I have written before in this column that we here in Rappahannock are fortunate in many ways. One of those fortunes that we don’t often think about is the people who are available to help us when we need it.
Of course, we have the wonderful, selfless people who staff our volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. They may be the most important ones of all, as our population gets older and our needs increase for their services. But, what I had in mind was the more mundane and everyday kinds of needs.
For instance, if you need a plumber in Rappahannock, there are several good, honest people you can call who will help you out. But, that is just one example of what I’m getting at, albeit slowly.
When I finished high school here in 1962, I was working five or six days after graduation. I was living with my sister in Arlington. As I began to save a little money, I started to acquire the things that every young man needs. I bought a 1954 Plymouth Belvedere, and then I had my own wheels. Not long after that, I purchased a good squirrel rifle, and then a shotgun, for rabbits and birds and such. Shortly thereafter, I bought a groundhog rifle, a level shooting, tack driving, Remington 700 BDL in .22-250.
In those days the deer were extremely scarce in Rappahannock, and I wasn’t into deer hunting. That soon changed and I found myself in need of a deer rifle. There was a place in Front Royal called, I think, Front Royal Supply, and the fellow who ran the place sold automotive paints and refinishing supplies. Strangely, he also sold guns.
I went there with two older brothers, and although I wanted another Remington BDL in .30-06 caliber, he didn’t have that in stock. He suggested a caliber I was not familiar with, a 7mm Remington magnum, and he had that in the Remington ADL, a more basic gun than the BDL.
I was a bit leery, but I knew this fellow had hunted big game all over the United States and I decided I could trust him. To this day, I have yet to be disappointed with that rifle and the little Bushnell Banner 3×9 scope I mounted on it. Until this year, that is.
I am not as steady afoot as I used to be. A week or so ago, I tripped over something in the mountain and slammed myself and my deer rifle into the ground. Later, when I was pulling my rifle up to my tree stand, the rope broke and the rifle smacked the ground pretty hard. I take good care of my belongings, and I felt like I had dropped a grandchild on its head. That is a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but not much.
After a few shots to realign the scope, I went into the field. Long story short, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if I had been inside the barn. Back to the shooting table, this time with new ammo. The gun and scope seemed to come into alignment, but I was skeptical. I just didn’t trust the gun or myself. My roommate said she thought I should go get a new scope for Christmas.
I took the gun and scope to the Trading Post, a little store on the side of the road between Washington and Sperryville. I had dealt with Ken Carter before. I bought a black powder gun and scope and supplies from him last year and have been well satisfied. I told him my tale of woe and we agreed I probably needed a new scope.
So, here I am in the gun store, with my wife’s blessing to buy a new scope. Ken took my beloved deer rifle and after pointing out some minor neglect on my part, began to work on it. He attached an optical collimator to the end of the barrel. He took off the caps covering the adjustment screws and moved the settings on the scope a bit. He then took a rubber hammer and hit the scope and rifle a couple of good licks.
Next, he attached a laser bore sight to the rifle and went outside. He was only out there a minute or two. There was a light rain falling and I stayed inside, trying to figure how much it was going to cost me for a new scope.
When he came back in he said he could find nothing wrong with the scope, it was lined up perfectly and should be OK. Now, what kind of salesperson is this? Here I stand with my money practically in my hand for a new scope, and he, the expert, says my old scope is fine. When I left the Trading Post I almost forgot my manners. I stopped at the door and said, “Wait a minute. I owe you some money.”
Ken said, “No, you don’t owe me a penny. But thanks for asking.”
Friends, I believe it was the philosopher, Diogenes, who wandered the world with a lantern looking for an honest man. If you hunt, if you shoot, if you are in need of some personal protection, or just something to keep the unwanted critters out of your home and garden, you need look no further than Ken Carter at the Trading Post. He comes with my highest recommendation. He can help you with all your shooting and self protection needs, and you and he will be the better for it.
And like I have said many times before, is Rappahannock a great place to live, or what?