I have lots of great hunting memories, some fun, some scary and many just happy.
Sometimes I shot odd things while hunting. One year Harold and I were easing along Dearing Branch headed to some oaks to set up for squirrels. Something ahead of us on a low limb caught our attention. It was big and brown and since both of us had .410s, so we planned to shoot it together.
Somehow I misunderstood Harold when he said shoot, and I did, alone. But the great horned owl fell. I have no idea why it was active during the day; it should have been roosted high in a big tree and hidden from us. It was huge, much bigger than I ever imagined. It is the only owl I ever shot and somewhat regret killing it, but that was 60 years ago!
The first year Linda and I were married she taught school while I finished my senior year at UGA. Money was tight and we ate anything I could kill, just like my family did growing up. Squirrels and rabbits were the main meat de jour.
One afternoon I saw a ball of fur up in a bare oak tree. If the leaves had been on the trees I would never have seen it. But with my scope I could tell it was a big raccoon.
I shot it, the first one I ever killed, and took it back to our trailer in town and cleaned it. I contacted the cook at my fraternity house and he told me to boil it for three hours then cover it with BBQ sauce and bake it.
I thought it was good but Linda not so much. Tasted like BBQ chicken thighs to me!
Years later I shot a beaver on my pond and just had to cook it. A Google search turned up a recipe for Mississippi Baked Beaver, a legitimate recipe. It involved boiling, sautéing and then braising it. It was the reddest meat I have ever seen, and the beaver was almost impossible to skin. I had to cut every inch of hide between meat and skin, there was no stripping it off.
Again, I thought it tasted pretty good but Linda did not like it. It was not delicious enough for me to clean another one, though.
A few years ago on-line I told the tale of shooting a killdeer (we always called them killdees) because ai wanted to see exactly what it looked like. They were common in our field but very spooky and I could never get near them. A few times shooting doves one would fly near my blind, but I definitely did not want to explain to the others on the field that I knew it was a kildeer not a dove if I took a shot.
I did sneak up on one and hit it with my .22, finally getting a good look at its brown and white feathers with golden highlights. It was very pretty and I never wanted to shoot another one.
When I told this on-line, a troll in the group threatened to sent the federal wildlife folks to arrest me since killdeers are federally protected birds. I jerked the jerk around a little on-line – everyone in the group made fun of him he was so out of it – and he got madder and madder, making all kinds of threats.
When I pointed out I had said up-front I had shot the bird when I was 12 years old and that was in 1962, long before the law protecting them went into effect in 1976, he shut up and disappeared from the group for as few days.
I did not cook the killdeer but I did cook many other birds I shot as a kid. They all tasted just like the doves we shot. Robins, bluejays, sparrows and blackbirds all tasted about the same roasted over an open fire in the woods or in my rock fort. And all were very tough, from my method of cooking or their age.
The only two birds I would not shoot were cardinals and bluebirds. They were off-limits, just too pretty to shoot. But stalking all others and getting close enough to kill them with my BB gun or .22 helped me learn a lot about hunting and shooting that was useful later in life.