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My wife was at the sink peeling potatoes. "Any luck?" she asked.
"A big one. Beautiful specimen. I hit it on the leg the first shot, but I missed it the second, and it got away."
"Well, now don't get discouraged," she said. "Remember, you're getting the exercise the doctor said you needed, even if you don't get any game."
I laughed. "Don't worry, honey. I feel wonderful. The old thrill is there, and I'll get my share of game before I'm through."
I was pleased at the way she looked at me as I went back out in the yard. It was the first time she had looked at me that way for a long time, and I guessed it was in response to the streak of elemental man that was showing in my behavior. Women like hunters.
These hunting sessions became my weekend custom. Every Saturday and Sunday evening at 5:30 I would put on my hunting clothes, get my BB gun and a drink and go to the deck chair on the patio and wait for the frogs to come out. During the periods when there were no frogs in sight I would shoot wasps and dragonflies, and sometimes flies, to keep my hand in and my eyes sharp.
The only change I made in the setup was to buy a dog to retrieve the shot game and to keep me company, because it got so that it was lonely out there in the back with nothing but the sound of the neighbors' air conditioners and the occasional scream of a cookout chef when he got impatient and threw gasoline on the grill.
So I bought a Chihuahua retriever. I named him Moctezuma because he had a proud Aztec way about him.
Moctezuma turned out to be a marvelous hunting companion. I taught him to sit without moving a muscle by the side of my chair while I was watching and shooting; after I had shot the quarry and it appeared to be dead, I would command him to retrieve it by saying, "Ol�," and he would be off like a streak to the carcass of the frog or the wasp or whatever it was, which he would pick up and bring back and put down by the side of my chair where I would examine it for the results of my marksmanship and also for its taxidermic possibilities to see if it was a decent enough specimen to go on the wall of my trophy room.
Moctezuma was a wonderfully courageous dog. There was one time when I commanded him to retrieve a large wasp that I had hit, and he darted out to pick it up. But the wasp had only been stunned, and while it was in the mouth of Moctezuma on the trip back it regained consciousness and stung him on the tongue. The dog didn't even break stride when he was stung, but after he had spit it out by the side of the chair he fainted. By the time I could get him to the veterinarian his tongue was swollen to three times its normal size, and neither the vet nor I thought he would pull through. But he did, and after 10 days of convalescence he was back by my side, retrieving as faithfully as ever—even wasps.