Squirrel season opens in Louisiana Oct 1st. Man I can’t wait! The wizards in the hunting magazines advise us to look for plenty of squirrel "signs" like "cuttings" from acorns to find an area with a good population of squirrels.
What a crock.. To find plenty of squirrels you look for "signs" alright, but ones that say things like "Welcome to Yo-Yo-ville Louisiana. Pop. 17,583. Voted cleanest city in Louisiana in 1956″ Etc. Basically, any signs that indicate you’re in an area thick with humans means you’re in an area thick with tree rats.
Sadly, to hunt squirrels you’re forced to travel away from these places, to areas with very, very few squirrels, which is to say to "wilderness" areas outside city limits. Which brings me to my point.
Many animals do better with man’s manipulation of the "environment" than with the "pristine" version Goddess Gaia provides. These animals will be along for the long run. Hate to break the news to you greenies, but we’re the head honchos on this earth and if animals adapt to OUR manipulation of the earth they’ll be around. Indeed they’ll proliferate. Others like the Klamath basin suckerfish — bye-bye.
Take deer and squirrels and coyotes and racoons and Mallards and Canada Geese and Snow and Blue Geese. All these animals benefit from man’s manipulation of the earth though we did it selfishly for OUR welfare — not theirs. Their populations have EXPLODED in the past 20 years.
We build subdivisions and squirrels and other critters love them. "The hell with fishing all night in that creek!" say the racoons. " Domino’s Pizza and Spaghetti-O’s beat hell outta some scrawny crawfish or frog!" That buffet in our garbage cans tops Gaia’s by a mile.
We log woodlands in order to provide the materials for that subdivision, and deer gorge and fatten on the resulting buffet of browse. Then those fat does start popping out twins every year. We plant millions of acres of corn and wheat and soybean, and the geese and deer leave us a little each year to make Cheetos and Pop-Tarts. We build golf courses and the damn Canadian Geese and Mallards occasionally let us use them..
Worse, they snicker at us as we drive past them on the way home from a hunt out in "wilderness wetlands" where we didn’t see a damn ONE! And we froze to death!…It’s damn tempting sometimes, I tell ya….. I restrained Pelayo just in time one day last season. A huge flock of Canada Geese had stopped traffic while they traipsed across the street near a pond around city "greenspace."
Our lips trembled and pulse pounded as we watched the procession. And they were taking their time about it too.They were rubbing it in. We’d tromped through malodorous slop to a duck blind in a distant marsh that morning then shivered for three hours without popping a cap — without seeing a one in shotgun range! Now Pelayo, eyes wild, lips and hands trembling in rage, was reaching for the shells.
"Look at em ALL!" He gasped." I can’t stand it. I just….can’t!…."
"Get a grip man!" As I shook his shoulders. "Take a deep breath..there. We’ll get some down on the lease tomorrow. Don’t worry. I know a hot-spot!"
"Okay-Okay." He stammered. " Sorry. I don’t know what came over me." And he put the shells away and covered his face as he broke into sobs.
Then we drill for offshore oil and the sharks and snapper and grouper and jacks find the huge steel structures ten times better habitat than Ms Gaia’s pathetic coral reefs. (See Helldiver’s Rodeo.)
Hunters know animals aren’t half as stupid or helpless as PETA thinks. "Wanna stop feeling sorry for animals?" I always bark at my wife’s greenie friends when they’re over slurping up my Gumbo. "Then HUNT THEM! That’ll cure ya in a week, believe me!" Yes, I admire these resourceful critters– I admire them in a spicy Sauce Piquante or Gumbo even more.
And by the way, "Wildlife management" has nothing to do with any of these animals success stories. Oh, I always get in trouble with my hunting chums when I start slamming government wildlife management. But look, state and federal game departments are nothing but government welfare agencies(with the attendant parasitic bureaucracies) for animals. Turns out, most animals proliferate very well on their own thank you — the ones worth having around that is. Others do ten times better under private game management.
A Blackbuck is a little antelope once common in India which a few Texas ranchers brought over to stock on their land back in the 1960s. At one point in the 70s Texas had more of them than India. Indian wildlife wizards actually asked for a few back to restock their own herds! Why? Because the creatures had more value in Texas than in India. American hunters payed through the nose for a chance to whack one. So those ranchers made sure they always had a bunch in stock. In India they were "protected," which is to say worthless.
Too often outdoor magazines serve as press agencies for state and federal wildlife "managers." They’re always patting themselves on the back and playing up the glories and success stories of "wildlife management" in this country. "There’s more deer now than when Columbus landed blah, blah, blah…..look at Geese populations blah, blah, blah…"
They’re right about the animal populations but wrong to take the credit. These resourceful animals simply benefitted from our manipulation of habitat for OUR welfare without giving them a second thought, and without a single government "wildlife manager" in sight,. Call it an "invisible hand" for wildlife. Call it "the law of unintended consequences." Whatever. It works. Agricultural practices created a bounty for geese and deer, logging practices even more for deer.
Look, most "wildlife managers" are government employees like any other. And some are good friends of mine. So I’ll give you PJ O’ Rourke from Parliament of Whores and leave it at that. "When it’s better for enthusiastic and ambitious professionals to go to work for a country’s government than it is for them to go to work, the country is in trouble."
