By Dennis Adams (© 1999 Dennis Adams)
I met Larry in the summer of 1992. He was a Sergeant in the Marine Corps and I was an officer just checking into an infantry unit. The first thing that brought us together was our common interest in hunting and training bird dogs. I guess I should mention that even though there was a separation in our rank structure we were of the same age group meaning late middle age. Larry is what we call a retread meaning that he had gotten out of the Marine Corps for several years and then came back in. I was an old Mustang Officer meaning that I had spent many years as an enlisted man prior to becoming an officer.
Larry’s desire and drive to hunt was on a level enjoyed by few. His true talent was hunting deer with a bow. However, Larry was one of those fellows that felt he was the best at everything and made sure all around him knew it. Constructive criticism was something he did not take well. In fact, after our first conversation I was left with a feeling that I had just met a man who was arrogant and did not know the meaning of humility. In truth, after our friendship developed I realized he was so much more. I guess you always have to take the good with the bad and it is good part that I miss now more than ever that he is gone. I guess the best way to describe the friendship is to start with the humorous side.
Our first encounter in the outdoors, involved working bird dogs for a mutual friend on his quail hunting preserve with paying customers. Now keep in mind that hunters who frequent a hunting preserve come in all types. Some are pleasant and some are not. Some can shoot and some cannot. Like my friendship with Larry, you have to take the good with bad to some extent. At this point I should also mention Larry’s prize bird dog Chico. Chico was a Brittany and according to his papers of good bloodlines but a harder headed bird dog was never born. I should also mention that Larry must have lost some of his hearing over the years because he always talked as if you were in the next county. Saying that he had a loud voice was an understatement. Which was good in the case of working Chico since he normally hunted in another county.
Anyway, the owner of the preserve assigned groups of his customers to us and we departed our separate ways for the hunt on a 400-acre piece of property. I took my two female English Setters and went to the far end of the property away from Larry and his group of hunters. We were not far into the hunt when we starting hearing Larry yelling at his dog. He was yelling so loud that it was safe to assume that everyone within the county could hear him and knew Chico’s name. I began to wonder if the papers on Chico were authentic because some of the things Larry was yelling questioned the dogs family tree. From time to time I noticed his dog in an adjacent field casting wildly about and could tell by the tone of his yelling that the hunt was not going well for him or his customers.
After the hunt we all met back up at the hunting lodge for pictures and to discuss the adventures of the hunt. The gentlemen who had been hunting with Larry had nothing less than a look of amazement on their faces. I also noticed that Larry was down on his knees attempting to poke Chico out from under a truck with his Browning Over/Under shotgun. At no time did Larry’s yelling stop and actually increased when he knocked a chip of wood out of his gun stock when it hit something on the frame of the underside of the truck.
The gentlemen who had been hunting with Larry quickly paid the owner for his services and departed. It seemed that they were not interested in pictures. The owner looked over at Larry and then back toward us with a smile on his face. When we went into the lodge the owner only made the comment that this was not one of his better days.
Not being one to miss out on any type of humor I asked the owner and Larry if they would mind if I tagged along to observe the afternoon hunt since I did not have any customers to take out. They both agreed, so I put my dogs back in the dog box and got my walking stick out of my truck. It was not long until the customers for the afternoon hunt arrived and off we went.
Larry was determined that he would maintain control of his dog during the afternoon session. He placed an electronic training collar around Chico’s neck and reminded the dog of the power he now held over him. I could tell that the dog was not easily impressed with modern technology and this so-called power because when Larry started the dog he took off at light speed toward the far end of the field. Larry let out a yell that startled both the customers and I so badly that we jumped to the side in fear. The yell startled me so badly that I was sure we were being charged by at least a Tyrannosaurus. Now a Tyrannosaurus has never charged me but I cannot believe that it would have scared our early ancestors who hunted with sticks and stones any more then I was at that point. I noticed one of the customers even checked his shorts.
Larry continued to yell until his eyes protruded out of their sockets like a gold fish. At this point Larry drew the electronic collar transmitter from it’s pouch at his side like Luke Skywalker from Star Wars drawing his light saber. In fact, when he punched the transmitter button it even began to glow and make a humming noise like a light saber. The air was literally charged with electrons because all of our hair began to stand on end. This was not an easy feat considering both one of the customers and I was bald. At the far end of the field I heard a scream of pain that vaguely sounded human. I noticed a fairly large puff of smoke and quickly realized that most of the hair had been either blown or burned from the dog. I also realized that the surrounding vegetation was quite dry and a fire could accidentally get started with the dog arching sparks like he was.
The dog finally returned to heal and began to hunt at least within sight of us. At long last we had a point and quickly readied ourselves for the flush. Admittedly the customers were still flustered from the incident with Larry’s use of his light saber (transmitter) which resulted in the gentlemen missing three easy straight away shots. This was more than Larry could handle. He proceeded to yell and explain in graphic detail how a blind man could have made those shots and cautioned the shooters that a repeat performance would not be tolerated. I was not sure what he meant by not tolerated but knew I wanted no part of it. The two shooters were quite dejected to say the least and remained silent. I assume for fear of being attacked by Larry with his light saber.
(Story continued from Part 2 in Jan 2021 Newsletter.)