Sunday, January 8, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 8th Installment

from the desert and put the fields under irrigation. They gave all the fields numbers to indicate how big they were by the number of acres. There was The Twenty Five, The Four by the pump, The Ten, The Six, The Five by Ellis, The Six by the road, The Seven, The Flat (the original seven acres), and The Twelve where we were hunting. All the fields were around the hill in the middle which wasn't much of a hill, only about 10 feet high over the desert floor; in fact, it was lower than the pump house on the high ground but this pile of sand was a hill to us nonetheless.
Today, my thoughts were on The Twelve and why we were having our first big game hunt without tag or license. The Twelve, a field that is way in the back southeast corner of the farm and the closest to the miles and miles of wild sagebrush flats was covered with very little alfalfa. This summer there was little harvest of the hay in that field. In fact, very little of the alfalfa got over three or four inches high because of the fifty or so antelope that grazed on it every day. I was told that the farmer has a right to protect his livelihood from predation by scaring the animals off. Sure, I thought, scaring them off only made them more curious, and then they’d be back before you got to the house for lunch. The 'bang' of the propane cannon worked a little better than the M–80 bombs the fish and game gave us because the cannon would pop off every few minutes. Although after a while, the animals would just ignore the noise. The M–80s were GREAT fun, though. We sure blew up a lot of stuff with them. Blowing stuff up is one of the things we lived for. Happy explosions, I dreamed. If farmers could not drive the antelope away, then they were allowed to kill some, but only if they were well within their property and they had tried everything else. Russ and I got to be the last resort of predation control, and we planned on processing the carcass for winter meat. Of course, we got the lecture that taking life was only for food and not for sport. Of course – you bet, I thought.
Then there were the jackrabbits. This was the ninth year of their ten year cycle, and there were thousands of them. The jackrabbits much preferred hay and grain to sage brush and cheat grass. The jackrabbits swarmed the fields and haystacks like locust and the jackrabbits destroyed all vegetation in their path and collapsed the haystacks when they moved through the farms. My imagination began stirring – oh boy, the jackrabbits – the jackrabbit drives – hunting jackrabbits for bounty in the winter. This was going to be a fun and profitable year for Russ and me because we were the most legendary jackrabbit killers

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