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Old-time hunting method is harder than it sounds




As a young lad growing up here in these, the beautiful hills of home, I always love to hear the old folks talk of times gone by. I especially loved to hear them talk about hard times and how they coped with them.

They would tell about the different types of wild greens they used to pick and cook to eat. I learned how to hunt a lot of these greens, but there are several I didn’t learn to recognize.

They talked of setting trot lines, throw lines, bush hooks, baskets, seining, and pole fishing to catch fish to supplement the vittles they raised. They would talk about hunting wild game, too. They hold how to take a length of briar or barbed wire and stick it back into a den under a rock or in the ground, and twist it to tangle it in an animal’s fur to pull the critter out of the den. They would tell of building a small fire at the entrance to a den to smoke the game out where they could shoot it or set a dog or two on it.

It sounded easy enough to do so after giving it a lot of thought, I figured I would just give it a try.

I snitched me a couple of matches from the house. We always kept matches because we didn’t have any electricity. We had a coal stove to cook on and coal oil lamps for light. I don’t see how on earth we could see to do anything because I still have one of these lamps and I sure can’t see much with it now.

I snitched me a couple of matches because I had already tried the old Indian trick of rubbing two sticks together and it didn’t work worth a nickel. The sticks didn’t much more than get warm, but I got hotter than the sticks did.

Anyway, I went to this big rock with a big hole under it. I raked all the leaves away from it so I wouldn’t set the hills on fire, but as I raked the leaves away I pushed a few into the hole, thinking maybe they would burn and send the smoke back into the hole faster. I gathered me up some tinder and lit my fire.

After several minutes, it still wasn’t burning very good at all. I didn’t have anything to fan it with, so I started blowing on it. I would blow awhile then rest awhile. I thought of the story of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. That wolf must have been a lot windier than I was. I would blow a time or two, then rest and cough awhile. My eyes were watering and burning so much I could barely see the rock, much less see the hole.

Finally I prevailed and got the fire burning pretty good. But by this time, my imagination was working pretty good, too. What if a bear, a wolf, or a painter (panther) ran out of that den? After all, it was a big hole. I sat down beside the rock to think. After thinking about it awhile, I almost wished I hadn’t lit that fire.

I began looking for a tree to climb, just in case I needed it. I didn’t have a gun to shoot whatever ran out. In fact, I didn’t even have a dog.

As my fire slowly died out, I realized that nary a critter was coming out of the hole. Maybe there wasn’t even a critter under that rock. After all, I had no way of knowing since I didn’t see anything go under the rock. Or maybe I hadn’t done it just right. Maybe my fire didn’t burn long enough.

I had a lot of maybes and no answers. But best I could figger, the only critter that had got smoked out was me, and I smelled like an old burning log. I figured I best air out awhile before going home, or my stepmom was sure to ask questions that I was in no hurry to answer.


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