Ducks Unlimited Podcast

In this episode of the Ducks Unlimited podcast, host Katie Burke is joined by Wes Dillon, an independent consultant for the firearms industry, and Josh Loewensteiner, Fine Arms Division Head with Guyette and Deeter. They discuss the G&D Fine Sporting Arms Auction and the enthusiasm in the market for high-quality sporting guns. Wes and Josh share their background growing up in a hunting and outdoor environment and joining the Fire Arms industry. Wes shares the story of when the legendary gun, Bo Whoop was found and auctioned. The trio also discuss some interesting parts of American fire arms history.

Creators & Guests

Katie Burke
Ducks Unlimited Podcast Collectibles Host

What is Ducks Unlimited Podcast?

Ducks Unlimited Podcast is a constant discussion of all things waterfowl; from in-depth hunting tips and tactics, to waterfowl biology, research, science, and habitat updates. The DU Podcast is the go-to resource for waterfowl hunters and conservationists. Ducks Unlimited is the world's leader in wetlands conservation.

Katie Burke: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the Ducks Unlimited podcast. This is your host, Katie Burke. And today on the show, I have Wes Dillon, an independent consultant for the firearms industry, owner of Inherited Guns, LLC. And we also have Josh Lowensteiner, fine sporting arms division head with Gaia and Dieter. Welcome to the show, guys. We are actually here at Guyette and Dieter in St. Michael's, so we're on site. Before we get into y'all's introduction to our audience, can you tell people why we're here? What is this?
Josh Lowensteiner: Yeah, we've got our semi-annual Fine Sporting Arms Auction coming up and it is a vast array of really nice high quality sporting guns for clients from around the country and even around the world to come look at the things and participate in the market live during the auction when it happens here in the next couple of days.

Katie Burke: This is the third so far with Guy and Dieter?

Josh Lowensteiner: This is our second. Yeah, we had our inaugural, inaugural auction, uh, February 4th of 2023. And that was very successful, brought together another great group of sporting guns. There's a lot of enthusiasm in the market for what we're up to with that focus on sporting guns here.

Katie Burke: Yeah, that's really exciting. Yeah, the first one was excellent.

Josh Lowensteiner: Thank you.

Katie Burke: Well, let's start, I guess, with you, Wes. Can you give us kind of your background, how you got into this business?

Wes Dillon: Sure. You know, I think the common thing that a lot of the people that are involved in hunting, fishing, the outdoors in general, you know, they were raised in that environment. I'm no different. I was born on the Delta Marsh in Canada. My dad was one of the first biologists, provincial biologists for Manitoba, and was working on his PhD degree in waterfowl management. So I was born with pin feathers. When I came out, I could quack like a duck and swim like a duck. And being raised in that environment, hunting and fishing, second nature, guns were tools that we all had. And granddaddy and daddy and all of us respected firearms as a way to enjoy the sporting life, outdoor heritage. Well, I was fortunate enough to be raised on a private hunting and fishing club outside of Chicago, the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation. Dad was a wildlife biologist and it was the perfect environment for a young kid to just be fully absorbed into hunting, fishing. I was the luckiest kid on the face of the earth, quite frankly. and got into geology, petroleum geology in college. And the business, as we all know, the oil business is highly volatile, ups and downs, periods of great wealth, and then gloom and doom. I graduated in the 80s when there was a great surge in oil prices. Shell Oil came a calling in Houston. Well, that shut off as quickly as the spigot on the oil derrick itself. I was working in a gun shop for cheap bullets and beer money and absolutely loved it. It was part of who I was, right? Studies were just something that got in the way of us hunting and fishing. So, I waited around to try to get another opportunity in the oil business and 10-year cycles are not something you can wait around for. So, fortunate enough to be absorbed into this business from sweeping floors for lunch money to getting behind the counter and actually getting involved in the buy-sell-trade side of the business. and was given the opportunity to actually manage a little gun shop in Mexico, Missouri. So I went from being a petroleum candidate and petroleum geology candidate for Shell Oil to sweeping floors and then getting an opportunity to run a little country gun shop, and I loved it. and was good at it, you know, it was natural. And so that led to another opportunity with a family that we had in Nashville, Tennessee. And I think as we spoke before, we had known of Dunn's Sporting Goods in Grand Junction, Tennessee. And the fellow that was running the gun division or the fine gun room at Dunn's, had a connection in Nashville with folks that family ran the Grand Ole Opry and wanted to open a gentleman's gun room there. And we're looking for someone that had some gun experience that knew the area. And my name came up and I interviewed with a man named Neil Craig and John Allen. Some of you listening may know John from his time at Dunn's. And we started Game Fair Limited, which was a wonderful place where gentlemen could come, ladies could come, enjoy the sporting life, and we handled high-end products that were accessible not through a catalog, but from a walk-in environment. So you could come and be outfitted with sporting clothing, Filson, Barber, all of the high-end outfitting supplies and guns. Browning, Parker, Winchester, some English guns as well. So it was a new awakening for me. I went from bait and bullet to the gentleman's gun room, and it was awesome. Loved it. So long story short, I've had opportunities along the way. That led me to an opportunity that I saw in the Gun List magazine. It was a publication back in the 80s, an advertisement from Cabela's. world's foremost outfitters, opening a brand new retail superstore in Sydney, Nebraska, Gentleman's Gun Room, looking for somebody with four or five, six years of actual fine gun experience, you know, an opportunity to come and be part of this wonderful team in the middle of fricking nowhere. So I was single at the time, I interviewed, had a great time up there, obviously made an impression, and was asked to join the Cabela's team running their first gun library in Sydney, Nebraska. So, you know, things have really fallen into place for me there. So I spent 16 years with Cabela's developing their fine gun program, their used gun program, and then expanded that from one store into, as it turned out, over the course of 10 years, 12 years, into what we have 16, 16 gun libraries, I believe. That was a big challenge. A big challenge is not so much finding great guns, but finding great people. And I don't care what business you're in, it's all about people, right? So, that was not going to work for me. And I knew that the challenges ahead, keeping that momentum and maintaining the integrity and quality of those gun shops, those gun rooms, that were dealing in the finest guns in the world on an individual basis was going to be like chasing your tail. So I submitted my resignation, having made very strong contacts across the country with a very broad base of firearms people, one of which being James D. Julia Auction Company. which is one of the premier high-end firearms auction groups in the world, had done business with them before. They were looking for individuals to join their growing team. And after 16 years at Cabela's, was given the opportunity to join that organization and really be exposed to the most important guns in the world. So, I've had tremendous opportunities in my lifetime to be with good people, great guns, and wonderful clients. It's a small fraternity, and Josh can certainly agree that the people that we deal with in the sporting fraternity all have commonality in passion for what they do, what they collect, and who they are. That opportunity wrapped up in 2018, and again, it's who you know. Josh and I were acquainted at James D. Julia. Josh is an up-and-comer that has a great reputation. We serve the clients mutually, both on the buy side and the sell side, and again, was fortunate enough to be asked to join Guyette and Dieter in their next venture, which is find and collectible firearms. So, Josh, thank you very much for that opportunity.

