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Gun Barrels

When you came from a hunting culture growing up when I grew up, you were going to hunt.  You may not have wanted to hunt but you were going to hunt.   For a lot of families who never get coverage in the New York Times, the working poor, food is a priority, not free health care and taxing the rich.(1)

It’s a lot of pressure for a kid, especially in a family that had great hunters and not a lot of respect for book intelligence.   I had a better time hunting deer by myself.  If you miss a shot by yourself, you missed and that’s it, but a young teenager in a group of older, experienced hunters has to instead think about missing the shot and what that will mean in the way of ridicule.(2)  Except I never shot a deer back then by myself.   Not once.  The times when I did shoot a deer were when I knew my father was 50 yards away and he was going to shoot it.   Sometimes pressure works.

In hindsight, though, group hunting with my family then was pretty funny.  This is a picture I took of our gun rack at our home in Pennsylvania, 1980-81.   I saw it a few days ago and chuckled at two things – the thermostat and the .30-06 at the top.   I chuckled at the thermostat because it was just a thermometer, really.  The house was wood heated and no little knob was going to cut down a tree and split it.

And the .30-06 got a chuckle from me because I carried that thing at age 15.  Look at what is wrong with that picture.  See the .30-06 and its scope and the more normal scope on the .22 that is two spots underneath it?   At age 15, in order to be able to see through the scope – the open sights are blocked – I had to be able to pull this rather large rife up to my shoulder but then crane my neck backward to see through the scope at all.   I never liked scopes anyway imagine hefting this behemoth when a deer is running and trying to shoot.(3)   Most ridiculously, the way it is mounted, when you fired the rifle you actually ended up cocking the scope to reload.   Obviously I never shot it when it mattered.(4)

I don’t know what sort of rifle that scope was designed for, but it must be something big enough to shoot down the Moon.


(1)The poor, even then, were cursed with a number of insidious, hidden taxes that hit poor people unfairly and it is the same today; California claims to be the most progressive state in the nation, and progressives claim to care about poor people, but we wildly overtax people.  State taxes are high, sure, and though 50% of America pays no federal income tax so that is at least resembling fair, 100 percent of people pay sales taxes, gasoline taxes and too many fees to count and Californians pay more than anyone.  Gas taxes are highest in the nation, for example, leading to ridiculous gas prices even though we are not reliant on oil from OPEC and instead get the bulk of it through the Alaska Pipeline.

If we want to make the lives of poor people better, get rid of hidden taxes and then cut government spending to match what you make.  It’s easy – California may have gotten itself into a jam by building expenses to match revenue from capital gains taxes in the Dot Com Boom into the annual budget and hiring a bunch of correctly-voting cronies but we all know now Gray Davis was an idiot.   It can be fixed.

(2) Though I was a decent shot, then and now.   I had an academic scholarship to go to college but the university I attended had a few small sports to placate the NCAA for its Division I basketball team and those were ‘scholarship’ sports too and one of those was competition shooting and so I joined.   They had these great Anschutz .22 rifles with aperture sighting (round circle up the barrel that looks through a round circle at the end, if you don’t know guns) and you shot from 50 feet away and the bullseye was the size of a .22 bullet.  As you can imagine, controlling motion, like breathing and heart rate are vital at a target that small at that distance.    I did okay, they published a book with everyone’s final rankings at the end and the coach showed me my place and I thanked him and he said, “You don’t seem very excited.   That’s a terrific season.  You are one of the best college shooters in the country, you should be proud.”

“Who can I brag to?” I asked.  “I’m not even the fourth best shot in my family.”   So I got no bragging rights but I have a letter in a college sport and I got a scholarship offer for that too.  $250, though, it ain’t basketball.

(3) My father’s Winchester lever action, sixth from the top in the picture above, is now mine after his passing and in his later years he put a scope on, but it is offset (see below) – so you can look through it in the woods to see if the deer had horns and then still shoot open sight.  I think that is really civilized.

(4) This exasperated my older brother, Rocky.  One time we were coming back from the woods and just along the ridge of a gentle hill above our house a few deer ran by.  They were all doe, so technically illegal, but it never mattered to my brother.   I tried to lumber that beast of a gun to my shoulder but I was way too late.  He grabbed it from me, lifted it to his adult shoulder and fired off three rounds.   “I wanted you to hear what that sounds like!” he said as he handed it back.   “You just shot at my bedroom window,” I replied, which at least made him laugh.

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