Problem-Solving, Kentucky-Style

Wheelgun Diaries

They say every gun has a story. A reader submission series from American Handgunner, Wheelgun Diaries seeks to tell some of those stories through the words of revolver owners.

The following stories were shared by email with permission to publish.

Problem-Solving, Kentucky-Style

In April 1963, I bought a used flattop Ruger Blackhawk in .357 Magnum for $50. That May, I flew to Anchorage, Alaska — just 30 days after the earthquake and tsunami that pretty much wrecked the state — where I worked for four months as a biologist aide. For two weeks that summer, I ran the Salcha Creek fish hatchery, located halfway between Fairbanks and Big Delta.

One day, while returning from the supply store located 50 miles away, I ran into a game warden in a one-ton truck with a Derrick mounted in the bed. He had just pulled a world class bull moose out of a bog that had been shot by some villain just for sport. It was 80 degrees and the moose had been dead for days. The question was, would the moose blow up or break in half when wrenched onto the truck?

While we were pondering the dilemma, a state trooper showed up. Then a geologist. Then another biologist. I figured half the state’s employees within 500 miles were there. Much pondering ensued with no solution. Since I was from Kentucky, I had been taught any problem that could not be solved by a bigger hammer could be solved by a big gun, and well, I had a big short-barreled .357 in a cross draw holster just begging “use me, use me!” Three shots later, the moose collapsed with much flatulence and problem was solved, Kentucky-style. I spun the Ruger around my finger several times and popped it in my holster as good as any Hollywood cowboy.

Now with the warden’s truck serving as a hearse, the whole gaggle set off for the nearby mighty Tanana River for a watery burial. A huge, nasty drainage, the Tanana runs about 20 miles an hour and took the dumped moose quickly. We all stood in reverent silence, drinking from the now warm case of beer I had in my vehicle.

When I finished my first beverage, I thought I would engage in an old Kentucky sport — throw the bottle upstream and shoot at it as it floats by. So, I did — piece of cake! The accompanying trooper bet $5 I couldn’t do it again. Bang! Thinking I had to miss some time, this repeated until I had all of their money. With empty wallets, they drove off, but not before taking the rest of my beer. It was 50 miles back to the store for more drinks and ammo, but now, with a reputation to uphold.

The Kentuckian

A Spanish Snubbie

I live in a country (Spain) where firearm ownership is rigorously restricted. However, it hasn’t always been that way. Under General Francisco Franco’s regimen, handgun permits were easier to obtain than nowadays as violence was extremely uncommon at the time, but that changed when he died in late-1975 and democracy brought the unexpected phenomenon of rising street crime. Gun laws also became more restrictive.

During this time, my Dad asked a friend for a favor, and a small, nickel, top-break snubbie revolver chambered in .38 S&W (known as “38 Corto” in Spain) found its way into our home. A Spanish Eibar replica of a Smith & Wesson revolver, it wasn’t a great gun, but it was all that was available to him. Dad allowed us to handle the unloaded gun under his close supervision, which was the very first handgun I had seen and handled.

As a kid, I was fascinated with it, and when I was 18, I obtained my sporting handgun license and came to own better handguns — but I always liked to clean and handle that old revolver. One day, a few years ago, I was visiting my dad, who was ill, and presented me the handgun. He died just a few months ago. Today, I cherish that old revolver more than ever as it brings back memories of a great and loved man.

Álvaro Vicena

Submit Your Wheelgun Diaries

Do you have a wheelgun story to tell? Send us a photo and your story by email and you could see it published here and featured in our weekly Wheelgun Wednesday newsletter.

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