My first hunt was a fraud. Eight years old and accompanied by my father, uncle, and cousin, I was prepared to take on these unseen creatures that they called pheasants. I was armed with the smallest side-by-side shotgun that I have ever seen to this day. Along with that shotgun came a box of shiny, blue-plastic, metal-capped shells. Exploding with a zeal only found in children, I loaded that shotgun: one blue shell for the right, one blue shell for the left. What I didn't know was that the shells were blanks. My father told me this secret years after the fact, but his admission to the trickery doesn't diminish the memory of that hunt at all.