Friday, April 17, 2009

Hovey Hunting Tales...(Well, Not Exactly)

One Thanksgiving back in the '40s, my Grandma Vi and Grandpa Pete opted for true tradition and bought a live turkey.  Grandpa had grown up raising rabbits on his family's acreage and had always fished, but must've been quite a stranger to proper bird hunting, killing and dressing. "Go out and kill that bird, Pete," Grandma Vi said.  Roughly nine hours later, Grandpa was putting the final touches on a turkey guillotine.  "Jesus Christ, Peter!" she yelled as she walked over to that bird and broke its neck.  

That's the closest I come to a childhood hunting story -- and it wasn't even my childhood or legitimate hunting.  But we certainly grew up with bouts of country.  Our aunt and uncle owned the only bar in Benedict, Nebraska, a farm town outside of York. We'd visit and our aunt would fry up giblets and gizzards for me, which I washed down with Grape Welch's (a beverage that never touched my lips in the 'burbs -- we were a 95% Coke family with Dr. Pepper and A&W rounding out our pop - yes, pop - repertoire). One year, she entered me into two contests at Benedict Days: frog jumping and greased pig.  Guy Leaf, a farmer with the best farmer name ever recorded, brought me a bullfrog from his property. That little bugger jumped like a champ. I won. The pigs were much cuter and much, much harder to control.  What a workout.  A perfect way to burn off bacon. (That's me washing off the pig grease, summer '82). 

Now that it's almost BBQ weather, tell us your best childhood hunting (or interaction-with-non-domesticated-animals-that-will-eventually-land-on-a-plate) stories...they've gotta be better than mine.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

When we lived in Africa, my husband and I bought a turkey to raise in anticipation of Thanksgiving. Since we had no yard, she lived on the roof terrace of our house, and we fed her masses of cherry tomatoes, tossing them to her by hand. Her name was Prissy, after the loopy lady chicken in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. She grew, and she grew, and she grew. And as Prissy became increasingly large, she also broke all my flower pots, woke us each morning by emitting unearthly squawks, and defecated with abandon. Soon my initial attachment to her had waned; she had been such a cute chick and now had become a wing-flapping monster. So, yes, dear reader, we ate her—with a sense of relief and a side order of dressing.

Hollister H. Hovey said...

Truly amazing! It was better than mine at "When we lived in Africa"...! Keep 'em coming!

LPC said...

Since there seems to be a fowl theme....I went to college back East, and had family in East Aurora, New York. Since it was too far to fly home to California for Thanksgiving, I would fly up to my Aunt Eve's house every year. Where they went clay pigeon shooting. So all the Northern New Yorkers would put on a sweater and one of their 32 pairs of waterproof boots and tromp happily out to the hide. Otherwise known as a shed. And someone would throw these disks into the air. And yell, "Pull!" when it was time to shoot. Those disks were the clay pigeons, much to my chagrin. No feathers. Me, a Californian, put on as many layers as I could and sat on a stump and still shivered despite the layers. Then I shot at a flying disk. Nearly knocked myself into the lake. Luckily I could still eat turkey.

I think that stuff has to be learned much earlier in life.

kairu said...

I have two stories.

When I was about six years old (this would be in 1986) we visited my great-grandmother in Shanghai. By then in her late eighties or early nineties, she spent most of her time in bed, while her family gathered around to chat and visit. I remember the tiled floor beneath my feet, chasing after a pigeon that flew around the room, assisted by a cousin once or twice removed. After a while someone captured the flapping bird and carried it off to the kitchen, and my cousins and I resumed playing without it. Later, at lunch, my father leaned over to me and gently whispered that the soup was made from that same pigeon I had chased around a few hours before.

This is not a childhood memory, but a recent one. I spent a freezing cold winter day this past January watching several chefs, farmers, and restauraters learn how to butcher pigs. After the first pig was killed, cleaned, and carried off to hang from the rafters of a nearby shed, we all stood around drinking bourbon as a toast to the soul of the pig.

suzanne nelson said...

Mine is a british story: My great grandmother was an MFH, Master of Fox Hounds or rather, Mistress of Fox Hounds, a rare thing in those days and, yes, she rode side saddle. On the occasion of my birth she sent a magnificent brush - the bushy tail of a fox killed by the hunt - which i would cuddle to sleep as a toddler. I've not lived in england for some years but have vowed never to return to live while the current hunting ban is still enforced. i know Gram would approve...

Chrisy said...

I remember as a child watching my grandmother chop the head off a chicken with her axe and then seeing it run around her yard headless with her in hot pursuit ready to pluck and gutt it...

Chris said...

