LITTLE ABOUT THE MARKSMANSHIP OF U.S. HOLT
It seems that Ulus Holt was acclaimed the best marksman with a .22 cal.
Rifle that ever existed in southern Weakley County. It all began
when he was 12 years old, picking cotton and saving for a hunting
gun. His very first gun was a single-shot .28 gauge, muzzle
loader. He bought most of his powder and shot from Pope's Store
and Overton's Store. Eventually he swapped the old muzzle loading
shotgun for a Stephens .22 cal. Rifle and began to hunt every day with
it. He hunted every season, even as he fished, he hunted.
Holt began to burn out a new .22 rifle every year because he had shot
it so much with the black powder ammunition used back then. It
was always easy for him to sell his old rifle, since most people
thought good marksmanship was not only in the individual, but in the
rifle itself. The thought was, "if it will kill game for Holt, it
will kill game for me." He tried them all, Stephens, Mossberg,
Marlin, Winchester, Remington - You name it, Holt had burned one
out. He killed birds on the wing, bursted coins and pocket knives
thrown in the air with a .22 Rifle. He lined sights on
almost every .22 rifle in and around the area of Greenfield.
Ulus was one of the best quail hunters in the entire community.
His speed and proficiency with a 12 gauge shotgun was unexcelled.
Holt, was often asked if he ever quail hunted with his .22. This
was the story he told: "It was a drizzly afternoon and I had been
hunting when my dog pointed a covey of birds on a little rise. I
never would shoot a .22 on the level, unless I knew the terrain in that
direction. The dog was eager and so was I, so I decided to take a
chance that the birds would fly more to the wooded area, therefore the
bullets would be imbedded in trees and not harm
anyone. Sure enough, the birds flew as expected and I shot three
times and saw three birds fall..... Then I heard a fellow yell out in
the same direction that I had been shooting, my heart stopped beating
for a moment. It was Talma and Lyndell Mitchell cutting
firewood. I rushed to them and saw that they were not shot, but
only shaken from the incident. Never again did I shoot quail with
my .22 rifle."
During the summer months he would sit outside in the shade and shoot
blue jays flying across the field to teach his bird dogs to retrieve
them. Holt always had a good dog and sometimes trained bird dogs
for other people.Once he had a black and tan hound that he had trained
from a pup. He named him "Buck". Buck seemed to know what
to hunt since he squirrel, rabbit, bird hunted with him during the day
then 'possum and 'coon hunted him at night. Once Dr. L.E. Taylor
and his son Bill came to go hunting with dad and Taylor Dinwiddie on
opening day. Dinwiddie and "Ole Bob", an extra large liver
spotted pointer had already walked across the fields to our house in
the Holt's community. Dr. Taylor and Bill arrived, unloaded their
fine dogs and paid their respects to Mom and myself. Dad, asked
if it would be alright for Buck to tag along since he didn't have a
breaded bird dog. They were hesitant at first, but Holt finally
convinced them that Buck would not be a nuisance. As they left
the house, Buck was given the command to heel and that he did.
The weather was delightful as the excitement began in a little pea
patch not far from where Florence and Lacey Galey lived. The dogs
pointed there, as the Taylors and Dinwiddie aligned themselves for the
covey shoot. Holt and Buck stood back well out of the way as the
birds soared into the air and shots were fired. After the dead
birds were retrieved they made their way to the grass field to hunt
"singles". Holt had not fired a shot at this point and the
Taylors were such good friends of Holt, may have thought they had
offended him by hurting his feelings, because of the hound dog.
After working the "singles" in the grass field they moved down
the bank of Cane Creek. As they hunted the creek bank with no
success and moved on off, Holt and Buck followed along behind.
Buck was pointing the "singles" that the bird dogs had missed and Holt
was killing them. The Taylors and Dinwiddie stood on the hillside
and watched Buck retrieve the dead and point more singles. Dad
stopped to tie his boot laces before returning to his friends and D.
Taylor said "I've never seen a Hound Bird Dog before". I have on
file a letter written to dad by Dr. L.E. Taylor after the hunt where
Dr. Taylor sent Dad, a new pair of shoe laces and
complimented him on his fine Hound Bird Dog.
I have heard my Dad say the very best shot he ever made happened at
Crawley's Store one Saturday afternoon. Jack Cantrell came up to
Holt and asked if he had his rifle with him. Holt went to his
car, a 1932 Chevrolet coupe, and returned with his Remington model 12
pump rifle that he was so proficient with. Cantrell said, "I hear
you can hit my knife flying through the air with your rifle."
