It’s a small, private Ohio college. The academic standards are high, and the tuition is even higher – more than $50,000 per student per year. It makes the few thousand dollars my father paid for me to attend a state university many years ago seem a paltry sum.
Recently, I was asked to participate in a three-person panel discussion at the college titled “Gun Culture and the Second Amendment.” It seemed the students – mainly from affluent families on both the East and West coasts – wanted to learn more about what makes us Midwesterners tick, why many of us believe we need guns. I had no idea what to expect, but I was willing to give it a shot, pun intended.
The first question directed to me by the moderator was “Why do you own guns?” I remember beginning my answer by mumbling something about the fact that it was my Second Amendment right but as I looked at the room full of students and faculty seated in front of me I could see their eyes begin to glaze over with boredom.
“This isn’t working,” I told myself. Then suddenly the thought came to me: Tell them a story.
“But I personally own guns because I enjoy target shooting and hunting,” I said. “And I very likely own guns today because my father did before me.”
I could see the audience begin to re-engage.
“When I was a young boy,” I continued, “I remember my father showing me his small collection of rifles and shotguns and instructing me never to touch them. ‘When you’re old enough,’ he’d said, ‘I’ll teach you how to shoot and hunt.’ And he did.
“At first, I ‘hunted’ without a gun,” I told the audience, “simply following my father through seemingly endless brushy fields in search of cottontail rabbits and ringneck pheasants. Eventually, I graduated to carrying a small single-shot .410 shotgun, and then a 12 gauge.”
“I remember both the first rabbit and first pheasant I ever shot. We took those game animals home and Dad showed me how to clean them and my mother prepared them for our Christmas dinner. Wild game on the table became an annual Christmas ritual at our house after that, a tradition we enjoyed together as a family for years to come. I’ve since passed that tradition along to me family.”
When I finished by short story, I saw some members of the audience crack a smile and not their heads. Maybe they finally understood. Maybe they finally got an inkling that firearms can be something more than the cold instruments of death carried by soldiers, police officers and gang members. Maybe they realized for the first time that firearms can be one of the links that forge a lifelong bond between parents and children, even grandchildren.
When my two sons were teenagers, I taught both of them to shoot and hunt. And even though they are now grown men with families of their own we still enjoy getting together for those outdoor activities. The good-natured ribbing that comes with occasionally missing an easy target is part of the fun.
I’ll be the first to admit that target shooting and hunting are not for everyone. But I also believe that everyone should know how to at least handle a gun safely. I’m now beginning to teach my young grandchildren those basic skills, knowing that someday – whether they become shooters and hunters or not – they will encounter a firearm.
And when that time comes, possibly at a friend’s house, will they have the knowledge to handle that gun safely? Will they insist their friend to the same? And will they have the good sense to not touch a firearm if they don’t know how it works? I’m doing all I can not to make sure those things happen.
Driving home from the college panel discussion, it dawned on me how powerful a personal story can be – the images it can convey. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. The greatest teacher who ever lived taught by simply telling stories. He called them parables.
We get asked all the time what exactly will you be able to do with my old Herters? (or whatever brand you might have.) Here are some pictures from a happy client in North Carolina showing off the great work that was done to his decoys. In case you were wondering what your decoys would look like after the repair... now you know!
Depending on how your duck, goose and, if you take part in it, your snow goose seasons are going will most likely determine how bad you may, or may not, want the season to end. Regardless of these different scenarios, there is going to be an offseason. For most of us, this particular time happens between the middle of March after the last push of snow geese head north, to September 1st when early Teal and Canada goose seasons come back in. Those five or so months between the seasons can potentially make or break how your next season will go. When you are primarily hunting pressured birds as most of us do, it is becoming harder every year to be successful on a continual basis and the offseason is where preparing for the next season plays a HUGE role in your success.
Just because you can’t go sit in the blind, pit, or layout for another five months or so, does not mean you shouldn’t be preparing for the next season. Here are some of the things you should do shortly after the season closes to prepare for next season...
1) clean and repair your decoys (For owners of Fowl Foolers decoys, be sure to wash your decoys with soap and water so it doesn't stain!) 2) completely disassemble your guns for a very thorough cleaning 3) shoot clays as often as possible (Not just the last week in August) 4) keep in contact with landowners that gave you permission to hunt their land and make contact with other farmers in those areas in an attempt to get new land to hunt 5) constantly practice with our duck and goose calls (and not just in the car because the acoustics in the car is way different than the marsh!)
So I want to help you get started by offering 10% off any repair service here at Fowl Foolers. Whether you're looking for fresh paint, burlap repair, burlapping old foam blocks, or adding some new heads. We will offer 10% off our repair service while we can. So don't miss out on the opportunity to those old blocks into new decoys in your spread next year! Call Roz in the office or Dave out in the field at 410-960-6016 to get your repairs started.