Monday, January 13, 2014

Browning Sweet 16, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my first man's shotgun - a Browning A-5 sixteen gauge.  It was a gun that I used for a number of years as a kid, but since I was a kid, and since my Grandpa had cut down the stock to make it fit me, I soon outgrew it.  And with that growth I left the sixteen gauge behind, and pretty much didn't think about it much the rest of my hunting career.  

Decades passed and then Dad got sick with Pick's disease, and as a family we felt it best to get the guns out of the house.  I don't think anybody ever felt there to be any true danger, but why risk it?  Hence all of Dad's guns came to me - the good, bad, and ugly.  Some I kept as they are treasures to me -Dad's beautiful Browning Superposed (which I actually invested in restoring with Browning, and they did an INCREDIBLE job - that will likely be a future blog post) and Dad's beat up workhorse A-5 12 gauge.  

Some I gave away.  One such gun was my Dad's father's gun.  Unfortunately, I never new my Grandpa on my Dad's side, so the gun had no special meaning to me.  Hence I found a good home for that with my Uncle.

The rest I traded in.  And one of those was my original man's gun, that cut-down Browning A-5 16 gauge.  

At the time I felt that the gun had been disfigured to the point of not being relevant anymore, so while I was sorry to see it go, I wasn't too shook up about it.

But as the years went by, I missed that gun.  While I currently use a Browning Maxus as my day in, day out duck gun, I always hunt at least one day per season with  the Browning A-5 12 gauge that my Dad gave me as a gift for my birthday/grad school graduation.  And in holding that "humpback" in the blind, it always proves impossible for my mind not to wonder and think back on that smaller gauged humpback that I used to use all those years ago.

Last month found me in our local Cabela's doing some Christmas shopping.  And, as I'm wont to do, my meandering of the store found me with a stop at their high end gun room.  While my wife will be the first to tell you that the last thing I need is another gun, I can't help myself and sometimes it's fun just to go in there, see what they have, and maybe dream a little.

And then I saw it - a 1965 Browning A-5 Sweet Sixteen.  While not the same model as what I had, it was close.  I picked it up off the display rack, and was instantaneously flooded with memories and emotion.  As I opened the chamber, shouldered the gun, and felt for the safety I was transported back to sitting in a duck blind on Lake Sonmore with my Dad at my side.  Memories of hunts, laughs, mornings, ducks, dogs came back into my head like a freight train.

And Immediately I choked up.  

I must have caught the eye of the salesman, as I was likely toying with the gun for going on a good 15 minutes.  With every shoulder mount and view of the intricacies of the gun seemed to come another memory.  The only bad part was that the gun was in very good condition.  And that meant it came with a very big price tag.

The sales guy saw my emotion and was ready to write me up then and there, but my wife was with me in the store, and there's no way I could spend that kind of money without her support.  I put the gun back, and told the salesman that I may or may not be back.

I tracked my wife down in the store, moved her off to a more quiet corner, and with a lump in my throat and mist in my eyes, I explained what I had just experienced.  And I also explained the cost.  

Without a hesitation she says to me, "Well, let's go look at it."

And that is how I ended up with this beauty.  While I have bought a couple of boxes of lead shells for it, I doubt I'll ever shoot them though it.  To me, I'm content to break out a rag, place the gun across my lap, rub it up good, and just remember.  

Yeah, it came with a big price tag, especially for a gun that will likely never be used again.  But as sweet as those memories are that came with it, it was a price well worth paying.

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