It marked the end of what had been a happy, if rebellious, Australian childhood. Growing up in rural Victoria, with his teacher father, librarian mother and three siblings, there was “enormous freedom that you can’t even imagine now ... When I was about 12 my friend Eddie’s father used to drive us out into the bush, where we were given a shotgun each and a six-pack of beer. ‘F*** off and enjoy yourselves’. We shot bunnies — blind ones, unfortunately, because myxomatosis was rampant. I’m not sure that it’s the greatest piece of parenting ever, but I did have a really good time.”
It's amazing how the current generation have morphed into Safety Nazis when it comes to dealing with their kids. Junior built himself a ging recently using one of my stuffed inner tubes. He's hopelessly inaccurate with it - I was hoping our local pigeon population would be on some WWF endagered species list by now, but he's not even capable of blasting holes in the back fence with an old bolt or 1/4" ball bearings.
Initially, I was appalled, and hid the thing away. But later I thought, "You idiot. At a year younger than him, you had access to two shotguns and three rifles, and used them regularly to ventilate rabbits".
My ammunition consumption when I was 12 or 13 was fairly prodigious. We had a Ruger 10/22, and if I had the money, I would have upgraded it from a 10 shot magazine to a 50 shot mag. Ten rounds in a mag were never enough for me. I'm sure the fence posts around my Uncle's old farm are all falling down now due to the number of holes and weight of lead in them.
(Dear Grud, the stuff you find of Youtube. Junior is watching Teletubbies on the computer next to me, and a 12 second clip just played of a Teletubbie dancing, followed by a young girl machine gunning the Teletubbie and yelling "Shut the fuck up".)
My Uncle's idea of a hunting trip was to grab one of his drinking mates, load a carton of beer in the ute, and for us to drive out to a nearby property. I'd have 3 or 4 cans, and they'd drink the rest. They'd throw the empties here and there (such as into dams) and I'd shoot them.
Looking back, I guess they were less than ideal role models. At the end of most of these trips, both of them would be too drunk to drive, so I'd drive home. Or I'd drive them to the pub, then drive home, then pick them up later when the pub threw them out.
Fascinating to remember that Druncle's great uncle was a state premier, one of the fathers of Federation, a Lord, Treasurer of Australia and acting Prime Minister at one point.
I guess it just goes to show that regardless of the sort of environment that you are exposed to as a youth, where you end up is a matter of your own decisions and actions.