“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My expectations of retirement were unrealistic.




It's a nice night on the mountain top.   There's a breeze blowing, it's warm, and very quiet. About the only sounds are those the creek is making just downslope.  I don't mind the sound of running water.

I have been retired now for more than two years.  When I left my company it was with no love lost between myself and the owner, and I never miss it.  In fact, I'm sure if I had lasted any longer it would have killed me. The only time I think about it now is when I suddenly realize how grateful I am not to be in  thrall to a greedy Septuagenarian whose only goal in life was to make money.  That man was purely evil.

I did think, however, that once I didn't have to work anymore and didn't have a boss, life would be very tranquil and idyllic.  I envisioned myself just doing the things I enjoy doing, every day a holiday and every meal a feast.

It hasn't actually turned out that way.  First, problems will expand to fill the amount of time available for you to think about them.  So, when I don't have to worry about work,  I just spend more time worrying about health issues. For everything you put behind you, either an ongoing problem becomes more pressing or something new comes up.

Once I read that some people believe hell is a place where you go on doing the things you like to do, over and over, in eternal surfeit.  Some of the pass times I used to enjoy have paled on me, or I'm not able to do them any more.  I liked hiking, but it's not smart to go out in the woods by myself, and I confess that getting to the mailbox and back (about a two mile round trip) has become challenging because of the steepness of the return trip.

Shooting full powered battle rifles beats me up pretty good, even with a padded shooting jacket. I could shoot mouse guns, I own some, but it isn't anything like the pleasure of shooting a Mauser or an Enfield from the 100 yard line.  I don't even particularly enjoy cleaning weapons anymore and I used to really like that, I'd set up at a table outside, put on the radio, and just experience the zen of weapons cleaning.

I get annoyed with myself because it often seems like I'm not satisfied unless I can think of something to be angry or worried about.  Older men are supposed to have better sense than that.  Everybody has things they have to deal with and I have fewer than most.  I'm in good shape with all the things that really matter, like family and home.  Maybe it takes more than two years to work into the retired life.

None of this is unique to me, least I give the impression I'm feeling picked on.  I know my two brothers feel exactly the same way, and there are some older guys whose blogs I read that evidence the same ideas, though they may not articulate them quite the same way I do.   It's just a part of adjusting to a different stage of life and you have to deal with it.

33 comments:

  1. I'm not retired yet, but am experiencing a lot of the same thing; I think it's just called "getting older."

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    1. I imagine you're right. I wish there was a cure other than the obvious one.

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  2. I guess I must be one of the lucky ones. I have loved every minute of my 5 years of retirement. But my circumstances are quite different from yours. By the time I was able to retire, I had been widowed for a year, so it was just myself to worry about. And the previous 20 years I had worked and taken care of a chronically ill husband. I have no regrets from those years, but it was like all of a sudden I had unlimited freedom to come and go as I pleased, do what I wanted when I wanted. I find that my interests have changed somewhat and I spend more time on, for lack of a better word, prepping and food storage. Family is important, but I have no problem living alone. I am a homebody, so most of my time is spent right here in my little apartment or in my neighborhood. If I were someone who needed to be around people, it might be more difficult.

    I have found that from time to time I need to get away from websites like Drudge. There is so much bad junk going on around us that if I dwell on it, it really affects my attitude. I keep aware and up to date, but I also need to stop and smell a rose now and then to keep myself relatively sane.

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    1. I know from reading your blog that you stay busy and you seem very content. You have good family relationships, and after carrying such a heavy load of responsibility for 20 years I am sure you do feel that life is lighter now.

      I do keep abreast of developments in the country to a greater extent that is probably wise. I'm sure a lot of the aggravation I deal with is generated by watching the things you refer to and not being able to do much about it. If anything at all.

      Self sufficiency has been the guiding light of our lives up here since we came in 1986. I wanted to be less entwined in the daily drama of human life. To do that, I had to be able to take care of all of us. Even with the kids grown and gone now, we are still close and I still look out for them as much as I can.

      You're doing well. Contentment is a big part of enjoying life.

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  3. I guess I am not qualified to answer or something although I have been jobless (by choice) for going on two years now and loving every damned minute of it. I just don't understand it when people complain about being bored (not that you have) or they need to get out. I love my little farm and I enjoy being left alone to do the work I am doing at the pace I want to do it at. I don't even need hobbies anymore as the repairs, brush clearing, etc. is my hobby now.

    It's wonderful. Soon though either things need to start paying off some or I will need to find a small part time job but with zero debt I will NEVER go back to being a wage slave... NEVER.

