(KWTX) A local rodeo clown who bought a shotgun for his act 10 years ago in a small town pawnshop made a surprising discovery over the weekend after the gun broke and a rolled up note dropped from the gun’s stock that indicated his prop was actually a family heirloom.
Johnny Dudley, a Groesbeck native known in the rodeo world as Backflip Johnny, found the note Sunday in the single shot 12 gauge shotgun. (Courtesy photo)
Johnny Dudley, a Groesbeck native known in the rodeo world as Backflip Johnny, found the note Sunday in the single shot 12 gauge shotgun he uses for its “boom effect” in arenas.
He bought the gun for a hundred bucks while visiting a friend over a decade ago at a pawnshop in Livingstone.
“Yesterday I was getting that gun ready for the rodeo and there was a black part against the stock of it that fell off and when that fell off, there was a hole inside of the stock and there was a piece a paper in it and it fell out and it had that note on it,” Dudley said.
“The note was rolled up inside the hole that just happened to be in the stock.”
The note included detailed information about the gun and its owners about which Johnny knew nothing of when he purchased it while visiting a friend a decade ago.
“This 12Ga shotgun was given to Steven Wood II...which was (passed) down from Steven’s grandfather W.O. Britt to John Britt now to Steven,” the note read.
“May it never be sold or traded but to be kept in the family forever. This gun is of no money value. Only sentimental. This is to show one’s love for family over money,” the note concluded.
That was enough to inspire Dudley to take a stab at locating the owners on social media, although he had little hope of finding them.
But he also had no idea his post about the shotgun would be shared 800 times in the first few hours.
“I was thinking ‘what’s the odds I will ever find these people?’”
To his surprise, the John Britt mentioned in the note was tagged on social media at his home just miles from the pawnshop where Dudley bought the gun.
John Britt ended up being the author.
“I recognized the handwriting was mine,” the 50-year old told KWTX.
“A friend of mine who is a minister out here posted it,” Britt said.
“I recognized the note right off but I forgot about the ol’ gun because I gave it to my nephew in the late 90’s when he was just a kid.”
The gun was stolen during a home burglary, Britt says, and the family didn’t expect to see it again.
“What are the chances a rodeo clown buys your freakin’ gun at a pawn shop?” Dudley said, laughing.
“This gun has a million miles on it.”
And it’s about to add a few more because Dudley plans to return the gun, which he has used in more than a thousand rodeo performances from Florida to Seattle, Texas and South Dakota, to the family in November when he appears in a nearby rodeo.
“I’m just going to give it to them. I got my use out of it,” Dudley said.
“I just feel bad for the condition that it’s in now because with my clown act I throw it in the back of the car and it bounces around it.“
“I had no idea it was a family heirloom. I just figured I’d use the hell out of it until it breaks but I’m happy it’s going back to the right family,” he said.