It was a trip to explore everything that’s exciting, entertaining and wrong with the state of Texas. A trip fueled by Johnny Walker black, Sailor Jerry Rum and an assortment of Mexican beer. Aside from alcohol we were armed to the teeth: a .44 magnum, .40 Sig, .40 Walther, .22 Rifle, SKS, 30/30 lever-action Marlin, .410 snake gun and various knives. This not only meant we needed over $175 worth of ammo, but it also meant that we would easily blend in with the locals. The folks out here fit every stereotype of suburban dwellers turned country folk. They hate the government, liberals, immigrants, taxes, trespassers and poachers. They buy up land to come out on the weekends and “live a simple life”. For us, they were not to be trusted.
We arrived Friday around 5. It was hot and the ac hadn’t been turned on in a month, it was cooler outside for the first couple hours than it was inside. The perfect time to take a Xbox plagued by fail and shoot it into oblivion, unfortunately we had forgotten the gunpowder that we had planned to pour into it. There would be no explosion, but that was alright. We put 60 rounds of .40 into it before we decided it had enough.
It was time for a beer break, we sat around drinking for a few hours. After we had polished off a 12 pack and two sizable steaks we took the roof off of his Jeep, grabbed some spotlights, loaded the .22 and SKS into the jeep along with our 3rd member of the party, Johnny Walker, and took off down the road. We were under the guise of hog hunting and not the kind that goes on at Applebee’s on a Tuesday night. I say guise, cause the truth is we were out to drink, shoot guns and maybe get something to cook tomorrow. There was no game plan, you simply stood in the passenger seat bracing one arm against the roll cage and the other holding a rifle. Whoever is driving spots and hands off the light if need be, this isn’t legal hunting. This actually is all highly illegal. Combing the dangers of drinking and driving with loaded weapons and two loose cannons.
Tiny, right-side drive truck that was at the cabin.
We rolled down what might be considered a road shooting at mostly raccoons. We both missed the first couple of shots, but soon we were less focused on hunting and more focused on our frequent whiskey breaks. We would stop, open the Johnny Walker, pass it back and forth and then proceed on down the road. Before long we had Rage Against the Machine playing while chasing down the yellow orbs of any eyes we saw off the road. It wasn’t long before we spotted a pair of eyes down the road and I, surprisingly steady, raised the single shot .22 and put a round through a decent sized raccoon. He crawled awkwardly off the road and into the brush, so we parked the Jeep and followed with a spotlight. It didn’t take long till we saw him hiding under some brush about 5 yards off the road. I shined the spotlight on him and the large yellow eyes blinked, I felt the fear, desperation and sadness that he was feeling. I was experiencing drunken empathy for a wild animal, I had to have my accomplice finish him and he did with one clean shot from his pistol.
Walther P99 & SIG P226
Shooting that raccoon bothered me the rest of the night, so I drank more and let my friend do the rest of the hunting. There wasn’t much more hunting that took place, whiskey breaks became more frequent and the music got louder. We decided to call it a night and headed back to the cabin. It was near 3 in the morning and I honestly don’t remember crawling in bed. I was drunk, I never took my contacts out and woke up the next day with the cloudy vision from extremely dry eyes and a headache that made me think my head contained dry sawdust and a tiny person slowly beating loud drum with a dull thud.
That day we slept till 10, and drank lots of water. When we finally ate something and got moving around my friend/accomplice suggested we set some traps. I agreed, thinking we would be using the metal cage traps that fully enclose the animals they trap, but it wasn’t. He showed me how he planned to make a snare by using a sapling and some string. This is the classic trap you see in cartoons, a loop of rope on the ground that grabs whatever walks over it. No way this was going to work, but I entertained his delusions and even brought him a beer while he carefully whittled sticks down to the proper size and angles that he wanted.
After he had his pieces we assembled the trap and he set it off to show me how it worked, and it did work on my hand. But I am not a wild animal and I couldn’t help but laugh about us spending an hour setting two of these. We went back to the cabin and got some stale food out that we used to bait the trap, mostly old marshmallows. Then we called it a day. It was too hot to stay outside and we both had brought some books to read, other than hunting, cooking or shooting guns there is absolutely nothing to do out here. That’s part of the beauty of being out here.
SKS and single shot .22
Around 8 we started drinking on the rum that I brought. We didn’t start with beer and thought that if we just drank rum we would be better tonight and mostly we were. This time we saw hogs, fortunately for them we still had the rifles in the back seat and weren’t prepared. They scampered off in the woods and we just shook our heads, but we continued our hunting exploits and I made one of the best shots I ever have that night.
We spotted a raccoon down by a creek, I was holding a spotlight in one hand and the .22 in the other. I managed to hold the light on him and steady the rifle against my shoulder with my other hand. I fired and hit him between the shoulder blades, once again we grabbed our spotlight and a flashlight and walked carefully down the bank. My accomplice was in the lead and as soon as he started on the raccoon’s trail he stopped. Shined his light down and I saw what looked like 3 sticks slide across the ground. It was water moccasins, 3 of them. Their presence deterred us from continuing on in the wast high brush and we both agreed we were better off heading back to the road.
We continued driving and taking whiskey breaks, substituting the whiskey for rum, and drove around till almost 1. We both decided it was time to head back and check out traps. I thought it would be a quick look and we would head to the cabin and drink some more before crashing, but I was wrong. The first trap had been sprung and in a small tree next to it was a small male raccoon.
Dean Koontz, upside down.
I don’t know what had happened to us, maybe the drinks had soften our attitudes or had corrupted our flawed view of sport hunting, either way we both decided that we needed to let this one go. Logically this makes no sense, it would make much more sense to shoot and kill a raccoon that’s 5 feet away than one that’s 20 yards down the road. Emotionally it made sense. So we cut the line that held him to the sapling and watched as he continued to struggle. We saw that he was tangled up in the other tree and had looped the line around multiple limbs.
The only thing to do was finish cutting his leg out of the rope, to do this we grabbed a branch around 3 foot long and tied a knife to the end of it. The raccoon, who we now called Dean Coontz, wasn’t having any of it. He growled, clawed and even ripped the knife off the stick a few times. We tried this technique for 20 mins before we decided to reevaluate our irrational act of “kindness”. Even though we were sweating out the rum and having to actually work, we silently had made a pact that we weren’t killing this guy.
Dean Coontz had clawed out a small piece of our hearts and we were determined to set him free. So I grabbed a hatched while my accomplice continued fighting with Dean to set him free. Finally I got close enough to let him grab and bite at the hatchet, at this point the knife was cutting through the cord. When Dean let go and hung upside down, I began chopping the cord where it was wrapped around the tree. Eventually Dean Coontz fell to the ground and scampered off, without so much as a thanks for the stal marshmallows we had provided him with, but he did give us something else. A feeling of accomplishment, some sort of pride in the fact that we had caught him and managed to release him relatively unharmed. He left us feeling human.
We cleaned up the knife and hatchet and then went to the other trap, nothing had been through, so we set it off in case Dean had the munchies later in the night. We walked in the dark back to the cabin and made a few rum and cokes. After talking we decided to sleep in tomorrow, wake up and shoot our pistols, then clean up and clear out. So we did. I woke up to the sound of a .44 magnum blasting bottles into oblivion out back. We ate, shot guns and headed home. Back to Dallas, back to a city where anonymity can allow you some freedom, but not the freedom to you need to say Fuck the law and do whatever you please whenever you please. Maybe that’s one thing those rednecks got right. Maybe the country life isn’t about wide pastures and narrow minds, maybe it’s more about self-restraint.
Any resemblance to Walter Sobchak is purely coincidental.