Josh Lowensteiner: Very glad to have you here.

Katie Burke: Yeah. All right, Josh, your turn.

Josh Lowensteiner: I was born and raised in New Jersey and my parents and family were in the dairy business. So my brother and I, who have got a brother, he and I are Irish twins. We really grew up together very closely. And he and I, basically when we weren't in class at school, we're hunting or fishing or riding bikes to a fishing hole somewhere or whatever. And we got exposed to a lot of just the outdoors in the same way that most of us had when we were growing up. And so it started with probably BB guns and 22s and worked its way up from there. I took a more traditional route. I went to high school and then college, got a finance degree and went into the life insurance business. And I was in that business, let's say, from 1999 until early 2013. And at that time, my wife and I had been married for a while and we didn't think that we were going to have kids. And we just said, hey, what would we do if money didn't matter? And I said, well, I would be in the fine gun business. And well, so, How did that go? Actually, there's a story there. My exposure to the fine gun business was because of my dad, who was a passionate collector for as long as I can remember. Had little interest in the commercial aspect of buying, selling, trading, and was more passionate about the art form. the fact that these are handmade in this country and the history, and also the very fact that you can't have these made anymore, right? So, you know, basically, commercially, it's just not available in this country. So, he wasn't so concerned about, you know, buying low and selling high. He was more concerned about finding a great example of whatever it might have been that he was looking for in, and he decided to focus on the American double-barrel shotgun makers. from around the turn of the 19th to 20th century. And with a focus on all the big ones, Parker, Fox, Lefebvre, L.C. Smith, Colt, Remington, and Ithaca, and others. And so my background was less, again, you know, not so much commercial where you're, again, trying to buy low or sell high, but more on the just the love of it all. And but I did start after college kind of buying and selling some guns. And and I was interested in the commercial aspect of it because I love the material and it was just sort of fun and it was a great way to make a little extra money here or there. Yeah, so then my wife and I interviewed with Wes and James Julia in Maine and we decided, you know what, life is short, let's do this. And so I left my career in the life insurance business and we moved to Maine and as they say, the rest is history. I've been full-time in this business and starting with Julia's in early 2013. And it's just been, you know, it's great. I love it. Every day is different. There's never any two days that are even remotely close to the same. There's always a new challenge, a new project, a new sale, a new something to work on and look at. And in 20, I guess it was 2019, in early 2019, I decided to go to auctioneer school. And so, that's sort of an evolution for me. Being around auctions is one thing and being the auctioneer is another. But auctioneer school was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it and have taken that and worked on my bid calling chant and being around auctions and understanding the auction method of marketing and how that parlays into fine guns, right? So, bringing those two things together, sort of a knowledge of marketing and the auction method of marketing, and knowledge of fine guns and representing them from a consignor's perspective, honestly, so that a buyer will trust what is being presented makes a really powerful combination. Fast forward to 2021 or no, I'm sorry, mid 2022. You know, I've been calling some of John Dieter and Zack Cody's auctions as their auctioneer. I called John and I said, hey, you know, we really should start a fine gun business together. Why don't we do that? And at the same time or similar time, John had a client who sort of gave him a chance and said, hey, you know what, I've got a spectacular estate collection of fine sporting shotguns. If you think you can market these and do well with them, I would like to work with you on them. And the timing of those events coming together really is what was the genesis of what we call today the Guyette and Dieter Fine Sporting Arms Division. uh and so we're very proud of of all of that you know it's sort of there's a silent hand that brought it all together if you will but we're proud of what we've brought together proud of what we've accomplished and really excited for where we're headed with all of it.

