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One Christmas morning, as my brother and I woke up and ran to look underneath the Christmas tree for the hoped for cache of loot, we saw the ultimate gift for the boy who imagined himself a cowboy, trapper, pioneer, trail blazer, etc. Under the tree were two brand new Daisy BB guns. Wow! By this time we had moved from LA to a small town in Missouri; the BB guns were perfect. Within a mile of our house in any direction were farm ponds, woods, railroad tracks, fields, dirt piles (dirt piles were great for all kinds of games and fantasies) corn fields, barn yards, etc.  I would have endless opportunities to use my gun, but it was only the first day, so after breakfast and once all the packages were opened, I went outside to test the new BB gun.

As I stood on the front porch surveying the landscape, I thought initially that I wanted to sight the gun in, but in reality the most important thing on my immediate agenda was to answer this question; “How powerful is this thing?” There was a tree in the front yard about 10 yards away and I began to take aim, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a more inviting target, Timmy. Shooting my brother would accomplish both the sighting in of the gun and finding out how powerful it was. So as I lifted the rifle to my shoulder and took aim, Timmy’s eyes locked in on mine and along with acknowledgement of what was about to take place, I also noticed fear in his eyes. I quickly pulled the trigger and Bulls eye! I got him right in the leg (shows how good a shot I wasn’t) and the wailing soon followed. He immediately howled, “Wonnie! I’m telling Daddy. Waaahh!” You would have thought that he had just received the business end of Dad’s belt with all of the carrying on. It couldn’t have hurt all that much because he was wearing his winter clothes and had plenty of padding. Regardless, with all of the tears and crying, he convinced Mom and Dad that his wounds were critical and through the open front door I heard Dad yell, “Ronnie, you and your gun get in this house. Now!” I lost the BB gun for a month (after only 30 minutes of having it).

Fast forward a month and I had my BB gun back. Shooting my brother was old news and besides, the end result was not so good for me so I went on to more exciting things, like shooting rabbits. I was out in the field next to our house when I spotted a rabbit; slinking around, hopping here and there, and munching on a little grass, oblivious to his upcoming fate. (Did you ever notice how rabbits will seldom look you directly in the eye? They inevitably give you a sideways glance with that one brown eye. They just can’t be trusted.)

I had to exhibit my greatest tracking skills in order to bag this deadly beast. I tip toed up quietly and when I got in range, lifted my gun to my cheek and slowly pulled the trigger. Woomph! A direct hit. The rabbit was stunned and quickly fell to one knee. He seemed dazed and I moved in for the expected kill. I took aim and delivered another blow, again and again. The rabbit was still breathing and staring at me with that one brown eye, but would not die (I believe he was taunting me and secretly making fun of my powerless gun).

As I studied the situation, planning my next move, one of the Jackson brothers joined in with his advanced weaponry. Whereas my BB gun was a one cock and fire outfit, Jackson’s gun was a pump up 12 times and then shoot  gun. Not only that, he had pellets and they were much more powerful than my little bb’s. He stepped up and took aim (point-blank), and pow! The pellet penetrated the helpless creature right through the heart, and the rabbit expired.

Since I had initially wounded the animal I had first dibs and decided to take the rabbit home for supper. I grabbed it by the ears with my right hand, with gun in tow in my left. As I approached Dad I triumphantly exclaimed, “Look Dad, I killed a rabbit!” Dad didn’t seem too impressed and replied, “Why did you do that?” Less confident now, I answered, “I thought we could fix it for supper”.  Dad crushed my heretofore magnanimous accomplishment when he said, “That thing’s probably diseased. Go throw it out in the field and come inside. Your mother fixed tacos.”

So much for the swaggering outdoorsman, bringing home game for the family meal. I really think we could have eaten the rabbit, but Dad noticed it being full of bb’s and pellets and decided that he didn’t want to chew shards of steel along with the tainted rabbit meat.

Many adventures followed with me and my BB gun. As I went exploring out into the country I would stop off at a farmer’s barnyard and shoot at birds that had landed in the tree; never once killing them. Or, I would stop at a farm pond and survey the scene and notice two little humps sticking just above the surface of the water (bulging eyes surveying the scene). A Bullfrog. Pow! Underneath the water he went, and me not sure whether I got him or not. Sometimes I would see a snake that needed shooting. I would generally shoot them from a distance, because if I missed I didn’t want a mad snake slithering after me.

Over the subsequent years I shot at many animals, excluding relatives, with that BB gun; wounding many, but never killing one. Was I a lousy shot or did that BB gun have less power than me picking up a rock and throwing it? The final “test” for the BB gun and its power, or lack thereof, came when Jim and I were hiking one day. As we approached a farmer’s field we noticed on the other side of the barbed wire fence a couple of pigs. These pigs were minding their own business, eating hedge apples and pretty much ignoring us. I decided to see what effect my BB gun would have on one of these pigs. I took aim and plunk. Bull’s eye! The hide of the pig shivered slightly as he slowly and nonchalantly turned to look at me, then returned to eating. He may have flipped me off, but I’m not real sure as that was a few years ago. From that day on, realizing that my weapon was impotent, I never shot another animal; or brother for that matter.