On Hunting…..Posted: April 24, 2012 | |
Back when I was a wee lad of about 9-10 I told my grandfather I wanted a gun, which was fine, but paw-paw (on my father’s side) told me I had to learn to “run rabbits” first. Running rabbits simply means staying about 10 feet behind a rabbit as you chase it. Eventually the rabbit will stop running completely and pause, at that point you fall upon it, break its neck, and skin it. You don’t even really need a knife to skin a rabbit: break a stick in half, pop its sharp edge into the skin between its shoulders, and pull the skin off. Scoop out the internal organs and….BLAMOH!!!!!!! Rabbit ready for cooking.
Well, I had to bring my grandfather 5 skinned rabbits before I got a gun. I had the first 3 in one day, the last 2 the next day. I was ready for my .22 rifle. Now, my grandfather is Houma Indian so hunting was a HUGE deal for him. I was told to never shoot anything I didn’t plan on eating or that wasn’t attacking me. Any animal I killed needed to be blessed and thanked for its sacrifice and honored for the hunt. This was a MAJOR issue for him and he mentioned frequently “the brother’s sacrifice.” One afternoon I glassed a crane and shot at it. It flew off and I knew the shot was bad. Then….. I had a VERY bad feeling wash over me. I shrugged it off and went on about my day of being a boy in the Louisiana forest.
My grandfather approached me one day and asked sternly if I had killed anything in the last few days. I told him I hadn’t and he asked me if I had shot anything. I told him no, and he asked if I had shot a crane?
I told him I had shot at a crane and he asked if I had killed it. When I told him I wasn’t sure he got pissed. “YOU DON’T KNOW BOY??!!! Then you shouldn’t have taken the shot. Did you track it?” I told him I hadn’t and I was informed that I wasn’t allowed back in the house until I brought in the crane. Tracking a flying bird is VERY difficult. I was given a small backpack and a canteen. It was just after lunch so I headed in the direction the bird had flown. It was gonna be a LOOOOOOONG day. I tracked in 20 foot intervals, looking for blood and disturbed branches. Fortunately, there weren’t many areas a crane’s wingspan could go without breaking branches, so I had that on my side. Eventually, I knew the sun was going to be gone, so I decided to make camp. I quickly set up a lean-to and grabbed firewood. I made a fire and finished the shelter. I had my Labrador and rifle with me so I really wasn’t that worried; and I was on my uncle’s property. I must have been about a mile into the woods, so with what light I had left over, I tracked and ran down a rabbit…which I fed to the dog. I ate the food I had on me.
The sun had been down for about 3-4 hours when the dog let me know something was coming; it was my uncle. He approached and asked for my canteen. He told me he couldn’t let me in the house, but he’d fill my canteen. I made sure I had enough firewood and crawled into my lean-to to sleep. I woke just after dawn and continued tracking. I found the bird in a clearing, the stark white was easy to see against the forest floor. I took the bird and headed back to my grandfather’s house. When I brought the bird back my grandfather blessed it and told me to bury it close to where I shot at it. I found out via my grandmother that he had been tailing me the whole time. He came back home after my uncle had checked on me, then checked my camp around 1am.
It was then that I realized WHY I had to learn to run rabbits; it’s a VERY valuable asset to have in the forest since rabbits are so plentiful. I could have run a second one down that evening, but I didn’t need to. One of the things I told myself when I got orders here was that I was going to get back into hunting. I think more men should take it up. It’s such a primal thing and there’s NO other rush than the feeling you get when you take down your quarry after a successful hunt. Eating the harvest is even better.
And I know of VERY FEW women who aren’t turned on by a hunter.
p.s.- i now have a reader proof-reading and making the posts look all “proper” ‘n shit. i wonder how many heads will explode because of this.