four daughters. He has always loved the outdoors in a big way. “Guess I was brought up that way,” he says, with a sly grin at Mom, who incidentally, owns a 410 -gage shotgun which she used infrequently.
The girls were all brought up in an atmosphere of gun smoke and fishing tackle. Their farm home is close to the Wabash River in Lawrence County, Illinois. Consequently, the honking of wild geese, stopping off for a snack in their cornfields as they winged their way south, was music they couldn’t miss.
Then too, the area abounds in native game. All this played a part in making sportsmen of his daughters, according to Charlie, who guesses that they had it in their blood too.
Each girl received a brand-new shotgun along about her 13th or 14th birthday. It was either a pump gun or an automatic, according to her taste. After a period of careful instruction, each girl took her turn at trap shooting, with dad tossing out the pigeons. And to make sure they had learned their lessons, well, they got an assortment of high ones and grass skimmers, with about every fourth one going away at a crazy angle. Only when they could make at least half their pigeons explode like a Fourth of July firecracker were they ready to go hunting.
First hunting for the girls was doves. Each got a bird with her first shot. Since then it’s been every girl for herself. And if they have any idea as to who is the best shot, they aren’t talking.