Montreal, October 27, 2001  /  No 91  
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Scott Carpenter is a freelance writer who lives, works and plays in Dawson Creek, BC.
by Scott Carpenter
          The truck ground to a rumbling halt and Buzzard piled out the passenger door with his 10/22 in one hand and a loaded twenty five round magazine in the other.
          About thirty yards away a ruffed grouse, supposedly invisible against the backdrop of willows, stood motionless waiting for whatever commotion had broke out to subside. 
          Buzzard took a bead on the 'chicken's' head and squeezed off a round. The bird replied by promptly flipping onto its back, gave a kick – maybe two – then expired. 
          "Nice shot Buzz!" 
          It ain't easy to hit something as small as a grouse in the head from a standing position – even at thirty yards. Buzzard slowly stalked the dead bird while watching the tall grass behind it. Ruffed grouse have a tendency to travel in large flocks this early in the season. I think Buzz was hoping for a hattrick. 
          As he stepped out of the ditch and into the grass the rest of the flock erupted in a frenzy of wings and feathers. He caught one rookie that decided to land in a nearby tree - and the rest headed for the hills. 
          "Hey. Two out of seven ain't bad shootin' Buzz, 'specially for an Indian." I smiled and laughed as Buzz tossed dinner into the cooler in the box of the truck.  
          "Careful white man, these are deep woods and they tell few tales." Buzz chuckled and unloaded his rifle on the side of the old loggin' road we'd chosen to travel. "Besides, two birds with one shot each is better than one bird with two shots, right dead eye?" 
          Well, he had me there. Some of my dinner was lookin' a bit more like burger than grouse and on top of it I was bein' served a small piece of humble pie ta boot. I quickly changed the subject. 
          "So," I restarted, "do you figure we should head er' home?" 
          "Yep. It's gettin' dark." 
          Buzz hopped back into the truck and we headed back towards the highway – or at least, what passes for it in these parts. 
          "So was it a good day?" I quizzed. 
          "I reckon." replied Buzz contentedly. 
     « "Work with me here man," Buzz was getting all philosophical on me, "what I'm sayin' is that without the right to pursue happiness what's the point to any of it?" »
          I was curious simply because we had started out on a quest for moose, elk or caribou. But the grouse hunting had been so good we'd given up on larger critters and decided to fill our cooler with chickens instead. 
          In fact the only big game other than deer we'd found all day was a big ole grizzly boar chewing on a moose carcass. As always, discretion proved to be the better part of valor, so we left the bear to the moose and made tracks for another valley... 
          As the truck pulled out onto the blacktop, I flipped on the lights. It had been quiet in the cab for awhile when suddenly Buzz says: "Ya know, I figure there ain't nothin' else I'd rather be doin'." 
          "Yep," I replied in quiet agreement, "there's nothin' I love more than a day in the woods with a rifle and a friend. Of course, the game is nice too." 
          "Yep," agreed Buzz, "and ya know, I figure that's what rips me off most about all the do-gooders in the world. They wanna steal my bliss." 
          I sensed a deep thought coming on. 
          "You figure?" I was determined to bring it bubbling to the surface. 
          "Sure. You think about it. The only thing you're born with, the only thing you got is your life. And life, in my opinion, is the be-all-end-all of existence. You know the shirts that ask: ‘What's it all about?' I figure the answer is 'life'. Wasn't it you who once said: Your life is your first means and your final end? Well if that's the case – and I reckon it is –, then if you can't be happy what the hell is the point to owning and living your life? Am I making any sense to you?" 
          "Sure. Why not..." I was grinning inside. 
          "Work with me here man," Buzz was getting all philosophical on me, "what I'm sayin' is that without the right to pursue happiness what's the point to any of it? I mean, what kind of sick bastard wants other people to obey his ideology so badly that he enforces it at the expense of a whole society's happiness?" 
          "Indeed. What kind of sick bastard would do such a thing to even one person?" I asked rhetorically. "Sort'a makes the whole gun thing seem kind of cursory don't it?"  
          "Sure does." replied Buzz. You could see the light go on from a mile away. 
          "I guess it's never really been about guns or huntin' has it?" he asked. 
          "I reckon not." I replied. "I've always maintained that it's about something deeper than power. I figure that some folks are so miserable inside that all they know how to do is to drag the rest of us down with 'em. They're pathetic shadows of human beings who don't believe in anything and they want you to be a shadow right along with 'em." 
          "Misery loves company, eh?" Buzz grinned. 
          "Yep." I sighed and ran my hand over the smooth wooden stock of my favorite Model 70 which had sat next to me for the better part of the day. 
          Buzz caught me in mid thought. "I know what your thinkin': 'From my cold dead bloody fingers' right?" 
          "Something along those lines I guess." I grinned and hit the high beams as a small bull moose stepped up from the woods into the ditch. We slowed down to take a closer look. 
          Buzzard chuckled, "We'll see you tomorrow my friend." 
          "And if huntin's outlawed by then?" I asked mischievously. 
          "Well, I reckon we'd better learn to poach!" Buzz belly laughed and rolled up the window as the truck picked up speed. 
          I'll give Buzzard this much, he's a quick learner. 
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