Learning the Hard Way

As many of you may know, I had my first real encounter with the the shitty side of humanity in Dallas this past summer.  My roommates and I lived and worked together.  We had just spent three weeks working on towers in Northwest Texas and were on the five hour drive back to our Dallas home.  Ironically, we had multiple conversations about how we wanted to do our renter’s insurance that week.  We had spent so few days in the house and so many on the road that we hadn’t sat down to take care of the adult responsibilities of renting a home.

Taylor and JP, my roommates, arrived at the house before me while I was dropping off another employee on our crew.  I was a few minutes from home when JP called me.

“Hey, where are you?” he said asked me in a low voice.

I knew immediately something was wrong and I punched the gas, racing past the sketchy apartments near our house and running through the front door.  My roommates stood in the living room, quiet, staring at the floor.  They looked up at me but neither said a word and I knew immediately my guns were gone.  I raced to my bedroom to find my gun cases empty but closed and pushed carefully back under my bed.  Their former contents will merely hold memories but never make another.  My mind reeled as I ran from corner to corner of the house checking for my belongings.  They got everything of meaning to me except my climbing/camping gear.  Only a fellow hunter or gun owner will understand the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I try really hard to not be materialistic in life, but those guns meant more to me than most could imagine.

Before I left the house to go on project I had made my bed and carefully slid my nearly new MacBook Pro under the sheets so people couldn’t look through the window and see it.  My now disheveled bed revealed the thieve’s thorough job of ripping a major chunk of my life away.  Hours of video from the countless adventures I’ve been on were gone forever, along with the photos I’ve accumulated from years of traveling and excursions.  My 10 years and counting music collection, gone.  My college career and all my transcripts, medical documents, job applications, cover letters, old college articles and writings were gone.  The brand new external hard drive I bought with the paycheck I had just received was useless now.  The innocent world I thought I lived in had a gaping hole in it.  I learned so many life lessons in a few moments of despondence as I came to terms with my materialistic loss.

To be honest, I cried.  Sitting alone in the corner of my messy bedroom, my roommates politely let me sulk.  I tried to consider them “just things” but the sentimental value of those guns outweighed my attempts to rationalize my sadness.  The Savage Arms .30-.30 bolt action was a gun my grandpa had given me.  My dad bought him the gun for his birthday before I was even born, along with the custom leather sling, laden with intricate leather work of deer and outdoor scenes etched in color throughout its length.  My grandpa in turn gave it to me in high school.  I had plans of doing the same for my own future children.  The .20 gauge youth edition Mossberg shotgun was the first gun I ever hunted with.  My dad bought it for me for Christmas when I was 11.  Just five months away from being of legal age to hunt with him. I still remember the first duck I shot from the banks of the James River in Virginia, and the first pheasant I dropped in South Dakota with it.

I’m over it all now, but it was a rough time! I couldn’t hunt at all this past year because they also took my bow.  I was supposed to do a solo 12 day archery elk hunt in Colorado last year but I had to put that on hold because it’s hard to shoot an elk with an imaginary arrow.

Here’s what I learned, and what I strongly recommend to protect yourself in the future:

Check all the locks in your house, including the ones in your roommate’s bedrooms.  We had a single window unlocked in the house, and they came in and left out of that window.  I in no way point fingers at anyone, but I do recommend that if you’re going to be leaving your house like we did that you do a thorough check of all the locks in the house to ensure for yourself that your house is as safe as it possibly can be.

Leave a light on, and a radio. We turned everything off in the house to save energy, but had we left a light on, and a radio the thieves might have driven right past our house, or not come in once they heard the radio.

Renter’s insurance! Biggest mistake I made.  Moving into that house was such a whirlwind for us but that’s no excuse.  We should’ve taken a break from work, made a phone call, and insured ourselves.  It’s only too late when all your stuff is gone, so get on it!

Gun owners, save your serial numbers! If you own guns, have every make, model, and serial number for each weapon in a separate location from your guns, like your parents house, so that you can reference that when talking to police.  Because if your gun gets stolen and used in a crime later on and you haven’t reported that serial number stolen, then you could be facing charges for something you didn’t do.

Backup your computer! It was something so simple that I had been putting off for a bit.  It’s not a daunting task, and you should keep your hard drive somewhere away from your computer, safe.

Get to know your neighbors.  After this we went around to every neighbor and filled them in on what happened, and what our job was like so they were aware how often we were out of the house.  After that, our neighbors approached us kindly on a regular basis and kept a watchful eye on our house when we were gone.

Lastly, don’t get comfortable.  Develop a routine of checking your windows and locks as you leave, you may not live in Dallas, TX but anyone can break into your house and it only takes them checking a single unlocked window to be in your house and out with your stuff.

I’ve spent my whole life learning things the hard way, I guess I didn’t break that tradition in Dallas either. Below are a few, more recent, memories of the many adventures I shared with my guns and great family and friends.

Nathan continuing the family tradition of shooting the windmill.

In my family, the tradition of hunting is taught at an early age

All of us hunters

A Family Tradition


After a day of pheasant hunting on the family farm

After a day of pheasant hunting on the family farm

My dad and I hiking to where the rim is.

My dad and I on an archery elk hunt

Archery kill 2011

Archery kill 2011