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Friday, October 28, 2011

Memories of the Hunt

    Hunting has always been a large part of Stanley and my life. We both started hunting when we were very young although for a lot of years that meant following someone else around and fetching and carrying for them. Neither of us really minded that because any excuse to be out in the woods was a good one of course neither of us could wait until we were able to go hunting by ourselves which we again both started at a young age. Most country kids did the same thing so we were by no means an exception to the rule and most country kids did it for the same reason we did, the thrill of the hunt and to put meat on the table. I don’t want any of you think that we were totally blood thirsty little savages out killing everything that was big enough to die. Yes, we hunted for food but that was only part of the reason. If we didn’t find anything it wasn’t like our families were going to go hungry we just liked wild game and it was a nice extra but it was the hunt that was important. We used to hunt deer in the summer time with no intention of shooting them, for one thing it was against the law but the main reason we were out there was as an excuse to be out in the woods and to see if we could sneak upon them. I’ve been out in the woods many a day before daylight, sitting up in a tree watching a trail just for the enjoyment of watching them.
   The fact that I could enjoy hunting without actually shooting anything really came home to me the year I was sixteen. I was spending a little time in Arizona that year and I got the chance to go hunting with my Grandpa. He was going to go deer hunting that year and since I was out there he told me I could tag along with him. We went to the store to get out licenses and while we were there he entered a lottery. No it wasn’t the kind where you win money it was for a tag to hunt desert bighorn sheep. He told me he’d been entering it for over twenty years and had never won. He also explained that it was a once in a lifetime chance. If you were drawn that was it weather you got a sheep or not you couldn’t put in for it again. It only cost five dollars so I decided to enter myself even though Grandpa thought it was a waste of money because he figured I’d only be there during hunting season that one time. Needless to say, Grandpa lost for the twenty first time and I got drawn.
   I was the only one that would be able to hunt the sheep but I could take him along to help me and he could hunt deer while we were out so I thought that would work out. For the next couple of weeks I wasn’t sure he was going to go along with it though. Every time I saw him during those two weeks he was always mumbling something about dumb luck and people not deserving what they got and general ignoring me, but the day before I was set to leave he finally came around and agreed to go with me.
   Hunting those things was a lot harder than I thought it would be. You would think that anything living out in the Arizona desert would be pretty easy to find but if you think that you’d be just as wrong as I was. Finding deer in the woods back home was a cake walk compared to this. We left camp before daylight and didn’t get back until after dark every day and didn’t even see a track until the third day. Plus, I loved my Grandpa dearly but for someone that had never actually hunted seep the only time he quit giving me advice was when he was asleep!
