Mackenthun: Garage sale bargains can bring back memories | local sports

I came across a yard sale on my way home last month.

The unmistakable flash of ivory white wood caught my eye in the summer sun. I’m a garage sale junkie, having acquired a fair amount of outdoor items that have been used gently, that would work admirably for me and save me a ton of money over retail prices.

These shiny antlers were part of a taxidermy mount sitting on a table, along with several other antlers and sheds as well as shooting targets and animal art. I bought a beautiful set of wood, lacquered and glossy, mounted on a plaque, representing a magnificent male from northern Minnesota, for a few dollars.

Ditto for a BB gun target and a wild turkey painting.

The mounts set my mind in motion with the garage sale tables loaded in front of me. I asked the family who ran the garage sale why they were selling the shoulder support. A middle-aged woman answered my question with a young adult son and daughter sitting on either side of her.

“I lost my husband to a heart attack last year. My son took a few frames, but the rest means nothing to him. We still have three at home. So we are selling the mostly.

I offered my condolences by paying for my articles.

A few years ago, I went to a yard sale and stocked up on camping and big game hunting gear. It was a similar situation. A widowed woman has decided it’s time to get rid of things that won’t be needed anymore, and for some, that includes outdoor gear.

One of the biggest acquisitions was at a yard sale where I was the first to arrive early on a Saturday morning with as much fishing gear as a department store could carry. I loaded up my entire pickup with rods, reels and tackle and to this day this purchase has kept my garage and family cabin equipped for all trips.

It was good, high quality gear sold for pennies on the dollar because the gentleman selling it was going to get a divorce and was planning to head east to start a new life. He priced his equipment for sale and wanted to move on, and while he was a little vengeful, he might have wanted to make a minimal profit from the sale if he shared his assets anyway.

I experienced these succession changes in my personal life. I acquired a few penknives and a few camouflage coats this spring after my father-in-law’s untimely and untimely passing. I’ll be thinking of the man when I deploy those knives in the spring to snip morels from their stems or don a camo jacket for a season start sitting in the tree stand.

I know it well – when the good Lord calls you home, the bottom falls on the value of your taxidermy. Likewise, your used gear, sentimental or not, is of little value.

As the joke goes “I just hope my wife sells my stuff for what I told her I paid for it.”

Those frames and memories… they mean something to you, but they don’t mean much to your kids, friends, or complete strangers.

I own a few taxidermies – deer heads, quail mounts, turkey tails and a bear rug to name a few – but I hope my next of kin doesn’t view them as hunting trophies or fishing, but rather as memorials to spending time outdoors together or the beauty of the natural world.

Ditto for any outdoor equipment; I hope they can put it to good use, but for the rest, put it in the hands of those who would use it.

I left some of those garage sales with bittersweet emotions. I was happy to find good gear at bargain prices, but sad for the individuals gone from this Earth, who would never hunt or fish again and whose families mourned their loss.

You feel a little embarrassed buying good gear at a low price, but often people just want to see it disappear or into the hands of someone who would appreciate it and use it.

It has always been my thought for the deceased – that I would try to put the equipment to good use in their honor.

Death is around us all the time, but we are always surprised by its suddenness. It is as if we will never learn, despite our wishes to the contrary, never to take this precious life that we have for granted.

These reminders become more common as we age and see more and more of our cohorts, friends and family members leaving us. I think the takeaway—from family losses, finds at garage sales, and our time spent outdoors—is this simple reminder from a church sermon: Love people, use things. – and not the reverse.

I coveted a lot of outdoor gear and acquired more than my fair share. But at this point in my life, time outdoors is about being in nature when I’m alone or spending time with friends and family on those trips where we’re all together.

Love and care for these people, use the equipment and take the memories with you. One day, the body will be too old to do outdoor activities and the equipment may be too. You will be left with the people you love and the memories.

Cherish them both.

Scott Mackenthun has been writing about hunting and fishing since 2005. Email him at [email protected]

Laura J. Boyer