Many of you who read the L.C. Smith story, “My Trophy Wife” are wondering “who turned this guy loose with a 12 gauge in the first place”? Well, this series of short stories shows that, compared to my hunting buddies, I may not be the nutcase after all.
Who’s the Sniper?
Let’s call him “Ritchie”, our caretaker at the time and one of the most avid hunters on the Eastern Shore …. as avid as my great grandfather and he followed great grandpa’s rules. Seasons were respected only because shotguns are not generally available with silencers. However, Bag Limits were another story – applicable to normal humans, not Ritchie.
Six of us, guided by Ritchie, started shooting geese at 6:50am on a Wednesday in January, wearing normal eastern shore business casual. We had our limit within 45 minutes and I took off for work.
As Ritchie headed for his day job, he remembered the pair of Mallards that had been feeding in the shallows less than 50 yards from the pool. No matter that we already had our limit, these mallards were too good to pass up. Ritchie hauled his ghillie suit out of the truck, struggled into it and plopped himself in the middle of the lawn, mid-way between the pool and the horseshoe pit – totally invisible – at least to the mallards.
Ghillie suits were developed by Scottish gamekeepers in the 19th century as a portable hunting blind. Lovat Scouts, a Scottish Highland regiment formed by the British Army during the Second Boer War, is the first known military unit to use ghillie suits and went on to become the British Army’s first sniper unit in 1916.
After 45 minutes or so, the Mallards came to feed and, within several seconds, were toast. Five minutes later, Ritchie was toast.
A DNR (Department of Natural Resources) agent clambered out of my neighbor’s tree, packing his binoculars back in the case as he shouted at Ritchie … “Hold it buddy”! Turns out this goose cop had been perched in that tree since O-dark-30, watching us bag our limit, seeing Ritchie sling his geese into the back of his truck, watching him climb into his ghillie suit and taking the mallards
As I recall, that little episode cost Ritchie a couple of grand in legal fees, more than that in fines (may not have been his 1st offense) and a year or two probation. Pretty expensive mallards.