Ron Jones Takes Us On A Tour Of His Sportsman’s Room
Some call it a Man Cave. Ron Jones calls it his Sportsman’s Room. This month he takes us into his home’s private retreat and shares what makes it special for him.
Take it away, Ron…
Nearly every gun lover enjoys hanging out in an area of their home which surrounds them with trappings of the sport they love.
Second only in importance to the guns themselves, it’s the place we go to collect our thoughts, reflect on good times past, recharge our inner batteries and plan our next field or gun club outing. I call that area my Sportsman’s Room.
My thoughts on this subject will, by necessity, be limited to those trappings I surround myself with, but they are judiciously tempered with my wife Lyda’s feminine touch.
The First Sportsman’s Room
My first recognition of the concept of a Sportsman’s Room was when I saw Grandfather Jones’ special room in the attic of their two bedroom home on South Street in Lafayette, Indiana. That was most likely in the early 40s, before World War II.
Grandfather’s love for hunting and fishing, coupled with his artistic bent, led him to preserve his memories of his quest for game with mounts of his game displayed on oil painted scenes. His paintings depicted the action as he remembered that special pursuit of game.
He learned taxidermy through a correspondence course from Northwestern University, and was a self taught artist. His bellows Kodak preserved some black and white stills. But his vivid memory of hunting action with his dogs in the field and fishing exploits with his buddies provided the impetus for his oil-painted hunting scenes.
President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid sportsman and dedicated conservationist. He hated the wonton waste of game he witnessed during a time when game animals were plentiful and game laws were lax. Roosevelt combined the profession of taxidermy with the artistic talents of his friend John Audubon to create his “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History”.
Grandfather Jones studied the writings and proclamations of Theodore Roosevelt. Then, in his own unique way, he preserved the best of his hunting and fishing experiences with shotgun, bow and fly fishing rod.
My Sportsman’s Room
My personal talents are different from Grandfather Jones. But I’ve found many practical ways to adorn my Sportsman’s Room with memories of days in the field, without the need to acquiring skills in taxidermy and oil painting art.
Let’s walk around my area in the lower level of our home. That way, I’ll acquaint you with the types of art which I’ve found appealing over the years. The hope is that that something in my collection will give other readers some ideas about the types of art and artifacts they might consider as they immerse themselves in our outdoor traditions.
Although many of my decorations depict wildlife interactions with firearms, it’s important to note that my early training with airguns evolved over time into hunting with firearms. So – for me – the two are inseparable. I’ve never lost sight of my roots.
As we speak, companies like SIG SAUER are developing airguns which will blur the lines between guns powered with air and those powered with gun powder. I’m holding out for an air-powered 28 bore gun! I want to be among the first to test it in the Grouse and Woodcock coverts of northern Michigan!
All of the trappings of the sport I’ve collected, preserved and displayed over the years have infinite value to me. That being said, the contents of my Sportsman’s Room wouldn’t bring enough at auction to pay the auctioneer…
For you see their value to me is in the wonderful memories they hold, not in their resale value. To me they are Gold. But to the collector, they probably are more fitting of a garage sale.
My collection of guns is meager by most standards, but they fall into two categories.
I have a small collection of airguns. These range from my first Crosman Model 111 CO2 pistol (Circa 1952) to the Umarex Peacemaker Single action Revolver I recently tested for HAM. There’s also Daisy BB and assorted break barrel pellet rifles.
My firearms collection consists of field grade Ithaca pumps in all gauges, and double barrel Ithacas in 16 and 20 gauge. Some of the guns have Damascus barrels, and date from 1903 forward.
I also display flintlock and percussion black powder muzzle loading rifles and shotguns I built as bespoke guns.
Most of my guns hold a great deal of interest to me for their historical value, but hold little attraction for a high grade collector.
Much of my early wall art consisted of framed needle-points lovingly and masterfully crafted by Lyda. I also have two oil on canvas paintings of canine companions past, depicted in a South Dakota landscape I shall never forget.
A medium I’ve found appealing in recent years is the photographic print on canvas offered on the internet. Simply take a photo of a memorable hunt in the field with your pocket digital camera or cell phone and then convert it to an inexpensive 16×20 wall hanging.
Somewhere along the way you’ll harvest a game animal which holds particular meaning. The woodcock I shot with my 12 bore flintlock fowler in the 80s fell into that category. So does a hybrid Black Duck I shot in a marsh in Northern Michigan.
Grouse tail feathers mounted by my hunting partner remind me of days in the field with Mark Steih. The pheasant mount created by Grandfather Jones in the 1930s hangs over my desk.
Somewhere along the way I strayed into the wonderful world of decoy carving, and building replica flintlock muzzle loading shotguns. They make great conversation pieces when fellow sportsmen visit the room.
Along the way, I’ve collected a few hand crafted, checkered duck calls fashioned from exotic woods There’s also two of my Grandfather’s Olt calls, a replica of a hand carved waterfowl hunter and his retriever, and a hand carved shore bird. And I can’t forget Grandfather’s deer foot gun rack with his oil rendition of his bird dog he fashioned in the 30s.
I’m sure Grandfather would approve of my Daisy resting comfortably on the hooves!
The Writer’s ART
Last, but certainly not least, is an infinite collection of books and magazines on all aspects of the shooting sports.
When I was writing for Muzzleloader Magazine, I accumulated a small assortment of original/reproduction texts from the nineteenth century. Greener, Hawker, Forester, Bumstead and Stonehenge come to mind.
Don’t be afraid to invest in books and magazines written by your favorite Airgun authority. Over time, you’ll find you have a wonderful library of original works on the topics you hold so dear. You’ll reference them often.
Your pursuit of the shooting sports will undoubtedly follow along different lines than mine, and the artifacts and works of art you choose to collect will be personal.
But regardless of the path you choose, airguns or firearms, traditional or contemporary, the treasured collection you surround yourself with will provide memories and meaning as you build on the sport you love.
I hope that the collection of memories in your Sportsman’s Room will be as meaningful to you as mine are to me!