Monday, November 28, 2005

men with guns and little dogs

We came home Saturday and there were three trucks parked in one of our fields.

Three trucks I had never seen before.

Trucks with rifle racks and, in the back, kennels for carrying hunting dogs.

In fact there were several beagles in one of the kennels.

Dogs but no hunters.

The only problem was, I hadn’t given anyone permission to be out hunting on our property.

Especially I wouldn’t have given anyone permission to be hunting with dogs.

I stopped the car near the trucks, got out and called at the top of my voice.
‘Whoever belongs to these trucks better get down here right now before I call the sheriff.’

Of course there was no response.

I stood there a moment longer, looking across the field, trying to identify someone standing in the woods. Listening.

When Wenonah called from the car.

“Come on, lets go to the house. I’m afraid of people out here with guns that we don’t know.”

So I got back in the car and continued down the driveway.

For anyone who has been out to our farm you know how the drive is laid out. First you drive half a mile through the woods, passing two houses, then there is our road and you turn right, cross the creek, drive up the hill and after a quarter mile, there is the first field, the cemetery field (there’s an old cemetery with a stone wall around it, right in the middle of the field).

That’s where the trucks were.

Then the road goes for another quarter mile, past a stand of several hundred poplar trees, a stand of beehives and the road turns to the left.

From there you can see across several more fields and on the other side, our house.

And that’s where we saw the men with their guns.

Two men were out in the middle of the field below the beehives, Both of them armed with shotguns. Half a dozen beagle running across the field in front of them.

And in front of our house. Our home. Actually in our front yard was another man, holding a double barrel shotgun.
He was standing there, right by our front door looking intently across our yard and into the field. I had the impression he had just fired his gun.

And as I looked from car window I realized that I didn’t know any of these men. There were three armed men in front of our house, in between us and our front door, and we didn’t know who they were or why they were their on our property.

We certainly hadn’t given them permission to be there.

I only slowed the car for a moment but quickly hit the accelerator and drove down the hill to the house, threw open the door and jumped out.

And started yelling.

I don’t know exactly what I yelled. And as I think back about it, I realize I probably hadn’t acted in the safest manner.

I jumped out of the car and started yelling that I wanted the two men out of the field immediately.

“you get out of my field and get your dogs over here right now.”

And then I turned to the guy in our front yard.

“What do you think you’re doing in my front yard?”

I stood there and he stood there. He stood there in between us and our home with this very expensive double barreled shotgun held across his chest.

We stood there staring at each other. For the longest moment he didn’t say anything at all.

Silence.

The loaded shotgun in between us.

And then he spoke.

“Why, we’re killing rabbits for you, what do you think we’re doing?”

“What?”

It turns out that this guy, this man, had delivered a piece of rented farm equipment (a machine that you pull behind a tractor and it picks up rocks) last spring and at the time asked if he could come out in the fall and hunt rabbits.

“I like to get out during rabbit season and hunt rabbits.”

I told him that he should check with me closer to the fall. “I usually don’t let very many people hunt on our land, and then, usually only members of our CSA. But give me a call in the fall and I’ll tell you then if you can.”

By then Wenonah had darted past the two of us and in to the house.

I stood there trying to make out who this man, this rabbit hunter (who I was starting to realize looking surprisingly like the rabbit hunting cartoon character) was. Was he really on the level, or what he someone back here up to no good.

“Anyway,” I said. “You don’t have permission to be out here hunting.

“So I think you should pack up your friends and your dogs and your shotguns and get out of here pretty quick. You hear me?”

And with that I walked past him and into the house.

It was only later that I realized how incautious I had acted. How that probably wasn’t the best way to handle armed men in your front yard.

Both Wenonah and I watched from the window to see if they really would take their beagles and their shotguns and walk the quarter mile back up the drive to their trucks and leave.

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