I grew up in a different age. Living the first few years of my life on a small farm I never really ‘left’ the farm. In the late 1950’s we moved to a very small town in north central Iowa. Our home had a small river bordering our lot and a huge pasture on the other side. Just about as rural as you could get.
My best friend and I spent hours and hours roaming up and down the river fishing, camping, exploring, hunting squirrels and shooting. There was an old cement bridge on a fairly busy highway that crossed the river about a block from our house. We’d pitch a small block of wood into the river, stand on the bridge and shoot at the blocks. Cars would go by and nobody paid us any attention.
In the fall, we jumped on our bikes, .22 rifles on the handle bars and headed a mile out of town to a huge oak woods to hunt squirrels. The trip usually required a stop at the local hardware store to buy a box of .22’s that we’d share. My buddy was 14 and I was 12. On the way back through town we’d stop at the gas station for a soda and share our hunting tales with the local loafers. What a life.
Jump forward 60 years. Probably 99% of the stuff we did back then would land us in detention today. Uncased guns, shooting from a public roadway, minors in possession of firearms, purchasing and possessing ammunition as minors, terrorizing, etc, etc. And you know what? Neither one of us grew up to be mass murderers, bank robbers or gangsters. In fact, we became relatively productive citizens! That’s not to say we may not have pushed the limits or bent the rules on occasion, but for the most part…..
Metro vs Rural.. Attitudes differ
In Minnesota we recently saw the majority of the outstate area vote overwhelmingly Republican while the Metro area voted Democrat. I have family in the Metro area and we agree that we have different concerns, interests and forms of entertainment. The metro residents more often embrace or don’t believe more laws will really affect them. They depend on social programs to help their neighbors. The liberal metro areas want to reduce police presence. We’ve witnessed the leaders allowing people to ‘express’ their frustration through violence and property destruction. You just have to let those that disagree act out as they see fit. The folks in the outstate areas will help pay for the damage. Bullshit.
I’m lucky to have a lake in my backyard. The shooting range is about a 10 minute drive. Our local groups and churches hold fund raisers for those folks needing help. When a farm family has a serious illness or death, neighbors step up to help out. We wave at our passing patrol cars, give them a thumbs up and buy their coffee when we get a chance. In the outstate we’ll consider meaningful gun laws that work, not just MORE laws.
And the differences between the rural and urban areas aren’t necessarily along political party lines, its just a different way of life. It’s a different world out here. I’m glad to say as we struggle to maintain our rural sovereignty, I’m seeing some encouraging signs.
But there’s hope!
In the last few years it’s been refreshing to see there’s a new generation of hunters and shooters coming up. Sixty years ago there weren’t many girls in our circle that hunted or did any shooting. That was an activity reserved for the guys. I am so happy to see that’s changed. It makes life more fun, interesting and some of the ‘girls’ can teach us a thing or two.
The folks we’ve met in North Dakota are prime examples of rural folks bringing up there kids in a life steeped in a tradition of hunting and shooting. When we go to the annual Prime Rib feed, they hold a trap shoot and there are always women on the line with the guys.
Get the kids involved….
And one of the key people behind the scenes of the Michael Odermann Memorial Pheasant hunt is Michael’s brother Jacob. Consider this, the Memorial Pheasant Hunt is in memory of Michael who lost his life in a hunting accident. Funds from the hunt and banquet go to scholarships for local students. I really respect this family for the way they handled the tragedy and respect that Jacob is passing on a tradition we cherish in the rural areas. These are two of Jacob’s boys with a prize rabbit (taken after chores were done, by the way!) And I’m glad the standard holds, with a few exceptions (skunks, prairie dogs, rattle snakes, etc)……., don’t shoot it if you won’t eat it.
I love this picture of Erin’s (TSA Knives, LLC) 2 year old Katie with her aunt Jocelyn celebrating a successful opening day hunt with an 11 point buck. All of the girls in this family grew up around guns and hunting. I can guarantee you that deer was dressed out by the hunter and I’m confident Katie assisted. That little girl is no doubt going to carry on a cherished family tradition thanks to her parents.
My favorite pictures are a mother introducing two of her daughters to deer hunting. My wife and I shoot pistol with Kim. As you can see, she loves her kids, the outdoors, hunting, shooting and fishing. You have to respect parents and its a very special mom that will spend time in the blind sharing with her girls what hunting is all about. It’s not head to the woods, take your shot and head home. There’s time to bond, talk and think about all kinds of things. I promise these girls and their mom will never forget these moments together.
These are just a few of the images I love about living in rural America. It’s people and parents passing on traditions that are slipping away from us. I know we can never go back and in some respects don’t want to. But it makes me happy to see so many folks out here in the sticks exposing their kids to the tradition of hunting and shooting.
I want to see more kids and especially ‘girls’ getting involved. All of my shooting anymore is done with my wife and now we join up with Kim for a class now and then. Honestly, it’s about as much fun as you could ask for. Do your wife, daughter, niece, sister a favor and ask them to go shooting with you. You might be surprised how much fun you have.