Sunday, March 10, 2013

Grandfather's Shotgun

Funny thing when you come upon sixty years old.  You meet your mortality.  Ten years? Twenty? No more that thirty and my life will be a memory of just a few people.  Thing is: I am fine with that.

I think about how I found hunting behind a Hungarian Pointer just five years ago.  Hunting, itself, had never held any special place in my life.  Did not grow up around hunters and in the outskirts of the city of Riverside in Southern California, the only field game were scrawny jack rabbits.

Now I am a grandfather of four great young grand kids and life is good.  A friend, who also owns a Vizsla, and I were talking about the current generation of Vizsla owners.  How the vast majority of them will never hunt or explore field trials or hunt tests.  It just isn't important to them and their relationship with their pet.

So that got me wondering that when I leave this body to start again, I wonder what happens to my little 20-gauge over-and-under shotgun?  Like my Bailey (Chloe is gun shy), my little shotgun has gone with me on a some wonderful fall walks through harvested fields of grain and landscapes a poor Southern California boy in the 1960's would never had expected to experience.

I was a Boy Scout from age about 10 until 14. Once a month we would go on a camp-out.  We learned how to shoot a .22 rifle at camp one year on a rifle range (I liked it).  We learned to start a camp fire, pitch a tent, pack, and once we hiked 50-miles into the mountains.  I was the Senior Patrol Leader, and I was responsible for thirty or so fellow very lower-income family boys.  Survival and being good stewards of the wild places we went to were important. Our adult leaders tried to instill into boys who, for the most part, had little chance of going to college or breaking free of poverty.  Most didn't and some never saw 40.

Learning to be an honorable man was taught, and we learned that there was nothing wrong with hunting for food as long it was done in a ethical and humane way.  The Boy Scouts get a donation from me every year.  A very worthy organization.

But what will be the fate of my little CZ 20-gauge that has and will serve me the rest of this life?  Will one of my grandchildren want it?  Will it be cut up in some government-required turn-in of all firearms? 

I don't know the future; I only know the present.  The Hungarian Pointer is a hunting dog.  The shotgun goes with the Hungarian Pointer like the left shoe goes with the right.

If you are reading this, you most likely have a Vizsla.  You may never have hunted or even wanted to.  Guess I would ask, "Why not?"  Fear of the gun?  Fear of hurting something?  Fear of failure? 

Some will read these words and not understand why I hunt now.  It is not because I can't buy food almost as good as pheasant.  It is not because I love to kill things.  It is not to prove I am a man.

The reason I hunt is to be part of nature.  Not the cute caricature of "Mother Nature" but the nature that does not judge right or wrong but only understands survival.  To hunt and to fish are to be able to survive on your own terms without the NEED of some outside force or entity bringing heat, power, food, and water TO you.  To be able to take care of yourself and your family no matter what, that is where hunting comes in for me.

Grandpa's shotgun will always fire straight and true because that is what a good shotgun does.  Who pulls the trigger after me?  Time will tell.

I heard someone say once on the radio a few years ago: "On your headstone after your name will be a date of birth and a date of death separated by a little dash.  That dash is our lives."

 Live it to the fullest and let your Hungarian Pointers join you in that adventure we call life.


Ashley Qualls said...

My grandma gave my mom one of her most prized possessions for Xmas - a .22 rifle she had used as a young woman. My mom took the rifle to a range and shot it for the first time in probably 50 years. It was a special moment for her. :)

Rod Michaelson said...

Great story Ashley. I can see your mom hitting the bullseye with her grandmother's .22


Anonymous said...

Hi Rod,
I have found your blog, which I really like it. First of all, because I am from Hungary like your vizsla and you write good posts.
I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing your posts and ideas on Glipho? It's a quite new social publishing platform for bloggers like you. :)

Collin Turk said...

Well said Rod! I’ve never owned a Vizsla but I do have my fathers 20 gauge over and under. My daughters will shoot it one day and so will my nephew. It is also “grandpa’s gun”.
I look forward to reading more of your stories.