As winter looms closer with each dark night, I find myself reminiscing about family and old friends and the simplicity of those precious moments outdoors and at our local gun shop.
Growing up, you’d find us in the field hunting, fishing or shooting throughout this time of year. After marriage, our wives joined in, then our children and soon now, our grandchildren. Back home in Missouri, upland game and waterfowl hunting was a big deal. During the winter we would disappear in the Ozark timber for the day and emerge with our game bags full of squirrel, rabbit and quail. The feasts and friendships where satisfying and our warm firesides were rich with stories and laughter.
One Thanksgiving day we headed to northwestern Missouri, a goose and ducking hunting Mecca. The wind was howling as a cold front plummeted temperatures into the teens. The geese were flying to harvested fields to grab leftover corn and soybeans. The wind and tall grass masked our approach down a fence line. We set up with 30,000 geese in the field at our backs, as thousands more approached low and slow right over our heads. The hunt was over in fifteen minutes. We were back at home before noon with a Thanksgiving goose on the table and our limit in the freezer.
When we weren’t hunting or shooting, we were at “Show Me Gun Shop.” Young and old gathered there and were greeted by the shop’s friendly owner, cheddar cheese, summer sausage, crackers, a cooler with soft drinks and a hot pot of fresh coffee percolating on the counter.
I was always riveted by the hunting and shooting exploits of the “Old Timers” while enjoying my crackers, cheese and a grape soda. Guns were purchased after an hour of “haggling” interrupted by jokes, laughter and more stories. The shop’s owner was our sage. He had forgotten more about guns than we would ever know, yet he always made us feel like we were the most important people on earth.
How I miss those old times.
Here we have an upland hunting season too, but we don’t take advantage of it. Utah has some pretty good quail, pheasant and chukar hunting, and the cottontails can be plentiful when it gets cold. I understand coyote hunting is a Western art form, not to mention ice fishing. Although Utah waterfowl hunting is nothing like hunting the Mississippi Flyway, it can be steady around large lakes, bays, marshes, rivers, creeks or along irrigation ponds and streams.
I look forward to introducing my youngest son to mountain quail this winter.
It’s also a great time of year to go shooting and let the kids get reacquainted with their .22 rifles and shotguns from last Christmas. There is something magical about the holidays, the great outdoors and going hunting, fishing or shooting with family and friends. It’s a tradition. It’s a right. It’s a quality of life to be passed along from generation to generation.
Fortunately, we have a local gun store now in Tooele that is reminiscent of gun stores gone by, yet is filled with the latest and greatest shooting products in the industry. Peak Firearms is owned and operated by Tooele resident Michael Harrison and is located at 40 S. Main Street in Tooele. Their grand opening is this Wednesday, with Black Friday deals aplenty. They even have .22 ammo they’re giving away as part of the celebration.
Peak Firearms is a small shop, but it has the charm of the old days, with drinks, coffee and snacks for its customers, while providing the latest and greatest in firearms, ammunition and accessories. If he doesn’t have what you want, he’ll order it for you, even hard-to-find parts. Peak Firearms brings old-time customer service back to Utah, providing friendly, caring and helpful expertise to beginners and seasoned veterans. Concealed carry classes, firearms training, gunsmithing and refinishing are also available. Like the old days, Michael really cares about his customers and calls them family.
So, try to slow down a little during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Dust off your favorite firearm and take your children or grandchildren hunting or shooting between now and Christmas. Enjoy the Spirit of the Season and Utah’s beautiful outdoors. And while you’re at it, stop by Peak Firearms, say hello to Michael and see how gun shops used to be — it’s like finding an old friend.