I’ve lived in Montana most of my life. I was raised in eastern Montana in a single-wide trailer with ugly shag, green carpet on the middle of a 360 acre piece of land that had one lone tree. My dad’s closet was lined with guns. He didn’t take them out, he didn’t take them hunting, and he didn’t shoot them. They just sat there collecting dust.
He told me I should be able to handle a weapon, but I never saw him handling one. He told me I should be able to shoot a weapon, but he never took me shooting. I wasn’t afraid of guns until I got older. When I was young, guns were just like any other home ornament that sat there without moving—like a wreath on the door or a candlestick holder sitting on the table. (On a side-note, he definitely should have had them unloaded and in a gun safe, safety first! But he didn’t put them in a gun safe and they also didn’t spontaneously gain artificial intelligence and hurt anyone.)
I’m pretty sure my ignorance made me afraid of guns. Ignorance tends to make people irrationally afraid of things they don’t understand. When I moved back to Montana, I began to meet more and more people who hunted and guns entered back into my life. The connection for me was that my friends shot animals and I then ate those animals. Elk steak, deer jerky, and deer sausage became part of my diet and my friends generously shared their bounty.
The people closest to me know that I am the cheapest person you will meet. I will go out of my way for free food all the time. Free nacho bar at the strip club? Cool. Potlucks? I’m in. I’m stuck in some Rich Dad, Poor Dad vacuum and have only realized my financial potential through Dave Ramsey’s mentorship. He agrees that being frugal is cool though, so a $13 deer tag for hundreds of pounds of meat is a no brainer…going to Costco to eat free samples for lunch…meh, I’m going to say that’s also pretty cool, but a whole deer for $13 is better.
So, back to guns…last year for Christmas, Alton bought me an M4. Ten months later, it’s still in the box. He gave me a rifle. I’m not sure which one of our rifles is mine. It turns out that I have ADD when it comes to weapons. They’re cool for a little while if I’m with people on the range, but shooting has not become a hobby of mine that I go out of my way to do. Why is this? I’m pretty sure it’s for a few reasons:
1) I’m lazy and it takes work to learn about something new that has so much power that it could kill an animal or a human being. (That’s a lot of pressure!)
2) Society has evolved so that I can get food at the grocery store where my family-sized portion of meat is neatly wrapped in cellophane.
3) I’m irrationally afraid of guns. I start to feel physically anxious around them. I could compare it to being at a zoo around a wild animal. I am aware of its power and for that reason I become docile so as not to arouse it’s attention or make it angry. How dumb, huh? I know it’s an inanimate object as I mentioned earlier, but it makes me feel some type of way.
When hunting season rolled around this year, I went hunting for the second time in my life. The first time, Al and I were dating and we did not see or shoot at any animals. It was like a practical joke. “Erin, just walk through those bushes that direction and I’ll wait up here.” “Well, let’s just keep walking, maybe we’ll see something past this creek bed.” Little did I know at that time that hunting is all walking and staring out the truck window hoping that you will see an animal…that you have a tag for, that is the correct size and gender, that is far enough off of the road, but not so far that it will be a nightmare getting it back to the truck.
This is what I’ve learned so far about hunters. They are sexually attractive. These people prepare the night before for their trip, wake up before dawn, get in their rig to drive around the wilderness, know how to read a map, are physically active, have good aim and eyesight, and know enough about biology to gut an animal, then they provide for their friends and family by sharing their food. Hot, hot, hot.
On my second hunt, Alton shot a deer. It was so exciting. I realized later that I had imagined it being like a scene out of the Evil Dead with thin, red blood spurting out everywhere. It was in no way horrifying. He shot the deer in the heart, and it fell over. Then, our friend Wade gutted it, which was also not horrifying. It was fascinating. We humans can be so separated from the biological processes of life that we never even learn how muscles and tendons and organs work. We said our thanks for this deer’s life and then took him home to make into breakfast sausage, and deer steak, and jerky.
I spend that evening cutting around the bullet wound and preparing the deer for quartering like I had done it a hundred times. It was no different than dealing with any other type of meat, like a roast or turkey or ham, this animal’s steaks just happened to still be attached to the rest of his body.
GUNS, MEAT, and HUNTING SEASON
This Thanksgiving, I will unwrap my M4. Right now. I’m going to do it. I’ll keep you posted after I learn which rifle is mine and bag my first deer or elk…