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    1. If I regret anything about my past, it's that I put in 20 years with the company I worked for. Oil and Gas is not something you want to get mixed up in if you want peace of mind. I chose two careers guaranteed to give you a lot to think about over the span of your life.

      I agree with your resolution not to be Stephen Fetchit to some overlord. I did it because it was the only way I could provide a decent living for my family in these mountains.

      I know you put a lot into your place, and I've been impressed with how much you are able to do on your own. You live a lifestyle that has more to do with 1876 than 2014, and that's a good thing.

      You're certainly qualified to speak on the subject, you and I are both in the same boat, in that we have no Massah and we can make our own choices.

      I do want to get out more though. At least a trip down to Tybee island now and then, like we used to do every April and June. I think a change of pace and scenery makes you appreciate more what you have when you get back home.

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  4. Sounds like ennui.

    I think I can relate, if not to the cause of your problems then certainly to the symptoms. Maybe its time to come up with an interest, hobby, endeavour, business, or study that will give you something to focus on and devote some brainpower to. In short, it sounds like you need an obsession.

    'Course, once in a while, in my opinion, every one stops, lifts their head up, looks around and experiences a somewhat outside-looking-in perspective about their life and come away feeling unsatisfied.

    Perhaps you need to spend less time alone...having someone around tends to force us to at least pretend to be a bit more human and gets us out of our shells.

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    1. You know, I've been thinking about building a real ferret rescue here on the property and taking the overflow from the ferret rescue in Atlanta. I mean a purpose built building, with runs , simulated burrows, environmental controls for temperature and humidity. Maybe that would give me a little more focus. I'd have to put up with people up here for a bit because I would have to contract some of the work out, like the electrical and plumbing. I'll talk it over again with the wife. She isn't enthusiastic because she doesn't want to put much into infrastructure since she doesn't plan to stay here indefinitely.

      I'm not really alone since I have my animals and my wife is home a good bit. I don't know who else would put up with me because I'm not Mr. Personality.

      I think you're right about everybody getting this feeling they should have done more or done things differently, or just that something isn't right somehow. I actually have it really good, I've got everything I want. It just isn't my nature to be ebullient all the time.

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    2. Dammit, I thought I was being pretty impressive by using the word "ennui" and you smacked me down with "ebullient". Well played!

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  5. I stopped by the Navy Arms display at the NRA AM.They are still in business and owned by the same family (Forgett), but they are only producing a few products at the moment. The gentlemen I talked to said that they still put out the 1903A3 and 1903A4 (although I have not seen any recently), a new 1873 in 45 LC and .357 with Turnbull color case hardened receiver and furniture, and new steel AK magazines. I have no idea how the AK mags fit in. They are selling through a few distributors including AIM, which is who I used to pick up one of the A3s a while back. Let me know if you would like copies of the few sheets of printed material they had. I grabbed a set for you.

    Regarding this post, all I can say is that I know how you feel. I am going take the Commander's advice and try to get involved in some new things this summer that will get me out of my own head. I too used to love shooting the old battle rifles. I gave up CMP ~5 years ago rather than switch to an AR when my shoulder and neck couldn't take the recoil of my 1903. I also gave up High Power. I decided on the drive back from Indianapolis that I need to find replacements for those activities. I am a solitary person, for the most part, but I think my wife is correct when she tells me I was better off when I got out and spent some time with like minded individuals a couple times a month.

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    1. I appreciate the info on the Navy Arms folks. At least they are still around even if they are working under the radar. I would very much appreciate the information, and I'll send you a mailing address shortly.

      Maybe as we get older we have to find substitutes for things we can't do anymore. The recoil from the full powered guns is pretty painful once you get in the sixities range (not that it was ever fun) and it takes the pleasure out of shooting if you spend the next few days bruised and aching. I don't go to the range much anyway because now it seems like everybody has their own specialty and their own clique. The older guys who used to just shoot targets and then open a thermos of coffee and visit aren't much in evidence anymore. Now it's the black powder crowd have the range reserved, or the cowboy shooting fans, or the skeet guys, etc.

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  6. I think Captain Crunch hit the spot.

    RMan and I semi-retired to our smallholding and I, too, envisaged time to devote to my crafting requirements. But, I'm as involved with the bookkeeping side of our business as much as before, plus smallholding life, so am wondering where the semi-retirement is ;)

    Harry, also sounds like you're needing a good dose of Vit D after your long winter.

    Is there no one who'd like to pay you an extended visit - to keep you company and give you something to focus on?

    And, how is the Mrs after the car accident?

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    1. Sorry - that should read Commander Zero not Captain Crunch...

