I took a gun for a walk today, it was of a trial of compatibility to see how well we might work together. The gun was an older Model 12, 16 gauge, solid rib, lacking blue and finish in all the right places, a veteran of someone else's time afield. Outside of Turkeys I haven't really hunted birds since my shorthair died and my daughter Lexi was born. That would be 12 years now. I've wanted to get back into it, find another dog, get a shotgun I liked, get in better shape.
The 16 was sent to me by a friend that has the same passions and time constraints. Once in a conversation I mentioned my first gun was a standard grade Model 12 in 20 gauge that I shot my first Virginia grouse, bob whites and even my first whitetail buck with. My brother now owns that gun and I'm sure it's rusting away in a closet in Georgia. Over the years I have owned, borrowed and used a surprising number of shotguns. Like my rifles I kept them only long enough to use, evaluate and then sold or traded them off to try another.
The 16 arrived with a note " it's yours if you want it, but promise me you'll use it" and that was all. It sat in the safe until a few weeks ago when I decided to pattern it. The feel, the unmistakable sound of the action being cycled brought back some dusty memories. Later that week I was comparing shell and shot selections at the local Hook & Bullet hangout. The choices were pretty limited but I'm use to limitations.
Today I picked a route up a ridge that was steep and high. The lower area of the trek would take me through some cover that should hold some western Ruff grouse and the higher slopes might hold some Blues. It was a power walk with ammo. I never saw a bird but that hardly mattered. The sweat pored off my body and my lungs reminded me that the steel in my legs is no longer titanium. At 55 I'll need to really work out a plan to maintain these kind of walks.