3D Hunting Techniques for Beginners
July 13, 2007
I helped my wife kill a bunny. I beat it to death with rocks. Except it was still moving, so I stepped on it to finish it off. It disgusts me to write this. How much more must it appall you to read this about your beloved Randoms. Some day Random Granddaughter will read this about her beloved grandparents. “Grandma and Grandpa were bunny killers,” she will sob. “They killed cute, fuzzy little bunnies.”
On the other hand, she may brag to her school mates, “Well, maybe Quentin Tarrentino was your grandpa, but Random, the great bunny killer, was MY grandpa, so there.”
A few days later, Mrs. Random killed a bunny all by herself. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.” In truth, neither of us is very deadly, but Mrs. Random is deadlier than I.
A few days later, we spotted another small bunny in the garden. After a day of lazy delay, we both set out to murder the bunny.
The raspberry bushes are tall, lush and full. They are now bearing raspberries so abundantly that Mrs. Random has relented from her selfish intent of not sharing raspberries with her granddaughter (even though it is undeniably true that said little girl is, in fact, a little raspberry piggy).
The boysenberries have not ripened yet, but the berries are beginning to show color. The bushes (not quite as abundant and jungle-like as the raspberry bushes) are still producing splendid foliage.
The bunny hid under the raspberry bushes. Mrs. Random appointed herself as the “beater” to flush the bunny out of the bushes. She attached a nozzle to the garden hose. She grabbed a long stick. She alternated spraying under the raspberry bushes and poking under the bushes. Like a general positioning her forces, she instructed me where to stand and what to do.
“Stand over there,” she said. “No, not over there. Over here! Grab some rocks. When the bunny comes out, chase it to the back of the garden. Then I’ll join you and we’ll kill it.”
The bunny ran out from under the raspberry bushes.
The bunny ran under the boysenberry bushes.
Mrs. Random sprayed and poked under the boysenberry bushes. The bunny ran out. We chased the bunny to the back of the yard and tried to trap it against the fence. We threw rocks at the bunny. Mrs. Random throws like a girl. (A left-handed girl.) When I played Little League baseball as a boy, I did not throw well. (Nor catch well. Nor run well. Nor hit well.) As a little boy, I was terrible at sports. I did not hit the bunny either.
The bunny escaped back to the raspberry bushes.
We repeated this scenario half a dozen times.
“We are not getting anywhere with this,” I said. “We are just wasting time.”
Mrs. Random accused me, with some forcefulness of being a “quitter.” Although the bunny seemed perfectly safe, our marriage was in danger.
“I think we should call the Friendly Neighbor and ask him to bring his air rifle,” I said. Mrs. Random looked disgusted.
“Go ahead,” she said in a disapproving tone. “I’m going in the house.”
I went in the house also. I called the Friendly Neighbors. Mrs. FN answered. I explained our predicament. “I’ll send FN over,” she responded in her usual friendly tone.
A few minutes later Mr. FN walked down the driveway carrying his air rifle. We went into the garden. He admired the raspberry bushes where the bunny was hiding once again. “Your raspberry bushes look splendid,” he said. He always says gracious things to us about our garden, though the Friendly Neighbors’ garden is much more splendid than ours.
I flushed the bunny using Mrs. Random’s well proven “game beating” technique. It ran to the back of the garden.
“I see it,” said the friendly neighbor. He was about 20 yards away. He aimed his air rifle. He waited for the bunny to pause for a second. He sighted carefully. He pulled the trigger. The bunny jerked and fell over. It was still moving. After all, it had only been struck by a pellet, not a bullet.
Mr. Friendly Neighbor walked over in a deliberate manner. He lifted his boot and stamped the twitching bunny. He had to stamp it several times.
I had joined him. He looked at my face. Perhaps he thought I looked distressed at his callous bunny stomping actions. He explained in a kindly manner, “It’s just reflexive twitching. It was already dead.”
I understood. I had stamped a bunny only a few days earlier.
