… continued from “The Middle”
Before he headed to the Range Rover with another third of my hand tools, Gunther gave me a list of things to prepare in the next day and a half. He said he wasn’t “taking no wussy” on a hunt like this. If I didn’t have everything up to snuff when he showed up on Saturday, he’d go alone.
The first thing I had to do was get my hands on the appropriate armament. Gunther said that was the .177 air rifle, preferably scoped to help out my “old guy’s” 30-year-old eyes. Luckily, a friend at work had such a gun. A lengthy range session in the basement on Saturday left me with a blistered pumping hand. But by the time Gunther showed up, I could keep a five-shot group in the kill area of a charging rabbit silhouette at 25 feet.
Since I had also acquired the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bubblegum cards required to pay the two 7-year-old assistant bwanas Gunther had hired, the hunt was on! The small hairs on the back of my neck tingled whenever I thought about it.
As the sun sank behind the billboard on the highway, Gunther and his assistants prepared for the hunt. They went to my garden and plucked the juiciest carrot they could find from its row and … ate it. A half dozen more met the same fate; they said it had something to do with “becoming one with the game.”
Then they picked a half-rotted carrot off the compost heap and figured it would be good enough to use for bait. Gunther leaned it up against a garden fence post and plugged it a couple of times with his own one-seven-seven to “get the juices flowing.” I wasn’t sure if he meant the carrot’s or his.
From his camouflage day pack he produced a suspiciously familiar looking length of wire and used it to hang the bait from a rail on the fence at the edge of the garden. In the meantime, his cohorts constructed a makeshift blind around the chaise lounge on my back deck. The used boughs from a hedge of Colorado spruce that had been part of a $5,000 landscaping project I had just finished to make my wife happy.
From the bait to the blind on the deck, Gunther carefully paced off the distance. “Thirty-four feet,” he said with a grimace on his face. “That’s farther than I like to let first-timers shoot, but it’ll just have to do. Remember, it’s nine feet farther than you practiced. You’ll get some drop.”
My nerves tingled. Now this was exciting. This was a hunt I’d be able to brag about.
To be continued …