Thursday, February 14, 2013

Old Stories

     One of the things I cherish is an old Bible my grandfather gave to me.  It is one of those small New Testament Bibles like you were given in grade school back in the 70’s.  On the inside cover it has written in my grandfather’s handwriting, ‘see page 313.’  When you go there, there is a portion of the scripture highlighted and in the margin it again has instructions to ‘see page 318.’  As you turn from section to section, if you read each in order, it tells a story.
     That is what is so interesting about this old Bible.  It tells a story within a story as comprehended by my grandfather.
     New gadgets are neat to play with and learn how to use, but they do not tell a story like older things.
     I was given an old Ithaca double barrel shotgun when I was learning how to shoot before my tenth birthday.  It was one my grandfather and dad had used.  Back then, quail were as common as any other game bird in North Carolina.  The barrel was sawed off to the point of legality in order to open the choke all the way.  The choke is what patterns the spray of the shot as it leaves the muzzle, and by sawing it off this short it was the equivalent of throwing paint from a 5 gallon bucket as compared to dotting the wall with a small paintbrush.  By making the pattern as big as possible allowed a quick snap type of shot on the quail without having to take the time to point and shoot in a methodical way.
     See, there is a story.  The shotgun tells me of a time long gone and how they hunted.  I could go buy a new top of the line shotgun and while it would shoot just fine, it doesn’t have that connection.
     Back in 2006 my father and I went on our first big game hunt together.  We drove up to North Dakota in pursuit of the mighty bison.  My goal was to take one with the bow.  It would be the first big game animal I took with archery equipment.  One of my customers at work was an elderly man and was looking as much to my hunt as I was.  When I got back and told him about it, he told me he would be back that afternoon because he had something to share with me.
     Later that day, he came in and we talked for probably 30 minutes, but it seemed like several hours.  He told me of how he loved elk hunting and how he had hunted Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana several times when he was younger.  He then told me how his greatest trip was when he hunted elk with a Bear Grizzly recurve.  After hearing his adventure, I could tell the reminiscence had touched him deeply.  He then said he needed to run to the car for a second.  When he came back in, he showed me the old Fred Bear masterpiece.  It was in fairly good condition with only the beaver felt on the shelf peeling off.
     He then handed it over to me.  “It’s yours.  I only have daughters and they don’t hunt.  And I’m obviously too old to even pull it back now.  It needs to be used once more.”
     There was the connection.  The story had presented itself.  That old traditional recurve bow was a symbol for days of adventure, happiness and passion.
     I love archery and bowhunting as much as anything, but I am also the first to admit I am absolutely awful shooting traditional equipment.  But I owed it to that gentleman, to the story of that bow, to hunt with it at least once.
     I did not go to the Rockies in pursuit of elk, but I did hunt with it.  I took an opossum from about 10 yards.  I had to shoot twice as a matter of fact.  And afterwards, I put the bow up.  I had added another chapter to the story.  It was the only game I had ever taken with a recurve.  To this day it still is.

1 comment:

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