It’s Not a Gun

As I have done once each year since my father’s passing in 2009, I republish this story on his birthday to commemorate his life in the antique firearms business.

My father was a collector of antiques. Specifically, he collected antique weaponry. It was the one continuous preoccupation in his life, and for more than 60 years he pursued this passion far and wide.

Because his pursuit was never ending, I have occasionally heard him called a “gun nut,” usually by people who are afraid of guns. More frequently he was called a “gun collector,” but he wasn’t even that.  In the wrong hands those terms conjure up images of survivalists stockpiling weapons and preparing The Compound for apocalypse. That image, in my father’s case at least, is far from the truth, although he often joked about it.

Really, he was a historian gathering artifacts. And that’s what he called them.  The artifacts he chose to collect, protect, and restore were weapons belonging to specific times and places. It was the history that intrigued him.

As a result of his passion, I grew up in a house where firearms were objects of fascination, not fear. They formed a backdrop, literally, to my youth. I consider myself fortunate to have handled and inspected so many tangible, tactile, and spectacular connections to the past. And I, like my father, view them with a perpetual sense of awe.

Now that he is gone, and his beautiful collection has been sent home with other appreciative collectors, I can share what he knew all along — It’s not a gun…

It’s Art.

Zelner Flintlock Pistols, ca. 1670

It’s Technology.

16th Century Wheel-lock by Antoni Bauman

It’s Old World.

J.P. Sauer 16 bore Double Rifle, ca. 1868

It’s New World.

Ross Target Rifle, Zanesville, Ohio, 1845

It’s Independence.

Pennsylvania Long Rifle (AKA Kentucky Rifle) ca. 1770

It’s Noble.

De Saint A Versailles, .66 cal. musket with French Royal Proofs, ca. 1760

It’s Common.

Winchester Model 62A, .22 LR

It’s Ostentatious.

Lebeda Superposed Double Rifle, .577 cal., ca. 1850

It’s Sublime.

James Purdy Best Quality double rifle, .450 x 3 1/4, 1885

It’s Iconic.

Winchester Model 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine, and Colt Single Action Army Revolver, both in 44-40 Win.

It’s Heroic.

Enfield Mk 1, No 2, Model 1934, RAF marked revolver

It’s Evocative.

S/42 Luger, Nazi era, 1937

It’s Nostalgic.

Daisy “Lightning Loader” BB Gun, 1939

It’s Foreign.

Cased Pair of Rodda, heavy-barreled target pistols

It’s Familiar.

Winchester Model 94, 30-30, 1954.

It’s Sculpture

H.G. Cordes, double rifle using Walnut, Steel, Horn, and Ivory.

It’s War.

Enfield Jungle Carbine, .303 cal, w/bayonet & scabbard, 1944

It’s Peace.

Colt Lightning rifle with San Francisco Police Dept. Serial Number, 1895

It’s Esoteric.

Matchlock Fort Rifle/Wall Gun, ca. 1550

It’s Precise.

Colt Match Target, .22 cal., with certified target

It’s Brutish.

Blunderbuss by Knubley, London, ca. 1780

It’s Delicate.

Philadelphia Deringer “Peanut” with N. Curry agent markings

It’s Unbelievable.

Webley Mk V revolver with five visible bullets in the burst barrel

It’s Exotic.

Consecutively numbered R.B. Rodda Howdah Pistols, .577 cal., ca. 1870

It’s Salvation.

Lyle Gun line-throwing canon, U.S. Coast Guard marked

It’s Uncommon.

Hudson Valley Long Fowler, 3-screw lock, ca. 1700

Sometimes It’s Not a Gun at All.

English Crossbow, Johnson & Wigan, ca. 1690

It’s Nothing to Fear.

Dutch Tinder Lighter, ca. 1650

It’s not a gun. It’s history.

Thank you, Pop, for letting me in.


Note: I have been inundated with requests for additional photos of specific pieces, but all of the firearms pictured above were sold  – reluctantly – at auction in 2010 and I no longer have access to them.

All images found here and at are protected by copyright and may not be used elsewhere. Contact me  at the link above for usage requests.


Gray Wolves

Two Gray Wolves scan a northwest Wisconsin marsh in November

There is no topic more likely to raise the hackles of the outdoors crowd than the Gray Wolf. Most people interested in the outdoors either love them or hate them. There’s very little middle-ground. While I understand the arguments presented by both sides, I find it hard to agree with either. To me the Gray Wolf is a species that belongs here as much as any other species, so I abhor the idea of extirpation. Indeed, we tried that in Wisconsin and the wolves came back on their own. The three S’s of the Endangered Species Act makes me cringe, as do my kill-em-all hunting cronies. But…and this is where I’ll lose the the other side too…I also believe wolves need to be managed to minimize conflicts with humans, just like any other large predator. And, they need to be managed at the State level, where professional wildlife biologists have the ability to deal with local populations (wolf and human) in order the avoid conflicts. The Feds have made a mockery of this conflict-resolution process, especially in the Rocky Mountains, but to a certain extent here in the Midwest, too. The time is nigh to give individual states the right to manage their own.

For the record, I hunt. So do the wolves around me, and it doesn’t bother me even a little bit that we are both chasing some of the same game. They are not my deer, after all; they are not my elk. In fact, I don’t lay claim to any of the critters I hunt. They are not mine until they are wrapped in butcher paper in my freezer. Prior to that, they belong to everyone, including the wolves.

I encounter wolves with some regularity here in Wisconsin, including in the last couple years when I’ve been out deer hunting.  The photo above was taken from my deer stand in 2009. Frankly, I haven’t noticed a decline in deer numbers. I’m sure the wolves are taking some of the deer–I know they are, in fact– but I still get my chances, and fill a deer tag when I want to.


A hunter examines a wolf-killed buck and abundant wolf scat in NW Wisconsin

I’ve seen wolves in Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska, too. I consider it a red-letter day when I get to watch one for more than a few seconds. On rare occasions I’m able to get a quick photo, but usually the wolves are just too damn spooky to capture on “film.” Last spring I was lucky enough to come across a pack in NW Wisconsin, and the one pictured below stayed on the road long enough to get a few shots. Someday I’ll get me a “Brandenburg shot.” For now these, and a few others in my gallery will have to do.

Wisconsin Gray Wolf


Wisconsin Gray Wolf

This ain’t my first rodeo.

Once upon a time I had another blog–two actually. At first it was called The Entropics. That morphed into Drivel, Inc. But those were both devoted to my oh-so-brilliant written observations, mostly regarding things that annoy me. But they were very short-lived. It turns out there were so many things that annoyed me that they caused a mental log jam. (Think, Laurel and Hardy trying to get through a narrow doorway.) So, I gave it up as a bad job.

Those blogs are still out there somewhere, but I haven’t looked at them in over a year. If you just must read them, you can find them here:

Since I am also a photographer by trade, I knew all along that I needed a photography blog to go along with my photo website: So that’s what this is; a photo blog. And I thought it totally appropriate to start with a photo that has sold well and is completely unlike most of my photos. First of all, it’s not sports or wildlife related. Second, it’s done with strobes and softboxes, and lots of things I don’t like working with. And finally, they aren’t my guns, which is just frustrating. But, I like the photo.

In the interest of honest discourse, this blog is a great place to comment on any and all of the photos you see here or at! There will be many more photos to come–some with stories, some not. This is a good one to start with, I think.

Scary bad things!




Please note: Since this is a photography website where I will be posting my own images only, you should be aware that all images here are protected by copyright and may not be used elsewhere–unless of course, you’ve purchased that right.