   We only had seven days to fill the tag and if you didn’t get one during that season then you were done forever and we were starting to get a little nervous. Our luck turned on the fourth day. About mid morning we spotted a small flock of ewes in the distance. We crawled to the top of ridge and got the binoculars so we could check them out. You couldn’t shoot a ewe but luck was with us because lying above them on the hill was a group of at least three rams. We were still too far away to really get a good look at their horns so we had to crawl back down the ridge and work our way through the brush to the next hill. By the time we had made to the top of that one and got in a position to check out the rams they were all standing and we got a good look at the horns. Now most of the time when I was deer hunting down home horns didn’t mean a whole lot to me. We had a buck only season there but I never really cared about how big they were, I was hunting for meat and you can’t cook horns. This time, however, the horns were really important. I wasn’t real fond of sheep meat but since this was going to be my one and only chance to ever hunt these bighorns I was planning on eating whatever we got but I really had my heart set on a full curl (that just means that their horns curl all the way around, the best ones will have horns where the points are past their jaw line). If you’re going to hunt what is mainly a trophy animal it might as well be a good one. Right there is where my first real argument with my Grandpa happened.
   Of the three rams we were looking at, two of them had about a half curl and the other had, maybe. a three quarter curl. We were only a couple of hundred yards from the biggest one and Grandpa was telling me all about how to take the shot. He was sure I’d be able to get the big one and it was tempting. I kept looking at him through the scope and I will admit he was a nice healthy looking ram but the longer I looked the more I kept think that this would be my only chance and did I really want to settle for something that I didn’t really want? No I didn’t. When I lowered my rifle and told Grandpa I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a full curl he just stared at me like I had lost my mind. He never said a word right then he just lay there and watched all three rams walk of the hill and disappear. It was just barley noon by then but as soon as the sheep were gone he stood up and headed back to camp. I continued to hunt until dark, not because I was really expecting to find anything I was staying away from camp and hoping he would have time to calm down. He didn’t yell or anything when he was mad, he just gave you these looks that let you know he was really disappointed in you. Have you ever had “The Look” from a parent or grandparent? If so then you know what I mean. They can hurt a lot worse than any spanking you could ever get. He seemed to be a little calmer by the time I got back to camp and I tried to explain why I had passed on the shot that day and why I really wanted to wait and see if we could find the right animal. I’m not sure he really understood. I think part of the problem was that he had been trying for so long just to be able to hunt sheep and he just couldn’t understand why I would be willing to pass up what he considered a sure thing and take a chance on what he considered to waste my only chance. I tried to tell him how beautiful the sheep were to me and how good it made you feel just to be able to see them wondering across the desert. I even told him that I wished I had a camera instead os a rifle when we had seen the herd. I know he really understood all of that but it was still hard for him to take the disappointment of not being able to hunt himself.
   I didn’t get any ram the hunt. We saw the same herd a few more times, even got within shooting range a few times. I enjoyed every time we got close to them. Doing nothing but laying in the sun and watching them. I know Grandpa and a lot of other people would think I was crazy for passing up a chance like that but I just couldn’t see any reason to take the life of something just to be able to say I had. Grandpa never did really forgive me though. He continued to enter the lottery the rest of his life and never did get selected. He also spent the rest of his life telling everyone about his dumb grandson who had been selected and just “threw it away” Once a few years later he was telling one of his friends the story and I was sitting there embarrassed as usual but that time when he was finished with the story and got up to go back in the house, he patted me on the shoulder and smiled.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rambling

