Monday, July 03, 2006

Chicken dinner - part 4

Chicken dinner- part 4

by Tom Gaylord

The whole next day I tried baiting prairie chickens with piles of rice. The only thing I could tell for sure after that was, they don't like rice. In fact, I think they hate it. I would have been really disappointed that evening at dinner if I hadn't noticed something late in the day. A whole flock of the elusive chickens were down at the edge of the pond, pecking for something in the bushes. I never saw what it was, but I reasoned that as long as I knew where they were, it didn't matter why they were there. I dodged uncle Don's questions that evening, and set about to plan my attack the next day.

What I was going to do was build a hide in the bushes near where I had seen the chickens feeding the evening before. I tried to build a brush pile hide, but there wasn't enough brush around to make one. The country hadn't begun to bloom that spring, and the amount of heavy brush was disappointing. But there was something even better.

Near the edge of the pond was an old rowboat that must have been used for fishing. I turned it upside down and made a very cozy hide along the edge of the pond just a few feet from where the birds had been the evening before. Sure enough, as the sun was getting low in the western sky, they began coming over to feed. I had a clear shot at them from less that 20 feet away.

In all, I managed to get three birds that evening. I would have gotten more but my uncle's yelling for me to come to dinner scared the flock off. Instead of taking all three birds to camp, I cleaned them all but hid two under the boat to bring home the next evening if I wasn't as lucky.

My uncle was stunned that I even got one prairie chicken! He said he thought it was next to impossible to bag one with a BB gun. I almost broke down and showed him the other two, but I really wanted to get that BB gun and to get it I had to provide at least five chicken dinners. We only had six nights left on the trip, so I wasn't about to overfeed him on one night just to lose my gun!

I needn't have worried. The next evening, I bagged four birds and the night after that two more, plus a little rabbit. We had chickens all over the camp in various stages of preparation. I had a sack full of feathers and down plus a rabbit skin, and my uncle was beside himself with amazement! In all, I shot 13 birds, three rabbits and a field mouse. Needless to say, I got my BB gun at the journey's end.

When we returned home, my uncle told my parents the whole story of the chickens all over again, making it sound like I was Jungle Jim or something. I was so swelled up with pride over my accomplishment that I finished the school year on a cloud.

Thirty years later, I asked my uncle to tell me about that trip once again. He didn't say much. He just smiled and said, "That two dollar BB gun was the best baby-sitter I ever had. You were so caught up in hunting those damn birds that the days just flew by for you."

I hadn't thought about it that way, of course, but upon reflection I see what he did. That's why I bought each of my boys a Daisy for their first outing with their dad. They should learn how to eat chicken dinners.


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