Whitesburg KY
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Struttin’ Time:

‘That smell’ brings back memories

It is that time of year again. If you don’t believe me, just stick your nose out the door, and take a deep breath… Yep the fresh smell of skunk.

They have been hit by cars along the roads trying to cross. It is mating season. Between now and the last of February you can clean your sinuses almost all the time, just breath in and let the little animal do its work.

As always, I have a story about hunting, lifelong friends, making memories, and growing up. This is one of those.

My dad’s best friend, who happened to live next door and answered to many names, Mr. Henry Sword, has left me with a memory of a skunk that has endured a lifetime. Mr. Sword answered also, of course, to Mr. Sword, Shorty, Brother Henry, Pastor, and the list probably goes on. I just called him friend, mentor, hunting buddy, and Mr. Sword.

The McRoberts crew started hunting in the Cumberland National Forest in the ‘50s. It is now the Daniel Boone National Forest.

I first went with them when I was 11 or so. I have seen as many as 30 miners from McRoberts load up for the five-hour drive to Somerset to hunt squirrel. Mr. Sword was always willing to teach me something, always had a smile, and was always singing.

He had to be one of the happiest men I have met, in my journey we call life. But a trip to the Cumberland once had Mr. Sword playing a different tune.

It was very unusual to run into anyone while hunting in that big forest. But I heard voices, or at least a voice, and I thought, I believe I know that voice — it was Mr. Sword. I took a few steps to get to the top of a ridge for a better view, and there was Mr. Sword with his 16 gauge Browning.

He was giving a speech that went like this as he put his Browning to his shoulder then tok it down. “Now kitty, just go back the way you came, I don’t want to shoot you.”

Browning came down, then back up to his shoulder, “Now kitty, I will shoot you, don’t want too but I will.”

Another step put me to where I could see what had him so upset — a big skunk. I could see the sweat on Mr. Sword’s forehead, and could see him as he held steady aim, trying to talk the skunk in leaving.

After what seemed like half hour of this, the skunk left. Mr. Sword sat down on a log, stood his Browning beside him, wiped his face, and said, “Thank you, Lord, shooting that could have ruined my hunt.”

Mr. Sword has left us, his old Browning is only God knows where, but what I learned from Mr. Sword still lives with me today, and more so as I smell the skunks during mating season.



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