Shooting the Breeze
The .22 handgun

Dale Valade

Ah, hunting season. For those flicking sticks, it’s already upon us, and for the punkin’ chunkers, we have just a little bit longer yet to wait. The smell of wood smoke and sizzling bacon is even more tantalizing in the great outdoors. Hunting season is our time to refill the freezer, but it can be great for many other reasons.

For myself, it’s a great time to catch up with extended family and friends. We discuss important things around the campfire like the best way to prepare bass, how to properly fall trees and try to solve all the world’s problems just to get the ball rolling. There is plenty of that substance that Mrs. Truman tried so desperately to get Harry to call “fertilizer” being spread around both day and night. Politics and religion get more than a casual once over, but they, like Al Pacino, are only getting it warmed up.

The real fist fights don’t get started until we get down to brass tacks, Ford versus Chevrolet and Winchester versus Remington. Ladies it may disconcert you to know we don’t sit around arguing over who has the prettiest wife when we are wrestling over who has the best gun. It’s sophomoric at best, but we all do it sometimes. Maybe it’s the geographical concentration of testosterone or the five o’clock shadows giving our self-formed opinions Samson-esque confidence. But I would bet you pesos to pemmican, if you come into hunting camp and go to insulting a man’s favorite musket, there will always be hell to pay.

It always starts subtly, a small, matter of fact statement, resounding much like ringing the bell at an organized prize fight. It could range from “all you need is a .270” to “anything smaller than a .338 is a BB gun.” All muster together in a ring around the campfire, and the free for all begins. All prejudices are exposed, the old cursing the ignorance of the young, while the young curse the “failing” vision of the old. Numbers true and false are spewed forth like genuine vitriol. When facts fail to convert, then come the insults of intelligence. These range from educated to infantile and everything in between.

Whoever is lucky enough to bag the first or the biggest game animal is unofficially awarded bragging rights. “Yep,” they say, “if the rest of you fellas shot a .30-06 like me, this could be you taking home this huge trophy. But since you only shoot a 6.5 Creedmoor et. al., I guess it’s only tag soup for you yet again.” This of course goes on and on throughout the season and can even carry on for years for those with thick enough skin to take the chiding and yet come back for more. It’s all in good fun, you see, but if everyone shot the same gun, wore the same clothes and drove the same truck, well that would just be boring. Without a decent black-eyed berating, I just couldn’t see having near as much fun in hunting camp. In hunting camp, insults are a sign of devotion, and sarcasm supplants the hug.

Maybe we will see you in hunting camp. If you can hack it, maybe you can come back next year!

What are your favorite hunting camp rivalries? Write in at!

Dale Valade is a local country gent with a deep love for handloading, hunting and shooting.

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