Ted Lundrigan was beaming. And why not?
This summer, Lundrigan earned high gun honors - club championships - in trap shooting at the Pine River Fish and Game Club and the Lakeshore Conservation Club in Nisswa. He is thought to be the first to win the championship at both clubs in the same year.
But the Pine River title was sealed in early August, and the Lakeshore crown over Labor Day. No, this was about more than still basking in the moment. Or moments. It was about hitting stride at age 60. With an equally "experienced" sidekick.
On Thursday at Lakeshore, Lundrigan happily talked about his career season, his gun at his side. But this was no normal gun. And although outdated in trap-shooting circles, sitting on the table in front of him, it seemed to mesmerize Lundrigan, to energize him.
Ted Lundrigan looked down the barrel of his trusty Remington 31-TC shotgun Thursday at Lakeshore Conservation Club in Nisswa. Brainerd Dispatch/ Brian S. Peterson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
His Remington 31-TC (Trap Competition) shotgun was made in 1947, the same year Lundrigan was born. That made this summer's accomplishments all the more special.
"I could use a higher-tech gun, but I don't," said Lundrigan, a longtime Pine River lawyer and writer of three books on grouse hunting. "Some people drive classic cars. That's what makes it fun. I took a classic car and won with it.
"They stopped manufacturing in 1950. It was one of the last made. I looked for one for years. But they're so well made they couldn't manufacture them. They required a lot of machining. It was like finding the Holy Grail. It's a piece of nostalgia for trap shooters. But it's not a highly specialized piece of trap shooting machinery."
Since buying the gun in 1995 at the Backus Corner Store, Lundrigan had mixed results. Until this season.
"I changed my style about three years ago and that essentially made the difference," said Lundrigan, who said he's been shooting trap for about 30 years. "Now I take the bird very quickly out of the trap house. That's helped me focus. Taking it quickly you either blow it into smoke or miss entirely."
During the 12-week competition, Lundrigan missed only three targets all season at Pine River, hitting 297 of 300. He was nearly as impressive in winning at Lakeshore, busting 294 of 300.
"It all came together. I don't know why," he said. "About mid-season I recall thinking I could break all 25 (targets) every time. That kind of positive attitude changed everything. And I was fortunate. The weather cooperated and my brain cooperated."
Although his team won the skeet title, he wasn't nearly as successful individually in skeet at Lakeshore (Pine River doesn't offer skeet), but said that can be expected.
"They're two very different things," Lundrigan said of trap and skeet shooting. "If you focus on trap you pay in skeet because trap shooting is more of a target game and skeet is more instinctive. It (skeet) is for preparing for grouse hunting."
Classic scrolling adorns Ted Lundrigan's Remington 31-TC shotgun. Brainerd Dispatch/ Brian S. Peterson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
That's where Lundrigan is setting his sights these days. The grouse season opened Saturday.
"It (grouse hunting) is the island toward which I swim," he said. "I won't shoot another (clay target) until next year. I hunt all game. But if I had to choose, I'd choose grouse hunting. But, fortunately, I don't have to choose."
In the field, he'll replace his Remington 31-TC with a much-lighter 20-gauge shotgun.
"I'll hunt with a little side-by-side 20-gauge," he said. "But I usually do a lot more walking than shooting. I have a lot of thinking time out in the woods. And I like the challenge of hunting grouse in their environment."
BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5864.
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