Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Predators, Varmints and the Kiss of Death

When I was a small child I spent many holidays with my grandparents. They owned a ranch near Round Mountain, Texas a small community southwest of Marble Falls, Texas. Sometimes my grandfather would go to Marble Falls for cattle feed and supplies and I got to ride along. It was always a special trip to town for we would stop at the Blue Bonnet Cafe, a Texas tradition, for granddad's coffee and pie. I would get a soft drink which I drank as fast a possible so I could ask to go across the street. Permission granted I headed to my favorite shop in the whole world. It was Burnham Brothers Sporting Goods and for a youngster eat up with hunting this place was heaven on earth. They used to have a window full of live rattlesnakes and all the latest hunting gear, but better than that it had Murry and Winston Burnham. They would sit in the shop and tell stories about calling in predators with calls and many times with sounds they made themselves. I considered these two men the superstars of predator calling. I would sit and listen to whatever golden words of advice they would give me and go back to the ranch and practice varmint calling for hours. Two of my most prized possessions were Burnham Brother Predator calls. One day when the Burnham’s were passing out the gospel of varmint calling the subject of lip squeaking came up. I do not remember if it was Murry or Winston that helped show me how to suck on the back of my middle finger and make this wonderful squeak that sounds something like a young squirrel, rodent or even rabbit in distress. Learning to make this magical sound was the beginning of a lifetime of calling animals.

The sound is simply made by making a kissing sound with your lips and pressing them against the palm-side of the middle finger. You can play with the way you do it until you get the best sound and volume. Most people would call me a liar if I told them about the hundreds of animals that have come to this sound. I will never forget one icy cold morning when my uncle and I were going to break ice on the stock pond so the cattle could get water. As we drove through the pasture a grey fox ran across the road. At that time grey fox furs were worth about $30.00 which was a lot of money back then. We cut the truck off and set for a couple of minutes. I then began to squeak on the back of finger and here came the fox running to capture what thing was making such a frantic scream. This was the first time I had a witness to what I could do with this sound. I became a success at squirrel hunting overnight. Squirrels that hear the sound may come running or move from cover. Many squirrels will start barking and chattering upon hearing the squeak. I have called numerous hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes, coons, ringtails, bobcats, feral cats, ground squirrels, rock squirrels, wild dogs and I am sure others I can’t remember. I have had even deer, javelina and feral hogs come to the sound, maybe out of curiosity, but they came. This is one call I always have with me and do not have to remember where I put it. To the Burnham’s wherever you now are I want to say thank you for a lifetime of making memories and instilling the flame of predator calling in my heart. Even 45 years later it still burns. Good calling, Wild Ed

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