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Sportsmen can get blast of a memorial

The way Jay Knudsen sees it, the ashes of dead hunters don't belong in urns on the mantle.

So, for about the cost of a funeral and sometimes a lot less, he will take the ashes to the sportsman's favorite marsh or bear country and blast them to smithereens.

"We can't get you to heaven," he advertises. "But we promise to land you in the happy hunting ground."

A landscaper by trade, Knudsen has an off-season service for the survivors of dedicated hunters. He loads ashes into shotgun shells, performs whatever ritual the family wishes and then blasts away.

"This is not a morbid thing, to shoot ol' Joe down the barrel of a shotgun in an area he loved to hunt," said Knudsen, 50.

"We've had people think it was strange, but when they realize that we've been dropping ashes from airplanes for ages, they say, "Wait a minute, it's just another form of that.'

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Shotgun funerals aren't the only ceremonies he performs.

"We just had a lady send us her father's ashes from Missouri to put in golf clubs," he said.

"There's no end to this. You could put ashes in bowling balls, in baseball bats, lots of things.

"We're putting ashes into lures for fishermen, duck decoys for hunters, that sort of thing. One of the things that has been popular is to do this with ashes of the hunter's gun dog. A hunter gets pretty close to his gun dog."

Knudsen said he has had about a dozen and a half customers since his first ad ran in the September-October issue of the magazine Sporting Classics. He said he has received hundreds of calls and letters.

"One lady said she can't stand the sight of an urn sitting on the mantle and that her husband would like nothing better than being in a duck decoy," he said.

Another family paid to put remains in five decoys to be used by his buddies on the next hunt.

Although business is thriving, "this is strictly a sideline" to the family's main business, landscaping.

Knudsen says he expects some people will sniff at his business. "But it's fun to be interesting. A lot of people get bored with their work. There's a lot of ideas that go to waste because people are afraid to be laughed at."

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