Katie Burke: Do you find that by coming, instead of being just in the firearms business and then now joining with Guyette and Dieter, has it opened up new collectors since then? Or no, it's still about the same.

Josh Lowensteiner: Yeah. You know, it's, it's interesting. So at Julia's, we partnered with Guyette and Dieter quite a lot where a collector might have the decoy collection and a nice sporting art collection. And those assets would be marketed by Guyette and Dieter and then John or his other business partners here would call us and say, oh, so-and-so, you know, their gun collection is ready to be sold. Please go and take care of, you know, take as best care of this client as you can. And we did partner together all the time. And it just, you know, I would say for the two firms, the timing was just right, you know, here in 2021, 2022 to start this together, there's a lot of crossover. Some of our most passionate decoy collectors are more novice, but interested in guns. Some are extremely advanced gun collectors. Some of our extremely advanced gun collectors have started to say, wow, this three-dimensional art, folk art, is pretty cool. I'd like to have some of that. easier to put on a shelf. True. That is true. So there is, I'd say there is crossover and maybe increasing crossover where people are looking at both forms of art and saying, this makes sense. The sporting life concept that we talk about a lot here makes a lot of sense where the flat art, three-dimensional art and the firearms and firearms art come together very nicely.

Wes Dillon: And they are integrated. And Guyette and Dieter, in its current incarnation, creates a one-stop shop for just that thing. So before you had to go to two mutually exclusive venues, one for firearms, one for the sporting life collectibles, and now it's been brought together, which is awesome.

Katie Burke: Right we talked about this a little bit off but like one of the big recommendations for like new collectors is to meet another decoy collector particularly or call collector and use that as a mentorship whereas I guess now if they're all together that makes that a little more simple a little simpler in that if you want to cross over you can kind of find those people you can see your crossover as well. Does that make sense? Like how does that work in the gun collecting community?

Wes Dillon: Well, it used to be in the good old days, gun shows were the place where camaraderie and friendly competition amongst the brethren took place, right? And you'd always go to your weekend gun shows and see the men and women that you knew, trusted, and gleaned information from. It was an educational process, not only from a knowledge base, but you got an education when you made a mistake, financially. I mean, place of commerce, and there were people that you could trust, and people maybe not so much. And so that level of mentorship and going to school on a weekend basis has gone away. And so, I don't know how this ties back to your point, but mentoring and finding people that have information that are willing to share it is invaluable. I mean, that process of gleaning information, historical information, pricing information, what's right, what's wrong, authenticity and vetting items firsthand, not looking on the internet and seeing pictures or not watching a YouTube or listening to a podcast about what's right and what's wrong, hands-on experience is very, very difficult. What we offer at the auction company is really no substitute for that. We offer a venue where people can observe, like we're having our preview this weekend. People can actually come and see the product firsthand, have access to a written description by someone of authority that has experience in the field, and they guarantee that the description is materially accurate and without omission, defect, or anomaly that would have a major impact on value. So it's a protection plan, right? We guarantee what we sell, and we are available to explain to a certain degree any of the subtleties or nuances about the product to someone who may not know and wants to know. Part of our success is our ability to educate, profligate, and bring into the fold new perspective collectors with open arms. The auction business, and Josh, you can speak to this probably more so than I, has been cloaked in great mystery for a long, long time. It's become more understood now as a viable way to bring a great breadth of inventory into the marketplace in a controlled environment that's completely above board. Completely above board.

Katie Burke: With the gun shows, they're huge. I went to them as kids. The sporting arms, though, is such a small little niche within that. I don't even know what you might can speak on what the percentage of sporting arms collectors are versus gun collectors. But by bringing it out of that, do you think it's beneficial for the sporting arms industry now that it has this place where it can be its own? It's, you know, it's the focal point of an auction.

