To Hunt or Not to Hunt?

Earlier this month I turned 30—and received the most shocking and surreal gift of my life. Now I need to figure out whether I’m going to keep it.

Let me start by saying that my parents have an endearing history of experimental gift giving. Sometimes these experiments pay off. At 14, for instance, they bought me my first guitar. They just had a feeling I’d take to it. Today, I own three guitars (and counting) and I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t play for at least an hour. Now there was a gift that quite literally changed my life.

But for every experiment that has succeeded, there have those that fizzled. My sister’s sewing machine. My brother’s paintball gun. My pogo stick.

This year’s birthday present, however, took my parents’ proclivity for experimentation to an entirely new level. They presented the gift in a long, rectangular box—like the kind used to send roses. But instead of finding a dozen long-stems inside…I found a rifle.

That’s right. A rifle.

To be fair, this isn’t entirely out of left field. In his younger, more adventurous years, my father was a rather dedicated hunter, and one of my older brothers hunts quite regularly to this day. Me? I’ve never so much as held a firearm.

Now I have a decision to make. My parents have assured me the rifle can easily be returned with no hurt feelings. My mom in particular said she vacillated on this idea at least a dozen times. Her doubts were only strengthened by several family members who remarked, “A gun? Really? Don’t you know your son at all?” That being said, I’m seriously torn about what to do.

There have been a few times over the years when I’ve expressed mild, almost philosophical, interest in some day hunting with my older brother. But there’s a grand difference between musing in conversation and actually owning a gun. Moreover, I’m not sure I even want a gun in my life. It’s a heavy responsibility—hunting or no hunting—and I need to think long and hard about that.

Perhaps there’s a hunter out there who can help convince me that this might be an activity worth adding to my resume; something to do, let’s say, in the season between surfing and skiing? Or perhaps I need to just suck it up and tell my parents that this is one dog that ain’t gonna hunt.

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