Squirrels just love my neighborhood and especially my wife’s bird feeder…And I just love to open my bathroom window poke my pellet rifle—ooops! Except around New Years and Fourth of July when the neighbors think the blast from my son’s 410 is actually from firewo — ooops!… Hey, squirrel Sauce Picante tastes just as good with backyard squirrels. And after thinning out the squirrels there’s plenty other tasty stuff at that feeder.
I always tell Shirley it’s "some doves from last season I found in the freezer." Works every time……Hey, think about it. Why should a dove have a hunting season? But a plump, succulent Robin get off scot free? Sounds discriminatory to me. No true egalitarian should stand for that. Around my house all birds are regarded as equal without consideration of feather color or accent. A good spicy Gumbo equalizes them.
So anyway, last opening day found me and my two boys in a swamp properly designated for squirrel hunting. Naturally we hadn’t seen any…..
Then suddenly there he was. With this hot weather I knew it wouldn’t be long. Look in the dictionary under hideous and you’ll see him. Turn to ugly, vile, dangerous, evil, fiendish, treacherous and you’ll stare point-blank into it’s ugly mug, like us right now; those cruel hooded eyes and mouth set in perpetual scowl, like a feminist. Though herpetologists agree that Cottonmouths enjoy a robust sex-life.
This was a HUGE one.You could barely make out the markings on his thick bulk. He was as big around as a bike tire(not, not those skinny wimpy tires on those 100 gear contraptions the greenies ride on their "bike paths," with their spandex get-up and helmets and such. I mean like the big, thick tires on my old Schwinn banana bike circa 1968. Now THERE was a bike!) The snake was a solid chocolate color but dark, more like a Hershey’s semi-sweet than a Nestle’s Crunch.
Worse, we were ascending a little gully and so the coiled creature was almost at Robbie’s face level, amidst some exposed roots that perfectly mimicked his shape and color.. Only his white gaping mouth with the erect fangs gave him away. He even shook his tail-tip like a rattler wannabe..
"Don’t move!" I gasped and grabbed Robbie arm in a vice grip. For once in his life he obeyed, because he saw it the same instant. Mikey who was bringing up the rear bumped into Robbie.
"WHOAAAAH!" He gasped. While stumbling back.
I could add more drama to this setting by saying the deadly serpent was barely 2 feet away, within easy striking distance. That we were afraid to blink, to even breathe lest we trigger a strike, whereupon the inch-long fangs would jab my jugular like twin hypodermic needles powered by lightning.
The deadly poison would reach my heart in seconds. Only time for a few words as the boys gather around me. Mikey cradles my head in his lap as Robbie grips my hand.
"Guys," I rasp weakly. "Tell Mom it was over quick. Tell her I barely suffered. Tell her I love her and the credit card I hid from her last week is under the magazines under the mattress. But tell her those magazines aren’t really mine. I was keeping them there for Uncle Pelayo and Mr Artie.. And tell her that receipt for the Gold Club in my pants on the floor was a business meeting. Tell her I hated every minute of it, but those degenerates I work with forced me.
"And Mikey — cough, cough, cough…the..the shotgun’s yours along with the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Beatles CDs."
"Robbie — gurgle, gurgle, hack-hack — you get the speargun, bow, deerstand and Hendrix discs. Tell your sister that as a parting gift she can punch another hole in her earlobe — but NOT — cough,cough,hack! — NOT in her navel! And no TATOO! Tell her over my dead body — no wait, not a good choice of words
"Anyway guys, promise me you’ll be good..and….cough-cough…"
"Dad, do I still have to mow the lawn tomorrow…It’s not even high, geezum! And it’s Mikey’s turn anyway it…."
"It IS NOT! I mowed IT LAST!…"
….A ghastly vision. But the Cottonmouth was actually about 8 feet away and we were safe. And I suppose I could heed lanky chicks with frizzy hair, wire-rimmed glasses, no make-up, Birkenstocks and downy underarms, or guys with pony tails, baggy shorts, Doc Martens and blond beards flecked with granola crumbs who say: "That snake has as much right to his turf as we do. He has a place in nature’s delicate balance….blah, blah…"
Instead I unsheathed my hunting knife. "Okay guys!" I yelled and raised my arm. "READY!"
"ALRIGHT!" They yelled while shouldering their shotguns. "Hey dad, shouldn’t we offer him a blindfold and cigarette?"
"Any last requests, Mr Moccassin?…No? OK! Ready!..Aim!– FIRE!!!"
BLAAMMM!!! a geyser of mud , leaves and pureed Moccassin head."Well guys" I beamed as they rushed over to inspect the carnage..
"Hey look, he’s still moving!"
That’s his nerves, guys.
"Hey! Where’s his head?"
Yes according to the wildlife wizards on Discovery Channel, nature’s a little less "balanced" now. But we’ll sure feel safer stumbling around here in the dark. And that cured Cottonmouth hide made a dynamite decoration for their room, right above a maniacal Ozzy Osbourne….Been there, done that. I had one myself at their age, right above Alice Cooper.
Put that in your Animal Planet pipe and smoke it.