Saturday, July 24, 2010


Back when I was a kid, my mother's father, a very nice man with a great and vast knowledge of many subjects, one of them being fishing, told me many things about fishing and hunting. When relaxing at his home, was always dressed in freshly pressed chinos and a dress shirt. Never saw the man in a pair of blue jeans or a t shirt that wasn't white being worn under a dress shirt. Although he owned guns, he wasn't much of a hunter. He was more of a fisherman. Didn't matter where he was living...Oklahoma, Houston, East Texas or Southern California, he was a fishing man. Fresh or Salt.

He did a lot of salt water fishing during a brief job assignment in L.A. in the 50's. I suspect he was on some of the classic piers out there every chance he got. When we would visit his East Texas cellar when I was a kid, I was regaled with all kinds of fishing tackle from the 40's through the 60's. Everything was in pristine condition. Reels were seriously well maintained and several that I've never used are still greased up from the last time he cleaned them somewhere between 40 and 50 years ago. Most lures were washed, dried and then replaced in their original packaging (usually a cardboard box) and placed in it's tray in one of his tackle boxes.

So my Grandpa told me about having a kit bag, and how you could keep your pistol in it for snakes and such, a knife, a lunch, some water or coffee, a small first aid kit and the like.

Definitions vary about what exactly a Kit Bag is. One source says it is a knapsack, or alternatively a suitcase usually with sides that fasten at the top or that open to the full width of the bag. Although for many years and even continuing to this present time, I still use one of several knapsacks or rucksacks as my Kit Bag.

I've also got a great zip open top canvas with leather trim that came with some cologne I bought in the 80's. It would look like a big doctor's bag if it were black leather. It's been my main kit bag for fishing trips over the past 25 years. I can think of all kinds of locations I've fished with that bag at my side over the years. The Colorado at Lemon Springs, Lake Belton, Lake Georgetown, Lake Conroe, Lake Livingston, Lake Summerville, The San Marcos River, The Guadalupe River in various upper and lower parts and all numbers of other rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks and streams.

It's a great Kit Bag, and is probably similar to what many folks used as a kit bag. In his later years, my Grandpa approved of my Kit Bag, and expounded on things it should have. A readily accessible .22 revolver, several good knives, matches in a waterproof case, a flint, ammo, some hootch in a small flask (preferably Jack Daniel's Black), a compact belt and holster for the pistol, an extra floppy hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and all sorts of other handy stuff. A towel. A flashlight and batteries.

My first Kit Gun was a 9 shot .22 caliber Harrington and Richardson, followed soon by a six shot single action Ruger .22 Bearcat imitation pistol. Some Italian brand, he probably gave $25 for it and it's still shooting forty years later. Because my Dad likes guns, and because some of his closest friends were always wheeling and dealing and trading guns, he was always having cool stuff around. Soon I got a Walther PPK/S .22, but still used the other guns.

Cottonmouths, Water Moccasins and Rattlers that were at the family place down by the creek had no chance with a well armed youth on the prowl. I never saw any gators but heard there were some in the area, and often saw tracks on the sand bars in the creek that looked like gator tracks.

Other and larger caliber guns also were around, but the .22's were cheap to shoot and we liked to shoot lots and lots. Even certain handgun experts (the late Chic Gaylord, for one) recommend practice with a "like firearm" to one's duty weapon in .22 caliber. Back in Chic's heyday, that was the revolver, and several Colts and S&Ws had guns in larger calibers and in .22 caliber.

In fact, Smith and Wesson had several guns they dubbed as "Kit Guns", mostly in .22 caliber. I know my people on both sides of the family carried pistols when fishing or in the outdoors at a fishing camp. Several of my uncles wisely said "You never know who you might run into to in them there woods". I know during prohibition that stills were running all over East Texas where both my families hailed from, and booze running was quite prevalent even in the Baptist Belt of the Piney Woods.

But primarily, they were more interested in shooting snakes and the like, although they were families that ate what they caught or hunted. They actively hunted deer and young hogs and turkeys and other game birds because they GOT HON-GRAY in the depression. They fished and raised fish in their ponds and caught breed fish in creeks and rivers and brought those older fish to their ponds and tanks and lakes.

So my Father's kit bag as a kid differed greatly from mine. His was some sort of army surplus shoulder bag, brought home by a relative from the war. It held some shotgun shells and slugs and some .22 bullets, a big knife and a variety of smaller knives, some kind of food like bread and smoked meat, a simple fishing rig with line/hook/sinker and you cut your own bamboo pole at the lake or creek. Probably some kind of mason jar with fresh water in it and a lid. Some matched dipped in wax. Some rope. Maybe a snare or two.

So my father didn't have a pistol in his Kit Bag. They had two guns: a single shot bolt action .22 rifle and a single shot 12 gauge shotgun. Shells were expensive and every shot had to count. It was permissible to shoot snakes for safety, but it was preferred that snake shooting be done with the .22, if not an emergency "surprise" situation.

I like having a pistola in the kit bag. Sometimes, it's a .45 ACP or a .38 Special. Sometimes there is a .22 in there as well. All with some solid bullets and some shot shells. Shells are particularly effective on snakes. I usually back up the shot shells in any field pistol with 2 or more rounds of ball ammo.

There's all kinds of kit bags for all kinds of outdoorsmen and women who engage in lots of sporting activities. Sailors, boaters, golfers, tennis players, pilots, hunters and a myriad of other types of folks have some sort of kit bags that accompany their sport.

Nowadays, there's likely to be lots of electronics in the Kit Bag. GPS. high and low tech Cell Phones. Sat Phones. Marine Radio. Wireless laptops and iPads and the like. Maybe one of the high tech water purification straws. Radar patches. GPS emergency transmitters.

I'm curious. What do you carry in your kit bag?

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