Lets be honest, across the U.S. there has been economic issues over the last several years. I don’t want to discount that fact, but that economic crisis is even more serious in an already impoverished Appalachia. In a 2007-2011 report the Appalachian region had a 16% poverty rate compared to 14% across the rest of the states, and Kentucky was a whopping 24%. Those are alarming numbers if I’ve ever seen them. So many may ask and wonder how the inhabitants of the Appalachian region are able to survive while being impoverished to the extent they are. The answer is that they have learned to live off of the land as much as possible.
How something as simple as a pellet gun helps people survive
One of the most commons ways that these people live off the land is by hunting. They hunt all kinds of critters and don’t necessarily focus on typically hunting prey such as deer or geese, but instead they will kill squirrel, raccoon, and rabbit. Often times a father and son duo, with the son being sometimes younger than 10 years old, will venture out to get meals for the family on a daily basis. So while they may not work and bring in an income all of the time, they are still doing work, often times more than “working people”.
Now, we all know that there are gun laws that prevent young children from legally being able to hunt, so when they’re younger and go out with their father for a hunt, they will often use a hunting pellet gun, not the best pellet gun, but one that will get the job done. They don’t really have the income to spend frivolously on the best, so they will often times make do with one that has been passed down through the years.
What many outside of the rural regions of Appalachia don’t understand is that this has become tradition and nature, similar to how those along the Gulf of Mexico live off of gator and other wild game. At a young age, the men are often times brought in and taught how to do things this way because there is usually no better choice since education is not always the easiest and best thing in these regions. Sure, some people make it out and become successful, but others live this life because it’s necessary.
Because it is necessary, sons , and sometimes daughters, will learn how to shoot pellet guns at ages such as 6 or 7. These are ages where most young children are just beginning to learn addition and subtraction as well as having fun with sleep overs. Well, those who grow up in this region aren’t always lucky enough to be able to have a normal child life as those outside would view it as.
I remember a story that was told to me one day from an older man, and the basis of the story was that “we do what we must to survive, and we can be happy without money.” That struck a cord with me because so many people in the world don’t know what it is like to live without money and material possessions. While people in impoverished areas are able to survive and be happy, they do so with as little as their land, hunting, and teaching the traditions to the younger generations so they can appreciate all that their fathers and grandfathers have done for them.