Some time back we stumbled across an interesting discussion on the appropriate firearm for the farm or country home, much like the country home my folks maintained for many decades.
The Old Man was, of course, a farmer for much of his life, and a self-styled country gentleman of the old school. His attitude towards firearms reflected most of his type and his generation; firearms were tools essential to the maintenance and protection of homestead and crops, in the same order as a chainsaw, a scythe, or a tractor. They were selected and maintained as such, with strictly utilitarian considerations. Childhood in the Great Depression and young adulthood during WW2 made most of the Old Man’s generation pretty practically-minded people.
That being the case, the Old Man maintained three firearms on and about the place. They were a 12-gauge pump shotgun, a .22 rimfire rifle, and a .22 handgun. The shotgun was his first purchase with his demobilization pay when he returned from the Army in 1946 , the .22 rifle was a third anniversary present from my mother in 1950, and the .22 pistol he bought for recreational shooting sometime in the mid-1960s. I still have all three firearms, as the folks live in town now and are maintaining only a .410 bore shotgun for whatever it may be needed for.
Now, on to the country home: If a family can only maintain one firearm on a country homestead, one would be wise to pick up something along the lines of the Old Man’s first post-war purchase, a simple 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. The Old Man’s Stevens 520A hasn’t been available for many years, but the Mossberg 500 series or the Remington 870 are solid guns that will give long service; my own pair of Mossbergs have been functioning flawlessly in the game fields for 35 and 30 years now.
The advantages of the 12 gauge are many. Ammo is readily available anywhere (not so, sadly, for Mrs. Animal’s 16 gauge Browning) and various loads/shot sizes can handle anything from garden pests to turkeys, while a slug will dispatch a deer or even a bear.
In spite of his utilitarian attitude towards shotguns, the Old Man was nevertheless as artist with his old Stevens; he was known to go 100 straight on the skeet range in his Army days, and he was highly skilled at making a shot charge arrive in the same location as a fleeing pheasant or grouse. Some years back he cut off the tip of his trigger finger in a jointer, and since then firing any gun with any recoil caused a stab of pain through his shooting hand, but before moving to town he capped his hunting career in a blaze of glory by stalking and killing a wild turkey with the .410, causing our old friend Dave to comment, “if anyone but your Dad told me that, I’d call him a damned liar.”
Even though I will always love my old Brownings and Winchesters, I will always keep the old Mossbergs around as utility shotguns, especially after our move north. Of course, my attitudes towards firearms are somewhat different than the Old Man’s, and so the Mossbergs will still have plenty of company in the rack.