Stalking the Wily DEERE

Casterans Flexible Truck Tractor

Courtesy of John Davidson, Box 4, Bristol, Wisconsin 53104

John Davidson

Content Tools

R.R.3 Waverly, KS 66871

My husband, Glenn, is a true sportsman. He is a tractor hunter. At last count, our fence row was home to fifteen old tractors of various makes, models, and states of repair. (I say at last count because the number may have gone up since I last checked.) By far the most prevalent specie is the John Deere, the more mature, the better. Stalking the Wily Deere is a real adventure for my husband. Even though it is camouflaged by protective coloration of green and yellow, the seasoned Deere-stalker can spot one a mile away. Its native hatitat is farm country, and is most often seen at farm sales, in junkyards and farmyards, or along the fence row at the back of somebody's place. It takes much skill and cunning to outbid the next guy at the sale or to talk the owner into selling. But the prize is worth winning. When my husband gets his hands on a vintage model, his face lights up with the same joy and pride he felt when our first son was born.

Repair parts for the old creatures are even more elusive than the beasts themselves. Since most parts departments merely look blank, they are generally taken from tractors of the same kind in even worse shape, but sometimes the hunter must range farther a field. Although I do not know a head gasket from a hole in the ground, I have dispatched letters to as far away as South Dakota in search of parts for these creatures. Then it's time for the 3 R's -- repairing, replacing, and renovating the old machines. The final step is the test run, which consists of charging around and around the chicken house eight or ten times.

Casterans Flexible Truck Tractor designed and built by J.F. Johnson & Company, 2317 N. 16th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Williams & Deal of Broad & Erie Ave., Philadelphia, Pa.

John says he does not know where he got the picture, nor does he know anything about it, but it is an original and probably taken in Philadelphia.

Deere-hunting used to be a more or less solitary pursuit for my husband. But now he has found a fellow sportsman who is as crazy about old tractors as he is, so together they scour the territory for even older and more exotic varieties. It was in this search that they ran across a real trophy model. The friend wanted to find a John Deere GP similar to one his older brother used to own, so my big-hearted husband said, 'I know where there is one.' The two of them viewed the tractor and found the owner, who was willing to sell to the friend for a pittance. All went well until they got the tractor home and took a close look at the serial number. It was not a GP, but a C, a limited production model that not even all Deere buffs are aware of a real collector's item, according to the factory. My husband hasn't recovered yet. That was the big one that got away!

There are quite a few things a man can take up for a hobby. He can smoke, play the horses, or chase women. So, as long as my husband is only out stalking the Wily Deere, I consider myself fortunate.