HONESTLY NOW, how many of us as youngsters have been bamboozled by “evil” teenaged boys into night snipe hunting with a burlap bag (known as a “tow-sack” in my growing-up years)?
Well, you can remain embarrassed and silent, but I’ll readily ‘fess up all these years later to being duped into that midnight adventure when I was 11 or 12. Tweren’t funny then, McGee, although it’s a bit funnier now.
The way the gag worked: they told you a snipe only ventured out at night, but hid if humans were near. Those mean teens said it could be caught if I’d hold this tow-sack open and they’d spread out, yell and beat a couple of tin pans with a stick and drive ALL the snipes in those woods toward my nervously-clutched tow-sack. All I had to do was close the bag and tie it up (the birds could, the guys told me, breathe because it was a burlap bag and porous and our aim wasn’t to kill them I was told (Boy, was I gullible).
THE ONLY hunting I’d ever done was trying to shoot blackbirds, blue jays and even little, innocent sparrows with a BB gun as a small kid. Well, I couldn’t hit the blackbirds, blue jays or sparrows, and I was desperate for a “kill.”
These older boys spread out into the darkness and I could hear them beating on the pans. They seemed to be going farther away instead of closer, but I remained in position for another 10-15 minutes. Then I realized I’d been left to find my own way back into town, which I did and quietly slipped into my bed at home and fell asleep. I didn’t dream about snipes though, not even doves or quail. I plotted revenge, but never came up with a plan before sleep slipped up on me.
THOSE “FRIENDS” of mine teased me about the snipe hunting, but I told ‘em I’d caught on immediately, walked back to town and was in bed 30 minutes after they left. They could ask my mom if they didn’t believe me. It would’ve been a lie by only a few minutes and Mom never woke up, that I knew of, so I’m glad they didn’t ask. I knew they wouldn’t.
An Outdoors Page lead article in the Lake Charles American Press on Feb. 17, 2013, chronicles a 10-year-old’s first adventure hunting the birds (with a shotgun, not a tow-sack), thus resurrecting my memory of that eventful escapade in my boyhood.
My dad was not a hunter (so I never got any real exposure to hunting of any kind) although he liked to occasionally accompany some of his friends on foxhunts. However, Dad preferred the comfort of the campfire, “listening to the music” of the baying hounds and sipping either awful black campfire coffee or something clear from a Mason fruit jar. He didn’t want to run through the woods carrying a lantern chasing a fast-moving fox. I caught on to that and was never tempted to foxhunt.
I couldn’t drink “water” from the same jar Dad did. He provided me a personal water jug. Germs and such, you know. Anyway, my water didn’t smell at all and the odor of his was awful.
THAT BLACK campfire brew made me put off coffee until I got into all-night-cramming-sessions for college exams, as I’ve written before. Once I drank coffee, I was hooked almost like an alcoholic is to whiskey or any mind-numbing beverage. Had to have my two cups of coffee every morning while reading the flavor-of-the-day daily newspaper wherever I was.
The coffee addiction lasted until just a few months ago. Yep, I quit coffee “cold turkey.” However, I remain “addicted” to reading newspapers — every daily or weekly I can get on any given day.
I did manage to be hooked on coffee, but I never was enamored of hunting, mostly because of the aforementioned lack of regular participation by Dad. And, none of my close boyhood chums were hunters either, one-time snipe-hunting ventures excluded of course.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.