Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Cardinal from Hades



       I hate to do this but I am going to have to go out there and shoot one of my prettiest male cardinals. He has gone mad!  I haven’t killed a songbird since I was 12, and I protested at the Melba theatre as a teenager when that movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” came out.  I am an avid bird lover. I particularly love pheasant in a crock-pot and grilled mallard.   But not cardinals, for cryin’ out loud.

         Anyhow, he is miserable and deserves to be put out of his misery.  He spends most of the day fighting with the big mirrors on my old pickup.  When you see a male cardinal do that, completely oblivious to a nearby feeder filled with sunflower seeds and uninterested in several pretty little female cardinals, he is obviously demented, perhaps having survived a spring hailstorm wherein he was whacked on the head while huddled on a white oak limb.

       If he just fought with the mirror, I might could overlook it, but he paints both doors beneath the mirrors with droppings which do not match the blue color of the pickup.  I am now the subject of derision when I go to the post office and folks I don’t even know ask what that white stuff is around and below my mirrors.

         By the time you read this the awful thing will already be done, but I ask you to keep it to yourself.  It is against one of the many rules and regulations of the Conservation Department.  In fact, in recent years a game warden has ended his radio program by saying, “Remember, if we don’t say you can, you can’t.”  And they don’t say you can kill a cardinal, even a mad cardinal.”

         Because of his radio program I have stopped killing the field mice that invade my shed, and I do not kill crickets, roaches or spiders because he surely would not approve.  There use to be a copperhead in my back yard that I also was hesitant to kill because the conservation people say I can’t do it lawfully.  But there are a lot of things done unlawfully which never come to light. Something killed him and he now lives in snake heaven with several blacksnakes I have recently blasted because they are after baby rabbits and nestling bird babies.

         I told a possum recently trying to invade my henhouse, “If I don’t say you can, you can’t!”  Of course I gently took him to my neighbors place, refusing to kill him as the game warden would not want me to do.  Should any of you country folks find a possum eating your hen eggs, just remove him gently with a shovel.  If you whack him over the head to render him unconscious then you can take him into town and release him later.   I think that should be legal.

         Someone sitting on my screened porch last month, shot and killed a grey squirrel that was trying to get the lid off my bird feeder.  It was a young one which was very good to eat when fried.

         But a cardinal whose flapping wing-tips scratch up the paint job on my pickup while he fights with nothing more than a reflection in a now-smudged-up mirror certainly should not be allowed to have young ones.  His I.Q. is likely too low.  My pickup means a lot to me.  I bought it new in 2010 and it was beautiful at the time.  Not now. It has 200 thousand miles on it and it has wing marks and white bird manure all over it.


         Many years ago I built a small pond up here on Lightnin’ Ridge down in the timber behind my office, to provide a water hole for wildlife and provide a place for wood ducks and bullfrogs.  It is round, about 60 or 70 feet across and 60 or 70 feet long, those dimensions making “round” a pretty good description of it.  It is a pretty good haven for green sunfish and bluegill.  My daughter and I have a great big tank and aerator out in the shade beside my boat, and we catch about 60 or so of the small sunfish and keep them in the tank to use for baiting trotlines.

         I had forgotten that ten years or so my Uncle Norten and I had caught some nice bass on the river and released them into my pond, despite the fact that the Conservation Department don’t say you can do that either.
         Good gosh have they grown!  A monster largemouth lives there now.  He came up from the depths to engulf my tiny perch-catching jig and he fought all over that pond before the little hook broke.  I saw him well and my daughter says his mouth was the size of a dinner plate!
         Boy was she excited!  Not me so much.  As you can imagine I have caught lots of bass between 8 and 10 pounds, and turned them all loose, some after I landed them, and most before. Now my daughter won’t help me catch bait.  She is after that big bass.  Will take a picture when she gets it.


         I had a ton of reader letters concerning what I have written about the TSE disease affecting deer, elk, cattle and humans.  I will put some of them in this column soon.  You might want to read more about it in my summer issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor magazine, on many newsstands now.
Call my office to get one if you can’t find it in Walmart, Oerscheln or some other store.  My number is 417-777-5227. Email me at or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613

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