Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Soured Out

Soured Out

One Saturday I was out at a friend’s ranch out here in west Texas in a town named Knickerbocker. I was with my buddy Terry and his 12 yr old son Clay and my 16 year old daughter, Erin. Terry is one of those master naturalist guys. If you see a weed, he knows the common name, kingdom, phylum/division, class, order, family, genus and species. He won’t only tell you if it’s edible or not, he’ll tell you how to prepare it and which animals eat it and what it tastes like. There is nothing growing in, on or above the west Texas landscape that the man doesn’t know.

So as we’re driving around we see an area with some small plants in it. I don’t remember the name of the plant so I’ll just refer to it as “sour patch”. Terry points it out and tells me that it has a mildly sour taste. So he picks one of the chutes and hands it to me. I took a bite and it tasted like blackberries that you pick while they’re green or red. Pleasantly sour with a taste that makes your mouth water like Niagara Falls. As we drove around the ranch we’d stop every time we saw a patch of those plants so that I could pick a handful.

I munched on them most of the day and before we left I picked a handful more to take home. When I got home I gave one to my wife who gave me that, “I don’t trust you” look and had me promise to sacrifice my life if I was pulling some sort of trick on her. Well, she tried it and while she didn’t find it the most thrilling experience in the world at least she didn’t jump out of the chair and try to strangle me with her sewing thread.

About a week and a half later, on a Tuesday, I was on my way to work one morning when I noticed I had left a couple of those chutes in my center console. They were somewhat wilted but they weren’t gnarly and discolored. Being slightly portly is a testament to my "fear no food" approach.

Sometimes, being as I’ve lived to middle age, I take it as a sign that I’ve made good decisions my entire life.

Then there are times that remind me that I’ve only made it this far in life due mostly to dumb luck and divine intervention.

I put the innocent yet slightly withered looking plant in my mouth and immediately remembered how I was told, as a child, that the longer a watermelon sat the sweeter it got as it ripened. Evidently the longer that little plant sat the more sour it got. And it tasted like it had been sitting and souring since FDR was in office! I was driving on the highway and immediately my vision went to tunnel vision as my face contorted like something that contorts really bad when it’s eaten something really sour that it never should have eaten in the first place. My lips puckered until I could see them stretching over the steering wheel towards the windshield. They were trying to escape from my face. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe through my nose and my mouth wouldn’t open. I would have given anything, including my wife and children, to be able to have taken one little breath of fresh air.

I was somehow able to maintain control of the truck but I had clenched my fists so tight around the steering wheel that I could hear it popping and cracking. I rolled my window down to try and get some air flow. My pursed lips felt the air and immediately tried to escape out of the window. Tears started streaming down my face and blinded me as my truck slowed from a mighty 65 mph to a dawdling 30 mph. I got into the emergency lane, still unable to breathe and felt a pain start at the base of my skull and course through my brain. As my truck steadily and slowly thudded over those little plastic bumps in the emergency lane I thought to myself, “That’s it. I’m going to die of a brain aneurysm brought on by rotten, super soured vegetation…if I don’t die of asphyxiation first."

I saw a child in the passenger seat of a car with his face plastered to the window and staring at me as he passed by. I’m sure he was wondering why a grown man was driving in the emergency lane, crying and apparently trying to rip his steering wheel out of his truck with his lips hanging 3 feet out of his window. I wonder how his mother explained that one to him.

About that time, my face relaxed due, I’m sure, to lack of blood flow. My face had been puckered so intensely that not a drop of blood could flow through whatever it is that blood flows through in your face. I was able to open my mouth slightly and inhale a deep, wonderful, refreshing, sour fume cleansing breath. I grabbed my bottle of water from the center console and swished it around my mouth to clean out any remnants of the vegetation and spit it out with such force that it cleared 8 lanes of the highway. I finished my drive to work and drank several cups of everything in the office to clean away the remnants of the evidence.

Copyright 2012 Bill Hancock

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Windsock Incident

A buddy of mine recently took a large piece of his thumb off when he tried to trim his thumbnail with a router.. I had great fun with that one. Now, I think that I'm going to think twice the next time I want to make fun of someone over an injury, such as a router thumbnail injury......

