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.
Like or Follow us to be the first to know!

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

These were both very heavy-bodied deer and Russell was kind enough to gut both of them.

Larry's Short Stories #101

Once in a while it makes sense to mount some type of a drive when hunting whitetail deer in Missouri, especially if they aren’t moving much and you have all the right conditions – safety being the most important! …

Download Full Story

Dad and son; antlers still in velvet.

Larry's Short Stories #99

As moose hunts go, this one started routinely – get packed and sighted in, fly up to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories, take a bush plane to a small lake in the middle of the Canadian Rockies; then hunt for a few da…

Download Full Story

For many years I’ve enjoyed deer hunting on the Nail Ranch, near Abilene, Texas; usually, I take my favorite 30-30.

Larry's Short Stories #91

It just seems right for a man to have a 30-30 lever action rifle and to find the time to use it, for its intended purpose.  For me, that’s mostly whitetail deer and coyotes, with an occasional rattlesnake and som…

Download Full Story

He was just outside the thick brush.  A wounded bear, in this circumstance, could lead to disaster.

Larry's Short Stories #90

It all started at the beginning of the last leg of the stalk, when my guide asked how far I was comfortable shooting. My response was simply that 300 yards was about it; he said "Good, some guys claim they can shoot a…

Download Full Story

A Fiocchi Trainer round in the right barrel and Winchester AA  Super-Handicap Trap load in the left, is a deadly combination on pheasant.

Larry's Short Stories #89

If the word ‘backup’ means lesser value or importance, then it isn’t proper to call this gun a ‘backup’, because it’s very special to me.  You see, a gentleman would always take two shotguns on a pheasant hunt, j…

Download Full Story

Mom (Sara) with nine year old daughter Eliza and her first buck.

Larry's Short Stories #88

We named it ‘Grand Central Station’ back in 1985 -- ‘Grand Central’ for short -- when we first hunted there.  In the fall the deer often move through this area all day long, as there are large tracts of woods on…

Download Full Story

My dad Gilbert, in 1988, with his three remaining beehives.  This is a spring picture and dad has added a honey production super to the far hive body.

Larry's Short Stories #87

Sometimes it’s the little things that stick in your mind; Dad was a beekeeper.  It wasn’t a major part of his life, just a hobby really.  The most colonies I ever remember him having was 25.  But the be…

Download Full Story

Three generations of the Potterfield family gather around the campfire at mid-day, during opening weekend.

Larry's Short Stories #86

Nothing quite excites or satisfies like the anticipation of opening morning of deer season; at best, the night before is restless.  Sure the anticipation dulls a little with age, as dreams of the 30 point buck ar…

Download Full Story

This is about as small as they get.  Knowledgeable folks I know call this an actual arrowhead ‘bird point’; but some say it may have been attached to ceremonial clothing.

Larry's Short Stories #82

Dad collected arrowheads and he had a cigar box full of his best ones.  I don’t recall that he actually took the time to hunt for them, but likely walked upon them while hunting, fishing or running his trap line…

Download Full Story

My friend, and co-worker, Matt Fleming is on the right.  This is the 'once in a lifetime' moose he gave to me -- and yes, he is still smiling.  Notice the drop tine on the left antler.  There is also one on the right.

Larry's Short Stories #81

Matt and I were on a ten day moose hunt and asked the guides to keep us together the first few days; they were fine with this and just wanted to know who would shoot first.  As Matt is a few years younger and had…

Download Full Story

First pass on the master lines is an early step in the checkering process.

Larry's Short Stories #80

Gunsmithing, at its most basic level, is simply the thoughtful use of hands, eyes and brain to disassemble and reassemble a firearm, and to shape and finish wood and metal parts – but how does one learn to do those th…

Download Full Story

We used four and five weight rods – Russell’s is bamboo.

Larry's Short Stories #77

In the wild and remote areas of western Canada, they use the term ‘fly-out’ fishing; as the only way to get you to most of the best streams and lakes is to ‘fly-out’ from base camp – in a small plane, with floats atta…

Download Full Story

Winter 1947 picture of Dad with my older brother Marion, and a pretty good bunch of rabbits.  That’s dad’s Remington Model 12 hanging above them.

Larry's Short Stories #76

Gilbert was his given name, but everyone called him Bert; and he was a pretty good hunter and trapper.   For dad, a gun was simply a tool he needed to hunt for food or fur and to run his trap line.  In…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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.…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story

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…

Download Full Story