Working Like Elmer Fudd

 

The other night my beloved called me upstairs to the main floor of our house to show me something outside. I looked out the window to see a five-point buck deer, not ten feet away, staring back at us with curiosity. I said to my wife “If only I had a rifle, the creature would have nothing to fear from me.” I couldn’t hit a bullet with the broadside of a barn.

Not that I haven’t tried. After all, if you live in Montana hunting is practically mandatory, especially for men and boys. Hunters generally think of non-hunters as less masculine than they ought to be, and nobody wants to be labeled a sissy. So, I started hunting when I was fourteen, seeing it as more of a duty than a profitable form of recreation.

We did most of our hunting in the Missouri breaks, a beautiful and rugged territory filled with wildlife. Before I was of legal age, I’d gone on hunts just for the fun of it. What I quickly discovered was that hunting was misery and I treated it as a form of penance. My two older brothers loved it, but I couldn’t see the benefits. Nonetheless, to self-ostracize would have been a tacit admission that I was some sort of girly-man.

So off I’d go, hoping that at least the food dad cooked over a campfire would compensate for the suffering to come. It didn’t work out that way. During the day we walked up and down the coolies in search of our prey. The outcome was generally nugatory. The deer knew all the good hiding spots. Truth be told I was rooting for the deer, not because I was a PETA-type. I’m just lazy, and when someone got a deer it meant dragging it to the truck, usually parked a mile away from the kill-zone. Maybe I should have rejoiced in these rare opportunities to do something that required muscle power, but I suffered from chronic laziness and had exactly zero desire to inflict pain upon my flabby body.

Then one day, while armed with a Winchester 30-30 lever-action carbine pop gave me as wages for helping re-model our house, I had the chance to redeem myself. It was mid-afternoon and we’d spent most of the day trudging up and down the coolies, only to come up empty. Then, as I stood alone trying to catch my breath, a little doe came meandering up a ravine a mere ten or so feet from me. I took aim—and missed. I again keyed in on the animal, fired, and missed again. I fired four more times and on the last shot a hit—in the hoof. The deer collapsed writhing. I ran up to finish it off. After reloading I stood three feet away, fired at the doe’s head, and missed. I fired again and again and missed again and again. Finally, my cousin Chris walked up and killed the hapless animal with his nine-millimeter pistol. I’m guessing the doe stood at the gates of deer heaven laughing her guts out. I was embarrassed, of course, but at that moment I resolved to never hunt again.

It was clear to me that I was the mirror image of Elmer Fudd, the long-suffering hunter of “wabbits,” particularly Bugs Bunny, who always gets the best of the idiot Fudd.

Over the years, I’ve twice broken my vow to never hunt again. Once when I was twenty and went out with my younger brother in search of white tail. For some reason my shooting skills had improved. I fired at a deer about four hundred yards away. The bullet landed between its legs and he hurried out of the area. I was duly proud of myself for nearly bagging the critter—and relieved. I didn’t have the drag the thing to the truck,

The second time was thirty years ago when my younger brother and I took my eight-year-old nephew to the breaks. The wind was howling like a hurricane. You couldn’t stand outside for more than a minute because it was impossible to breathe. Plus, the deer– showing IQs a hundred points higher than ours–hid in the coolie bottoms, out of the wind. I did take a shot at a deer walking up the side of a coolie about five hundred yards away. My nephew was anxious for someone to fire. I missed, but not, I think, because of my lousy skills, but because the bullet got maybe a foot out of the barrel and blew into the next county.

I’ve learned a great lesson from my hapless efforts at hunting: It’s great if you love it, and useless toil if you hate it.

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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Elmer Fudd was one of the few Looney Tunes characters not originally voiced by Mel Blanc. The man behind him was a radio actor by the name of Arthur Q. Bryan. His most famous credited role was as Doc Gamble on Fibber McGee and Molly. He never got on screen credit for the role but in the early days when Elmer was drawn as being a bit rotund it was a bid to copy Bryan’s physical appearance.

    Bryan passed away in 1959 and a variety of people tried their hand at imitating him, mostly to unsatisfactory results.

    • #1
  2. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    But did you ever open your eyes when you shot?

