Sunday, April 26, 2009

Guns don't kill people

I do not know what is going on lately but it is shotguns shotguns shotguns all day long. I do not know if it just dawned on some of the neighborhood that hunting season mostly wraps up this month or if B***'s dogs have gotten into W*****'s henhouse again or what but it has been like living in a recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg.

I admit I am not the world's biggest hunting fan, but why would I be? I do not eat much meat. I do not like loud noises. Frankly, I have a limited interest in all sports that involve an armed fat guy drinking way too much beer (yeah, I am not fan a NASCAR either). But I do know enough about deer overpopulation to know that something has to be done, especially if you are going to shoot all their natural predators. I know of at least local two families that eat what they hunt & it makes a big part of their winter diet; they would have trouble making it without this food source. Finally, unlike hunting where I grew up, more historically interesting hunting is also practiced here, bow-hunting & muzzle loading rifles for instance. I still do not want to myself, but I can see there is more to it than buying a gun, buying ammo & shooting at paper targets (why not just play a video game?).

I also know a lot of hunters are feeling marginalized these days. After 9/11, the nearby army base closed their doors to the local hunters they used to invite to week-end shoots (some how the shooting they were doing was not enough to scare away the deer) & canceled most clubshoots (my favorite would have to be the muzzle loading groups, but it might just be that word: muzzle). They have opened back up for a few events, but it is a fraction of what they used to do.

One group of local hunters was very surprised when the new owners of their old hunting buddy's land were not only not going to let them hunt through but would have them arrested for trespassing if they even came on to the property. When A told me about I***'s encounter with his hunting neighbors, I could not help but think of the stories I had been told about Indians, laughing at white-men who bought the land for a few trinkets, after all who can own land, only to see trees come down & fences go up.

My favorite story is one told to me about a neighbor who has since died, so I think I can tell this without hurting anyone's feeling. Many years ago, when she was new to the area , N****'s husband left her home alone to go work his pecan groves some 40 miles away. Hard frost had been forecast & he expected to be out all night. A few of her husband's buddies decided to 'hunt through' their land & either they never mentioned it to him or he forgot to mention it to her. I bet you can see where this is going...

The short version is, N**** was out feeding the livestock they had near the house, heard the rustling of people moving, saw guns, picked up the shotgun they kept for just such emergencies & started blasting away. I was one of the few people on our street N**** really talked with (years later she still hated being a country wife), but I have always thought she warmed to me as quickly as she did because my response to this story was to laugh so hard I had to sit down.

Now of course, there are more people here than ever before. Larger lots have been cut down, some for big housing developments, some for smaller. What was once an ordinary ranch house with a large yard is now three houses with much smaller yards, but very pleasant & welcome families. Some expansions have been less popular: a nearby family (now moved away) added an unzoned trailer home to their property that eventually burned down, catching our back pasture & consuming our entire back fence.

One of the remaining large lots is the blueberry field I have mentioned in previous posts. They are also the source of the recent gunshots (& an air cannon for extra umph). I have learned since I began this post that they have been shooting at Cedar Waxwings, a protected species.

Many of you might ask: is it the same farmer who insisted my hen was a rooster (& that I needed that rooster so my real hens would lay eggs), the same farmer that burned all the old, pressure-treated fencing, releasing poisons into the air, is this the farmer now illegally shooting birds & keeping the neighborhood awake for the past 72 hours. You betcha.

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