Growing up there were always guns in our house. My dad was a collector, hunter and marksman. Civil war stuff, shotguns, military firearms, all kinds of stuff. Even a crossbow (which I shot once at - and through - the dartboard from across the basement). But back then, to my eye, one rifle hanging on the wall always caught my eye. A 1940s Winchester Model 94 lever-action 30-30. There was just something about it. Perfectly proportioned, beautiful.
Well that was decades ago. Dad died when I was in high school, nearly thirty years ago. His entire collection scattered to various friends and, in at least one case, family. When he got sick he sent the Model 94 to his cousin, who had long admired the gun. It stayed with him - probably took a Wisconsin white tail or two - until years later he, too, passed away. His wife, knowing the history of the gun, wanted me to have it back.
I snatched it up like the young Bruce Willis grabbed the war watch out of Christopher Walken's hand in Pulp Fiction. It needs a little work, and it was hard to make myself put it back in a box to send it to a gunsmith so soon after it arrived, but when I get it back it'll be like new. I don't hunt anymore, and never did hunt deer. A 30-30 could probably be considered overkill when the game is a sheet of paper fifty yards away, but I don't much care. It's great to have it back.
(Stephen Hunter wrote a remarkable article about the legendary Winchesters here.)