Copyright
Sam Elmore

BERT AND THE "BOOGER"


My oldest brother, Bertan, has been an avid hunter all his (considerably long) life. Last season, he headed for the woods to get him a mess of squirrel. Driving to an area near where he's lived for over fifty years, he located a likely spot, parked, and locked his pick-up. As he stood there beside the truck, he saw two squirrels in a tree about seventy yards away.

"Wa'al, now," he thought; "This won't take long, seein' how the limit is jest eight of them leather-headed rascals."

He stuffed a shell into the magazine of his 12-gauge Winchester Model 12, shucked the slide to chamber it, then slid two more into the legally-plugged magazine. He stepped off the old roadbed into the underbrush.

Bert crept over to a big oak tree, eased himself down to a sit/hunker position, and leaned back. His restful stance was short-lived, however, because a big fox squirrel almost knocked his baseball cap off his head, as it streaked up the very tree Bert was leaning against.

Bert stood, shouldered the Winshester, and dropped the squirrel right between his feet. As he reached down to pick up the squirrel, the dad-gum-dest racket he'd ever HEARD broke loose! The hair stood straight up on Bert's neck.

"What-in-the-dickens can that be?," he asked himself, as he tried to get his heart down out of his throat. The screaming roar sounded like it came from a saw-briar thicket about thirty yards from where he was standing. Bert whipped the shotgun around, and aimed it towards the thicket.

Then it dawned on him that he hadn't ejected the empty hull after shooting the squirrel, nor chambered another round. He jerked the slide back and homed a shell in the chamber. His fingers seemed to have a mind of their own and fumbled three shells onto the ground before he could get another round into the magazine.

"Now, then--you jest come on out-a there, buster," Bert muttered. "I don't know what-in-the-cat-hair you are, but I've got at least three shots at you before you get a-hold of me!".

Silence--not a breath of air stirred, not a cricket chirped. After a little while, Bert's heart-beat was closer to normal, and he began looking around for squirrels. He'd seen three run off when he shot the first one, so he knew there were more in the area; however, the three that had run off gave no indication of ever slowing down, after they'd heard that awful racket.

Bert eased himself down against the trunk of the tree again, and relaxed. Just about that time, the hair on his neck stood up.

"You id-jit!" he scolded himself, "You know there's always two of ever'thang, and the other'n's sneaking up behind you right now!"

Bert couldn't stand the pressure, so he hot-footed-it to his truck. When he got there, his hand was shaking so bad he couldn't get the key in the lock. Finally, after scratching half the paint off the truck door, he got it open.

He put the key in the ignition, so he could be sure of getting the right one. Then, he thought of how awful that thing had sounded, and how much it had scared him, so he cranked the engine, just in case. As he stood there beside his idling truck, Bert began to rationalize the situation.

"Now, that thang didn't make the first sound until I shot that squirrel. I wonder if it'd holler again if I shot."

Bert pointed his shotgun up in the air and squeezed the trigger. Instantly, another screaming roar came out of the same area.

"Oh, my Lord! I'm getting out-a this place!"

Bert leapt into his pick-up and stomped on the gas. The tires flung dirt and loose gravel fifty feet behind, as he made a break for safety.

A few days later, Bert met a friend of his downtown. He told the man about the fracas back in the woods. The fellow didn't laugh at him, as Bert had expected; he merely asked:

"You mean to tell me you was scared?"

"yes-sir, I was--no two ways about it; an' if you go back in ‘ere, and hear what I heard, you'll be scared, too," Bert answered.

"What kind-a gun did ye' have?", the friend asked.

"A Model 12 Winchester, and I ain't dubious about shootin' it, neither," Bert affirmed.

"Awww, man--there ain't a thang in them woods that'll harm you", the man avowed; "I been huntin' them woods for over twenty years."

"Wa'al, I'll tell ye' one thang", Bert said: "You can hunt ‘em for another twenty years if you've a mind to, but if you hear that thang holler, you'll come out-a there, too!"

Bert's youngest son was sized for ‘bear huntin' with a switch', standing six-five, and weighing close to two-hundred-and fifty pounds; every ounce of it "oil-patch" tough. When he heard his Dad's story, he couldn't wait to go back in there and tackle that "thang". Despite Bert's objections, the boy went to face off with the "booger".

He wasn't gone long--when he got back, he went to his Dad's house and related what had happened. He concluded by saying that he "jest couldn't stand that noise--I had to come out-a there!"

Some days passed, then Bert met up with the Game Warden, whom he'd known for many years. He told him what he'd heard. The Game Warden asked enough questions to verify the site where Bert had been hunting.

"I think I know what might be going on," he told Bert; "I'll let you know something after a while."

A few days later, the Game Warden, along with a Federal Drug Enforcement Team, went in there and captured the gang that was cultivating an acre of marijuana in the old garden plot of an abandoned farmhouse. The lawmen said that the marijuana was almost ready to harvest at the opening of squirrel season.

The Game Warden told Bert that the gang had set up a tape-player in the farmhouse, with remote speakers led out and hidden in the edge of the woods around the old house. If they heard or saw anyone in the vicinity, they'd turn up the volume real loud, and play tape recordings of African wildlife, attempting to scare people away.

"I'll tell ye' one thang," swears Bert; "their plan worked jest fine!"