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Days Gone Bye: Remembering laughter in the woods

It has been quite awhile since I would call myself a hunter or even much of a fisherman, but I do have many lighthearted memories of time spent doing both, and I’d like to share a few of those stories with you this week.

Daddy and Billy were the fishermen in the family. We three would be wading the Bogue fishing each hole for bass, and when we’d come up to a likely looking hole, Daddy would look around, and see if he could find a vine hanging from a tree so he could send me over to swing on that while they fished, and when we’d be down at old Lock Three on the river, those two would cast in earnest while I got up on the old structure and sank leaf ships in the water with cannon shot I threw at them from the endless rock supply up there.

Bird hunting in Greene County on Great Uncle Sam Jackson’s land with Daddy, Billy and Daddy’s fine birddog, Indy, was an adventure. One day Indy was pointing at what to me looked like nothing but plain sand on the riverbank. I argued with Daddy that there could not be a quail there, and Indy was wrong. Daddy just laughed, kicked the dirt, and that bobwhite like to of scared me to death when it flew up right by my face.

Another time down at Breckinridge near Myrtlewood, Daddy told Indy to hunt for rabbits in that swamp. Well, that dog jumped a rabbit, and commenced to running it. I knew that most of the time a rabbit was going to make a circle, and come back, so I was on the lookout for that cane cutter.  Looked and looked to no avail. Finally, I spotted two eyes and a nose sticking up out of the water. I had to laugh at those antics, and then I told that elusive rabbit to get on out of there ‘cause I was not about to shoot him. Bre Rabbit up and headed right on away from those parts as I stood there and laughed some more.

Moose and I were on a big hunt in Washington County on Congressman Frank Boykin’s preserve around 1957, along with a heap more Marengo County constitutes.  The Congressman’s son, Rob, explained that we could shoot wild pigs down in those woods. Moose and I were put out on stands way too close to one another, but wasn’t long before I heard Moose’s single barrel twelve gauge go off, and here came my way a great big old bore hog with long tusks sticking way out. I laid into him with my twelve gauge, and that pig turned and headed back to Moose, who pumped more buckshot into him, stopping him long enough for me to come over and finish off that trophy hog. We got on back to the big house after the hunt, and I have to admit it turned out that was no wild boar atall, and didn’t have any tusks whatsoever.  It was a fellow’s tame sow, but it didn’t have no business being down yonder in those woods anyhow fooling a couple of country boys into thinking she was a big, bad wild boar. That was before any of us had ever seen wild pigs in our neck of the woods.

Brasfield Grant used to put on some big time deer drives with all the trimmings over around Jefferson, and he was the judge and jury when deciding who had missed a deer on the drive after everybody gathered up at the skinning rack.  Jim and J.D Baker worked on my daddy’s rump one time after he was found guilty of having missed a deer. Those brothers said they felt it was their duty to make an example of the local District Attorney. I don’t think Daddy really did miss a buck, but Jim and J.D. were not about to be cheated out of what they came to do. Daddy was probably framed.

Wish I had time to rehash one of the funniest frog gigging trips I ever made when Daddy, Billy, Norman Etheridge and I traveled to Putnam looking for those big old bullfrogs, only to have a boat sink, and several other funny events. For those of y’all who have my book, “Magnolia Blossoms and Bad tasting Water,” that episode is set out in Chapter 11.

Good hunting, dear readers.

— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, January 22 issue of the Demopolis Times.)