It's fundraising banquet season for conservation organizations in my corner of the world, and if you aren't buying $20 tickets for one fundraising raffle or another, you're just not pulling your weight for wildlife, are you?

These raffles are insidious excuses to dream a little. Most are for guns, and while I've never met a firearm I didn't want, how many camo-clad Mossbergs or blah-wood .22s do I really need? I could have bought several of these guns for the multiple $20 bills I've plunked down over the years for raffle tickets to win one.

My latest fundraising appearance was Saturday. My friend Chris and I each took our daughters, my Iris and his Meara, as our dates to a Walleyes Unlimited dinner. I squandered my thin bankroll on games for Iris, while Chris was more judicious. He spent $20 for a raffle ticket that paid out in cash.

Iris and I left early. Sunday morning Chris called in a dither.

"I won $1,000! In cash!" he announced. I fully expected his next sentence would be an awkward emotional disclosure that he never would have won if we hadn't gone together to the banquet, and that he wanted to split his windfall with me. I was preparing my modest response--"Shucks, Chris, that's really thoughtful of you. But why don't you donate the cash to a church or a homeless shelter"--when he blurted out, "I'm going crazy here! What gun should I buy?"

I love friends like Chris. Forget that Meara needs shoes, or that his pickup needs work. He has some cash, and if he's not going to give me some, he's doing the next best thing: buying a gun.

"I need a turkey shotgun, but I really want a snake gun, maybe a Ruger Single-Six revolver like you have," he said. "Which should I get?"

Well, friends, this is your chance to influence a man with more money than direction. What gun should he buy with the windfall of a cool grand? Should Chris blow his wad on a single firearm? Two? A dream shotgun? Or a solid rifle with a good scope? Or sock it away for Meara's college fund?