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Scott Rall: Guns are special in a special way

Scott Rall

Daily Globe outdoors columnist 

It took me until I was about 35 years old to finally cement my current philosophy on purchasing guns.

When thinking about the purchase of a gun you need to adopt the “guns are in addition to and not instead of” mentality. What I mean is that I spent the majority of my youth with not much money. If I wanted a different gun I always needed to sell the one I had in order to afford the one I wanted. In the end, I had only a few guns and not much cash.

There are very few exceptions to this statement. If you purchase a gun use it and keep in good shape, you can almost always get all of your money back 15 years later. The inflation in the cost of all goods and services and the limited depreciation guns have makes guns a good investment compared to most other items we use on a regular basis.

I have no guns at home in the safe that I purchased purely as an investment, although many guys will use this methodology on their significant other if additional gun purchases are frowned upon. If you have a gun and want a different one you should wait as long as it takes to save up the money for the new one and keep the old one.

I have a few guns, not nearly as many as some hunters. There are a few that mean a lot more to me than the others.

The gun that is my very favorite is a youth shotgun. I purchased it 17 years ago from a fellow in Jackson County who won it at a Pheasants Forever banquet. I did not know this guy very well at the time, but Curt Swanson did me a favor at the time and gave me a good deal. It is a youth model Remington 870 20-gauge pump shotgun. When my son Brandon started hunting with me it was his first gun. I paid $300 for it. My son was a little tyke at the time and even though it was a youth model with a shorter stock and barrel I still needed to cut another 1 1/2 inches off the stock so it it would fit my son.

Most pump shotguns hold about three to four shells, and Brandon hunted with this gun with only one shell in it until his skills advanced to where he could responsibly take a second or third shot. As he grew up I added the 1 1/2-inch stock section back on with a few wood screws, and after that was getting too small we added an extender slip on recoil pad. This gun functioned great as my son grew up, and when the time was right he ended up with a adult-sized Remington auto-loader 12-gauge.

The youth gun landed in the gun safe until a friend needed it for his son and I lent it to him for three years. There have been a total of four lads who have called this gun their first. This gun has been responsible for more first ducks and more first pheasants than any other I know of.

The gun today is in the hands of a small-frame 14-year-old boy who shot his first rooster with it last season. When he is ready for a bigger size I will get it back and hold on to it till the next need arises. The gun today is still worth about the same as the $300 I paid for it. It is showing a little wear but still works great. I will die with this gun in my safe.

The second on the list of my favorite guns is a gun I bought for my wife. Some of you will or at least should be saying right now, “Sure it is for the wife.” I heard that one before. This time it really was for the wife. I was looking for a middle-of-the-road utility gun that did not kick much. I was going for a 20-gauge over under. As I asked around I ran into a gun buddy of mine and told him to keep a lookout for a good gun and described what I was looking for. It was not long after that he showed up in my office with something totally different.

He explained to me that anyone can carry a shooter. A shooter gun is a gun which is mass-produced and used by thousands of other hunters. A special gun for a lady is like a woman’s dress that no other lady could possibly find.

This ensures that you will never be at a special event where another gal has on the same dress as you. Girls just hate that, I am told. He said that in all of his years of gun experience he had never seen one of this model in as good a shape and I just had to take a look at it.

He opened the gun case and out popped a 1965 Browning automatic shotgun in 16-gauge with a ventilated rib. The gun model called an Auto 5 is not rare. Thousands were made. This gun in a 16-gauge is more rare, but they can still be found at gun shows occasionally if you know where to look.

What was rare about this gun is that it was almost 50 years old and looked as though it was new out of the box. I am not a gun collector but from the research I did I have found that for every one made with a ventilated rid on the barrel there was 500 made without. This gun in this shape was and is very rare.

It was beautiful and looked as if it had never been fired. He told me that if I bought it and kept it nice he would buy it back seven years from then and pay me double. I asked why he would do that. He said that nice guns need to be used and enjoyed and if that offer would help me justify the cost it was his way if trying to make this special gun purchase a reality.

I asked him how much, and when he told me the price it set me back in the chair a little. The cost was about twice what I was going to spend on my wife’s first gun.

I told him thanks for thinking about me for this special one of a kind gun find but he would need to move on to the next prospect. He would not take no for an answer. He asked me if my wife would ever leave the house unless she was all gussied up with her make-up and hair done just right? I knew the answer to that one and the answer was “no way.” He said it was just wrong for me to take her into the field unless she had a gun that was also all gussied up and that there was no other dress (gun) like this one at the ball.

I was hooked. I took the gun and gave him my cash on hand and got him the rest the next week. It is the most valuable gun I own and my sweetie shot her first rooster with it the following fall after about five tries.

She has since had health issues that keep her on the sidelines as far as hunting goes. She has not used this gun since that first year. I have used it only three or four individual times. Me and Les Johnson go on what we call our old-timers hunt. We take the oldest gun we have and the oldest dog we own and hunt one day each year with our old sweet 16’s.

This hunt is special and we missed it this year. If I have my way it will be the only time we miss it.

Guns are special. In my mind this will always be my sweetie’s gun even if she never shoots it again. In my business we see clients who pass away and pass estates worth millions to family. Of those estates the guns owned by grandpa and dad in many cases have the most emotional attachment. I told my son and son-in-law that they will in time inherit all my guns but they have to promise never to sell even one. I will have grandsons and hopefully some granddaughters some day who will cherish the guns I have collected, used and saved for them my entire lifetime.

If you don’t own any guns it is hard to understand the connection from this hand-me-down item. I would say that the vast majority of guns in the United States rarely if ever get used. I use on a regular basis about three different guns for hunting and shooting. The others will stay with me as long as I live only to oiled and handled occasionally to spur the memories as to where they came from and to remind me of the stories told to me of their use by the prior owners, many of whom have passed on.

Hunting stories never get old. Why roosters harvested by my grandpa 50 years ago still seems like a better story than the ones someone got last year will always be a mystery.

I will continue to collect new guns when funds allow and appreciate the old ones I have with an effort to better understand why so many people are so attached to special guns.

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