We are a race of hunters. It is how we became human, and what keeps us honest as humans, acknowledging our genetic heritage of finding and bringing home meat for the tribe. We’ve evolved beyond sharp rocks and spears, blunderbusses and muzzleloaders. But we are still, first and foremost, users of tools – it’s what puts us apart from most species - to feed our family. Without the tool, there would be no hunt. Without the hunt, there would be no soul.
That deep-seated need to hunt is in our DNA. Our shotguns are the key that unlocks the genetic door. We take up arms to move, migrate, discover, seek … what?
Sustenance, sure. But so much more. A shotgun is the trapping of our odyssey, the single accoutrement that turns a walk in the field into a quest. Without the gun, it would be a jaunt. With one, every step takes on meaning.
Sometimes we seek food and food only. But most times, we are after something far more important when we uncase our shotgun. Companionship of like-minded people, working with dogs on a mystical level. We may be searching for an understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
We are primal, focused on baser elements: a threat of danger (however small, though falling off a cliff or being eaten by mountain lions are very real). Or, a close-up look at the world from a mountain top – closer to heaven? – and how it affects us deep inside. Hunger, literal and figurative, is often our motivation.
You stand in awe when your gun is open and you gawk at messages from prehistoric hunters etched in rock, or at the soaring eagle that keeps your quarry on the ground instead of flushing helter-skelter, always out of range. The gun is the reason you’re on the precipice. It is the rationale for owning and working with a dog. It is the translator, the interpreter, of an unspoken language you only speak when alone on a limitless prairie, a speck in the universe.
Without a shotgun crooked in your arm, you’d look silly chasing a fired-up pointer over rocky slopes. Sitting in a blind gunless, cold and shivering, your core would be hollow admiring a bull mallard’s cupped wings as he settles into your decoy spread. We are not birdwatchers. We are predators.
There is no prospect of finality without your shotgun. It is not hunting, it is tourism.
As Ortega y Gasset said, “One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted.”
A trusted shotgun is the difference.
~ Scott Linden