"Deer season starts next week." Dad was sitting at the kitchen table with the .30-06 lying on the oilcloth, its bolt below the trigger guard, can of gun oil beside them. The cleaning cloth was in his hand, he was reaching for the ramrod. I had no clue that it was October or that hunting was on his mind. Not much.
"We need to get these rifles sighted in," Dad
continued, as he screwed the little brass brush into the cleaning rod. My heart
began to race and the excitement welled up as I realized that this might be the
year that he would take me hunting with him. Dad had brought home the meat
every year since I was five years old, never failing to bag the game. I turned
seventeen last July.
Saturday we gathered guns and ammo and a half-dozen tomato juice cans, placed them gently in the trunk of the Ford and drove to the
disused gravel pit which was the local de facto rifle range. This site was on
Mesa road and less than half-mile from a residential area as the crow
flies, yet there was a veritable mountain between the venue and any
We set up a row of cans at the base of the cut
in the side of the hill and paced off a hundred yards.
Dad loaded the .30-06 and from a standing
free-hand position, fired. A puff of dirt shot up immediately behind a can. My
father tinkered with the sight a few seconds, raised the rifle and fired again.
Can flew off into oblivion. "That'll do it," he said. "She's good." He
handed me the rifle.
Now I had fired a .22 many times and even the
.25-20 on occasion, but I had never handled the ought-six. I was in for a
walloping, and I got it. But I also got a can. Dad then fired one shot with
the .270 he had borrowed from a friend, picked off a can and said, "We're good.
No need wasting ammo; run down there and gather up those cans."
He stowed the rifles in the car as I fetched the
remaining targets. Hunting season starts in four days!