   Please excuse my rambling here. I'm bored and when I can't think of anything interesting to write I do tend to ramble. Kind of like the homeless guys you see on the street wondering around muttering to them selves except I do it here.

Hide Outs

Refuge, hiding place, shelter, haven, sanctuary, Webster’s

   Since I used to spend most of my time wondering around in the woods I had several “hide outs” scattered around down home. Why? Most of them were places I could take shelter in if I got caught out in a storm. Some of them were places I could go to be alone and think about life and the troubles I thought I was having with it. Teenage brains are always full of the trials and tribulations that life puts us through. A few of them fulfilled my never ending obsession with being able to live like a mountain man, or at least what my imagination told me was the mountain man life style. Some were nothing more that prepared camping spots for Stanley and me. Good hideouts required a couple of things that made them different than a normal camping spot. They needed to have limited access. You had to be able to at least think you were the only one that knew about them. They needed to be close to a source of water for drinking and for cooking. They had to offer protection from the weather. That could be a hard one because of the storms we get in Oklahoma. You needed to stay out of the rain yet still be able to watch the storm, storm watching was a great pastime. There also needed to be a ready source of firewood close by because even in the summer and even though we might not need to cook anything there is just something about camping in the woods at night that requires a fire.
   There was a big hollow oak log on my uncle’s place. The tree had been blown over by a wind storm. All the limbs were gone and but the trunk was still attached and the hollow center of it was over ten feet long. It was laying with the broken end tilted down just enough to keep the rain out. It was a perfect place to wiggle back in feet first and watch a good thunder storm. I’ve even spent a few nights camped out in it.
   Another was an old cellar that hadn’t totally caved in. The only thing left of the original home place was a couple of walls. I cleaned out most of the caved in dirt from the inside and made a door out of limbs and brush. The good thing about that one was that it was cool in the summer and as long as I checked it out each time for snakes it made a nice place to take a break on hot summer days. The other good point was that there were still remnants of an old garden behind the house. I could find tomatoes and sometimes cucumbers and okra. One thing about Oklahoma is that there are lots of things to eat that grow wild but I would never pass up the chance for a few garden grown veggies to go along with whatever fish or game I could come up with.
   One of my favorite spots was a cave above the road on the way to the old Indian cemetery. It wasn’t a huge cave; actually it was more like a big over hand in a rock cliff near the top of a hill. There were only two ways of getting to it. One was to climb down from the top of the hill. As long as you were careful you could lower yourself down the cliff face and get your feet on a narrow ledge. If you kept flat against the cliff you could bring your hands down to a small crack in the rocks and kind of shuffle sideways until you were able to reach the ledge in front of the cave. That wasn’t a bad way to get there and I did it pretty often and only fell once. That time wasn’t too bad because it was only about thirty feet or so to the ground and some tree branches broke my fall anyway. The other way was from the bottom by climbing a big oak tree, shuffling out as far as I could get on the end of a branch and jumping over to grab the edge of the ledge. I fell a few times until I finally got the hang of that one.
    Once you were in the cave you had a nice flat bottom to sit on and admire the view. This was another good spot to watch the storms. There was enough of an overhang to keep the rain out as long as the wind wasn’t blowing too hard. I spent one stormy afternoon sitting up there and got to watch a tornado cross the valley to the north. That was the closest I’d ever seen one. It was also a great place for deer hunting because a well used trail crossed the hill side right below it. I spent many an hour laying up there and watching everything from squirrels to bobcats to deer pass by on that trail. The only live wolf I ever saw in Oklahoma was walking down that trail. I used to lay up there and wonder if any prehistoric hunters had ever lain in the same spot to watch for game. I never found any sign that anyone else had ever even in that spot but it was fun to dream.
   There was plenty of good fishing across the road in Salt Creek so I always kept hooks and line stored there. There was even a nice stand of cane not too far away so where I was able to cut a pole. I also stocked a couple of pots and a skillet there along with a few candles and a couple of blankets just in case I wanted to spend the night, which I did quite often.
   The nice thing about having all these hide outs was that it kept me from having to pack a lot of stuff with me when I went out prowling the woods. No matter where I went there was at least one spot within a couple of miles where I could hole up if I wanted and I tried to keep them stocked with whatever bits and pieces of camping gear I could find. I even learned to cook hanging out in these places. Well, I learned how to eat burnt or half raw food at least. Stanley and I had some good meals while we were out but it was mostly just dumb luck when they came out right. We do pretty well with fish by covering them with mud and burying them in the campfire coals. If you got them right you didn’t even need to scale them because you would pull off the skin when you broke the mud away. Stew wasn’t too bad; we’d through everything we could find in a pot and let it sit there bubbling away beside the fire until we got hungry and the good thing was you could always take a little bite to see if it was done.
   Stanley and I both lucked out by not being allergic to anything down home so one of our best hide outs was a camping spot in the middle of a huge patch of poison ivy. Most all the kids knew what that stuff looked like so we didn’t have to worry about too many people bothering us while we were in that one.
