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Old September 7, 2016, 08:58 PM   #1
alfredr
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Found a shotgun,

Well, most of one anyway. The wood is missing. I found it on the ground in the woods on a property I bought ten years ago. I'm guessing it was there since before then.

I carried it to the house and with a little steel wool was able to find that it is a J. C. Higgins model 60, 12 gauge. I didn't find a serial number, but the internet tells me it may have been made in the 50s or early 60s; no serial number needed. I haven't looked hard for one yet.

The question is, should I, or do I need to, report this to my local police in case someone has reported it stolen or missing? If there is someone who thinks this still belongs to them, I would be glad to return it. If it had been mine, I would like to know what happened to it.

It just occurred to me that I should have looked for a butt plate laying close by, but it is probably too late now to find the exact spot. I did take a picture of it laying there with my smartphone although I had moved it some. I have heard that pictures on smartphones may have a 'geo-tag'? How to use it to find the same spot again, I have no idea.

What does anyone think?

Thanks.
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Old September 7, 2016, 09:34 PM   #2
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What? No pics?

I don't think you need to report it to anyone. You bought it with the property.
Is the stock completely missing, or are their remnants of it still attached to the receiver?
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Old September 7, 2016, 09:43 PM   #3
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Pictures are on the cellphone and it doesn't play well with the computer. Not sure about posting from that.

There are some small bits that may be remains of the forearm. Nothing of the buttstock left.
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Old September 8, 2016, 05:28 AM   #4
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10 years and on your property you should be fine. It's not like it's full auto or an expensive gun.
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Old September 8, 2016, 10:30 AM   #5
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Even in good ole' gun friendly Georgia, turning it in to the police would probably guarantee it would just languish in a store room for the duration, with no previous owner ever coming forth to claim it.
Just keep the thing.
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Old September 8, 2016, 11:39 AM   #6
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My only concern would be if it was used in a crime and ditched at some point. Though it is unlikely, it is still a possibility. That being said, odds are you would be fine just keeping it. Anything that has happened over ten years ago would have been long forgotten about. Once when I worked for a survey company we were hired to search a pond that was rumored to have been the dump site for a shotgun that was used in a murder some 15 years before. Nothing was turned up but it makes you think.

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Old September 8, 2016, 11:49 AM   #7
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Well, I came across a police officer on my way to work this morning and stopped and talked to him. He said that without a serial number, it would be impossible to trace to any report of a missing or stolen gun, but he would have their secretary search their digital records (that go back to about 2001) for any mention of J.C. Higgins model 20. He was also going to talk to one of their detectives who has some other resources. Odds that anything would turn up would be near zero, but if I didn't hear anything by noon, there wasn't going to be anything. It is about quarter to one now. I have a rusty, rotten shotgun and nothing to be concerned about as to ownership.

One idea that I am considering is to attach it to a wall in the house with a plaque of some sort telling about finding it on the property and let it stay with the place whenever I might sell it. How much I might clean it up, I don't know yet.

Suggestions on that front? Do I need to get into it enough to see if there are any shells still in it? If it was lost while hunting, it might be loaded.

Thanks
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Old September 8, 2016, 11:54 AM   #8
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Evidrine: One thing the officer said was that he knew that they had no major crimes involving unlocated shotguns going back about 15 years. No worries there.

Edited to correct auto-correct.
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Old September 8, 2016, 12:00 PM   #9
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You should have reported this to your local police 10 years ago. It'd either get chopped or returned to you after a while.
Firearms weren't required to have S/N's prior to 1968. Wouldn't be bad idea to be sure it's unloaded. Mind you, being rusted into next year will probably prevent it going bang.
A J.C. Higgins M20 or M60 is one of several High Standard models. J.C. Higgins was just a Sears brand name. Buzz the excess rust off with a brass wire wheel in a bench grinder or a sanding wheel in a drill and make up a story.
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Old September 9, 2016, 06:04 PM   #10
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If you have gun buy backs in your state, wait for one and turn it in for $50 to $200, depending on what is offered.
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Old September 10, 2016, 08:02 AM   #11
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I have done a little more cleaning and inspecting of this shotgun. I can make out that it says "patent pending" underneath the model information. That should indicate it would be an early production of the model, right?

About the Sears catalog number, I can't make out the first 3 digits, but I am pretty sure of the decimal point and then 600. So we have xxx.600 as the catalog number. I can find what the first three digits are by searching J.C. Higgins model 60. 583 is what turns up. Therefore, 583.600. 1953 seems to be the beginning of the model 60.

