The Prodigal Gun

“Ma Burch, Ma Burch!”  My daughter-in-law was excited.  “I think I found your bracelet!”  The item to which she referred was a gold piece I had purchased last year and it turned up missing this winter.  In my “spread out” life, things regularly turn up missing.  With a home in Isle, land and cabin outside of town, work two hours south in Woodbury, and my kid's house where I sometimes stay – I leave a veritable trail of stuff wherever I go.  Things turn up eventually, but if something goes AWOL it could be in the box of my truck, my office desk drawer, in a tree stand, at a bear bait, in one of several garages around the state… or who knows where.  The snow had melted and the missing trinket had been found in the lawn at my kid’s house, somewhat battered, but still wearable.  It must have jettisoned off my wrist as I grappled with a suitcase and attaché through snow banks in January.

But a gun?  Now THAT is a different story.  I am obsessive about my guns.  I don’t name them like some guys do but I regard them with respect and I am safe to a fault. I know where they are.  They are always cleaned and oiled and stored safely.  Being a Firearm Safety Instructor, I practice what I preach.   I had felt pretty sheepish admitting after several months of looking, that it appeared I had lost my gun  - a .357 Ruger Revolver.  I mean… I don’t LOSE guns.  I backtracked through a dozen scenarios of moving it from its usual spot(s).   Did I take it from my truck when I flew to the ATA Show in January and the truck would be parked at work for week?  Did it bounce out of my ATV drop basket while rough riding my trails through the woods?  Did I leave it strapped to a tree at my bear bait?  Did I hide it in my cabin, or cabin garage or home garage before going on a trip?  Did it wedge in some cranny of my truck cab?  Or get stowed in my road kit in the truck box?  I racked my brain for weeks imagining all the scenarios that might have played out.   The problem with being safe with firearms, if you can call it a problem, is that I can hide things so well that a sniffer dog couldn’t find them. 

This handgun was my take-along everywhere protector and friend.  Some women say “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”  Not me.  My Ruger was my best friend.   Lest you think me loony, read Paxton Quigley’s “Armed and Female” and you will know what I mean.  I have a concealed carry permit and have fired that revolver thousands of times.  I shoot it both left and right handed.  I taught my son to shoot with it when he was a kid.  I had taught hundreds of Gun Safety Class students to shoot with it over my 20 years of owning it.   It was the first gun I ever bought.  I purchased it after an attempted break-in when my kids were babies and I was home alone with the kids a lot.    It has been my side arm through many bear seasons and my security blanket dozens of times when I heard things go thump in the night that weren’t supposed to go thump in the night.

And now – it was gone.  My daughter-in-law wants the two of us to go get Lady Smith & Wesson girlie guns, and that’s all well and fine, but a new gun just would not be the same.  Besides, it was a loaded revolver so I just could not be content with saying “que sera, move on and forget it”.  I felt a sense of responsibility to find it.

I had been through my woods many times, visiting each tree stand, checking every trail and back trail.  When winter came, I walked thru the snow searching.  When the first significant thaw came, I trekked miles around my property, to no avail.  However, there were still snowbanks so I knew I would have to endure wood tick season and look again and today was the day.  I have a rotten cold and thought a hike through the woods in the spitting icy rain would be a diversion from sitting home feeling miserable. 

I went through all the trails, and just as I was nearing my cabin, I stopped and thought “You know… the only thing I have not done, is pray.”   I sometimes think menial requests aren’t worthy of God’s attention, but I offered up this request anyway.

I decided to make one last jaunt to my bear bait on the southeast corner.  By now the icy rain along with doing the farmer nose blow, I was chafing badly, so this was my last hurrah.  The bait had not been touched since last year after the bears abandoned it mid-October.  Parallel logs covered the top, with two large logs propped on the sides to keep the others from rolling.  I looked in the tree stands near the bait, and returned to the bait from a back trail.

And there it was!   My gun, in its holster, was tucked under a propped up log.  Yes, I did the Happy Dance.  And yes, I thanked God.  I have high hopes that a good gunsmith will be able to restore my rusted out Ruger, but I am one happy girl.   The Prodigal Gun is home.