In a previous post I wrote about the opening of dove season acting as a series of waypoints along the path of my life. Well, for better or worse, here's a little photographic proof...
You'd be hard-pressed to find a gamebird that's had more photographic injustices done to it than the dove. Other gamebirds get the artsy poses with fine guns and weathered barnwood, while dove generally get photographed with a group of grinning, none-too-bright-looking Bubbas standing over a huge communal pile of freshly-shot carcasses.
Take this unfortunate photograph, for example. It was taken on the side of some forgotten old section line road south of Mountain View, Oklahoma way back in (if rusty memory serves me) 1988. Despite the potentially destabilizing weight of that massive mullet and dove-flaring properties of that bright red ballcap, my friends and I shot obscene numbers of dove in the disced-over fields on either side of that road.
And as befitting our youth, exuberance and our complete lack of sophistication or taste (Isn't that any teenager?) we took obscenely bad photos. We'd pile our dead birds on the back of that old Datsun, dove spilling off the trunk lid like lifeless little rags, and grin at the camera.
Oh to be young, stupid, clueless and truant. I miss those days greatly, setting off with no plan, no money and no worries beyond finding the next place to hunt. Destination? Nowhere, and damn eager to get there. Just drive west. We’ll find birds. Somewhere.
But time and change are inexorable. I haven't been that young and carefree for a long time, and I rarely shoot dove in waves any more. My friends have long gone on to their own lives, their own changes and so I hunt mostly alone now, and probably will until my sons are old enough to accompany me if they so choose.
And killing something with no other company than your own thoughts is an activity best done at a measured pace and for a measured purpose. So I try to do it with a little more restraint and a little more taste than I did as a youth, despite that underlying urge, the compelling need, to hunt being just as strong in this picture as it was in that one.
Yes, it's a well-worn and familiar pose. Certainly not original at all. And I'm not trying to apologize or make up for the photographic transgressions of a reckless and bloodthirsty youth by getting all faux-elegant and tastefully understated.
Nope, both youth and hunting are what they are. I make no apologies for either (with the exception of the mullet. And for that I'm truly sorry...)
But I like it anyway (the picture. Not the mullet). It speaks to who I am.
And despite its horrendous technical deficiencies and its questionable artistic qualities, I like that old snapshot, too. It speaks to who I once was.
In a few years I'm sure I'll figure out a way to meld a shotgun, a walker and an oxygen bottle into a photograph that speaks to who I'll someday be.
** Since Youtube and SonyBMG won't allow any embedding of their music videos, I guess I won't be clever by adding Social Distortion's "Story Of My Life" video to the end of the blog...
Well, piss on them. Here's the link anyway.