story by Frank Hughes
Now here I am tell’n ya somethin interest’n. Well, maybe not so interest’n, but gareentee’d ta be pack’d plum full of stuff ya prob’ly hadn’t ought ta do … if’n you are in your right mind!
Thanksgiv’n … Now don’t that there word bring up some real fine memories. Lord have mercy, I can smell that big ol fat bird right here and now, and dress’n with turkey gravy … Oh Lord! I’m here ta tell ya it don’t get no better. But what I need ta tell you all about is a Thanksgiv’n tradition. You see my Uncle Clayton’s family had a real fine tradition that happen’d every Thanksgiv’n. Rabbit Hunt’n! After everybody fill’d up ta the gills with turkey and dress’n and had a piece or five of punkin pie, it was time ta grab a gun and head for the woods.
Now I know most folks would rather take a little nap or watch one of them football’n games … kind of take it easy for a spell, but not Uncle Clayton … Heckfire it was time ta go out and kill somethin! I’m here ta tell ya right now that Uncle Clayton and Aunt Mildred never spent much time watch’n none of them telleyvision shows. They was too busy hav’n kids! I lost count at seven or nine. Shootfire some of their oldest kids had kids almost as old as me! Now Uncle Clayton liv’d out in the country a ways. So ya see if’n they wanted ta do a little hunt’n all they had ta do was step off the back porch.
Uncle Clayton had three boys about my age, Jerry, Frank and Bub. I didn’t know Bub had any other name till I was purt near grown. But I found out later his real handle was Clinton. But ta tell ya the truth … I liked the name Bub … and I think Bub did too! Now right here and now I needs ta tell ya somethin impotent. Bub was a full grown big ol boy … ! A shade over six feet tall and weigh’d in at a good two hundred and fifty pounds of rawbon’d country fella. If’n ya think real hard and try ta imagine what a close shav’d gorilla would look like, well ya just seen Bub! I’m tell’n ya right now that if you was in a real knock down, dirty, beat’n your brains out fight … you want’d Bub on your side! Bub never knew what hurt’n was! Bub was tough as a key of nails and just about as smart!
Bub was a life time member of the dumb row in school, just like me. They sat us at the back of the room so’s we didn’t bother too many of the regular kids. I think they was afraid some of our brain cells might run out our ears and contaminate the rest of the class!
Well here we all go … everyone grabb’n guns and load’n shotgun shells. But I had one little problem … I never had no shoot’n gun! When I decid’d ta go out to their house I never thought about bring’n my shotgun. Uncle Clayton smiles real big at me and says, “That ain’t noth’n to be aworry’n about, I got a good ol shotgun you can borrow.” Heckfire, I was as tickl’d as a cur dog at hog cutt’n time! Uncle Clayton reaches out and hands me the biggest gun I ever laid my poor eyeballs on. This thing was as long as I was and must have weigh’d near twenty pounds. Uncle Clayton says it was his granddaddy’s ol goose gun. He hands me five shoot’n shells, and them things was durn near big as my hand. The barrel on that shotgun was large enough ta lose a good sized cat in! Uncle Clayton says it’s a 10 gauge.
I did notice that when I shook it … it rattle’d a might! But off we all go, ready ta do some shoot’n. Bub has his 410 shotgun prim’d ta do some damage on a few cottontails. But let me tell ya right here … .Bub ain’t no Wild Bill Hiccup. He couldn’t hit a cow in the butt with a bass fiddle. Later on Bub join’d the Marines, and guess what they put him ta doin … that’s right, he was in a rifle squad. I never did figger that one out! Frank and Jerry was the stompers … !
I know, I know … you all is wonder’n what a stomper is. Ya see the way we hunt’d rabbits if’n we didn’t have no rabbit dogs was ta find a good ol brushpile or briar patch and Frank and Jerry would stomp the brush and briars till they scar’d up a rabbit or two. They was both too young at the time ta do no shoot’n … but they was world champeen stompers! Big feet seem’d ta run in the family!
Uncle Clayton is on the right, Bub is in the middle and I’m guard’n the left side. Frank and Jerry is stomp’n a big ol brushpile real good and up jumps a rabbit and heads lickidysplit between Bub and me. Bub cuts loose with his 410 shoot’n gun and misses the rabbit by a good five feet. My blood is runn’n high and I pull up the ol granddaddy’s goose gun and let er rip … ..! KABOOOOOOOMMMmmm … .! I never knew what hit me!
When I come to my senses … I was lay’n on the ground, flat on my back. My poor ears was ring’n and I figger’d I was deef for the rest of my life! My right hand was numb and tingl’n. I look’d at my hand and I had the butt of the shoot’n gun still in my hand, but that’s all I had. The 10 gauge’s barrel was behind me and split in two towards the work’n end, and it’s still smok’n! The wood forearm stock that I had been ahold’n in my left hand was lay’n between my legs. I start’d check’n things out and as far as I could tell I still had most of my importent body parts.
Finally I start’d hear’n agin, and it was Uncle Clayton, … laugh’n! He was hold’n his sides and tears was runn’n down his face. Bub was heehaw’n too. Some folks I know would have been mad at em, … I was just happy ta still be among the liv’n! Uncle Clayton finally up and says, “Durn boy … , that ol gun prob’ly ain’t been fired in more than fifty years … ! I didn’t even think it would fire!” Well I’m here ta tell ya it fired! I don’t really remember what happen’d to the poor rabbit. I just don’t remember too much after I pull’d the trigger on that goose gun!
I pick’d up the pieces of the 10 gauge and carried it back to Uncle Clayton’s house. Later on I heard Bub say that Uncle Clayton had cut off the split end of the barrel and had manag’d ta put his ol granddaddy’s gun back together with some bal’n wire. I never seen the gun agin. It was prob’ly hid in a special place, just wait’n for the day that Uncle Clayton could loan it ta some unsuspect’n soul. Bub never did say if some other fool was stupid enough ta pull the trigger on ol granddaddy’s gun.
Bub died a few years ago and Uncle Clayton had long ago went on to his reward. I was over visit’n with a good friend the other day, … and hang’n on the wall was an ol shotgun. I asked Mr. Horner about the gun and he says, “That’s my daddys ol double barrel’d 12 gauge, it’s kinda old, … I wouldn’t want to shoot it!” Now Mr Robert Horner my friend is over ninety years young, … so’s that ol shotgun must be at least a hundred and fifty years old. Cold chills ran down my back and I start’d sweat’n real good. And somewhere off in the distance I thought I heard Uncle Clayton laugh’n!!! “Durn boy!”
originally posted on Frank’s Facebook Notes February 8, 2012
674 total views, 2 views today