The Windsock Incident

So, I got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning to go hit the dove fields... A cool front had come in over night and the temp was 68 degrees so I was excited to get out there in temps NOT over 100 degrees.. :lol: :lol:

I kept the bedroom light off since it had been a long week and my wife's mother died yesterday afternoon. I was doing my best not to disturb her so she could sleep in...

I started to sit down in my bedroom desk chair to tie on my boots and that is when the clown show began..

We have hard wood floors in our bedroom so my desk chair, being on casters, rolls nice and easy... The room was pitch black but I had laid out everything last night so I could get ready quickly and silently, like a ninja. I'm not usually ninja-like being as I'm 6' 230 lbs and about the same body fat percentage as an Iowa livestock show pig.... I had even gone to the extent of putting my socks on the night before so that I could just get up and slip into my ninja dove hunting outfit.

I got up as silently as a fart in an elevator and glided like a Disney ghost over the bedroom floor to the desk.. I slipped into my hunting shirt and britches without a sound. My wife was snoring peacefully and never moved a muscle. Excellent. All is going according to plan. The day before I had promised not to wake her... I gently rolled the chair from the desk and went to sit in it to tie on my boots. Right as I bent my knees to sit, my ninja socks failed me on the slick ninja hating hardwood and I started slipping. I grabbed the arm of the chair and felt it start to fall over. I was off balance and in a half sitting position with the chair beginning to fall, my socked feet slipping and then the entire world stopped. For about 1/1000th of a second my feet stopped slipping and the chair stopped mid-tilt. I had tensed every muscle in my body and thought for that brief amount of time while everything was stopped that I had conquered a would-be dangerous situation.

But then reality bitch slapped me across the face and my socks started slipping on the floor and the chair decided that my lithe 230 ninja pounds was more than it could bear. It crashed on it's side with a thud, my socked feet went about 3' in the air and I landed on the arm of the chair on my right side. The arm of the chair caught me behind my shoulder and about 8" below it, in what at one time during my younger years would have been my latissimus muscle. This also happens to be the area where a couple of my favorite ribs are located. I laid there trying to cry quietly hoping that the crashing sound of my body had failed to wake my wife, who also happens to be a nurse. Suddenly her nightstand lamp was turned on and all I heard was, "Are you ok? What the hell did you do?"... I couldn't talk at this point due to having no wind in my lungs and a roaring pain encompassing my entire right upper body and back. I looked down at my feet and thought about the decision I had made to put my socks on before I went to bed last night. I was so proud of that idea that as I had drifted off to sleep I had congratulated myself chuckling silently and arrogantly on my ingenuity.

It suddenly didn't seem like it was that great of an idea.

I noticed, in a somewhat delayed fashion, that the sock that had been on my right foot had somehow come off. That is no small feat (pun intended). I wear a size 13 boot and being as I'm middle aged, I wear those white knee high tube socks. I saw the white sock hanging like an airport windsock from the foot board of the bed. I couldn't figure out how in the world it got there. As I'm lying there on the floor I see my wife's head peaking over the foot board. She immediately assessed the situation. Sock hanging from foot board, me lying in agony on the ground, chair toppled over, boots thrown across the floor (I owe this to my athletic ability while falling, hitting the ground, kicking a sock and yet still being able to throw my boots across the room) and my face wrenched in agony.

When you're young and you do something like this that involves some type of injury, you tend to just shake it off. Even if you have a compound fracture, you just ignore it and go on about your business. During middle age, you think the worst about any injury. I laid there thinking I had a collapsed lung, embolism or some kind of medical emergency that involved the word "Stat". I don't even know what an embolism is but as I said, my wife is a nurse and I had heard he word enough times to give flight to my exaggerated injury imagination.

In this case, I did what any man several years younger would do. I stood up, got my boots and proceeded to put them on without a word. This was not because I was trying to be tough (which I was), but because I still didn't have any air in my lungs and that whole "embolism" thought was coursing through my brain at light speed. My wife then says, "You're bleeding from a big scrape and laceration your back and you have a nasty looking bruise forming."...

"It's ok babe. Just tripped a bit."...

"How did you trip "a bit"?"

"Don't worry about it, I'm going hunting."

