By John Fulton Rowlings
[Editor’s Note: John Fulton Rowlings is the father of Harold Rowlings. The Cooperator wrote a three-part series on Harold’s “Ruckus at the Brook” about his 1977 act of civil disobedience to keep sewage out of Petpeswick Inlet. Harold says that his father submitted this story to an outdoor woodsman-type magazine, in the hopes of raising some money to help with the funeral, but the editor turned him down.]
When the month of September has seen its best days, and the duck season is just around the corner in Nova Scotia, the guns come off the rack for their final inspection. Decoys are taken from the loft and with a little touching up we are about ready to go.
During the Fall of 1919 I was working in Halifax. The duck season had been open for some time, and like most gun enthusiasts I needed but little persuasion to take a few days off in the woods.
Saturday, October 11, a cousin of mine whose name was Blanchard Rowlings, but better known among the boys as “Sonny,” came into the city from our hometown of Musquodoboit Harbour, a small village thirty miles East of Halifax, to see if I could arrange to go hunting for a few days.
The following Monday, October 13th, was a holiday (Thanksgiving). Neither of us being superstitious, the trip was planned.
We both carried twelve gauge shot guns of the hammer type (hammerless was not yet just fitting to our pocketbooks) also a generous supply of ammunition and provisions for about three days.
Our destination was Paces Lake, the third in a chain of perhaps a dozen. Arriving at our camp at a delightful spot on the shore of Paces, we did our chores and secured wood for our fire during the night. We had yet about three hours daylight at our disposal, so we decided to go to a place called Bear Brook in the North West corner of Paces.
We had just left the landing in our boat when we saw a large flock of blue wings coming in our direction, but we both emptied our guns without success. There were no ducks at Bear Brook, and we decided we had time to go to Church Lake, about one mile west of Paces.
The sun had disappeared behind the hills, casting a shadow over the lake. It would not be long before darkness set in, but being anxious to get a shot, we wanted to look the place over. We climbed up on a large rock that would give us a fine view and still be concealed from any ducks that may be there. My partner laid his gun to the left and mine was laid to the right as these were our positions.
I had just raised up to take a look when I was startled by the report of a gun. Seeing “Sonny” go headlong into the brush below, I quickly realized what had happened. Turning around I saw his gun down behind us, the muzzle still smoking. The shock of the charge hitting carried the boy over twelve feet, where he landed on his back. He called, “Fult, I'm shot.” Jumping down to see how badly he was wounded, I almost lost my courage on turning him over and seeing so much blood spurting from the poor fellow’s back.
The shot had entered high on the left hip, shattering the bone and leaving a wound about one and one half inches in diameter. The flesh was badly burned with powder, and of course the gun being so close, the wads and shreds of clothing were also imbedded with the shot in his body.
I will never forget the look in poor “Sonny's” face that night and will not attempt to describe it.
I wasn’t equipped to deal with such a large wound Laying him on his stomach, I padded the wound with his shirt, which greatly reduced the flow of blood. Fortunately, he did not become unconscious. His body was apparently numbed for the time being. He talked freely of our unfortunate position, and of what a shock it would be to his parents. We pictured them sitting about the fireplace at home, perhaps giving us a thought as being comfortably settled in camp for the night. I will always remember the courage this boy exhibited that night.
We decided there was only one thing to do, I was to carry him out.
He remarked, “Fult, if you can only get me home, I'll be all right.”
[The concluding part of this story will appear in the 2021 January/February issue.]