Saturday, November 07, 2009

Getting older and the shooting sports...

I guess I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. My latest ruminations concerned aging and the shooting sports.

When I was young, I was fascinated by guns, shooting and hunting. I loved the associated history, military and sporting. Unfortunately, I was limited in my pursuit of my interests by money, availability of resources like books, and my age.

Between the ages of 16 and 18, I was fortunate enough to have the means (a car and license) to go and do and did a lot of hunting. I was too young to buy guns, but I could hunt and I did. Indeed all my free time was devoted to hunting and fishing.

When I turned 18, my age was no longer an impediment to purchasing firearms, money was less so because I was working, but time and availability of a place to shoot or hunt was a problem. After all, I had to earn money to live but I'd also made a commitment to serve. Then, I had a family and their needs of time and money came first. Moving constantly all my life meant that I didn't have the contacts (pre-internet age) to make the acquisitions I would have wanted. It didn't provide the hunting access I might have had either.

When I reached middle-age the commitments to others didn't change but control of my time did and I was able to again spend significant amounts of time in the field. The best part was that I had a friend with whom to do at least some of this. Having somebody to bounce ideas off of, with whom to share & exchange access to certain areas made for more success and more fun. I was in good condition and wasn't intimidated by long hikes into the back country or pulling big game from those areas.

When I retired I had a period of full-freedom and a burst of "success" in hunting because of the sudden availability of time. Unfortunately, my time again became committed to others, mostly my mother. My hunting partner/friend died and I was cut off from some good locations as well as losing my one companion. It wasn't all that enjoyable to go by myself. I just can't seem to get an opportunity to go with my son-in-law. I've had some joint issues and am generally not in top condition any more. With no partner and nobody knowing where I'd be, I'm reluctant to go back too far. This is a big concern for Nana. I guess she wouldn't want me to die because I didn't have help.

I have sort of mixed feelings about it. I don't feel that I'm in particularly bad health (don't they all say that?) but I would like to see my grandchildren get married. Then again, if it is going to be, wouldn't sitting in a stand on a glorious fall day with deer crossing in front of you be a wonderful place to keel over? Certainly better than being found naked in the bathtub!

It is also a bit more like work. Some of the wonder has worn off. Oh, I try new guns and such, carry the camera along for the shot of the odd interesting thing but... You see, climbing the mountain just to see what's on top isn't all that it used to be. It is a looong way up the side of that steep hillside. There's no game up there. Heck, the trees probably even block the view! If I do get a deer, well now there's some real work. I can't tell you the number of people I know who shoot deer not based on the size of the rack but the proximity of the animal to truck or 4-wheeler access. Dragging/packing a deer 2 miles just doesn't have the same allure it once did.

This past week was the first week of our muzzleloading season. My one day out hunting I carried a the Remington 12CS to do some squirrel hunting. Even then I was soon working on the fence line. Priorities had changed a bit.

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