Published on November 12, 2019

Hunting rabbits takes trucks

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

The Luling great rabbit hunt is a story masked by a miasma of time, youth, faded remembrances and no one to confirm the details as I remember them. Whether it was on a weekday or weekend seems superfluous to the telling of this tale. It only matters that the hunt itself was to be after dark.

I ran into my friend, Tommy, one afternoon, and he asked if I wanted to go rabbit hunting with him and another friend, Jessie. It seemed like a fun endeavor - with hopefully rabbit meat in the offing. I responded with an enthusiastic “yes,” and we planned to meet at his dad’s car lot at dusk.

I rushed home and asked mother, “Can I borrow your .22 to go rabbit hunting with Tommy and Jessie this evening?”

She replied in the affirmative and gave me the rifle and a box of shells. “Bring home some rabbits, and we can have rabbit and dumplings for supper.”

Mother’s .22 rifle was a sweet weapon. It held 16 to 18 shells, depending on which ammunition you used. It had open sights and a semi-automatic action that quickly ejected the spent shell and loaded a new one just about as fast as you could pull the trigger.

My method of hunting had always been to walk the area on foot and target the game we stirred up as we coursed (without dogs) through the area. Tommy, however, had far different ideas of how to conduct a hunt.

Tommy announced, “I’m going to get a pickup to hunt from, and then we’ll get on down to the field.”
Tommy was to be our driver. It was like a safari. We stood behind the cab and shot over the top at the rabbits.

The noise of our coming stirred up the rabbits, and the headlights made them freeze for a few seconds, which should have given us easy targets. But the rough terrain made it impossible to aim at anything. I would shoot and then adjust my next shot by using the dust kicked up by the previous shot.

I felt like a machine gunner at war and quickly went through half of my ammunition. I was in that testosterone-driven “hunt and gather” mode. It became more like a video game than a hunt.

Trucks of the 1950s and early 60s were a little different than the trucks of today. The constant load and low speed caused some overheating of the engine, and the alternator couldn’t keep up with running headlights and charging battery. The result was the truck stalled, and we couldn’t get it restarted because of the dead battery.

“No problem” Tommie said, “You stay with the truck, and Jessie will drive me back to the lot to get another truck.”
We repeated the hunt with the same result. Tommy and Jessie got another truck from the car lot, more ammunition, and in 5 or 6 hours of hunting, we had as many trucks stuck in the field as we had rabbits in our game bag.

I told Tommy that I had to get home for the paper route, and I would come back after work to help retrieve the trucks.

“No, that’s O.K., Dad will take care of it,” Tommy replied.

I was concerned and asked: “Won’t he be mad that we left all those trucks in the field?”

“No, it will be O.K.,” he said.

I told Jessie to keep all the rabbits and, I left for work.

Tommy’s dad must have been a saint because he never said a word about the mess we left for him.
I later bought a Packard from him that I drove when I left Luling. Nothing down, and I mailed mother money every week to pay on the note. When my brother-in-law, Charles, sister and family visited my mother, Charles went to the lot to get title to the car. Tommy’s dad told him: “Well, Eddie still owes for the car.”

“His mother never gave you any of the money he’s been sending weekly?” Charles asked.

He told Charles: “No, but I wasn’t worried. I knew Eddie would pay me.”

Charles wrote him a check, and I then made weekly payments to Charles for the car.

I learned from that to always pay my bills with a check, not cash, and not to my mother.

I also never went hunting again. I went fishing with my dad, but I was terrible at it and seldom caught anything. I liked to go and read and watch him fish. Later, I did the same with my son, although when he was small, I had to bait his hook.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)