Anderson Family History

South Dakota Pheasant Hunting

Merland recalled how pheasant hunting season was always an interesting time at Center. Besides having shotgun shells for sale, many hunters would stop in for a cold soda & ice cream, or the makings for a quick sandwich or two before resuming their hunt. With the store in prime pheasant territory, lots of out-of-state hunters stumbled unto the store and would stop in for refreshments.

One famous name that stopped by regularly, year after year, was Bob Feller, the Cleveland Indians pitcher. He was nicknamed Rapid Robert because of his 100-mile per hour fast-ball. He hunted in the Howard – Canova – Center area every year with an uncle of his who lived in Howard. His uncle was well acquainted with the store because he drove a gasoline delivery truck and regularly delivered gasoline and petroleum products to Center.

Another visitor of note was in the store one day along with his party of other hunters, having some ice cream and pop. One of the neighboring young men, Kenneth Knudson, stopped in the store at this same time, and Kenny was wearing his baseball uniform, having just come from a game at Salem.

The one visitor said to Kenny, “I see you are a ball player. I used to play a little ball myself.” “Yeah, when?” asked Kenny looking at the old hunter with doubtful eyes. “It was a few years back. Maybe you heard of me, I’m Ty Cobb.” “Oh sure,” Kenny replied skeptically, “and I’m Babe Ruth!”

It took some time for the Georgia Peach, as Ty Cobb was nicknamed, to convince Kenny he was who he said he was. He had to show his hunting license for final proof to the disbelieving Kenny. Hall of Famer Cobb started his career in 1904 and ended up playing 24 seasons in the American League when he retired in 1928.

I think back to many trips riding with my Dad on Saturdays as he was working driving his truck in rural areas of South Dakota. Now, riding along with him was strictly verboten so whenever a company truck came along I would have to duck down and also when we arrived back in town I would have to jump out before he returned to the plant.

During pheasant season it was a real joy to accompany my Dad on his ‘extended lunch break’ as he demonstrated his considerable  hunting skills using his double barrel 16-gauge shotgun to provide welcomed festive dinners about every other night in the depths of the Great Depression.

One Saturday, we were especially fortunate and he claimed his full limit of those beautifully-feathered birds. At the end of the day, in accordance with the aforementioned protocol I jumped out of the truck as we entered town and begged my Dad to lug the heavy bounty all the way through town via Main Street to an admiring audience  He grinned as his young boy struggled to hoist a few birds by their necks in each of his fists.  Chin up high, I proudly displayed the good luck I had ‘hunting’ without giving second thought to the fact I had no gun; perhaps people would think I whacked them with a fencepost of slew them with a slingshot as David had slain the giant.

Suffice it to say that by the time I reached home I wished Dad had not shot so many pheasants as I was hefting home to Mom; it was most tiring – – only the memories of gawking boys admiring my supposed hunting talents assuaged my total exhaustion.           By Allan Anderson, 2005.

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