In his later years there was nothing that brought back the spring in Great Grandfather Harry Smith's step like fall hunting season. But not because he liked to hunt. Although he didn't have anything against it. But what Great Grandfather Harry really liked? Catching and kicking off his 400+ prime, hedgerow laced, pheasant harboring prairie acres, any poor soul who dared to try and hunt the Smith farm. Including his own family.
Now, in today's day and age of "No Trespassing" and dense populations, and the generally frequent occurrence of animal hunting excursions accidentally becoming human hunting excursions, it might not seem so odd that a man in possession of 400 plus acres wouldn't want a bunch of armed strangers sneaking through the shrubbery. But keep in mind, that wasn't the case in Harry's day and age. In fact, much of the privately owned prairie is still open seasonally to fall bird hunters, as has been the tradition for generations.
Nope, Great Grandfather Harry wasn't really concerned about family safety, property liability and certainly not the plight of the beleaguered pheasants. Mostly he just thought it was great fun to sneak around, catch and then kick off - in a great show of robust yelling, hand waving and creative swearing - any who dared set foot on the Smith farm with gun in hand. It was his game and he loved it.
And so it was not surprising that it also became a game for those who did want to hunt the property - including Harry's own sons and hired hands - to try and outwit the old man.
Such was the case one morning, as Harry puttered off in his tractor to drive into town for a morning coffee. (Harry was too cheap to buy a car. Who needs a car when you have a tractor? Tractor drove just fine.). As soon as he was off, son George and hired hand Red decided to take the opportunity to get in a little bit of morning pheasant hunting before their farm chores. They headed out into the fields, walking along the patchwork of hedgerows with dogs in front, working to flush out any hidden birds.
What they didn't know was Harry, suspicious that the crisp fall day would be too tempting, had parked the tractor halfway into town and had snuck back into the fields, hiding in wait to catch the culprits.
George and Red moved quietly along the hedges, guns poised, waiting for a bird to flush. Suddenly a bird shot out of the brush, and at the same moment, out popped Great Grandfather Harry.
"A-ha!" he yelled. Victorious! He had captured his game! But victory was brief...
Hired man Red, in the excitement of the moment, fired his shotgun sending a full spattering of bird pellet straight into Harry's face. Enough force to fling the old man straight backwards and slammed to the ground.
In the endless few seconds after the accident, as Harry lay silent and Red stunned, George, in true Smith fashion, took the moment to sum up the situation.
"Ho-ho-ho!" he laughed, in his deep booming voice. "Why Red, you bagged the old sonofabitch!"
Great Grandfather Harry, true to his character, dragged himself up and home, where he spent the rest of the day in front of the bathroom mirror picking birdshot out of his face with his pocket knife. Afterall, who needs a doctor when you have a pocket knife?