January 15 '05
Volume 450

Prewett’s Perils Duck Hunting Is Dangerous

My relationship with Kenneth Prewett began as a result of my knowing his father, Powell Prewett, who for many years worked for "Doc" Rutherford. Mr. Rutherford owned an appliance store that also catered to sportsmen, carrying a small selection of rifles and shotguns for hunters, but more importantly to my budding interest, ample quantities of fishing rods, reels, lines, and lures. Kenneth's dad was something of a trader/ barterer and would often encourage me to purchase an extra fishing lure by suggesting a package deal.

"If you want those two," he might have offered, "then I'll throw in a Lucky 13 to go with it."

At other times, Mr. Powell would give me a small discount, most likely figuring I'd remember to return to Rutherford's where I could get a deal on fishing lures.

Mr. Prewett had three sons, Powell, Jr., Mike, and Kenneth. Powell and my best friend, Tony Austin, were two years younger than me, but the three of us often found time to fish together, especially after we finished high school. Mike was the middle son, and Kenneth was probably still in diapers at the time I developed an interest in fishing, but during my college days, Kenneth was old enough to tag along with us, but we wouldn't let him go.

Several years later, I married while I was teaching math in Ripley, MS. Barbara and I lived there a few more years and moved back to Pontotoc, shortly before our daughter was born. Kenneth grew up while I was away getting my career and family started, and it wasn't long after we moved back to Pontotoc, that Kenneth invited me to go deer hunting with him. He had only hunted a few times, and I had never been deer hunting. Over the next few years, we became good friends, though I was a good ten years older. Not only did we hunt and fish together, but we even played golf together.

One year as Kenneth was high on a ladder trying to erect a basketball goal for his daughters’ to use, he fell off the ladder and broke his heel. That injury may have marked the beginning of his perils. It certainly contributed to his declining interest in deer hunting, what with him wearing a cast most of that particular deer season. The broken heel required a metal pin, and he walked with a limp afterwards. In fact, when all was said and done, one leg was shorter than the other one. A few years later, Kenneth got hooked on duck hunting, and he hasn't been the same since.

Kenneth tried to interest me in duck hunting, but I decided it was too expensive a sport for me, plus, if I'm going to freeze to death, I want it to be on land not water. Still, our families continued our friendship, eating out together occasionally, and getting together on Christmas Eve, but as our work schedules changed and our children grew, Kenneth and I found less time to enjoy the great outdoors together, except the occasional fishing trip somewhere in Pontotoc County.

It's a good thing Kenneth was a lifeguard in his youth, and as such, carried his swimming skills into adulthood. A number of years ago, maybe fifteen, he and Charles Chisolm were shooting ducks from a flat-bottomed boat. Kenneth was using a five-gallon plastic bucket for a seat, and in the act of shooting his shotgun he tipped the bucket over and fell overboard. I remember him saying the shock of the cold water took his breath away, and as he struggled to get to the surface he faced a difficult choice.

"I couldn't hold onto my gun and get to the surface. I had to let it go," he shared. "My daddy had given me that shotgun."

Fortunately, Kenneth made the right choice and lived to tell about it. Besides the cold bath, Kenneth tore some pretty bad gashes in his legs on submerged tree spikes as he repeatedly tried to locate the shotgun before getting out of the water. Luckily, the following weekend, a friend of his returned to the spot where he had fallen in and with scuba diving gear managed to retrieve the shotgun.

Kenneth's third peril occurred in 1996 at a yard sale, and involved an unmanned pickup truck. Noticing the truck was about to roll downhill, he ran in front to stop it. But, the dew on the grass caused him to slip beneath the truck, and one of the tires rolled over his midsection (see August 28, 1996 edition of RRN). Though hospitalized a few days, he was not seriously injured.

On Christmas Eve, Kenneth and Louise were at our house for our annual Christmas Eve party. It was then I learned of Kenneth's most recent peril. He told of having gone duck hunting a week or so earlier with Neal Huskison. Neal had taken his four-wheeler to transport them across the muddy terrain to their duck blind. However, the four-wheeler would not start, and they had to walk to the duck blind. What with duck decoys, guns, and ammo, it turned into quite an ordeal; one that Kenneth vowed he would not repeat.

"I decided then and there, before I went hunting again, I'd have my own four-wheeler."

Kenneth had never driven a four-wheeler, but he found one to his liking the very next week, and he bought a portable ramp to load it into the back of his pickup.

"I didn't have any trouble until I tried to load the four-wheeler after we'd finished hunting," he stated. "I couldn't get it started up the ramp. I was spinning my wheels, going nowhere. So, I gave it more gas, and all of a sudden it got traction. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air on the four-wheeler. I shot up the ramp, through the air and into the cab of my truck, breaking the back window and denting up the cab and bed. I wasn't hurt and hardly put a scratch on the four-wheeler, but I did some damage to my truck. It's being repaired."

After our laughter at Kenneth's peril subsided, Kenneth continued, "I won't make that mistake again. I bought a trailer this week so I can pull the four-wheeler behind my truck."