Josh Lowensteiner: Yeah, I think that's a great question. So much has changed around all of collecting with the evolution and expansion of capabilities in the internet. So before the internet, it was really expected that if you were a collector, like my dad might have been throughout the 80s or 90s, you were going to go to a gun show, you would see what was available at that show, go to another one the following weekend and the following weekend. And if you bought things to get your education, you would likely make mistakes. They were typically costly financially, and that was just part and parcel with the process. The internet made what I like to call the visible supply. So, instead of just going to show after show after show to see what was available from the 100 or 200 or 400 dealers that might set up at any given show, you can see what's available throughout the world. And getting an education on what is actually out there became much more readily available. And so in the world of fine sporting arms, it is a small sliver of the market, but a passionate, passionate sliver of the market. So, the things that I think are highly desirable in the sporting arms section of the market are desirable because of beauty and also utility, right? So, a lot of the things that are available in this auction, people will still use. And I think that that makes a significant impact on how many people will want them and what they will do with them when they have them. So, uh, I'm not sure that that totally answered your question, but it's, it's an interesting thing. You know, it's a, the gun market, if you just said, well, the gun market, you know, the collectible gun market may be a billion dollar annual market or something like that. Right. So if you totaled up all the dealers and all the shows and all that, maybe it's a billion or $2 billion annual market. a small slice of that market with an intense focus on, you know, the top 5% of sporting arms results in a fairly substantial financial group, if you will, in a financial. It's just a it's a significant number of people. It's also a significant dollar value when you look at the total gun market. So it's a passionate group well to do at the very, very high end, which is where we are strong.

Katie Burke: yeah you know what's interesting when you're talking about that and y'all both have mentioned how it's a passionate collecting group even like so at the museum at the pyramid we we have a gun display and we have you know we have some big war guns we have just some general old shotguns side by sides that kind of your who's who of how the gun industry developed guns basically like the first of sort of thing and then you have punt guns of course but that display that is just kind of your side-by-side Parker, your side-by-side L.C. Smith and then just kind of going up to the first auto five those guns probably get more attention than anything else in the museum. And it's the one thing that you don't have to be a waterfowler to have a connection with. I think it's interesting because so many people see those guns and they Think about their grandfather, their great-grandfather, their father, and they instantly have a connection to them. So I can, whereas with old decoys, as someone who grew up in the Mississippi Delta, old decoys were not a thing. I grew up hunting. I never had a, when I saw them, I like them from an art standpoint, because I have an art background, and that's just how I'm inclined. But the guns, though, it's kind of universal across the country. And I don't think people really realize that, and that's something we see firsthand in the museum, which is pretty spectacular to watch.

Wes Dillon: It's history, it's heritage, it's family, it's the commonalities we talked about earlier that people can relate to, you know, where they came from, you know, and it doesn't have to be fancy. It's folky, it's what folks grew up with. And everybody relates to that. Duck hunting is just one of those things that once you've done it, you know, once it's in your blood and like me, I had no choice. Like I say, I was, now that was who I was from day one. And folks understand how important being able to see that, relive it and preserve that heritage in today's world. And most importantly today, when things around us are going to shoot, It's even more important to not only have that on display, promote that, make it accessible to everyone, and really have a means to worship and to give thanks for those that came before us. And the pyramid is awesome. You know, and what y'all do there is invaluable to educate. You know, the folks coming up and days spent in a field for youngsters is what it's all about. If we could translate days behind the computer into days in the field, This world would be a whole different place. So, you know, that's what you all do. You know, you all are given that opportunity for people to come and feel good about themselves and feel good about where they came from and where they might be going. And, you know, that's ultimately what is a big part of our business. You know, we're selling history as well as the aesthetic, as well as the utility. Boy, when you can put all those variables together and make it work and make a living doing it, Josh. That's pretty magic. Awesome. So we are the most fortunate people on the face of the earth to be involved in this way to make a living. I mean… So true.

Josh Lowensteiner: Oh, goodness.

Wes Dillon: Thinker. Count our lucky stars, right?

Josh Lowensteiner: One thing I wanted to say also, I think that like a big part of all of collecting, whether it's antique cars, antique guns, decoys, is buying back your childhood. Oh, yeah. So my dad, I'm sure when he was growing up, his dad bought their farm in 1955 and only the rich guy in town had a Parker shotgun. Right. That would have been like unbelievable to have a Parker shotgun. And so he was never able to afford that. He would have been, you know, 10, 15 years old at the time. So when he got to the point and he had the means, to have a Parker shotgun and buy back what you couldn't have when you were a kid. That's a huge part of all of this. It really is.

