Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Day At The Range

As a member of a hunting and fishing club, one of the things we have to do is routine maintenance at the range. On a recent weekend, this involved mowing the weeds and cleaning out the shed in which the pistol match gear is stored. The range itself is out on the eastern prairie of Colorado, which is home to a variety of wildlife, ranging from deer, to coyotes and prairie dogs. And mice. Lots of field mice.

The pistol range is a largely barren area, about 50 yards in diameter, with backstops to the East and Southeast. In the center are tables, sturdily made of 4x4’s and 2x4’s about 3 ft square. There are also a few chairs. The shed is 10 x 10, and about 75% full. It sits up on bricks, which means it provides a great shelter underneath and inside for rabbits and mice. Lots of mice, who build nests, reproduce prolifically, piddle and poop on everything, and chew everything not made of metal. Needless to say, they are not popular with the range boss, so rodent control was on the agenda.

Outside, this involves moving some barrels and watching R.B. do his version of some obscure rodent-stomping dance to shouts of encouragement from the club members. There were 7 mice under that barrel, and R.B. got every one of them, eventually.

Next was the inside, which we rendered barren, and discovered a mouse nest the size of a football in the framework halfway up the inside wall. As the nest was moving, R.B. swept the whole thing into a bucket, and took it outside to the center of the range, between two tables, and before an attentive audience, upended it onto the ground. Out runs one mouse, easterly.

He zigs, he zags, he avoids 3 stomps, he reverses course and runs between R.B.’s feet, back to table #1. R.B pursues around the table. Mouse breaks cover and runs south, avoiding more stomps, and making it under table #2. R.B. pursues around the table. Mouse breaks cover and runs south, getting under the chair ahead of the boots of doom. R.B. lifts chair, which exposes the mouse, but this sets R.B. off balance for an accurate foot move. Mouse makes it back to table #2.

At this point, the mouse has avoided about 10 attempts on its life, and some of the spectators are beginning to side with the mouse. The single-minded pursuit and fancy foot work of the R.B. has not gone unnoticed however, and I overheard someone speculating as to how this might be how persons of pallor do the Bugaloo. Dancing with the Stars could be in his future, although the footwork was more akin to Riverdance.

R.B. moves table #2, and the mouse breaks for table #1. He evades 2 more attempts, but the third one connects, flattening him quite thoroughly. Possibly a bit too thoroughly, as the residue proves slippery, and R.B. loses his footing, sliding part way under the table, and barking his shin on a 2x4.

To thunderous applause, he is helped to his feet. In recognition of his superhuman effort, he was ceremonially awarded both ears and the tail. It was suggested that the Fastest Mouse in Colorado be mounted and presented, until it was noted that in his present condition, he was probably beyond the skills of even a talented taxidermist.

Between the 10 or 12 of us doing the cleanup, we had probably brought 20 or 30 firearms of various calibers and types, but no one was carrying while working. Besides, where would be the fun in that? The things you see, as they say, when you haven’t got a gun. Or a camera, I might add. You had to be there.

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