Total Pageviews

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Krackle... Pop... Snap!

Of all the silly reasons to write a blog entry today, having 49 existing entries, has to be up there. The uneven number bothers me like it was an incomplete set, or something is missing and I need to fix it. I'm OCD, what can I say. Maybe it is just the number 9 that bothers me... I don't care if there is 51, or 48... the more I think about it, the weirder I get.

It would be helpful if our smartphones had recognition chips/aps so that it could tell you who people are before that awkward moment where you run into old what's his/her name and fumble around trying to act like you know who they are. Phone ap, (talking to you via Bluetooth): At your ten o'clock (relative position) is Mary Nicegirl, you like her and have been friends since Mrs Goodteacher's class (3rd grade)... caution, approaching your two o'clock is Joe Flimflam, he is a con artist and a mooch, we don't like him. Wouldn't that be just peachy!

I have spent all day doing repairs/changes to our sprinkler system to help us conserve more water and still keep our plants and yard alive. It was a good Earth Day project. Water is only going to get more precious as we go forward.

Hopping into Mr Peabody's way-back machine, I have set the dial for 42 years ago and a time of plenty of water and sunshine. A teenage boy and his constant companion, a German Shepherd who outweighed him by 12 pounds come to think about it. Good thing he was my buddy, although he may have had reservations about that after this event.

Yes, I know it should be Snap, Krackle, Pop, but this isn't about cereal. Read and enjoy.


It will become clear to you, just like it did to "Thor the Magnificent," (well, hopefully not JUST like it did to him) what those sounds mean: Krackle...Pop...Snap. It changed the way he looked at things, and for certain it changed the way he did things.

Quail season was upon us in sunny Florida in 1970 and I loved hunting the fast and wily Bobwhite Quail which were plentiful in our area. The birds were very challenging to shoot and they tasted so good it was incredible. It did take more than a couple to make a meal; they weren't very big under those feathers.

I set out with my German Shepherd, "Thor" who was my all-around-good-for-everything dog. On that particular morning he was my bird hunting dog. He wasn't better at finding, pointing or retrieving birds than a specialist like a Brittany or a Pointer, but he was the BEST bird dog that I had. OK, he was the only dog that I had. But he was willing to do anything that I wanted him to do, he was just eager to please me.

He caught on to what I wanted really quickly and in no time he was finding birds and would flush them out when I told him to. He would just stand there staring a bush and move when the birds did.  It got to be comical at times because he would concentrate so hard on the birds that he would move with them "automatically." 

His not paying any attention to where he was going frequently caused him to trip over clumps of grass or walk into a fence post. Then he would look around (kind of hanging his head) to see if I saw him do that. He looked like he felt really stupid and embarrassed; he had his pride too you know.

The only drawback to his finding and flushing birds was that I couldn't communicate to him clearly enough that I was only interested in Quail. He would find Meadowlarks, Nighthawks, Dove, Wrens, Crows, stray Chickens, and if they were around, Quail.

I had to identify what was taking flight and make the decision to shoot or not, as they flew. It happened very fast and I was determined not to shoot something that I wasn't going to eat. It wasn't right to just kill things and, I couldn't afford to waste the shotgun shells. I let more than one covey of Quail get away because I wasn't sure and wouldn't shoot.

My shotgun was an old classic; a J.C. Higgins single shot 20 gauge. I had purchased it at a local gun shop for $15.00 and it was a fine gun for me. It really taught me to make every shot count and I became a pretty fair shot with it.

I really didn't feel that it was necessary to try and shoot every bird in a covey. Some of the men who came out to hunt with me tried to do that, blasting away with their pumps and semi-auto shotguns. When the smoke cleared, I had my bird down and they didn't. By having so many shots available they were forgetting the basics of aiming and follow through, and were just filling the air with shot. It was more fun to hunt alone.

"Thor the Wonder Dog" and I were working our way across the fields surrounding our property in Rolling Oaks and having a fair amount of success. We already had three birds in the bag, from three different coveys.

I didn't want to take too many from any one covey, which meant that I had to walk farther, but I was happier about the way that I was doing things. The birds wouldn't be eliminated from any one spot and there would be plenty of breeders to keep the covey going.

We were about two miles from the house and it was getting warmer. I didn't want the birds to spoil in my bag, so we turned around and started to work back towards the house. If we got one more I would be satisfied and call it a good day; if not, it was still a good day.

Regardless of how many I had, when we got in the field next to our house I wouldn't shoot any more birds. I liked having them running around the house chasing bugs and walking along all in a row. They were neat to watch!

I had learned to identify Quail by sound as they took off, which was helpful. It was faster than I could do it by sight and gave me a little edge on getting my "swing" going. I could get on these fast moving birds and get a shot off before they were out of range. That worked great when they were going away from you, or even across you.

Thor was literally jumping back and forth next to a fence and from his actions I knew that he was "dancing" with a snake. I couldn't see what kind of snake it was from where I was. He was keeping just out of range of its repeated strikes and waiting for the chance to jump in and grab it.

I yelled at him to leave the snake alone and get back to the birds. He hesitated to obey me, which was unusual. I started towards him, aggravated that he didn't do what I said, and starting to worry that he was going to get bit, again.

