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The Thrill of the Safari in my Backyard
Ray Conaway
August 23, 1965
The doctor, rhyming his report, advised this chap to take up sport. Our hero, paunchy but astute, picked up a BB gun to shoot. Helped by his fierce Chihuahua dog, he swigged his gin and bagged his frog
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August 23, 1965

The Thrill Of The Safari In My Backyard

The doctor, rhyming his report, advised this chap to take up sport. Our hero, paunchy but astute, picked up a BB gun to shoot. Helped by his fierce Chihuahua dog, he swigged his gin and bagged his frog

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Suddenly I remembered the look and smell of the woods in the early morning when my father and I went hunting 30 years before; the quiet, and then the rattle of a squirrel in the top of a tree. I felt a nostalgia all the way to my toes. "Maybe I could start hunting again," I said slowly.

"Do, by all means," the doctor said. "I think it would be very good for you."

I thought of what the doctor had told me, and of hunting, all the way home. But there were problems. I lived in a city now, not a small town as I did when I was young, and hunting would not be the simple thing it was then, when my father and I could drive a few miles out of town and be on the property of some friendly farmer where we could hunt all we wanted. I would have to find a place to hunt, I would have to investigate the game laws and buy equipment and find the timeā€”it appeared to be almost insolubly complex.

But that night I found the answer. I was watching television, and there was a sports show on where a man was giving a demonstration of shooting with a BB gun without closing one eye and sighting. He had the sights taken off the gun, and he kept both eyes open, and he was remarkably accurate, hitting aspirin tablets and toothpaste-tube caps every time from a distance of about 20 feet.

The next morning I went down to the hardware store in the neighborhood and bought a BB gun and then took it over to my next-door neighbor and got him to cut the sights off with a hacksaw. When he got the barrel smoothed off, I took it back to the house and loaded it with a tube of BBs, and then I went out in the backyard to practice.

I practiced every day for several days and got so I could do the instinctive kind of shooting I had seen on television, and I decided it was time to stop the practice and start the hunting.

It was on a Sunday evening that I began. I put on a pair of shorts and an old pair of loafers and a T shirt and made myself a drink. I took the gun and a tube of BBs and the drink and went out on the patio in the backyard and sat down in a deck chair and started looking around for game.

One came out from behind the house about 10 minutes later. I spotted it on its very first spring, when it lit near a gardenia bush.

Very slowly and quietly I put down my drink, picked the gun off my lap, cocked it slowly, put it to my shoulder and fired; the BB was short about six inches, but it was on target laterally, and the ricochet stung the frog's left hind leg. It made two more springs and started back behind the corner of the house. I got one more shot at it when it was in the air on the second spring but failed to score a hit.

I felt exhilarated by the encounter and went back inside and fixed another drink. I knew from my reading about other hunters that it was the right thing to do.

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