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#352055 - 08/19/07 09:46 AM The Swamp Rabbit
RUGER Administrator
Bambi Killa
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Registered: 11/19/99
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The Swamp Rabbit

I’m not real sure what year it was, but I would say somewhere close to 1983. That would put us both in the 15 to 16 year old mark. Mike and myself had headed out pretty early that day on our usual trek through the woods around our houses.
I had packed my backpack the night before and un-loaded it and loaded it back several times, making sure everything was there and in it’s place.
My backpack was actually an old army issue pack that I assume my cousin, Rick, had left with us, but to this day I’m still not sure where it came from.
My brother is 8 years my elder and even though I don’t have any memory of him being in the boy scouts, I do know he had a GENUINE, Boy Scouts of America mess kit. I can remember unpacking and packing that thing up time after time dreaming of the meals it surely must have prepared in it’s time.
It was metal and the “clamp” that held it all together doubled as a handle for the “skillet” that the bottom doubled as. Its surface was blackened by time spent over a fire. The top served as a plate and the little pot inside had it’s own little cover with a triangle shaped loop for lifting.
Tucked inside the pot was a well used pot lifter, a cleaning scrubber of some type, surely taken from either my mother’s sink or that of Terry’s mom’s. Terry was my brother’s running mate as he grew up. There was also a bar of soap, wrapped in plastic wrap.
Along with the mess kit, there was also several boxes of 22 rifle shells, a couple hunting knives, hot chocolate mix packages, Lipton “cup-a-soup” and a sure enough army surplus canteen full of water. At least one bandana, red or course, an extra pair of socks and a pair of gloves also graced the pack.
Extra gloves and socks were a must, as at some point in the day someone would usually break through some ice or mis-judge the depth of a mud hole and end up with wet feet. The gloves were a given since no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn’t pick stuff up out of the creek without getting the tips of your glove wet.
Mike met me at the corner of our yard, already having made the solo trek of probably a quarter mile, from his house to mine.
We affirmed our readiness to each other and then discussed whether we should go back across the 100 yards of field back towards his house, or go straight back down the fence row that bordered our 4 acres.
We decided that we would walk down our fencerow, then when it ran out we would then turn and return to “his” side of the field to better our chances of encountering game. The harvested bean field wouldn’t present much opportunity for shots at game if we were out in the middle of it.
I can still remember how big that 50-acre field appeared every time I climbed our back fence and started across it. Who would have thought only a few years later we would be the owners of firearms that would be capable of dropping a deer in it’s tracks at that distance and even further.
As of now though, our Marlin Model 60 semi-auto 22 rifles were the weapons of choice. We had opted for them instead of our 20 gauges for this trip due to our fine tuned marksman skills, and I suppose the thrill of the added skill it would take to kill something with them.
Some would say we didn’t have any money and 22’s were cheaper than shotgun shells but I am sure it was the skill thing.
We made the trip to the creek without incident, but we also were only able to get off a couple quick shots and small songbirds as they zipped in and out of the underbrush along the fencerow.
We had a couple good shots but they were at birds perched higher in the trees and since we were shooting our rifles, that would have sent our bullets far beyond the safe range and towards houses in the distance so we had to pass on those.
The creek ran in a Western direction for about 2 miles, then hit a larger creek that flowed due South towards the South Fork of the Obion River. Long before then it went through a bottom that was owned by Mike’s grandmother. We would travel probably 5 miles total to this point, yet as the crow flies, it was only about a mile from Mike’s house.
Not long after entering the creek but before our first culvert crossing I tested the ice beyond it’s limits and broke through. The thought of traveling all the way back across the field to retrieve new socks was disheartening but then I remembered I had an extra pair with me. Luckily the inside of my boot wasn’t wet enough to matter and in a matter of just a few minutes we were back on the trail.
We had traveled all the way down the first creek and made it to where the second creek flows through what we called “Toolas Bottom”. That was Mike’s grandmother’s name, Toola.
We decided to rest for a bit and there was an old barn, or building of some sort there and only the rafters and tin roof remained and they were lying on the ground. There were still a few inches of snow left on the top of it as Mike put his heavy, tired foot on it to rest.
I’m not sure how to explain the noise a rabbit makes as it darts from it’s resting place when flushed, but I call it a swoosh. I heard it and instinctively spun around and pointed the Model 60 in the direction of the rabbit and the safety clicked off at the same time. I had basically perfected this maneuver from performing it countless times on squirrels, birds and rabbits.
What followed however was pure skill, or luck, however you see it. I shouldered the rifle and squeezed off a single round.
The next sight I saw was the huge swamp rabbit flipping head over heels, each contact with the ground kicking up a mixture of snow, water and mud.

To be continued:
_________________________
Youth is wasted on the young.

