Like most normal little boys, I owned a fine collection of toy rifles and pistols, amassing a military worthy arsenal by the age of 9. My favourite was a Bison rifle, so sleek and realistic with its black metal barrel, trigger pull and highly polished oak stock, it was embellished, on the receiver, with a brilliant gold etching of a bison. The style mimicked rifles of the American Old West, I spent many an hour affecting a Texan accent as I hunted for birds and imaginary bandits in my grandparents back garden. I was doing exactly what my father had done, and my grandfather and many generations of men in my family had done, for it is a glorious rite of passage for a boy to handle a firearm, be it a toy or a genuine one. It’s one of those first instances where a boy is able to feel like a man, a hunter, a provider, a warrior etc. With firearms being in use since 1364, they are an essential part of masculinity, one could add any weapon is, from when we first walked on two legs, men have been the protectors, the hunter gatherers who march bravely into the wilderness in order to help our family and our tribe achieve a better and more secure life, so indeed there is something primordial about a man and his gun.
Hunting, not for sport, but for a purpose has always appealed to me, loading my gun and nestling myself deep in the woods, lying in wait for a rabbit or pheasant. It’s not that I have anything against those that do hunt for sport, but for me, there needs to be a sufficient beginning, middle and end to taking a gun and killing something, there has to be some fundamental purpose to it. Recently, I spoke with a friend’s father who is a member of a gun club in Sussex. He has travelled far and wide with his gun, from the Scottish Highlands to the Moors of Yorkshire, and further afield, to Eastern Europe, where in the winter of 2015, he and a group of friends, headed to the woodlands of the Czech Republic, to hunt wild boar and a variety of other beasts.
“It was my first time hunting abroad” he said “I remember, me and a few of my friends had always talked about going to the Czech countryside. We’d heard they have bears there, which adds the element danger.” Like many hunters, Michael is partly a thrill seeker “It was our second day there, we’d ventured into this wooded area, which seemed to stretch for miles upon miles. It was snowing heavily, and I and one other friend had veered away from the group, a stupid thing to do really. Making our way through the many trees, we happened upon on an opening, little did we know it until we had fully entered the opening, that we’d inadvertently cornered a wild boar. He was an angry-looking thing, my friend I could see he was about to attack, and let me tell you, when they attack it’s to kill. So I drew my shotgun, and aimed it at his snarling, angry head. He was just a few meters away, so he could have severely hurt both of us. I then pulled the trigger, and the bullet went right between his eyes, he fell, with a thump, on his left side.”
Michael’s close encounter brought a more than sufficient rush of adrenaline, and the danger he and his friend faced made the victory a lot sweeter. “It’s strange, I didn’t feel anything at the time, my aim was to kill this boar so that it didn’t have a chance to hurt us, but afterwards I could feel this sense of achievement, not that I’d killed something for the sake of it, but that I’d protected me and my friend. We ended up taking it back to camp, and roasting it. Let’s just say, after what I’d been through, he tasted good.”
Hunting gives a man an indescribable sense of satisfaction, it ignites a biological trait that all men have, to conquer the wild and become master of his domain. Moreover, there’s something sacred to a man handling a firearm, it’s a right and a privilege to be bestowed with the power it possesses.
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