09 March 2012

Gone Hunting

Welcome back. Be forewarned: this blog post is sad. I don’t mean sad, sad; it just isn’t like any of my previous posts. (Forget about my hitting a cat while driving back from the unseen phosphorescent bay in Puerto Rico. That was pretty sad.)

So if you’re not ready for melancholy, I suggest you read an earlier blog post. Or you could wait ‘til next week’s post. That might be light and fluffy, unless readers tell me they prefer melancholy, which would be sad.

Wounded by a BB Gun

Last week I mentioned that my father’s store carried sporting goods, including hunting rifles. No one in our family ever hunted. My father once got a pheasant, but that doesn’t really count. He caught it with his hands. He put the exhausted bird in our garage to protect it, then released it when the freaked-out fowl regained vigor and started slamming into the walls.

The closest any of us ever came to owning a gun was my brother’s BB gun pistol, which in those days weren’t very powerful. If you got shot in the leg, it might sting for a few seconds.

One day, I came home from the grade school down the street to find my mother back from helping my father in the store, ironing and crying. I’d never seen her cry before. I eventually learned that we were being sued. 

One boy had shot another in the eye with a BB gun rifle, ruining his vision. The shooter said he bought the rifle at our store. Although the claim was bogus, since we would never sell any gun, even a BB gun, to a minor, we were forced to hire a lawyer and let the case proceed.

Ultimately, our lawyer recommended that we settle out of court. He judged that, if they put a boy with an eye patch on the stand, even without a sales receipt or other proof, the jury would award him something.

For a small business to be hit with this expense as well as the lawyer’s fee was crushing. Knowing that we were being robbed made it worse. We accepted the lawyer’s advice, paid, borrowed money to stay in business and moved on, stopping only to remove firearms and BB guns--including BB gun pistols--from the store.

Bow and Arrow

At about the same time, I was getting into archery--think Robin Hood or American Indian bows, not the contraptions you see nowadays. Soon, I was traipsing through fields with a fiberglass semi-recurve bow that, at 60 pound draw weight, was at least 20 pounds more than I could manage. 

Despite the mismatch, I was getting quite accurate; so much so that I stopped hunting right after I started. With my first shot at a bird, perched high in a tree, I winced when the arrow nearly removed a feather. I have no problem with hunters and hunting; it’s just not for me.

But I did hunt once again. Years later, a group of us went to an archery range. A cottontail rabbit wandered through the field near the straw-backed targets about 100 feet away. The moment they saw the animal, the yahoos started shooting at it. 

A few minutes and many arrows passed before one of the arrows finally struck the rabbit. As the winning archer took his bows, the rabbit rose and tried crawling away, arrow through its midsection. Wishing to end any suffering, I took my one and only shot and got lucky…or unlucky.

Wrap Up 

I’ve no idea what happened to my bow and arrows. When our son was about 10, he attended a summer camp, where, among other activities, he qualified as a marksman with a 0.22 rifle. He gets a chance to shoot when he visits his grandfather on the farm. I don’t think he’s ever shot a bow and arrow.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again in about a week. Wait, I’ve kept the same blog release schedule since last fall--a new post on Fridays, followed by a related photo addendum on Tuesdays. That seems to work. If you don't object, I'll do my best to continue with that schedule.

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