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exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

My name is Mark, M-A-R-K, and I'm addicted to hunting and firearms (insert theme music from "A&E's Intervention" here).
I grew up in a nice, loving, supportive home in Irvine, California, but unfortunately even cap guns were banned in the home.
I always had an interest in living creatures, and thought I wanted to be a veterinarian most of my childhood. My dad says I cried when he took me to the Brea Tar Pits at age 3, telling me there would be dinosaurs. When we arrived, I began to cry, saying "These aren't dinosaurs, these are MAMMALS!".
In 1992, things really took a turn for the worse at age 12 on a trip to Alaska. This was my first exposure to real gun and hunting culture, and it set my mind on fire. I bought my first gun magazine, actually an annual with a whole firearms catalog to study up on. I hid it from my parents, like it was a porno on that trip. When we got home, I began buying gun magazines without my parents knowledge for the next few months, digesting everything there was to know about them.
It turned out they were fine with my interest, and even began taking me shooting! I was shocked. I began to beg them to let me get a gun, but they were still fairly skeptical about my interest. When I took a hunter's safety course at age 13, then began rollerblading(despite 1 mile of dirt road after the pavement ended) to the only public outdoor gun range in all of Orange County(now sadly closed) and renting guns after school, they realized my interest wasn't just childhood "experimentation". I was already an addict.
Being a kid by yourself at a large range introduces you to all sorts of people who want to see you shoot their large caliber handguns and rifles, by the way.
At age 14 I reduced my begging to a bow, which would still allow me to hunt. So, on my 14th birthday, my dad took me to a pro shop without telling me where we were going and I was finally armed! So, my gateway drug, which was viewed as innocent enough by the parents, then developed into a desire for a shotgun, with the rationale that I could both deer hunt and bird hunt with it.
I went on my first hunting trip with a friend's mom from 4-H(it wasn't like that you sickos!). She was the only person I knew who had hunted before. We basically just drove around the desert with a bow in my hand for a couple days while staying in a casino at the state line. She had hunted off and on since she was 14, but at age 35ish, had never harvested anything. I needed a better mentor.
Christmas Eve 1994 found me at Turner's in Orange with a Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag that wasn't going back in the rack. With that gun, I even did science experiments for school in ballistic gelatin with every size buckshot available to test total wound volumes( ie, what's better, many pellets, low penetration, or a few deep penetrators). The school didn't like it very much. Damn hippies! neener!
By the way #1 buck was tops in total wound volume.
Things get worse, depending on how look at it.

I saved up enough when I was 15 to finally buy a big game rifle. Without having gun savvy parents to guide me, and me being quick to love anything the gun writers were touting, ended up with a .45-70 Marlin 1895. 100-150 yards sounded like a really long way to me, so I thought that would be plenty. My parents shipped me off to a family friend who had a deer lease in Alabama to give the gun a whirl.
I couldn't even focus on the crosshairs, I'd just pull the trigger with a deer in the scope. I had buck/doe fever in the worst way. I went hunting with that guy the next year in Tennessee on a planted bird hunt and finally got my first kills with that shotgun I didn't need. That same year I somehow justified in my mind and my folks that I needed a .22, but in a handgun. In California, you must first pass a test before you can buy your first handgun. So I made my mom study ( I was 16), so I could buy it. My problem was getting worse. Yes
So, now I'm 17, time to start looking for colleges, and I get the brilliant idea of becoming a wildlife biologist. My parents are both University of California (Irvine and Santa Barbara) alums and wanted me to stay in state. I said screw that, I'm going where I can go hunting and keep my guns in the dorms. I'm going to Montana State!

Like sending a coke addict to Columbia. Evil!
I finally got my first deer that fall (HS senior), back in Alabama with the family friend on the last day of the hunt, and if I wasn't already hooked for life, that probably sealed the deal.

