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Antique fishing and hunting equipment sometimes resembles art

A few weeks ago I had one of those unexpected conversations that result in something amazing.

A friend of mine approached me and asked if I would like some of his old fishing and hunting equipment. I immediately told him that not only was I interested, I would be honored.

I love old fishing and hunting gear. There is something nostalgic about looking at the old artwork on the packaging.

Holding a rod and reel from 80 years ago reminds us that fishing is a tradition passed down from one generation to the next. Cradling an antique gun lets a person admire the craftsmanship and the attention to detail that reminds us that the shooting sports have a long tradition in this country.

I have collected old outboard motors, electric motors, lures, rods, reels, ammo boxes and firearms. My collection is small compared to many others, but it is taking shape nicely.

When I arrived to pick up these amazing gifts I could hardly contain my excitement. What did he have? Was it in good shape? How old was it? Where could I display it in the house?

The first thing my friend handed me was an old metal tackle box. Oh boy, I love those.

The mind races with the possibilities of what might be inside. He gently placed it in the back of my car and went back to the garage for more.

Next came a couple of old rod tubes. Inside were some fly rods that were just beautiful. As we set them down in my car I noticed the old manufacturer’s logo was emblazoned on one of them. My heart raced. It said South Bend on it, a design that hasn’t been used for many years.

Last he pulled out two guns. They were a couple of old .22 rifles he had enjoyed shooting over the years. One was a Stevens model 70 Visible Loading pump action.

It is a neat looking firearm that will find a home on my wall somewhere.

The other .22 rifle was a Remington model 521. It sported a classy leather sling and also came with an old gun bag that had the owners name emblazoned on it. How cool.

As I drove home I could hardly focus on the road. What would be inside of that old tackle box? I placed it gently on the kitchen counter and stared at the price that was written on the front of the box. It looked to be $2.50. Man, how times have changed.

I placed my thumbs on the latches and snapped them open. The moment had arrived. Would there be lures in there? Nothing? Wads of melted plastics? Who knew?

As I slowly lifted the lid I imagined air trapped from decades past being released. Ahhhh. Then my eyes beheld the glory in front of me. There, nestled across the top tray were pristine poppers, prop baits and an old Jitterbug.

In the bottom of the box was an old South Bend model 400 baitcast reel, various spools of nylon line and an M.D. Manufacturing Mini-Sac collapsible bag used to hold minnows. What a great bunch of items to add to my collection.

The next step was to find a place to hang these antiques on the wall.

I was a little nervous about it since my wife already has a bunch of deer heads hanging around along with a full stuffed wild turkey. It couldn’t hurt to ask, though.

I figured I might as well start with the toughest item first – the pump action .22. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull off a firearm hanging on the wall.

To my amazement, she said, “What about over here?”

I nearly collapsed.

I hope to have the gentleman and his wife over someday where they can see their generous gifts displayed and enjoyed by yet another generation. Each lure, each rod, each antique firearm has its own story.

Go and create yours in the outdoors.

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