View Full Version : Soul.....

Dave McC
December 13, 2008, 09:58 AM
I was poking around on another shotgun board, one devoted to "Wingshooting and Fine Guns"....

Much of the material on that BB covers fine doubles, a subject in which finances have limited my participation. But, there was a thread on Browning's reissue of the vaunted Model 12, and pumpguns are a subject dear to my heart.

I like the Model 12 in both Winchester's classic and the re-issue, even though some sneer at Japanese made arms. Not me. If a rose is a rose is a rose, a pumpgun well made of quality materials by free people is a fine pumpgun is a fine pumpgun is a fine pumpgun.

But, one poster there, when 870s were cited, made the comment that Model 12s have more "Soul".

To him, maybe.

But soul is not a factory option. We install it one memory at a time.

Consider my oldest 870, mine since 1959. The story in the Archives here, "A Christmas Past", tells how my father gave it to me on a pheasant hunt.

Since then, it has taken game from dove to deer, busted clays, slapped down steel plates, and in 1971 or so in Venice Ca, it helped me convince two criminals that breaking into my apartment in the wee smalls was not only illegal, but a really stupid idea. It now is semi retired and serves as part of my home owner's insurance plan.

There's a lot of memories with that shotgun in it, and it has soul up the wazoo.

Or take Frankenstein, my over publicized parts 870. The tale of its birth, " A Kitchen Table 870" is also archived.

Since the lightning flashed and it sat up on the operating table late in the 80s or early 90s, it has taken much game, served well on divers ranges and functions at 100% regardless of the task.

Since I built it, it helped me take my only true triple on a quail covey flush, gone 11 snow geese with 14 shells, and helped me educate some folks that a shotgun need be neither pretty nor costly to be good.

It's a junkyard mutt with the heart of a thoroughbred. It takes love to make it beautiful, but it's not for sale at any price.

And it too has soul dripping off it like honey on a biscuit.

Some newer guns here are getting soul.

Number Six, my most recently acquired 870, was made in 1955 and lightly used prior to me. I'm changing that, and it has done well in the dove fields.

Number Four, AKA Jessica for the Allman Brothers instrumental, is a 20 gauge Youth model I got for the kids in the early 90s. They've moved on and a friend needed a youth stock for a 28 gauge 870 he got for HIS kids. I ended up with a straight grip stock on Jessica that redefined the term "Quail Gun" and made it a fast handling, light uplander. It's got some soul now, and I'll add to that as time allows.

In case you've followed all that, here's how to add soul to your shotguns.

It's not like bolting on a accessory. Or redoing the finish.

You use it. And you do that in the company of those you care the most about, family and friends

Use a worked over $50 bolt action 12 gauge to take a county record after a friend called it "The Ugliest Shotgun in Howard County".

Or take a fast double on dove with an well known pumpgun while your oldest child, too young to shoot, watches wide eyed behind her miniature shooting glasses. Or watch said child, older, bust her first clay with another,similar gun bought just for her.

Or lend it to a friend when his autoloader seizes up to kill his first giant Canada goose.

Or just carry it through some pretty country, admiring The Creator's work.

Do that, and your shotgun will see soul showing up uninvited but quite welcome.

The best to all this Holiday Season.....

December 13, 2008, 10:40 AM
Dave McC

The poster, who commented that Model 12s have more "Soul" got it a little wrong. The gun is just a mirror that reflects the soul of the owner, and fear not, you have plenty of soul.
Best wishes for the Holiday Season right back at ya.

December 13, 2008, 10:46 AM
Good post, friend...

Can't agree with the made in japan part but other than that...

December 13, 2008, 11:02 AM
Well said - happy holidays from the Pacific Northwest.

December 13, 2008, 11:24 AM
Dave, It's great to have such fond memories, isn't it?
That's how I feel about my Ihacas. So many good times.
I'm off next weekend (finally..I work 7 days a week), and I think I know what I'm gonna be doing. Gonna take the boy out with a couple boxes and show him a few things about clay. :) He's 10 now, and I just gave him my NE .410 single for his birthday. He should enjoy that..

Happy Holidays to you all, too.

Dave McC
December 13, 2008, 02:21 PM

Maybe some of what I feel about shotguns has to do with the memories they evoke of times past with people I can only see with my mind's eye now.

Some of the respect I hold for 870s in particular and shotguns generally is for a very good tool and some for the crisp sunrises, the glorious days afield, the times best remembered as best I've had while holding them.

I can recall how that ring neck rooster looked 49 Christmases ago better than what I saw on TV last night. It was a perfect radiant sky beast all the colors of autumn and I slew it with an 870 to make it live forever.

[/Mystical mode].....

December 13, 2008, 02:30 PM
I like that my mossbergs are built by a family run outfit right here in the USA... Rattling and such is fine and I think my all black guns are full of soul as well as character...
Class... well there they may lack but I eat with my fingers so we are a good fit!

December 13, 2008, 04:39 PM
That was fantastic Dave...I didn't grow up around guns, so unfortunately I don't have nearly as many memories like that from my childhood, but you certainly have a way with words. That was a great read...it's got a real 'Norman Rockwell' feel to it.

Merry Christmas to you and the rest of the TFL gang.

December 13, 2008, 06:25 PM
Shotguns, it seems, acquire more soul more quickly than rifles.