I told her to turn her lamp off and go back to sleep. Not because I was concerned with her sleep but mainly because I didn't want her to see my ninja face of pain.... I casually walked out the bedroom door carrying one sock, 2 boots and absolutely no pride.

And now it's been diagnosed as a laceration, deep muscle contusion and bruised ribs.

I did go hunting. I didn't get any dove because I'm right handed and the first time I put the shotgun to my shoulder and pulled the trigger as a suicidal dove flew right at me, it felt like another ninja had snuck up beside me and stuck his hand through my body and ribcage while trying to rip out my lung. I stayed out walking the hunting area for another 2 hours just for good measure before I had to wander back to my truck.

copyright Bill Hancock 2012

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Tribe Of Jan

The Tribe Of Jan

There are very few people in this world that stand out among the thousands that you will meet during your life. The kind of person that makes those around them better people without those people realizing it. Someone who might have the answers you are looking for at a particular point in your life but who would guide you to discovering those answers yourself rather than just giving them to you.

Jan Eileen King was one of those very rare people.

She passed away on August 27th, 2010.

Now, we all know that no matter how mean someone was in life, it seems to be all forgotten when they die. Most people who knew that person find something nice to say about them at the funeral or at the gathering at someone's house after said funeral. It's the old "let bygones be bygones" attitude and everyone goes off back to their lives afterward. People don't like to speak ill of the dead. Most times the deceased is never given a second thought by those people.

Jan was nothing like that. She was one of the most loving people in the world as many mothers and grandmothers are. Her kids and her grandchildren adored her, as did everyone who knew her. As with most people remembered fondly, she was always there when you needed a friend and more importantly, she always there when you didn't know what you needed.

You see, Jan had a gift. A very, very rare gift. A gift that is hard to explain and even harder to get others who didn't know her to understand. Especially via a blog written by a moron. But, I promise to do my best.

Jan didn't have a perfect life early on. She was molested as a child and later her first marriage was unsuccessful. Her second marriage though would last her the rest of her life. It was a wonderful coupling of two incredibly strong, moral people. She went through two pregnancies but they lost both children at birth or just prior to birth. A lesser person by this point would have given up on life. Jan and her husband Glenn didn't let this stop them. They adopted 2 children and raised them to be wonderful people.
I knew Jan for 20+ years but never knew her religious beliefs or unbelief. That is one of the many things Jan would let people work out for themselves.

You see, she was a gentle breeze. She wasn't a hurricane force wind that shoved something down your throat nor did she condemn you for having a different view of someone or some event. When you talked to Jan she guided you down your own path without you knowing it. She imparted knowledge to you that you may not realize for a long time afterward.

Jan and Glenn were married for over 30 years. Glenn and I would go into lengthy political debates and suddenly, at some point in the evening, Jan would say pleasantly "Well, I think we're all tired so why don't we continue this tomorrow?" When it came to other discussions, if you had a different point of view on something, Jan would say "Wow, how did you come to that conclusion?" She didn't say that to challenge you, she genuinely wanted to understand how you came to your conclusions and many times, you would be stating your case and find that somewhere along the way that your logic was flawed. Jan didn't say a word or say "I told you so" or even hint that you had been previously wrong. She'd sit and smile and talk to you about the subject or any subject for that matter. That was her gift. Jan could correct you without ever saying a contrary word, she could let you find your own path and even if it differed from hers, she would find your path just as interesting as hers.

One time many years ago I was going through troubled period as we all do from time to time. I was on the phone with Glenn and Jan and talking about the situation and expecting them, as my friends, to take my side and tell me how I was right and the other person was wrong, etc. You know, the typical things you expect your friends to say. Jan had rarely spoken during the conversation. At the end of my rambling she said, "Well, I'm not going to say I hope for any particular outcome in anyone's favor but I do hope everyone is satisfied and can accept whatever outcome there is."

That was Jan. And she was right. As always, she was right. Those of us who knew and loved her couldn't wait to just sit down and talk to her. We could talk about any subject and you knew that you would learn something from her. She might only say 10 words in 3 hours but those words would shed a light on some aspect of the subject that you probably had not considered before.

