December 2007
Happy Hunting Ground

Happy Hunting Ground

I have a problem and I don’t know how to deal with it. I have come into a little extra money and I have decided I need a new rifle. The problem is twofold. First, I have to decide what kind and caliber I want and then I have to figure out how to talk my wife into it.

This summer I did what is almost inexcusable, when the fall hunting catalogues came in, I leafed through them and tossed them into the trash while boldly telling my better half, "I don’t need anything this year, so I’m throwing this __________’s catalog away."

Mostly I was right. Sure there were a few things I would like to have considered like some of this new "hi-tech" long underwear. But not being able to afford much, I was basically telling the truth.

As fall approached, my daughter and I had several conversations about the upcoming deer season and, after some thought, she declared my muzzleloader her property! This muzzleloader went from "Daddy’s new gun" to "our" muzzleloader and this season it’s now "her lucky rifle."

Now I am faced with having to share a muzzleloader with my daughter during that all important muzzleloader season that lasts all of four days in Alabama!

I have done my part, I have saved my money, I have provided for my family, I have asked for very little except a good night’s sleep and a full stomach so to my male mind, I deserve a new rifle. I’m not even going to bring up the $150 dress rental for the beauty pageant, the new car this summer (we traded a ¾ ton truck that got 11 miles per gallon for an automobile that gets 30 mpg) or anything else I can think of. I don’t intend to use these tactics unless begging doesn’t work.

I have even done my homework by endlessly researching what type of rifle I want to get. I have decided to put my money to its best use by looking seriously at one of the rifles that has interchangeable barrels. That way, when I want a different caliber, I can just purchase a new barrel and not a complete rifle. I haven’t figured out how to break the news that each barrel needs a scope of its own. I think I’ll just stick to the point that they are interchangeable, the one I want is a muzzleloader anyway and the last rifle I bought for myself was back in 1978. (I’ll try to throw in a little tear and possibly a mild whimper to play the sympathy card.)

I’m thinking seriously about getting my daughter involved because after all, it is her fault in that she not only killed her first deer with that muzzleloader but also the deer was the first deer killed by that rifle and therefore she claims it as hers just like Columbus claimed the New World for Spain because he was the first to step on it. (If you read that last sentence four or five times, it’ll makes sense.)

I just might coach her into saying something like, "Mom, since I stole daddy’s muzzleloader from him this year, can you let him get another one?"

I won’t directly mention the pounds of high quality, lean, tender venison I personally put in the freezer every year, because I’m the one who eats most of it, but I will hint around about it.

I think my best shot is telling her about the quality time our daughter and I spend together pursuing deer and how that time is priceless and every minute we spend in the woods is a memory for her that will be timeless. We are making memories and stories she can pass on to her children and grandchildren and things would be so much better if we each had our own muzzle loading rifle. I will try to get her to imagine the self-esteem we will be building in our child by her owning her very own rifle. I will expand on the opportunities to teach responsibility by making her do the cleaning and maintenance of the rifle she has claimed as her own. I will then ask my wife to imagine the independence our daughter will learn by being able to put meat on the table with her own firearm, without the help of some "man." I will ask her to step into the future and take a look at our daughter when her boyfriend/fiancé/husband knows without a doubt not only can she provide for herself, but she can shoot straight and hit her target whether it’s running or standing still.

In my vast experience of the world, I know of many a married man who has kept to the straight and narrow only by the knowledge his wife was a firm believer in gun control (gun control is hitting your target) and practices it on a regular basis. I want my daughter to date/marry a man who knows the sight of someone else’s blood does not bother her.

At least this is what I will tell my wife, it should definitely convince her that purchasing a new rifle is just another sacrifice I am willing to make for my family. If all else fails, I have two more options that kind of go hand-in-hand, beg like a son-of-a-gun and keep this article top secret.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.