NEW GLASGOW – When he was just 12-years-old, Don MacAulay saw the rabbit across the swamp before anyone else. He shoved the safety off of his 12-gauge shotgun and shot it.
“That’s my first rabbit,” he remembers thinking, adding that it felt good.
Since that moment, he’s been a gun enthusiast.
Now 79, he’s ready to pass the torch as organizer of the West Pictou Wildlife Association’s annual gun show to Bert MacDonald.
He has no plans to stop being involved though.
He’s been president of the association for eight years, but has been with them since the 1950’s.
The Durham man began selling guns and ammunition after he retired at 49 from the Canadian Air Force and work in Toronto.
He was trying to convince others of the practical nature of loading your own ammunition during the gun show in New Glasgow on Saturday.
He prefers to handload his ammunition as a cost-saver, but stressing the importance of being careful, noting that double loading the gunpowder can cause harm to the shooter.
It was the association’s first year hosting in the Bluenose Curling Club. They’re finding it harder and harder to hold onto a location, which MacAulay suggests is due to many venues closing and a pushback against guns.
The gun show brought in dealers from all over the Maritimes, drawing in an average of 1,000 attendants over the two days it was held.
It’s only one of the non-profit group’s events, taking part in Christmas Daddies, food drives and hosting the Pictou Troutarama each June.
They also meet in Lyons Brook’s hall once a month, and have social gatherings at their 200-yard rifle range in Sunridge.
MacAulay notes that they used to teach firearm safety as well.
He jokes that he was born with a gun in his hand, starting hunting at a time when “rabbits were thicker than blackflies.”
He remembers buying his first brand new rifle for only $72, a small fraction of what it would cost today at close to $650, he said.
He found those days hunting out in Scotch Hill therapeutic, and that’s why he continues to shoot today.
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