Rage – Pheasant

“Up here to shoot partridge and pheasant, probably.”

Charlie Decker’s father was a hunter. Deer, primarily. He had guns.

My dad was a hunter. Pheasant, primarily. He has guns.

As a kid, I went with my dad on a hunting day trip at least once. Of course, I was relegated to sitting on the floor of the big yellow van while the men in their gear searched for the pretty birds. The heavy side door slid open and I sat there, feet swinging over the edge, pigtails on either side of my face, wearing my favorite yellow Iowa Hawkeye hooded sweatshirt.

I watched the men hunker down, aim, pull the trigger, then, gun lowered and neck extended, search the horizon for a sign of where the pheasant landed. I watched our family dog Sadie, a black Lab – cocker spaniel mix, bouncing in and out of the grasses. Or crops. Or brush. I watched my dad: slim, dark shaggy hair, Tom Selleck mustache, with his easy gait and dark blue stocking cap.

When we arrived home, I watched (& helped!) as my dad feathered, skinned, and cut apart each bird on a makeshift table in our unfinished basement, in front of the washer and dryer.

And I ate that pheasant for dinner that evening, sitting at the card table with my pops and two siblings, careful not to fall for the teasing about “the best part!” … the heart.

I knew my dad had a gun. I knew he had a couple of guns. I knew, or was pretty sure I knew, where he kept them. Yet I never once was curious about them.

My folks did it right. There was a respect for a rifle but not an awe. It was like any other tool: something you used for a job and once that job was done, you set it aside. Since it was treated as such, the curiosity of something forbidden never besieged me.

I’m unsure where this leaves me on the spectrum of the whole Second Amendment debate, and I’m sure arguments could be made using this anecdote for and against, but I do know that some folks get it right. Like my Pops. And some don’t. Like any number of infamous examples.

Like Charlie Decker’s father.