White Oak Mountain Ranger: Scotch Doubles

  • Tuesday, March 14, 2023

“If I said a rooster chews Beechnut you can look under his wing and find a bag of it.” - Rick Bragg’s brother


“Time has no beginning we can imagine and no end we can conceive of. Most time passes when we aren’t watching. We don’t notice it’s gone until we look back and see it’s gone.” - Andy Rooney


In today’s culture it’s perplexingly difficult to definitively determine if the use of the term ‘Scotch Double’ is “Un-woke," racist, or is some unknown or bizarre negative connotation. This term may be considered by some sensitive types to be a bit demeaning to the myriad of immigrant Scott clans that still inhabit this fair land.


Trolling dictionaries indicates numerous definitions and meanings for the use of ‘Scotch  Double’. Who knew these two words could be additionally applied to curling, bowling, billiards and one of the finer games of skill, drinking whisky?


But, for our purposes today let’s settle on the Urban Dictionary’s definition, which defines a ‘Scotch Double’ this way…”An instance where a person fires a single shot and hits two targets. Usually a term used in bird hunting or skeet shooting.”


This definition doesn’t seem to be inclined to frugality, which means “cheap” basically, and that appears to leave us on some manner of safe ground in a world gone mad with the usage of the difficult to define term “Woke,”  whatever in the #$%^ “woke” really means.


As an avid young reader of Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Sports Afield and Fur Fish and Game, I devoured many a tall tale by writers who claimed to have either attained greatness or witnessed  shooters that accomplished such an incredible feat as dropping two birds with one shot. But, I summarily wrote the stories off as pure fiction. Tales of old quail hunters who only shot crossing doubles on the covey rise and then left the singles unmolested only to send the dogs to find the next covey seemed just too much to fathom as reality. This kind of skill with a shotgun was simply inconceivable.


For years I had ridden a bicycle to the nearest dust covered hardware store and stood drooling in front of the rack of dust covered Stevens Savage single barreled shotguns. There was only one twenty gauge in the rack, and it was necessary to check weekly to ensure that it was still there and available in case I came into some unexpected and inexplicable windfall of monetary fortune. The astronomical asking price is a bit fuzzy now, but I seem to remember a $29.99 price tag.


Every weekly bike ride to that dusty gun rack got me inches closer to the anguishing realization that by collecting money mowing yards, raking leaves, and other assorted low wage endeavors, I would be in my mid-thirties before that sweet little twenty gauge would actually be mine to take home.


To this day, I’m not sure exactly what was done right on my part, but when that single shot walked in the door, and the Old Man laid it in my hands, years of anxious anxiety just simply vaporized.


The golden gift of the gun coincided with the dove migration and after running through what, at the time, were considered to be rather expensive boxes of ammo, I was pretty much convinced that tall tales of ‘Scotch Doubles’ were indeed just that, incredibly tall tales.


I can still see in the mind’s eye the first one I ever witnessed. It’s as vivid today as it was on the day long ago when it actually took place. There was this old, overgrown cow pasture and a small pond where we spent hot days swimming and shooting bull frogs with the rifle and BB guns every summer. The overgrown pasture was a tangle of briars and small trees that were only deeply penetrable in the dead of winter. And on one cold and crisp winter day, I was carrying the rifle and the Old Man held the new single shot twenty gauge.


When the covey erupted at our feet, out of the dense and badly tangled briars, it caught both of us, and the beagle, flat footed and stunned. The seismic blast-off of the abundant covey of Bob Whites never seemed to do any thing other than be a very startling surprise. Shock is probably a better word to use than the exploding experience described as a surprise. Explosion may be the most apt descriptor the sound a covey rise imitates when it happens at your feet and leaves you instantly frozen in your tracks.


One single shot from the Old man’s new shotgun and I tracked his fallen bird into the denseness of the thicket. The beagle never did understand retrieving much of anything other than chickens and skunks. Deep in the briars lay two quail. The tall tale of the ‘Scotch Double’ lay at my feet.  I was rendered completely and utterly speechless. This was winter magic like I had never witnessed, nor could have possibly ever imagined.


Since that day the only ‘Scotch Double’ I’ve been even close to, somehow, was accomplished only on clay birds. That’s not meant to be braggadocios. Shooting two clay birds with one shot means you are slow, or you had managed to lose much needed concentration. I’ll call it a mistake. I’ll take it, but I’ll still call it a goof, an anomaly, as it happens, when it happens.


I’ve seen ducks and geese drop, that were in all probability, ‘Scotch Doubles’, but in the interest of waterfowl hunting harmony, I’ve always given my blind partner the accolades of a good shot.


I actually witnessed two nervous jakes end a good morning of gobbling after only one well placed “accidental” load of 3.5” copper jacketed lead was sent their way.


There are stories told by friends that tell of another friend who, one fine November morning, was looking out his kitchen window at a big eight point buck. When he eased the kitchen door open, and touched off the shot, he watched the trophy fold in his tracks. When he finally got the little lady of the house calmed down and walked out in the back yard, he was amazed to find two dead, identical, eight point deer, side by side. Both were shot in the heart, in the exact same spot.


When I threw the BS Flag on another tall tale, the friend of the friend swore it to be the truth and nothing but the truth. I never saw any pictures. I had never known my friend to have a less than rigid adherence to the more constricting things like the truth. Maybe it’s not a tall tale after all. Who knows?


While it’s not really a bonafide ‘Scotch Double,' I have witnessed two smallmouth bass on the same plug dangled with double treble hooks. That’s another phenomenon that has eluded me. But, I have actually seen it done. Then there’s the bass that swallows the bluegill on the end of your line and can’t spit it out before you haul the both of them into the boat. But that really doesn’t fit the pure definition of a ‘Scotch Double’ either. But, it does help a lot when the grease is hot.


WOMR note: If you’ve got a believable, or even a semi-believable ‘Scotch Double’ tall tale, I’d really appreciate it if you’d pass it along. I need all the motivation I can get. Thanks 


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