Friday, October 10, 2008

Dodging bullets

My daughter just got back from a field trip to Celebration Park, a place near the Snake River that celebrates Idaho heritage, from both the standpoint of Native Americans as well as early white settlers. One of the things that they taught the kids about was bunny bopping. I'm not sure how that was educational, but the kids seemed to get a kick out of it.

I know about bunny bopping because my grandmother grew up in Southern Idaho about 100 miles from where we live now. She grew up in the poorest family in town during the depression, but even with that brief description, I doubt you can imagine what life was like. I'm not sure if bunny bopping was for nourishment, entertainment, or pest control, but essentially it went like this: a bunch of kids would make a big circle out in the sage brush. Gradually they would walk towards one another, driving the rabbits towards the center of the circle. Once the circle was tight enough that the rabbits couldn't escape, they would all take sticks, bats, or rocks attached to strings and swing them at the bunnies, bopping them on the heads and killing them. Like I said, not sure why that was part of my daughter's field trip curriculum, but it was.

When I was growing up in Utah, we used to go out to the desert to shoot bunnies, but our method was different. We would get in a long, straight line and walk across the sagebrush. The rabbits would jump out of their hiding place as we approached and start running. We would open fire. Rabbits flee in large circles, eventually going back to where they started. Once in a while someone would overzealously follow the rabbit in its circle until one or more of the guys in the line was in or nearly in the line of fire. That was kind of scary, but not enough to make us quit. 99% of the time if we hit the rabbit, it was one of the guys with a shotgun that would get it, but once in a while one of us wielding a .22 would get lucky.

The real luck, however, was in not shooting one another. Until one of these trips when I was about 16 or so. One of my friends thought it would be fun to bring a .22 handgun. If we couldn't hit the rabbits with .22 rifles, I don't know how he thought he was going to hit one with a handgun, but he brought it anyway. When we stopped to rest, he set it down on a rock, still cocked. It went off.

One of the other guys yelled "ouch, you shot me!" He was kind of a joker, so of course we didn't believe him. Until we saw blood, that is. First impressions were that it was a flesh wound, so we jumped back in our cars and rushed him to the hospital. We had no cell phones in those days, and waiting for an ambulance would have taken a lot longer. He was treated while we all waited in the lobby before being questioned by the police--standard procedure for a GSW.

Turned out he was fine. The bullet went in near his spine, through his latissimus dorsi, out near his armpit, and then back into his arm, where it lodged next to his humerous between but without damaging his bicep and tricep. As far as I know, the bullet is still there today, as the doctors decided it would do more damage to remove it than to leave it there.

I'm pretty sure that was the last time I fired a gun. I just lost interest.

Lately it seems as if there are a lot of bullets flying around in nearly everyone's direction. I've been fortunate that the one that hit me seems to have been a fairly benign flesh wound. We found out the other day that a scare for a young mother in my extended family was also benign. In times like these, it's easy to say "wo is me." Until I look around. Seems it's open season on everyone everywhere. May we all keep dodging.

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