The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Almost Perfect Shot

By Thomas P. Hanratty © 1986

Issue: March, 1986

It was a back-woodsy barroom. Hunters in every variety of garb filled it to overflowing. Their talk, loud and endless, made the rafters quiver. They bragged; they complained; they roared with laughter; they argued.

As happens, an unexpected and sudden lull came; quietness settled over the room as the voices stopped; and a prim and prissy looking gent at the bar was heard by everyone in the room: "...most remarkable shot I ever made. Newspapers from coast to coast picked it up; magazines..."

Seemingly as one man, the crowd asked, "What shot?"

Surprised at all the attention yet obviously pleased, the little man explained:

"It was three years ago this fall. I had a leg injury and I couldn't walk much; but I managed to make my' way very quietly to where I could sit on a stump near a grassy clearing in the spruce.

An hour went by, and then another, and I was almost ready to pick myself up and leave, when I heard a sudden tiny stir of sound, and there facing me not ten feet away, and sitting up chewing on a nut that it held in its little hands, was the cutest chipmunk 'you'd ever want to..."

"A WHAT?" roared the crowd in a voice that squashed flies on the screen door.

"A chipmunk," said the man, unflustered.

"I took very careful aim, and when I was sure I had him exactly dead center - well, that's when everything just seemed to happen all at once.

Apparently, as I thought about it later, a rabbit was sort of moseying over to see what the chipmunk was eating, and got there just as I shot - so I got it too.

But, from up above, a hawk, talons reaching, had come down in a quick swoop to grab that chipmunk, so I got it too.

And at the same time a fox was just finishing a neat, clean leap from the spruce thicket after that rabbit, and wonder of wonders, I got it too..

But even more remarkable, that same single solitary shot got a wolverine, the almost legendary scourge of the forest, which had come racing, all fierce fangs and claws..."

"WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!" roared the crowd; "Wait right there! Just what kind of gun were you using when all this dang foolishness..."

"Gun!" squeaked the little man; "I wouldn't use a gun! I'm a photographer!"