I’m Just Dating my Shotgun
Yesterday, 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 and fellow blogger Anthony Hauck. Unlike me, Anthony is in a committed relationship with the Remington 870 he’s owned since it was passed down from his pops; as evidenced by this link to his shotgun love story. 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 two 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? I think not!
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.
What I do know is that my bird dog, Trammell, does “light up my life.” Yes, the bird dog/hunter relationship makes my imperfect shotgun relationship manageable afield. Besides, 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 triple doubles on Huns in 2008, the three magical Montana island roosters last year, and the first of everything over Tram. 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.
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