The joys of owning guns
By Babe Winkelman
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As the Winkelman family wrapped up the 2012
hunting season, we shared a pastime that I'm sure you experience
too: gun cleaning. I don't have to tell you how important it is to
put guns away for their offseason nap in tip-top condition:
thoroughly disassembled, cleaned, reassembled, oiled and cased for
For me, this event isn't a chore. It's not like cleaning dishes.
It's a privilege and it's emotional. As I handle each gun, I marvel
at the engineering and craftsmanship that goes into a dependable
firearm. I admire each unique piece of walnut on every stock and
forearm. I wonder where those walnut trees grew. How old were they?
Was there an old deer stand hanging in one of them? Was there ever a
deer shot from the very tree that grew the wood for my deer rifle --
a rifle that went on to help me harvest a deer, too?
and rifle in my family's gun safe is brimming with stories. Yes, I
believe the guns themselves contain the stories from the field.
There's a scratch on the stock of a little Browning 20-gauge that I
can trace back to a rock. I remember the rock so clearly. I
accidentally dragged the stock across it while belly-crawling up on
a bunch of wood ducks in a woodland pond. It upset me at the time,
more than 30 years ago. But now I look at that scratch and smile,
because it takes me back and lets me relive that day with such
As I cleaned my daughter Karlee's 12-gauge, it filled me with
pride because the gun put me right back in that blind with her,
where I witnessed her taking a big tom with a clean shot. Every bit
of the excitement she felt for her achievement that morning became
infused in that shotgun. Immortalized.
Some of my guns were my dad's. And some of those were his dad's.
The heritage of that warms my heart like a high-brass shotshell
warms the barrel of an old Winchester when fired at a mallard on a
cold November morning. The passing down of a hunting gun to a son or
daughter is something special. It's a joy and a privilege that we
owe to our Second Amendment right as American sportsmen, women and
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As I clean big game and predator guns with optics, I take care to
clean the Nikon glass. As I do, I can see the deer, elk, caribou,
coyotes and other game just as they appeared in the reticle before I
squeezed the trigger. They appear like snapshots when I look through
Some guns we keep clean but readily accessible for fun family
shooting on our range. Semi-auto .22s, high-velocity air rifles and
some handguns too. Owning them and having the right to shoot them
responsibly whenever we see fit is a freedom we hold dear. I
appreciate the importance of recreational shooting for bringing
families and friends together -- to learn shooting and safety skills
and to introduce newcomers to the shooting sports.
I've been fortunate to make hunting and shooting a part of the
way I make my living. But more importantly, and like every American
who owns guns and uses them lawfully and with respect, I'm lucky to
have guns as part of my life. They help define me and my family, and
we should all be eternally grateful to our founding fathers for
protecting their importance to the fabric of our great nation. I'm
proud to be an American gun owner, and if you are too, let us know
at "Babe Winkelman" on Facebook, where we're always excited to talk
fishing, hunting and shooting.
[By BABE WINKELMAN]
Babe Winkelman is a nationally known
outdoorsman. For more than 25 years he has taught people to fish and
hunt. Watch his award-winning "Good Fishing" and "Outdoor Secrets"
television shows on many national and local
www.winkelman.com for air times where you live and check out
Babe Winkelman on Facebook.