Hunter’s Shotgun Stolen in Michigan Recovered in Texas — 40 Years Later


Hunter’s Shotgun Stolen in Michigan Recovered in Texas — 40 Years Later

Usually, when something is stolen from you, that’s the end of it. You can cuss and fuss or shrug it off, and it won’t make any difference. Eventually you just have to accept that you’ve been hosed and get on with life.

And sometimes, good things happen–40 years later.

Back in 1973, Michigan resident Don Wiebenga bought his first gun: an Ithaca 20-gauge pump shotgun. He loved it.

Then after a morning hunt in 1977, the gun was stolen from the bed of a pickup truck while Don and friends had a bite to eat.

‘We just threw the guns in the back of the truck in their cases, and put our clothes on top of them, didn’t think nothing of it,’ Wiebenga said.

Don made a police report; he was smart enough to have recorded the serial number of the missing scattergun. His insurance company bought him a new shotgun, and life went on.

Then, police near Austin, Texas stopped a young man “for a minor traffic violation.” The fellow had a shotgun with him, reportedly stored just as it should have been. Police checked the gun’s serial number anyhow, and that’s how they discovered that it was Don Wiebenga’s old gun.

The young man who had the shotgun had been born 23 years AFTER it had been stolen, and most likely had shelled out some hard-earned cash for the Ithaca without having any idea it was “hot.” The scattergun was then confiscated by police and eventually returned to its rightful owner.

‘I just feel sorry for the kid that lost it because he probably never knew he bought a stolen gun,’ Wiebenga said.

‘It has a few dings on the stock and the bluing on the barrel’s a little bit rustic, but it’s fine; you just wonder where that gun’s been.’

‘I just wonder if that gun’s been more places than I’ve been.’


Avatar Author ID 61 - 850901718

Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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