He had never learned to fear anything except sudden loud noises. The big dog would tolerate the gun going off as long as it was just me, because he was always watching me and trusted me. If anyone else fired a gun he would be out of there, headed for home and somewhere to hide.

As I got closer I could see that he had indeed found trouble, and birds. He was dancing with about four feet of ill tempered Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake which had located a bird nest in some bushes and didn't want to give up such an easy meal.

By that point Thor had worked himself into a frenzy and was coming closer and closer to being bitten, trying to get a grab on the snake. I yelled at him to back off and swung the gun around where he could see me pointing it at the snake.

I don't think that my yelling was having any affect on him at that point, but he knew what came out of the business end of that shotgun. He backed out and then ran around in behind me, still trying to get an angle on the big snake.

I hated to do it, but he was too close to the house and Thor would be back out there after him, as soon as I went in the house. So I blasted the snake, and it tore him up from that close range with bird shot.

I took the rattles off of his tail and tossed him up into the top of some large bushes where the dog couldn't get at him; those fangs can kill even after the snake is dead. That way the birds could have a good meal off of him.

I figured that was enough excitement for one day and started down the fence line, checking on the dog and looking for the cows that should be in the pasture that we were going to cut through. Those cows were mellow and didn't have a bull in with them right then, so it shouldn't have been a problem at all.

I looked over at Thor and he was at the far corner of the field in the wrong direction, and he was onto some birds. The way that he kept moving and stopping and moving again, I was fairly certain that he had located some quail.

Quail will quite often run instead of taking flight. I thought OK, if he found me some birds the least I could do was to give it a try. As I nonchalantly walked across the field the dog started moving towards me at a pretty fast walk. I had no more shifted my shotgun around to the ready position than the covey broke ground. Due to the pressure from the dog behind them, they were coming right at me!

There wasn't a shot I could take in front of me because the dog was in hot pursuit and I might hit him, that's if I could even line up on one. They kept coming and I squatted down because it looked like they were going to collide with me. It might just have been an illusion, but it was a good one!

Once they had passed me I figured that it was too late, but I swung on one bird and fired anyway and the son-of-a-gun fell out of the sky dead. Talk about your lucky shots, it just plunked down and didn't move. All I would have to do is walk over and pick it up.

It dropped into the cow pasture on the other side of an electric fence, which the rancher had put up because the cows were pushing the fence down reaching for the "greener" grass on the other side.

These cows either weren't very bright, or had quite a high tolerance to electric shock. The rancher had the fence turned up as far as he could get it, and the pulse frequency was so close that it was almost constant.

A couple of the cows that I could see looked like they had singe marks horizontally across their chests. It could have been rub marks from leaning on the fence before, it was hard to say.

The rancher had put up warning signs about the fence along its entire length and had built "stiles" over the fence in several locations for people to cross; he was really a nice guy.

Before I started over the fence I laid my unloaded and opened shotgun down on top of my bird bag and told Thor to stay with the bag. He had no problem with that, his tongue was hanging out from the exertion of the morning.

As I crossed over the stile I could smell electricity and hear the krackle of the voltage running through the wires. I thought that this thing must really be "hot" to be able to smell and hear it.

I found the bird exactly where it went down and upon looking it over found that most of the shot that hit this bird had gone into his right wing. One lone BB had hit him in the head and killed him. If that one hadn't hit his head, we would still be chasing this bird around on the ground. He might have had one bad wing, but he could still run like a track star.

As I examined the bird I walked back to the fence and looked up to see where I was in relation to the stile. I had veered about twenty feet to the right, which was no big deal in itself.

When I looked up I also saw two other things that got my attention; there was a current booster box on the pole just to my right, and straight in front of me was Thor with his leg coming up. The fence was only about ten feet away from me now and I yelled but it was too late.

KRACKLE went the electricity raging through the wire.

POP was the sound when the stream of urine hit that pole and wire.

And the SNAP, was like the sound of a whip popping and probably twice as painful when the blue arc leapt from the wire following the liquid back to its "source."

The electrical jolt was so powerful that it slammed that 120 pound dog backwards and to the ground. All I could do was stand there in "shock" (no pun intended) and watch the event transpire. I could smell burnt hair and hear the scream which came from this mighty beast as he went backwards.

I hurried over the stile and ran to the dog. He was conscious and breathing, with a look of disbelief (or something) in his eyes. This was the first time that something that he peed on had fought back!

I made him roll over onto his side fearing that his male parts had been blown off. "Everything" was still there and only time would tell about the functioning of the parts. There was some singeing of the hair, but no other burns that I could find.

We had to take the long way home because the dog wouldn't cross any of the fences. I couldn't say that I blamed him. The terrified dog low-crawled most of the way home on his belly. He could stand up, he was just afraid to.

It was my opinion that the big dog was probably fearful another "sneak attack" from a monster that he couldn’t see. He wasn't going to let that happen again if he could help it.

Thor recovered fully and "everything" worked all too well. For years after that incident you could put a loop of wire on the ground around the poor guy, and he would lie down, belly to the ground, and not move; no matter what.

But hey, even Superman had his Kryptonite

No comments:

Post a Comment