The Case of the Blemished Butt

The last time that I was out hunting, my rifle slid off the middle bench of the van while I was wrestling, frozen fingered, with the trigger lock. This ham-fistedness on my part resulted in a dent to the edge of the cheek piece on the butt stock.

The rifle is a Winchester Model 70 in .30-06 which I got for my 40th birthday. I had actually gone into the shop to buy a Ruger 77 and a Leupold Vari-X II 3-9×40 scope, both of which were on a special sale and more or less matched my wad of birthday money. When I saw the Ruger, I was disappointed: the wood was lifeless, the butt pad badly ground, and the action was rough. It was not like others I had seen. My thought is that the rifle was one of a batch made especially to match the sporting goods chain’s Fall sale price.  Anyway, the Ruger had served its purpose: it had gotten me into the place. And, it was there that I met my Model 70. When it came to the wood and the fit and finish, there was no comparison. So, I went home with a rifle, and used a borrowed scope until another day and another sale.

When the accident happened, the dent looked like a huge raw gash. Last week, when I finally got around to doing something about it, the dent was about half an inch long, quarter of an inch broad, and a 16th deep. I steamed out the dent as best I could by placing a folded up piece of paper towel soaked in hot water over the dent and applying a very hot blade to the wet paper towel. This process, which I repeated a few times, brought up the crushed fibres of the wood and made the dent look a lot smaller.

I cleaned the area off with some rubbing alcohol, and then applied some stain and sealer to it. In a fit of conformity, I followed the instructions on the can and waited until the next day before applying the polyurethane finish. It took two applications of the finish, with a little rub using 0000 steel wool in between and at the end. The first application covered any exposed wood. The second hid most of what was left of the dent. From a distance, it can’t be seen. Close up, it looks like a feature of the walnut grain. Run a finger over it: there is just the impression of an impression. The point is that anyone who looks at it now is not going to ask me what happened to my gun. They’ll never notice. And you know already.

About Tweed and Briar

I am the pastor of a rather conservative rural congregation. My interests alongside of work are hunting, fly fishing, cooking, and life in an agricultural community. By way of family, I have a wife and two children: a daughter and a son. I am of indeterminate age because my wife is a bit younger than I am and my son is ages with some of my friends’ grandchildren. However, to say that I slip smoothly among the generations would imply an agility which I no longer possess. I aspire to the genteel poverty of the country manse.
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