Bob Stroud, my father-in-law (Mark Twain style story teller and wildlife guru) and I went hunting in my secret woods. The reason they are secret is that everyone would want to go there if I let you know where they are and besides, you wouldn't want to mortgage your house to pay the woods fee. We assembled the necessary tools - a BB gun, a single shot .22 rifle, some ammo, a forked stick, a very sharp hatchet, a baseball sized rock and a burlap sack. We were off to get the fixings for a special dinner.
Not surprisingly there was an eight foot rattlesnake guarding the trail about 25 feet in front of us. Its body was almost as thick as a politician's wallet and the foot long rattlers were rattling like a bevy of castaneters. It showed its six inch fangs and jumped around getting ready to attack. Bob threw the baseball rock. One ball, that's all. The snake was dropped in the sack.
A little bit farther into the woods we came to the hollow tree that is home to squirrels galore. Bob cut a hole in the trunk with the hatchet and jabbed the forked stick into the hole and twisted. The fork caught in a squirrel's fur and Bob pulled it out, cracked its head and dropped it in the sack. He repeated this technique until the sack got heavy. It should be mentioned that Bob learned how to do this from his father, as witnesses will attest.
Moving deeper into the woods, we heard Bumble Bee music – the Flight of. Background music for hunting was just another unique aspect of the secret woods. I'd never seen Isaac Stern in overalls before. Bob used the BB gun to shoot the darting bumble bees out of the air. Since bees are so small a BB is the only ammo that allows the bee to remain intact. Most people would think that this was incredible shooting, but I had seen him do this numerous times, so it was just every day hunting as far as I was concerned. The bees went into the sack.
Next was another simple hunting ploy that Bob sometimes used. Nearby there was a sweet gum tree about 98 feet tall. It was covered with sweet gum balls. As you know, if you have ever seen one, the stem holding the ball on the tree is about one-tenth of an inch in diameter. Bob picked up the .22 and shot the stem off a ball from the top of the tree. As he did so he whistled and a rabbit coming up the hill looked up. The falling gum ball lodged in its throat and the rabbit choked to death. There was just enough space for the rabbit in the sack.
So now we had the makings of an excellent country dinner. First we skinned the snake. Then the squirrel brains were extracted. The brains are a delicacy that are fought over at the table. After the rabbit was cleaned, the special concoction was prepared, being careful to blend the bumblebees in at the last moment. It is said that snake tastes like chicken, but, actually, it is more like pheasant under glass. I think it's the bumblebee seasoning. All that remained was to pop the wine corks two at a time with the decapitated snake head corker.
Bob, now spinning stories to the saints, inspired me to write about our hunt. My role was simply to observe Bob's exploits and lug the sack, since I have no hunting skills. These events were stored in my total recall, photographic memory with zoom and stop action options. Unfortunately, I’m just not very good at labelling brain files and I lost the total recall file. Not to worry. Back at the house, I wrote notes in short order. However, someone pilfered the notes as often befalls my amazing real life experiences, but I can assure you that what I have written is the unadulterated truth as sworn before a notary public, who certified every word, shook my hand and stamped it. I'll show you my hand if you want proof.
Christopher Garbacz lives on a lake in Madison County, where an enormous, mythical fish from Poland plies the waters (see On A Lake In Madison, 7/02/20, Northside Sun, which chronicles Bob’s fishing exploits).