    • #2
  3. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    EODmom (View Comment):

    But did you ever open your eyes when you shot?

    Don’t remember for sure, but I think probably not.

    • #3
  4. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Mike, good for the you who wouldn’t shoot to kill.  The other you, who emerged on a couple of occasions, well… he’s not my cup of tea. 

    I have never once pointed a gun at a deer, although I can’t say the same about humans.  But I have had a few deer in the headlamps of my SUV, and I never felt the least desire to stamp on the gas.  I just sat there, and looked at them.  And they looked at me.  And that seemed just fine all around, as far as I was concerned.

    Yeah, I eat meat, and I enjoy it.  But, like cleaning my gutters, killing the animal is something I would much prefer to leave to others.  If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.

    • #4
  5. Slow on the uptake Thatcher
    Slow on the uptake
    @Chuckles

    There is a young man I know, let’s call him Bubba, that doesn’t hunt.  His father, now a grandfather many times over, was an occasional hunter.  Anyway, as a teenager Bubba complained to his father that he needed to learn about hunting.

    So his dad got him a deer rifle but wouldn’t let him go hunting until he’d demonstrated he knew how to handle his weapon safely and could consistently hit the target.  Only then did the two of them go hunting.  When they spotted a deer in an open field dad said, “There he is!”  Bubba: “What should I do?” Dad: “Shoot Him!”  Bubba shot, one shot, the deer went down, so Bubba trended to his dad and said, “That’s it?”  “That’s it!”  Bubba has never been hunting since.

    I wasn’t there for the action but Bubba’s father told me this at church in response to a question of mine. Bubba was in earshot and gave no indication of objection.  

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):
    so Bubba trended to his dad and said, “That’s it?” “That’s it!” Bubba has never been hunting since.

    Well, that’s not quite it,is it? You have to clean and gut it, or field dress it, or fillet it, or whatever you do to deer. And haul it out of the woods.

    I have nothing against hunting. I wish more people would do it. There were times when I was young when I wanted to take it up, but it was incompatible with my schedule. But the only regret I have is not knowing how to finish the job if I were to shoot a deer (which I wouldn’t expect to find easy to make myself do).

    Mrs R and I have butchered chickens in our backyard — many dozens of them — but I don’t know how to take a deer or other large mammal and turn it into food. 

     

    • #6
  7. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Elmer Fudd was one of the few Looney Tunes characters not originally voiced by Mel Blanc. The man behind him was a radio actor by the name of Arthur Q. Bryan. His most famous credited role was as Doc Gamble on Fibber McGee and Molly. He never got on screen credit for the role but in the early days when Elmer was drawn as being a bit rotund it was a bid to copy Bryan’s physical appearance.

    Bryan passed away in 1959 and a variety of people tried their hand at imitating him, mostly to unsatisfactory results.

    Billy West, best known for his work with the Howard Stern Show and on ‘Futurama’ does a really good Elmer Fudd. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around in 1960, so Warners had to use either Mel or Hal Smith (Otis from “The Andy Griffith Show”) as Elmer’s voice. Neither ever sounded right.

    • #7
  8. Slow on the uptake Thatcher
    Slow on the uptake
    @Chuckles

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):
    so Bubba trended to his dad and said, “That’s it?” “That’s it!” Bubba has never been hunting since.

    Well, that’s not quite it,is it? You have to clean and gut it, or field dress it, or fillet it, or whatever you do to deer. And haul it out of the woods.

    I have nothing against hunting. I wish more people would do it. There were times when I was young when I wanted to take it up, but it was incompatible with my schedule. But the only regret I have is not knowing how to finish the job if I were to shoot a deer (which I wouldn’t expect to find easy to make myself do).

    Mrs R and I have butchered chickens in our backyard — many dozens of them — but I don’t know how to take a deer or other large mammal and turn it into food.

    No, of course not.  But there are books, add I do know someone (a family, actually) that learned that way.  Momma read and poppa and two girls executed.

    • #8
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    This post is part of our Group Writing Series under the March 2020 Group Writing Theme: “Working.” There are plenty of open days, so get busy and work it! Stop by and sign up now.
    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #9
  10. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I’ve been hunting once.  My dad didn’t hunt, because his dad saw a friend get shot while hunting and swore he’d never go again.  

