Yesterday's Magazette

10 – King Coop

King Coop The Questionable

By William D. Canavan
The first time I met “Coop”, a.k.a. King Coop the Questionable, was when we were waiting with a group of people to head out on the Mississippi River for a hot summer day of fun. Back then, about thirty some years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to pop the lid of a frosty one a little earlier than the Surgeon General might have recommended.  

I grasped a cold can from the cooler, offered him a beer, and he replied, “No thank you. I just ate a bar of soap.”

I’ve never eaten a bar of soap that early in the morning, so I was at a loss for words. It didn’t take me long to recover, though, and I was happy that he took the beer, anyway. 

“So,” I asked, “How long have you been this strange?” 

“Oh, it began about the time I started dating your mother.”

Hmm.  I decided, if you can’t outwit them, make friends with them. And so, the adventures began.

Hunting

We hunted together every season for decades. We weren’t always the most professional in appearance, but we were safe and we had fun. Walking through the brush with a shotgun in his hand, King Coop kind of resembled Dog the Bounty Hunter with short hair. I expressed that to him one day and he told me I looked a lot like a really tall squirrel, but with a thicker mustache (Do squirrels even have mustaches?). 

On one particular farm we were hunting, there was a small section of timber that we never failed to miss; we coined it “Dull-Witted Squirrel World.”   It was an area of tall maple and oak trees, common in this area, and I swear, it supported the biggest and stupidest red squirrels I have ever seen.

As we began our pass, a squirrel the size of the Cheshire cat shot out from the base of a tree right next to me. Having the calm nerves that I have, I got off my first shot about three feet behind it. If you have never squirrel hunted, shotgun pellets make leaves explode, dirt fly, and terrified squirrels run even faster. As it launched itself to the base of a large oak, and scampered upward, I shot again and, much like my golf balls do to trees in the summertime, the bark disintegrated right below it.

“Nice shot,” I heard. “I’ll field dress all the squirrels; you do all of the trees.”

Hardy, har, har

It wasn’t over, though. I jumped as I heard his gun go off, and the next thing I knew, a dead squirrel plopped down right on top of the dead bark I had shot.

“Hey, you shot my squirrel!” I yelled.

“Well, he ran out on the limb, waved at me, and said ‘Hey, Coop, shoot me’. What was I supposed to do?”

On the road “

Coop” knew the farmers with the good hunting areas. It was sometimes demanding to get from one spot to the other, though. 

“Which way, ‘Coop’?”

“Left until you come to where Old Bob drove in the ditch 20 years ago, and then a left, a left and two rights.”

Headed to the next farm, my breathing capabilities suddenly seized up, my nostrils flared and my eyes began to water. 

“Whoa, was that you?”  I asked. 

Silence.

“WHOA!  That’s disgusting.”

“Cows,” he’d say. 

There was another unmistakable “chirp” and I swear it got foggy in the front of my truck.

“Holy Crap, Coop, what did you have for breakfast?”

Um, a bowl of chili topped with raw onions, and two bean burritos.”

“For breakfast?”

“Well, I meant to eat them for supper instead of breakfast, but I get those two meals mixed up all the time.”

In Search of Roosters

There was one more spot on our afternoon agenda, a farm with a lot of sloughs and heavy cover, usually great for a variety of game.  Since we had more squirrels and less pheasants than we wanted, we were hopeful. I won’t go into what we had for lunch, I’ll just say for anyone interested, that Coop had two chili dogs and deep-fried, jalapeño  peppers.

I had picked up a fresh set of pheasant tracks in the snow, and as we came up on a creek bed, I suddenly heard the typical “cackle, cackle, cackle” of a pheasant, but my eyes were showing me something different.  I could see the red around the eye, and the long, dominant tail feather, but the head was white. 

Boom!

After I shot it, I heard “Coop” fire several times As I stood holding a partial albino pheasant, I watched him walk back with two regular roosters.  The first thing he said, was “You shot a chicken!”

“No I didn’t it’s a partial albino!”

“Either that, or you scared the pigment out of part of him.”

The Watering Hole

With the sky turning dark, and the hunter-gatherers pleased with their accomplishments, we pulled into the lot of our favorite pub for a day-ending brew. I stopped to make a quick phone call (they had pay phones back then), and then proceeded inward.

Kristy was bartending, a few of her friends were there, and they all looked at me with concern and confusion.

“What, no ‘Hi, Bill’?  I said, “What’s the matter?”

“We talked with Coop. Did you really get fined for shooting a horse?”

The story ends here, but the memories and laughter linger on. 

Last time I heard, Coop was still modeling nylons for Victoria Secrets.

Vol. 38 No. 3 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – Fall- 2011


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