Can't remember if I posted about this before, but MikeB was interested in my experience so I'm posting it here as well.
Keep in mind that what I was doing was technically illegal, even though I didn't realize it at the time.
My favorite shooting spot/stomping grounds was an abandoned WW2 army base just a few miles from where I grew up. Only the building foundations remained but there were miles and miles of paved roads on this old base, which had since been turned into a wildlife preserve. You can google "Camp Adair Oregon" if you're interested in the history of the site.
So I decided to go plinking one afternoon by myself; something I had done dozens and dozens of times before.
Just me, my .22 rifle and a pair of binoculars.
My Father taught me to never shoot anything that I didn't intend to eat, with the exception of non-native species.
The binocs were for scoping out starlings, a non-native bird.
So I'm tooling around and stumble across about 15 cops. I saw them but they didn't see me. As I was hoofing through the brush, I decided to climb a tree to get a better view.
So here I am about 20 feet up in a tree scoping these cops out while holding a rifle.
There were other people there, another 15 or so, as well, just looked like normal civilians to me.
The cops were taking turns chasing down the civilians; their squad cars verses some old beat up muscle cars.
I couldn't really understand what I was seeing.
Cop would chase down suspect and pull him over. Then the cop would handcuff and frisk the "bad guy" and search his car. Then the cop would take the handcuffs off the dude and hand him a cup of coffee and they would both start laughing and high-fiving each other.
Truly bizzare. I watched for a long time.
Finally one of the cops spotted me up in the tree and made a hand gesture for me to approach them, which I promptly did.
Fully loaded rifle still slung over my shoulder, I walked to within 10 feet of the cop who spotted me.
He asked me what I was doing.
I responded that I was trying to figure out what you all were doing.
He chuckled a bit and explained.
This was a training exercise for new recruits enrolled in the police academy. Every one there was a cop. The ones in uniform were green recruits, while the ones dressed as civilians were the veterans conducting the training.
I then chuckled a bit as it all made perfect sense now.
They gave me a donut and advised me that this probably wasn't the safest place to be right now since they were moving on to more advanced exercises involving the cars.
The said that I should go home for my own safety.
So I thanked them for the donut and went home.
Never never never did they ask me for my rifle. Never did they ask me to put it on the ground. Never did they ask my age(I was obviously not 21).
Their main concern was for my safety. They didn't view me as a threat.
With the vision of hindsight on this incident, I recall a certain pleasure in the eyes of the vets.
They were training rookies how to be always alert for the unexpected while using common sense and I provided the exclamation point for the day.
Here I was, at the age of 13, carrying a firearm in a wildlife preserve, surrounded by 30 cops...
and eating one of their donuts.
They did refuse to give me any coffee without my parents' permission.
What is America coming to?