by Dwight Van Brunt - Friday, August 28, 2015
After some 30 years in the shooting and hunting industry, I recently founded Sportsman’s Legacy, a company specializing in the orderly disposition of firearm collections and estates for individuals as well as conservation and Second Amendment organizations. In addition to firearms, items such as older hunting and shooting books, original wildlife art and sporting collectibles are also of particular interest.
Quite naturally, I was hoping some unique items would turn up, but was surprised by how fast it happened. One of the initial collections arrived in stages. Firearms came first, followed by some fine accessories and military items. In the course of working with the owner to establish market values, he asked if a native spear his uncle “brought back from Africa” might be marketable. “It was used for elephant hunting,” he qualified, “so a collector might find it interesting.”
Was he ever right!
What showed up was something I’ve occasionally read about since I was a boy. It wasn’t a spear, but a battered single-shot Stevens Model 107B 12-gauge shotgun that had been converted to fire a charge of black powder ignited by a percussion cap. Rather than ball or shot, the intended projectile was a whittled wood shaft fitted with a broad, hand-hammered metal blade! I knew immediately what it was, but didn’t tip my hand when asking the owner to share its story. Since the source is not a devoted “gunny” or someone with a strong interest in hunting Africa, there is little chance he could have made up the following tale:
“My uncle was a military attaché in Afghanistan, Indonesia and Liberia. An avid hunter, he took full advantage of the opportunity and spent as much time as possible pursuing big game in these and bordering countries. During his travels, he obtained what my family has always called the ‘spear gun’ in Liberia and eventually presented it to me. According to his story, it was used by the men of a pygmy village for elephant hunting. The lucky hunter had the honor of sneaking under the elephant and shooting the spear upward into the elephant’s stomach! If all went according to plan, the mortally wounded elephant was followed and found dead some miles away. At that point, a runner would return to the village with the good news. Rather than butchering the elephant and bringing the meat back, everyone would pack up and relocate to a place near the elephant carcass and live there until the meat was consumed. Then they would do it all over again.”
I’m not too sure about “lucky” as being an apt description for the hunter who had the honor of pulling the trigger. This old Stevens is wired together for good reason, as the barrel is most sincerely “off face.” A noticeable gap between the barrel and receiver suggests that touching it off would have removed the shooter’s eyebrows and possibly set fire to the surrounding jungle. Of course, this might have also scared the elephant into running full out in the direction it happened to be pointed at the moment of truth—not an insignificant reaction when one considers alternate possibilities.
At any rate, the first collector I contacted must have broken his wrist reaching for his wallet as fast as he did. Upon taking delivery, his first words were “This is a real man’s gun.”
Some descriptions can’t be improved.
Those interested in the services provided by Sportsman’s Legacy can reach Dwight Van Brunt at 406-212-0344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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