Some have asked why the name of this BLOG is Empty Cases. It’s simple really; every empty case has a story. Today’s media outlets are not often about the story. It’s more about the product; this or that new thing that will make the life of hunters easier or better. Some readers complain about not getting “the story” but, in all honesty, the readership drives content.
I often try to tie in a human interest element with my articles when I can but it can be difficult. A new version of the same old gun is often lacking in human interest – especially when it is the work of a committee more than the concept and dream of one person. But with empty cases there is always a story and it’s always a story that involves a human. It may not be interesting but if those cases could talk…
As a gun / outdoor writer I get to be a part of some magnificent adventures at no cost to me. This is called a perk of the job and don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. However, these hunts produce meat and trophies. When I can, I’ll eat the meat but often the trophies are left unclaimed. After all, I got a family that needs food and stuff more than I need a dead head on the wall.
Many years back I started saving the empty case for a shot I made on an animal. I’d take a Sharpie and write the date and critter and stand them on my mantel. Kind of a poor man’s trophy. A few years back my wife collected these empty cases and put them in a shadow box. It was one of my all time favorite gifts. Now, on top of that shadow box, another collection of empty cases in accumulating.
One of my first hunting mentors was my mother. She loved to squirrel hunt and took me often. I can remember countless hours by her side with her old Winchester model 12, 20 gauge on her lap. Mom passed on about three years ago.
Last year, while walking our old hunting grounds during buck season, I stumbled across an old 20 gauge empty lying on the forest floor. I wondered, wondered if it might have come from Mom’s old Winchester. I wondered maybe if my sister or I might have been with her when it was fired at a bushytail racing across a log or maybe one high in a hickory. I desperately wished she was here so I could ask her about that hunt, that place…That shot.
I started to pick it up, bring it home and place it on top of my shadow box with my other affordable hunting trophies. But then the thought occurred to me that someday, someone else might stumble across that same spot and see that empty case on the ground. They would wonder, like I did, about “the story.”
The next time you see an empty case on the ground, not so much at the range but out in the field. Take a moment to wonder about the story it could tell. Is that old, tarnished .30-30 case all that’s left of a hunter’s first deer? Or maybe, it was a hunter’s best buck or the one that got away. Wonder for a moment how many times the hunter that fired that shot has told the story and maybe how many times he has wished he had that shot back for a do-over.
In the end, it’s not about the meat or the antlers. With hunters it’s all about the story. The ones we hear and the ones we tell. And, it doesn’t matter if they are stretched a little bit. But, if the empty cases could talk – we would know the truth.