The Not So Simple Story About a Deer Rifle

I thought this looked Cabela’s Catalog-esque this weekend and felt compelled to snap a photo. It is a .30-06 my dad bought when he was just 12 years old. He passed it onto me 30 years later. The story behind this deer rifle is indeed a straightforward one, not dissimilar to many others. In the 10 years it has been mine, it has not failed me once. Reflecting on it now, however, the story isn’t so simple. I’ve never felt an emotional attachment to an inanimate object, but there is something magical about this rifle. It comes from a different era, when things were much different. Its origin remains in a past when showing up to school with a rifle on the back window and a buck in the truck bed was not frowned upon, but in fact, celebrated. It represents tradition, history and a family legacy. It symbolizes an escape; the escape into a simpler world where the small things are not ignored, but appreciated; magnified even, to our senses…

This Mossberg .30-06 has seen more years of hunting than I’ve been alive.

Walking in the darkness to my deer blind with it slung over my shoulder, I feel a sense of purpose. New-found energy inexplicably emerges, revitalizing me. Thinking about the possibilities of what could be in just a matter of hours when the sun rises fills me with the optimism of a child. Soon, I realize all is quiet. I stop. My breath is the only audible noise I can decipher through the black night. Through the dull, white light of my headlamp, I see snow flakes falling to the ground. They move so slowly it is like they are fighting gravity, reluctantly giving into its force. I hear something else. Listening, I hold my breath. It sounds like something lightly walking on the leaves, but without fully touching the ground. Baffled, I kneel and intently focus on a glimmering snow flake that catches my eye. It glides to the earth from above. Could it really be? My eyes follow it until it lands on a leaf.  It emits the faintest-sounding thud, I cannot even imitate it with my own breath.

Yes, it is so still, I can hear the snow flakes land. The magnification of the small things is overwhelming at this moment. My eyes begin to water not just from the cold…

My grip tightens on the sling and I am off again. It strains my shoulder with an uncomfortable pressure, but somehow, it is the greatest feeling I have known.

The story is straightforward and cliche; a cherished hunting rifle passed down from father to son. But nothing is straightforward when it comes to something that transcends time; something that helps you finally recognize the existence of something deeper in our world.


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