April 8, 2020
My dad grew up hunting, telling me stories throughout the years. He started hunting on his Uncle Harry’s farm, where he worked during the summer. He would kill groundhogs…my parents always said that the only good groundhog was a dead groundhog. The groundhogs would dig tunnels in the fields, causing cows and possibly horses, to break their legs when they stepped in the hole. This would mean a loss of money for the farmer, so whenever a groundhog was killed it made the farmer happy.
Dad, as a preteen, would also shoot stray dogs that had come into the yard after the chickens. Don’t worry, he would either use a BB gun or empty shells filled with rock salt. The salt would cause a sting, and the dogs wouldn’t come back.
In the 1950’s he started hunting for food…deer, goose, quail. As a kid, most Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were goose. My grandmother and mother would cook the goose in orange juice and other spices. I got sick of it after a while, but I knew not to complain…either eat the goose, or have nothing.
One year, when I was 4 or 5 years old – maybe younger, my dad and grandfather came back from hunting with their limit in geese. They were plucking the feathers off when dad asked me to come over and press on the dead goose’s chest. And in doing so, the goose honked! I must’ve jumped a couple feet in the air, my dad and grandfather rolling with laughter. After getting my senses back, I ran to tell my mom about the dead goose honking! Yes, a dead goose can honk – if it dies with air in its chest cavity. (I guess any animal can make a noise, if there’s air to do so.) I will never, ever forget the dead goose honking!
My dad used to go deer hunting with his buddies on the Eastern Shore for quite a few years. One season, he ended up having to go to the E.R., needing stitches in his head. This was after my parents were married…a bunch of them would rent a cabin for a few days, a weekend or something like that. Dad would take his slide on camper and sleep there, because he didn’t like all the drinking the other guys did. My boyfriend – who was a teenager at the time – and his dad would stay in the camper as well.
Some of the guys almost caught the cabin and woods on fire this particular hunting trip, having knocked over the lantern they were using for light. My dad ran to the camper to get the fire extinguisher and slipped on the concrete block that was being used as a step. He cut his head on the camper door… my boyfriend’s father was a military paramedic and tried to shave my dad’s head so they could possibly stitch the cut without having to go to the E.R. But no such luck! They stuck a maxi pad on my dad’s head and headed to the hospital. When they got there, my dad was asked how he had cut his head…he told them “We were playing William Tell and it was my turn to hold the apple.” Of course they didn’t believe him, but when he told them the truth, they didn’t believe that either.
When my grandfather quit hunting in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, my dad did as well. He tried to go hunting with some of the men from church, but he always got skunked. Being skunked means that you weren’t able to shoot or kill anything.
Dad would still shoot groundhogs on the property, up until a few years ago. He was a good shot – even with having only one eye. Yeah, he had to reteach himself how to shoot left handed after he went blind, as he was right handed. As I was growing up, dad always tried to get me to go hunting with him, but I wasn’t interested. He didn’t try too hard, knowing that guns and hunting couldn’t and shouldn’t be forced…Looking back now, I wish I had but there’s nothing I can do about it.
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To read my dad’s story from the beginning, click here…
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