There are few people that can teach you without you knowing it, few people that can say something contrary to your belief on a subject in such a way as to not offend you or call you "wrong". Jan either had you rethinking your feelings on a given subject or reaffirmed your current standing on an issue but in each instance, you learned something. She did it without malice, without passing judgment and without offending. She honestly wanted to know how you felt and what you thought and the logic you used to arrive at a particular decision or stand on any subject, life, love or politics.

And the most wonderful thing someone can do in this world is teach you something that you will relish and carry with you for the rest of your life. Someone that can teach you something that you happily and excitedly pass down to your children and grandchildren.

And if you're really really good at it, you can do it without them even realizing it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Boudreaux and Band Aids.

Boudreaux staggered home very late after another evening with his drinking buddy, Thibodeaux. He took off his shoes to avoid waking his wife, Clotile. He tiptoed as quietly as he could toward the stairs leading to their upstairs bedroom, but misjudged the bottom step. As he caught himself by grabbing the banister, his body swung around and he landed heavily on his rump. A whiskey bottle in each back pocket broke and made the landing especially painful. Managing not to yell, Boudreaux sprung up, pulled down his pants, and looked in the hall mirror to see that his butt cheeks were cut and bleeding. He managed to quietly find a full box of Band-Aids and began putting Band-Aids best he could on each place he saw blood. He then hid the now almost empty box and shuffled and stumbled his way to bed.

In the morning, Boudreaux woke up with searing pain in both his head and butt and Clotile staring at him from across the room.

She said, "You were drunk again last night weren't you Boudreaux?"

Boudreaux said, "My chere, why you say such a mean ting?"

"Well," Clotile said, "it could be the open front door, it could be the broken glass at the bottom of the stairs, it could be the drops of blood trailing through the house, it could be your bloodshot eyes, but mostly, it's all those Band-Aids stuck on the downstairs mirror."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Kiss - Joke

A tough looking group of bikers were riding when they saw a girl about to jump off a bridge so they stop.

The leader, a big burly man, gets off his bike and says, "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to commit a suicide," she says.

While he did not want to appear insensitive, he didn't want to miss an opportunity he asked "Well, before you jump, why don't you give me a Kiss?"

So, she does and it was a long, deep lingering kiss.

After she's finished, the biker says, "Wow! That was the best Kiss I have ever had. That's a real talent you are wasting. You could be famous

Why are you committing suicide?"

"My parents don't like me dressing up like a girl......"

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Is there anything in this world better than pork? Bacon, ham, cracklin's, shoulders, babyback ribs, St. Louis style ribs, from the tail to the oink it's all good. It's one of the few things I don't ever get tired of seeing some pretentious chef or travel host eat on whatever show they're on. Although, I really wasn't that enraptured by watching Andrew Zimmern eat pork balls or pork bunghole. I guess that would be the exception.

It does seem at times that every Golden Corral fry cook has a show these days and I avoid most of them. Instead I tend to watch Phineas & Ferb or catch a rerun of Blazing Saddles on one of the cable networks because you know that BZ is ALWAYS showing on one of them! Of course there is always the SyFy network with some B-movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips or Randy Quaid fighting aliens or natural disasters. But since those rarely have any pork (other than the acting) I tend to just fire up the smoker and get to cooking.

I think the main issue I have with some people cooking pork is that they seem to over season it. You don't need 20 herbs and spices to make pork taste good. Most times you just need some salt and pepper and a smoker. I see pork shoulder recipes that call for ingredients such as Chinese 5 spice or red wine vinegar or olive tapenade or sazon seasoning and whatever else some chef can think of to put on it that someone hasn't done before. Just because no one ever cooked a pork shoulder with axle grease and testicle sweat doesn't mean you should just so that you can "put your own spin" on it.

Yesterday we went fishing from around 6 p.m. until darkness set in. We didn't catch any fish so my wife, daughter and I stopped at the grocery store. Here in small town west Texas we don't have "supermarkets", we have "grocery stores". Usually the strangest thing we ever see in our local grocery store is the Mormon women from that FLDS ranch when they come in to stock up on food and lawyers. Other than that everything is pretty normal. Well, west Texas "normal". So, where was I? Oh, yeah, we went fishing and then to the grocery store. We bought a small pork shoulder since we are only 3 humans and 3 dogs in our house. Our dogs think they're human but I figure any dog in this world that is loved and cared for properly most likely thinks it is human. If it doesn't then the dog's human family did something wrong. Back to the pork...

