My backyard farm and a .22 caliber rifle has been a good place to teach my children respect and safe handling of firearms. They have experienced the satisfaction of sighting in a rifle and grouping 20 bullets (.22 shorts) from the tube magazine around a bull’s eye. I look forward to teaching my grandchildren to shoot. When not in use, my guns are secured in a safe.
I have used a rifle to dispatch that possum that killed my hens and the groundhog that destroyed my children’s patch of beautiful pumpkins. On a Sunday afternoon, when the neighbors came to me with the dilemma of a severely suffering pet dog and no veterinarian available to relieve that suffering, I was able to solve their problem although I am grateful there was a veterinarian available to put down my own pony and pet dog. One day my son called me from the goat farm where he was working. A big buck had got hung up in the limbs of a bush and broken both its front legs with the bones protruding. The farm owners were not around and he didn't know what to do. I went over and solved that problem to the gratitude of the farm owners upon their return. It was not without grief that I assisted my neighbors or my son’s employers. I did not feel bad about killing the possum or the groundhog. I wish I had gotten that fox that killed my turkeys.
When I was a child and shot my first sparrow with my new Daisy BB gun, I learned immediately that I did not share my hero Teddy Roosevelt’s love of killing animals and I never shot another animal without a reason for shooting it. However, I did feel an intense satisfaction when I killed and dressed my first rooster ring neck pheasant for the dinner table. I always wished my father had taught me the real skill of putting barbecued venison on the table and I will likely never have that opportunity nor teach my offspring this ancient art. I enjoy the kick of a shotgun, that sharp crack in my ears, the smell of spent powder, and the vision of an exploding clay pigeon.
Through endless debates in my mind, I have resolved that I could never shoot another person to protect my own life, but I could do it to protect my wife, child, or grandchild. I pray to Heavenly Father I never have to test this tenuous resolution. With my backyard farm being more than minutes away from a peace officer, I have prepared for that worst contingency and I didn't need Joe Biden or the National Rifle Association to tell me how to prepare. The current gun debate is ravaging our country and I wish that common sense could prevail - the common sense that can be gained from experience on a backyard farm.
|My children with their Henry Golden Boy lever action .22 rifles|
(Sarah was not a round for the photo)