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Keeping Up With The Jones’
By Tod Jonson
People in Southern Alabama have an idea that they are just ‘down-home-sorta-folks’ who enjoy everything and that you are going to enjoy it with them. The Jones family of three brothers wanted to go hunting and take me along. Little did they know that I am totally against killing animals for sport.
One weekend in September, the countryside sounds as though rehearsals are being held for WWIII. I am uncertain if it is the official start of the hunting season but every red-blooded hunter is urged to take a gun, his dog, and his murderous inclinations into the woods in search of “sport.”
An announcement in a local paper advised that a gunsmith was offering a complete range of artillery at pre-season discounts on all of his 60 or 70 models. .
But curiosity gathered steam, and I joined the Jones boys to see their arsenal of weapons with “electronic sights,” even though I doubted that I could handle anything dangerous; besides, why would I need an electronic sight to shoot myself in the foot. It didn’t take long to realize that the real fascination with gun mania had to do with the outfits and accessories that made one look like a rugged expert.
The Jones “boys” (aged between 65 and 70) took me to a preview of these hunting fashions. The racks of gear looked like a small paramilitary depot: cartridge bandoliers, plaited leather rifle slings, game pouches, wilderness boots by paratroopers, fearsome knives with nine-inch blades, bottles of red wine in designer belts, and a new collar with a tinkling bell for each doggy.
The bell was to signal hunters that it was his dog, not the stalked game of the season. I immediately bought a bell attached to a glitter neck brace. If they could not hear it from the loud reports from guns, I could still be spotted shining in the bushes. Outside, to show I was “having fun” with the guys, I raised my gun, and pulled the trigger. I shot a tree dead.
Dogs have no concept of the idea that hunting stops with a signal of lunch. Hunting was not that important anyway, but lunch was. Big Brother, Bobby Jones, called “lunch!” and all three of them, with me, came out of the woods camouflage-clad and headed for the van parked by the side of the road. One had his dog with him. The other two, plus my borrowed dog, were nowhere to be seen. After much loud calling, a symphony of bells exited from the trees as if they had discovered another grander toilet masquerading as a tree near the car.
The biggest relief was that neither fowl nor animal received a scratch by all this armored battle gear. It was my own gunshot and a murdered tree that left any indication that we were within a hundred miles of the place. I felt that the good ole boys just wanted to play dress up, look serious and pretend to be alert to the opening of “hunting” season.
In fact, Ken (the youngest brother at 65) accidently nicked his little finger on the knife hanging from his over-loaded waist belt. The middle brother got woozy and started to swoon at the sight of blood. I suspect that if they had “captured” anything in the woods, it would live to be 300 years old since none of the three would have killed it. The Jones boys bought upwards of 12 guns in different sizes and makes. I suppose they intended carrying them like golf clubs, pulling out #4 in case a tiger attacked them downtown, or #10 if a rabbit should come hopping along.
This outing costs the “boys” more than $4,000—all just to have lunch in the woods while dressed up to play make-believe. Violence wasn’t their thing, especially in hot weather—but each of the guys, along with their wives, talked excitedly about hunting in the snow in December, and combining that with a bit of skiing. It might be hard, however, spotting reindeer in Alabama while shooting from a ski lift, especially with no snow.
I now have slightly-used camouflaging clothing for sale. Doggy and guns remain in Alabama, and I will not return until every speck of snow has disappeared. Do not worry about Easter. The bunnies are safe with these three guys, though Memorial Day is something to dread. The Jones boys could be lurking somewhere amongst all the tiny ringing bells.
Now you see why you don’t want to invite me to go anywhere that you have to dress up for, carry a big stick, and a belled guide dog for protection.