I’m Just Dating my Shotgun
Recently, I posted the following request to the fans of
Pheasants Forever on Facebook: “Tell us the Story of your First
Shotgun.” As the lengthy comments extolling the virtues of their
favorite scattergun stacked up, I came to the realization that I
don’t have a relationship like these folks with any of the three
shotguns I own.
I mentioned this to co-worker Anthony Hauck. Unlike me, Anthony
is in a committed relationship with the Remington 870 he’s owned
since it was passed down from his dad. What Anthony and I came to
determine was that I just haven’t been with any of my shotguns long
enough to take my relationship to the next level.
You see, I grew up using my dad’s classic Ithaca model 37. I
really “liked” that gun, but it wasn’t my own. When I had saved up
enough cash, I purchased a .12 gauge Ithaca model 37 of my own. But
I made a mistake; I ordered my own Ithaca with an English stock.
Ever held a shotgun with a straight stock for an entire day in the
field? It ain’t comfortable. “She” just never felt quite right.
A few years back, my folks surprised me with a .20 gauge
Remington 870 for my birthday. A fantastic present, its short 24
inch barrel has been a great scattergun when I’ve needed to get
through the thick tangles of the September grouse woods. Sadly,
I’ve never shot the gun particularly well. Blame it on the shorter
barrel, less BBs in the .20 gauge shell, my confidence with it in
hand, or my skills, but “she” has also just never felt right.
Enter my current girlfriend – er, I mean shotgun – my Beretta
686 Onyx .12 gauge over/under. She’s got curves in all the right
places. In fact, this was the first shotgun I ever took into a
gunsmith to have professionally fitted to my alligator arms. With a
little length removed from the stock, the gun shoulders better than
any I’ve ever handled. I’ve also never been more deadly than during
the three years I’ve owned the 686. NOTE: I would highly
recommend getting your firearm professionally fitted if you have
never done so.
But, there’s just this one thing that has me hesitant about
taking that next step and “falling” for my Beretta; I bought the
model with “extra wood” because it was in my price range. You see,
extra wood looks good from afar, but upon closer examination you
can see that it’s not real wood. I know, I know, I’m being
superficial, but I’m just trying to be honest about my feelings. I
just don’t know if I can fall in love with something that’s, well,
fake. And besides, I’m a multi-dimensional guy. Sure, the majority
of my hunting is done behind a pointing dog in the pheasant fields
and grouse woods where an over/under is a classic choice, but am I
really expected to take this “gentleman’s” gun into the mud of a
goose pit or slough of a duck blind?
As a result, I’m currently in lust with a .20 gauge Franchi
Renaissance Classic with a beautifully engraved receiver of
flushing gold game birds. The $2,000 price tag and high maintenance
finish probably isn’t the best fit for my Yooper roots though. And,
yes I know, she won’t solve my waterfowl issues, but she sure does
look pretty on my shoulder.
Maybe Anthony is right and ol’ 686 and I just need a few more
birds in the bag to take our relationship forward. We have had some
good times; there were the double doubles on Huns in 2008, the
three magical Montana island roosters in 2009 and the four ruffed
grouse in the U.P. berry patch last year. There’s definitely
potential that she’s the “one.”
Yes, I think Anthony’s right, Beretta and I are just dating . .
. and that’s just fine for now.