Wednesday, March 14, 2018

One More Free Swap Meet


      I think that our first Grizzled Old Outdoorsman’s swap meet took place about ten years ago.   But whenever it was, a woman about 80 years old decided that her husband’s fishing gear might make her some money so she brought a bunch of it to the swap meet and sold it all.  Some of the lures that she priced at 3 dollars each were worth 50 dollars or better. 
She sold some of his old Ambassadeur casting reels for five dollars each, and an over and under Browning Beretta skeet gun for 300 dollars.  I suppose it was worth about 1500 dollars at the time.

     That happens often, because the folks who bring stuff for sale just want to get some of it out of the attic or the garage, and much of it is antiques that are quite valuable.  We are unlike most swap meets in that we have free admission and the tables are free to ‘vendors”.  Therefore we fill up the place with hunting and fishing gear from ordinary folks and not a bunch of folks running businesses.  I was thinking the other day about all the things I have seen at that swap meet, and there isn’t enough space here to just hit the high points.

     We don’t allow the selling of assault rifles or large quantities of ammo for those guns, but we see a lot of older hunting guns, some very valuable and some worth less than 100 dollars.  This year there will be a 16 gauge ‘stage coach gun’ made by Parker brothers, maybe the most valuable collectors gun ever sold there.  It is a short, light hammerless double-barrel made in 1913. There will be more fishing gear than everything else, hundreds and hundreds of lures, some old and very valuable, but hundreds that are new and priced at just a dollar or so, lures that would cost better than five dollars each at most tackle shops. 

      I expect there will be a hundred or more rods and reels, new ones and old ones, some valuable as antiques. There will be old steel rods and newer graphite rods, reels from 100 years ago and some new ones still in boxes… bamboo fly rods too, I think.
     I am going to part with many things I used when I was just a boy on the Big Piney, two 1950’s era reels, one made by Shakespeare and South Bend, one my father’s and one mine, the very first casting reel I ever used.  It still has braided line on it, as it did the day I caught my very first fish on a store-bought rod, a black perch, (green sunfish) just below the bridge at Simmons, Missouri on the Big Piney.  I was only eight or nine years old.
There will be some modern duck decoys, mallards and pintails, which are ready to use next fall, and some shell goose decoys and 8 or 10 Bigfoot Canada goose decoys, the best ever made.  And there will be some wooden duck decoy blanks for wood-carvers. Speaking of carvers, I think we will have two on hand showing their carvings, some of it on beautiful driftwood from Arkansas and carved cedar walking sticks as well.

     There will be a table full of leather works, belts, holsters and such, a table of wildlife art and a table of hats and other items made of furs, and a table of handmade hunting knives and collectible pocketknives.
     With turkey season so close, we always have some folks who bring handmade turkey calls.  I intend to make some of my own, the little western cedar box calls which are autographed, dated and inscribed to whomever buys them. These little calls are all I have ever used, and with them I have called in more than 200 kilt gobblers in the past 45 years.  They are said to be the greatest turkey calls ever made, even though it was me who said it.   I don’t know how many I can get made so come early if you want one.  They are a little bit primitive, but cheap!
     Of course there will be a large variety of handmade wooden items like birdhouses, and cutting boards. And there will be minnow traps and camping gear and traps and a great deal of that kind of used but good outdoor gear at a bargain.

      Outside we usually have some of the Amish-made furniture and several boats. This year we will have a 22-foot antique aluminum johnboat with a serial number 0001. Made in 1954 for the Missouri Conservation Commission to run on the Current River it is the first aluminum johnboat made in the Ozarks.

     There will also be a 17 and a19-foot square-stern Grumman Canoe, and an 18-foot Lowe Paddle John designed for Ozark rivers. Some antique outboard motors and trolling motors will be there as well, and two foot-control Evinrude trollers as well. This year for the first time I am going to sell some of my grandfather’s stuff… sassafras boat paddles he made in the twenties and thirties to an old double-barreled muzzle-loader he acquired in 1902.  With that gun I will sell his little .22 Steven lever action Marksman rifle which has likely killed more rabbits and squirrels in it’s time than all the shotguns I ever used. I have no sons or grandsons to leave these to and the money from them will go to help pay the annual bills at our Panther Creek Youth Ranch for underprivileged kids.  I know my grandfather would be proud to know he contributed to that project.
      I will also sell a brand new Browning 12-gauge pump-gun which is still in the box. I have only fired it three times.  It has bagged one gobbler and two mallards for me.

     There will be some other authors there signing outdoor books and of course my old college roommate at School of the Ozarks, Woody P Snow, who is now a well-known song writer and radio personality, will be there to tell you all about what a fine student I was back then.  He will be selling and signing several books and some remarkable original paintings which have become very popular.  His latest book is a dandy, a novel about Alf Bolin and the bald-knobber outlaw gang from the Ozarks which he led more than a century ago.

     This all takes place in the spacious gymnasium of the Assembly of God church at Brighton Missouri just off Highway 13 about 16 miles north of Springfield and 6 miles south of Bolivar.  The youth of the church will provide coffee and biscuits and gravy in the morning, then a variety of sandwiches and desserts at mid-day.

     For me it is an opportunity to sell and sign my outdoor books, nine of them now, and meet with readers of these newspaper columns.  Every year we give away a lot of copies of my magazine, the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor journal, and take subscriptions for future issues.  Most of my profit from this swap meet will go to that free children’s retreat already mentioned.

     There are a few of the fifty tables set up and available, for free, if you’d like to bring something for sale, including boats for the lot outside.  If you have questions, just call me at 417-777-5227 or email me at
Remember this all takes place from 8 o’clock to 2, on Saturday March 24.

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