Katie Burke: It is. And you have the collecting bug or you don't. Like it is definitely… It's genetics. Yes, it is genetics. Well, that's a good spot to do our break and we'll be right back. So I have to ask you, Wes, we're going to go off topic for a minute, but my audience would be really mad if I didn't. Were you with Julia during the Bo Whoop?

Wes Dillon: I was going to get to that in the next segment.

Katie Burke: All right. I need you to tell us about Bo Whoop.

Wes Dillon: Well, you know, the old saying, whether you're in a jewelry store, a pawn shop or an auction hall, you never know what's going to walk through that front door. Yeah. It's kind of true. And again, I've had the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time more often than I deserve. And the phone rings quite often and we got a call one day at Julia's from a gunsmith down in Darlington that had had a gun come through that a fella had owned for, I don't know, 50 years or so. Josh, you're kind of there at that same time. And it had an inscription on the barrel that the owner of the gun really wasn't certain about, but he brought it to this Darlington gun shop and they knew immediately what it was. And it had Mr. Buck's name on it. And it had the name Burt Becker on the other barrel. It was a Fox shotgun. It had a broken stock that was in poor condition. Somebody ran over it or something of the sort.

Katie Burke: Well, it fell off his tailgate, so it makes sense.

Wes Dillon: Well, that's the story. He knows what happened. He may have hit the game warden over the head with it. But the lore of Bo Whoop and Nash Buckingham's Fox XE 3-inch Magnum is legendary. You know, my daddy read Nash Buckingham books to me on his knee, like others got Mother Goose rhymes. You know, we grew up with that legend. And to have the opportunity to maybe see the original gun in the flesh was things that dreams are made of. I mean, It doesn't get any better for someone like myself. And with that, you know, that legend, that lore is rife with those that are doubters. And sometimes solving the mystery is not in the best interest of those that want to perpetuate the legend. Anyway, the gun, Bohoop, became something that we wanted to pursue at auction, and the family wanted to monetize the asset. So what do we do? We have to identify, verify, go through all of the processes that would provide the window of opportunity to properly bring a legendary gun like that to the market. That's a big job. It's a long process. It is a process. And we were given the opportunity to receive the gun, inspect the gun, and do all the necessary things to vet and make certain that no stone was unturned. And that includes the liability of offering something like that to the market. Whose property is it? Does it belong to the Buckingham family? Does it belong to the individual that now owns it? Or does it belong to the chain of possession from where it was lost in Arkansas? to where it is now in South Carolina. And there's a story that goes along with that, that's not necessarily important. But for me personally, and for the duck hunting community, it was finding what would be Religiously, what would be the… The grail.

Josh Lowensteiner: The holy grail.

Wes Dillon: The holy grail, yeah. You know, something biblical. I mean, it's of biblical proportions. Oh, yeah.

Katie Burke: We have no other object that is that way.

Wes Dillon: Crazy. So, we were able to dot the I's, cross the T's, and without a shadow of a doubt, and there's still those that believe that the real bow hoop is out there somewhere, and maybe it is. But I think the forensic proof that we have, and in all due respect, those that know Fox guns, that know that story, that legend, have come around to accept that, yes, it is the real gun. The loop has been closed. The circle is now complete, and that bow hoop is now where it belongs, which is at

Katie Burke: Our headquarters. You can go to, they still sell taunts with it. Absolutely. Yeah, you can take it to Wapunaka and shoot ducks.

Wes Dillon: You know, the… Why not three times?

Katie Burke: Have you shot? I have not, no.

Wes Dillon: You need to.

Katie Burke: It's a hefty price tag to get that.

Wes Dillon: You know what?

Josh Lowensteiner: Seems well worth it.

Wes Dillon: It's well worth it. Absolutely. So that was a, you know, there's a lot of nuance that goes behind that, that probably won't get to.

Katie Burke: Yeah, but that's still, I would, I mean, our audience would be very upset with me for not asking.

Wes Dillon: So absolutely. Your audience knows that when Nash lost that, it was like losing a child. or losing your favorite hunting dog or your best gun. It was something that was devastating. He wrote about it. It was famous. It was legendary. It was bohoop. They made a replacement for him.

Katie Burke: Yeah, we have that at the museum as well. You have that as well. Luckily, he was a Memphian, so Memphian collectors collected Nash stuff, and we tend to have quite a bit of it.

Wes Dillon: Chubby Andrews was one of those guys that, and I grew up, again, my family grew up hunting in West Tennessee, in the O'Brien River, and Middle Fork of the O'Brien, the Duck River, and so on and so forth, and we've had a chance to go down to Beaver Dam and be part of that, and you can feel Mr. Nash, uh, in those woods, you know, the, the duck hole, the widgeon hole.

Katie Burke: You're right. Uh, I have to correct myself. It wasn't Wampanoag. You can shoot it at Beaver Dam.

