The Mast-Head: Giving Up the Gun

Things are not quite the way they used to be here

   Whether or not the East Hampton Town Board decides to ban or strictly limit duck hunting in Fort Pond, Montauk, the growing debate points to a certain reality: Things are not quite the way they used to be here.
    The sides are aligned so that on the one side there are a small number of hunters who use the pond during the late fall and winter duck seasons; on the other side are a number of year-round residents, including Jane Bimson, who works here at The Star. As far as I know, neither Jane nor a good, if untallied, measure of those who would prefer shooting end in the pond are opposed to hunting entirely. I assume, like me, they believe there are places where it no longer belongs.
    Several times in recent years the peace of a weekend morning has been broken by several of our neighbors shooting clay targets over Gardiner’s Bay — perfectly legal, the State Department of Environmental Conservation told me when I called to ask. Still, legitimate or not, the noise of their blasting away until all the ammunition is gone is an unsettling backdrop to a Saturday or Sunday morning, and my wife and I will not let the children play on the beach until the fusillade is done.
    As for myself, I do not go gunning much any more. I’ve even stopped renewing my state-issued hunting license. From time to time some friends and I may do a little plinking with a .22 rifle or shoot off a shotgun just for the hell of it, but only during the week and only during the depths of the off-season.
    My father, who I recall gave up hunting during the Vietnam War era, said at the time that there was enough killing in the world. I have his old Stevens 12-gauge shotgun stored away in case I get the urge to use it, though I doubt that I ever will again.