Is there any gift better than the gift of the long box? Its dimensions immediately recognizable to the outdoorsman, the first glimpse of a long box quickens the pulse and pulls at the tendon in the trigger finger. I’ve been fortunate to have had several gifted to me through the years.
There was a long boxed black powder rifle under the Christmas tree the December after I moved back to my native Oklahoma and another with a .223 meant to control the local coyote population for my birthday one year. After shooting my first turkey with a good friend’s gun, thrust into my hands after he’d downed a strutting tom while being admonished to shoot what must’ve been that bird’s twin brother, I walked into my office one afternoon to discover a long box leaning against a chair. The shotgun inside it has done a number on every turkey I’ve drawn down on since.
I’m not sure it qualifies as a gift because I wrote the article that awarded it, but I felt like I’d won the lottery when I flipped open the locks on a prized, premium rifle case. If there’s anything better than the gift of a long box, it’s the gift of a long box holding a premium firearm.
I appreciate those long boxes that don’t come as gifts, too. A lever action rifle I’d saved for and lusted after for years was pulled out of a friend’s trunk in the parking lot of a church building one Wednesday night. I would’ve been elated if I hadn’t just cut the tape on another long box containing a rifle chambered in a similar caliber. I bought that gun with hard earned money my wife made at a garage sale. But those guns are different than the ones that have been gifted.
The most memorable gun I’ve been given didn’t come with a box. My father’s primary deer hunting rifle didn’t come with a box when he traded for it in the late 70s so it didn’t come in a box when he presented it to me at Christmas one year. I didn’t kill my first buck with it – that honor belongs to a long since swapped .243 – but I did kill my best buck to date with it, a seven and a half year old, sixteen point monarch of the Oklahoma hardwoods.
As I mature, I’m figuring out that the gift of a long box isn’t just the gift of a gun. It’s the gift of anticipation and expectation. It’s the gift of countless hours of daydreaming. It’s the gift of memorable mornings and afternoons afield. It’s the gift of life-defining experiences. That’s why my two brothers and I, along with our wives and mother, pitched in on a long box a couple of years ago for my father’s 70th birthday. He’d sold the tack driving .308 in his gun cabinet to one of my friends and had mourned its loss for months so choosing a caliber was easy. My wife covered that long box in zebra striped wrapping paper but he recognized its size and shape immediately. It was one of the purest joys of my life watching his eyes light up when it was handed to him.
So make plans this year to give the gift of a long box. Because it truly is more blessed to give than receive . . . . . though receiving’s pretty special, too.