Pulling the trigger on buying a shotgun
Several years ago my parents gifted me a Weatherby Orion 20-gauge. The little over-under shotgun was, to put it bluntly, way out of my league. I realize there are guns out there that carry price tags well beyond the Orion, but to me it was the pinnacle of my gun ownership. In fact, it still is.
At first I didn’t realize I needed it. After all, I have a perfectly functional semi-auto 12-gauge that has served me just fine on everything from doves to turkeys. Back then, however, I was starting to truly devote myself to more bird hunting, having followed a doomed job to Minnesota’s north country.
Nearly every day after work, if I wasn’t trying to fill a deer tag, I was walking behind my golden retriever for grouse. Sometimes I carried the over-under, sometimes not. It wasn’t until I spent some serious time dove hunting in North Dakota that I realized how much I liked that Weatherby.
Today, I carry it more often than not on any hunts where it is even remotely logical. And for bunnies, woodcock, and early season grouse, it’s a no-brainer. Recently, while wrapping up the last days of hunting in Wisconsin, I carried it as well. My grouse year was one for the record books, and while I knew the 12-gauge may have yielded a few more of the birds, I didn’t care. I simply wanted to carry the over-under.
My hunting partner thought I was nuts. He is a carry-more-than-enough gun kind of guy, and couldn’t believe I’d hinder myself with a smaller bore, two-shot. Well, the fates and their ironic sense of humor intervened the last morning when we pulled up to a new parcel of public land. Ben discovered his shotgun was at the cabin.
I made a deal with him to trade with him halfway through the hunt. When we found the birds – six in total – they flushed in all directions from a patch of spruce. I knocked one down, and then quickly picked up another on a re-flush. After that I handed Ben the gun and started walking behind my dog.
After I heard him shoot I could also hear the flapping of wings in the snowpack, so I sent Luna to do her job. When the bird came to hand, Ben’s first comment was simply, “I really like this little gun.” I doubt he is a convert, or that he’ll ever admit I was right, but I could see it in his expression.
They aren’t a necessary part of any hunt, but that doesn’t mean owning a high-quality shotgun or rifle is a bad thing. In fact, if you ever get the pleasure you might realize, as I have, that it’s something a person could get use to.