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Fun days of fall

I was reminded that the fall season is near at hand on Monday when I stepped out my back door and came face-to-face with a slight chill in the air and the blazing, bright orange leaves in the top of our sugar maple tree.

What fun me and my siblings and our country cousins had soaking up the free, fun-filled adventures of fall when I was a kid growing up on the farm.

With cotton, corn and hay harvest finished, we had the freedom to kick up our bare-footed heels and engage in activities of our own choosing.

Late afternoon squirrel hunts were immensely popular.

My brother and I would jump into our after-school clothes and hit the woods running with a J.C. Higgins .22 caliber rifle and an Iverson Johnson 12.gauge shotgun in hand every evening, weather permitting.

We’d hide near a tall hickory tree and wait for the bushy- tailed varmints to make an appearance. At first sight, my brother would take a shot with his rifle. A hit would ensure a good piece of fresh meat for a pot of stew. If he missed, a shotgun blast would follow. Between the two, a squirrel had little chance of surviving.

Not all was lost when hunting trips came up empty handed. To pass the time and fill a hungry stomach, we could always raid a persimmon tree, Muscatine vine or chew the juice out of a joint of sorghum cane.

Going possum hunting was another adventure that provided us with a barrelful of fun.

A group of young hunters and their hound dogs would assemble at a predetermined spot after dark. With the dogs in the lead and hunters following with a big burlap sack and flashlights in hand, we’d head for bottomland to begin the hunt.

In short order, the dogs would pick up a possum’s scent and the hunt was on. Since possums aren’t blessed with speed, they would usually cut their run short and find refuge in the top of a tree. When we arrived it was our job to shake the possum out of the tree and stash it in the burlap. The hunt continued until we had a bagful of possums.

To end our night of adventure, we’d take the possums to the home of a neighbor who welcomed them as a source of meat for his dinner table.

I can’t say that what we perceived as fall fun in our formative years compares favorably with what is considered to be fun today. However, since there was no TV, no electronic handheld gadgets or no fast food hangouts, we’ didn’t know the difference.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.