The passing on of family treasures from parents to children has been going on since the beginning of time. And since the beginning of time, jealousy and misunderstandings have hampered and sometimes destroyed good feelings among family members. Most of the time, disputes are regarding real estate and money but often these good familial feelings are destroyed over an heirloom…a picture, a vase or even Dad’s old gun.
Some people may not care about Dad’s old gun but for any outdoors person who treasures traditions, it means something and should not be taken lightly. There are many things that make that gun treasured. It represents the freedom your dad enjoyed to be able to hunt. It represents the many times in your youth when he would load you up in the truck and take you hunting. It probably was the first real gun you ever shot.
It can tell the tales of many experiences both hard and fun. It reminds you of how he taught you to clean a gun and take care of it. Somehow, when you take it with you on a trip or even if you just leave it in your gun cabinet, it is a part of Dad that is with you. I will never forget slipping through the brush with my father on a hunting trip in Florida some fifty years ago. I tripped and fell flat on my face but managed to keep the gun pointed to the side as I hit the ground. He complimented me for the safe way I fell with the gun and as a young boy, I felt a swelling of pride and sense of responsibility. Guns are part of the outdoor journey for many of us. Do not underestimate the importance of that gun.
As a man in his 60s, I am aware of this issue as I consider my potential estate and how it will be shared with my children. How do I share what my father has shared with me? How do I make sure that these treasured family heirlooms are handled in such a way as to make my family closer not further apart? What do I do if there are not enough guns to go around? How do I make sure my daughter is treated equally? This blog is written from my perspective as a man but more and more, females are getting interested in hunting and this could easily be written about Mom’s old gun.
Some may choose a birthright strategy, a merit/interest based strategy, a lottery strategy, or “make no plans at all” strategy. Perhaps there is some mixture of all of those that takes place each time the torch is passed to the next generation.
Though I do not know exactly how it will turn out in my case, I have determined that there are a couple important things I need to do to be prepared.
First, I need to make sure I have enough guns.
I do not have to spend a fortune but I do want to make sure that within my budget, I am able to acquire several shotguns and/or rifles that are used in different hunting settings. I do not need an arsenal…just enough that I can touch generations that follow. I want as many of them to feel the tradition and legacy that flows through our common blood as possible. My old guns can help with that feeling if I think about it and plan for it.
Second, I need to make sure I have enough experiences with those guns to make them valuable to my children and following generations.
Experiences such as: this was my first gun and the one that my dad gave me when he took me hunting, this was the rifle I used when I went hunting in Canada for Caribou, this was the shotgun I used when my dad took me pheasant hunting etc….these experiences turn the firearm into an heirloom.
When I give away my single shot 20 gauge shotgun, which was the first gun I ever owned and a gift from my parents, I will remember to tell the recipient that the marks on the stock are the time when our horse grabbed my gun on the fence rail and started chewing on it. Little and seemingly inconsequential memories in the grand scheme of things, give richness and context to the gift.
I have a couple of old family firearms that have been passed down but sadly, I do not have all of the stories that go with them. If I had a few more hours with my now deceased dad, among other things, I would ask him about the memories and experiences he had with those guns I now have in my possession.
If we start thinking about this now, we will find that we actually consider a gun as a transporter of memories, a capsule of times gone by that are treasures for us. You will find yourself sitting in a tree stand or duck blind thinking about what the gun you are holding means to you and what it will mean to one of your grandchildren one day. It enriches the hunting experience as you contemplate the gun not as just a firearm to be cleaned and put back in the gun cabinet, but as a reservoir of experiences that are uniquely your family’s and seeped in tradition and legacy.
In the picture below, I am holding my father’s Remington bolt action 30-30 with a peep sight, which I inherited, and my new Browning Hell’s Canyon 6.5 Creedmore with a Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15x56mm scope, which I just purchased. Both guns will be part of what I leave to my posterity and will carry with them the fingerprints of me and those that came before me.
With that in mind, accumulate to the best of your ability, the right number of hunting guns and then create and formalize their memories. When the time comes pass the torch to the next generation, with each gift, provide the context of that gift orally or written so that the traditions and legacies are sustained and enlarged.
This is the backbone of Wroxx. We believe in the importance of traditions and legacies that are passed down through the generations. We believe in the life experiences learned in the outdoors that are critical for the development of sturdy and steady children. Wroxx gear was created with this journey in mind.