Every once in a while, I enjoy writing about something a little different. I choose to write about some of the experiences I have lived through. I enjoy sharing these tidbits of my life. If you are following my blog, you have noticed how I throw these funny yet true stories in every so often. Most of these stories involve me learning a lesson the hard way, usually showing comedy with me being shown as the butt of the joke. In all of these posts, there is also a lesson that I have learned and passed to you, hopefully helping you not make the same silly mistakes. I have had great success with these post and continue to go back through my memory to pull one out sometimes. This story is one that involves an amazing little creature I had the pleasure to witness at his absolute finest. For once, I didn’t make a grand mistake making me the stooge in an event of my life. Actually, there’s no funny in this one, just pure amazement. I hope you will continue to read and allow me to introduce you to “Smokey” my truly amazing cat!
I had this cat that was the best darn squirrel hunting dog that I ever owned. Did I say dog? He might as well have been. I know that just sounds plain crazy to start my story like that, but when I explain farther, you will think that was the best way to start after all. Spending my teenage years in the Ozarks of Missouri, I did a lot of hunting for various reasons. Sometimes the reason fell upon food for my family, other times it was for the hides so rich people could wear strange clothing. If you have never lived in the country, you probably wouldn’t understand the need for hunting. It’s probably not a far stretch that you city folk wouldn’t understand the pure joy of hunting, either. The joy of hunting is a pleasure that is hard to explain. Was it bloodlust? No, it is the joy of being in the woods, watching and listening to everything around you. It brings a special piece to one’s self. It settles the mind and teaches us the gift of the great outdoors. The hunt is the necessary part, the other is the pleasure one is given for such an adventure.
Part of hunting sometimes includes a good hound dog who can lead you to prey one seeks. A good squirrel dog will drive squirrels up a tree and run around barking, keeping the squirrel treed. This term treed means just what it sounds like, the dog will keep the squirrel in one tree, not able to flee to another tree. Once his master finally gets there, this brilliant dog will walk around to the opposite side of the tree, giving the hunter a clear shot at his prey. For those of you whom have never paid attention to squirrels before, when you are walking towards the tree the squirrel occupies, he will climb around to the opposite side, staying out of your view and in a safer place. This leads us to the good hunting dog I spoke of. The hunter once taking up his position at the tree will signal his companion. This brilliant animal will do what he is taught and circle around to the opposite side of the tree. Once he is in position, he will growl, bark and jump up against the tree. The prey will see this craziness and want to get to a safer position, climbing around the tree away from the danger to the opposite side. What the squirrel has now done is take himself away from something that can’t get to him into the sights of something that can, the hunter!
I feel this is the time to introduce you to the cat I had back then. His name was Smokey. I named him that for the most obvious reason. He was gray from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. There wasn’t a speck of any other color on him. Smokey was a great friend to me. Living on a farm, we had lots of cats, but Smokey was the only one I liked. As he reached adulthood, I noticed that Smokey started following me on my hunts. “Stupid cat, he thinks he’s a dog” I thought. Later on, he would be known as a genius kitty by me.
I went for a squirrel hunt one day and happened to catch a glimpse of Smokey following me through the woods. Once again, all I could think of was, stupid cat. All of a sudden, I seen some squirrels looking for nuts around this large oak tree. I slowly kneeled down and patiently watched these little creatures running to and fro. It dawned on me that I hadn’t heard Smokey moving behind me. I knew if he was moving around, he would have to make noise in the dry leaves that covered the floor of the woods. Did he go back home? Nope. As I slowly turned to look behind me. There he was, maybe fifteen feet behind me, sitting still as a brick wall. Another thought jumped into my head. This stupid cat is going to run across them leaves on the ground and alert the squirrels of my location. This isn’t what was happening, he just sat there, watching, with me as still as he could be. He’s not crouched down waiting to leap, just sitting there patiently watching along with me.
A little while past and I watched as the squirrels headed up this other tree, maybe one hundred feet away. This is when I slowly started my walk to their location. I would have them treed, and the only problem I would have now would be to get them in my sights to shoot them. I could have shot one from my original position, but I would lose track of the others and probably wouldn’t be able to get them. When hunting, I always believed I should bring home enough for at least one good meal for my family. Any less than that and I would feel like I failed the reason for the hunt.
As I got within fifty feet of the tree, I stopped and waited for the first squirrel to get curious enough to come around to my side of the tree. I knew this would take a while since I didn’t have a dog or a hunting partner to walk to the other side. I waited maybe five minutes and I heard something coming from up from behind me through the dead leaves. Furthermore, I turned and seen that it was Smokey. I thought once again, “stupid cat.” I believe he must have read my mind. He must have been thinking, “I’ll show him who’s a stupid cat!” All of a sudden Smokey ran past me and headed for the squirrel tree! What the heck is he doing? When he reached the tree, he slowed down and slowly walk to the other side. Once there, he jumps up on the tree and ran up about ten feet. I was surprised to see he’s looking around the tree, where he had stopped, right into my eyes. The best that I could come up with was him asking if he was in the right place. Of course, he may have been thinking, “stupid human. Here I am running the squirrels to his side and all he can do is stare at me.”
Once Smokey was in position, the squirrels worked their way around to the opposite side of where he was. This put the three squirrels on my side. It caught me by such a surprise, that it took me a minute to get through my brain what was happening. Once the shock left me, I picked up my rifle and was able to get all three squirrels, Smokey had sent to me. When the squirrels hit the ground, Smokey came down out of the tree and ran towards me. Once again, shock hit me. This cat was running towards where the loud sound had just originated from. Wow, that is the best squirrel hunting dog I had ever witnessed, and it is feline, not canine!
I took the squirrels home and prepared them for my Mom’s famous squirrel and dumplings. I relived the moment of the hunt while sharing my story with my Mom and Dad. My Mom thought it was a sweet story, while my Dad ask what I had been smoking. I’m serious Dad. It really happened, just like I said. I don’t think he believed me at the time, but he would in the near future.
I went out many times squirrel hunting, and every time Smokey went with me. Not only did he go, but every time he would do the same thing as before, jumping up on the opposite side of the tree, giving me the clear shot I needed. My Dad finally had enough of my story telling about Smokey, so one day, he decided to go on the hunt with me. Smokey followed us out and when we got the squirrels in the tree, Smokey once again showed his trick. My Dad was absolutely floored. He had just witnessed this with his own eyes and still had trouble believing what he had just seen.
I continued to go hunting with Smokey over the next two squirrel seasons. No matter how many times I have seen Smokey do his little trick, it was still hard to believe. Smokey passed away towards the end of the second season. I guess I should’ve sent my story to the papers at that time, but I don’t think they would’ve printed such a crazy story.
I have had a few cats since then, but none with the talent that Smokey had. I hope you have enjoyed my story. It really did happen, crazy as it seems. For those of you that are against hunting, I’m sorry if I offended you. For those of you that enjoy hunting, I hope you have the fortune of a talented cat that helps you on your hunting trips. Take care, my friends and remember, we are all in this together.