So after we got home and unloaded the fishing gear and groceries, I took a shower. No one wants a man rubbing and marinading pork with Catfish Charlie Blood Bait on his hands and clothes, especially my wife. I took out some apple juice and poured it in a glass bowl and then put the shoulder in there to marinate overnight. As I said, you don't need to add much to pork. This morning when I opened the refrigerator to check on the pork shoulder, it looked at me from it's pool of apple juice and said "I'm ready for my closeup Mr. Demille". I was stunned that the pork actually talked to me. I was more stunned that it had soaked up over half of the apple juice. Maybe I should have been more stunned that the pork talked to me but it was before my first cup of coffee so I have that reasoning to fall back on.

Well, I just so happened to have had my digital camera with me. Yep, there I was, just woke up, no coffee yet, talking pork shoulder and lo and behold, a digital camera appearing miraculously in my hand. So here is a picture of the pork in the "marinade". "Marinade" sounds so much more fancier than "apple juice".

I let the pork rest in the "marinade" for a few while I soaked some apple wood chips in water. I then went out and lit the smoker. As you probably remember me saying, we're in west Texas. We're in the smack dab middle of some sort of biblical drought. It's so bad that we don't even make drought jokes anymore. We used to make drought jokes but then God got all serious on us and now we're afraid to mention the word thinking it may cause the drought to drag on a few more years. We had a tropical storm named "Don" that hit the coast and it was so scared of the drought that it didn't even drop any rain. Just typing the word "drought" gives me the dry mouth.

Anyway, my smoker isn't afraid of the drought. Out here the drought and fire hazards have caused the city and county to ban cooking with charcoal or wood. I just so happen to have a propane smoker so I cheat a little and put a box of wet wood chips in it and let it smoke. After I got the smoker up and running, I rubbed the shoulder with a Maple rub. Not only is it good for pork but it heals sprains and strains almost as good as WD-40.

I somehow happened to have my camera with me at the smoker and got a picture of our pork shoulder doing its thing.

I'll baste with a concoction of apple juice and brown sugar. Not much brown sugar, after all, I'm cooking a pork shoulder and not a pie. The little fella will smoke most of the day at around 250 degrees. If I fall asleep in my easy chair, the temperature may rise to 280 degrees, depending on how long my nap rages out of control. Sunday naps are notorious for causing all kinds of problems from failing to clean the garage/truck/trailer/yard/bathroom to smoker temperatures getting dangerously high.

As Lone Wadi said in "The Outlaw Josey Wales", "Endeavor to persevere" and so I shall.

© 2011 Bill Hancock

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Great Red Coyote Raid

I am descended from great east Texas hillbilly stock. Growing up I was reminded of that fact constantly through my father's never ending endeavors. I don't know if any of my ancestral family members ever married within the family but I am almost certain it must have occurred at least two or three times. There were times where my father and his family did things that just absolutely defied all common sense and were usually hilarious, even if that wasn't the intention at the beginning of the given endeavor.

My father and his brother, Henry, were hillbillies of the highest caliber that enjoyed their Schlitz beer, usually a case or two at a time. During the day they were good old hard working east Texas loggers and during the evenings they were usually too intoxicated to know what they were during the day. As you can expect, evenings were usually the time they cooked up most of their Mensa club ideas for solving some great problem that was before them. Most of the time they just argued over how to solve whatever problem they were discussing until they passed out on the front porch.

One morning we awoke to a chicken coop that had the remains of several unlucky residents that had fallen victim to some four legged prowlers in the middle of the night. Dad was incensed and told Uncle Henry that he was certain the fowl stealing suspects were wolves, and not just any wolf but none other than the dreaded east Texas Red Wolf. It didn't matter that Red Wolves hadn't been spotted in east Texas since the last covered wagon arrived from somewhere east. This was a point my mother matter-of-factly brought up to him as she casually cooked our breakfast. Well, dad felt the need to inform us for the umpteenth time that he was indeed born and raised on east Texas farms and therefore knew when he was dealing with a fearsome Red Wolf, the scourge of east Texas. My brother, Ken, was two years younger than me at 10 years old and asked dad, "Was it a coyote?" Of course dad hat to reiterate vehemently that it was a Red wolf and that he and uncle Henry would "Deal with those sons-a-bitches tonight".

