Friday, 4 January 2013

Guns and Ammunition

I have been toying with ideas for this post ever since the tragedies at Shady Nook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and the shootings at West Webster, New York and, also, I was spurred by the post of Michael (aka Kananaskis Traveler). Both he and I were raised in homes where hunting was a way to put some meat on the table so there was at least one shotgun as well as rifles and ammunition in the house.

Dad enjoyed hunting and fishing which - unfortunately - did not rub off on me, his oldest son. In the autumn  of each year Dad and some buddies would go hunting. The activity was relatively successful when it came to waterfowl (mallards, teal and Canada geese) but not when it came to bigger game like deer or moose.

For my fourteenth birthday I was given a new 22 caliber rifle and, it went without saying, I was to go to target practice. I did not like spending hours on cold afternoons shooting at targets placed upon posts across a field from where we were positioned. However, what was even worse was target practice using clay pigeons. As the junior member of the group, it was my task to release the clay pigeons and then be deafened by the three or more others around me banging away with their shotguns while hoping to see the targets disintegrate in mid-air. The noise always reduced me to a quivering sobbing heap.

Always I have hated loud noises - even summer thunder overhead. 

While Dad never brought home the carcass of a deer nor a moose, it was extremely rare for him to return empty handed from a hunt for waterfowl. On one occasion Mom was in hospital and Grandma was looking after the household so she ordered me to pluck and disembowel bird carcasses so she could cook them for dinner. I flatly refused - but was not punished for my disobedience. In the end those carcasses rotted and had to be thrown away.

I guess that I was/am a 'wuss'!

This has nothing to do with hunting but this does put me in mind of two unusual meals where the meat portion was a novelty.

We lived in a semi-rural area and a man with a specially equipped truck came around once or twice a week. He liked my parents so, once, he offered something special to our family. Near Edmonton, Alberta is Wood Buffalo National Park and a herd of buffalo live there. Each year the herd was culled and the carcasses of the slaughtered bison are sold. Mom purchased a cut of roast from him and cooked it. The cooked meat had a dark color to it  but it tasted very good.

For a short while in the 1950s specially licensed butcher shops were allowed to sell horse meat. As the price per pound was less than that of a pound of beef Mom purchased enough for a roast while on a shopping trip into New Westminster. Among our neighbors was the Philcox family. The head of the clan lived near to where we had first lived on Dawes Hill while one of his sons and family lived about half a mile east of where we were then living. Mr Philcox had a team of horses and a plow and, every spring, he would visit the families of his offspring and plow their yards for them.

Always it was Dad's task to carve the roast. His position at the dinner table was the south seat with the highway outside passing behind his back. As he was about to carve into the roast he paused with the carving knife in one hand and the fork in the other and said, "If Old Man Philcox passes along the highway with his team of horses while I am carving, it will finish  me!".

Mr Philcox did not pass by at that crucial moment!

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