An Early Lunch

In early December 1969, Fred Walters and I decided to visit his lease just outside of Lockhart to try and walk up some quail. Fred’s setter was spending the weekend at the vets, hence, we were dogless, as we pulled up and “hied” ourselves out.

We had a general idea as to where the birds would be feeding and after tromping around in the knee high, harvested, milo field, all at once, an explosion of fifteen or more quail erupted out of the stubble. Because of no dog, we had agreed on just one shot each, or two birds down on a covey rise. Bam, bam, and two birds fell, luckily, both were dead and easy to find.

The covey, minus the two birds, had flown straight into the thick cover of a wooded patch, bordering the milo and we “crashed” in after them. A hundred yards into the real thick stuff, some prickly pear on the ground, on my side, up came a single and my shot plowed into an oak tree, with the quail escaping. Fred shot at one and missed too.

Another single, a cock bird, catapulted into the air and my shot reached him before he got behind another oak. Down he dropped and flopped around next to a clump of prickly pear, an easy find and I hurried over to pick it up.

Bending over, I reached my left hand down for the bird; heard a buzzing, unmistakable sound, a rattler, coiled up under the cactus, not eighteen inches from the quail and not much more from my hand! I was in a pickle so I just froze and yelled to Fred, “Rattler!”

Slowly rising up, keeping my feet planted, I took off the safety and, from the hip, blasted the snake. My aim was true, the shot tore the snake into several pieces, as I reached down and pocketed the bird. My best guess was that the snake was loafing in the cactus and from nowhere, a shot, and down plopped supper. My noise and proximity to the bird caused the snake’s defensive/offensive reaction. Anyway, scratch one rattler!

It’s always unnerving to run into a rattler, and this was no exception, so we called a break and headed to town for an early lunch!