I have done my share of fishing and hunting during my teenage years and early 20's. However, there is one story that I like to tell. One summer vacation when my younger brother Kirk and I were around 11 and 14 our Uncle Buford took us frog gigging in a quarry that he a friend owned in Clinton, TN. It was stocked with fish and in the evening the massive bull frogs would come out. Earlier in the day we prepared our gigs which were broom handles with a small, sharp devils pitch fork on one end and a string to tie to your belt loop on the other. That evening, along with a high powered halogen headlight and our gigs we boarded his small fishing boat with a silent electric trolling motor. Once it was good and dark you simply scan the bank looking for glowing eyes. Once you see the eyes you keep the light fixed on the frog and make your way over to it. The bright light puts the frog in a trance so it doesn't move. My brother was the first in line so he hoisted the gig up and thrust it through the frogs back. The sound was deafening as the bull frog let out a horrible pig-like squeal that reverberated across the water. Kirk was not at all amused. As he slowly spun the bull frog around to show our uncle I followed with the halogen light and there was good ole' Uncle Buford with his bushy hair, camo ball cap, sheepish grin and Levi Garrett tobacco running down his chin. Needless to say, Kirk had had his fill but Uncle Buford and I ended up killing enough to feed around 6 of us. And yes, it's true, they do taste like chicken.

mamacita said...

When I was 8, my dad and granddad decided it was time for me to learn to hunt (doves, in South TX). So I rode out with them one morning but was far too nervous to even fire the gun.

Later, when they'd bagged their limits, they loaded me up in the truck and we sat there for a minute, waiting for the birds to come back. Finally a bird perched on the ground, and my granddad whispered, "There you go, Kara, get that one." So I finally fired the gun, hitting absolutely nothing, I'm sure. But my dad and granddad convinced me "If you'd been just a little over to the right, you'd have hit two."

I believed that line until much later in my teens. I was talking to my sisters, and apparently they'd both had the exact same experience. "Just a little bit over and you'd have hit two!"

Anonymous said...

When I used to live in Vietnam, as a child, we used to hunt street dogs. It's actually not that difficult since dogs are fairly friendly to people in the city, or at least indifferent at best. After all, it is through the generosity of people or precarious positioning of trash cans that these urban street dogs get their food. Thus, it's fairly easy to lure one over to you.

Catching and killing one, however, is another matter. To accomplish this, some friends of mine and I decided to go buy a huge burlap sack and cut it open, so that it would become a large burlap sheet. We bought two baseball bats, and went off on our hunt.

To lure one over, my friend Duc carried a small piece of spiced meat he bought at the market. We spotted a fair big game down one of the alleys and Duc whistled to it while holding the meat. The friends of mine and I hid behind some of of the doorways, with the sack and baseball bats.

As the dog came up to Duc, my friends threw the sack over the dog so that it was blinded, and then we beat it with the two baseball bats. It yelped and howled, but the beating didn't take more than a minute. Before long, it was broken enough that we could safely lift up the sheet. We finished it off with some pocket knives, skinned it, and had some great roasted meat that night.

Urban hunting is amazing!

Tavarua said...

Great Post - Great Stories from all the bloggers - My stories would be dull to these ones - Anyways - We do like our Throphy Rooms -

dr. hypercube said...

I discovered your blog via Lord Whimsy - an even better find than the fragment of whitetail skull I picked up while running the dogs this past weekend.

My moderately embarrassing hunting story:
A number or years ago, I - at that point, a 1st year apprentice falconer - went hawking with a well known (and worshipped by me) falconer and teckel person. My Red Tail had taken game, but this was our first really good chance at cottontails. After the typical circus, Brick connected with a rabbit. I made in and what with the adrenaline and the desire to make sure that the game did not escape, my neck-wring was a tad... vigorous. The rabbit's head came off in my hand; the noted falconer observed that I might be able to get away with a little less effort next time.

Joanna Goddard said...

OMG AMAZING photo!!!!

Anonymous said...

H-
You have got to move out of NYC. Drinks really do taste better after a hot day of tarpon fishing or a cold january duck hunt.

You might even meet some guys with facial hair that is not grown out of a sense of irony or to match their american apparel striped tube socks.

Hollister H. Hovey said...

Oh, I have such cabin fantasies. Just one room...in the woods/over looking the Hudson...with a smoker outside. But then I think about how fun it would be to have huge groups over to enjoy the things in the smoker (at a long picnic table, with gallons of booze)...and how, now that I'm 30, it's not really appropriate to force my guests to sleep on the floor or in a bunk, so I start adding rooms...and about 30 seconds into the fantasy, my cabin has become Balmoral.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

A novella:

As a child of nine (?), I went duck hunting for the first time. I was unpacking the guns when my grandfather caught my attention. He was walking towards the blind and had spotted a goose in the water. He gestured wildly for me to shoot it. I loaded the 1940's 10 gauge side by side and let fly. Both barrels. Without a good cheek or shoulder weld. Woke up slumped at the back of the blind with my ears ringing and what was to be the biggest bruise of my young life developing on my right bicep. Worse, I'd wounded it. The dog brought it in and it waddled over to bleed out on my boot giving me very accusatory looks.

A few years later in a pit blind, I brought down two ducks with a single shot.

These days I couldn't hit the side of a barn from the inside. But I enjoy the company of a great friend and think that that may have been my grandfather's point all along. "What's for dinner?" my grandmother would ask. Sometimes my grandfather would shout back: "Chicken!"