Monday, February 22, 2010

Calling All Varmints

Last weekend, St. Pauli Girl and I were out of town. As we drove back and passed through a small Texas town, I noticed the sign on the local taxidermy shop: “Varmint Calling Contest This Weekend.” I was so stunned that I didn’t even mention it to St. Pauli Girl.

What in the world could that be? The easy solution would have been to go to the contest and check it out. But then I thought, what if the town gets overrun by varmints while I’m there? Better to play it safe.

But it kept gnawing at me like a dog or better yet a coyote biting off a bikini bottom in one of those Coppertone ads. Perhaps I should enter the contest. If I can train my dog to answer the phone, then if I use my cell phone to call my dog from the contest, and he answers with a bark, how does that not win? But then I have to worry about cell phone reception, and I would hate to have to go through all that training when I can’t get any bars on my phone. Plus St. Pauli Girl would be mad at me for referring to our dog as a varmint.

Twenty years ago, I would have forgotten about the contest by now. But thanks to the internet, I instead wasted an entire day researching varmint calling. It turns out that varmint calling is the method of making animal noises to lure mostly coyotes or sometimes foxes to an area where you can them kill them. Or befriend them, which would make varmint calling akin to horse whispering. From my detailed research, the varmint call is usually the sound of a wounded jackrabbit intended to lure the varmint toward what he thinks is a delectable meal.

Others use the sounds of fellow coyotes, to attract a potential mate I suppose. Some of the advice I’ve seen for this includes:

1. Wear something off the shoulder.
2. Use a splash of perfume--preferably coyote urine.
3. Bring a nice bottle of wine, maybe a zinfandel.
4. Think sexy thoughts when making “the call.”

Varmint calling has a long and storied history going back to the first world championship which was won by Jim Dougherty in 1957. There have been national and state associations although California claims to be the only one still active. As Jim Dougherty himself said, varmint hunters “are adventurers, in a sense, who enjoy hunting some of our smartest animals in a one-on-one atmosphere where anything can happen and usually does."

So I guess I shouldn’t enter the contest with our dog because our dog is not one of the smartest animals, is technically not a varmint, and I would probably be expected to shoot him after calling him.

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