Shootin' Rats at the Dump
When I first heard Arlo Guthrie's song Alice's Restaurant, I just laughed, "Close a dump? NAH, it'll never happen around here."
Back then the dump, or more correctly the dumps, as in our area there were four of them within a ten mile radius, were a wonderous and magical place.
First, the dumps were a place to get cool stuff for free. The basic dump was sort of a small flat topped ridge with a small ravine on one or both sides. Real garbage you tossed over the side into the ravine. If it was something useful, you left it up topside, near the edge of the ravine, and whoever wanted it would pick it up and take it home.
City folks didn't seem to ever understand the system, and often tossed good stuff over the edge, and we'd have to drag it back up to the top. You'd think they'd be smarter than that, but if they were, I guess, they wouldn't be living in the city anyhow.
Second, you could toss beer bottles. Ah yes, tossing beer bottles. If it was an Olympic sport, in my beer bottle tossing prime, I would have been in the medals! The locals would put their empty beer bottles back into the cases, and stack the cases near one end of the dump. You'd grab two beer bottles, one in each hand. Toss one up in the air, and throw the second one at the first one. They'd make a wonderful sound as they both shattered into a zillion pieces in mid-air. I used to be able to hit eighteen or nineteen in a row. Sort of redneck trap shooting, I guess.
As cool as all of these things were, the absolute best part of the dumps was the rats. They made the most wonderful targets, and someone needed to keep the rat population under control. My buddy Ron and I volunteered to do our civic duty, an a regular basis!
I forget what Ron had for a .22, but I used my Winchester Model 62-A pump. What a wonderful rifle. I still have it, and shoot it regularly. Classic looks, and excellent accuracy.
Shooting rats took some special techniques, and Ron and I were masters. The rats wouldn't come out until it got dark, and even after dark wouldn't stand still for you to shoot at them.
We would usually arrive at the dump a bit before dark, and check out the latest stuff dropped off to see if there was anything we wanted. Then we would tape a flashlight to side of the barrel with electrical tape. Next, we had to sight in the flashlights.
We'd turn on the flashlight, and point it at an old car door, or cardboard box, and fire a few rounds. You know that dark spot in the center of the flashlight beam? We'd slide the flashlight around until the point of impact was dead center (pun?) in the dark spot.
Then we'd wait until it got dark. Once it was dark, we'd quietly walk over to the edge of the ravine, turn on the flashlights, and shine them down into the ravine, scanning the garbage below. As soon as you saw a pair of pink eyes shining back at you, you put the dark spot onto the rat's eyes, and fired. Exit one more rat.
We could usually keep busy shooting rats for an hour or so, until we couldn't find any more rats, or the smarter ones learned to keep their heads down.
Some of the best Saturday nights I ever spent...............
(Dedicated to Ron Cattron, R.I.P.)