I awoke with a start. The sounds emanating from my backyard were an avian version of fingernails on chalkboard. It was 4:18 in the morning my head hurt from lack of sleep and too much salt the night before. Disturbed from a blissful dream, I cursed the animals who had ruined my slumber.
Daylight found me covered in sweat and mosquito spray. The bugs were crawling through the leaves shielding my face from patch of barren ground where my preseason scouting suggested our quarry would appear. I put my binoculars away, and told my shooter to make sure he was drinking plenty of water, as the soft clucks and of the free range flock announced there looming presence. True, it was my fault they were roaming free in the jungle behind my house. Apparently when you buy baby chicks in orders less than 25, they add baby cockerels to the order for warmth. Hard to imagine anything cold on this swealtering day in June. Earlier in the week, attempts at netting and luring into a cage with feed had failed. Each morning since, starting just after 4 am, the incessant crowing of these foul fowl would wake me, my 20 month old, and my wife. When you have a baby, your sleep is valuable.
Armed with his powerful and, unlike the roosters, silent pellet gun, Oliver soon made short work of the jungle fowl. Calling out distances and windage to him:
“6 yards, no wind”
“10 yards, top of fence”
Thump. Whap, whap, whap, whap.
“5 yards, dont shoot the hen behind it.”
Thump. Bucawk! Bucawk! Thump. Thump.
“15 yards, by mama’s lavender bed.”
When the last of the wings quit flapping and legs quit kicking, Oliver had all four roosters down. It was too hot to pluck them, so we skinned, gutted, and froze them.
As we were taking pictures, a long, angry crow rained down at us from the top of the garage. But before we could take aim, the forgotten rooster flew off into the sun—and straight into my nightmares.