I am not a gun nut.
I don’t flip the pages of high-end gun magazines, staring at beautiful guns and sighing wistfully. I don’t need a different gun for every type of hunting I do. And about the only engraving I need on a gun is a serial number.
Oh, no. It was happening again.
When I first started getting the hang of duck hunting, it never failed: If Hank was having a good day of shooting, I would be shooting atrociously. And if I was having a good day, he couldn’t hit a damn thing.
My boyfriend was skeptical.
I was about to go on a hunt where I was told to expect to shoot nothing but greenheads flaps down over decoys.
“They always say that,” Hank said, “but it’s rarely the case.”
“I don’t know,” I responded. “I’ve seen video from these hunts. It looks pretty good.”
And our guide, Mike Franklin at Pacific Wings Prairie Outfitters, had juiced my anticipation with his description of carefully managed flooded corn ponds with aerators to keep the water from freezing.
Wanna know what I’m doing right now? Chances are I’m sitting at my computer going absolutely crazy because work is getting in the way of my dove hunting. Good Lord, we get only 15 days of good dove hunting here in California, and the opener this year is on the worst possible day for me. A Thursday. Not just a work day, but a really demanding, frenetic day. And I guarantee you there are mourning doves cooing on the roof over my head.
Skeet is not a game to me.
I don’t keep score. I ignore many of the rules and conventions. And I like to blaze through a round fast. Really fast. All I’m doing is trying to stay sharp for wingshooting. I don’t particularly want to be an expert at shooting inanimate clay disks.
Maybe I should’ve taken that shot.
As the morning chill dissipated, the sky brightened and even distant duck sightings grew more infrequent, it was becoming clear that Charlie and I were about to be skunked. On opening day, no less.
One more duck.
That’s what I told myself Sunday afternoon as I crept through a patch of nut grass in the marsh, bent low over the water to minimize my outline, straining to keep an eye on the birds without them seeing me.
It felt like we were the stars in a Quentin Tarantino movie: Well-dressed tourists moved out of our way as we strode down the sidewalk of Sutter Creek, the glittering mid-afternoon December sunshine in our face.
I remember so vividly the day I went to buy my first shotgun.
My boyfriend Hank and I drove a couple miles down the main drag of our dilapidated 1960s-era suburb to our local hook-n-bullet store, an utterly charmless building with windows boarded over and painted, and not so much as a sprig of greenery anywhere in the parking lot. It was ugly even compared with already-low neighborhood standards.