A Michigan man is happy to be reunited with his first gun, a 20 gauge Ithaca shotgun that went missing from his truck while stopped for a bite to eat on a hunting trip four decades ago.
“We just threw the guns in the back of the truck in their cases, put our clothes on top of them and didn’t think nothing of it,” Don Wiebenga, of Grand Haven, Michigan, told WZZM.
When he and his brother came back from eating, the gun was gone.
Though he filed an insurance claim and was able to pick up another shotgun, the missing pump had special meaning to the hunter. Bought new in 1973, the wood-stocked Ithaca with an engraved receiver was the first firearm Wiebenga had ever purchased.
Fast forward to a traffic stop near Austin, Texas last year. There, police ran the serial number on a shotgun in the possession of a 27-year-old man, born two decades after Wiebenga’s gun went south. A hit on the number led the gun to be returned to its original owner, though the man who was found in possession of it was not charged.
“I just feel sorry for the kid who lost it because he probably never knew he bought a stolen gun,” Wiebenga said.
Besides some surface rust and some dings on the furniture, the old Ithaca doesn’t look that bad.
“I just wonder if that gun’s been more places than I’ve been.”