   I did make a small error with a hide out once. I had read in some book about Wikieups that some the Native Americans lived in and was forever trying to pile sticks together to make one. I found the perfect place to try again in a grove of persimmon trees. I came up with the great idea that instead of leaning a bunch of tree branches together I could bend the persimmon trees down and tie their tops together. I could make whatever size wikieup I wanted too by just picking out trees that were farther apart. The frame went really well. I had gathered up a bunch of baling wire from down where Charlie Condren feed his cows that I could use to tie the tops together. By bending the trees down, cutting off the tops and wiring what was left together I ended up with a frame that was about six feet across, roughly circular and about six feet tall at the highest point. That took me most of a day but I was pretty proud of it, now all I had to do was figure out a way to cover the sides. I thought about trying “wattle and dob”. I had read about that one also. It is the way people built houses in Europe and consisted of making a wooden frame and covering it with mud. I had to give up on that idea when I realized that the closest source of water was a tiny creek a couple of hundred yards away that I didn’t think had enough water to make mud. Plus I had only read about it and didn’t really have the faintest idea of how to do it and with the storms we had in Oklahoma I wasn’t sure mud walls would last past the first thunder storm. What I did do was stop by a couple of ponds of the way up there the next day and cut all the thin willow branches I could carry. I wove the branches horizontally around the frame then started gathering all the branches and tree tops I could find that had leaves and wove them vertically through the willow. It wasn’t a real pretty thing by the time I got done and I’m pretty sure no self respecting Native American would have invited me into their tribe based on my building skills but I was happy with it and couldn’t wait to spent the night there.
   I spent a few days laying up there for the next couple of weeks. I kept adding more leaves to it and found that it was a lot cooler just from being in out of the sun. I was beginning to think that the Natives had found a good house plan. I was finally able to spend the night in early May. It was a beautiful spring day when I left the house but by the time I got to the wikieup it was starting to could up in the west. I didn’t worry too much about it, I had a nice shelter with enough room to put a couple of blankets on one side and still have enough room to build a fire in the center. I had left a small opening at the top to allow smoke to escape and keep the air pretty clear. By the time I had gathered some wood and had a fire going there were some serious thunder heads building and it looked like they were coming my way. I was sitting inside trying to weave a seat that I could lean back in like I had seen in a movie when the storm finally got to me. I was really proud of what I had built at first because there was just a little rain and it was looking like I had managed to make the walls pretty water proof. The only rain that was getting was a tiny bit through the smoke hole which wasn’t enough to bother me. Next came the lighting and thunder and again I felt pretty good. It never even crossed my mind that I might be in danger from the lighting and thunder is just noise so I kept working on my seat. Then the real rain started! I found out pretty quick that in spite of all the leaves and branches I had added my wikieup definitely wasn’t one hundred percent water proof. I had to drag my blankets over to a different spot to keep them out of the rain. It was too late to do anything about the leaks, it was raining hard enough to have drowned me if I had tried to go out and add any more to the walls. I did have one spot that was still dry so I figured I’d be OK for that night at least. The one thing I had over looked about Oklahoma storms was the wind. When the first big gust hit and kind of moved the whole shelter to the left I didn’t get to worried about it, after all I had built the main frame out of persimmon trees with the roots still in the ground so I figured it would be strong enough to stand up to a little wind. The second gust got my attention because not only did it lean but I heard a kind of ripping noise and looked up to see that my smoke hole was about twice as big as it had been. It was raining a lot harder by then and that’s what gave me my first indication that I might be in for a rough night. There was a lot more rain coming in the smoke hole instead of falling in just one direction it seemed to be moving around the hole and falling in different areas. I figured that meant the wind was swirling around outside but I was scared to stick my head outside and check. The storm was really close by then, I tried to count the seconds from the flash of lighting until I heard the thunder and only made it to one. The thunder was so loud it hurt my ears and I was sure I heard lighting strike close to me. I scooted over as close to the wall as I could get and pulled my blanket over me trying to stay out o f the rain. By now the wind was blowing hard and steady and taking more of the branches off the shelter. My fire had blown out and there was no way I could stay out of the rain as more and more of the walls disappeared. I lay down next to the wall, pulled my blanket over my head and waited for it to end. I don’t know how long I lay there before the storm moved away. Me and everything inside was soaked through by the time the thunder had calmed down enough for me to hear again and when I peeked out from under my blanket my wikieup, which I had worked so hard on was gone. The only thing left was the frame and a ragged wall a couple of feet high. The rest of that night was just a little in the miserable side if I do say so. I managed to get another fire going and was able to dry out enough wood to last until daylight. The rain continued to fall the rest of the night which left me as a huddled mess, under my blankets hugging the fire. I used to really enjoy the storms down home but that night I think I got a little more involved with nature than I really wanted to.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Just a Little Walk

