Larry's Short Stories

Larry Potterfield, Founder and CEO of MidwayUSA

Larry Potterfield - Founder and CEO of MidwayUSA

A new story from Larry every week.
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Dad taught me to hunt and fish, back when I was growing up on the farm in northeast Missouri. Things were much simpler in the '50s and I can't imagine what my life would be like today, had I not enjoyed the benefit of all the instruction of those early years. I shot my first duck at age 9 and my first quail at 13 - the same year I got my first gun for Christmas - a hand-me-down Stevens 16 gauge single shot.

Some of my fondest memories are the hunting and fishing stories Dad and my uncles shared with us kids back then - generally around the wood stove, and other times in the field. Unfortunately, it was pure and simple storytelling, so all I have are the memories.

Now, as a father and grandfather and having hunted and fished all my life, I am taking the time to write down some of my own stories – for the enjoyment of my children, grandchildren, friends and Customers.

Many interesting things have happened to me personally and at MidwayUSA through the years and I've included a few, hoping you will find them of interest. This collection of short stories is beginning to look a little like a history of MidwayUSA and an autobiography of my own life.

These are all real stories that I participated in, nothing is made up; and I write them purely for your enjoyment.

Signed, Larry Potterfield

Larry Potterfield,
Founder and CEO of MidwayUSA

Our first computer, an Apple III, back in 1982.

Larry's Short Stories #75

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of computers in Midway’s early years; when we opened in 1977, our cash register was the most complicated piece of electronic equipment in the gun shop.  It had…

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The ammunition companies have long offered  patches like this,  so shooters can display their  accomplishments.  The medal was for first place in 12 gauge ‘C’ class.

Larry's Short Stories #74

The term ‘one hundred straight’ only has meaning to a clay pigeon shooter.  It may have been coined in the late 19th or early 20th century when clay pigeons and trap shooting were just getting started.  Or p…

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This was Brenda’s first gobbler.  These ruins are modern, not Mayan.

Larry's Short Stories #73

Brenda has a great passion for turkey hunting – far greater than mine -- and it was she that came up with the idea of hunting the Ocellated Turkey, that lives mostly down in the area of the Yucatan Peninsula of old Me…

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For a perspective, Brenda is about 70” tall.  This is a pretty nice set of moose antlers.

Larry's Short Stories #72

“He’s got big palms or paddles -- whichever you call them --, but he’s not very wide.”  “There are lots of points on top, but they aren’t very long”.  “Look at his front tines, it’s a shame he doesn’t have g…

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This picture provides a good perspective; remember, I am 40 yards from the trunk of the vine.

Larry's Short Stories #71

Everyone knows the fairy tale about Jack and the Beanstalk; but, let me tell you that I have been there and actually seen and touched the beanstalk -- and no longer believe it to be a fairy tale.  Jack didn’t act…

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My first elk – and an unforgettable experience!  The rifle is a Remington 700 in 7mm Rem. Mag.

Larry's Short Stories #69

It was the outfitter's first hunt; he had been a guide the prior year – and he had never hunted this ranch before.  Also, he had booked far too many hunters and had to set up a second camp on another ranch - abou…

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It all got started about 1935 when Smith & Wesson and Winchester introduced the 357 Magnum cartridge and the large-frame revolver to fire it in.

Larry's Short Stories #67

Important changes often come from small, unknown companies, rather than large and long established ones; such was certainly the case with the availability of bulk reloading components.  It all started with unprim…

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Brenda with her first elk. She used a Remington 700 in 30-06.

Larry's Short Stories #66

A friend from ATK/Blount said to me “Larry, if you ever want to take Brenda on a nice elk hunt, I can recommend a great place.  They drive the logging roads in old Suburbans and have a wonderful lodge – and a gou…

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The Possibles Bag and Powder Horn carry everything needed for shooting and cleaning.

Larry's Short Stories #65

Luck is often described as being in the right place at the right time, with the ‘special knowledge’ and ‘right tools’ to take advantage of a situation -- and an understanding of and willingness to take risk; certainly…

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The horns are about 45” in width, though the picture makes him look bigger.  The gun is a Weatherby 460.

Larry's Short Stories #63

The Northern Territories of Australia, mostly between Darwin and Alice Springs, is vast and remote – and the enormous ranches there are called “stations”. This area would be on some folk’s ‘bucket list’, because of th…

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The bushbuck gets his name because he hangs around the bush areas, rather than the open plain.  Russell is pleased with his trophy.

Larry's Short Stories #62

It was a typical ‘first safari’, nine-days of plains game hunting with a standard package of trophy animals, and options for many others.  But for me it certainly wasn’t typical, as I never fired a shot – however…

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We think of zebra as just black and white stripes; but study the stripes on the three zebras and you will see that each is different.  First generation Nearly-Perfect Safari Rifle in 375 H&H.

