~a story in verse~
by Michael Gafford
as he thinned my firewood pile.
"No sir, I'm gathering wood for the troop."
Then he flashed a toothy smile.
I looked and saw Troop 101's
invasion was fast completing,
and spied their leader walking up;
he waved his hand in greeting.
"Apologies for the kid," he said.
"He's excited, as you can see."
Then the boy said, "I'll get a big one, yeah!
Wanna come along with me?"
The den master grinned. "The elusive snipe
is the focus of our quest."
He added, "I see you have two sons;
would you like to be our guest?"
"Elusive? Quite an understatement!"
That's all I had to say;
I'd never caught one, not even one,
up to that very day.
Then the leader told us he had seen
a few good signs and tracks.
"We might get one or two, but boys,
we'll have to watch our backs."
I looked at my sons - their eyes were bright -
so I said, "Sounds like a plan."
Then the young boy said, "I heard one, sir,
but he saw me and he ran."
"Young men," said the leader, "our elusive snipe
is a small and furry creature.
He's rather cute, but you should know
he has a harmless feature."
"His enemies avoid him -
they leave and never tarry.
When threatened, he sprays urine!
Umm . . . Goodby, adversary!"
"We need four fellows to a team,"
he informed the restless mob.
"To hit the tree and roust the snipe
will be one hunter's job."
"Next, two bag men will have to hunker
down beside his lair
to hold the bag and close it tight
when Ol' Snipe runs in there."
"The last guy is important -
he must keep the snipe in sight.
He's the point man of this hunting team -
the one who shines the light."
"John, you stay right here at camp;
I'll take the boys ahead . . ."
And, as sheep before the shearer,
away the kids were led.
"We must work fast; they'll be back soon,"
the co-conspirator said.
"Hand me the bucket in the tree."
He grinned and shook his head.
Meanwhile, the hunters darted 'round,
chasing their Frankenstein monster.
There'd surely be soiled BVDs
to fill the campground dumpster.
The loopy line of whooping boys
then turned and headed back.
One tow-headed fellow led the crowd,
carrying his sack.
"Any luck?" I asked the boy
as the troop came back in sight.
"No, sir, I guess they heard us
and escaped into the night."
"Well, I'm not sure, but I'll bet there's one
in that oak right over there."
So off they ran to try once more -
the elusive snipe to snare.
With his big ol' stick, Michael led,
beating this innocent tree.
And Stewart, with the pillowcase,
rested on one knee.
"There he goes," bellowed the leader
as his beacon lit the night.
Then ten flashights followed his up -
a most amazing sight!
What happened next took these brave boys
completely by surprise.
Yes, they were like a covey of quail,
startled and on the rise.
Five gallons of water splashed their heads,
their screeches filled the night.
A perfect shot, the guys were drenched,
the troop was quite a sight!
Above the din one voice rang out
as the hunters left that tree.
One lone Scout screamed loud and clear,
"THE SNIPE! HE PEED ON ME!"
Michael Gafford writes to USADEEPSOUTH:
"Retired from the security business, I now live back in north Mississippi with its 'maters, melons and air conditioning. I travel on day trips when I can, looking for any place that has a tin roof or screen porch."
Christmas Journey - 1964
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