12 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner . . . less than 12 weeks away. Which means it’s time. Time for the countdown.

Last year, I kicked off my 12 Weeks ’till Christmas countdown, tardily, in late October. This year, I’m slightly more organized and almost on time. Over the next 11 weeks I’m going to share 12 incredibly unique, wildly popular, insanely delicious and even, the odd obscure idea for Christmas gifts with you. I’m sure you’ll find something that catches your eye and opens your wallet within.

Apparently, we’re kicking off the series with the obscure.

I received a copy of this book – Chicks With Guns – to review, and rather rapidly found myself immersed in it.

I’m not a chick with gun. In fact, friends and family have dubbed the log house my Bird & Animal Sanctuary, since I recoil in revulsion at the hint of even a magpie being picked off. Coyotes are safe on my back 40, as are skunks, and any other wildlife typically maligned as pest in the redneck hinterland we live in. I do relent to gopher hunting. Well, at least I didn’t argue when my neighbour began parking in my pasture with his old blue Dodge, and set to work “thinning out my herd,” as he remarked to me later, not without a smile.

But, lately guns have been on my mind.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m reminded daily hunting season has begun, announcing itself with the usual gunshot reports and echoes from across the lake.

Or, Wee waltzing in the house a few weeks ago announcing she’d like a BB gun for Christmas. And, some chickens. (I hoped these two wishes weren’t part of the same project.)

Or, my son who has a registered handgun license and has lately taken an interest in cowboy mounted shooting.

Suddenly, Chicks With Guns arrival at the log house seemed to have some connected meaning to my life. It was weird.

With little exception, I rarely handle guns; this has it’s own list of reasons behind it including, but not limited to:

The memory of myself as an anguished child, when I heard the neighbour’s boys were running down red tailed foxes with snowmobiles. Apparently, that was hunting.

Or, only a few weeks ago when I found a rotting mass of waterfowl at the side of the two-track leading to our lake. This is hunting?

Not according to one of the featured chicks in the book. Jen, from Emigrant, Montana (whilst holding a Browning .270 with a Leupold scope) says, “Killing and poaching should not be lumped together with hunting. These are not characteristics of sport or feeding your family. I’m not sure how you become one of these two things, a killer or a poacher, but it is not anything I could be.”

Jen’s father worked as a ranch hand and thus, “we didn’t make a lot of money and always lived a long way from town. The only way we could afford to feed everyone was to hunt.” She’s passing the tradition down to her son, Clay.

Not unlike girls with horses, chicks with guns gravitate to colors they can individualize. Such as Clara, who began shooting at the age of 11 and likes her pink Ceska Zbrojovka Scout .22, though she would have chosen it in lime green had it been available.

Chicks With Guns is authored and artistically shot by Lindsay McCrum, who crossed the United States in a mission to portray the connection 80 women have with firearms. The word chicks in the title initially threw me off – will these be dressed-up models bearing firearms along with plenty of cleavage, in the spirit of the typical motorcycle magazine cover, I wondered? Yawn. . . Not at all. Instead, meet 80 women across America who explain, often in eloquent language, why they own and use firearms. The stories frequently relate to a family tradition – though not always. Sport, hunting and occasionally protection, factor in the reasons these women own firearms. Their personal triumphs and occasional fears are compellingly real.

In this book you’ll meet women who often discover a sense of self-confidence and empowerment on their way to learning how to shoot. Liz in California has had a loaded Baretta 40-calibre pistol in her nightstand since she became involved in law enforcement. She now works in media relations at her police department, and says, “having been a detective, I am acutely aware of how things can go wrong.”

Jenevieve from San Antonio, Texas met her husband on a blind date that later involved a shooting competition which she won, thanks to the hours her father put in teaching her markmanship. In this photograph she’s holding an antique pistol passed down in her family for generations, and given to her from her father as a wedding present. “It’s important for me to have this photograph with my wedding dress and the gun because of their significance to my relationship both with my father and my husband. But I wouldn’t want anyone to think it was a shotgun wedding!”

Nearly all of the women interviewed relate their reverence for gun safety. As Anita from St. Paul, Minnesota notes, “you can never take a bullet back.”

I’m betting Rachel, from Livingstone, Montana has been taught gun safety by her father. She handles this Ruger 10/20 carbine when she hunts with her sisters.

Lee from South Carolina prefers British-made guns such as her Boss 20-guage side-by-side.

Several of the women in the book speak as expressively about conservation as hunting. Passionate of the outdoors and hunting, they speak to the calming beauty of surrounding oneself with nature. While I’m not intent on exploring the philosophical questions in this post, possibly what struck me most in the stories of these women, was their connection not only to guns, but the outdoors. The kinship is as real as it gets.

Rural settings maintain a consistent importance in my life, and miles of quiet walking and riding in nature a necessity for the occasional instability of this writer’s brain. I was pleasantly enlightened to find this affinity with a few of the women who described the same sense of sanctity and escape during their hunting or sporting adventures. Apparently, it’s not all about bringing down the animal, but often, a deep love of the wild. And, unlike the cookie-cutter environmental activist sitting in front of a laptop, these chicks with guns are passing down their love of the outdoors and thereby the need for the conservation of it, in the very real way of introducing their families and friends to it.

Each of the photos above, plus another 70+ are full page plates in this gorgeous coffee table book, accompanied by the story of each model. Chicks with Guns is published by The Vendome Press and although we don’t carry it in the Western Horse Review bookstore, it is available through the usual book-selling venues, such as Amazon. While it may not be for everyone, it might make a unique and personal gift for the chick with gun in your life.