Red is for Dynamite!
|Firearms - Shotguns|
Is the iron will of a red head truly a myth?
Immediately after she was born I was bombarded with comments like "Oh boy, you better get ready, raising a redhead is like carrying a lit stick of dynamite!" and "All those redheads are a handful!" Maybe I should have known at first glance. The nurse handed me the swaddled, squint eyed, screaming baby stating they needed her out of the nursery because she was keeping all the other babies awake. The next year she would live up to the red hair she dawned, keeping the household awake for what seemed like around the clock with colic. Her demeanor was much different than Casey, my first born who exuded the aura of the perfect baby, sleeping through the night after long periods of time cooing and eating.
One day, however, Brittany stopped crying. That same day she started smiling and laughing. With her red hair falling around her shoulders she found excitement in everything including the outdoors. Living in a wooded area, we were concerned about the possibility of her opening the door in search of a new adventure. While most people have to worry about their dog chasing squirrels and wandering off, we worried about Brittany. We suspected this curiosity would pay off someday in the hunting woods. What we didn’t plan on was the positive spin her determined, (red haired) iron will would have when it came to the mental toughness needed to be a successful hunter. Her first turkey season 13 years later would show us the remarkable results of this focused determination.
The first time most of us shouldered a shotgun with turkey loads and pulled the trigger we were in for a big surprise. The result was either an eye-popping gasp followed by "geez!" or some equally expressive four-letter word or perhaps an unforgettable view of the sky followed by a jarring thump. I’ll confess, even though I have participated in trapshooting leagues for 23 years, I was shocked by the punch a 3 ½ inch magnum load delivered.
My girlfriend told me of her hilarious hunt on a windy day last year when she took a shot at a bird and the last thing she remembered was falling backward off her chair, catching her blind with the upward thrust of the barrel and sending it spinning "Wizard of Oz" style into the air above her. She had a front row to the action from her comfortable position flat on her back, looking up. Her turkey meal, no doubt, brought back memories her and her husband will never forget.
Just try to imagine the scene that would unfold if a tiny 100 pound 14-year-old certain red headed girl we know were to insist on shooting that very same turkey load. It was me who had a front row seat this time.
The stage was set…as a matter of fact it was set better than any one could have choreographed it. Not only was she packing 3 ½" magnum loads, she was in a blind located on a steep uphill incline. To add to the intensity, we had four mature gobblers within 30 yards outside our blind all gobbling over each other to see who could catch the invisible hen’s attention. Oh, one more thing…we’re capturing all this on video, too.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, we had camera shy birds that insisted on parading back and forth in the only location the camera couldn’t see. Instead the lens sat posed at the small hole in the blind through which Brittany’s barrel was poked. Upon Mom’s instruction she slid off her seat and was about to take a quick shot at the retreating love struck Toms behind our blind.
Words from our last conversation echoed in my ears. After spending four days of her five day season without a close enough shot at a bird, this morning she decided she needed more firepower to reach further than the lighter loads she had been carrying. This red head was determined to do whatever it took to bring home a bird. This hunt had turned into a quest. Before we left home, in a moment that surprised me, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her light loads and said, " Give me the heavies mom. I want to get a bird." I took the lighter loads and laid the 3 ½" magnums in her hand, "Are you sure?" I said. With a determined nod she assured me she knew what she was doing.
It all happened so fast. In one fluid motion she was off her seat, on her knees with a solid, determined aim on the lead tom. "BANG!" Instantly Brittany disappeared backwards. Dust flew. The blind twitched and from somewhere in the confusion I heard the sound of a safety being clicked back on. Oddly enough, it was coming from the floor of our blind. I followed the sound to its source. There, flat on her back, was my tasseled red haired child looking up with glasses only half in place. Her only concern reflected in her voice as she labored to say, "Did I get him?"
I jumped up from my location at the back of the blind and somehow cleared Brittany as I sailed through the large window in front of the blind (you know, the window the birds where supposed to come past). Moving quickly up the hill I spotted a very dispatched bird. Despite loosing half of the shot to a pine bough she had shot through, Brittany had finally got her bird!
Before I could turn back to the blind she was behind me. Outrunning me by a fair length she rushed to claim her trophy. Oh, what a smile! I will never forget that morning and I don’t believe she will either. Later on she told me she never even felt the kick of the gun. It made me think about how much shooting at a turkey with heavy loads is like childbirth. You can remember it was a lot of pain but you just can’t remember how bad it was. All you can think of was how much it was all worth any pain endured.
Speaking of childbirth, those nurses in the hospital where right. Raising my red head was a little like carrying a lit stick of dynamite. It’s been exciting, rewarding and occasionally EXPLOSIVE. Looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Her tenacity has paid off in more arenas than just hunting. The red hair she sports is stunning and she wears it with pride. It has made her unique and if it is indeed responsible for her solid determination, it’s also helped to make her one DYNAMITE hunter!
Join Tammy and Brittany on their many hunting adventures on the new television show Leading Ladies Outdoors. Ladies can sign up for a free Mathews Mustang Bow and kids for monthly prizes when you visit www.leadingladiesoutdoors.com on line.
© May 2005
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