He said, “You have gloves on. Why don’t you toss it outside the garden for the coyotes to eat?”
I tossed the bunny. We haven’t heard any coyotes for several months. But we have lots of crows. I’m sure they will not turn up their noses—well, beaks—at recently deceased bunny. We did not think about eating the bunny ourselves. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pa Ingalls and Ma Ingalls would have eaten the bunny, and eaten the squirrels and the chipmunks as well, in a flash and would have been glad to get the meat.
“I need to buy an air rifle,” I said.
He demonstrated the air rifle to me. He showed how to load a pellet. “You want pellets, not BBs,” he said. “We tried BBs. They don’t even penetrate cardboard. You want something that will penetrate a bunny.”
“How does it get the air pressure to shoot the pellet?” I asked. I am as naïve as it gets in regard to weapons.
“Actually, there are three types of air guns,” he explained.
“There are ones you have to pump about forty times to get enough pressure. You probably don’t want that,” he said.
I agreed. I could imagine the bunny rolling around in paroxysms of laughter as I frantically pumped.
“There are compressed air cartridges you can get, but that gets expensive,” he said. “This rifle actually uses a spring. You ‘break’ the barrel open to load the pellet. Then when you close the barrel again, it compresses the spring and the rifle is ready to fire the pellet. However, when you cock it, it automatically engages a safety. So you have to release the safety before you fire.
“So this isn’t really an ‘air rifle’; it’s a ‘spring rifle’” I said. He nodded gravely. He is always patient and gracious with me when I say the things that reveal I never learned most of the things that “real men” learned as little boys, because I was in the library reading books instead of in the woods hunting deer (or at least bunnies) while the real boys were with their daddies learning to hunt and kill.
He handed me the air rifle so I could shoot it. “Aim at a post instead of a rock, so it won’t ricochet,” he instructed. He is always very safety conscious, as is appropriate for someone who used to work for the Boy Scouts.
“This is a good air rifle,” he said. He explained how it had a good scope. He explained how he had carefully “sighted” the scope. He explained how this “air rifle” was more powerful than many others, and how this feature is important because a shooter needs enough power so the pellet doesn’t “drop” too much as it travels toward the game. “We used three different air rifles before we got this one. None of the others was powerful enough to do the job,” he explained.
“Where did you buy this one?” I asked.
He looked a little embarrassed. “It was given to me,” he said. He explained that a company that wanted to sell equipment to the boy scouts had given him the rifle.
I suppose he worried that I thought he might have been susceptible to “payola.” I know he is a very scrupulous and ethical person, and I had no such thoughts.
We went up to the house. Mrs. Random came out with a pint container of raspberries she had just picked that morning before we had begun bunny hunting. She offered it to him to take home to share with his wife as appreciation for helping us.
He ate a raspberry. He said, “I will come hunt your rabbits any time for some of these,” he said. He explained the air rifle to Mrs. Random, who asked many penetrating questions.
“It only holds one pellet at a time?” she asked. “I thought one could load many pellets.”
“No, it’s not like a machine gun. You have to reload it after each shot,” he explained.
I thought about how the pioneers had muskets that only fired one bullet at a time.
“There are two big sporting goods stores near where I work,” I said. I will stop in at them tomorrow and see what they have. Surely they have suitable air rifles. In fact, I looked at an advertisement yesterday from ‘Big Five,’ stores, and they have an air rifle on sale. I showed him the ad.
“That might do,” he said. “You should have an idea of what to look for, now.”
He took his raspberries home.
Earnest Hemingway wrote stories and books about hunting. Hemingway I am not.
I’ve thought about trying to sell stories about my granddaughter to parenting magazines. David encouraged me to do so. I’ve looked at some of the magazines, but nothing has clicked so far. I admit I’ve not pursued this very energetically.
Now, I suppose I might consider writing for a hunting or outdoors magazine. This seems even less promising, to tell the truth. I just can’t visualize, “Hunting Small Bunnies in your Garden with an Air Rifle” as a featured article on the cover of Field and Track magazine.