The Scorpion Bite

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When I was a small tot some of my earliest memories are of my dad taking me on hunting trips with him.  We had a family friend who lived in a cabin on a lake near our city.  He was a special friend of my grandmother’s.  He was a vet from WWI and was partially disabled from being gassed during that war.  The cabin was very crude–no running water and the “facilities” were an outhouse out back.  He used a rain barrel attached to the house for his water supply.  He was only a hundred yards or so from the lake; it was down a rather steep embankment.  I remember my mom would get some old cardboard boxes and sit me in them so I could fish from the shoreline but be safe.   Anywhoo, my dad would take me with him when he would go hunting for squirrels or rabbits in the bottomlands nearby.  They were called swamp rabbits by the locals but I assume the were cottontails that had just gotten extra large on the foliage in those bottomlands.  It was always a really big deal for me to carry the rabbits that dad had shot.  You can imagine how much help I was when only 3 to 6 years old.  I was just a burden for dad and his hunting but he always took me.   I was in heaven on each of those adventures.

As soon as he got the first rabbit or two I would take them in hand and carry them behind dad.  I felt like I was so big doing that.  Naturally it didn’t take very long before they seemed very heavy–each one weighed 2 to 3 pounds.  These were big rabbits.  It never failed that my dad would end up having to carry the rabbits and me.  He would put me up on his shoulders and tie the rabbits around his waist and off we would go.  My appetite was always bigger than my stomach, as it were.  I thought I could carry more and for longer than the reality was.  I never remember dad once complaining about me not being able to keep up and carry them like I insisted on doing at the beginning.   It was our time together.   Dad was a crack shot.  Truth is I never remember him missing any of them.   He was also an expert at hunting doves.  Most decent shots can only get 1 out of 5 shots at doves on the wing but dad was much much better than that.  He was amazing.  I never saw anyone even close to his skill level.

When I was about 12 he agreed it was time for me to come with him on my first deer hunt.  We went to a place in central Texas.  It was not a good hunt.  This was during he 50’s and the terrible drought of that period.  There were not that many deer and what few were around were very scrawny.  I was thrilled of course to be there.  He even let me set in a spot with my 410 all alone.  It made me feel so grown up.  As we were breaking camp I was carrying out some trash to burn and a scorpion was on the bag.  Before I could do anything it had bitten me on the forearm.  It hurt like hell but I was a “tough” guy.  Dad noticed immediately the redness and swelling on my arm.  As we drove home I kept getting worse–fever, chills and nausea.  When  we finally arrived home I recall going straight in the front door and laying down on the floor in front of the fake fireplace.  I stayed there the next 2/3 days.  I never even got to bed.  Mom wrapped me and fed me.  She was beside herself with worry and dad felt bad that I got hurt on our first trip even though it was merely a freak occurrence.   I did recover but I can say I have never been sicker in my life than those few days.  I suspect it was more than the  scorpion, I think I coincidently also got the flu at the same time.  I was just too sick a puppy.

Dad and I had many other hunting trips together after that and without me messing up.   As badly as the trip ended I would not trade that experience for the jewels of Brunei.   The world is a better place with dads who love, care and are there through the good and the bad for you.

Quo Vadis?

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