I had this old single barrel 12 gauge out for cleaning so I decided to take a picture with some of my bushcraft and hunting gear. It was made by an unknown Brazilian company and is about 40 years old - but it’s comfortable to shoot, a handy gun in the field and the lock up is still as solid as I remember from my first hunting trips as a boy.
This shotgun was given to me by my uncle who is 65 years of age and no longer interested in walking the hills chasing rabbits. I’ve taken it out once so far since he gave it to me but unfortunately the rabbits and foxes I sighted were just out of shotgun range. But walking the fields in search of game has reminded me how lucky I was growing up to have men in my life who taught me to embrace the great outdoors. My grandfather taught me to fish - I lost count of the days I spent fishing the estuaries of the north coast - pulling in nice ‘keeper size’ flathead and the occasional whiting or bream. My uncle taught me to shoot on many camping trips growing up - walking the paddocks of an afternoon or spotlighting from the back of a ute at night. My father taught me to trap rabbits - setting them in the afternoon, checking them in the evening before rolling into the swag for a few hours sleep - then getting up in the pre-dawn darkness to check them again and usually bringing home a few cotton tails. He was taught by men who lived through the Great Depression and would set 200 traps a night and bring in dozens of rabbits of a morning to sell as a cheap source of protein when everyone was doing it tough.
The men in my family didn’t just teach me these important skills that I some day look forward to passing onto my sons and nephews - they ignited my passion for the outdoors, instilled in me a healthy respect for all animals, showed me the joy in rising early, taught me how to be safe with firearms, knives and tools and above all, did it with love, care and patience.
This gun is a reminder, not just of the rich history my family has in the outdoor pursuits (my father still tells stories of his grandfather running the hounds through the bush west of Sydney that is now densely populated suburbia), but also of the sort of man I would like to be. It reminds me of what a good role model is and does. It reminds me how important it is for young men to learn these skills - not just for the joy of hunting or fishing, but for all that it teaches you about patience, care and responsibility - qualities that I think are lacking in the world today.