The other thing I noticed adds a little more mystery to how it came to be lost in the woods. The bolt that would hold the buttstock on is broken, like it was twisted off.

I'm open to hearing theories and wild guesses as to what that signifies. I have thought of a couple myself.

Thanks
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Old September 10, 2016, 08:04 AM   #12
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Also, there doesn't appear to be a shell in the chamber. I don't know how to get in to check the magazine tube?
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Old September 10, 2016, 10:03 AM   #13
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You should be able to visibly see if there's rounds in the magazine tube.
Just stick your finger in where you would load the mag and push.
If there's anything in there, it will be obvious.
The mag tube, spring and follower should be disassembled anyway as there's no doubt plenty of rust and dirt in there.
For additional technical information, there's plenty of help videos on the disassembly at youtube.
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Old September 10, 2016, 01:00 PM   #14
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Hunters have shot game, sat their guns down to clean or retrieve the game and not been able to find their guns. It happens more often than you'd think. Sometimes people walk into the woods to commit suicide. When we do searches for them, often years later, the gun, or what is left of it is usually the first thing we find. It takes cadaver dogs to locate just a few of the bones. Not to mention the possibility of a crime.

I'd report it just in case. You may have found the key clue to solve a missing person case or crime. But probably not. I've never found a gun that I wasn't looking for but have friends or relatives who have. My BIL found one left in a truck he bought. When reported to LE he was told the SN was clean and it was his to keep.
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Old September 10, 2016, 06:15 PM   #15
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A quick response to gee whillikers, the loading gate doesn't open; I have stuck a wire on through the gap and there is something there. I don't know if it might be the follower or a shell. I guess I have to spend some time with YouTube.

Thanks.
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Old September 11, 2016, 12:16 PM   #16
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Go to a gun buy back in Atlanta. Get a gift card full of ammo. Get that dangerous animal off the streets.

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Old September 12, 2016, 03:30 PM   #17
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Posts 7 and 8 cover reporting and possible use in crimes. (Unless you want to dig through paper records.)

The broken stock-holding bolt makes me think it didn't have a stock on it when it came to rest in the woods where I found it, but how that came to be is another mystery. Less reason to expect it to have any shells in it.
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Old September 12, 2016, 03:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
The other thing I noticed adds a little more mystery to how it came to be lost in the woods. The bolt that would hold the buttstock on is broken, like it was twisted off.

I'm open to hearing theories and wild guesses as to what that signifies.

I'm gonna guess that a guy missed a rabbit and threw a tantrum. He smashed the shotgun up against a tree until the stock broke and tossed it into the brush.
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Old September 12, 2016, 06:48 PM   #19
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Are there any old logging roads or trails? Perhaps it was set on a fender or leaned against a vehicle and inadvertently run over. Could explain the stock bolt.
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Old September 12, 2016, 07:12 PM   #20
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Either one of you could have a valid theory. Although I'm not sure if this land has been farmed or logged since mules would have been used. And from the tree growth in the roadways that are still apparent, they haven't been used for 20+ years. Trees in general look like they have been growing for 50-60+ years.

That does leave a window of opportunity for someone to have driven back into the woods, hunting/getting firewood. I think it would take more than running over the gun once to break the bolt off. I thought it looked like it had been torqued off, from over-tightening, or trying to remove it. Swinging it repeatedly against a tree from both sides could have done it maybe.

Keep these ideas coming.
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Old September 16, 2016, 03:06 PM   #21
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I went back and found a shotgun shaped depression in the ground and looked around; I am certain there is no part of the butt stock or the bolt to hold it on the receiver laying where they should be if they had been attached to the rest of the gun.

This gun got out there, 300 yards from any house, and was left there without the butt stock attached. How and why?

Butt stock cracked or broke and an attempt to repair it went wrong? But why take it 300 yards to throw it away. It's not like it was in a gulley that was being used as a trash pit.

Still a mystery to me.

I think I will mount it to a board cut from a tree from those woods and mount it above the fireplace. It can stay with the property.

Alfredr
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Old September 24, 2016, 07:53 AM   #22
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I have settled on a bigfoot grabbed it from a very surprised hunter, broke it in two and threw the pieces in different directions. The hunter, of course, couldn't get anyone to believe him, (and may have had a reputation for drinking a little too) to go out and look for either the bigfoot or the gun. He never went back to that area alone again.
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Old September 24, 2016, 09:16 AM   #23
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I like this theory much better!

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