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The Anti-Aircraft Gun and Basil's Field

Story ID:9123
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
Year:2013
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The Anti-Aircraft Gun and Basilís FieldÖ
By Chuck Dishno
August 2013

When I was in my teens, the migratory water fowl season was one of the highlights of my life. I rarely missed a day of the 70 day hunting season. Many times I would go out into the fields near my house and wait for the morning flight. If the hunting was good, I would skip school, knowing I would suffer the sting of Mr. Grahamís maple paddle as punishment being late or not showing up at all. If the hunting was bad, I would hurry to school, leaving my shotgun at my front gate along with my hunting vest and shells.

One incident that sticks out in my mind is when I was 16. It was a school day and about 5 below zero. Usually the ducks and geese didnít fly too much in those low temperatures but they had to eat and I knew they would be heading for the grain fields near Bly. I walked out into Basil Hallís field, about a half mile from my house and parked myself against a fence post at one corner. After about a half an hour I was freezing and nothing seemed to be flying.

I was about ready to pack up and head for home and maybe make it to school on time for once. I was just about to get up when I heard the sound of a lone Canadian Honker off in the distance. I soon saw him winging along looking for and calling his lost mate. These geese mate for life and when their loved one goes missing they will usually leave the flock and continue to search.

This honker was flying high and across the field from me so I didnít think I had a chance to drop him. I thought I was alone on Basilís field but I must have dropped off and didnít see anyone else stupid enough to brave the cold, but when the honker crossed over a corner across from me a couple of shots went up which pushed the bird even higher. He then crossed the opposite corner and another couple of shots went up, driving him even higher. I didnít know anyone was there and I certainly didnít know who they were. They had to be friends of mine though since Bly was a really small town and there werenít too many stupid enough to sit by a fence post at -5 degrees that early in the morning.

As soon as the second volley went up the honker gained more altitude and turned straight for me. Even though he was way out of shotgun range, I thought, what the heck, I might as well take a shot too, and let go with a high base 12 gauge round loaded with #2 shot. Wonder of wonders, that tough old bird just folded up and dropped to the frozen ground.

As soon as he hit, I jumped up and walked over to claim my prize. I still didnít know who the other two hunters were but soon heard the voice of my friend, Jim Hall coming across that frozen field, saying, ďHey, Charlie, wacha got, an anti-aircraft gun?Ē The other hunter was Clarke Abbott and both came across to see where I had hit that honker. The only place we could find was a small wound in its head where one shot had entered. He had honked his last honk and hopefully his spirit was winging its way to his lost mate.

After I picked up my bird, I told my friends that I had better hurry home and not be late for school again. Even though my backside was building up calluses from my past transgressions my grades were slipping and I couldnít afford to flunk another grade even if it meant food for our freezer. I tried to bribe Mr. Graham one time and got a couple of extra hacks for trying. Apparently he loved to hunt as much as I did.

I got home just in time to hear the first bell so I hung the goose on the picket fence along with my gun and vest. I could see my Mom looking out the window and shaking her head. I made it to class in time and when I went home for lunch, Mom had already picked and cleaned my prize bird.

That evening at the theatre where I was projectionist, I heard Clarke telling some people about the impossible shot I had made. Needless to say I was extremely proud and bursting at the seams. As I recall, Mom tried to cook that old goose but he had flown too many miles and was tough as shoe leather.

Such was life in the small town of Bly, Oregon were some things take priority over others.