Hunting Dumb

I know just enough about guns to be dangerous, perhaps even lethal, provided you’re a small, defenseless animal. But the hunter’s mystique has always escaped me. Remember in Red Dawn when C. Thomas Howell killed his first deer, and Patrick Swayze had him drink the blood? “Once you drink that, you’ll never be the same.” (Turns out Swayze was right. C. Thomas Howell’s character ended badly.)

When I was about 11, I killed a toad, more or less with my so-called BB gun. My BB “gun” wasn’t even a Daisy. It was an off-brand from Sears, something like Daizee.

“Sears makes Craftsman. They know what they’re doing,” my dad insisted.

Evidently, skills with tool manufacturing don’t carry over to firearms. It was such a weak little thing, I could actually see the BB as it left the barrel, my naked eye tracking its pathetic downward arc. I could have done more damage shovel-throwing a handful of BBs like an orangutan. (As a father of two boys now myself, certainly I can see the wisdom in providing these wild, smelly heathens with a neutered “weapon alternative.”)

Anyway, after emptying my entire firearm into this toad’s back (to pretty much zero effect), I ended up mercy-killing him with a hoe and burying him in the backyard, sobbing the entire time. I could have written an opera about the experience. (I may yet.)

Another time, when I was a teenager, my dad sent me out to kill a skunk just behind our backyard. We had this mulberry tree in our yard whose branches hung over the chain link fence, and this skunk was just hanging out under it outside the fence, eating berries all afternoon, aloofly ignoring our dog—who was inside the fence losing his mind.

I had to wrestle the dog, dragging him into the garage to lock him up. (Not that that was hard. He was a 16-lb poodle.) Then I sneaked stealthily along the outside of the fence, a sniper on a special ops mission. I raised our 12-gauge, channeled my inner seasoned marksman, and BLAM! The skunk found itself startled, standing suddenly before God’s Throne of Judgment.

(Random aside: Don’t you just HATE that gauge is spelled like that? Every time I read it, I can’t help pronouncing it “gouge.” I  have to write it out to remember how to spell it. I always type it as guage first, then fix it when that doesn’t look right.)

Meanwhile, back here on earth, I went for a shovel to carry off the carcass for proper burial. When I flipped the skunk’s body over, I couldn’t find any blood—not a single drop. Turns out I had hit it with precisely one piece of shot, directly in the temple. (Evidently wasting the other 13,999 pieces of shot.)

Unfortunately, I was also unnerved to discover that she was (or rather, had been) a mama skunk. Covered with swollen nipples, she clearly had babies somewhere who had tasted the last of her milk. No doubt she was so ravenously hungry she’d risk a crazed dog because she had little mouths to feed back at the hole. So not only had I committed skunk matricide, but I had also unwittingly offed an entire litter of helpless infant skunks. Behold the mighty hunter!

I pictured her patiently taking a seat in one of the lovely mahogany chairs in the waiting area outside God’s courtroom, insisting she be allowed to wait for me to show up before she would tell her side. (Just one more thing I’m gonna have to answer for.)

What about you? Do you LOVE killing things? Tasting their blood? Dancing around the empty shell that once housed a living soul? What’s your great hunting (or vermin) story?

6 Responses to “Hunting Dumb”

  1. Natalie Witcher August 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Seriously, one day you have to ask JT about the animals he’s killed. ohmystars, it’s funny.

    • Brannon August 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

      He certainly has that look about him of a ruthless wildlife murderer. I have a delightful possum story I’ll share sometime.

  2. Rodney August 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    I have killed a few animals, Armadillo’s. When they die they lay on their backs. So we placed Bud Light bottles in their dead little hands/legs and when people drove by it looked like they were laying down and drinking beers. One summer my buddies and I went on a rampage and killed about 30 of them and placed them along a major intersection. I thought it was funny then, now I feel stupid typing this.

    • Brannon August 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

      Let me assure you: There’s nothing stupid about posing dead armadillos as passed-out alcoholics. Although honestly, now that I’ve typed that sentence, I see what you mean.

  3. Hallie August 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    I’m just glad that you did not grow up to be a serial killer. I read stories likes these and wonder if there are any other shared traits between you and Dahmer. So far, your toad is the only similarity. (So far…)

    I feel sad about the skunk. Rest assured though, that you did NOT commit matricide. Unless you were a son or daughter of said skunk. No, you merely committed good ol’ senseless, sad, smelly (It WAS a skunk) murder.

    • Brannon August 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

      You’re right! (About the matricide.) Point taken. :(

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