My shotgun sees a few hundred rounds a year where as my rifles only see a hundred or less and many of those are target rounds.

My Mossberg 500 is only a few years old but it has been with me all over the place and seen hundreds of rounds. Short, snappy shots on flushing prairie chickens, long lead shots on fast moving ducks and cold calm mornings setting up decoys before dawn with my good buddies and some new friends too.

Dave McC
December 13, 2008, 06:53 PM
Thanks, folks.

Brent, ya got class, buddy.

LP, thanks. Every now and then the stuff writes itself. This is one of those.

J, many of us think of shotguns as goto guns. That's part of what you feel, betcha.

December 13, 2008, 08:25 PM
Great post Dave, and Happy Holidays to you as well.

I've got an old Remington 31 that I've posted about before.

Was my Grandfather's. The man who raised me.

It's got a lot of character and "wear marks". One such is a chunk of wood about an inch square missing from the rear of the forend. Doesn't affect function but it's ugly. I've often thought about putting a new forend on it to fix that, but if I did that I'd be tearing a little bit of that soul out wouldn't I? I remember when that chunk got knocked out. I was about 14 and Dad got his feet tangled up in some honeysuckles on a rabbit hunt down around St. Pauls, NC. Took a tumble and knocked that plug of wood out.

Think I'll keep that forend just like it is........

Dave McC
December 13, 2008, 10:48 PM
RRN, truly that gun has soul.

Frankenstein wears the corncob forend that was on my first 870 way back. There's a nasty scar on one side from the day I learned that climbing 30 feet up a quarry wall to recover a feral pigeon wasn't worth it. I get reminded of that every time I shoot that shotgun.

Which ever of my kids ends up with Frankenstein, assuming they don't bury it with me, will tell their kids yet unborn that story. They know it by heart.

And they'll know that my junkyard mutt has soul,some of which they helped install.

December 14, 2008, 12:33 AM
Well, I have a pair of Japanese-made SKB S/S doubles, and they have more soul than anything else I own. The field gun has taken it's fair share of ducks and geese, and the trap gun (anyone else use a S/S for trap?) was looked at askance until the day I popped 96/100 at the range. I smiled from ear-to-ear all the way home after that!

I know S/S is unusual for trap, but I've been shooting them for years, and I'm comfortable with them. No, they don't come cheap, but they do have soul. :)

Dave McC
December 14, 2008, 08:52 AM
I'm sure they have soul, Skeeter, and YOU are putting it there. Keep it up.

Pop's old O/U had soul, and more time in a B 24 than some pilots of same. It was probably a Savage, bought when he graduated from OCS ca 1941. It took gray geese in Iceland, pheasant in the UK and Europe and everything in MD and PA.

It was stolen, sadly, at a field trial in the late 60s or early 70s in the Mid Atlantic area..

Dunno the serial number, but the Army Air Corps pin punched the number 14 on the bottom of the receiver.

If anyone sees it let me know....

Ron L
December 14, 2008, 11:09 PM
I bought my 1100 deer gun because the moment I saw it, it had character. As I carried it hunting and it got rained on and snowed on took a tumble in some mud and had a hard frost on one particular morning, I realized that I was attached to this gun. For some reason, sitting there in my blind, I looked at that gun like I've never looked at my other rifles. The 870 Youth I got was given to my oldest son and I guess it seemed like it was meant to be temporary. The Winchester I had for years, I never really felt comfortable with. But there's something about this 1100 that I know this is MY gun. Having my youngest son take his first deer with the gun... well, it's getting soul.

Dave McC
December 15, 2008, 09:57 AM
Sounds like it, Ron. Keep adding some as frequently as possible.

December 15, 2008, 10:36 AM
There's a nasty scar on one side from the day I learned that climbing 30 feet up a quarry wall to recover a feral pigeon wasn't worth it.

Quarry pigeon control is fun. I've done a bit of that at our local quarry before. They do make a mess of the equipment.

I've got a new 870 express that I just bought about a month ago. Bought it as a loaner gun for the nephews. My 17 y.o. nephew has yet to kill a deer but he's certainly adding to the character and wear marks to this gun. He's not quite figured out how to range and swing on running deer and has missed a couple. He came out from doing a man-drive last weekend and told me he was sorry he had put a couple scratches on the new gun from the briars. I kinda chuckled and told him "thanks for the wear marks." He was confused until I explained the difference between guns that get used and those that get photographed.

That gun will develop soul, but it will take time.

Dave McC
December 15, 2008, 09:31 PM
".... it will take time"....

Yes, but well worth it.

Wish I still had that quarry staked out, but it's in the middle of yuppy habitat now and full of water. Last time I saw it, it was covered with mallards. No way to get in there and shoot them.

December 15, 2008, 09:34 PM
This old Basque beauty has about 45 years of soul, she did well enough today.


hollywood marine
December 16, 2008, 12:32 AM
Dave: Your words and actions have surely added "soul to my model 12, and are also adding it to my super x. Many thanks, and happy Chanuka.
Doug H.:)

Dave McC
December 16, 2008, 09:52 AM
Ky Smith I can sense the soul in that one from here.

Doug, that means a lot coming from you. Hope to see ya this Friday, and we'll add soul to divers shotguns together.