I did something yesterday I never imagined doing. The bank I'm a director of had a 'fun' meeting at a swanky local released bird "plantation" yesterday morning and a quail 'hunt' arranged for the afternoon.
Lately, I've begun to have balance problems leading to being a little tangle-footed walking in rough cover. I consider that to be a safety issue and advised I'd go along but wouldn't join in the shooting.
They insisted on providing me with a Polaris ride and driver so I could just get out and shoot the covey rises. I took the ride and thoroughly enjoyed the outing and watching the others shoot. However, I think my decision was sound and did not shoot. Well, that's not completely true; one Tennessee Red lit in an oak tree over the Polaris while the others were out on a round. I got off the wagon and shot him.
I'm only 70 and in pretty good physical condition considering both a stroke and open heart surgery, so I wonder if I made the right decision. I've hunted birds with older guys I didn't think were safe to be in the woods with anymore. Once a man makes that call, its not something that's easily reversed. I think I'm the only one who can make that call.
Geo, I logged on here this morning before I took the 3 grandkids (5, 3 1/2, & 2) for their weekly trip to the lake so your question was on my mind as they paddled and played in the sand and then ate a picnic lunch. Since I've already lived past my "three score and ten", I've dealt with your concerns and I keep coming back to the same answer as John's above. I'm not going to hang'em up. I'm going to make another adjustment and keep going.
I used to not even think about grabbing a 50lb kayak and carrying it down to the lake. Then the time came when I had to drag them up and down the beach. Finally, two years ago I bought one of those two wheel dolly's that slips over one end and you pick up the other and roll it down to the water. Grandma asked me today why I had three kids pushing on the boat as we pulled it back up the hill to the truck. I told her that I was getting ready for the day when they were going to have to launch it for me. That will be my final adjustment.
Then last weekend I told my son that we already have a pair of small earmuffs but I need him to buy a pair of child's safety glasses. The oldest just turned 5 and he can start going to the range with me. The BB rifle is ready and a couple of months ago I stumbled on (& bought) two boxes of 22 shorts for the old Stevens Crack Shot. After that I've got an extra short LOP Ithaca double in the safe for the next step.
When I finish posting this, I'm going to the bench to load some light load, low pressure, low speed 16's for my next trip to the range. Sure, they're for the 100+ year old wood on my doubles but they're equally for my cervical spine which responds to recoil by numbing my trigger finger hand. I've experimented with and settled on some low pressure loads that I can shoot 100 rounds of and not have any residual effects. I admit that I don't have much more room for adjustment in these loads but I'm going to keep adjusting as long as I can.
And when I can't shoot anymore or can't get on the water anymore, my happiness is still going to be full. You can see a pretty good reflection of why right here.
A few years ago, on a cold snowy afternoon in January, during our late flintlock deer season, I happened upon an interesting scene. I was still hunting and came to the edge of the woods where a small overgrown field dropped down toward a small wooded creek bottom. Out in the field, overlooking the creek bottom was an old man in a folding lawn chair. He had hunting clothes on, and was cradling his rifle. An old wool Army blanket was partially wrapped around him. I'd say he had to be in his mid 80's or older, and he seemed to be napping. Four wheeler tracks in the snow showed that he was transported there, and left to his hunting. I'm quite sure no one forced him to be out there, but given the opportunity, he made the effort to get dressed and go and sit for hours in the cold, snow, and wind. I assume his son was probably not far away, and would come to do any gutting or dragging if the old guy happened to shoot a deer.
He never knew I was there, and I slipped back into the woods, changed direction and circled toward the other side of the hollow, hoping I might push a bedded deer toward him. I thought it was really cool that he still wanted to be out there, and if I could choose the time and place where I am when my life comes to an end, it would be doing just as that old guy was doing.
This thread started in 2018 regarding giving up hunting. There are likely very very few of us who have not been forced by events outside our control to give up some physical/recreational activity which we enjoyed, and likely was part of who we were. Some emotional/relational "traumatic amputations" are also pretty painful...and just don't heal. And although diet and exercise matters, most of what determines our long (and good) health is our genetics...for which we have no say...and for which we shouldn't brag. But we can do our best to deal with what we get. When my FGF was in his teens, he had something wrong in his gut, and went to the early days of the Mayo Clinic and was told he would be dead in 2 years. So he went to Central Baptist Seminary in KC Kansas, started waiting to die while giving his life to ministry, continued to have lots of problems (some of which was likely gluten sensitivity which no one knew about back then), and lived to 107.
There are many once young men who were at the 99th percentile who lost a lot, and spent time at Walter Reed, who are more of a man than I'll ever be. They had to decide, as each of us must, if we want to just live...or be alive.
At age 68, and upon my wife's request, I've begun liquidating what was a fairly large accumulation (not organized enough or focused in a fashion that would justify calling it a collection) of shotguns, rifles and handguns. None of my children have any interest and the grandchildren are too young and, given their parents' lack of interest, unlikely to have any interest. I'm hanging on to the ones I really like (mostly hammer shotguns and .22 rifles), a couple that were my father's and might end up with one of my brother's grandkids, my deer rifle and a spare, and some that I hope to use more regularly when I finally retire. I still have a long way to go to get down to the handful I'd want to keep to the end, but I'm about halfway there. I haven't really worked hard on selling handguns, but given my eyesight, any thoughts of heavy handgun use without some sort of red dot sight or a special lens for my glasses is pretty unlikely.
I have far more ammo for .22s, handguns and centerfire rifles than I ever realized until the pandemic. I'm going to have to work hard at shooting it all up over the next several years. But I'm sure going to try.
I hope and pray that this is not taken in some other way than how I intend it. And it is not intended to be critical of anyone in particular. But, if you decide it's time to start getting rid of stuff because of your age, you have decided "I'm going to be gone soon, and I'd rather dispose of it my way". That's a recipe for disaster, IMO. You may well rid yourself, successfully, of all the guns you have dearly loved for many years, and saved those who succeed you from the effort to do so, but you may have also imprinted into your mind the idea that you're not going to be here much longer. And, that's a good prerequisite for checking out.
My mantra is that I am going to use all that stuff next season, next month, next week, tomorrow. And, do it. I learned some time ago the importance of thinking positive thoughts, and denying negative ones that creep in. Really competitive people, in all forms of sports (and shooting), understand the importance of thinking positive thoughts, programming your mind to believe what you will achieve. The mind accepts what you tell it. The problem comes when you tell it negative things. Like, "I'm 69 now, that's nearly 70, and Lord knows how many of my classmates never made 70. I'd better get my things in order because I may not be here much longer." Damn that!! I will NOT think that way.
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