I'd like to think that Kenneth's perils are over, but given his history, I imagine there are more to follow.

Mulching Leaves In Freezing Temperatures

Barbara told some of our friends, around the third week of December, that I was upset because I had not been able to work in the yard, in part because of rain but mostly because of lower back pain. She was right on both counts, and with folks coming to visit on Christmas Day, I felt all the worse for not having mulched the leaves that fell from the Bradford pear tree near our garage.

Barbara does most of the "present buying" that’s done in my family. It’s something she likes to do, and since I don’t enjoy it, I’m all too happy to indulge her. My buying enjoyment is found in purchasing several country hams, removing the bones from them and slicing and packaging them at home. I like the chance to ply the trade I learned as a teen and the folks who are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a few packages of country ham seem to genuinely appreciate it.

I started my ham slicing project exactly one week before Christmas and didn’t get through until the following Tuesday. Earlier, I had complained to a few friends that I was having trouble getting into the Christmas Spirit, but finishing up the hams seemed to get me in the mood, and I couldn’t wait to start making the deliveries. I suppose the unusually cold weather we had during the week of Christmas contributed to my mood change, as my ideal Christmas weather is cold with a chance of snow.

On Christmas Eve, the temperature made it up to twenty-six degrees but with calm winds and sunshine, it didn’t feel anything like the prior two days of at or below freezing temperatures.

After sweeping leaves out of our garage, I stared at those in the flowerbeds and beneath the Bradford pear and decided I would try raking them into the backyard. My plans were to get them out of sight of guests coming into our house through the garage, and perhaps mulch them the following week.

Since it had rained prior to turning off freezing cold, the mulch in the flowerbeds was literally iced in, and when I raked the leaves out of the beds, very little mulch came out with the leaves. By the time I got all the leaves moved to the backyard, my back wasn’t bothering me, and the exercise had raised my body temperature enough that the twenty-six degrees felt good.

"If the battery isn’t down on my John Deere, now would be a good time to mulch those frozen leaves," I reasoned.

I fitted my homemade mulching attachment onto the mower deck, turned the ignition switch and held it in the crank position, until after several spins the motor fired up, and I was ready for some serious leaf mulching.

I began mulching where the leaves were piled the deepest and was amazed at how quickly they disappeared into the grass in their now pulverized state. The frozen leaves seemed to shatter rather than merely break apart under the mower deck, and in less time than I had imagined, I was done.

I’m still not sure why it was the week before Christmas before I got into the Christmas Spirit, but whenever I finished the ham project, I was well on my way to enjoying Christmas. And finishing a yard project on Christmas Eve helped all the more.

Metered RRN More Than 15,000

A large number of subscribers to this newsletter receive RRN via metered mail. Presently, sixty-one envelopes are metered each week. The cost of metering is significantly higher than using stamps, but the convenience of refilling a meter any time of day or night, using a phone line, helps offset the added cost.

I’m uncertain of the month I began renting a Personal Post from Pitney Bowes in order to take advantage of meter mail, but it was around June of 1999. The Personal Post keeps a running total of postage used, postage remaining, and the number of items metered.

At some point, I felt it would be interesting to mark certain milestones as the metered mail count climbed each week. I chose 5000 as a beginning and have since reported on the 10,000th metered envelope. I realize that my Personal Post has not been used exclusively for Ridge Rider News, but I’d wager that fewer than a couple of hundred of the total were not RRNs.

Persons who received RRN in a metered envelope may note the total imprinted on the lower left corner of the metered mail mark on the envelope. Right, now a number such as 5102 appears in the corner and there is another number immediately above this one. However, only the last digit of that number is significant, and it holds the "ten thousands" position.

As I metered the mail for the January 1, issue of RRN, I watched the metered count increment closer and closer to 15,000. I have no desire to favor one reader over another, and while I flipped through five or six un-metered envelopes to see who the lucky reader might be, I can honestly say that I did not change the order in which the envelopes were printed.

The 15,000th metered envelope belonged to Rev. & Mrs. Gordon Sansing of Forest, MS. And, as with the 5,000th and 10,000th envelopes, there is no associated prize, only the opportunity to be recognized in this newsletter.

It’s taken more than five years to reach 15,000, and it’s hard to say whether or not this newsletter will still be around next year, let alone for five more. However, if I’m still writing and still metering, somewhere in the not too distant future is an envelope waiting to be marked as 20,000. So keep watching, it may have your name on it.

Bodock Beau Politically Correct

Recently I received a warning about the use of this politically incorrect term, so please note, we all need to be more sensitive in our choice of words.

I have been informed that the Islamic terrorists who hate our guts and want to kill us do not like to be called "Towel Heads" since the item they wear on their heads is not a towel but actually a small, folded sheet.

Therefore, from this point forward, please refer to them as "Little Sheet Heads."

Thank you for your support and compliance on this delicate matter.

Submitted by Gwen H. Cottrell

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