Wes Dillon: It's Beaver Dam. Yeah. Good times. Yeah. That's crazy. We're very fortunate to have that opportunity.

Katie Burke: Were you just floored or were you skeptical?

Wes Dillon: No, no. I know you can feel it. You look, take one look at that gun and you know that it's genuine. Yeah. No question about it.

Katie Burke: All right, so I have a question, because this is so different, and I don't know if our audience would really, I mean, we mentioned it here, like, understand, because, and some people might not question it, but in most antiques, antiquities, artifacts, however you want to call it, it's a touch little as possible, don't, you know, you don't handle things, you know, you're trying to preserve, but in guns, in sporting arms, I don't know if it's across all guns, but just sporting arms, it doesn't seem to have that sort of, fragility around the object. So, why is that? Is it how they're made? What's the deal with that?

Josh Lowensteiner: Yeah, I think these are, at the end of the day, still a tool. A tool to use and enjoy. They can be used depending on your comfort level and the amount of maybe risk that you're willing to take. You can shoot almost any of these things. So, unfortunately, they occasionally do have a problem. Things break. Getting them repaired is problematic, and that can have an impact on the price or the value. But if you love it and you want to use it and enjoy it, you certainly can. A lot of them, if you use them sparingly, you're not likely to in any way impact the value. again they're this passionate group of people they really don't even care if they do impact the value they love it and that's what they want to use you know just like the your ability to go out and buy a brand new car today they're fun to drive and they're great and there are things about them that are better than cars that are 60 years old but there are also great things about cars that are 60 years old that are a lot of fun and Some of them are daily drivers, and that's great. And some of them are better kept in a garage and trucked around for shows. And it's not dissimilar in any way.

Katie Burke: Yeah, that's a really good point. I never thought to think about it in terms of like an antique car. Yeah. Cause not every, you can't compare everything in that way. I guess cause they also, I think I've talked about this somewhere on the podcast, but the quality of craftsmanship with these older guns compared to like what we're used to today is completely different. You weren't going to be buying multiple guns at the times that these were made. You were buying a gun and that was the gun you had, whereas now the guns wear out, you have to get a new one. So you're not really dealing with the same. It's not the same as what you have now. Same with cars too. You weren't buying a car to buy another car in 10 years. You were buying the car.

Wes Dillon: I don't know, I think what you just said about guns wearing out, they may be an excuse that a husband uses to his wife. I don't know.

Katie Burke: Those, those, I love my Beretta, don't get me wrong, but those gas guns, they just, they eventually start hanging up.

Wes Dillon: You need to, that's planned obsolescence. Yes. Planned obsolescence by the, you know, a lot of these guns, especially those guns made by hand back in the day, aren't perfect. You know, they weren't absolutely computer-generated 90-degree angles for fit and finish down to a tolerance of ten one-thousandths of an inch or whatever it may be. They were made by hand. They have soul, right? It's like a home-cooked meal versus a TV dinner. Home-cooked meal, you can taste. It's got flavor. It's got soul. You know when you taste it what you're eating. Modern-day foods, processed foods and such, it's a whole different thing. And I think what we sell with the collectible guns and guns from our past is soul. Spirit, and that's an intangible that you can't make today, right? So a lot of what we do is, again, it goes back to that thought of history, of where we came from, of those that came before us and what they dealt with on a regular basis and preserving that through auction. Guns come to us all the time from people that inherited these from family. What do I do with them? You know, I don't need these anymore. And that's okay.

Katie Burke: Well, you want them to do it some otherwise.

Wes Dillon: Well, our job is to redistribute. Redistribute. Acquisition and disposition is our job, you know, and it comes in all forms. You know, we at Guyette and Dieter have selected, to Josh's point, this niche that represent perhaps the cream of the crop, if you will. But that doesn't mean that we are elite. We have something for everyone. And that's really the way the gun industry is. I mean, they had meat and potatoes guns and they had filet mignon guns, right? So, you know, we have a little bit of everything for the audience here at Guyette and Dieter.

Katie Burke: So of all the waterfowling history like areas, guns are my like, I'm not the best at. So, and I'll fully admit that's where my knowledge is the most lacking. And one question I have, so it's very, when it comes to waterfowling history, most of it is very American. The decoys, the calls, it's all very like strictly American thing, but guns are not that way. We, obviously most of the manufacturers started over in Europe, but then we had our own American manufacturer. Can y'all speak on what those early differ, if they start to differ early or did it slowly change? How did that, how, how do we differ from that?