In Montana, I finally met my kind of people. Every other guy I met was a hunter, and about 1 in 4 women hunted. It was awesome. And I basically focused my classes on those that would make me a better hunter. I found the next object of my desire, a stainless, laminate .280 Ruger 77. Oh, and finally a .22 rifle, then a MAK-90 for shooting TVs we bought from the Salvation Army. Hey, where'd my money go? Think
When I moved out of the dorms, I moved into into a house with 4 other gun and hunting addicts. One of them had a Draathar that wouldn't point but would get us on grouse 2-3 times a week when we should have been in class, so the big 835 got retired for a used Stevens 311 16 gauge side by side.
And I finally got an elk with that .280. However, a bunch of college kids who had only vaguely paid attention to how their dads packed out and butchered an elk was a horrible situation in the field. But, between us and our buddies(who hunted) down the road, we had 4 freezers that couldn't contain all the meat we had.
In our group, someone was always in the market for a gun, and with my ability to retain and regurgitate information, I was always being called on as gun consigliari. Somehow, I managed to control myself most of the time, and only self medicated once or twice a year.
When I graduated, I ended up with a job in Central Montana, working with sage grouse. I wasn't interested in eating or killing them, but there sure was a lot of prairie dog towns in the area . I scraped together enough on my $850/month(this was 2002, not 1962) salary to spring for an NEF Handi Rifle, heavy barreled .223 and cheap tasco scope. How could I not? I was in varminters heaven. Should I not partake in the festivities?
When that job ended at the end of the summer, I moved back to Bozeman with my girlfriend. Now I had a problem, I was unemployed and it was the beginning of hunting season. I had friends around with time on their hands. Guess it's time for a backpack hunt deep into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness! You can hunt elk and deer with a rifle starting September 15, if you get 7 miles from the start of the Wilderness Boundary neener!
At this point I still hadn't mortgaged my future for my interests. I was a college graduate with no debt. That needed to change because a Winchester M70 Sporter in .300 Ultra Mag was calling my name. And I didn't have a REAL elk rifle yet. I knew credit cards were good for something, but at that point I didn't know what . Not just good for guns, but good for optics, which would only be appropriate for my shiny new toy. Oh and this was the first gun I hid from my girlfriend. It was the next step in my out of control habit. sad
Things got even worse when I got accepted to grad school in Texas. Our professor dropped me and another grad student off on a ranch on the border and said "kill all the hogs and coyotes in the research enclosures (6, 200 acre heavily brushed enclosures on each of two ranches, 2400 acres total), I'll see you in two months." Fate had me rooming with another gun fanatic. In our little 110 degree paradise, we fed off eachother's increasing debt and bought more guns. Especially when additional students were added to the project.
Then as fate would have it, we couldn't catch and remove deer fast enough from the enclosures, so we found ourselves the recipient of a scientific harvest permit that allowed us to shoot deer round. What? The school will pay for our ammunition?!! cool
We got pretty good at calling our shots, experimented with reloading, gunsmithing, bullet placement and refined our shooting skills with game in the scope.
At one point in that crappy little trailer we stayed in, there was nearly 50 guns in the possession of really broke college students. No locks, and frequent "break" ins by hot and thirsty "undocumented migrant workers" Shame on You! , but never a stolen gun (on the border remember).

All good things must come to an end, and my girlfriend was demanding I move closer to her (now in Colorado), so I took a job in Nebraska working with bighorn sheep (seriously). I slowed the gun buying because I now had time to train a hunting dog, and 4000 acres to train him. The debt shrank and I was in control of my life again. But then hunting season came along, and I started guiding a little bit, had to have some new gear! Still, it wasn't as bad as what Texas did to my financial health.
An opening in my girlfriend's private conservation group in Colorado found me with a better job in the state I now call home. After 6 years of hiding guns and deflecting questions about how I spend my money, I decided to break up with her to look for an addict whose parts mine are designed to fit in. Evil!
The job that brought me there was temporary, and thankfully it ended in time for hunting season. After hunting all autumn, I was having a hard time going back to wildlife, the $14.00/hr pay, temporary jobs and moving every 6 mos to 2 years.
I didn't know what I was going to do, and like any addict, wanted to sell the drug that I loved, but was afraid to make that leap. Instead I sold cars, which is cool if you like working with real addicts. Brick Wall,)
But, I met a guy who offerred to take me on as a full parnter in a car stereo and window tinting business. Apparently he thought I was a good salesman. Life was good, for a little while. I had a little cash, started building more custom guns, then my partner stole a bunch of money and disappeared. Festive. Thumbs up
I was now supposed to do something I had little skill or interest in, so I sold contracts with our dealers to other window tinters and stereo guys until I ran out of takers. But thankfully, that was just in time for this past year's hunting season, and I had a new custom .264 Win Mag done just in time.
So now I have a problem, I think I just got approved for my manufacturing FFL, am broke again and am going to make my addiction my business. This was supposed to be a good thing, right?
Time will tell, but I'm pretty excited about it!
Bring on the debt! Thumbs up

