Monday, August 21, 2006

Straight shooter – part 2

Straight shooter - part 1

by Tom Gaylord

I thought about the problem all the next week. I observed mom more closely than ever, trying to figure what made her tick. I knew we had to do it right the first time or we would ruin the chance of me ever getting a gun, because once she made up he mind about something there was no changing it.

There had to be some work that only a BB gun could do that mom would find invaluable. If there was something like that, she might be convinced to relent and let me have one. But what can a BB gun do that can't be done with a hundred other things? I thought about mice and how she hated them. They were forever getting into our dried food in the cellar and ruining things. Mom wasn't afraid of them the way they picture women in cartoons. She didn't jump on chairs or anything, she just hated the damage they did to our food. If she saw one in the cellar, she would get a broom and chase it until it either got away or she killed it. Then she got a cat to patrol the house, but he wasn't much of a mouser. I figured he was afraid of them, because he was always somewhere else whenever there was a problem.

Occasionally, we would get a black snake in the cellar, but that happened too infrequently to be of much help. Dad would have to catch it and take it outside, and I was eventually promoted to the job, after I started school. A snake could ruin an entire Saturday, because the darned things could slither out of sight at a moment's notice. I always got them in the end, but they just weren't the kind of nuisance I needed to justify my getting a gun.

The only other thing that was a possibility was rats. We kept chickens for the eggs and for an occasional roaster, and chickens bring on rats faster than anything I know of. Our coop was always in danger from them. They could kill a young hen in a minute, and the chicks had no chance at all.

Our cat was of no help against the rats, because he was more afraid of them than they were of him. I once saw one of them back him right up when he inadvertently cornered the animal outside the coop. He hissed and snarled, but the rat stood its ground and even advanced, until Mr. Kitty turned and ran away. If I could kill rats with a BB gun, mom would have to agree.

I told dad my idea the next time we were out shooting and he thought it was a great one. "We'll have to convince her that you're a good enough shot to do the job, though. She wouldn't say yes unless she thought you could kill them humanely. Let's see how good you are."

He put up a small tomato paste can on the hill we shot into, then we walked back about 100 feet away. I had never tried something that far away before. With his Winchester, you could just keep pulling the trigger until you eventually hit what you were shooting at. First shot hits were never my strong suit, and I suppose that is why my dad suggested it in the first place.


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