I just realized that as a kid growing up in McRoberts, when I came to hunting or fishing, my friends and I must have broken every law that had been written.
Take fishing for example. When we caught a bullhead we just put it on the stringer if it looked big enough to clean and then fry. I still don’t know if there is a size limit, probably is, but we never cared much about size, except if it looked big enough to fry.
Are there even any bullheads left? I haven’t caught one in years, nor have I heard of one being caught. Maybe if we had of released some of the smaller ones they would still be around, although I remember the ones we kept were from nine to 12 inches.
Then there was frog gigging on Dunham Hill where the pond was. Bill Long, the only game warden I knew growing up, because he was the only one (he had no sergeant or captain, just him) and he was one fine fellow. Anyway, we went frogging one night and got a really big mess of bullfrogs — really big. The next day, by chance, Bill Long (we called him Mr. Long) stopped by our house to talk to my father. He was always stopping by, just to enjoy being among friends. (He reminded me of my departed friend, Jerry Coots, our game warden for years. I loved Jerry like a brother, and he visited me quite often and drank International coffee with me.)
And now, back to the frog legs. My mother had fried a big platter of the frog legs and told Mr. Long to help himself, and we all started digging in. After the meal, Mr. Long asked, “You boys get these with a .22 rifle or a gig?” I looked at everyone, and said, “I don’t remember.” Mr. Long then said, “Now if you shot them, you need a hunting license; if you gigged them you need a fishing license.” Dad said, “Bill, he has a short memory sometime.”
Then there was squirrel hunting. If we had a good squirrel year, with lots of mast, we knew better that to kill six. That was the limit, and we would really be in trouble with Mom if we brought more in that morning. But we would head to the woods for an evening hunt and — you probably guessed it — get another six. I was in my 20’s before I found out you weren’t supposed to do that.
Then last but not least, we would make homemade slingshots. We would find a good forked bush, cut the fork out, take some shooting wire, a piece of inner tube from the barn, get into our bags where we kept the steel balls our dads brought from the mine, get a piece of leather from a old boot, a sharp knife, and we had a dandy way to hunt squirrels.
The problem was and still is, it is illegal. Until a few years ago, you couldn’t even use a slingshot, period. Now you can use one if it is factory-made.
Oh well, I never remember killing a squirrel with a slingshot anyway, but I remember it was sure fun trying.