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    2. Dani, I think Commander Zero is right as well. I need to get something going that I think does some good and makes me feel good about working with it.

      This winter did wear me down, I freely admit. It's nice here now though. Except that there is a massive storm coming through this evening they say may create tornadoes. This area has been really torn up periodically over the years, but I've been ok here on the mountain.

      My wife is ok. The main issue is that now she doesn't want to drive, but she has to when she goes to work. She's unhappy about that but I think it will improve with time.

      Bookkeeping can be time consuming. But it has it's good points, because when you get through and everything balances out, it's a positive feeling. You and your husband stay busy out there, with your animals and all. Beautiful place you have, and peaceful.

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    3. Weird how Captain Crunch was the next one to leave a comment straight after I wrote his name by accident...

      Yeah - reckon that would shake me up too, so totaly understand the wifre's reactions.

      Harry, I HATE bookeeping, especially as I have to interact with our Revenue Department every month, two months and 6 months for different things. Gets me all hot and bothered each time, for, occasionally being notified that they want to "review" a submission, is the worst!!!

      I've been thinking about you all day, and think I may have hit on something. It's all very well us telling you what gives us a lift / keeps us busy, but that doesn't mean it'll be up your alley. what I rekcon you should perhaps consider is writing a book. You write very well, we all enjoy your blog topics and content - and who knows, perhaps you can sell it one day and add to your retirement funds :)

      If you do, you can dedicate it to me... :)

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  7. Harry,

    (captaincrunch)


    I was thinking about what you said 'Harry.

    If you don't mind me saying it, I think you should get out more. Go find some volunteer work out somewhere where you get positive results and compliments back. Do something where you feel you efforts have a positive impact somehow so you feel your existence matters.

    Harry' we (your fans) feel you have something worthwhile on your blog, that's why we check it everyday. Out in the real world its harder to make a positive impact, but find something where you want to "get up in the morning" with a mission to accomplish of some sort.
    Hell' you can always move to Texas and become a Cowboy or buy some land and start dealing with cattle and be a "Cattle Rancher"

    Harry, your too young to put out to pasture. You have other things to do and you just need something to "put a spring into your step" and make you feel that your life still matters and that you still have missions to fulfill.

    That will add years to your life.

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    1. Well, I was thinking of building a real ferret rescue. I would be enthusiastic about that. But my wife asked me what would happen to 15 to 20 ferrets if something happens to me. That's a tough one to answer. I might be able to work out a deal with the Atlanta ferret rescue where they would take them back if I was no longer in the picture.

      I think I may get out and start working on a big garden. If it gets eaten up by the deer or trampled by the hogs it might be frustrating but it wouldn't really hurt anything.

      Of course, I want to have my cake and eat it too. I don't want a boss, so that kind of lets out any kind of work around here. I did try to get a job as a security guard , which would have been nice, working nights. But I didn't pass the physical.

      I appreciate your thoughts though, they parallel my own. Something will turn up. If we still had a Civil Air Patrol squadron I could help with that, even if I can't fly the aircraft anymore, I could help with the kids ground activities. But that got cut with everything else when the Air Force took the T-141 back. Something will turn up.

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  8. I sort of agree with the above, you need a hobby or a special interest. My old neighbor used a dremel to carve little geese, made them into cocktail like toothpicks with just the heads or just little figures and she painted and sold them. You could get your ham radio license and talk to people all over the country. Tom, my husband, says you can get used equipment pretty inexpensively. My husband would be happy to walk you through how to get set up if you don't already know.

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    1. Kathy, I have thought of that. We have a ham club here in the county. I went to some of their meetings but I didn't follow through. There's no reason I couldn't do that. I enjoyed working at the state park when they had a summer jobs program for seniors, but I didn't do very well with the "working with the public" part of it. If they had let me work on mowing lawns and running the boats I'd have been ok, but they put me in the camp office and too many idiots came in there. Too many people that thought they could mouth off because I worked there. So then they would write letters to the park service, which forwarded them to the park ranger, then he'd come down and say "now, we can't tell the customers to #*&%$ even if they deserve it." So I already know I need to avoid having to interact with customers if I get some kind of job.

      That's a good suggestion. I'll look in the paper and see when they meet next. I can hook up grounds and coaxial cable, etc but it would be nice to have someone I can check with if I am not sure of something.

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  9. The hardest thing and best thing in your current situation are very subjective and relative. If the biggest annoyance is cannibal rapists (rather major) or the mailman awkwardly cramming your mail into the box (pretty minor) it is still an annoyance.

