The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 1, 2013

The things that we carry

Unless they’re abused, firearms really never wear out.

They’re around for a very long time, and as a result, as with so many other durable items, so-called Blue Books exist to determine the monetary value of used guns.

Things like condition and rarity all are factored in to arrive at a monetary value.

But unless one is purchasing or selling a used firearm, such values matter very little.

For most of us, the real value of the firearms we own isn’t measured in dollars and cents at all.

In fact, all of those dings, scratches, the worn bluing that usually detract from the value of a gun — they are all part of what elevate the value of ours beyond any monetary measure.

When we head afield with a favorite gun, we are cradling memories.

And if the gun has a previous history, was passed on to us by a relative, a hunting buddy, then that is especially so.

Like the 20 gauge side-by-side I carried the other day as I followed my spaniel down an overgrown fence line in Pope County.

It had been purchased new in the 60s by a longtime friend and hunting buddy, Ron Gower.

At a time when most gun buyers were opting up for the firepower offered by modern, affordable automatic or pump-action shotguns, the English professor at Minnesota State University instead opted for the little double-barrel.

Not so surprising, really, since Ron, with a taste for professorial tweeds, an author of poetry, a fly fishing enthusiast, was a bit of a traditionalist.

I’m not quite sure where our paths crossed — perhaps it was at MSU where I have been an adjunct instructor for the last 30 years or so — but with a shared passion for hunting pheasants and more recently, wild turkeys, we became fast friends and frequent hunting partners.

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