Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Hunter Returns To The Field

It’s been years since I’ve hunted. As a young man my family and I were avid bird hunters. I occasionally hunted duck and goose but back then I didn’t particularly care for waterfoul hunting. Sitting still for that long in a damp blind just wasn’t super fun for an energetic & athletic teenage boy. But I used to love, LOVE, LOVE hunting dove & pheasant every year. I was pretty darned good at it as well.

When I joined the Coast Guard my first duty station was Astoria, Oregon which was and still is one of the best places in the country for Elk hunting. The Roosevelt Elk in the area were plentiful but due to their wariness, rough terrain and prevailing miserable weather hunting them was challenging and downright hard work. Getting a large bull out of a deep wet canyon is a tough day’s work or nights work if you take your shot in the evening. But the meat was sublime. I was successful in taking an elk each year of my stay in Oregon. The deer hunting in the area was good as well.

I did a little bit of deer hunting while stationed in North Carolina and New York. Successfully in the former, not so much in the latter. I even had an opportunity to take a couple of Axis deer on the Big Island of Hawaii and on Molokai while stationed in Hawaii. But since returning to California in 2000 I haven’t hunted at all. For a multitude of reasons, the opportunity and motivation just haven’t been there but over the last six to eight months that has changed. It started with a desire to share a bird hunt with my father again. As he ages we both realize that his ability to do so will diminish with each passing year. It’s been far too long and it’s time we do so again before we both regret having not done it sooner.

The first obstacle was the fact that between us we share but a single shotgun. The 1906 Browning Auto-5 that once belonged to my Great Grandfather. It’s the first shotgun I ever used, and roughly 99% of the game I’ve taken in my life was with this gun. It fits me like a well-worn pair of shoes. I know it inside and out and being the 4th generation of guys named True to hold it; I’m responsible for roughly ¼ of the visible wear and tear. Every scratch in the stock, every wear mark and every pit in it's 105 year old steel was put there by a man with the same name as mine. As much as it warms my heart each time look at it or use it, it would mean far more to have Dad use it which necessarily required that I purchase another shotgun.  

My Great-Grandfather, True T. Tourtillott (above on the left) in ~1940 with the aforementioned shotgun originally purchased in 1907.
I’ve always been fascinated with over/under shotguns. Light, uncomplicated, elegant and by virtue of the two versus three available shots when compared to an auto or pump action gun they require a bit more selectiveness and efficiency in ones shooting. It would have been far easier to just buy another Browning or a very similar Remington Model 11 as both are plentiful and affordable on the used market but it seemed silly to have essentially two of the same gun. Besides, something new would offer an interesting challenge and I rarely select the easy way to do something anyway. So I went ahead and purchased a relatively inexpensive CZ over/under shotgun. It’s not as fancy or as expensive as some of the high-end Italian over/under shotguns on the market, but as a second gun it will serve its purpose just fine.

I’ve had it out to the sporting clays range a few times and it is a VERY different experience compared to shooting the Browning. By virtue of the profound difference in weight I find myself over swinging and missing a lot of targets and the recoil is significantly stronger without the buffer of the semi-automatic action, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I’m not confident enough yet with it to take it to the field but I’m getting there.

In an unfortunate development Dad required back surgery just a few weeks before dove season opened this year. He is mending quickly and will be more than ready by the end of summer next year. We are already making plans for Dove, Pheasant and perhaps Turkey hunts next year. In the mean time I still have a lot of work to do in gaining proficiency with this new shotgun. 

Further, I've begun planning for some Wild Boar hunting this fall/winter. I've been soaking up as much information as I can regarding techniques for harvesting these animals. Some excellent reading to be found on the following blogs:

Albert Rasch's "The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles" -
Phillip Loughlin's "The Hog Blog" -
Holly Heyser's "Nor-Cal Cazadora" -

I'm very excited about the new challenge and especially looking forward to the potential cooking opportunities afforded if I am successful in harvesting a Boar or two. I'll write more about these and other related topics going forward. 

1 comment:

  1. that is so awesome!! I also used to hunt with dad when I was a kid. When I visited my parents this summer and saw all the rifles in dad's safe, it made me want to hunt again.

    Some days I wish I lived closer to my parents so I could go out and hunt with have a great opportunity and glad do see you are seizing it.