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Humor And The Hunt

by Robert L. Mason


           Anyone who has hunted for any time at all knows that there are often humorous incidents that happen in the field that leave a man scratching his head and holding his sides.  Sometimes, the incidents are mildly  embarrassing and occasionally they are totally bizarre, but they can sometimes be so rich with humor as to remain a source of laughter many years later.

           Any hunter who has had the misfortune of laying his gun aside while pausing for a nature call, only to have a cottontail spring up at his feet, knows that it doesn't take particularly comedic hunting buddies to give a man a good ribbing about a thing like that.

          Poor shooting can often produce a ton of good-natured joshing, and any hunter who finds himself late in the day with his hunting coat flapping from a lack of game is sure to be constantly reminded of his need to "kill that skunk."

           Elder Willie Jones, my long-time friend and hunting companion, always cracked me up as no other of my hunting buddies could.  Preacher, as I often call him, was a big, serious-faced man, who had a knack for doing and saying things in a way that would absolutely leave you in stitches.

           On one of our many joyous days afield, our dogs jumped a rabbit near the edge of a weed field,  and the rabbit streaked for the safety of a hole--just beyond the railroad track.  Preacher, in an excellent shooting position, took dead aim and fired just as the rabbit crossed the track.  The fur flew, and I had already marked that rabbit in Preacher's column as he marched up resolutely to retrieve his kill.  But all that awaited him beyond the track was the rabbit's cottontail.  Preacher had shot off the rabbit's powder-puff of a tail.  We both laughed at the thought of the cold night and the colder winter that awaited the unfortunate bunny.  But in the safety of its hole, the rabbit was probably laughing that it had succeeded in saving everything that it absolutely needed.

          Sometimes humorous incidents arise when the rabbit does the most unlikely thing.  On a hunt with my dear friends, Garrett Humphrey and Earl Pennington, we were working our way along the fence row of a western-Kentucky farm when we came upon one of several oases of timber and brush left stranded in a huge, combined soybean field.  Suddenly our dogs went crazy, and for the next 20 minutes both hounds and hunters were constantly busy.

          After killing a rabbit along the edge of the thicket, I moved down into the wood near where the dogs were clamoring on the lower end.  An elevated mound of earth that hosted a couple of trees caught my attention.  It afforded an excellent command of the center of the small wooded section, and I stepped up onto that platform to await the development of the chase.

         No sooner had I taken my position than did a rabbit materialize along the edge of the treeline.  We must have had the same idea, for, after zigzagging along the edge of the treeline, the bunny hopped right up onto the raised ground with me, its front feet coming to rest on the toe of my right boot.

         Once I realized that I was not under attack by a kill-crazed rabbit, I began figuring out how I could exploit our moment of intimacy.  Slowly, I began to swing the muzzle of my shotgun in the direction of the rabbit's head.  With the rabbit mere inches from the barrel, it would not be an easy shot, but I was determined not to allow this to degenerate into some Bugs Bunny versus Elmer Fudd cartoon affair in which I missed the rabbit and shot off my foot.

          Erring on the side of caution, I lined up my cue shot as best I could and squeezed the trigger.  It was a long, two-inch trick shot, aimed at the rabbit's nose.  As it happened, I missed both the rabbit and my foot.  Unfortunately, for the bunny, I didn't miss the second shot, as he sprinted for the open field.

        The light moments afield, like the thrill of the chase, the thundering of guns and the memories of great hounds, lends a special joy to hunting that lingers and grows richer and deeper over the years.

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