It was a lovely clear early summer Friday afternoon, just right for an outdoor oriented family to visit their cabin on one of the River islands, catch a few white perch or bream, or maybe a bass or two. They had brought steaks to grill, as well as hot dogs and marshmallows for the kids around the campfire that night. No one else was on the 10,000 acre island, so they’d have it to themselves – perhaps even a little skinny-dipping expedition to the north rim while the two kids went for a bike ride on the woods roads, pedaling quietly to catch deer or wild turkeys off guard.
But first they drove the jeep up to the cabin to unload their gear for the weekend, arriving just in time to see the only other camp resident in sight disappear under their house – a skunk! The tin skirting around the dwelling had been pulled loose at one back corner for some needed plumbing repair during turkey season, and someone had neglected to nail it back securely.
The mother refused to enter the cabin knowing that a skunk was underneath it, and directed that the father rid her abode of such a mal-olfactoried occupant, as soon as possible if not sooner. The suggestion that they go fishing first was summarily dismissed, for “How will we know if he has left or not?”
The father put his thinking cap on. Hanging on one outside wall was his “doodle-socking” pole, a long stiff cane pole with about a foot of heavy line on the smaller end, to which an oversize Lucky 13 lure was attached. Inspiration hit!
Kneeling at the open corner where the tin skirting was askew, father and son were able with a flashlight to see the skunk grubbing about unconcernedly under the cabin. The father engaged the cooperation of his twelve-year-old boy in the venture, which would soon turn into an adventure. “I’m gonna back the Jeep up to this corner, while you take this pole and real easy maneuver the Lucky 13 to just the other side of the skunk. Then when I give the signal, you jerk the hooks into the skunk’s hide, and run hard as you can with that pole to the back of the Jeep and jump in. If you don’t ever give him any slack line, he won’t be able to spray, and we’ll just drag him out of camp aways to turn him aloose.”
Such an opportunity is seldom presented to an outdoorsy boy, so the kid was suitably enthusiastic, and began to slowly slide the Lucky 13 around behind the skunk, as his daddy backed the Jeep to the appointed spot, shifted it from reverse to first, revved the motor once, and nodded “Go!” to his son.
“Jerk!” and the little animal was snagged by the oversize hooks just behind the ears. As instructed, the boy jumped to his feet and ran for the back of the Jeep, keeping a tight line on the pole. The vehicle scratched off as the kid grabbed the bumper, and away they flew. As prophesied, the skunk wasn’t able to spray the camp, and was 100 yards down the road before he could even assess his situation.
Which he then did, and was infuriated. He knew exactly who was causing his pain and indignation, and intended to remedy the situation. When the father turned around to tell his son to pull the pole in and cut the line, he was amazed to see that the boy was frantically playing the skunk almost like he would a big bass, except trying to keep the skunk away from the bumper. The stout pole was BENT, and the little animal was angrily galloping behind the Jeep with the obvious intent of boarding the vehicle and exacting his revenge upon the occupants at close range! There was twelve feet of pole and another foot of line, but the skunk wearing the Lucky 13 was less than six feet from the bumper, and gaining!
The father put the pedal to the metal, but it was still another quarter mile before the skunk tired of the chase and dropped back a little. In the excitement, the son had dropped the pocketknife with which to cut the line, so Dad yelled to just chunk the entire rig overboard, and they sped away, the mad skunk still in pursuit.
So, if you see a skunk wearing an oversize Lucky 13… now you know!
COON SETTING ON THE MICROWAVE
We’ve gotten kidded a lot over the years for being a family that eats a variety of stuff, some of which isn’t considered particularly edible by city folks. A former Game & Fish Commission Chief conned me (through the printed word, which may be a crime of some sort) into eating even grilled beaver tail, though when I accused him of malice aforethought years later, he opined that I’d obviously left out the garlic in his recipe.
The biological father of The Virgin Killer declares that I regularly fed his daughter on roadkill that I picked up on the way back to Brownspur in the evenings. At least he gives me credit for picking up fresh roadkill, and not something that’s laid there all day.
While I’ve not regularly picked up roadkill, I must confess to once picking up a young buck that jumped into the side of a pickup ahead of us, which kept on going without stopping. The buck was still kicking, and why let it go to waste? We swung it into the back of our truck and were home in 15 minutes, where we dressed it out. That sort of thing may be against the law nowadays, I understand.
Several times I’ve picked up rabbits that took a glancing blow from a vehicle in front of me. Of course, if they’d been squushed, I’d not have fooled with them. They tasted fine, and didn’t have a single # 6 shot in them.
When I was a kid, and it snowed out here at Brownspur, we boys would arm ourselves, snag a pocketful of matches, along with a little salt and pepper, and walk the ditchbanks. When lunchtime hit, or even snacktime, we’d build a fire and cook some of whatever we’d bagged. I’ve eaten from a pointed stick grilled over a fire: blackbirds, robins, fieldlarks (which are a lot like dark meat quail), as well as the more palatable doves, quail, snipe, and woodcock. A lot of people don’t know that both hawk and owl are white meat, like chicken. Of course, we’d take home for more civilized preparation the big game: rabbits, squirrels, coons, possums, and ducks.
On excursions into the coastal marshes with Cousin Barrow and Uncle Tullier (“Too-yay”), we’d boil up crabs right on the boat, and the best oysters I ever hope to taste came fresh from Monkey Bayou, swished in the water by the skiff to get the mud off, then pitched up on the fantail for mate Buddy Manual to open with a heavy jackknife. We scooped them right out of the shell, the briny water dripping off our fingers as we gobbled them without any sauce, even catsup. Most we had to bite in two. But you know what? I’d bet that the first guy to eat an oyster was either doggone hungry, or else took a double-dog dare! Same with clams, and boiled okra. Some good stuff doesn’t LOOK good!
We love crawdads, and while Betsy doesn’t care much for it, I go for fried or grilled rattlesnake. Fried beaver tastes a lot like duck, ‘scusing the tail. Stay with the dark meat. Snapping turtle is rich dark meat, and makes great soup, too. Soft-shell turtles, however, are white meat, and taste a lot like froglegs. We used to find turtle eggs and boil them for a while (they never get hard), then pinch the top out of the leathery shell, salt the contents, and squeeze the insides into our mouths. They were good.
I’ve dined on snails, shark, “lamb fries,” mountain oysters, pig’s feet, and chit’lin’s, though if I had my druthers, I’d druther not be within smelling range of the latter when they’re cooking. I’ve had ox tail soup and chicken foot soup, and a lot of stews, purloos, and gumbos that I didn’t EVEN want to know what was mixed in, but it sure tasted good!
Once, when I was real young, and on one of those expeditions, I fried up and ate a buzzard egg – and it would take another double dog dare to make me do that again!
Okay, we’ve established that this family has appetites for varied feasts. Personally, I don’t eat olives or onions, but that goes back to football, and you may not want to hear those stories while your own appetite has just been whetted by the above. Everything else (‘scusing beaver tail, of course) is at least eligible for consideration as table fare.
Okay, now: I want you to imagine that you’ve been a friend of this family for over five years, a regular visitor in the home, and at the table. Imagine that you had courted one of the children of this family, successfully, and have finally married into the family.
So maybe you can understand why son-in-law John glanced behind him the other night, as we were sitting down at the table for supper, and he heard a “Ding.” He remarked, “You know you’re at Brownspur, when your microwave has a Coon Setting!”
No, it doesn’t, really. The “Cook” has a light out on the last letter. Just looks like “Coon.” But it WAS a natural assumption, perhaps! I wonder…. Naw, probably not.