“The things you see when you don’t have a gun.”

First Spring Tulips in the Veggie Garden

First Spring Tulips in the Veggie Garden

This isn’t original to me. It’s part of a nun’s dialogue from “Call The Midwife”. My husband and I fell off the couch laughing when we heard a hard-bitten nun say this. It’s rather familiar to us, too, because my husband’s mother became a lay nun. And she had a gun…. though a .410 in the closet. A gun probably to shoot mice or small varmints, though in the middle of Miami, with the close housing, I would imagine it would be noticed.

Here in Atlanta? Nah. The local idiots have AK47s, other assault weapons, and not a hunter amongst them. They get liquored up during July 4th, New Year’s Eve and off they go. It seems like a tradition in the South, but bullets fly through the air and land in people’s skulls. When New Year’s Eve approaches, we don’t sleep under the skylights. Just a precaution.

I would not be in favor of any person having a gun, but living in Atlanta all these years…I don’t dare not have one. The police are slow, dead and swimming in the wrong direction (a bon mot by a doctor about a friend’s sperm count years ago…who went on to have two rotten boys…) and the guns we have are shotguns. They are for house defense, but in all these decades here we haven’t had to use them. I don’t even know where the shells are for them anymore, which is probably not a good thing. And even with a gun that can hit the proverbial barn door…..I am a rotten shot. Something about closing my eyes when I squeeze the trigger I’m told.

I used to hunt…or thought that was what I was doing. A couple of blog entries back I wrote about a wild turkey in neighbor’s back yard, but I didn’t think to write about my only attempt at turkey hunting three decades ago. Probably more.

Way before dawn, I went up to Lake Burton, shotgun at the ready, to hunt wild turkey. These are intelligent and wily birds, and I was told the best time is to hunt at dawn when they are picking up acorns, etc. I positioned myself under a big oak tree when it was still dark, and fell asleep. I woke up when the sun was high enough and no turkeys to be seen. I remember tripping and falling flat on my face when I was tired enough of this ‘no show’ by wily turkey and throwing the gun wide. Luckily, it didn’t go off.

When I was younger, I used to (try) to shoot pheasant in the soy bean fields behind our property in rural New Jersey. I got so excited (and scared) by these big birds that lumbered into the air in front of me, like B-24s, who wheeled into the sun and they blinded you by this flight, and I would get one shot off (always missing) and promptly throw on the safety. I am left-handed, and could never break myself from doing so. I was using my ‘best’ gun, an old Ithaca 12 gauge and every time I got off a shot I would pummel my left shoulder. The trick (besides being a good shot and I wasn’t) is to hold the shotgun tight into your shoulder BEFORE you let off a round. The kickback will kill and bruise your shoulder. Years later, off the back end of a boat, I shot skeet and the same thing happened. A black and blue shoulder and top of the breast doesn’t look good in a strapless gown.

Actually, I never killed an animal with my stupid hunting. I did kill two beautiful butterflies out of pure meanness and I remember with great regret doing so. I never picked up that gun again. In fact, I gave it away.

I do remember though, hunting with Doug Craig, a friend from Princeton who had come back from Viet Nam with pounds of shrapnel in his gut that was slowly removed by various surgeries. Doug was a great sport, and survived my attempt to get a rabbit. I was shooting at the rabbit as he ran in a zigzag and Doug was hopping around the field trying to avoid losing his feet and legs to my hunting lack o’ skill. I guess the shrapnel he had removed (mostly) from his gut was the main event so my attempts with buck or bird shot was small potatoes. Later, Doug got a young male pheasant. We were hunting on the Staats property. We stashed the fowl in the bushes and thought perhaps we should ask surly old man Staats IF we could hunt on his property. He said no, and we left. We ignored him because his questionable sons hunted on our land and shot a beautiful buck. Actually, they never killed it, they mortally wounded it and left the buck to die. I remember my father finding the buck, hearing it thrash in the grass in this beautiful wooded glen. He killed it and brought us out to see and learn that you never shoot an animal without making sure that it’s dead. It was a lesson I learned and he had some shocked children with him learning.

