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Oh, Henry
Outdoors Outpost
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 • Posted December 7, 2011

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year, full of joy and peace and goodwill and Christmas music and food and hunting and plenty of other great stuff. Unfortunately it’s also full of traffic and shopping and Christmas music and chimney fires and tacky lighting and inlaws and fake Santas and lots of other horrors. If you can manage to avoid most of the bad stuff, and focus on the good stuff, you’ll have it made.Shopping, for example, is something to steer clear of. This is one of the worst things ever invented, if you happen to be of the male persuasion. Women can shop for hours on end, without a break for rest or food or anything. They can go into a crowded mall, elbow their way through the deluge of shoppers, find the stuff they want, and drag their bags and boxes back through the mess to their cars, and do it all while guys are still looking for a decent parking space. It’s the female version of football, which is why they don’t watch the NFL games with their husbands. They’re bored with it, because it’s tame compared to the average shopping trip.Guys shop, of course, but we do it different. We generally know what we want before we leave home, and we know where it’s for sale and how much it’s going to cost. We also know the best route to take to get there and back in the shortest time, so we don’t miss any more football on television than we have to. And we don’t shop with our wives unless absolutely necessary, like if she just had a kidney replaced, or something.The only exception with guys is guns. Guys can spend just as much time in a gun store as the gals do in a mall, especially your small, local gun shops. The inventory turns over often enough that there are always different new and used guns to look at, and you never know what you’re going to find.This is why I browse through Texas Arms, in downtown Mason, whenever I have a few minutes to kill. The owner, Brad Little, takes trade-ins, like all small gun dealers, so there’s constantly different stuff to check out. And you never know what you’re going to find.For instance, I was recently in Texas Arms and found a Henry Golden Boy lever-action .22 rifle, slightly used. It was a nice looking gun, and after drolling all over it on three or four occasions I finally traded Brad out of it. I’d always wanted a Golden Boy, just because they’re so pretty. Plus I got a pretty good deal, when I pointed out it was covered with drool.The Henry rifle was patented in 1860 by the man whose name it bears, Benjamin Tyler Henry Rifle. It was the first practical lever-action rifle available, and was chambered for the .44 caliber rimfire metallic cartridge. I don’t think they make those, anymore. For some reason.The company only lasted six years before being bought out by, I think, Oliver Winchester. He made some changes to the Henry rifle and introduced the 1866 Yellowboy, which was named after its inventor, whose name I don’t remember. I can’t be expected to look everything up, after all.Anyway, the Henry rifle was a big deal, being as how it worked real good and everyone had been using muzzle loaders. A Confederate officer, after a Civil War battle with Union troops who had Henrys, said it was ‘a rifle that you could load on Sunday and shoot all week.’Well, in 1973 Louis Imperato bought out Iver Johnson, and then revived the Henry Repeating Arms name in 1993. He started making a .22 version of the old Henry, with a gold colored receiver like the original Henry rifle, but added a wooden forestock. It’s not exactly a replica, because there are some changes, but it’s definitely an Old West looking gun. It even has an octagonal barrel and a gold colored butt cap, which is a nice touch.When I took my Golden Boy out for the first time I was impressed with the smooth action, but when I started shooting it I discovered a problem. I couldn’t stop. It was like a Twilight Zone episode. The rifle was so much fun to shoot, I just kept reloading and levering and triggering until I was out of .22 shells.A few days later I handed the rifle to my son, Leret, who is 16, and favors semi-automatics, due to a belief that it’s morally wrong to allow your dad to retain any overstock on ammo. A lever action that has to be time-consumingly reloaded every 16 rounds is a pain for a teenager. But the same thing happened to him, and I didn’t see him again until he was out of ammo, about 45 minutes later.But the most impressive thing about the Golden Boy is its accuracy. Anything within 50 yards was toast. Anything within 75 yards hopped into the air. And by aiming slightly high, say three inches, I could hit a Dr. Pepper can with every shot at 100 yards.Besides all that, and besides the fact that the Henry is made in America, the Golden Boy is pretty enough that, when I’m not shooting it, I don’t put it in a safe or a closet, I hang it on the wall for decoration. Which saves my wife some shopping time, when she’s fighting the crowds at the mall, looking for something to decorate with.So that’s my contribution to the shopping thing. It was either that or buy her some football pads . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who avoids malls whenever possible. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

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