Another Whistlepig for the Grill
The dark blob on the hillside caught my eye and I grabbed a pair of binoculars off the shelf to confirm what I already knew to be true. Standing there in my parent’s living room, I focused the bino’s on the dark spot but was disappointed to discover it to be a clump of grass. While wallowing in my misfortune, a big, fat woodchuck crawled through the bottom of my field of view. How could one guy be so lucky? The hunt was on.
By the time I grabbed the old open sighted Stevens .22 and had it loaded with three bullets (I always plan on a few misses), the woodchuck had moved to the base of the hill, slightly shielding me from view and providing an opportunity for me to close the distance to Hail Mary range. He suspected nothing but was about to experience everything.
At eighty-seven yards, my first position on the porch was too far to make an accurate shot. It was doable but unlikely with my shooting skills. I made the decision to leave the cover of the house and advance on his location by squat walking across my parent’s yard to a fir tree at the edge of the field. To my surprise, Woody didn’t notice my movements and continued doing whatever it is that woodchucks do.
Forty-five yards was still a challenging distance to shoot accurately for me, but what the heck. I steadied the gun against the tree and took aim. Woody disappeared and so did my front bead. So I focused on my front bead and the rear sight disappeared. Then I focused on Woody, but the front bead and rear bead disappeared together. My bad eyes were letting me down.
My aiming method consisted of finding Woody, then focusing on the rear sight, and then the front bead. When the two blurry items and the one clear one lined up, I squeezed the trigger and sent a shot down range. Missed. Woody, sensing something was up, moved to my left about ten feet and paused. I lined up everything for another shot and missed again. Argh!
Instead of running for cover, Woody stood up for a better look giving me a chance to jack my last shell into the chamber. He dropped to the ground and when the blurry items mounted on the barrel of the gun aligned a few inches over his head I squeezed off my third and final round. Woody disappeared. Figuring he’d finally had enough, I assumed he’d run into the tall grass for cover. Much to my surprise, I found him lying right where I’d shot at him. It was a true miracle shot.
I’ve had my fair share of miracle shots over the years. For example, last year I was playing catch with my son who was at the top of the stairs in our house and I was at the bottom. I tossed the ball up to him and it bounced off the wall, then off the door into the bathroom, and landed perfectly in the toilet. Another time, when I was much younger, I used to like to shoot half-court shots while standing with my back to the hoop. They are not as hard to make as you would think if you’ve never tried, and I had become decent at it hitting approximately one out of every 1000 attempts. One particular time I launched a ball which narrowly missed the backboard and nailed a young child in the head as he ran under the hoop. I could never do that again if I tried. Then there was the time I got a hole in one on a 204-yard par three, but that one doesn’t count for this example since it was clearly all skill.
Thanks to the miracle of the blurry shot, I now have enough woodchuck meat to try a few different recipes for the grill. This particular whistlepig was a hefty bugger and covered in a layer of stinky fat. Skinning him out was rather nasty, but I’m determined to see this grilling experiment through after last year’s failure. If any of you have attempted to grill woodchuck and have a recipe you’d like to share with me, please do so.
Believe it or not, another chuck showed his face just the other night. I grabbed the gun and ran out to the corner of the shed and popped off a round but missed. Back to my normal self, I guess. His days are numbered.
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