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Playing games with the squirrels

By TJ Ray

I had to quit after the third round was found. Looking for spent bullets can be a nerve-wracking experience. When the ordinance sergeant says “Pick up your brass,” he means it.

Squinting at the ground, trying desperately not to step on a bit of ammo, I took a break. Sitting there letting my nerves settle, a vagrant curiosity came to mind.

It’s this: in some distant time when folks are so much more advanced than we are, perhaps they will have succeeded in engineering a metal detector into humans.

Think of it — no more looking for lost keys! Ammo would be easy and safe to recover. I wonder what those future hunters will think as they walk about my yard, with their detectors pinging like machine guns as they come near the little shiny spheres.

I’ve wondered many times how many shots I’ve taken in that yard. To my recollection, I’ve been to Wal-Mart six times to reload my armory.  Each quite heavy plastic containers holds 6,000 shot.

So … six times 6,000 is a BIG bunch. I’ve shot so many times that I’ve had to send my weapon off to the Daisy Red Ryder folks to reset the action. My mind told me the gun needed adjusting because not many of the enemy were going down. Thought maybe the main spring had weakened.

I did notice that sometimes when I cocked and shot, nothing came out the barrel. Of course, after 73 years it’s possible the old thing has worn out. Sort of matched my squinting for the expended shot, trying to decide which level of my trifocals worked best.

As to my targets, no need to worry. They multiply by the day.  Sometimes five or six have a confab below my bird feeders.

Not unusual to find one of the rascals climbed all the way up to the feeders. Once I tried putting lard all over the pole but that didn’t do much at all.

Anyway, they sit there and steal sunflower seed all day. No telling how many congregate at night.

As luck would have it, very rarely I hit one or two, and they all scatter up the trees. The problem is they’re back in ten minutes. I should say those I kill. Right now my record is not too impressive. One deceased squirrel for 36,000 shots. But I’m convinced a little more practice, and I’ll get good at potting them.  In the meantime — we’ll just keep playing our game.

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.