Prey

Pa handed me the old carbine and asked me to bag a rabbit for dinner.

I jumped at the opportunity. I thought, now’s my chance to prove that I’m a good shot. I knew of a spot where rabbits congregated. It was a small clearing in the woods, adjacent to a pond. The woods, shady and cool, made good cover for squirrels, snakes, and birds. The rabbits preferred a long strip of grass along the south side of Lincoln’s pond.

I headed toward the bent part of a horseshoe of land, walking as quietly as I could. When I prowled around, without a gun, I always saw rabbits in that place. I needed a large bush for cover on one side of the pond. I’d have a clear line of sight, across the short expanse of water, to the strip of open grass that lay on the other side.

Finally there; I get low, behind a leafy shrub. There’s little wind, and soundlessly, I lever my body forward on elbows and knees.

I see a big rabbit less than 30 yards from me. He’s sitting in the open, scratching an ear with a hind leg. I part the foliage, without making any noise, and squint my eyes in a steady stare. My eardrums echo my heart-beat. I aim the rifle, hold my breath, and squeeze the trigger.

At that precise moment, a huge fish arcs out of the water, directly in my line of fire, and the rabbit runs off.

We all had fried fish for dinner that night.

— Ted Atoka

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