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Coming On Fall

by Alma M. Womack

 

September is the opening month of the fall hunting seasons. Dove hunts are the highlight of the month; and the after-hunt gatherings are much anticipated by the hunters, their families, and guests.

 

Years ago, Buster hosted a dove hunt on Smithland or Blue Cane; and the hunt was followed by a big barbecue. At that time, I was the backup cook who did all the side dishes that went with the meat of the day. I come from a large family, so cooking for thirty people did not daunt me. We always had plenty, and no one went home hungry.

 

It was usually hot weather, so I stayed in the shade as much as possible. I did hunt a time or two but usually ended up fetching birds for Buster instead of killing any myself. When I had children, I gave up hunting for cooking instead.

 

During the season, we would have perfect strangers knocking on the door, wanting to know if they just could take their son or grandpa or someone ‘sickly’ for one little hunt. If there were no organized hunt here that day, Buster would usually let them hunt for that one time. Other hunters were not so nice and just hunted without permission, and they would be sent packing up the road.

 

We even had people back up to a corn field, load their trucks with corn, and then act surprised when caught in the act. “We didn’t know it was anyone’s corn,” they’d inevitably lie. Oh, sure, that corn just spontaneously came up in perfectly spaced rows in a fifty-acre field. They went up the road with the threat of the sheriff escorting them back to Rapides Parish.

 

Seeing all this corn being harvested in August and September always reminds me of one of my Papa’s hunting stories. Papa was a natural-born jokester and storyteller, and we kids never really knew the difference between Papa’s yarns and the real truth. He was just so convincing in telling a tale. And besides, he was Papa and very dear to us all, so naturally his word was gospel.

 

One of my favorite stories involved corn and wild hogs. The wild hogs were a nuisance years ago but not to the extent that they are now. Still, they had to be dealt with; for they would destroy a field if left alone.

 

This was the way Papa told us to get rid of the hogs: First, a person had to bait a field with shelled corn so that the hogs would have an easy time of feeding that night. Once they were full of the trick corn, they’d all lie down and sleep for the rest of the night. Because they were so full of this easily foraged corn, they would sleep quite soundly, making it easy for a few brave fellows to slip into their snoring mix.

 

The snoring caused the hogs to sleep with their mouths open; so the bravest fellow would slip into their bedded area, put caps on their big tusks, and put gunpowder on their tongues. Then, he would quietly and quickly back up to where the other guys were hiding. On signal, they would all clap their hands as loudly as they could. The hogs would slam shut their mouths, the caps would set the powder off, and you’d have a herd of dead hogs.

 

When I was at LSU, I had a speech class with a little Yankee teacher. On the first day of class, we all had to read a paragraph for her; and she would critique our accents. Out of the twenty-five people in the class, I was informed that my accent was the worst she had ever heard. I told her I was one of the educated ones from my home area; she ought to hear some of the others that lived here.

 

Anyway, I figured I might as well use my awful accent to my advantage. When we had to do a little informative speech to the class, I told them Papa’s story of how to kill a wild hog. The class was quiet as I told the yarn; and at the end, when the hogs’ heads were blown off, the class lost it. Some of them believed me to be telling a true story; and I thought, why not let it be. I wouldn’t confirm or deny the veracity of the story, but I got an “A” on the speech in a class that wouldn’t have known a wild hog from a 4-H project pig.

 

I have heard it said never to underestimate a good ol’ boy with a Southern accent; I reckon it can apply to good ol’ girls, too.

 

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