Josh Lowensteiner: Yeah, you know, it's interesting. There's there's a number of things around the sporting life that really are inherently American, right? So decoying ducks is an inherently American thing. The American long rifle, which for people in Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio and Virginia, handmade in the 18th century and carved for if you had the means and wealth to have a carved American long rifle. At the same time in Europe or in anywhere else in the world, there were wondrous carved and handmade and hand engraved pistols and long arms being made. And as a matter of fact, in our auction here, we've got some hand carved, hand engraved dueling pistols, right? So what's more sporting than shooting your neighbor? Don't do that at home. But, you know, the form, if you will, from around the world changed, but there is this sort of interesting segment of things that really are just inherently American. And I think that drives a lot of the interest here. Things really started to… I don't want to use the word normalize. Things started to standardize. Things started to standardize probably after the Civil War. Okay. Right. So after in the 1870s, both in the UK, Europe and in America, the percussion firing system and then the cartridge firing system standardized. And that was sort of the advent of or the birth of a double barrel shotgun or the birth of a… The repeater. The repeater. Yeah. And so that Probably up until that time, things were very regional or national, with different form and different finish. And then, let's say now- Was that because of industrial, just revolution type?

Wes Dillon: The industrial revolution is what it's all about. Absolutely. Before then, it was, like Josh said, it was regional. It was based on the skill of the artisans and what their needs were. Okay. And what raw materials they had to deal with. Right. Okay. There's one person in the United States that's probably there's two people. Well, there's three people. Let's say there's Samuel Colt. There's John Browning and the Mr. Winchester, Oliver F Winchester. Those three people really are responsible for the Americanization, the nationalization of the firearms genre for this country. I would think, wouldn't you agree, Josh?

Josh Lowensteiner: No question.

Wes Dillon: And John Browning probably at the head of the table for his patents that are still as valuable and utility patents that today are used just like they were 120 years ago. I mean, semi-automatic shotgun designed by John Browning back in the day is pretty much the same way it is now, with the exception of maybe using gas instead of springs. to drive the piston, but the bolt-action rifle hadn't changed much in 130 years. So, it's all about tweaking the premise for, you know, increased efficiency or cost of manufacture, however that may be. American, if you're looking at American, those three names, you can pretty much bank on those patents driving what is America.

Katie Burke: Okay, so I have two questions now. I'm getting in the weeds, I'm sorry. Okay, so… That's where the birds are. So there was, cause a lot of things that are American, like when we did, when we did her off, like British things and European things, it's because, you know, we didn't want anything to do with them when we came over here. Right. So it didn't really happen with guns or did it, did it happen some?

Josh Lowensteiner: I, so I would say it did happen. I would say it absolutely did happen where it was, uh, there was a sense of pride that if something was made here that it could be made as well or better. And then perhaps on the other side of the pond, there was a sense of pride that was, well, if it was made in America, it's certainly not as good as what we can do. And that drove a race for equality, which benefited all, I would say all sportsmen. And so you had James Purdy on that, on the, in London, building London best guns and Harris Holland and the Holland brothers building best guns in London and other makers, Greener, Graham Greener. others saying, we can do the finest guns in the world. And American makers saying, no, we think we can make the finest guns in the world.

Wes Dillon: Or what can we do to up our game to compete with them?

Josh Lowensteiner: Right.

Wes Dillon: I think that more than anything was what the bottom line was. Europe, continental Europe, and England were the leaders in 19th century firearms production. No doubt about it. The Germans for their Mauser rifles, military-based Mauser rifles, and the English for their shotgun production. Those were the standard bearers. And by God, our industrial revolution looked at their base quality and took those standards and commercialized them for the American market. Very difficult to do. Now you're taking hand-built guns and trying to build those in a quasi-mass-produced plant in a mass production, what's the right word for it, Josh? We're taking hand-built guns and trying to produce them in quantities at a price level that is viable. Again, it's a very difficult thing to do to produce things that are aesthetically pleasing at a price one can afford for a profit. And the profit side of it is a whole nother part of it. But many a fine gun maker has gone out of business for whatever reason it may be, the Great Depression. You know, there's been ebbs and flows in the gun business throughout history for, you know, since day one. And today, very difficult for different reasons, political climate. It's not, you know, you don't want to walk down the street and tell everybody you're a gunman. Yeah.

Katie Burke: I have a question about that, but I do want to go back again. And that may not be for this podcast. No, I have a question that's not necessarily, it does talk about, but anyway, we'll get to it. I have a question. Actually, I want to go back. Because we talked about the Industrial Revolution and Civil War. And right there is when shotgun shale manufacturing blew up and changed. And how did that affect what they were making? Did the guns come first and then the shales? How was that? Or did they come together?

Wes Dillon: Well, if you ask me, I think it's the ignition system. Okay. Okay. I think you could probably boil it down to that, right, Josh?

Josh Lowensteiner: No doubt. No doubt. Bringing the ignition system together into the cartridge form, as opposed to using a primer separately from powder charge, separately from a shot charge. bringing that all together and consolidating it into a shell format.

Wes Dillon: The boy that invented the primer is the one that gets all the credit. Right.

