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Hunting Fever

by Alma M. Womack

 

Harvest is done on Smithland, the fields have been prepared for next spring, and all is as well as can be in the season of taking a bit of a break from daily labor. During harvest time, the days of the week are irrelevant. What counts are sunshine and dry air and the stamina to keep going, day after day. Now that the field work is done, important activities like those related to hunting season will take over the daily routine.

 

My two older grandsons, Woodrow Wade and Drew Primeaux, are carrying on a multi-generational interest in hunting. Woodrow has been shooting for several years and has killed doves, deer, and ducks; but so far, no turkeys. Drew just decided to hunt this year, so he is still learning the basics.

 

Little JG, all of five years old, has the gun-hunting fever, too; so his Emma has stepped up to introduce him to that world. Not that I am a great hunter, mind you. It has been years since I have picked up a gun to shoot a game animal. Most of my hunting goes into getting rid of armadillos and varmints that invade the chicken house, and guns are not always the messenger of death.

 

Anyway, JG wanted to shoot guns like the big boys, so here is what we did. I got out my BB rifle and pistol to let him learn about shooting, safety, etc. The rifle was too long for him, so I searched around and found a twenty-nine-inch one that was just right. We set up a paper target on a big pecan tree in the front yard; and he took turns shooting the rifle and the BB pistol, which is easier for him to handle just now. He’d stand about three feet from the target and shoot away till the chosen gun was empty. I’d get him to back up a little, but inevitably he’d inch back closer so he’d have a better chance of putting a little hole in the paper.

 

He is not only shooting but also learning how to carry a gun when walking; to remember the major importance of the safety; and never, ever to point a gun in the direction of a person, even if it is not loaded. He strives to please by doing all the right things so he can target practice the next day, too.

 

After his first session, we had to count all the holes in the paper, forty-four, and send a message to Woodrow about this great round of shooting. Of course, Woodrow praised little JG and told him to just keep practicing and he could go hunting someday, too. Encouragement from Woodrow just tops the list of all good things to Jay.

 

As I said earlier, I mostly just use my guns to get rid of varmints, but the guns are not usually my weapon of choice when it comes to snakes in the chicken house. There is usually a hoe and good blade in the corner that I will reach for to get rid of the egg-stealing chicken snakes, but I have an even better method most times. I just grab the snake by the tail and sling him out of the house where my faithful little dog, Mouse, is waiting. She will grab the snake; and like Lash LaRue and his whip, she will pop the snake in two pieces. All that’s left is to dispose of the two pieces with a shovel, and the eggs are safe again.

 

It’s been about a month since I had to throw a snake out the door, but things did not go as planned. When the snake hit the ground, Mouse, Ollie Bear, and Minnie McPhee were all standing there; but not one of them, not even Mouse, made any attempt to grab the snake. Instead these three dogs that I feed every night and take care of and love watched that blame chicken snake slither on over to the ditch, crawl in, and swim back into Tupelo Brake. I couldn’t believe that Mouse had let me down; but I guess she figured if the other two weren’t bothered by the varmint, she wouldn’t be either.

 

Now that it’s fall, maybe the chicken snakes will go wherever snakes go when the nights get cool; and my eggs will be safe once more, no thanks to three of five lovely, pampered dogs.

 

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