Buck Jones and his Daisy No. 25 Pump – Part One
Today, I’d like to describe my elation and frustration with the Daisy No. 25 Pump, and explain the derivation of my nick-name….Buck Jones.
Last time we took a look at my introduction to airguns during the period in which our country was recovering from the Second World War.
Pride in our nation was deep seated and appreciation for our second Amendment rights was near universal. Kids in Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana took their air rifles, small bore rimfires and shotguns to school so that they could hunt local game animals when the bell range.
It was a fantastic time to be a youngster growing up in America’s mid-western states. We talked briefly about how my experiences mirrored those of Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”.
My initial exposure to guns was the cap pistol. I must have imagined that I was the Lone Ranger, because Mom would occasionally tell stories of little Ronnie, clad in his cowboy chaps, engaging a next door neighbor kid wearing a feather head dress and carrying a rubber hatchet. I had a matched pair of Colt cap guns strapped around my waist during our imaginary western skirmishes.
As you might imagine, political correctness was not part of our local lexicon. That was first grade in South Bend, Indiana. But by 1945, World War II was ending and we had moved to Waterford (near Goshen). A skinny kid with lawn mowing money burning a hole in his jeans was yearning to explore the great outdoors.
I had been allowing Mom to keep my weekly allowance, and she dutifully put it towards a $25.00 war bond. But Ronnie couldn’t wait that long to cash in the bond. So as I remember, a portion of that money went towards the purchase of my first and best BB gun…the Daisy Red Ryder.
That was one awesome gun. It pumped out endless rounds of BBs with nary a hiccough, and picked sparrows off of the garden fence with uncanny precision.
It’s not clear to me now how Mom and Dad managed to bridge the gap between Cowboy and Indian skirmishes with a cap pistol, and safe/responsible behavior with my Daisy. But suffice it to say, the maturation occurred quickly. I never went to the proverbial Wood Shed, but the threat was always there, should Ronnie demonstrate inappropriate behavior with the air gun.
How Little Ronnie became “Buck Jones”
Looking back on my formative years in Waterford, Indiana near Goshen, I have often wondered why my Amish and Mennonite classmates lovingly called me “Buck Jones”.
At the time, I self consciously assumed that my nickname was inspired by my rather prominent two front teeth. And in fact it wasn’t until recently, while reviewing Daisy history, that I realized they were either referring to the Indiana native and B rated Cowboy actor of the early 40’s, or the Daisy Buck Jones BB gun model named after that popular western star.
I have to confess it was quite a shock to learn, seven decades later, that classmate Mervin Chupp may NOT have been making fun of my looks.
I’ll never know whether he was devilishly using a double entendre, or quite possibly was paying a high complement to his rural Indiana classmate. But the name stuck with me through my years in Indiana. I was “Buck Jones” to my classmates.
At the same time my classmates had nick-named me Buck Jones, Daisy was selling a special edition BB gun named after the cowboy actor. I was totally unaware that a Daisy pump was being marketed with my new nick-name – but maybe my classmates were!
Anyway, the Transition from the Red Ryder to the Daisy No. 25 Pump was Painful !
As time passed, little Ronnie “Buck” Jones wanted to move up to a more powerful rifle. The natural choice was the Daisy No. 25 Pump.
What I do remember is that the standard Daisy No. 25 Pump was said to be much more powerful than the Red Ryder lever guns.
I just had to have one….knowing it would allow me to reach out and touch starlings and blackbirds that were beyond the range of my Red Ryder.
There are few memories from those bygone days that are seared as deeply into my subconscious as the disappointment I experienced with that pump.
My initial glee at owning that powerful pump gun, a spittin’ image of the popular Winchester Model 12 shotgun, was quickly overshadowed by the gun’s extremely poor accuracy. To this day, I don’t know whether the inaccuracy was inherent in the gun or in the shooter.
But with the Red Ryder, I could pick sparrows off of cat tails in the swamp with extraordinary precision. But with the Daisy No. 25 Pump, I rarely…if ever…connected. I only shot it for a short time, then convinced Dad and Mom I needed to inherit my grandfather’s 1911 Ithaca Flues 20 gauge shotgun. That’s me, below, with my Damascus, 20 gauge Flues.
That didn’t transpire immediately, but like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”, I continued to nag relentlessly until they succumbed to my badgering. Shotguns would dominate the next 60+ years of my leisure life. But Daisy BB guns still played a minor role as the years rolled on.
Re-emergence of Daisy
The year was 1968 and eldest daughter Peggy was ready to learn about guns. We started her with the Daisy Buck model, and she quickly learned the fundamentals of rifle shooting.
But like her father, Peggy’s interests soon turned to her great-grandfather’s Flues shotgun, and the little Buck rifle was retired to the back of a clothes closet for another two decades. It didn’t re-surface until I was searching for a way to teach the fundamentals of instinctive wing shooting.
I was now an NRA and NSCA certified shotgun instructor, and was teaching shotgun shooting to youngsters. We used upholstery tacks to form a shotgun style comb on the stock of that little Daisy Buck, and easily removed the front and rear sights.
The gun was perfectly suited to teaching instinctive shooting, with both eyes wide open and gaze transfixed on the target. Stationary targets came first. But soon, simple aerial targets made the game realistic. And if the shooter had any tendency to exhibit eye dominance problems, they were revealed in short order.
The BB gun era was now complete until I hit my 80th Birthday (2/1/2016).
It must have been a Pyramyd Air ad that inspired me to ask Lyda, my wife of 57 years, for a Daisy No. 25 Pump.
I decided it was time to give the old gun a second chance. Lyda gave me a 70th Anniversary Red Ryder for Christmas in 2010, and I thought it would be fun to restore my childhood collection with the Model 25.
On Feb. 1st, I got my chance to see if the new pump was any better than the gun I remembered from the late 40s.
The first detail of the gun which caught my attention as I pulled it from the carton was the skillfully executed, embossed scene on the side of the gun. I have forgotten how my original Daisy No. 25 Pump was engraved, but the waterfowl engraving on this Model 25….a hunter preparing to shoot two ducks springing from surrounding marsh grass….clearly was inspired by a wingshooter.
Below: My Daisy No. 25 Pump looks right at home alongside Grandfather’s 1930’s era Olt Duck calls and World War II era Ariduk Paper Mache decoys.
Why on earth would Daisy adorn their pump BB rifle with a shotgun hunter in a waterfowl hunting scene ?
Next month we’ll explore that apparent incongruity, examine the gun’s quality in more detail: and most importantly, see if accuracy of the gun or the shooter has improved since the “Buck Jones” years circa 1950.