Katharine Haskell Perkins, whose son Leigh purchased The Orvis Company in 1965, was arguably one of the finest game shots of the modern era. Writing of “Kay” in 1958, the formidable Nash Buckingham said, “I saw in Mrs. Perkins a quail shot who needn’t ask odds of any quail shot, either man or woman.” High praise indeed, particularly in the context of the time. But praise was not what Kay Perkins was after, she was driven instead by the simple gifts of days afield, and these motivations would remain her guide until her death in 1983.
Kay handed those gifts to her son Leigh, who was her primary hunting and fishing companion from the moment he could toddle along at her side. Informed by that legacy, Leigh would go on to buy a small tackle company in southern Vermont and turn it into a global outdoor brand. He would share the work of The Orvis Company, and a love of bird dogs and burnt powder, with his sons Perk and Dave, who in turn would share the same with their children. A token of that tradition, Kay’s beloved Winchester twenty gauge, has been passed tenderly through the generations. Today, it is the gun that Simon Perkins, President of the Orvis Company carries through the grouse woods and over the prairies. It is the gun that has become as much a part of his story as it was a part of his great-grandmother’s, and in his hands, he too “needn’t ask odds of any game shot.” No doubt that gun will one day be carried by Simon’s children, an instrument of their own adventures in the uplands. Such is the nature of good guns and good traditions: they serve as ties that bind, witness to a legacy of memories still in the making.
These days, few things last a lifetime. Within Orvis, as within the Perkins family, we know that some things are built to last, to improve, and to be shared. Legacy, a love of the outdoors, the gift of a fine tool with which we can make meaning: such things just get better with each season that comes to pass.