By The Weekender
The greater Lewis County area is gun central when it comes to the numbers of hunters, gun enthusiasts, gun rights activists, and more than anything else, the dozens of gun shops from Pe Ell to Packwood, from Rochester to Winlock.
One of The Weekenders favorite gun shops, in large part to the extensive selection and expert people offering advice behind the counter, is Sunbird Shopping Center. That outlet is a one-stop shopping heaven for hunters, offering rifles, scopes, handguns, ammunition, knives and the best of outdoor clothing, from head to toe.
A smaller gun shop which is typical of those sprinkled across the county is located inside the Lewis County Mall — Joe’s Outdoor Sports Shop. Owner Joe Rosbach mans the counter. The peak time for gun sales is leading up to fall hunting seasons and into Christmas, and when tax returns put extra cash into a hunter’s hand. Rosbach took time out to talk to The Weekender about the business of gun sales.
Rosbach, 50, has been the owner of Joe’s Outdoor Sports Shop for about 13 years. He said owning a store that supplies the needs of local hunters was something he thought would be an enjoyable career.
“I’ve hunted since I was a little guy with my dad so I’ve hunted for most of my life and it’s my favorite hobby,” he said.
The majority of his gun sales are for hunters, target shooters, those wishing to carry concealed weapons and those who purchase for home defense.
His shop offers both new and used guns, ammunition, optics and even paintball equipment.
He doesn’t have a particular gun he recommends, but suggests potential gun owners come into the shop and touch and feel a gun, and also consider the recoil.
“I like the person to figure it out on their own, what is comfortable and feels good,” he said, adding everybody is different, to a large man who wants little recoil, to a petite woman who has no problem shooting a .44 Mag.
Rosbach, from Chehalis, grew up hunting near Mount St. Helens with his father, uncles and a group of family friends. They would set up a cabin in the woods at the beginning of deer season and it would come down after elk season was done. During elk season, they would usually stay in the rustic shelter for a whole week while they hunted.
“I remember I first got my hunting license at 12, before that I used to follow dad around when he was hunting with a BB gun,” he said.
He remembers begging his father to let him out of school on Fridays so he could go to the mountain campout. He said a lifetime of hunting has taught him patience and determination. His dad stressed hunting safety.
“For me I learned gun safety very early, my dad was very strict,” he said.
When his dad was in junior high he got shot in the chest with a shotgun in a hunting accident. He wasn’t supposed to live. Today his dad is still alive and well.
“He wasn’t supposed to live overnight — he’s got nine lives,” Rosbach said.
The hunting accident did not deter the Rosbach family from their love of hunting.
“He just really enjoyed being out there and wanted to pass it along to me,” he said. “And he did a good job and now I’m passing it on to my son.”
Today Rosbach said long stretches in a hunting camp during the season is more difficult as timber companies place more restrictions and often charge for access.
“It’s a very concerning time right now, and very disappointing,” he said. “Whether it is right or wrong, things have gotten so political it’s gotten out of hand.”
Joe’s Crock Pot Venison
If you are lucky enough to have deer or elk in the freezer, Rosbach shared this simple recipe for preparing steaks:
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
Put the steaks in the bottom of the crock pot. Cover with sliced onion then top with canned soup plus about ½ can of water. Turn crock pot onto low and cook 6-8 hours.
Area Gun Shops:
Ab Guns and Accessories — Centralia
B&B Sales — Chehalis
Big 5 — Chehalis
Carl’s Repair — Oakville
Cash Northwest — Centralia
Castle Guard Sports — Centralia
Compton Gunsmithing and Sales — Morton
Custom Gunsmithing — Centralia
East County Guns — Centralia
Fesselmen Firearms — Tenino
Firearms Academy of Seattle — Onalaska
Firemaster’s Firearms — Cinebar
Garrett Cartridges — Centralia
Gene and Barbs — Randle
Gunner’s Gunsmithing — Chehalis
Sports Shop — Chehalis
Justice Arms — Onalaska
Liberty Firearms and Optics — Onalaska
MEGA Arms — Centralia
Onalaska Guns — Onalaska
Osborne and Sons — Onalaska
Pe Ell Sportsmans Club — Pe Ell
Premier Arms — Tenino
Richards — Winlock
Rick’s Guns — Centralia
Ryan Gunsmithing — Winlock
Star Exchange — Centralia
Sunbird Shopping Center — Chehalis
Tactical Blackout Group
Walmart — Chehalis
Wildcat Cartridges — Centralia
Willie’s Sports Shop — Centralia
Wisner’s — Chehalis