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New shotgun

Agriculture.com Staff 09/26/2007 @ 12:48pm

I bought a new shotgun.

Okay, not a new shotgun, but it's new to me and that's a big deal.

I'm not a frivolous firearms shopper. My first gun purchase ever was when I was about twelve; my father took me to Red Hewitt's hardware store and he sold me a beat-up 20-gauge single-shot for $20. I don't know what the real price was supposed to be, but we both liked the symmetry of the price he set.

The duck season opener was a couple days later. I walked a half-mile to the closest slough, perched on the edge, and shortly after noon a hapless teal blundered within range. I shot once, picked up the duck, and went home. Clearly, I was destined to be a master hunter.

In hindsight, that was undoubtedly the high point of my career as a marksman.

When I got old enough, I borrowed my father's 12-gauge pump. A lot more firepower, but my kill rate per shell dropped considerably. I had some buddies I hunted with and sometimes they would barely make it back to their pickup before collapsing in hysterical laughter. They always tried to hold it in until they were out of earshot, because I own a really good duck slough and they were a little worried about offending me.

In my mid-20s, I was still borrowing my dad's 12-gauge. One of my buddies took me to a Ducks Unlimited banquet. We had barely gotten seated when someone came around selling raffle tickets. Now, I'm a Methodist, and we aren't actually so big on gambling and the raffle procedure was all new to me. I figured, what the hay, since I hadn't paid for my meal, I should contribute something to a worthy cause, so I bought a ticket.

I was still nibbling on appetizers when they announced I'd won a brand new Remington 1100 automatic shotgun. My guilt started to mount. Now I had a free dinner AND a nearly free shotgun. I flagged down another raffle salesman, bought a ticket, and won a gun rack.

I started to worry about bankrupting the organization so I sat out the next round of raffle tickets. My buddy bought one, though, and he won a wildlife print. The whole night went like that, although the last couple hours are a little blurry. I had a life time supply of gambler's luck stored up and I used it all in one evening. If a high-stakes poker game had been handy, I could have retired a millionaire.

The automatic shotgun though, that was a mistake. For those of you who don't know shotguns, a pump shotgun means you work a little mechanism and eject the spent shell yourself. An automatic shotgun goes "boom" every time you pull the trigger. For someone who is already a bad shot, this is a very bad idea.

There's an old saying "One shot -- one duck, two shots -- maybe one duck, three shots -- no duck." I kinda specialized in the "three shots -- no duck" arena.

I used that shotgun, badly, for a couple of decades. When my father-in-law passed away I purchased his guns from his estate just because, well, just because. He had a shotgun exactly like mine, so then I had two identical shotguns in the gun cabinet. I couldn't hit anything with either one.

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