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I’ve been hunting whitetail dear since I was a tyke. Over the years I’ve tried different rifles and calibers, but I always come back to the Remington Model 700 .260 that my father gave me as my first rifle. It’s seen a lot of use, doesn’t have a high-priced optic and no longer looks like anything special, but it has a story as well as a sentimental value that are irreplaceable.

My dad taught be to shoot and hunt beginning when I was about five. We’d spend hours on the range or walking through the woods looking for signs of wildlife. I vividly remember Dad taking me to a friend’s hunting club in hopes I’d spot a deer. Around 2:30 on a cold December afternoon we climbed into a shooting house nestled in a tall cedar tree overlooking a tempting food plot.

I eagerly scanned the field for movement. After looking for a while I caught a glimpse of a buck moving through the woods towards us. He paused in the tree line, checking the field for danger and then moved out to feed. Just before the light faded, he moved close enough to where I felt comfortable taking the shot.

I fumbled around trying to flip off my safety, making way too much noise, and the buck looked right at me. My heart was pounding out of my chest as I carefully aimed the .260. With a deep breath I squeezed the trigger. Once I’d recovered from the recoil, it dawned on me that I’d gotten my very first deer.

That buck wasn’t a monster, but it was my first and I was so excited I couldn’t sit still. We waited a few more minutes to make sure he wasn’t going to get up and run. It seemed like an eternity at the time, but we finally went to recover my trophy, and put in a call to my mother letting her know I had finally been successful. I can remember my dad being so happy for me as well as proud of my shot placement, a direct result of all of all of his lessons.

That rifle took a lot more deer until my junior year of college. Getting back from a morning duck hunt, I realized that my house had been burglarized. They got away with all of my most important possessions: my guns as well as my stash of Mountain Dew in the fridge.

While I hated to lose my guns, I was devastated by the realization that I wouln’t be able to pass that Remington 700 down to my kids one day. I dutifully filed a police report, giving them the descriptions and serial numbers of all of the stolen guns.

I had mentally written my guns off as a total loss when, several months later, I got a call from the police letting me know that they’d located them at a pawn shop about sixty miles away. I jumped in my truck with my best friend Chandler who’d also had a shotgun stolen that day, and headed to retrieve our arsenal.

When I arrived, it was immediately evident that the thieves hadn’t cared for the firearms quite as well as I would have. They looked like they’d been thrown around, possibly in the back of a pickup truck. The scope on my 700 was scratched and the finish on the wood stock was badly marred in several places.

Nonetheless, I was thrilled to have them back. That call from the police was the best news I could have gotten.

Shortly after I got my guns back, I headed to the range to gauge the extent of the damage to the scope. Fortunately, it wasn’t severe and it took only a few shots to get the 700 zero’d again.

A couple days later Chandler and I decided to take some time for an afternoon deer hunt on his family farm. After sitting on a pond dam overlooking one of our food plots for a while, a doe stepped out looking to graze. I waited for a while, hoping for a buck, but he didn’t show and again, the light was fading fast.

I raised my rifle and took aim just like I did that first time. With the sights lined up, I slowly squeezed the trigger, dropping the doe in her tracks. Once again, the feeling was overwhelming, especially now that my beloved rifle was back in my hands.

I have other rifles now that are more expensive and equipped with better glass. But I still find myself picking up the 700 when I head into the woods in search of whitetail. It’s never failed me and I keep adding more deer to its legacy, the better to bore my kids and grandchildren some day. I though about refinishing the stock, but decided I’d leave the scars to add a little more color to the story.

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  1. Yup that’s a good story. I’ve had a revolver stolen from me, I know the delight in getting them back.

  2. I wonder what it is about guns that carry so much weight as heirlooms, more than sports gear, books, or other things. I’m still mildly angry my father and his brothers never cared about my grandfather’s guns, including a WW2-issue M1911. He also had some medals that may have ended up in the trash. So pissed.

    • I think it’s because the guns were such an important tool in the loved ones life. I always think about my dad sighting down on the deer he took at 900 yards, every time I shoot his Remington 721 in .300 H&H.
      He took that shot with iron sights. Someday I might take the scope that it currently wears off and go back to the irons( for silly sentimental reasons), but it’s such a good long range shooter that I’m loath to change it.

    • It’s true: guns are among the most durable of Durable Goods – if taken care of, they will function not just for a few decades but for several generations. When a gun is fired outside of practice it is often for a VERY good reason, either to take or preserve life… and the significance of that reason gives meaning to the memories and stories of each person that uses that gun. When that gun is passed from one hand to the next is reverts back to being “just a gun” unless those stories are passed along as well.
      I’ve bought a number of used guns over the years from people I never knew – I never heard any of their stories of that gun and what they did with it… so those memories have no meaning to me and are now lost. Those are my guns now. I’ll write my own stories for them.

