Here we are, in one heck of a mess with the coronavirus. As I sat down to write today, two points push to the forefront of my mind immediately — the run on toilet paper and bottled water by some inanely selfish individuals in our society; and then the necessity to keep focused on John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Those are strong contrasts in mental pictures, but that’s just me.
OK, so we have to hunker down until the virus runs its course, but if we become consumed by panic, we will lose the fight. So let’s get out of the self-pity mode, follow the health guidelines put forth by our government and help our brothers as we can. Once that is done, there is always camping, fishing, hiking and varmint hunting, as well as all of the non-consumptive shooting sports, waiting for us.
As I sit here planning my next move to get me back outside, a few memories concerning horseplay eased through my mind that I would like to share. They may strike some as humorous, but could have had some very serious consequences.
One fishing trip that comes to mind from yesteryear involved a number of friends of mine. We were in the marshes of Jefferson County, fishing at the mouth of where Big Hill Bayou and Mud Lake Slough came together. If you followed the slough back into the marsh, you would eventually arrive at Mud Lake. It was no big shake as a lake, but it did have ducks at the right time of year, as well as a lot of nutria. The presence of bass was iffy, except during the spawn.
This particular trip was during late spring, and we were fishing for bass. It was early morning with the sun just peaking over the reeds that lined the shore. It was difficult for all of us to cast with five people in the boat, so four of us got out and did some wade fishing in the bayou. The fifth person stayed in the boat because he was deathly afraid of snakes and not about to get in that marsh water where snakes were as common as bass.
The boat was a top-of-the-line, molded plywood boat built by Yellow Jacket. It had a 25 horse power Johnson motor on the back and was a beauty. No one went into the marsh unarmed, so David, the boat owner, had a .22 caliber, semi-automatic rifle in the boat. Naturally, it was loaded because, according to the teaching of the day — to which I still hold — an unloaded gun is no more than a very expensive club.
I was in the water using a fly rod with a top-water fly, working the edge of a growth of water lilies when a brown water snake lazily swam between another angler, Paul, and me. Paul, knowing David’s fear of snakes, grabbed the snake and threw it toward the boat. It landed right beside David on the seat, then slithered down into the bottom of the boat trying to get away from the hysterical human.
The next thing we knew, David was sitting on top of the outboard motor, firing the .22 rifle like a machine gun. He emptied the 15-shot magazine into the bottom of the boat and succeeded in killing the snake.
When the first shot went off, the rest of us ducked under the water, the safest place we thought we could hide from the long-rifle bullets. I found out under water, even 40 or 50 feet from the point of entry, you can still clearly hear a .22 bullet penetrate and slam through the bottom of a boat.
That episode ended the fishing trip because we suddenly had 15 holes, almost one quarter inch in diameter, in the bottom of the boat, and it was taking on water. We opened the drain plugs in the transom and ran at about half throttle, keeping the bow up and the water flowing from the holes in the bottom and out the drain holes in the transom.
The moral of this story is manifold. For starters, do not scare a man with a gun. Next, even though the snake was nonvenomous, it could have been the cause of David hurting himself or someone else. Finally, the prank ended up costing a pretty penny for repairs to the boat. So remember, we all enjoy a good joke or prank, and spontaneity is not unusual or bad. But before you act, try to foresee any potentially hurtful results of your actions.