Friday, May 12, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 109th Installment

Unfortunately, the Helm drive was a bust. There were very few horsemen to go out far and wide, and not a lot of people to finish up. There were loads of jack rabbits as usual. Russ and I were taken with a dozen other kids to join the line about half mile out. The line was spread out thin with about a fifty feet between each of the drivers. As we moved in, the line was leaking rabbits through the gaps like poop through a goose. There were more jack rabbits getting away than we had driving in front of us.

Usually there are a lot more people at these drives,” I yelled to Russ. “Maybe it’ll get better as we move into the narrows of the funnel.”

Being spread out like this is all the better for throwing” Russ shouted.
I threw my club at a slow moving jack rabbit between us knocking him down long enough for Russ to run over and club him in an overhead smash. Out here we left them where they died. Our job was to drive them and kill them. In the winter-drives the managers of the drive have a market for them if they’re frozen, and they collect as many as they can. In the summer, they leave them all because they’ll spoil before they can be used for mink food or fur. It’s the way the farmers try to save their crops from the infestation. At the peak of the ten–year cycle, the hungry jack rabbits would flood out of the desert like locusts eating everything in their path. It was like a war…man against nature. If the farmer didn’t try to drive the jack rabbits out, nature would kill them anyway, either through starvation or the ‘jack rabbit plague’ which is a form of Black Death to all of them anyway. Oddly, during the off–years of the cycle, there were very few jack rabbits, not even enough to hunt.

We were closer in by now and with only several feet between each of us, the hunt was getting faster. From here on out we had to keep our minds in the game, less talking and more clubbing. With war whoops, dodging back and forth, and swinging and killing jack rabbits with clubs in both hands, Russ and I with six or seven other local farm boys finished the drive, pushing the hordes of jack rabbits into the pen. It was actually ‘short work’ as there were only about 2,000 jack rabbits, and we dispatched them in about a half an hour. In comparison, some of the biggest drives last winter had over 20,000 jack rabbits.

Time to eat!” I shouted as the drive came to an end.

The organizers must have expected a bigger crowd because there were tons of doughnuts, drinks and hot chocolate. We ate all we wanted and carried away all we could hold for later.

That night, after we finished
500 more words tomorrow

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