This is an excerpt from the book I wrote with my father about this life entitled, “Living Without Limits.”
We knew guns.
Ever since we were little boys, my brother and I knew the smooth feeling of a rifle against a rough palm. The glint of the sun would tear up our eyes and my father would say, “Steady now” as he placed the weight of his comforting hand on our back.
There was a rhythm to the lock and load of a gun… the way the bullet hit the chamber… the way the sharp click readied her by our side. The cool touch of a rifle on our cheek as we’d slide the butt into the pocket of our shoulder was calm and comforting.
There, we’d escape into another world where the only sound was the ragged breaths of a child trying to contain his excitement.
“Don’t hold your breath,” my father would whisper and I’d fall into the lull of the veld focusing on the buck in my sight. I’d let my breathing slow down to normal, and then, at the end of a long exhalation, I’d squeeze the trigger and feel the hard push of the rifle in my small shoulder.
I’d let the gun slip from my grip and look up. There was always a big grin on my father’s face. He’d wink a kind eye and then the three of us would walk to see our kill up close.
Time began for us on that dry old Karoo farm in the heartland of South Africa back in the 1950s. Dust always seemed to carry upwards as our steps hit the veld while our father led the way.
Once there, we’d ink the memories of our kill into our minds. Sometimes it would be a glossy reddish brown Impala with spiraled horns. Other times it would be a Springbok fresh off multiple six foot jumps in the air.
If we were lucky, it would be a majestic Kudu. The bulls would weigh as much as two burly men with their long manes and two twist horns reaching for the cloudless skies. A solitary creature, the Kudu was resilient and strong. I often wondered what it would feel like to wander the world alone like that. I was so glad I would never have to find out.
No matter the buck, soon every piece of meat and skin would be put to good use. There was little time to boast but inwardly my brother and I matched each other kill for kill as our competitive streak blossomed throughout our childhood.
Yes, it’s true. We knew guns.
But my brother never knew a gun like this.