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A screech owl and little pup tent

Welcome to 2014! Wasn’t it just yesterday we were writing 19 instead of 20? Where, oh where has the years gone? Recently while I was reading Jim Newcomb’s column about hunting in the Ouachita Mountains, I began to reflect back to my years of hunting with Frank. We did not have any of the modern hunting gear used by hunters today. Our gear consisted of an army pup tent, a granite coffee pot and an iron skillet, plus an old feather bed and an awful lot of blankets, army wool blankets. One winter we went deer hunting at, I will not attempt to spell it right, Shulley and Aliey. (If I had to find the place or go to jail I would have to spend the rest of my life in jail.) We were hunting with Frank’s brother Melvin and his wife Grace. Oh, my! It was cold. The wind was blowing ninety ought nothing as the old saying used to be. When night came Melvin and Grace slept in their car, Frank and I in the little one man pup tent. For some reason every time we were in the wild I had frequent calls from Mother Nature. I had on as many clothes as I could get on which consisted of a pair of Mr. Hugharts long handle underwear, a pair of Frank’s khaki pants and a hunting coat. As I said it was the days before fancy hunting gear. With as many pieces of clothing on it was hard to answer Nature’s Call. Every time I had to get up I would wake Frank up to go with me so I decided to go by myself. Just as I started to crawl out of the tent, a screech owl in a tree just above the tent let out a scream. Let me tell you something it nearly scared this old gal to death. Frank heard it and knew what it was. When I dived under the covers forgetting where I had started he began to laugh. The rest of his life he liked to tell about the night I forgot where I was going.

I have heard the scream of the screech owl several times and it still makes me forget where I am going even if I am in a car going down the road. It sounds just like the scream of a panther, not that I have ever heard a panther. The sound is also like the scream of a woman. The first time I ever heard that scream was right after we had moved to Trail’s End which really was at the end of the trail. One night there was one in the tree just outside the bedroom window. It let out a scream that was enough to scare anyone bad enough to cause one to have a rigor. All four of us kids hit Mama’s bed at the same time. It was a beautiful moonlit night and we had no trouble finding our Mama. Although when you are as scared as we were I think we could have found her in the dark.

On another trip to the Ouachita to hunt the weather was even colder. In fact late in the evening it started to snow. Grace didn’t go this time, just Melvin, Frank and me. It was so cold we just couldn’t get warm. Instead of all of us coming back to Greenwood with my begging the two men took me to Waldron where Brother Pat and his wife were living. We got there in the middle of the night and had to wake them up. Their house was just about as cold as it was outside as they heated with wood and did not keep a fire going at night. I just crawled in the bed with Pat and Winona. I went on a lot of hunting trips with Frank but that was the worse one of all.

Before his death we did get a big tent, a Coleman stove, cots, and lanterns. We never got to use them. Also, as women had started to wear slacks and jeans I had good warm clothes. I didn’t have to borrow long Johns anymore.

Thanks Jim for helping to stir up memories. I can’t say they are what most people would call HAPPY MEMORIES. I will just say fun memories. My sister, Maxine, used to think I was just a little off doing such things as going deer hunting in the cold of winter. At that time I wouldn’t have stayed home for anything. Mama used to tell me when Frank asks you to go with him, GO, because he might quit asking you to go with him. I don’t think she knew what it was like to live with a hunter.

You hunters who have all the modern things to take hunting, even travel trailers just don’t know what you have missed by not sleeping in a little pup tent on a cold, snowy night.

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