February 2007
Happy Hunting Ground

Happy Hunting Ground

Congratulations, Savannah
  Congratulations to Savannah Ricks on her first deer, a young spike, with a blackpowder muzzleloader rifle. (Our apologies to Savannah for not printing her photo last month.)
While out deer hunting the other day, I was struck with an idea. I’m going to form yet another trophy hunting association. I don’t know how to do it but I’ll find out, so be ready for those videos, television shows and magazines. Not to mention the calls, scents, decoys and hunting techniques used by the pros. Later on we’ll add a chef to the staff to formulate recipes and develop cooking tips.

As I said, I was deer hunting on a rainy day in January when this epiphany hit me as I watched a lone armadillo forage around a food plot looking for whatever it is that they eat.

As I watched him scurry around in the rain, my thoughts turned to the difficulties of hunting the armadillo and how it might make good entertainment. I could picture the video on television:

‘Good afternoon everyone. Here we are today in the forests and fields of Alabama pursuing the most dangerous game found in this part of the world. Africa has its Cape buffalo; Alaska has its brown bear; Australia has the great White Shark. Today, here in Alabama, we are after the elusive and highly dangerous, fully mature bull armadillo.

‘I’m your guide, Chuck Roast, and today we’ll be on the hunt for this most dangerous of game.’ (Theme music, credits and background of all sorts of critters headed for the stew pot and, of course, commercials from our sponsors.)

‘Welcome back,’ our guide whispers. ‘We are now in our shooting house and, boy, are we lucky. We’ve only been here ten minutes and we’ve got a mature bull armadillo in sight! We are about 125 yards from this animal, which during the rut is as close as you want to get to one of these. We are using a very large caliber rifle for this bull because when you hit him, you want him to go down immediately.’

(We observe the bull armadillo as he digs around in an obvious dominance display, amazed that he is unafraid of being observed.)

Chuck Roast says, ‘Folks, it is amazing that he is showing us no fear; that’s just how confident he is that his size, strength and aggression will intimidate any of his enemies.’

(Suddenly, hunter and guide are on the ground! They are going to approach the old bull on his own terms and make the harvest up close. They approach from down wind, as the background music grows tense. The two are talking in whispers almost too faint to hear. Then they freeze as the armadillo sees something and alerts.

A few tense moments ensue as they wait for the inevitable charge. Fortunately the bull’s sixth sense tells him its o.k. and he goes back to the pawing and grunting that characterize his dominance display. He’s letting all of the other bull armadillos in this area know that he is the dominant bull and he will be the only one passing along his D.N.A. this breeding season; and if they don’t like it, they are welcome to come into his territory and fight it out. But they won’t, his three or four pound bulk and a shell as tough as shoe leather lets them know that this is a bull in his prime and he is nothing to be messed with.

We watch in disbelief as the guide, Chuck Roast, and his hunter approach even closer. They don’t even have a tree to climb should the animal charge! Let’s hope that at least they are carrying some sort of identification so that we won’t have to use dental records to identify the remains.

When they are about fifty yards away, the guide places the shooting sticks and tells the hunter to take the shot. The music swells to a tense level…and we break to a commercial.

The commercial starts with action shots of charging armadillos and successful hunters posing with their kill and shaking hands. Someone like Charleston Heston narrates and tells the viewer all about the benefits of joining A.H.A.A.- the Armadillo Harvesters Association of Alabama. The commercial outlines the membership dues and the free stuff you get. Somewhere, possibly on the web site, there would be the book of records and the categories for which records are kept. The categories are: rifle, handgun, archery, automobile tire, truck tire and instead of the "picked – up" category for trophy animals that were found expired, we would have "I took it away from the buzzards" category.

Finally we get back to hunter and guide. They take the shot and the armadillo is hit and runs for the woods. Chuck looks at the camera with deep concern and whispers that now they have got to go in and find the bull. He lets the viewer know that the only thing he fears more than a bull armadillo is a wounded bull armadillo.

He pulls out his .500 Nitro Express rifle and in they go. Our camera is following close behind. As we near where the armadillo has gone to ground, we hear a bellow, and the camera view is like watching an earthquake as the cameraman runs to avoid the charging beast. We hear two quick shots from the big rifle and it’s all over. The camera goes back into the bush and we come upon the sweating Chuck Roast who looks as though he’s been in a fight. In the dust we see the big bull lying dead at his feet. It seems Chuck has narrowly missed being gored by an enraged bull armadillo.)

Chuck winks at the camera and says, ‘See ‘ya next week on Tales of the Armadillo.’

(The theme music swells, some country singer singing about how great it is to hunt armadillos and the show is done.)

So what do you think, can you see it? I like the idea and there would be plenty of front and backyards to pursue the beasts on camera and the homeowners would probably let us hunt them for free. Why, down here in South Alabama, we could fill up one museum type hall with specimens from the "I took it away from the buzzards" category alone.

Ralph Ricks is the manager of Quality Cooperative, Inc. in Greenville.