Stupid Buggers - Two

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Chasing after the sound of rifle shots.

Submitted: October 18, 2016

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Submitted: October 18, 2016

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Our road is busier these days. Back in the day, the only traffic was the forestry boys heading to and from work, the sawmill workers making the same journey, and occasionally, the run-holder were the only vehicles using the road. So I’m not used to driving in heavy traffic. When I was participating in a course at Lincoln College, I had to travel through the guts of Christchurch, during the rush hour, and I encountered some ill-mannered drivers. The lines of cars at the intersections made the directional arrows painted on the road surface impossible to see, and they were the only indication of which lane I was supposed to be in. It’s all very well for the locals but this country bumpkin had difficulty. People rushing to work had no patience for me make my way while trying to figure out the roading pattern and yes, they obviously thought I was stupid….

At the start of my career my work involved the establishment of exotic forest and administering the Forest and Rural Fires Act, but as far as I was concerned, my greatest responsibility was to my personnel and their safety. Forestry is one of the more dangerous occupations to be involved in and while we were not endowed with the fancy safety gear of today, I like to think we followed safe practice.

One day I was sharing a cup of tea at smoko with my pruning crew, when we heard several shots, not too far away, and the shots kept coming with occasional bullets whizzing high above our heads. I told the men to keep low, I hopped in my truck and raced to where I knew the shots were coming from. I saw the old beat-up car first and then one guy was leaning over the bonnet aiming a rifle in the direction my men were still sitting! His companion was standing back, the spectator, probably waiting his turn.

They stopped at my approach and the shooter held the rifle, a .303, roughly in my direction, but not in a threatening way. I suggested that he put the rifle on the bonnet of the car, which he did. You have to be reasonably civil when the other guy has a firearm!

‘Where are you guys from?’ I asked, I knew most of the local youth and didn’t recognise these two.

‘Town.’ Replied the taller of the two.

‘You guys look too young to own a firearms licence, so who does the rifle belong to?’ I asked.

‘It’s my Dad’s.’ replied the taller.

‘Does he know you have his rifle?’ I asked him.

‘Yes.’ Said the shorter one, but the taller thought it better to tell the truth.

‘Fellas,’ I explained, ‘I have a gang of men down there working in the trees, and funerals are bloody expensive!’

Neither of them blinked.

‘What were you shooting at?’ they had blatted off a lot of shots, and the ground was littered with shell casings.

‘Target practice.’ replied the shorter.

‘Why pick here to do your target practice,’ I asked, ‘you have been firing across the road, its only twenty metres?’

‘We saw no animals,’ the taller said, ‘so we thought was would have a few shots.’

‘What were you shooting at then?’ I didn’t need the answer, I could see the fencepost with slices ripped through it. I though I saw something odd though so asked them to walk with me to the post.

Stuck in a crack in the post was live round! These guys were trying to hit the percussion cap so the post would split open! I took the round out and turned to speak to them.

‘You guys don’t realise how dangerous this is.’ I told them, ‘If you hit that cap, you don’t know where the shell will go! More of a problem is that the cordite could set the place on fire!’

No response, just the dumb look.

‘Look fellas,’ I told them, ‘you are way outside of the law here, and actually in deep trouble. I have the authority to confiscate your rifle and your vehicle and put you in the hands of the law and your Dad could be in bigger trouble for not securing the firearm.’

Now they looked more worried than dumb.

‘I’m not going to do any of that.’ I took the rifle, removed the three or four rounds left in the magazine – there was still one in the breech – and I removed the bolt. ‘I’ll keep these bullets, now bugger off back to town and lock the rifle away! And actually, I don’t want to see either of you out here again!’

I supervised the turning manoeuvre and watched the car make dust down the road and after picking up the live rounds and spent shell casings, I went back to set the men to work. My reply to them when they asked who was doing the shooting?

‘Stupid bloody townies!’


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