Saturday, May 14, 2016


53. shootin' and huntin'
There was a world of difference
between here and there, as it
would be said. My current life
then, in these depths of
Pennsylvania, and my older life,
my upbringing, in the depths
of the Avenel area. One of the
things most telling, and which
I still cannot get over, was
firearms. Just today I was in
some strange place, Windsor
or Hamilton or something, on
and about the way west to
Princeton, and I came across a
road sign that read, 'Discharging
of any firearms is illegal.'
Well, alright then. I could
neither figure the need nor
the reason for such a sign, but
for the fact that, perhaps, this
area  -  in its current, slow and
steady turnover from former
agricultural lands to the acres
of condos and gentility which
now spreads across it, still has
a few farmer-types who haven't
gotten the message and perhaps
occasionally fire a few rounds
over Mrs. Snipes' clothesline.
Back in Pennsylvania everyone
had a gun at the ready  -  pick-up
trucks most all had the proverbial
'Easy Rider Rifle Rack' across
the back window-glass inside the
cab, with one or two rifles hung
up and at the ready. And a pistol
in the glove box was always a
constant as well. At Warren's,
even as we milked cows there
were two rifles, 'thirty-aught-six'
each, in mountain rifle lingo,
up at the back wall, and he'd
have a go, often enough on
long, lazy and hot Summer
evenings, plinking away at
deer and/or groundhogs as
they came down the distant
hillsides. It was a pretty good
distance, and the point wasn't
really to hit them, more just
for the fun  -  but if something
got killed, that was OK, he'd
go and get it. If a deer, as well,
was seen to be going off as
wounded  -  shot but not
downed  -  his point of honor,
all their point of honor, all
these farm guys, was not to
let it be; instead they'd then
go off, following a blood trail
or whatever, with their dog
or a truck, and finish the job
and take away the fresh-kill.
I never enjoyed any aspect of
this 'sport', and kind of just
stayed busy, tending to things.
I figured maybe if ever the
deer and things were given the
ability perhaps to shoot back,
well then it would have been,
at the least, a far-fairer
blood-sport. This was all
off-season, by the way. The
legality was that, out-of-season,
a farmer had the right to shoot
anything on his property, under
the rubric of 'it was destroying
my crop.' A loophole bigger
than a fat-queen's ass, yeah.
No one ever asked questions
about it anyway; it was just
open season. I had a dog killed,
way out in the fields like that, a
wonderful but unruly black Lab
named 'Rowdy'. They jut shot it
dead because 'it was chasing deer.'
Little I could do then. I had six
dogs, and they all pretty much
ran freely on my property and
any of the far-surrounding lands.
Cars were more of a constant
threat for them than were even
guns. People drove like 100
miles an hour to buy bread,
for God's sake. It was pretty
horrible. I always said it was
as if everyone always had to
take a really wicked piss,
and were just rushing off to
a bathroom somewhere.
I lost two dogs, too, to cars
over those years. Someone
would come by and say 'your
dog's in a ditch out there by
Harkness' place; got runned
down.' I'd have to go get it;
it was always real sad, and
after a while too I just got
sick of the whole, entire
mess. My Siamese cat got
killed that way too  -  two
stupid farm boys brought
it home to me dead, saying
they'd run it down, sorry,
thinking it was a gopher.
Idiots  -  it was also a sport
around there to run things
down. It was a pure-bred
Siamese I'd bought for my
wife back in Hazlet, NJ,
some time before we left,
about a year back. I never
even knew how or why it
was outside, to be honest.
Right on Route 35, there
used to be a cat-pet store
by the post-office and the
'Go-Go Rama'. They're
both still there, only the
cat lady's gone.
And the  cat.
In hunting season everything
was way worse. There were
a couple of seasons, for deer,
and for what was called
'small-game'. Squirrels
and gophers and stuff.
Deer season had a few,
bow season (for bow
and arrow kills only),
doe season, buck season,
and open season. Deer
hunters were everywhere,
like Sept. and Oct., then a
tiny break, and November,
around Thanksgiving. And
then again in January (except by
then it was dead, freezing cold).
People were flat out told to stay
indoors, keep the kids in too.
Mothers out hanging laundry
were told to wear orange
or red  -  bright, hunt colors.
Only every so often did you
hear somebody or other got
shot, or even killed, by a
hunting mistake. I always
thought, up there, that was
most probably the easiest
way to kill Fred, who's been
sleeping with your wife now
and then, and get away with
it. Or even to kill your wife.
It was some weird shit.
There'd be the sounds of
gun-fire as a constant; dead
deer in the backs of pick-ups
or hanging in people's barn
entryways to drain and be
gutted. But it all just made
me sick. They all claimed
to eat it, but I never much
saw any deer-soufflee's
being consumed. It was
more like just getting a
permission to shoot and
kill for a while.
Out there, if someone crossed
you, the temptation was just
to shoot 'em dead, blast his
forehead open, and then
blame him. Worry about
the rest of it all later. It
was a funny world,
troublesome and raw,
but funny nonetheless.
Just the way it was funny
there were little graveyards
at all the large old houses,
burial spots for family people
who'd lived there along the
way. I did always wonder on
the frequency of 'hunting'
accidents or family feuds
with Uncle Beanie's shotgun.
The dichotomy was stark.
Back here now, in New
Jersey, everyone's berserk
about gun control and all
that; yet today, driving south
out along Rt. 9, just leaving
Woodbridge, this guy in a
shitty little, old Toyota comes
speeding past along on the
right, riding in a white-lined
no-drive access area, and
spins in front of me, just to
go the five hundred feet
needed to make the right
into his Woodbridge Center
turn. I beeped at him, like a
'what the fuck was that shit'
beep, and the fat little bugger,
car filled with like 4 other
carbon-copies of his same
fat ass, gives me the finger.
If my emotions had gotten
the better of me, and if, in
some Pennsylvania way, a
gun or two had been at the
ready, who's telling what
might had occurred. There
was, most certainly, no sign
saying, 'discharging of
firearms prohibited, your
honor, and  -  oh yeah  - 
he was ruining my crop.'

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