If a musical titled “Granny Get Your Gun” ever makes it on Broadway, Marie Greer should get the starring role.
For years, the crack-shot Beckley woman bagged her share of game in the two Virginias.
“If a gobbler pokes his head around a tree, I’ll blast him,” said the sure-shot granny. “I’ve missed a few, but I generally hit what I’m aiming at.”
Sitting in a high-back rocker in her family room, surrounded by dozens of trophies—whitetails, turkeys, squirrels and more—Marie flips the pages of an outdoor magazine featuring a strutting gobbler on the cover.
In a few weeks, she will don her camouflage coveralls and hunting boots and take to the woods, keeping her eyes peeled for a prize gobbler.
The vigilant woman wields her 12-gauge automatic shotgun with the prowess of a professional hunter. She stalks her game in Raleigh, Pocahontas, and Greenbrier counties.
Marie sends buckshot flying at the dark-plumed gobblers.
She joined more than 100,000 hunters when West Virginia’s four-week spring gobbler season got underway in April.
Mention the word turkey to Marie and her lips draw tightly together and her blue-green eyes brighten.
“Shucks,” she says, “I’d rather hunt than eat.”
Marie, 84, hunted for most of her life. She was born in July 1912. Her grandparents resided on a farm on Tank Branch Road near Beaver.
“My grandfather Welt Meadows took me ‘coon hunting when I was just a kid,” Marie recalled proudly. “He’d let me carry the lantern. I could barely keep it from dragging the ground.”
She added, “Granddad had some fine hunting hounds, and the raccoons were plentiful in those days.”
Marie liked to fish, too. She recalled raking earthworms from the dirt floor of her family’s woodshed and setting out with her grandfather for creeks in the county.
“We’d catch horny-heads,” the angler says with a laugh. “My grandmother Docia Meadows would fry them for us. They were delicious with cornbread.”
For 63 years of her married life, Marie hunted and fished with her husband, the late Wilson Greer of Beckley.
“We were inseparable,” she said, her voice getting softer. “We’d take a week of vacation and go to Nags Head N.C., and we’d go out into the Gulf Stream and catch amberjack, king mackerel and flounder. I caught a 90-pound tuna in the 1950.”
Marie and Wilson hunted deer, turkey, and squirrels at their hunting camp near Watoga State Park.
Her family room is laden with the menagerie of wildlife trophies of those memorable hunting and fishing trips with her husband. There are whitetails and fox squirrels, king mackerel and flying fish.
“I hooked a sword fish in Nags Head,” Marie recalled. “It broke the water, came up on its tail.
“I could just see it mounted over the mantel, but it broke my line. I was so tickled that I had it hooked that I nearly leaped out of the boat. I almost cried when he got away.”
Marie is excited about the coming spring gobbler season. She practices with a box call, imitating a hen’s mating music.
Her strategy was simple. She treaded gingerly, toting her 12-gauge automatic. “I go where they travel and wait for them to come to me,” she explained. “They have an eagle eye. If they see any movement, they’re gone.”
Marie does not mind the kick of the gun, either.
“When you’re shooting at game, you don’t pay any attention to the recoil,” she added. “But I’ve had my shoulder bruised more than once.”
Marie was a crack shot with her .22-caliber rifle, too.
At a carnival in Sprague during the 1940s, a midway barker invited her to try her luck at the shooting gallery.
“I went down and put three shots in the bull’s eye and got a big teddy bear,” she recalled of the incident. “They called me Annie Oakley after that.”