    I think you need something to do that is practical for your health/ age/ location and affordable enough you can do it often. Maybe stamp or coin collecting, whittling, get a small sailboat to take it to the local lakes and bob around, I dunno.

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    1. "stamp or coin collecting, whittling." How did it come to this? >:-(

      I know what you're saying. I just don't like thinking about it. I like the sailboat idea. I had a sailboat for awhile when we moved here, but our lake is really narrow, and the only good place to sail is up at the very top by the dam. But you know, a small motorboat would be good. There are islands in the lake, and I could go out there to one of those small islands with the dogs, cook some hot dogs, do a little fishing. Nobody would bother me. That's a good idea, Ryan.

      I think I'll hold off on the rocking chair activities for a little while longer, yet.

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  10. Its spring things will seem better.

    As much as I want to think I could live out in the Boonies, I have only been on holiday for 1 week and I have driven myself stupid. it has rained and hailed so I haven't been able to do the gardening I planned. I have plans for plans and lists for lists of things that need to be done. (I have a basket in the spare room with mending in and one of clothing that needs to be picked apart and the good bits kept and the other bits sent to the cloth recycling centre, I haven't touched any of it).

    Are you still thinking of moving to Florida? Maybe make some plans?

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    1. Sol, my mom came here a few years ago to spend a week and within two days we had to take her to Chattanooga and stay there the rest of the visit. She likes shops, and malls, and aquariums. She told me "you can't even get a latte here!" She said she could never live in a place like this. It isn't for everybody but I have been really happy here for decades. I just feel like loose ends sometimes. Even two years later, I kind of miss having projects, and deadlines, and business meetings. The guy I worked for was sorry but the actual job wasn't so bad where he wasn't involved.

      We are talking about it. My wife asked me about getting her florida credential and moving on down there next year and I would stay here and keep the place up until we sell it. I wouldn't see much of her for awhile so I am not very enthusiastic but I admit it is practical. We are still researching it. I thought we couldn't do anything for five years but she thinks she might be able to transfer to Florida and not lose her pension, so I don't know really how all that will work out.

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  11. We have been retired 20 years this month. DH took up leather work and is making holsters for himself and sells some, too. We bought a small ranch and raise a few sheep and other livestock. He has to work or be doing something all the time and this place fills the need. Always fixing fences, splitting firewood....whatever it takes. More time to enjoy the gun magazines. Up until a few years ago, he worked part time at the local hardware store....couple days a week. There are always new skills to learn or new ideas to think about. We are isolated out here and like it, but it is not for everyone. Find something you like to do and get good at it. Maybe join a gun club.

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    1. Well, I belong to a gun club, kind of on and off depending on how mad I am because I wanted to go out there and they had some kind of shooting match going on and the range was hogged up. ;-)

      I have some work here keeping the place up, and that's satisfying. I don't have any skills really like making holsters. I wish I did. I used to write articles for survival magazines, and I just touched base with a couple of new ones on that so I may be doing that again, which would be fun. You don't make any money really, but it's satisfying if people like your articles, and it's a great tax break if you have to travel. I've thought about ham radio on and off, as Kathy mentioned above. I have a SSB CB set with a nice antenna array and some supporting equipment, but I always listen on it, hardly ever transmit anymore unless some local I know is on there. I do listen to hams a lot on my receivers.
      Your advice is good.

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  12. Customers always ask when I'll sell the shop and retire...not gonna happen for the very reason you just gave...boredom.

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  13. You have it really good , Stephen. Your shop is nice and comfortable, and the people who come in are generally good people. It gives you somewhere to go, and something to do, and you have nobody you have to doff your hat to. You have that back office with a coffee pot and comfortable chairs, it's a great set up. You'd be mad to sell out.

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  14. Harry - you love being outdoors and you are very capable at building things so build yourself a fenced area and then start building raised beds. then get yourself a truckload of really good dirt and start filling those beds. then start planting. and watering and weeding. and growing some of your own food. it's busy work but so rewarding when you see those little seedlings come popping up out of the ground and you know that you are responsible for it. because you have such trouble with critters, you would definitely need to fence the garden area in. but tending to a garden gives a very rewarding sense of accomplishment. i'm not suggesting that you start tilling 200 acres or something - just a nice-sized fenced in area to grow a couple of things that you and your wife like. and if it turns out that you really enjoy it, you can keep expanding it. you would spend hours everyday outside, before or after your walks with the dogs and tending to the animals and it just might be something that you really enjoy.

