by Jonathan Hollenbeck
Let me just state it for the record that I am no gun lover nor am I an animal hater. But in my opinion, my dad seems to be either one or both of these things as it was him who dragged me from my peaceful and murder-free life in campus to spend a winter shooting helpless birds in Baja California with him.
It was my very first year in college and also the very first time I’ve been away from home for a long time. Since I have four younger sisters, all of whom always seem to be giggling and whispering about girlish, unfathomable things, it can be easily expected that my dad and I grew very close together seeing as we were surrounded by five women at home including my mom. Probably because of this reason plus the fact that I was their first child to leave for college, my dad quickly grew to miss me and kept hinting that we should bond together the next time I come home. And so it was that for three days out of the two weeks I had of holiday vacation that December, he and I drove of to Baja California because of a surprise he said he wanted to give me.
And was I ever surprised when he gave me my very own hunting permit the moment we drove up to the hotel and it was handed to him by the lobby clerk along with his renewed one. As far as I remember, I have never shown any sign of being enthusiastic about hunting. To me at least, there was nothing amusing or exhilarating about killing animals as a form of recreation. My fault was probably that I was not vocal about my disdain for the weekends of my childhood when he went with some of his buddies several times a year to Baja California to hunt for game fowl. He would then come home and for several days, we ate nothing but roast quails, Peking duck and goose stew.
At that moment, I wanted to burst out “Why the hell are you giving me this?” and fling the license permit in its little plastic casing on the floor. But I made a mistake and looked at him first. My dad was smiling and expectant, waiting for me to show my gratefulness for being included finally in this interest of his which he only shared before with grown up friends of his. And so, PETA can hate me and pigeons in the park can feel free to shower me with a rain of their dropping, but I smiled and said thank you to my father.
Early the next day, when the town of San Quintin was still barely stirring inside their doors and a thick fog still carpeted the murky, weedy area near the beach, we were already huddled and waiting for the first victim of this senseless pursuit. But then suddenly, lo and behold, my dad couldn’t find his glasses! My father, the expert bird hunter with his 400/670 impaired vision, probably placed his glasses on his shirt pocket where it dropped from somewhere between the hotel and the patch of beach where we were lurking. And so, he had no other choice but to try and shoot the birds without his glasses instead of going back to the hotel to fetch them which would take quite sometime.
By noon, he was all out of bullets. He used them to shoot at every goose, duck and quail flying overhead or running about among the weeds but he did not even injure one of them. I also was out of bullets by that time, and I found out that I was an expert in aiming just a couple of inches away from the target.