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#352072 - 08/19/07 10:03 AM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: RUGER]
Cuttin Caller Moderator
Blister
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Registered: 09/29/03
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 Quote:
To be continued:

Never fails just when you put yourself in scene you see the To be continued.

Cool story Ruger

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#352319 - 08/19/07 02:03 PM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: Cuttin Caller]
RUGER Administrator
Bambi Killa
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Registered: 11/19/99
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Loc: TN

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I looked at Mike and he looked at me and we both just BUSTED out laughing. I’m not sure which we were laughing at more; the fact that I actually hit the rabbit or the way it flipped head over heels like that.
The shot hit the rabbit just behind the head and severed the spine. Lucky as an outhouse rat, but none-the-less we had a rabbit on the ground.
We both had killed our share of rabbits and squirrels in our time but neither of us had ever seen anything like this.
Looking at the rabbit, it was twice the length of a regular cottontail and probably weighed 3 times as much.
We spent a long time just looking at it, rubbing it’s beautiful fur and just taking turns picking it up and being in awe of its very heavy weight.
After much discussion we both decided that was probably the largest rabbit ever killed in the state of Tennessee, probably the world.
I removed my Buck 110 knife from my backpack and asked Mike if he wanted to skin the rabbit or build the fire.
He told me that since I had killed it I could skin it and he would build us a fire.
I walked down to the creek and found a deep enough hole that I could remove the ice from it and have enough “clean” water to dress the rabbit while Mike built us a fire.
We ended up with the “shoulders” and “hind-quarters” of the rabbit, two packages of cup-a-soup and two cups of hot chocolate.
We would de-bone the meat and just stab it onto the end of a sharpened stick and hold it in the fire long enough to get it done. I say it is done, but to this day I can remember Mike’s reaction to biting into it and seeing blood run down his fingers. I really don’t think he has eaten rabbit since.
After burning just about everything in sight of the fire and eating / drinking everything we had to prepare we both suddenly came to a rather “sobering” conclusion.
It was DARK!
Neither of us had a watch but we knew it had to be approaching 6:00 p.m. because out of the glow of the fire it was slam dark.
In one sense I kinda figured my mom would be mad, but then again this wasn’t the first time we had been gone from daylight till after dark.
I will admit if I had been by myself the half mile walk to the gravel road would have been a little scary, but with both of us there and neither of us wanting to appear frightened we made it fine, and quick.
The mushy, late November gravel road had hardened up again with the setting sun and falling temperatures and I can still hear the small crunches as we stepped in unison making our way down the dark road. I would have probably given my entire weeks allowance of three dollars for a flashlight at that point. I could see the security light in Mike’s backyard but I knew it wouldn’t afford much light on my solo walk from his house to mine. I would have to travel the half-mile down the lane, through the woods then up the hill to my house alone.
I had made it about half way down the driveway to my house when I could hear the familiar “growl” of my brother’s car coming down the road to our house. As the glow of the Plymouth’s headlights and the vibration of the big block 440 hit me I knew he had no idea of the adventure we had been on that day.
I doubt very seriously if he knew how glad I was to be home again either.


Thinking back to times like this brings a warm feeling to my heart and a smile to my face. It also, however, brings a tinge of sadness to me as in today’s times the ability of our sons and daughters to spend 10-12 hours of the day gone from home with no adult supervision is basically unthinkable.
Even now, as I sit here and think back even though the field behind my parents home is still there as are the creeks and bottom behind Toola’s pond there are no less than 5 new houses on that route.
Changes in the times we live in and ever-shrinking “wild” habitat make days like this rare and ever more valuable.
_________________________
Youth is wasted on the young.

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#352379 - 08/19/07 02:52 PM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: RUGER]
gil1
12 Point


Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 6349
Loc: Nashville, TN

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Fun read, Ruger.
_________________________
It is not the killing ...; it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.

Dr. Saxton Pope

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#352550 - 08/19/07 05:43 PM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: gil1]
Cuttin Caller Moderator
Blister
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Thanks for a good read.

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#352767 - 08/19/07 08:04 PM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: Cuttin Caller]
Cuttin Caller Moderator
Blister
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Registered: 09/29/03
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How can you save this without all the tndeer stuff? lol
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#352899 - 08/19/07 08:50 PM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: Cuttin Caller]
gil1
12 Point


Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 6349
Loc: Nashville, TN

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Copy and save into Word Document. Seriously, I've done it because some of these tndeer stories are worth it!
_________________________
It is not the killing ...; it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.

Dr. Saxton Pope

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#356726 - 08/21/07 02:24 PM Re: The Swamp Rabbit [Re: gil1]
cruff10
10 Point


Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2979
Loc: Wartburg, TN (Morgan Co)

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Good read ruger...keep them comming...
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