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GUNS Magazine February 2013 Digital Edition - Page 18

From a pre-teen it was on duke’s bucket List to fly in a World War II b-17 bomber (above). He flew on this one in 2007. no BuCkeT lisT? it’S empty. b Mike “dUke” ventUrino PHotos: Yvonne ventUrino ucket List has become a trendy term since the 2007 movie of the same name. For non-movie going readers it means things one would like to do before “kicking the bucket” or in plain terms: before dying. recently Yvonne was talking about something on her bucket List when she stopped and looked at me oddly for a minute before saying, “You don’t have a bucket List, do you?” Just about everything I wanted out of life, just about every realistic dream I entertained has come about. While still in my teens I discovered Montana while on a camping trip from my birth state of West Virginia and vowed to make it my lifelong home. It has been for nigh on 40 years now. Horses were pretty rare in the part of West Virginia where I grew up. One item that was high on duke’s lifelong bucket List was having his own private shooting range. He does; it goes out to 300 yards and he has a heated house to shoot from during those long, cold montana winters. No matter what I was doing if the chance to see one arose I stopped and watched it. A couple of times as a youth I actually got to sit atop one. It was scary. Fate saw to it that by age 20 I was getting paid to ride other peoples’ horses. After several thousand miles on horseback in the states of Montana, Wyo. and Idaho my butt polished the seat of my handmade saddle till it shone. The finest horse I ever rode was named Duke, wherefrom I gained my nickname. He’s buried here on our property. Age and health problems put a stop to my riding 20 years ago but we still have four horses and Yvonne rides a bit. Speaking of property, when Yvonne and I married in 1978 we were just a step above the proverbial poor church mice. Therefore, it was a source of great satisfaction that only 8 years later we had prospered enough to buy this piece of Montana, the center of which is laid out almost perfectly for a shooting range to 300 yards. Along the way I’ve also had a very nice, heated shooting house built. Everything I need is always there at hand, from cleaning patches to chronographs. Having a private shooting range was one of the biggest items scratched off of my Bucket List. There was one downside to finding this piece of land. We had to move from the small Montana town where another of my life’s dreams had come true. That was owning and operating my own movie theater. Growing up in Williamson, W. Va., in the ’50s 18 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 3

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