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Down at the Gun Range...

November 13, 2004

Opening Day of deer season is coming up. But first there's Sighting-In. I got invited to go hunting. I haven't been lately, so I saddled up and went to the public range the other day to make sure the ole 30-30 was still shooting where you aim.

It was a neat experience.

The public range at the local Rose Lake State Gamer Area (near Lansing) was just a couple gravel pits on state land just a few years ago. Then they pumped about $100K into fixing up the place. I think the money was an NRA grant---not taxes. Now, I liked it fine back then. You could shoot as you pleased. I liked working on my pistol quick-draw, making soup cans hop all over the place. Uh, you can't do that now.

There were a couple dozen guys there. Dads with their little boys. I liked the diversity. And the strict range rules sure make it easy for a lot of people to do something dangerous together safely. There were various clusters of buddies and working stiffs and fancy lads all waiting for each 10-minute cycle of shooting and target-checking to flow thru. There were no lines, just some people shot more than others in their 10 minutes. Newcomers wait til the All Clear to go put up targets. It works perfectly. There's room for everyone.

I liked the un-structured structure. It wasn't a club meet or event or competition. It was just the public gathering independently and agreeably. Not bad.

The variety of firearms is interesting, too. Everyone shoots something different, has their own idea of what works for them. New stuff, real old stuff. Grampa's hand-me-down, what have you. Blackpowder, shotguns, rifles. People are hanging loose, but they're also watching each other. Chatting, or not---hey, everyone has on ear protection---it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to wear same in other public venues! Some guys sport a lot of homemade gear and layered-at-the-junkyard apparel, suitable for deer-hunting and ice-fishing. Others come straight from the store and the law firm.

This kind of neutral turf is refreshing to me. There's no team anyone is rooting for. It's not like a bar or a stadium or a workplace.

The rangemaster is a piece of work, too. He looks and talks just like Hank Hill's dad---a little wizened old guy with megaphone voice, buzzcut and Southern accent. I hear a lot of "Yessirs!" to him from the various scruffy guys down the line. You don't mess with him!

Anyway, the ole' Thutty-thutty put 'em all in an inch at 50 yards. Good enough for me and my brush-huntin'.

I should've taken a photo. Maybe I'll go out there later today. It was a sight.

I usually don't go anywhere for my hunting. I grew up hunting just down the street one way or the other. Everywhich way, in fact. To me, it was always meant to be a cheaper, easier, even quicker way to get meat than buying it or working for it. It wasn't about hangin' with the guys. But, sure, it was sometimes being WITH guys while doing it, or with whoever. Gals even, why not. Whoever wanted to dig in and pitch in. The big part is the butchering afterward anyway.

Also, I tend to hunt when I feel dialed in to the wild world or ready to get dialed in. It's a sizeable phase-shift for me. I've sometimes felt a bit of clash between training for XC skiing in the fall and sitting in a tree waiting for deer, or even hiking hill and dale for bunnies and grouse.

But this time is a little different. It's not too far away. And some friends invited me. The cabin is one friend's rugged-classy 20's-style hunting lodge. Another guy owns a wine'n'cheese store, and another is a chef at a top bistro. They said I don't need to bring anything. Oh yeah!

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