Before The Sportsman, it was a series of businesses dating all the way back to the 1870s that we know of. Punter & Burns Cigar Store had been in the same location for 40 years. The store was started by William Punter  in the old location of a Bank of America, and moved across the street to the south-west corner of Washington and Linoberg Street (see picture). Punter was associated in the business for more than 30 years with the late Veryle A. Burns. While Louis A. Burns had engaged in the tobacco business in Sonora roughly 40 years, before turning over his portion of the business over to his son, Clifford Burns. Upon the retirement of the fathers, the sons conducted the business several years as a partnership. The young Punter ended up withdrawing from the partnership with Burns some years later, and Burns moved across the street when the old building was tore down. 

Louis Alvero Burns, October 1923 in the Punter & Burns Cigar Store. (Where the Sportsman is today)


Having been a series of business the brick building has been there since the 1920s. Prior to the brick building you see now, there was an original building which was torn down. Van Vleer Meat Market was the first business to move into the brick constructed building in the 1930s. In 1941 the Punters moved into the recently vacated meat market, where they planned to remodel and renovate the building before starting their new business, which will feature tobaccos, candies, soft drinks, and sporting goods. 

Vic Filiberti went in on a partnership with a man named Harold Hobbs in 1947, when it was the Punter & Burns Cigar Store. They renamed it, Vic bought Hobbs out 10 years later, and ran the store until he and his wife sold it in 1987, and since its inception, the business has been dedicated to the merchandise advertised on the illuminated, vertical and green marquee above the entrance — cold beer, knives, guns, ammo, hunting and fishing supplies, gifts and sodas.

What could be more fun than hanging out at a 70+ year old historical bar/gun store in downtown Sonora? A throwback to the way things used to be. We are family & pet friendly. You can come in for an ice cold soda, water, or one of many ice cold beers, and shop till your hearts content in our hunting and fishing section. The Sportsman is the last of its kind in California where you can buy a beer and purchase a firearm in the same place. A must see while you are here in Tuolumne County!


Vic Filiberti

Victor Edward "Vic" Filiberti, an almost lifelong Tuolumne County resident and former owner of The Sportsman in Sonora.

Tongue in cheek, elbow on the counter, Mr. Filiberti sold beer and soda, hunting supplies and fishing lures from his downtown Sonora business for 40 years until his retirement in 1987. 

The grandson of early Tuolumne County settlers, Mr. Filiberti was raised in Columbia and attended grammar school at the historical Old Schoolhouse in Columbia. 

In 1942, Mr. Filiberti joined the Army Air Corps and was graduated as a second lieutenant from B-25 training school at Books Field, San Antonio. He was graduated from B-26 training in Dodge City, Kans. and transferred to Georgia where he was trained as part of the A-26 Night Intruder Force. He served four years active duty and remained in the reserves until 1956. 

Following active military service, Mr. Filiberti returned briefly to his job with Union Oil. 

They owned for 40 years what became The Sportsman store at Washington and Linoberg streets in Sonora. They bought it in partnership with Harold Hobbs in 1947, when it was the Punter & Burns Cigar Store. They renamed it, bought Hobbs out 10 years later, and ran the store until they sold it in 1987.

Mr. Filiberti was a member of the Mother Lode Gun Club, The Tuolumne County Farm Bureau, Sonora Area Business Association, the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce, the Sonora Volunteer Fire Department and the Angels Gun Club. 

He had also been a member and past president of Tuolumne County Fish and Game, Inc. 

May he rest in peace. 9/12/1919 to 4/25/1991