Slob Hunters


The Opening Weekend of Dove Season “has came and went,” as Big Robert used to put it, and for many, it was a less than satisfactory opening, being so wet just before.  Here at Brownspur, we had ten days of rain before Opening Day, and conditions like that are hard to hunt after even if the birds were flying, which they mostly weren’t.

However, hunters never get to pick the weather anyway.  You take your chances, and if the weather doesn’t suit you, then just wait a little while and it will change.

We ran upon a couple of younger hunters who were making the most of the climate, however: they were staying in a dry-on-the-inside, air-conditioned Chevy pickup truck with a Mississippi State license tag.  They were getting some birds, too.  They were driving along rural roads shooting doves off the power lines!

It was right after lunch, when we suddenly heard shots fairly close to the house – or, rather, fairly close to Lawrence’s house, just down the road.  However, we sometimes shoot out in the pasture there, so for a moment we assumed it was just one of the boys shooting doves beyond the Swimming Hole, until two blasts sounded right in front of MY house.  “Someone’s shootin’ off the road!” my neighbor exclaimed, and we charged down the driveway, but too late to catch the offender.  We watched as the truck stopped a couple more times to shoot doves off the wires, and then it turned around at the Slab Road to start back, doing the same thing!

The two of us ran back down the driveway to get vehicles, and as the truck approached, durned if it didn’t stop again, almost in front of the house, to pick off another dove.  But this time, another truck appeared at the end of the driveway, to pull across and block the road.  The driver of the shooting truck glanced backwards to check his escape route, but a second truck pulled out of that drive, to block the road.  The kid in the back of the truck laid down, thinking he maybe hadn’t been seen, but it was too obvious.  He was ordered up and out, and a short discussion was held on the subject of shooting doves off the wires, which is not only illegal, but dangerous.

All of us involved were hunters, but most of us are disgusted at the image some hunters present to the public.  “Slob hunters” hurt everyone who loves the sport.

Later, I described the event to our local power company manager, and he nodded sadly.  “Every year when dove season opens, we have at least one line shot in two by slob hunters like those two boys,” he declared.  “This year is the first time we have not had that happen, I guess because the weather kept hunters out of the field.  But we generally have to keep a crew for repairs on Opening weekend, because someone loses power.”

He went on to state that the practice of shooting doves off the wires does a great deal more damage than the times a line is shot slap in two.  “Usually what happens is that the shot break some of the aluminum wires which are twisted together to carry the current.  Then when it rains next time, the line either shorts out there, or else the current is reduced, because the wires are frayed, so the homes on that line get power surges and low voltage, which can burn out appliances and lights.”  Then when rain, winds, and ice come along in the winter, those lines are the first to go out, or to break.

Most shotgunners don’t think about the fact that pellets can break the individual wires, without cutting the line in two, which a rifle bullet would do instantly.  However, riflemen are not without guilt in the electric field.  The insulators on the poles are favorite targets, for some stupid reason.  Why someone would shoot out an insulator on purpose is beyond me, but slob hunters do it.  There again, it is illegal and dangerous, but slobs who would do things like that obviously lack brain power.

I once watched a telephone company repairman in a sling-chair-type outfit, in which he gingerly pulled himself along a heavy phone wire swung across a drainage ditch between two poles.  When he got almost halfway, he halted and called, “Here it is!”  The break was caused a by a rifle bullet, and it took a couple of hours to splice back together.  Since my phone was one of the ones that was out, I hung around to thank the guy for fixing it on a Sunday.  He shrugged: “This happens during hunting season.  Slob hunters.  But it really gives me a pucker factor to trust my weight to that line.  Who knows if it’s going to be too weak to support me, and may break before I get to the shot place.”

Listen, guys!  Shoot doves, not light lines, phones lines, or road signs, like Slobs do.

Coon Cooking?

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.


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