Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Foxhunt" by Abraham Lincoln

The way it was — some things people do are just wrong. Killing foxes because they are there is one of them, but when I was small, I used to see a car parked along the road south of our village. And there, close by, was a man armed with a shotgun or rifle standing up against the fence looking off in the distance. A foxhunt was taking place.

I knew that one-mile, away across those fields, were several other men walking towards this lone individual killer. And while they all carried guns, their job was to scare anything in those fields and make them run away from the noise. So they all carried old pans and they used sticks to pound on them to make a lot of noise. And everything would get up and run away towards the man along the road, waiting with his shotgun.

Since foxes have a habit of doubling back to their original spot, there would be at least one more hunter, with a shotgun walking slowly behind the first group now a quarter mile away. He would kill any fox that had doubled back or returned to their original location.

I knew some of the foxes they hunted and where their dens were and I remembered playing hide and seek with the young ones; so it was always a sad day when foxes were being shot for no reason whatsoever. I could just hope and pray that they stayed hid in their underground dens and didn't come running out to see what all the noise was about.

They killed foxes. Some always ran away from the noise and the lone hunter would see them coming long before they got within killing range. If need be he would jump in his car and speed to a spot closer to where the fox might cross the road he was parked on. You never knew which way a fox would run so one hunter would be parked on the other roads around the grid.

At the end of the day, these "sportsmen" celebrated their killing by drinking beer and admiring the dead bodies laid out across the car fender. I suppose that would make the person look “big” in the eyes on a child but some animosity was still around because most people, in town, kept chickens for their eggs and meat. The foxes knew that too and raided chicken coups and hen houses every chance they go. They did it to bring some meat home for their growing families. And if one of the parents was killed in such a wanton way, the rest of the pups would suffer and perhaps starve. I don’t begrudge a farmer his chicken coup but I do know that he could keep the fox out if he had a desire to do so.

All of the country in Ohio is laid out in one square mile grids and there was always one school located on each grid. It was laid out that way so no child would have more than one mile to walk to or from school. Those one-mile square grids were hunted (as described) for foxes. It was a kind of "fox drive" and very effective.

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