    • ‘I’m still mildly angry my father and his brothers never cared about my grandfather’s guns, including a WW2-issue M1911. He also had some medals that may have ended up in the trash.’

      Might be going out on a limb here, but your dad and uncles were hippies?

      • Not in the least. All patriots, one a career Army man. My grandfather hunted and shot avidly but didn’t impart that love to his boys. After he died, a cousin and I knocked on the walls and found all (?) the hideaways he built, where he stashed stock certificates, ammo, and guns. He had three pistols hidden under the floor in the master bedroom, much to the great consternation of my grandmother! He was at Pearl (not there during the attack) and hung on to a GI 1911 in beautiful shape. My cousin and I collected these guns and laid them out in the living room. An uncle “sold” them and said our share was $80 (1987). Learned later he was a shyster, so he undouobtedly sold them for much more than $240. But my dad didn’t know what they were worth and my uncle probably didn’t either. Now that I know guns, I know there were gems in that collection. But the saddest part is losing that part of my family’s proud legacy.

  3. I know know how you feel, Ben. When I was discharged from the army I bought a 6″ stainless Python as a gift to myself. A few years later I came home to find it, as well as all my other handguns stolen. Cash and wife’s jewelry also. Suspects arrested when they tried to pawn one of my wife’s diamond rings. A couple of years later I got the call; my Python had been recovered. It was great.

  4. Stupid criminals – diminishing the value of their stolen goods by treating them so roughly before they even pawn them off. Well at least you don’t have to worry about scratching it up in the field.

    • You got that right! When I got my Python back it had gouges on the left side of the barrel, the front sight was bent and the Pachmayer grips had been replaced with a set of S&W K frame grips. You can imagine how well they fit. They were secured in place with Scotch tape.

  5. I appreciate all the comments! This gun has been with me for over two decades now and will remain a vital part of my hunting life for years to come!

    Yes it has a special place in the ole safe!

    I was raised to work Hard for what you have, never giving up on dreams or goals. So knowing someone took something my dad had worked so hard for really boiled my blood. Not to mention the other guns that I had personally worked hard for.

  6. Cool story, bro. Seriously.

    Fortunately, the thief that stole most of my Dad’s firearms left a disassembled antique war rifle that I had restored later.

  7. Good story. I’m glad you got it back.

    This is a bad implementation of one of the worst comment systems on the web.

  8. That was a nice story. Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, I will nit get that same thrill of recovery because all my firearms were lost in that tragic boating accident and…

  9. An older pre-Suck 700 and the .260 is a tough combination to beat. That’s a great rifle.

  10. Now is the time too buy a used 700, went too the gun shop a month ago and they had wall too wall used 700’s for sale {lots of panic over the triggers} most of them didn’t meet the trigger criteria!

  11. Guns handed down from our ancestors have a very special value. I have my grandfather’s grandfather’s single shot 12 ga. shotgun. My grandfather passed away before I was born, but I heard a LOT of stories from my grandmother on all the hunts her husband took that gun, and a few from his hunting buddies. He apparently used black powder 12 ga. shells and the sparks and smoke that came out of the barrel were a sight to see. Because of the fireworks, the gun acquired the nick-name, Ol’ Fuzee. I learned later in life that Fuzee was a manufacturer of industrial flares (think road flare in steroids). The gun having passed thru at least 5 generations to get to me has acquired some “patina” over the years. The butt of the stock was cut down by about 1 1/2″ to fit a kid at one time, and a piece of wood was nailed on the end for when the kid grew up. The firing pin was replaced by something that is too long and pierces the primers. There is some old black cloth tape that has taken the place of a long lost barrel band. and a brass screw shaped into a bead sight whose point barely protrudes into the bore. I’ve seen pictures of my grandfather after a hunt with all the game he and his buddy killed laid out to see, circa about 1930. Their dog was worn out and sound asleep next to the pheasants, squirrels, rabbits, quail, etc. When I think about how this battered and worn gun provided food for the table for my family since about 1880, I would be devastated to loose it. I won’t shoot it as I don’t think it is safe with the firing pin poking holes clear thru the primer or using smokeless powder. I know why you grab your old Remington rifle for a hunt. The gun’s history is intertwined with your family’s history, and seeing it, holding it, brings back all the memories of past hunt and the wonderful people you shared the experience with. And that my friend, is priceless.

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