Josh Lowensteiner: Right. That makes all the difference in the world. And that's really where things started to change, standardize, and become more prolific. Yeah, and it went lightning fast.

Katie Burke: Yes, sure did. Yeah, because I mean you think about that like companies like Peters, we're talking about Winchester, but companies like Peters and stuff like before that they weren't really anything and then all of a sudden their household names. Right.

Wes Dillon: And those were companies largely that chemical powder companies that the firearms makers incorporated into their business. So now they're vertically integrated. They're making the gun, they're making the components, they're making the cartridges. So now they're controlling the entire soup to nuts package that makes a gun go. When you control the manufacture of the ammunition, Now, you're really talking about, okay, how do we make our guns fit our ammunition and how do we make our ammunition fit our guns? And they expand their lines, specializing in different calibers or gauges or different ammunition types that give long range capabilities like bow hoop needed. It's really fascinating to see how the development of the ammunition really goes hand-in-hand with the development of the gun. So, is it chicken or is it egg?

Katie Burke: Katie, which do you think? It's really interesting because, yeah, we talk about this. Well, it comes up all the time now with like, people aren't shooting 12 gauges like they used to. They don't need to. So, it's interesting.

Wes Dillon: And what about toxic and non-toxic shots? Yeah, we can go down a whole thing. Oh my goodness, that's another one. Come back next week, we'll talk about that.

Katie Burke: Yeah, so anyway, we all got to get back out there, but is there anything you want to add to let our audience know that we haven't talked about? Because we kind of went down a whole history rabbit hole, but it was interesting.

Wes Dillon: You know, last night we were having supper and John Dieter, here we are in this environment and we've got, what's the total low estimate value of today's, this weekend's auction coming up here? Three-ish million dollars. Three, four million dollars worth of firearms and there's a lot of really nice things here. And I've had the good fortune to be exposed to a lot of great stuff. I've seen a lot of guns of great history, great value, etc, etc. And the question was raised, you know, what's your favorite gun? What gun would you want to have? you think back on all the things that I've seen and all the catalogs that I've written and have been involved in over the years, bow hoop and all the good things that come down the line. But the guns most important to me is the gun my daddy gave me. You know, it was a 16 gauge Remington 1148 and I wouldn't trade that gun for anything. So it's all a matter of perspective and you have to keep that perspective with you until the day you die. You can have your fun, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, but at the end of the day, it's all about where you've been and where you're going. And so we make it possible for folks that still have their daddy's gun and maybe a little jingle in their pocket to come be part of what we do. So, you know, it's, it's, um, let's have some fun. I think that at the end of the day is what it's all about for us.

Josh Lowensteiner: Yeah, I'd say John, you know, it's funny, John, Zach, and I, when we wrote our business plan for the new gun division, having a good time doing this is a critical part of that business plan. And just like it's fun to get up at, you know, four o'clock in the morning and hit a duck blind or, you know, get up at six in the morning to go out and do a dove field. That's all the fun you can have. This needs to be the same way, right? And, you know, we're at this point really self-selected to be in this field and it's got to be fun and it is fun. I think, to me, the magic of all of it is, as an auctioneer and bringing together, using the auction method of marketing and great things, people. getting the chance to see them and see what they're actually worth using the competitive bid process. Not an artificial asking price or, you know, so-and-so has one for sale that's similar at this price, but this is what do actual buyers who are in the marketplace want to pay for a certain item. And that gets exciting, particularly when you've got great material. When you take beef cattle, beef cattle auctions are an important thing in our country, but they're not really an exciting event. When you take great Parker shotguns or… I can't say they would be. They're really not that exciting, right? When you take Great Parker shotguns or Purdy's or things that don't necessarily trade every day of the week, every day of the year, and bring together a group of passionate and qualified buyers, find out what these things are actually worth, that's exciting. And it really becomes a reference, you know, our catalogs become a reference. The first one is really like almost collectible at this point, even though it's not a year old. Right. So they become a reference to say, well, yeah, you know, these are, you know, this here's one that sold for that. And people have transparency.

Wes Dillon: Nothing more awesome is to see two combatants that are equally matched in passion and resources fighting it out for the ownership right to a very special item. It's unbelievable. And Josh, is a master at getting those two to throw the last punch. And Josh, what were you saying about auction? You know, when you're… The auction.

Josh Lowensteiner: No, I love to say this. So the person that finishes last wins every time. Unbelievable. You finish last, you're winning. Where else can you say that, Katie? It never happens anywhere else. Nope.

Katie Burke: Yep. Well, Josh and Wes, thank you so much. This was really fun. I have so many more questions, so I might have to make… I'll come back on this again.

Wes Dillon: Hey, we had fun, Katie. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Katie Burke: All right. Well, thank you to our producer, Chris Isaac, and thank you to our listeners for supporting wetlands and waterfowl conservation.