Seek ye not higher meaning or depth of thought in the following for it doth exist not therein.
A better writer than I could talk about how the clouds in the sky looked like a slab of giant’s ribs. The sliver of moon peeking through the clouds was a shaving from a silver coin. The pecan trees reached into the night like a witch’s fingers casting a potion to hex someone who’d done her wrong.
A better writer would tell you of the evolution of the primeval struggle for protein that led to humans walking upright and big brains from the animal protein our ancestors consumed. He might tell you of the need to protect hard-worked crops from depredation by the animal kingdom. He could even talk about the satisfaction of provided sustenance for the family by the hunters own hands and how this brings him closer to the animals he will consume, a kinship shared and felt and secure knowledge of exactly what will be eaten v. the antiseptic and sterilized world of buying pre-packaged meat of indeterminate origin at a supermarket.
But yassee, I ain’t that kinda writer. So you’re going to get a more grounded story.
Friday when I got home from deer hunting (nothing, again), I said I planned to go coon hunting that night. Susan would rather hunt varmints at night than do just about anything else. She’s good at it too.
So, I said I’d take her. This was, you understand, my plan all along.
Back from deer hunting, she asked several times when we were leaving. I told her 9 o’clock and that was all she needed to know.
When we finally peeled out from the house, we rolled up the highway. I turned into the orchard and immediately saw 2 deer. Does. Right next to the highway on the hill. Muttering imprecations, we watched the deer watch us for a moment. I turned off to head down to the edge. We were after coons.
Can’t shoot deer at night, which Susan reminded.
She started shining with a small LED flashlight. I wondered why there was so little light. It took me a few minutes to realize she was not using the big light.
That rectified, we had to stop a few minutes later and let her put gloves on. It was cold.
We rode the distance. Nothing.
Back on asphalt, we headed to another place to hunt. THERE! Two coons at the edge of the road.
One broke right and the other left. I jerked left, heading right off the highway never even thinking about what kind of ditch or embankment might be there. The coon was hauling to the woods. I stepped on the gas and he stepped on whatever passed for his accelerator.
He escaped into the woods.
It was only after looking for place to get back to the road, safely, that I recalled the night Dad tore after a bobcat through a just harvested corn field in his old blue Datsun, me in the middle, Mom holding Shag in her arms. What a ride.
We crossed the road and looked to where the other coon had gone. Susan saw eye shine in a tree. We got out with the big flashlight and looked in the tree.
For the longest time, nothing. I walked to the far side of the tree and saw a shape and a ringed tail. Susan, meanwhile, had gone back to sit in the truck. I yelled to her I found the coon.
“I told you I saw something up there,” she said.
I did not doubt her, but me finding what she saw was problematic.
“Come stand next to me,” I said. “Shoot him from here.”
BOOM! First shot low. “Shoot again.” Bark flew. Coon stayed put. Shot low.
“Go get some more shells and come back. A short blob in a giant parka several times too big with a 20 gauge Browning in one hand trundled into the darkness back to the truck for more ammo.
“All right. Stand here and shoot.”
The coon jerked around and started coming out of the tree.
“Shoot again,” I said, as the coon came down. She didn’t. It got lower.
“Don’t shoot. It’s between us at the truck.”
The mortally wounded coon hit the ground and stumbled off.
“Wait,” I cautioned. She was shooting a full choke and at 10 yards, she’d have vaporized the coon.
It stopped at a tree.
“All right. Come back here and shoot.”
A few minutes later a coup de gras (from me) to the head and the coon was in the back of the truck.
“Daddy, I have a friend at school who thinks I’m evil because I kill animals,” she said.
“Does he eat meat?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“And have you pointed out an animal has to die in order for him to get meat?”
“And what does he say?”
She let out a noise of intense exasperation and frustration, imitating her friend, “‘Well! That’s different,’” she said, quoting him.
“Ask him how it’s different,” I suggested.
You may object to my teaching my daughter to hunt. Go ahead, but understand that when you chomp that burger, an animal died. You killed it just as surely as I kill the deer in my freezer.
The difference is I admit to what I do.
If you object to the idea of consuming wild animals or find it repulsive, I point out to you - I know exactly what I’m eating. When you buy meat in a store, do you know what you are eating?
The reality might be more disgusting than you can possibly imagine.