It Will Hunt Again

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis | February 19, 2023

GON Blogger Andrew Curtis said his grandfather’s gun will hunt again someday once it’s repaired.

I look at the picture every day. Sitting on my bookshelf is a framed photograph of my grandfather, grandmother and mom taken outside my grandfather’s parents’ home in Naylor, Georgia in the mid-1950s when my mom was five or six. It is what’s in my grandfather’s hand that interests me so. That strong hand of his clutches a very plain side-by-side shotgun, but there is more to the story. 

This shotgun almost missed its chance to remain in the family. After my grandfather died in 2002, my dad found something wrapped in a sheet in the back of my grandfather’s closet. When my dad opened the sheet, he saw a double barrel shotgun in two pieces, broken at the wooden grip. Though the gun is an antique, it is of little monetary value, and my dad thought of throwing it away. Who would want this old broken gun? 

I did… the grandson who wanted to hold onto everything that could possibly remind him of his grandfather. When I looked at the gun for the first time in my dad’s hands, I dreamed of the day that the gun would hunt again, but I knew that it would have to wait. Placing the gun pieces back in the sheet, I stuck it under my bed.

Nearly 10 years passed from the day my dad handed me the gun before I unwrapped it a second time from the same sheet that my grandfather had placed around it all those years before. But this time, I was overpowered by the sentimentality of it all. I pictured my grandfather holding that gun, but my grandfather looked different than I had remembered him. He was no longer old and bent over cruelly from his Parkinson’s Disease. He was young, strong and handsome. He was the brave man who had returned home a hero from the war. He was the man who never let himself sacrifice anything for his honor. He was the man who saw the value in a simple shotgun. 

A short time later, my mom gave me the framed picture that I described earlier, a picture that brought new meaning to the significance of this shotgun. I realized that it was the very gun that my grandfather had grown up with. 

“Quail hunting is the king of hunting. Nothing compares,” he had told me once. That old side-by-side taught my grandfather so much when he learned the art of quail hunting as a boy on his family farm in Lanier County. There was much promise in that simple, American life he knew.

But then the war came and swept that humble country boy away to faraway lands, forcing him to endure hardships that most of us will never know. He understood what he was fighting for. His love for Naylor, Georgia pushed him on, and he dreamed of getting back to that side-by-side shotgun, to flush another covey. 

He did return, but when he did, he was a changed man. The Navy motivated my grandfather to be more, and he realized that the small farming town of home could no longer support his big dreams. Though he moved away, the old side-by-side never let him stay gone too long from his south Georgia quail-country roots. 

In time, my grandfather would buy two more shotguns, both automatics. Somewhere along the way, the old, trusty side-by-side kicked one too many times and cracked at the grip. My grandfather just could not bring himself to part with his favorite gun. I’m sure glad he didn’t.

Now, I am the one attached to the gun. I have tried numerous times to have the gun repaired, but each time I was told that I would have to find someone else to try. I have not given up though. I owe it to my grandfather because I know that it is more than a gun. It is an heirloom within my family. For me, this gun is a symbol of freedom, a freedom that my grandfather fought for, a freedom to ensure his grandchildren and their children could enjoy their Second Amendment rights. It is a freedom to guarantee his descendants the right to hunt and fish, just as he did.

I dream of the day that my two boys may hold my grandfather’s side-by-side and squeeze the trigger on a wild quail on the same farm my grandfather grew up on. I dream of this day, and I believe it will happen. My grandfather fought for this very dream.

An old photo of Andrew’s grandparents and his mother reveal the shotgun that he now owns.

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