Dad and uncle Henry went off to work and mom, Ken and I all did what it is that you do when you live in the country. We fed the chickens, milked our cow, did the laundry, swept off the back porch several times and took periodic naps in the shade. The chickens were highly important to us because we ate their eggs for breakfast and usually had fried or baked chicken two or three nights a week. They were also important to the local wild animal population who were known to snack on an escaped hen or two here and there. There were around sixty or so survivors in the chicken pen/coop that were obviously the best of the best as they had escaped the carnage brought on by the infamous Red Wolf Of East Texas.

Well, dad and uncle Henry came home from work around 6 p.m., each of them carrying a case of Schlitz beer. They assured my mother that they had a fool-proof plan to put the chicken raiding Red Wolf on the endangered species list. Mom told them it was just coyotes and to put whatever idea they had to rest before someone got hurt. They wouldn't have no part of quitting and dad was more determined than ever that they would carry out his and Uncle Henry's carefully devised plan.

But, you see, this was east Texas. As I said before, this was hillbilly country. This area of east Texas around Rusk, Texas was on the border between western Louisiana Cajuns and Texas Rednecks. A beautiful area of tall pine trees, grand cypress trees, deep rivers and abundant wild game frolicking around in meadows of deep green grass and dandelions. It was also an area full of poison ivy, poison oak, bull nettle weeds with a never ending sting that went to your soul and every kind of poisonous snake native to North America. So, you took the good with the bad.

Dad and uncle Henry had the good and noble intention of ridding us of a pack of marauding killer wolves. The bad part of the idea involved three things: Shotguns, tall trees and Schlitz beer. Even at the tender age of twelve I knew that there was no way this could end well. For me, several things came into play which had me looking forward to the evenings festivities: We didn't own a television; It got dark early that time of year; And I had been whooped with a razor strap for the hundredth time for smacking my brother with a nettle so I had nothing better to do on a Friday night than to watch my dad and uncle Henry climb two tall pine trees with shotguns, beer and flashlights.

The soon-to-be crime scene was fairly large. The chicken pen was twenty feet wide and about forty feet long with a large wooden swaybacked coop at the end. My father and Uncle Henry had been enjoying their Schlitz beer when they built the coop so there wasn't a square corner or level part of the floor in the whole danged thing. It looked like it was built by a cross eyed billy goat.

Dad slung his 20 gauge shotgun over his shoulder and shinnied up a sparsely limbed pine tree next to one corner of the coop. Uncle Henry slung his shotgun likewise and climbed a pine tree at the other end of the pen. Dad had some nylon twine with him and dropped an end down and told mother in his east Texas twang, "Anne, tie on a six pack. I'm gonna pull that case of beer up here one six pack at a time." Mother grudgingly obliged and uncle Henry quickly followed with the same request. I sat on the back porch with mom and Ken and listened to dad and uncle Henry pop the tops on beer after beer while they performed equipment checks repeatedly.

"Got yer shotgun ready, Henry?".


"Got yer flashlight handy, Henry?"


"You watchin' to the north and west?"


"Aight, I'm a'watching to the east and south. You git ready."


Now, that might seem like it was a quick conversation but it actually lasted 20 minutes or so in sober human time. Conversations in east Texas move very slow when you're obliged to take three or four sips of beer between responses.

Right after dark my dad yelled down to my mother, "Anne, you and the boys git in the house. The wolves won't show up with y'all outside on that thar back porch and there's liable to be shootin' when they do show up." The absolute core logic of the intoxicated east Texas hillbilly has never been surpassed by the rest of mankind.

