It’s a horrible tale, but someone has to tell it, and since it was me what supposedly got et up, I reckon I’m elected. It all started when Adam and I (well, to be honest, mostly Adam – but he’s young and strong) had to drag a big buck out of the woods – a long drag! After all the mullygrubbing was over, Betsy put a deer-dragging harness on our Christmas list.
Now, that drag strap is a wonderful invention: wide nylon straps come over your shoulders to clamp across your chest, and the tail-end harness hangs down to slip over the buck’s antlers. Beats the heck out of having to lean to one side to drag a big buck with your hands, not to mention saving you from a fatal back crick.
We got to try it out on a forkhorn I killed in the Delta, then on a nine-point and huge ten-point that Adam bagged in the hills. The first buck killed on top of a ridge, though, was the monster twelve-point I bagged on Cousin Jack’s place out at Big Hongry, on a day I was hunting by myself. After field-dressing the buck, I harnessed up to drag him out, and had gone a couple hundred yards (long enough to be whupped!) before the ridge ran out. I was really looking forward to starting downhill, figuring it would be a lot easier pull. Boy, was I ever right!
It was fairly steep where I stepped off the ridge, one of those high ones so common to Big Hongry. I noticed that the buck was pulling easier – matter of fact, that old mossyhorn was probably fifty pounds heavier than I was, and I could feel his antlers pricking my legs as he picked up momentum. I lengthened my stride to try to stay ahead of him. That’s when I learned how slippery pine needles are – a gap in my education from hunting the flat, pineless Delta all my life.
As my feet started to slip, I glanced fearfully behind me at the long, sharp, twelve-tined antlers. The buck’s head was propped on his front legs as he slid on his belly; I could see that if I fell backwards, I would be impaled. In a desperate attempt to escape punctured liver and kidneys, I flung myself sideways as my boots lost traction on the steep, slick slope.
I narrowly missed impalement, but had misjudged Mossyhorn’s momentum and weight. He continued to pick up speed headed downhill, only now I was being dragged by him! The harness worked both ways, and I lost my rifle trying to grab a bush to slow myself. There was no quick-release mechanism on the clamp across my chest, so now I was being towed headfirst down the hill by a buck bigger than I was, to which I seemed to be harnessed for the ride. My hat flew off, and both gloves were ripped away when I grabbed a sawbriar vine, which cut my left palm badly. My head bounced painfully off of a stump, so I covered my face with my hands to protect my eyes, unable to stop myself on this wild, humiliating ride. That’s when the blood covered my head from the cut hand. It’s also the reason I didn’t see, and fortunately concealed my identity from, the pair of hunters who were traversing the slope as we passed. But I sure heard their exclamation.
“GOODGAWDAMIGHTY!” screamed one. “That big ole buck’s done kilt him a hunter, and is draggin’ him off to eat!”
“Lord, if you’ll let me git home safe, I’ll take up golf!” prayed his companion. “Let’s git outa here, Fred!”
By the time Mossyhorn and I ended up in a pile at the base of the ridge, and I could get loose from that dadblame drag harness, those guys were long gone. I was too whupped to try to catch them anyway. Didn’t take but a couple of days for word to spread across Big Hongry about the Maneater, and golf courses were reported to be uncommonly full for the rest of the season. It’s been over a month, but I’m still picking pine needles out of my backside.
And I’ve almost perfected a quick-release clamp for that doggone drag harness!
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.