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Personal stories bring guns to life

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For some people, “guns” is a four-letter word. Yet to others it connotes family history, hunting, the outdoors, companionship and tradition.

Both groups are aware of the havoc that guns can wreak, but gun control is a complicated issue best discussed by people smarter than me. This is an article about a bunch of guys just enjoying guns.

As James Whitcomb Riley wrote about late October, “When the frost is on the punkin’ and the fodders in the shock … When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here — ”, birds and animals prepare for a long winter via migration or foraging to increase their fat stores.

So it is with my buddies. Some fly south for the winter, but most are left here to struggle through another Indiana winter. I recently looked into the gaunt faces of some of them and decided that unless I provided sustenance of some type, one or two of these guys might not make it until spring.

But many of these guys have pride (of course there are some moochers) and wouldn’t think of accepting charity, thus I disguised a bountiful fall meal as the First Annual Gun Party. It’s appropriate, I suppose, what with this being a group of hunters, that we had it Oct. 19, the night of the full Hunter’s Moon.

A little background here. For the past 10 years I have put on an annual wild game party in April, composed of a group of guys who otherwise couldn’t scrounge up six pallbearers for any one of our funerals. Many types of wild game are served; from alligator to kangaroo, muskrat soup to caribou; beaver and moose; we’ve even enjoyed a speckled goose.

This fall meal included some of the food mentioned above, plus halibut pastry, elk roast, fried chukar, quail in cream sauce, and other dishes provided by some of the better hunters of the group. (I might mention that the word vegetarian is thought to be a Native American word meaning “poor hunter.”) We even had a homegrown apple pie, made from actual Johnny Appleseed apples.

All I asked in return was that people who brought a gun have a story behind it.

I like guns, but some of these guys make me look like a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun owner, which I am. A pink one.

Double-checked for safety, the guns were talked about as though they were members of the family, and some probably thought more of their guns than certain members of their family.

Kurt’s M-1 carbine had a significant historical background. During World War II, the Singer Sewing Machine Co. manufactured some of these fine guns in an effort to aid in the war effort.

Mike’s vintage western revolver was a beautiful gun, the bone-

colored handle accented by the intricate carving on the metal.

Dave’s anniversary model 12-gauge represented top of the line game bird shotguns, while Evan’s shotgun was handled down by his grandpa.

All of the guns were beautiful, polished works of art, with their fluid lines and engraved metal, and everybody had his favorite gun.

Mine was a .410 single-shot shotgun, my first–ever gun. Many other guns present carried equal family and personal significance, such as the gun Jim got from his grandfather, one that had won numerous national skeet tournaments.

The food and conversation finally reached the witching hour, and as they left one by one, I felt secure that they had added enough to their fat stores to make it safely through the winter.

Doug Skinner is a semi-retired veterinarian. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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