After WWII my father would not allow any hunting on his land. He became a pacifist, this beautiful and gentle man. I was very surprised when in the late 70’s when I was running away from a poisonous marriage he allowed me to bring a gun on the property. He understood something I didn’t.

Between us we had one wild rabbit and one pheasant. I can still see that rabbit head whirling in slow motion as I threw it into the ravine after skinning him. My father hadn’t eaten rabbit for many decades, and was pretty proud that his only daughter cooked it for him. The pheasant was not so good because there were too many pellets in it…teeth breakers. I threw the rabbit pelt onto the tin kitchen roof where it stayed for a couple of years.

Doug died in Philadelphia, mugged in 1992. He lay in the morgue for three weeks until his father, Dr. Donald Craig came and identified him. Both good men and both dead now. Dr. Craig was a vet in Princeton, a large animal vet, and his house was from 1740’s or earlier. He had two refrigerators and it was Russian Roulette you played when you went for a snack. He held autopsy samples in one and human food in another. Some times he mixed them up…hence the Roulette. It was always a surprise when you opened the door.

This entry has nothing to do with anything, (some days I get sick of poetry…) but I am still laughing at the title. Perhaps total gun control will save wildlife from people like me. But it will be hard to pry the guns from these fool’s hands in Atlanta. Now there is a bill to allow students on college campuses to carry guns in holsters. Mix booze (to say nothing of drugs) with guns and you got worse than the wild, wild West. Already some people carry guns in church around here.

Bibles and guns….a deadly mix.

Lady Nyo

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37 Responses to ““The things you see when you don’t have a gun.””

  1. learn to turkey hunt Says:

    Highly descriptive post, I liked that bit. Will there be a part 2?


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hopefully not.

    Lady Nyo


  3. hunting Scents|small target Says:

    It’s difficult to find well-informed people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!



  4. wild game recipe Says:

    I take pleasure in, lead to I found just what I was looking for.
    You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye


  5. ladynyo Says:

    obviously spam, and can’t read well. Lady Nyo obviously isn’t a ‘man’.


    Lady Nyo


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  7. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Hi LadyNyo, I enjoyed reading this, the wide open musing and reminiscence. I dread the day that campuses allow students or others to conceal carry on campus. I already fear for my safety with some of these kids. I don’t think I could ever hunt anything although I have tremendous respect for people who eat what they kill. And frankly, I seriously pissed off at a family of rabbits who have destroyed my gardens every summer, and a deer overrun problem that leaves ticks everywhere. A shotgun would be kinda nice. I’ve written over at Brave New Kitty my feelings about guns, in her post, “Conceal Carry? Moi?” its a complicated topic. Re: killing things as a kid, one time I cut a worm in half, to see what it would do. It kept wiggling, in two parts, I was horrified. I remember my mother telling me each part would grow back (she was not a complete monster!). I feel bad whenever I kill a spider. It’s pathetic, but a life is a life. I suppose I’m glad I don’t live in a place where a gun feels necessary for daily survival. CS


  8. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! CS…well, I live in a city (Atlanta) where the violence is so extreme, random (anyone is a target…) and constant that you learn there are times you don’t go out of your house or into the streets and god forbid you are caught in a area after dark. Predators abound. I have carried a gun, but that was when I was in some place that I now would rather avoid. You learn. Or you become a victim.

    I’ll take a look at Brave New Kitty. I LOVE the names of these blogs….and I love yours: Caliban’s Sister. LOL! Beautiful graphic, too.

    If you get a chance, read the new post: “It’s Strange to be Here. The Mystery never leaves” about John O’Donohue. I had posted it a while back but just felt it was a palette cleanser right now. Updated it, too a bit.

    Thanks so much, CS for reading and your wonderful comments. I am so glad I tapped into you gals.


    Lady Nyo


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