Larry's Short Stories #59

White with black stripes or black with white stripes; that idea never crossed my mind when I lined up on his left shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The herd was in a small, burned area, with the male off to the right…

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I swapped the 375 H&H for my Winchester 1895 in the 405, as we walked up on the dead leopard.

Larry's Short Stories #56

There was a time, many years ago, when some people thought leopard were nearly extinct; but this was before they came to understand that it was only daylight sightings that were rare – you see, the leopard hunts at ni…

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Russell donned a red beret to strike this ‘French professional hunter pose’.

Larry's Short Stories #50

One of the trophies on Russell’s wish list was Lion, so we were always looking for lion tracks in the dirt roads as we drove around.  On occasion a lion will be spotted from the safari car, but normally you find…

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This is the entire pool of water and not much to hide in; but if he were only wounded, it would have been a nightmare to have gotten him out.

Larry's Short Stories #48

“Do you want to shoot a croc?”  With that simple, unexpected, whispered question from my professional hunter, this story begins; you see, we were looking for a hippo to shoot for lion bait – and the thought of bu…

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The Nambu Type 14 was the principle sidearm of Japanese troops in WWII.  This is an early small guard version, made in November, 1932.

Larry's Short Stories #45

George Spence was a locksmith at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas, when I arrived there – right out of basic training -- in November of 1971.  A few months later there was a Q&A, in one of the gun magazines, on wher…

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This is a large hippo, but they get even bigger.

Larry's Short Stories #41

“Do you want to shoot a hippo?”  The safari car had stopped, without apparent reason, and this question was put to me by the PH.  “Where?”  “There, sleeping in the water.”  “What would we do with h…

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A cape buffalo is one of the great trophies of Africa and you will never forget the first one.

Larry's Short Stories #29

Your first cape buffalo will dance around in your mind for the rest of your life, not necessarily because of the size of the trophy, but rather because of the circumstances of the hunt - no matter how routine.  W…

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Russell and his PH congratulate each other over the difficult but successful stalk.

Larry's Short Stories #27

As our plane circled to get downwind of the runway, we could see small herds of buffalo on the hills and in the valleys below.  This was a seven day hunt in rough country and son Russell, amazed at seeing all the…

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What a great confidence builder for an 11 year old girl to shoot such a nice deer.  Of course her brother was jealous!

Larry's Short Stories #24

Hunting with an eleven year old daughter is an interesting experience.  By that age she could sit quietly and pay attention for reasonable periods of time, so it was my job to present her with a deer that would s…

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A hunt is even more memorable when Brenda and I both shoot trophies – at the same time.  Our guns are Rifles, Inc. Mountain Rifles in 300 Win Mag.  Yes, Brenda’s  goat is bigger than mine!

Larry's Short Stories #22

It was Brenda, who wanted to shoot a goat; so when we landed in spike camp the guide immediately said “Brenda, I have found your goat!”  The spotting scope was set up, and about two miles up the valley on the rig…

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This is a giant specimen, approximately 48 feet in circumference and 16 feet in diameter ­— but they get even bigger.

Larry's Short Stories #19

It had been a long and successful safari; we had collected most of the desired trophies and were driving around on the dirt roads enjoying the last few days in the bush without a pressing agenda to collect more.…

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Who, me?  Certainly no one thinks I lit this fire!

Larry's Short Stories #18

If you like to set fires and burn things up, you’re called a pyromaniac – except perhaps in Africa.  There, if you burn your thumb flicking matches off the striker strip of a match box and set fire to thousands o…

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One of our trackers holds a small part of the prize; a wax honeycomb full of warm, sweet honey.

Larry's Short Stories #16

We discovered the bee hive quite by accident, while putting the stalk on a zebra in the bed of a dry sand river.  This dead tree was serving as our cover when we noticed the bees buzzing over our heads – coming a…

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His horns are quite broken up, but he offered a shot I couldn’t refuse.

Larry's Short Stories #12

Some people say that elk hunting is like spring turkey hunting in Missouri – make a sound like a female; the male responds, comes to the call and you shoot him – simple as that.  From personal experience I can co…

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Brenda with her large Alaska Brown Bear, that will square 9’ 6”.

Larry's Short Stories #8

If you don’t count the travel time from Missouri to Anchorage, then out to Port Moller on the Alaska peninsula, then the one day weather delay, then the flight to spike camp – well, if you don’t count all of that time…

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Larry and Brenda high in sheep country.

Larry's Short Stories #3

"Can we get closer?" Those were my words to the guide, as we looked down the mountain at the seven rams – nearly 600 yards away. We had been working these rams for four days, but bad luck…

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