The other white meat

When someone mentions dangerous game, most of us probably think of ferocious beasts with long claws, sharp teeth, and grouchy attitudes. Animals that will attack with homicidal intent even when they aren’t backed into a corner. Fauna you’d just as soon not run into in a dark alley, or any other kind of alley. Critters the very mention of which strikes fear into the hearts of brave men. Grizzly bears. African lions. Armadillos. Maybe you’ve never hunted any of these species, and aren’t aware of the danger involved. Well, I’ve hunted all of them, with the exception of grizzly bears and African lions, and I’m here to tell you that being charged by one of these creatures can cause your blood to run cold. Lukewarm, anyway. The last time I was attacked by a killer armadillo was on a routine rabbit hunt on the Draper ranch several years ago. Dale Geistweidt and I were running around with Ben, Joel and Roddie Draper, looking for rabbits (sort of like Elmer Fudd), when Ben noticed an armadillo rooting around beside the pasture road. When Ben stopped I jumped out of the back of the pickup and pulled my Ruger Single-Six .22 pistol. The deadly armadillo was no more than twenty feet away when it turned toward me, adopting a fighting stance. Or some kind of stance. It’s hard to tell when the animal’s legs are so short they are mostly contained inside its body. Anyway, I cocked my pistol, took careful aim, and shot him (the armadillo) just above the head. Instead of running away, as you would expect an armadillo to do, he came running straight toward me. I shot him again. He kept coming. I kept shooting, hitting him every time, and he kept coming. He was evidently determined to get to me before he died so he could bleed on my shoes. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I’m a crack shot, or else I would never have been able to hit the crack between the armadillo’s head and his shell. When he finally keeled over he was no more than a foot from my foot. We all breathed a hugh sigh of relief, both because of my close call and from the knowledge that there was one less armadillo in the world to spread his deadly armadillo leprosy, which has been known to cause cancer in laboratory rats who associate with armadillos. I have since quit shooting armadillos, not so much because of the danger of being attacked, but because I found out that the armadillo is the only natural enemy of fire ants, which are extremely hard to hit with a .22 pistol. You can shoot up the mound, but a definite head count is difficult to determine. Another animal we usually don’t think of as all that dangerous to hunt is the common feral hog. I have hunted hogs off and on all my life, and have been charged on more than one occasion, but I’ve never gotten so much as a scratch. Because hogs can’t climb trees, and I can. I’ve seen some porkers that would tip the scales at 600 pounds or better. That’s big, but nowhere near as big as the hog Dwayne Spann shot recently in Mason County. Dwayne was bowhunting with Pete Garcia and an unnamed idiot when he noticed a large, black object lying in a big mudhole. At first he thought it was a dead bull, but on inspection through binoculars it was determined that the object was a very large hog. Rather than shoot the hog in the mud and try to figure out how to get it out, Dwayne talked the idiot into sneaking around and trying to run the critter out of the mud. Idiot may be a little harsh, but this fellow was definitely intellectually challenged, because he went. Sort of like David trying to scare Goliath. Well, the hog didn’t scare. He came out of the mud, but when he did he came straight for the idiot, who evidently had a few operational brain cells rattling around in his head, because he took off running the other direction. Dwayne got off a clean shot, despite the mud involved, and hit the hog in a lung, but the arrow hardly slowed the monster down. It kept going after the idiot. So the idiot was in the lead, the hog hot on his tail, and Dwayne, all six foot seven inches and 300 pounds of him, fell in behind, hoping to get another shot. I have no idea what Pete Garcia was doing by this time, but I strongly suspect that he was rolling around on the ground, laughing. Dwayne managed to gain a little on the parade, so he stopped and shot the hog again, this time in the caboose, which is the best place to shoot a huge hog, especially if it’s running away from you. I suppose I should mention that you should not try this at home. If Dwayne had missed the hog he could have hit the idiot, and an Easton 2315 arrow equipped with a 125 grain Thunderhead shot out of an 80 pound bow makes a very ugly hole. And let’s not forget that an idiot is a terrible thing to waste. You never know when you’ll need a decoy again. The hog finally bit the big chili dog, and the party needed a winch truck to haul it back to camp. They also needed the winch to field dress the beast, although I haven’t figured that one out yet. The camp scale only registered to 300 pounds, so the hog was weighed a quarter at a time. The head and cape alone went 260. When the dust settled and the idiot calmed down, the final tally for the porker was 1089 pounds. So if you’re interested in some real hog hunting, come on down to Mason County, where you’ll never hear “Where’s the pork'” But if you decide to go after the big one, be sure to bring an idiot with you. And watch out for armadillos. Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who shoots a longbow, because he doesn’t need training wheels on his bow. Write to him at PO Box 564, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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