Many of you who know me, know that I believe in having guns available. I own many guns and I am not ashamed of it. They are mostly used for hunting, but I have some for target practice and I would not be afraid to use a gun to protect myself.
I was raised around guns and learned a healthy respect for guns. We learned that there is no such thing as an unloaded gun. Even if you just cleaned the gun and took it apart, it is loaded and should be treated that way. We were quizzed and if we ever said a gun was unloaded we had to clean all the guns and couldn’t shoot till Dad was done being mad. He can be mad a long time. What I am sharing here is a big part of who I am. I am hopeful you will read it.
Let me introduce you to the “Big Gun”. This model 1894 Winchester sports a hexagon barrel some 26 inches long and a magazine of almost the length. You can put a half box of shells in the old gal so you can start shooting before anyone else and when they have run out of ammunition, you’ll still have several shots left. Some have said, “If you can’t knock your game down with a bullet, you can always read out with that long barrel and push them over.”
This rifle entered the Willes family almost 60 years ago as a gift from Granddad (Ren) Willes to me. He got it from a little store and gas station at Humphrey, Idaho. at a cost of about 20 or 30 dollars. If was apparently traded in for groceries, clothes, booze and still has the previous owner’s name on the stock. I was a skinny little guy about 12 years old at the time, so it presented quite a challenge to hold that heavy gun steady enough to aim very accurately, but with a little practice it built such a reputation that many of my friends borrowed it for their hunting expeditions. Admittedly it seemed to shoot a little straighter and farther when someone else was holding it. At any rate it was credited for bagging deer, antelope, elk, bear, cougar, coyote, fox as well as a number of other animals and varmints. Let me point out that the gun was given a killing reputation that it probably did not deserve. It only fired in the direction that someone else pointed it, and I like to believe that it was a faithful provider of meat for our little family. When that need was gone, we still went on hunting trips, but me and my trusty old provider friend would often pass up shot on the pretense of herding the deer back closer to the car. Then also when no one could see us, I would take careful aim and say ‘bang’ so we didn’t mar each others’ “reputations” and we could still go out and enjoy that same experience again and again with the same deer.
As time went on, the “big gun” developed a few problems. When the lever action was used to put a new shell in the chamber, the hammer would follow the action back to the safety position so you would have to manually pull the hammer back to a firing position. In other words, it was half cocked. Isn’t it interesting how similar the personality of the “Big Gun” is to some of us. We spend half of our lives being point and triggered by someone else in cause and actions that we have nothing to to do with; than in our later years try to keep up with the rest of the world in a “half-cocked’ attitude. How much better would we be if we could keep our aim sure and true in providing eternal blessings for our little families?
When scopes and various other rifles came into being, the Big Gun had a hard time competing in distance and accuracy, but one party still offered to buy me a brand new rifle, of any caliber, with any kind of scope and another offer me thousands of dollars so they could my old friend to their collection, but the Big Gun wasn’t for sale. I don’t suppose I could put a price on this trusty old treasure: not because it is worth all that much, but because one could never put a price on a true friend.
Mark, I hope you can treasure and appreciate the Big Gun as much as I have and learn a few of the lessons it has to teach …Happy Birthday!!! With love from Dad.
I was there the day that Dad first handed Mark the letter. I was there when I watched two grown men cry and understand there was a great appreciation that only the two of them could really understand.
Anyone want to hear about Mark’s hunting trip with the Big Gun?