   Thinking back on it there was a time when it just killed both Stanley and me to walk to the store or to even take the garbage out (kind of my kids) yet when we decided to do something we wanted to do like go hunting or down to the river to go fishing it didn’t bother either of us to was ten miles. Strange how that works. After Stanley had moved to Schulter he came down to the house one day and got to listen to me complaining about having to go out and gather eggs. It was hard you know! I would have had to walk at least fifty feet, one way! Plus, go through all the nests and gather the eggs and then walk all the way back to the house. With a lot of grumbling and Stanley’s help I did get it done. I had too or Grandma wouldn’t have let us go wonder around.

   We walked down to the rail road tracks close to the house to see if we could find any black berries. We didn’t see any so we just started walking up the tracks toward Okmulgee. We weren’t really going anywhere, it was just one of those lazy Oklahoma days and we wanted to be out of the house and away from anyone that think up some work for us to do.

   We were wondering along lacking away about nothing when Stanley saw a rabbit on the tracks ahead of us. We weren’t hunting that day so the only thing we could do was throw some rocks at it. Stanley was pretty sure he had hit it, although it looked to me like he had missed it by a mile but since he was sure we went running up to see if we could find it. No sign of it when we got there so we kept walking up the tracks arguing about whether he had hit it or not. The next thing we knew we were at Salt Creek so of course we had to go down under the bridge and see if there were any snakes or fish down there. The only thing we found was one little bitty water snake, it wasn’t even a cottonmouth so we climbed back to the tracks and kept going the same way.

   We wondered along admiring all the neat cars that were in Hunters junkyard which got us to talking about cars. That lasted us for a while but since neither of us had a car we lost interest and went back to looking for rabbits or snakes.

   The next interesting thing we came to was the rail road over Deepfork River. We were a little worried about crossing that; we didn’t want to meet a train halfway across. We finally built up enough nerve to go for it (truth be known we dared each other to cross it and since neither of us wanted to look like a chicken in front of the other, away we went). Once we got to the middle and hadn’t seen any trains or curiosity kicked in, we should have remembered what happens to cats when that kicks in but we didn’t. We just had to see if we could climb down that bridge all the way to the river. It wasn’t all that easy to climb down but it wasn’t all that easy either. We weren’t able to get all the way to the water because neither of us bothered to notice that the bottom beams was a good ten foot above the water but at least we made it to that beam. Once we at the bottom we just had to see if we could walk across the beams. Did we even think about the fact we were walking across eight inch beam ten feet above a river? What do you think? Here’s where our superior intelligence really kicked in. We walked those beams across the rest of the river and then turned around and walked them back to the middle where we decide to climb back up. If we would have had a little common since instead of intelligence we might have thought to just get off the bridge at the bank and walk up to the tracks, but no, we had to climb back up at the same place we had climbed down. Getting back up was quite a bit harder than going down but we were making it. We were up to the last beam and all we had to do was pull ourselves up to the track when Stanley said he thought he could feel the bridge shaking. We both looked down the track and sure enough we had found the train. I don’t know if any of you have ever held onto a wooden bridge post and had a train go by you about three feet over your head so I will tell you, it gets a little tense and very noisy. I never knew how much a bridge moves when a train is going across it and I do believe that having felt it once that was more than enough for me.

   After the train was gone and we were able to finally turn lose of the posts and get ourselves back up on the track we decided that since we were this far we might as well wonder on up to where an old factory had been. That place wasn’t very far from the tracks and we had always wondered what it had been. About the only thing left were a few foundations and this giant smoke stack. I don’t know for sure how tall that stack was but it must have been at least a couple of hundred feet. It was made from red brick and we thought it was pretty cool. We had to fight our way through the weeds and briers to get over to it but we finally made it. That was the first time either of us had ever seen it up close and I can tell you, it looked a lot taller when you’re standing at the bottom looking up. There was a big arched opening about thirty feet up where we figure whatever kind of furnace there had been must have hooked to it. We walked all the way around it just checking it out and when we got to a point where we were under the opening Stanley noticed that there were iron rungs in the side of it going up to the arch. How could we pass that up? There might as well have been a huge sign hanging there that said “Dumb boys climb here” We didn’t even think twice about it. The only reason Stanley beat me to the opening was because he jumped on the rungs first and they were only wide enough for one person at a time. After we got up to the opening and climbed inside we were congratulating each other on the fact that the rungs were all solid and hadn’t rusted through. We probably should have thought of that at the bottom.

   We had a really good view from the opening even though we were standing on a narrow ledge of brick and had to hang onto the side. I turned to look inside while Stanley was still admiring the country side and low and behold there were more rungs on the inside and they were heading toward the top. I grabbed a hold of one and shouted at Stanley to come on! Did Stanley say wait or are you sure this is safe or maybe we shouldn’t do this? Of course not. He did bitch at me most of the way up for getting ahead of him though and it was a long climb. Like I said, I’ not sure how high that stack was but once you get to the top and climb out and sit on that top edge it is a breath taking view!

