The first time I used a firearm for defense, I was fourteen, and sitting on a tractor.
The story goes like so………………
I spent a lot of my youth growing up on a small farm. Call it an estate if you will, since in that part of the world any large piece of land was ‘an estate’. My father ran the place, and to my way of seeing things it was a farm. We had a barn, tractors, horses, and we grew some crops. We also had a pond full of snapping turtles, fields full of woodchucks, woods full of squirrels and deer, and a stream full of trout.
You can guess what my hobbies were.
I started carrying a .22 on the farm at an early age, just about as soon as I could prove myself safe with it. It wasn’t considered any more dangerous than the tractor I was driving or the hay bailer throwing gut wrenching bails of hay at my head. The rifle was just another tool on the farm, useful for holding down the woodchuck population and thinning the squirrels that ate the corn.
Our farm was called an estate because it was owned by a wealthy woman who had lived there for over sixty years. Her home was quite literally a small mansion, and the property was surrounded by a mix of middle class and well to do people, leaning heavily towards the higher end of that scale. Along with the wealthy families came the privileged brats and that made our farm a target.
Kids snuck in to grow pot, far away from where mommy would steal it for herself.
We always found their plots and disked them under if small, or called our buddy Detective H if they were bigger. He was on the local police force, and a friend.
Wealthy adult neighbors, thinking they owned the world, brazenly stalked our farm during deer season, tearing down the ‘no trespassing’ signs as they blundered drunkenly past. This didn’t happen too often, as the nice detective was the only one allowed to hunt the property besides us, and he didn’t care for their company. (There is a heckuva story there, which I will tell one day).
Later, as they got popular, dirt bikes and ATV’s became a serious issue. The riders would drop fences, run the horses, and tear up fields. That got old very, very fast.
Dad was inventive in finding ways to dissuade them. Trees across the field entrance, bands of broken glass where they parked, and more. When a woman tried to run him over, it got serious.
Carrying my .22 took on a new meaning.
One day, as I was on the tractor in an upper field, I saw a dirt bike with two men on it riding across a lower field. I also saw Dad in his truck, heading their way. Back then I had young eyes, and even at the 1000 or so yards it was I could see him waving me down the back way through the woods in front of the bikers.
I put the international in high gear to the woods, then shut her off as I coasted the tractor path through the woods and out to the field below. I had done this hundreds of times, as the woodchucks knew the sound of my tractor, and only by coasting could I sneak up on them. I understood how far I could coast, and I knew how quiet it would be.
As I rolled to a stop, I uncased my scoped .22 bolt action rifle and placed the butt on my leg with the muzzle straight up. This silhouetted the rifle, exactly what I intended.
I did that because I didn’t want to shoot the two men who were now off their motorcycle and walking up on either side of my Dad.
They were about 150 yards from me, and had no idea I was there. Dad saw me, as he was facing my way. They had their backs to me, and never heard me roll up behind them.
Even at that range I had no problem seeing they were not nice people. Dad was there to tell them to leave, and they didn’t like that. He was old, they were young. He was alone, and there were two of them….. Or so they thought.
I saw Dad point between those dudes, in my direction. They turned and looked. What they saw, with the sun behind me, was a guy sitting on a tractor with a scoped rifle…. and they had no place to hide, no place to run.
I hadn’t a doubt I could hit them both, even knowing the .22 would not have dropped them. I had been shooting long enough, and done enough work on that rifle, that I was regularly shooting woodchucks in the head at 100 yards. A man at 150 was no challenge at all, even moving.
They didn’t know any of this. All they knew was a situation they thought they owned had just gone very, very bad for them.
I saw Dad reach in his truck and get his camera. He took a picture of each of those guys as they stood there, then they got on their little bike and rode slowly to the edge of the property with Dad right behind them, and me on the tractor, staying the same 150 yards away.
The pictures went to Detective H, and we never saw either guy again.
I often run through that afternoon in my head, wondering if I should have done anything different. Dad never said a word about it, so I guess he was happy with what I had done.
It worked…… nothing more than having a weapon was needed. Those dudes were not smart, but they understood the danger they were in well enough. All thought of causing harm vaporized and they took the path of least pain and suffering.
Farm kid with a .22 (+1), Dangerous trespasser dudes (-1).
I guess that was a win.