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Since there is no sign of the barrels it probably wasn't just lost or forgotten there.
 

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1998 GL1500 SE
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That looks Civil War Vintage to me -
So in my mind I picture the soldier using the fork of the tree to steady his aim, he was killed while standing there- the gun stayed resting there and the tree grew around it.- Decades go by, eventually a youngster came along with his coon hounds and found it grown over in the tree and broke the stock and barrel off it trying to free it. There it stayed until one day a settler providing for his family was using his Bow Saw cutting that tree down to build his cabin- It was really hard in the middle.. dulled his saw pretty bad. He fetched his sharpening stones and when he had finished sharpening the saw he decided not to cut that tree... a few decades go by... Farmer is cutting trees in the hedgerow dulls has chainsaw blade real bad ... Cuts above and below the "hard spot".. A few years go by to age the fire wood. Farmers son discovers the gun while splitting wood...
I made some of that story up
 
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