   After enjoying the view for awhile we climbed back down and headed back over to the tracks. We weren’t sure what to do next but since we could see downtown Okmulgee from the top of the stack we figured we had to be close so we just kept wondering that way. Every time we had gone to Okmulgee before it had always been on the highway so we were getting a totally different look at things by being on the tracks. We weren’t walking very fast so I’m not sure how long it took us to get to the point where we realized we were at the main street of town and since we were that close we might as well go check it out. Downtown Okmulgee is pretty neat. We wondered around the courthouse square for awhile checking out all the stores and scheming on how we could get a few of the squirrels that were running all over the place. We stopped and checked out the radio station and were listening to the music from the speaker outside. Stanley came up with a rubber ball from somewhere. We could see the DJ on the other side of the window and Stanley was bouncing his ball on the sidewalk. I had no idea what he was doing until the DJ announced over the speaker that some crazy kid was bouncing his ball outside so he figure he wanted to hear Red Rubber Ball and started playing it. Stanley was pretty tickled with himself over that one.

   It was getting pretty late in the evening by then and we decided we’d better get headed back home. We hadn’t even thought of the time or how far we were from home or how long it was going to take us to get there. We ended up walking back to the highway and all the way to the edge of town when Toy Stidman happen to come driving by and offered us a ride which by then we were more than happy to take.

   This wasn’t an overly exciting day just kind of normal for us back then. I just wanted to point out that hear was two kids that whined and acted put upon when we were asked to walk a few steps to do some work around the house yet with no real plan, destination or thoughts in our little pea brains we walked the nine miles to downtown Okmulgee and three miles back to the edge of town plus all the side trips and never thought a thing about it.

Coal Mine Frogs

   There are a lot of old coal mines down home. There were at least ten that were within walking distance of the house and Stanley and I have been in all of them (nobody ever accused us of being real smart). One of the bigger was the Starr. I remember my dad and Lloyd Stidman hauling props to that mine when I was a kid (props were the timbers they used to “prop” up the mine. I even remember when they shut it down because my uncles had the job of tearing all the building down, but the main thing I remember about it was the frogs.

   There was a huge concrete pit down there. I have no idea what they used it for. It must have been twenty to thirty feet long, twenty feet wide and ten feet deep. There was a road along one side of it and on the opposite side of that road was a concrete tunnel that sloped down to the bottom of it. I might have been something they use to load coal out of; all I knew was that there was water in the bottom of it. Having water in the bottom of a big pit wasn’t anything out of the ordinary down home but the one thing that was is the number of bullfrogs that lived in this one.

   There were a lot of weeds growing in the water at the bottom plus lots of junk laying on the bottom for them to sit on. It must have had some really good frog food down there because I could stand at the top and see a couple of dozen frogs down there including three really big ones. One thing we really liked eating back then was frog legs and as soon as I saw those big ones it became my goal in life to take them home to dinner!

   The first time I saw them was when I was out helping Jimmy Lee set mouse traps (live traps that is. We would catch mice on one side of the valley, Jimmy Lee would tag them and we’d take them to the other side of the valley and turn them loose. He was checking to see if they could find their way home.) Anyway, that first time we didn’t have any way of catching those frogs. We tried going down the ramp and trying to sneak up on them but we couldn’t get close enough grab them before they jumped in the water and took off. The water was too deep with too much junk in it to be able to wade out in and try to catch them that way so we had to write them off that day but I just couldn’t get them out of my mind.

   I headed back up there a couple of days later figuring for sure I’d be able to catch them. I had found an old frog gig in my uncles tool shed and I knew where a grove of sassafras trees were where I would be able to cut a nice straight pole for it. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of gigging frogs, a gig looks like a little pitch fork with either three of four tines on it. The tines are really sharp and each has a bard on it so when you stab a frog with it they can’t get away. I cut a nice straight sassafras tree about eight foot long and shoved the gig on the end of it then hiked up to the pit.