(I originally wrote that as an introduction of myself on another forum for guys who wanted to know what the background on my handle was, but I'm pretty active here and felt like sharing. It's therapeautic.)

Don Fischer's picture
Location: Antelope, Ore
Joined: 03/24/2005
Posts: 3213
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Great story! I was addicted most of my life, now I'm recovering. Only have seven rifles and three shotguns left. Five handguns, a room full of reloading and bullet casting equipment and down to two bird dogs, at one time I had 18 dogs! Have reloaded for about everything except the newer magnums, handguns over 357 and the 10ga and 410! I've never made $14 an hour in my life, what's it like to have all that money! Laugh

Your are a credit to the addiction! Thumbs up

Location: north Idaho, USA
Joined: 08/13/2007
Posts: 131
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Your bio neglects to mention what you will be manufacturing. Since we know everything else you might as well make a pitch for your future...

Joined: 09/13/2008
Posts: 78
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic


Your story is much too long. I am glad that you like hunting if thats how it ended.

Good luck

SoCoKHntr's picture
Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
Posts: 1821
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Great read! Your time in TX sounds like pure heaven.

exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Thanks guys, I was hoping to find a sympathetic ear for my little online therapy session Big smile .
Obviously skipped a lot of details (though didn't skip enough for some sad and it hasn't "ended", I'm still alive, just a new beginning).
If you didn't catch my FFL posting, I'm planning on dressing up old sporterized military bolt actions (not just Mausers) and then selling for profit, which ATF calls manufacturing. But that will be in addition to the home gun store ( hopefully it will grow beyond the home). And you can bet I'll make it very well known when I have that FFL # in my hand and the business is actually up and running! Thumbs up
And thanks Don, I'm not sure I really want to be cured of the addiction, just want to control it a little better. I knew I wasn't the only one out there.
And a face to the name and story:

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JJD's picture
Location: Right Side WA state
Joined: 11/07/2008
Posts: 208
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic


You certainly didn't arrive to the fanatical stage the way most do. None the less, welcome.
Very few folks who do not have mentors in their immediate family, end up with the addiction.

What was it that Oboma called us? I forgot already.

7mm Magnum's picture
Location: Custer, Michigan
Joined: 03/16/2008
Posts: 89
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Great read Mark,... Thumbs up I found myself chuckling at several comments!

Good luck and good fortune with your new venture. Yes

Location: California
Joined: 09/06/2008
Posts: 1066
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Yes Mark, I feel your pain, I too am a gun aholic. Like you I grew up in home of non-shooters. I must have been better at wheetling and begging as I had every toy gun and BB gun as a kid. I got my first .22 at about 10 yrs and I'm afraid it's been all dowhill ever since. Unlike some of you I have not hit bottom yet. I don't want to be cured. My gun safe currently looks like Fred Flintstones closet. So full that you take your life in your hands opening it. My friend says watching me get guns back in is like a game of tetrus with ammo. I love my drug and will infect others at every opportunity.
Best wishes,


expatriate's picture
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3206
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

I too, feel your pain. Ever read the kids' book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"? If they wrote my life story, it'd be titled, "If You Give a Guy a Rifle." My wife accuses me of misrepresenting myself when we got married, because I didn't tell her about this aspect of my personality.

