Locked and Loaded: Send Your Loved One Out With a Bang

“I will rest in peace knowing that the last thing that one turkey will see is me, screaming at him at about 900 feet per second." – Holy Smoke LLC website

Andy Millsaps, funeral director at Wages and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville, has heard enough unusual last requests that the unique service offered by Holy Smoke LLC does not surprise him in the least.

“I don’t doubt it one bit,” Millsaps said upon learning the Alabama-based company will turn cremated remains into live ammunition.

Thad Holmes and business partner Clem Parnell recently launched what they describe as “a way to honor your deceased loved one by giving or sharing with him or her one more round of clay targets, one last bird hunt, or one last stalk hunt.”

For $1,250, you can have your loved one packed into 250 rounds of shotgun shells, rifle cartridges or pistol rounds. A variety of calibers and gauges is available. It takes one pound of ash to produce the 250 rounds.

Holmes and Parnell contract with professional ammunition reloaders to add a precise amount of cremated remains to each round. The ashes are hand-delivered to the reloaders and then shipped back to the customer as soon as the rounds are finished.

Holmes said his company uses quality ammunition and that the ashes have no effect on round performance.

“It’s just the fact that you’ve got your uncle up there on the shelf or in 'the judge' or in the shotgun that you can use for your own defense,” he said.

The idea for the company originated with Parnell during a late night conversation with a friend about the hereafter. As recounted on the Holy Smoke website, Parnell’s friend said:

"You know I've thought about this for some time and I want to be cremated. Then I want my ashes put into some turkey load shotgun shells and have someone that knows how to turkey hunt use the shotgun shells with my ashes to shoot a turkey. That way I will rest in peace knowing that the last thing that one turkey will see is me, screaming at him at about 900 feet per second."

That conversation led to four years of research and planning for the Holy Smoke founders.

“Anybody can go to a funeral and go through the whole process where you grieve, but there is also a time for celebration,” Holmes said. “I’d want people celebrating my life and not just grieving and being remorseful about the fact that I was gone, but celebrating the fact that I had lived.”

The idea of alternatives to burial in and of itself is not new. Millsaps said that although Wages and Sons Funeral Home does not provide a service similar to Holy Smoke or work directly with any company that does, his company does offer other ways to use the remains of loved ones.

“We’ve got a new company called Crystal Remembrances that can put your ashes put in a crystal ball or egg,” he said.

Wages also works with a company that makes it possible to wear your loved ones remains inside a piece of jewelry. Millsaps said he is also aware of another way to “wear” your loved one remains.

“I’ve heard of families using [cremated remains] in tattoos,” he said. “That’s about the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.”

For Holmes, none of these held any attraction. Holmes said the service offered by Holy Smoke is “a way to avoid having your remains stuck on a mantle somewhere” or worse. Holmes recalled the time a relative of his was cleaning out a loved one’s home and found a box in the attic that contained the remains of a distant family member.

“She was still in a box in a paper bag that had been sealed up and put into a cigar box,” Holmes said. “It was her ashes and she had been stuck in an attic for who knows how long. That’s kind of anti-climatic, you know what I mean?”

By taking advantage of Holy Smoke’s unique service, loved ones can avoid such an anti-climatic end and literally go out with a bang.

“A lot of people just think this is the greatest thing in the world. We also have a lot of people who think we’re crazy,” Holmes said.

The naysayers are missing the point, Holmes explains.

“We’re not in competition with Walmart on selling ammunition,” he said. “We’re not a retail outlet. We don’t do that. This is a way to express or celebrate your life. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what I’d want to do.”

Jimmy Orr August 01, 2011 at 11:11 PM
I'll be doggone if this don't beat anything I've ever heard of from ride to walking. I was kind of hopeful that I might be able to save up enough coins to have my cremains launched and put in orbit. There was, at one time, a company contemplating offering such a service. Don't know if it ever get off of the ground (no pun intended) or not. There is a lot of old junk floating around in outer space from all the stuff that been launched over the years so the way I figure it, another bit (me) of old junk "ain't gonna" mess things up to much. :-)
M.K. OSBORNE August 02, 2011 at 02:22 AM
Im selling poo on a stick , get em while there hot. Winnie the ,maby or maby not .
Jim Regan August 02, 2011 at 11:48 AM
I've got to wonder how much Jack Daniels participated in that "late night" conversation with his friend, or maybe Jack was his conversation partner!
M.K. OSBORNE August 02, 2011 at 11:55 PM
People will buy anything these days .....even if its on a stick !( was the southern version of the comment ) Jim i pretty sure you dont know Jack . Reread your southern handbook .
Cynthia Montgomery August 03, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Attending funerals for some 40 years has shown me that the closer you are to a formal religion the further one is away from a "poo n a stick " request. It is sometimes sad to see that at the end of a nearly 90 years on this old Earth all some have to show for their treading here are request that seems useless or comical. Kinda sad when you think about it. While I want celebration for my life's end, I would hope that a turkey shoot is not involved in my final details. My time here would and should have presented something more meaningful on that final day. i have also noticed that a "SHOW" appears at weddings now days when the couple has no reverence for the religious vows they are about to say. If you do not believe in a church then why get married in a church and turn it into a SHOW? Just head on down to the court house where HE has been told to "SCOOT!" YEP! this generation just keeps trying to replace HIM with stuff! Maybe, just maybe, if you get married in a church HE might just begin to wear on the couple, down the road, at some point. But with the divorce rate SO high, maybe not. Just Saying.
M.K. OSBORNE August 04, 2011 at 10:04 PM


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