   All three of the biggest ones were sitting at the end of the ramp when I got there so I tried sneaking down close enough to stab one of them but again they all jumped in the water before I could get close enough. I went back out of the ramp and over to the edge so I could see where they were. Since the water was nice and clear and there was a lot of mud on the bottom you could see where the frogs had gone from the top. Most of the time when you scare a frog into the water they will dive to the bottom and try to hide in the weeds so all you have to do is look for where the mud is stirred up. Two of them were out in the middle with no way for me to get to them but the other was hanging on a piece of junk right up against the wall.

    I stepped away for the wall so he couldn’t see me and ran around to the end where he was. I got down on my hands and knees, snuck up to the edge and peeked over. He was still there, directly below me. I eased my gig over the wall and lowered it down to see if I could hit him. He was in a good spot just hanging onto that junk with my gig hanging right above him. The problem was that my pole wasn’t long enough to reach him. I could drop the gig and stand a good chance of stabbing him but then I would be able to get out without wading out in the water. Jimmy Lee had told me not to be wading around in that water because of all the junk in it and if I got cut the might be chemicals in there that could make you sick so I was a little hesitant about getting in it (I should have asked him that if it can make you sick how come the frogs can live it with no trouble).

   I pulled my gig back up, trying hard not to scare the frog away and went running all over the place trying to find some rope or something I could use to tie to the gig so I could pull it back out of the pit. Most of the time you could always find something you could use around an old mine site, either a piece of old rope of some bailing wire or something but this time I didn’t find a single thing. I kept checking back every time I came close to that pit and the frog was still in the same spot. I even think he was smiling because he knew there was no way I was going to be able to get him.

   I finally gave up on finding anything I could use on the gig but I wasn’t about to give up on that frog! I thought long and hard (about five seconds) and came up with a plan. If I could hang my gig down over the top of him like I did the first time, I figured I should be able to hang onto the wall with one hand and one leg. I could reach a lot farther down that way and still be able to hang onto the gig. Then all I had to do was stab straight down, get the frog and still have a hold of the gig. Sounded like a great plan to me.

   I crawled back up to the spot and eased my head over the edge. Yep, he was still in the same spot. I eased the gig over the edge and let it slide down through my hand until it was right over the top of him. I only had a hold of the very end of the pole and I was still about three feet above him. I eased myself up on the edge and slowly leaned down as far as I could. Still a couple of feet to go. I hooked one leg over the edge and slide the other one down the wall. Just one more foot. I got a good grip on the edge of the wall with my one hand and slide my body over the edge. Finally I was close enough to stab straight down and I knew there was no way that frog was going to get away now! I raised my arm up just a little and stabbed straight down at his back! I got him! I just had one minor problem.

   Remember the pole I had made for my gig was from a nice, straight sassafras tree? They make really good poles, but since I had peeled the bark off this one they are a little slick. I was only holding the very end of this pole when I stabbed down at the frog and with it being a little slick and me a little excited I dropped it. Of course it started to fall over and being the quick thinker I was, I tried to grab it. As my hand slipped off the top of the wall I had time to realize my mistake before I hit the water. I lucked out in several ways after that. For one thing the water was a good three foot deep and it was full of chemicals that were going to cook me. Also even though there was a lot of junk in that pit, there wasn’t any where I hit.

   I managed to grab my gig and stumble over to the bottom of the ramp and get my breath back. I did have the frog and he was a nice big one. After I calmed down a bit I figure since I was already soaked and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the water I might as well try to wade around in it and see if I could catch a couple more. No luck on that part. There was so much mud on the bottom that after I waded around for a couple of minutes you could see a thing. I had to give it up and head home with just the one. At least the weather was nice and hot and I didn’t have to explain coming home soaked.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Free Kindle

If you buy any Solstice Publishing book from their site between now and December 24th, 2011, your email address will be entered into a draw to win a Kindle E-reader! If you purchase a Solstice Book from another site, you can still be eligible by emailing the receipt to solsticepublishing@live.com.




The winner’s name will be drawn on December 25, 2011, and they will have two weeks to claim their prize.



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