But you know, when you're growing up, everyone needs a good .22. And muzzleloading is a fun hobby. And then you've gotta have a good deer rifle. The new wife doesn't like guns in the house with kids around, so you compromise and buy a gun cabinet.

Of course, then you have to round out your collection with a shotgun. This is, after all, the only hole to have to fill to complete your collection so you can hunt everything from squirrels to elk. There's plenty of space in the gun cabinet, so no problem.

Then, wouldn't you know it, but an anti-gun Democrat gets elected and you have to buy a semi auto handgun before they're restricted because you need to practice in case you have to deploy. But it's too big for the wife, so later on you have to get another one in a smaller caliber for her. You'll always remember the look on her face when she pulls off the Christmas paper. Dang...maybe you should've gone with jewelry.

Then an assault rifle ban makes the news, so of course you have to pick up an SKS before somebody takes away your right to own one. Besides, your brother has an FFL and it'd be a crime to pass up a deal that good. Besides, one of the kids might be able to use it for deer in a couple years. You avoid confrontation by nonchalantly telling your wife about it after the fact -- like telling her you picked up a newspaper on the way home. It doesn't work.

All is well, but then you notice that your semi auto handgun is unwieldy and noticeable under clothing when carrying. You want to keep the family safe, but you explain to your wife that you're having a hard time keeping the kids from knowing about it. So you pick up a compact model in the same caliber for the kids' sake.

But then one of your sons displays an interest in hunting whitetails. You explain to the wife how this is a great father/son bonding opportunity, but the SKS is displaying some reliability issues, so you have to buy a .243 for your son to use. Miraculously, after this purchase the SKS never misfires again.

Then your Dad decides to pass on a shotgun from the family collection, which you accept because it's a .410 and better for the kids than the 12 gauge.

All's well until about a year later, when another son wants to hunt. The only thing better than bonding with one son is bonding with two of them, but the .243 is in use by his older brother, and little brother has trouble with the SKS' length So what choice do you have but to buy a youth Model 94? Besides, their oldest brother works at Wal-Mart and gets an employee discount -- it'd be crime to pass up a deal that good.

Everything's rosy at that point until you move to Alaska. There's no way you can risk taking that pre-'64 M70 heirloom out in the brutal Alaska environment, and besides, a .308 isn't the best choice for Alaska game. So you buy a stainless .300 WSM.

Then one day you stay out on a bear stand too long and don't start going back to camp until it's almost dark. A close encounter with a grizzly later, you realize that the 870 needs a tactical stock, Surefire forend, magazine extension, and tritium iron sights.

Then your oldest son passes away and you inherit his 9 mm and 11 M-16 magazines, pouches, etc. Doggone it, you can't get rid of the magazines because they were his, but what good are magazines without an AR-15 to plug them into? Besides, an anti-gun Democrat just got elected and you could use one to practice with in case you deploy. Better get one for the son, too, before his rights are taken away as well.

Once you get the hang of the AR-15, it becomes apparent that the 11 standard G.I. magazines are cheaply made. So you embark on a campaign to replace them with better-made commercial mags. You don't want to spend a lot of money on a good rifle and risk reliability on a cheap magazine, do you? Besides, they're probably going to ban high-capacity magazines...it's an investment.

Dang...the old gun cabinet used to be a lot bigger! I can't even fit all the guns in there, and I'm storing them in locked cases -- which isn't good for the guns. They need to breathe, you know, and plastic cases aren't that secure. So obviously the thing to do is buy a bigger gun safe.

Of course, the new safe solves the space problem and is much bigger. So big, in fact, that there are quite a few empty slots in it...

The madness never ends.

JJD's picture
Location: Right Side WA state
Joined: 11/07/2008
Posts: 208
My name is Mark, and I'm a gunaholic

Do they actually make a "big enough" gun safe?

It is an american grammer error to have "too big" and "Gun safe" in the same sentence. Big smile