    I brought my Winchester ’94 in 30-30.  I took it because I was told it was good for deer.  I shouldn’t have.  I never could hit anything with it.  I think the sights are messed up (or else the trigger actuator has a fault).  I had thought I had zeroed it, but apparently not well enough.  A deer came along about to the feeder 50 yards away and I shot and missed.  I’m still quite embarrassed that I missed, I take great pride in my marksmanship.

    To heck with that.  The next day I brought out my AR-15 Colt Sporter and some piggies came by about 150 yards away.  One shot, one dead pig.  I’m much better with that rifle.

    I’ve no problem shooting an animal (or a person in a war, for that matter), but it frankly was just boring (and expensive!).  It was a canned hunt, in an enclosed property, I was brought there by a friend whose brother invited us to the canned hunt.  I’d much rather go hiking in the wild and try to find something worth shooting.  I’d rather earn my kill than sit in a tree and wait for penned animals to come by.  I’ve never gone again.

    • #10
  11. crogg Coolidge
    crogg
    @crogg

    MR, love the post.  I could have written it myself, except I came from a family of bow hunters.  Bow hunting requires much more time, patience, accuracy, and skill than using a rifle, none of which I possessed.  I don’t miss it.  My only regret is that I never taught my own son and give him the same opportunity as my father had given me (even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time).

    • #11
  12. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    crogg (View Comment):

    MR, love the post. I could have written it myself, except I came from a family of bow hunters. Bow hunting requires much more time, patience, accuracy, and skill than using a rifle, none of which I possessed. I don’t miss it. My only regret is that I never taught my own son and give him the same opportunity as my father had given me (even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time).

    My brother Geof is a bow hunter. He often heads to the hinterlands by himself. He doesn’t much care if he bags a deer or elk, he just enjoys, and in a sense, reveres God’s creation. He does take his son rifle hunting, and may be teaching him bow hunting. Geof’s a life long hunter and boy is he a good shot with both bow and rifle.

    • #12
  13. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I’ve been hunting once. My dad didn’t hunt, because his dad saw a friend get shot while hunting and swore he’d never go again.

    I brought my Winchester ’94 in 30-30. I took it because I was told it was good for deer. I shouldn’t have. I never could hit anything with it. I think the sights are messed up (or else the trigger actuator has a fault). I had thought I had zeroed it, but apparently not well enough. A deer came along about to the feeder 50 yards away and I shot and missed. I’m still quite embarrassed that I missed, I take great pride in my marksmanship.

    To heck with that. The next day I brought out my AR-15 Colt Sporter and some piggies came by about 150 yards away. One shot, one dead pig. I’m much better with that rifle.

    I’ve no problem shooting an animal (or a person in a war, for that matter), but it frankly was just boring (and expensive!). It was a canned hunt, in an enclosed property, I was brought there by a friend whose brother invited us to the canned hunt. I’d much rather go hiking in the wild and try to find something worth shooting. I’d rather earn my kill than sit in a tree and wait for penned animals to come by. I’ve never gone again.

    I’m afraid I can’t blame my lousy marksmanship on the sights. I’m just incompetent(-:

    • #13
  14. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    Mike, good for the you who wouldn’t shoot to kill. The other you, who emerged on a couple of occasions, well… he’s not my cup of tea.

    I have never once pointed a gun at a deer, although I can’t say the same about humans. But I have had a few deer in the headlamps of my SUV, and I never felt the least desire to stamp on the gas. I just sat there, and looked at them. And they looked at me. And that seemed just fine all around, as far as I was concerned.

    Yeah, I eat meat, and I enjoy it. But, like cleaning my gutters, killing the animal is something I would much prefer to leave to others. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.

    I don’t think you’re a hypocrite. It’s perfectly okay to eat meat and decline to hunt. 

    In Montana hunting is the measure chosen to cull the vast deer population. Given that the state has a total land area of 175, 000 sqare miles and only a million residents the deer population wold be out of control without hunting and you don’t want to see deer starving or killed by coyotes. Hunting is the only means available to reduce the deer population.

    That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to refuse to participate.

    • #14
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