Our house and out buildings sat on top of that sandy hill about 8 miles outside of Rusk. It was surrounded, as you've probably discerned, by pine trees, gum trees, willow trees and all sorts of wild shrubs and assorted undergrowth. A small stream ran along our property at the back in the shade of the pine forest. The house was a two bedroom wood framed home sparsely furnished with a wood burning pot belly stove, a rickety dining room table and four chairs that were also our living room chairs for not watching a television that we didn't own. Mostly they acted as back porch Schlitz beer drinking chairs for dad, Uncle Henry and other relatives that showed up from time to time.

Ken got sleepy went to bed around 10 o'clock. Mother and I each sat in a dining/living/Schiltz beer drinking chair next to a living room window from which we watched dad and uncle Henry as they laid in wait for the unsuspecting predators. We could hear them clearing, checking and then reloading their shotguns regularly along with the sounds of beer cans being opened from time to time. They were sure to rain certain death and destruction down on the unsuspecting wolves.

I dozed off in the multitasking chair sometime around midnight. Mother woke me with a couple of nudges with her elbow because the final act of the Great Red Coyote Hillbilly play was about to happen. We had an old kerosene lantern turned down low and I could see its reflection in the window we were looking out of. Off in the distance I heard a coyote, er, I mean a Red wolf yipping as he traipsed through the woods towards his midnight snack and certain demise. About that time I heard a second "wolf" yipping and figured it was an even match, two unsuspecting wolves against two drunk hillbillies. Two drunk hillbillies sitting in the moonlit night, fifteen to twenty feet high in pine trees with guns, beer and flashlights.

About an hour later mother and I saw the first Red Coyote arrive at the chicken pen. It was one of those bright nights that seemed even brighter with the reflection of the sand from our hill. He slowly scouted around it looking for an opening as the chickens peacefully slept inside the coop. Red Coyote number two arrived a few moments later and went right up to the gate of the pen and pushed against it a couple of times. Obviously this Red Coyote was a professional and had been in our pen before as he knew exactly where the gate was. I was somewhat surprised when mother said "You know, I don't here Bill and Henry talking. Do you think they're waiting for them to get in the pen?" Well, dad and Uncle Henry were obviously waiting with their eyes closed. The professional coyote pushed against the pen door a few more times and the hinges squeaked loudly. About that time I heard dad yell "Henry, the damned wolves are in the pen." Well, actually, they weren't "in" the pen, they were still outside it but that did not have any effect on what happened next.

I heard the loud report of dad's shotgun going off and then saw pieces of wood from the chicken coop flying. Instantly chickens started squawking and flooding out of the coop like family members from a family reunion when the last of the potato salad is gone. I heard Henry's shotgun fire and saw feathers flying in the moonlight as if someone had torn open a goose down pillow. Chickens were running blind and at high speed in the moonlight as they clucked like old women sewing a quilt. They ran into the chicken wire time and time again. About that time dad fired his shotgun at a stationary Red Coyote/Wolf. I think the animal was originally stunned at all of the commotion then just decided to hang around and see what fun was to be had. Dad missed the coyote by ten chickens and a fence post but he managed to fall backward from his perch in the pine and landed just about as squarely as you possibly could on the fence without trying to. His shotgun hit the ground about the same time his feet caught the top of the fence, bounced off and over his head, flipping him and depositing him unceremoniously face down on the ground. If there had been a net there to catch dad it would have been the greatest trapeze act of all time.

During this act, uncle Henry turned on his flashlight, dropped it, fired two more blasts from his trusty shotgun and then yelled "Bill! I got one!" Dad was face down on the ground and trying to suck wind into his deflated lungs. He didn't respond to Henry other than to make some labored sucking sounds and I think he may have even cried a little bit.

Mother and I ran out to check the damage to dad, the chickens and the dreaded Red Coyote Wolves. After a couple of hours the final tally was:

2 entire cases of Schlitz beer.
11 chickens dead due to being shot with shotguns.
8 chickens apparently dead of heart attack or due to sustained catastrophic damage from repeatedly running into the chicken wire.
5 chicken remains found outside of the pen after they had been killed and consumed by the Red scourges of east Texas, most likely during or right after the mayhem.
1 chicken coop wall with numerous bullet holes from at least 2 shotgun blasts.
1 broken arm
1 dislocated shoulder
1 broken shotgun butt

No Red Wolf Coyotes were harmed.

© 2011 Bill Hancock