    until i retired, i spent a few years just "practice" gardening in the city....i learned much from the people on the American and Canadian Preppers Network. Once i retired for good - gardening became my job. maintaining a garden that you wish to feed yourself from is work - but it is very rewarding work. i love being outside most of the day and gardening is not just a one-season "hobby". even if you have only a small garden, there are gardening jobs that must be done in spring, summer, fall and winter.

    i'm not trying to harp on you...it's just that i know that you like to be outside. tending a garden everyday will give you that.

    also jam says that you should have a fishing rod attached to your back at all times when you are out walking. you have so many different-sized streams, lakes and rivers in your area - you could be eating delicious, healthy fish every day. and fishing is fun, relaxing and keeps you outdoors all at the same time!

    oh,one other suggestion - have you thought about joining a synchronized swimming team? bahahahahahahahaah!

    much love to you and all of yours. and i completely understand your wife's fear of driving. your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, I actually did join a health club a few years back, but it was an hour drive there and an hour drive back. I tried to go two days a week, swim for a few hours, take a sauna, then go home. But it was expensive. I was willing to put up with that, but then the health club started reserving the pool for different specific groups, like senior water aerobics. I'd drive all that way and couldn't swim, so I said to the devil with it.

      We did the raised beds gardening when we first came here. My wife read about it in a magazine, and we bought pressure treated 2X6 boards, made long boxes, and filled them with good soil from the farmers depot. Our natural soil is all red clay full of flint. They worked pretty well and I raised a bunch of Indian corn, which we duly hung around the house as decorations. We let them go to pot though, and the little plots just got covered up with grass. Whatever we do now, we have to keep the chickens out of it. So I guess I will have to build a chicken wire fence around our garden. However, our chickens can fly so I don't know what I will do about that if they start flying over the chicken wire.

      She'll have to get over the driving issue. She has to drive. There's no two ways about it. J has a good idea, there are streams full of fish everywhere here. I will have to go get myself a license since the forest po po like to creep along in the bushes along the creeks trying to catch people fishing without a license. But I think a resident senior license is only twenty bucks or something like that.

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  15. I've been retired now almost 10 years. It does get better after the period of adjustment, which varies for all of us old geezers. I put up with the public for 42 years and my last day at work, it was like shutting off a faucet...no longer would I suffer fools! You can't buy peace of mind!
    Hobbies...as the years go by, our interests in what used to seem vital in enjoying the day, change also. I used to enjoy flying my old Cessna, but old age was dulling my skills, so now I just fly my recliner! Do what you are able to do, if it makes you happy. .

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    1. We have a lot in common. I kept my single engine land license until a few years ago, when I failed the class two medical. I really hated giving it up, but like you I realized I was getting past it for flying over the mountains.

      I don't miss dealing with John Q, I know exactly what you mean. I'm very ill suited for that because I never was able to keep a poker face when somebody made me mad. Not a good trait for business face to face.

      I've noticed you seem to have a pretty calm existence. Maybe after I've been flying a recliner a few more years I can get adjusted too.

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  16. Hi Harry, Thanks for stopping by my blog. Creativity and walks with dogs have saved me from getting the retirement blues. Smiling helps too. Now that may seem a simple solution, but when my health issues and other woes crop up, that's what I do and it immediately gives you a different perspective. I read that somewhere and followed the advice.

    I can see from looking at your blog that you are a creative person. It is just beautiful here and your header picture of the yellow dog by the stream is marvelous. So maybe you could focus on this and on your writing, which is also excellent. Seems like you have a lot to share and are not afraid of doing so. I would love to see some pictures of your place too.

    I am 73 and have been retired since 2005. I love it, I don;t leave here often, I don't travel, I have no real hobbies, except my photography and my blog. I often wonder how I can find things to blog about, since I do so little, but blog I do and it has helped me enjoy my retirement years. A lot.

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  17. I'm sorry to hear that adjusting to retirement is that difficult. Getting older does take adjusting to physically - my doctor tells me that when I get tired, stop and rest rather than pushing through. Taking half a minute makes the effort much less tiresome and I get a chance to notice things I wouldn't have if I was just making time.

    You know what gets me feeling young ? Talking to young children. Their observations and views are often hilarious and teaching them old skills is good for you and them. I'm talking age of less than teens - them, I sometimes want to slap, lol.

    Your high power rifle shooting - maybe switching to something with less horsepower. Many feel the Winchester 94 was a perfect hiking companion and I'm inclined to agree. Maybe a Trapper in .357 Magnum would be the ticket. Little recoil, not a whole lot of report but still has a lot of horsepower to get things done. And .357 can be had for somewhat reasonable prices too. Check it out - you may already have one of those and if you do, consider yourself fortunate.

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