Holt said, "I have been lucky enough at times to do such things.
He handed his new knife, just bought at E.N.J. Brock Hardware a few
hours earlier that day and said "do it." and pitched the
knife in the air and shot, doing no harm to the knife. Cantrell
laughed and said, "I knew it wasn't true, nobody is that good a
shot." As Holt stood with the rifle cradled in his arms
facing Cantrell, he said, "You wouldn't want to throw it (the knife) in
the air and take the chance on me hitting it, would you?" At that
Cantrell with all his might, threw the knife over Holt's left shoulder
and into the big oak tree that stood in front of Crawley's Store.
Holt spun around and fired, not even seeing the knife in the tree
leaves, but at the crack of the gun he heard the knife disintegrate in
the branches of that old oak tree. Cantrell, swore profusely and said I
just paid over $2.00 for that knife.
Another interesting story happened at Galey's Store, at Flytown, one
Saturday afternoon, when the Remington Ammunition man arrived in an old
Ford model A. It was a nice sunny day as most of the men were
sitting out on the front porch and in the shed on the south side of the
store building. The little short, red headed, pot bellied man
removed himself from the car, put on his shooting jacket, reaching in
the back floorboard of the model A filling his pocket with huge pecans
from a large tote bag, then pulled out a new Remington automatic .22
cal. Rifle. He pitched this huge pecan in the air and as it
stopped rising to start falling, it came to a perfect stop and he
smashed it to smitherines with his trusty .22. He performed this
act a half-dozen times without missing a single pecan. Several of us
kids were gathered around mostly to see if there was something
free. He said, "how's that for shooting?" And Ellis Smith
said, "that ain't nothing, Mr. Ulus Holt can beat that." But the
Remington man had a reply, he said, "You know everywhere I shoot there
is always someone that can beat me, but they never produce this
marksman." Then someone said, "Well, he's sitting up there
on the porch." Edgar Galey, a life-long friend of Holt saw an
opportunity for a practical joke. Galey was the best at pulling
practical jokes on people. He walked up to the Remington man and
introduced himself as the store owner and asked if there was someway he
could help. Well, the Remington man said, these here kids say that
there is a man up on the porch that can out shoot me. Galey
replied, "don't pay and 'tention to what they say, Holt couldn't shoot
through the hall of a barn", and then had to laugh. Galey said, "let me
give you a little advice, if you can get Holt to shoot with you, and I
doubt if you can 'cause he likes to blow off about what he can
do....sometimes he's pretty good, but easily rattled." And with
those words Galey returned to the store as the Remington man walked up
to the porch and challenged Holt to a shooting match. Holt sent
me to the car to get the old Remington, protected by a homemade canvas
pouch. He removed the rifle from the pouch and I returned the
pouch to the car as directed.
The Remington man and Holt exchanged introductions and he complimented
my dad on having a good brand of rifle. The Remington man stood
out front of his Model A and began to pitch the huge pecans in the air,
bursting them one after the other with his company's new
semi-automatic. This went on for some time, then the Remington
man stood there almost out of breath and said "it's your turn!"
Clyde Smith was now standing in front of Dad with a pouch of glass
marbles in a bright yellow bag as he slit the corner off with his sharp
pocket knife and poured the marbles in Dad's hand. There was 12
of them for a dime, and since Dad didn't have any pecans, he used these
for his targets. The Remington man stood patiently and
inquisitive as Dad loaded the magazine of the old Remington pump with
16 cheap short cartridges, then took ten of the marbles in his left
hand and threw them all in the air with one giant motion and bursted
nine in the air as fast as he could work the pump gun. He caught
the tenth marble in his left hand and thumped it back in the air and
holding the rifle with one hand like shooting a pistol he bursted that
marble. The Remington man, amazed and embarrassed, said,"My
God.....Mr. Holt, I have never seen anything like it."
I only saw my dad, repeat that performance once since then, with rocks
rather than marbles. He had picked up certain rocks all day while
walking down a gravel road and late that afternoon when we were on the
Shades Bridge levy, he bombarded those rocks without missing any.
Dad, told me the trick of that performance was to pick the marble that
would fall in his hand and burst all the others. However, when I
was a kid I had seen him practice that performance for time on end.