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Location: Midwest, United States

Friday, April 30, 2010

Beautiful Guns

That’s a jarring pairing of words, no? Beautiful guns. I’ve no doubt I just scared more than a few of you.

Yet, it’s true. There are guns that are works of art. There are shotguns, barrels-blued, engraved to a fine degree with stocks well-oiled and beautifully grained. There are guns that are highly prized as art. Guns bid to astronomical price for their historical or aesthetic value.

There are beautiful guns.

And I own two.

As I write, I know I’m about to lose a few readers. It’s happened before (more than a few times). I lost a few “regulars” when I expressed my admiration for Barack Obama (I still admire the man...leave if you must).

But, now, there’s this...(and this’ll be a killer): I used to hunt.

Yes, it’s true. I used to hunt upland game birds and waterfowl. With a gun. I’ve killed. What’s most horrific, I wounded. I did.

I’ve no desire to explain myself. It’d be a mystic explication. It’d be a tale of amazing dogs. A recounting of fog at dawn. A story of footfalls in frigid corn stubble, the tragedy of predator and prey.

But I will tell you this: I plucked each and every feather with my own fingers. Not with pleasure. Not without remorse. I prayed for, and gloried in, each and every soul that gave me sustenance. My hands have been bloodied...unlike the hands that pluck boneless, skinless chicken thighs from styrofoamed and plastic-wrapped packages bought without fore- or afterthought at the grocery.

And I would tell you this: My guns were beautiful.

I had a Weatherby 12 gauge shotgun with an “English” walnut stock that I hand-rubbed with fine oil ‘til the grain revealed itself in all its complex beauty. I had the trigger-guard engraved with the same totem I have tattooed on my back.

I also owned a Beretta 20 gauge over-under replete with beautiful engravings (Italians know how to do filigree. They surely do). This was a “gentler” gun, though no less lethal.

They cost me thousands. I admired them. Tended to them. Cleaned them, oiled them, polished them. They were beautiful guns.

They reside, today, at the local police station. They may very well reside there forever. I don’t trust myself enough to bring them home.

Even though they are beautiful things. They truly are.

But theirs is a fearsome beauty.

Beauty with the power to kill.

* * *


Blogger Kass said...

There can be beautiful craftsmanship in even a gallows, I suspect. Art is art. Sometimes it has nothing to do with function. We have the Browning Museum in Ogden, Utah and it is a wonder to view.

I still admire Obama too. Am holding my breath.

I used to bribe my sons with a lot of money to refuse to go hunting with their father. I'll never forget that man telling me the story of slicing into a doe who was lactating. There is a certain allure to even horrific things. It arouses a piquant sense.

Sat May 01, 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Piquant sense, Kass? I dunno. That phrase never came to mind. To me. It was always something far more elemental. It was a matter of life or death. Blood and nourishment. Terrible tragedy versus sacrament.

Then, again, all I can relay is my own experience.

I'm no messenger for Truth.

Sat May 01, 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

I used to adore hunting trips with my Dad. I was cook and camp host until the time he felt I was old enough to join the actual hunt. First year I wounded a doe and had to track her screaming self down and quiet her. Was the last time I hunted. I should have stuck to camp host. I missed those times spent with my Da after that. I still have and shoot guns to stay sharp due to the fact I #1 love to shoot and #2 need protection for my lone out of town existence. My 380 is not so much a work of art though lol.

Sat May 01, 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Just watched a truly Canadian movie this past weekend, Gunless. It was a comedy about a gunman who had to wait to kill a man, sounds gruesome but wasn't. The movie was funny, witty and thoughtful.

I used to think hunting was so awful until I realized that the cellophane wrapped chicken from Safeway was no different. I eat animals, how is hunting any different? At least a hunter has the honesty to kill his own meat.

Mon May 03, 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger anna said...

What's tattooed on your back?

Tue May 04, 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I don't possess the intestinal fortitude to kill a mammal as large as a deer, Queen Cheese. Birds were more than enough challenge for me, given that I was committed to cleaning/dressing the animal myself for subsequent consumption (just as I always had with fish).

I guess one may say that my background is atypical. Part of my career was in agriculture. I spent a few years visiting migrant labor camps, slaughter houses, feedlots and "food factories". Sobering stuff.

Yes, Deb, we humans kill to eat...whether by proxy or directly. I prefer to take direct responsibility for my hungers.The blood dripping from my fingers reminds me of the gravity of my choices.

I have a simple, black "totem" tattooed on my back, Anna. To be honest, the tattoo itself doesn't hold any particular meaning for me. It's just an abstract symbol. The meaning, for me, resides in the path trod to get "inked". The "meaning" is something I can't define in words.

Tue May 04, 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Yvonne Osborne said...

Any well crafted item can be beautiful and these are. And useful. Living in an area where deer have become a nuisance to farmers and a danger to drivers, I say very useful indeed. Now handguns to me are another matter entirely. That which has only one use, in my opinion.

Sun May 09, 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Yvonne Osborne said...

And I wanted to add, I admire Obama more all the time.

Sun May 09, 08:00:00 AM  

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