I guess I should start with a quick disclaimer: This entry may very well smack of unadulterated nostalgia or some older guy pining for back in the day and how it used to be.
Well if it is, so be it. If that is not what you wanted today, flip the page or scroll down and read about something else while you have your Cheerios.
At the risk of being called Captain Obvious, in case you haven't noticed, things ain't what they used to be.
Loyal readers out there (I think I have six) know that when I talk about how much things have changed, I am usually relating this to situations in the firearms and hunting world. Sorry, it is just how I think about things. To say the climate has changed about guns and hunting would be reverting back to Capt. Obvious, but the general public -- for whatever reason -- just does not think about such things as we once did. More is the pity.
Under full disclosure here, I have been thinking about this topic for some time, and probably what got me to sit down and write about this came from a guns writer and friend of mine in Illinois, Mr. Randy Wakeman.
Randy has been toiling in the salt mines of writing about guns for many years and is familiar to many of you from his work on the well-known Chuck Hawks firearms site. Randy writes about a little of everything in the world of guns, but he may be best known for his expertise in the realm of shotguns. When Wakeman starts talking about some aspect of a scattergun, like E. F. Hutton, the rest of us stop and listen.
Randy and I have been in the same hunting camp and lodge a few times going after pheasants and ducks, but to give him his due, he has forgotten more about shooting ringneck pheasants than I will ever know. We just come from different parts of the world. But I still enjoy chatting with him and hearing what he has to say about different shotguns as he has a wealth of information on smoothbores.
(We are also both fans of the actor Strother Martin, but that is for another day.)
In a recent entry, he waxed reflective and talked about the old days as a boy growing up in the Illinois pheasant cover. He was even bold enough to title this article "Killing a Wild Pheasant with a Shotgun."
In this day and age, many guns and hunting writers tend to take the easy road and not use the K-I-L-L word. Years ago, the word "harvest" came into vogue when you didn't want to use that ol' kill word. We might want to remember that hunting is, in fact, a blood sport, and it does involve the killing of animals.
You can try to put all the lipstick on that you want, but it is what it is. If you feel like you need to apologize for that, maybe you shouldn't be hunting, but again, I digress.
Living through and enduring a string of ill-fitting and bad-shooting shotguns is something many of us had to go through as young shooters, and Randy talks about this in his article. As I have written about before, I would bet that not one shooter in 10 knows what it is like to fire a properly fitted shotgun. As kids "back in the day," we usually were expected to shoot whatever was handed to us (and we never, ever complained about it), even if it was Uncle Charley's 97 Winchester pump gun that everyone in the county knew kicked like an Army mule.
Kids of that era took this as part of the deal for being allowed to follow Dad and Uncle Charley into the field. We wouldn't dare complain about a gun that was too heavy, too long, didn't fit us and, when we shot it, generally blurred our vision for a few minutes.
We wanted to be out there that bad.
Now I am really going to cause some gun hater's head to spin around when I say Randy also addresses what was a common occurrence when we were young, and that is we actually took guns to school.
That's right, it was very common if you were in high school to have a shotgun or rifle in your truck or car in the school parking lot. It was commonly done, nobody cared, and there never was problem with it that I ever heard of. Often a teacher or the principal would come out to your truck and have a look at your prized 870 shotgun or a Savage rifle. You may have been going hunting before and/or after school, and it made sense to have your shotgun in the vehicle so that you were ready to go.
Randy reveals in his article how he took his shotgun on the school bus (before he was old enough to drive) and stored it in the office, and then the bus driver would let him off before he actually got home so he could walk the fields in hopes of getting a fat rooster pheasant for dinner.
Nobody thought it odd, nobody complained, there were no problems with school shootings or anything else.
Things ain't what they used to be and never will be again.
"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at email@example.com.