By Charles Towne

When I was just about seven years old and the size of a skinny wart on a runty toad’s behind I was hired out to some friends of my father as a retriever.

So you will better understand I was not a hound dog retriever, I was a little boy retriever.  Please allow me to explain.

I would also be sent into those nasty bramble thickets, dense patches of weeds and thorny berry patches to flush out the rabbits and pheasants for the hunters. That was my job.  

After the bunnies and birds committed suicide by running and flying within range of the shotgun-wielding horde that awaited them I retrieved the deceased from where they had crash-landed back into those same thick, nasty and thorny patches of blackberry bushes and brambles.  Yes, that was my job.  

Finally, after retrieving them I carried all of the deceased animals my hunters had shot that day.  That was also my job.  

I am here to tell you that it sure is nice to be needed.

I was paid a dollar a day, and what I was told was a delicious free lunch.  The delicious free lunch was what Mr. Bill called a pepper “sanmich” which was composed of two slices of white bread with hot green peppers in between.

        Strange as it might seem I was never able to develop an appetite for those delicious hot pepper “sanmiches.”

The first day that I went with my group of hunters I was excited.  I mean, what 7-year-old kid wouldn’t dearly love to accompany a bunch of vulgar, profane and smelly hunters into the woods to hunt rabbits and pheasants?

What an opportunity for an education!

And those men, my teachers; I could surely admire!

I am not sure this is the education my mama wanted for me.

There I was, tromping through the woods and fields with real men!  Men who had lived life as hunters and fishermen and who would joke with a boy and treat him as an equal!  

It wasn’t until some time later that I learned what the word “equal” meant.  

I became accustomed to request performances such as, “Hey boy, that there big patch of thorny brambles looks like real good rabbit cover to me.  Why don’t you run through there and see what you can kick up? And don’t you be worryin’ none about them thorns, thorns don’t bother real men”

It wasn’t until some time later that I asked one of the hunters about this, “real men” comment.  Reaching back into the nether regions of my rememberer my question went something like this. “If thorns don’t bother real men none, why ain’t you guys trompin’ around in them big patches of nasty brambles and thorny berry bushes?”

As I remember it he looked at me with sort of a pained expression on his face, and for a minute there I thought he was going to cry before he said, “Son,”  (I also was about to learn that when adults use the title, “son” it usually is not a good sign.) “Son, here we are out here in the woods teachin’ you how to hunt and all, and you ast me a darned question like that?  Why you should be ‘shamed of yersef.” 

Just then there was the blast of a shotgun and one of the hunters exclaimed, “Dingblame it, would ya look at that?  That big ol’ pheasant splashed down right in the middle o’ the river! Hey boy, go get that pheasant will ya? An’ make it quick before he disappears around that bend in the river, and don’t you be concerned about that icy cold river water!”

One thing you should know about my hunters, they were real kind and considerate.  So you understand better why I say that you should know that they had them as nice a pack of rabbit dogs as you ever saw, beagles they were and they were real good hunters, at least that is what I was told.

Mr. Bill owned the dogs and he was always lovin’ on them and petting them, but as I remember there was two things those dogs didn’t like, thorny bramble bushes and cold water, and seeing as we were hunting on islands where thick thorn bushes grew in profusion, and the islands being surrounded by water as is usually the case with islands, well, and it was winter, you get the picture, and I got the job.

I would come back from those hunting trips with a runny nose and all covered with dried blood from the thorn bushes poking holes in my sorry seven-year-old hide, and soaking wet from wading in the river, and tired from carrying all the rabbits and pheasants the hunters had shot that day, but do you know what?  I was happy. I had spent the day with a bunch of profane, boozing, smelly, vulgar hunters, and I had even earned a whole dollar!

I never was able to develop an appetite for those hot pepper sandwiches though, but how much fun can a little kid have anyhow?


Dear Papa God, thanks for answering mama’s prayers and protecting me and keeping me from getting shot by one of those drunken hunters instead of the rabbits!  And Lord, for the most part, thanks for protecting me from the bad habits that those profane, boozing, smelly, and vulgar hunters endeavored to teach me, Amen

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Dear NH, it is fortunate that kids are resilient isn’t it? Looking back at it all I don’t imagine any self respecting germ would have had anything to do with me. Chaz

  2. Although I grew up around many hunters I never actually experienced a “hunt”. Your choice of words and your precise use of those words always presents a visual view of your stories in my mind. In today’s world protests of “child abuse” would have robbed you of the learning experience and the rest of us a good Sunday morning story. We are so fortunate to have grown up when we did. Keep the stories coming…

  3. Mike, pal you are sooo right! Most of the stuff that the busy bodies claim is child abuse is just plain life. Any one of those men would have died to prevent abuse toward me or any child. That was a training period in my life that prepared me for survival through my entire existence A lot of the real ugly stuff we hear about today wouldn’t have happened back in that gentler, more considerate and kinder day. My daddy once said, “GIVE ONE OF THEM BLOODSUCKING POLITICIANS A FOOT HE WON’T TAKE A YARD, HE WILL TAKE AN ENTIRE LEG!” Bless you dear folks, Chaz

  4. they learned ya good! remembering how ya put up a whole dollar ifn my skinny little ten year old self would crawl into cindys cage. cindy being a ornery red faced macaque a third my weight but a hundred times more lethal that aint counting her sweet disposition that she kept quite under wraps. i cant thank you enough how you learned me that flimsy paper aint worth getting ones hide perforated.

  5. it was a thing of pride to have scars from childhood adventures the odd puncture wound from icicles that were out of place. or getting ones neck slashed while playing Vietnam in the barn. the claws and teeth of critters that put me of of pets for life. in my adult life i now have a extensive collection of spots and whatnot i am glad i was there when you got some of yours i love you dad

  6. Beautiful story Charles that also reminds me spent the whole days with my cousins in the farm riding horse, swimming in the river and hunting every single creature and also going to the cemetery for cows, pigs and trying to kill vultures.

  7. Leo my brother, hunting, fishing and trapping were a way of life back in those long ago days. I no longer hunt at all. I am glad you liked the story pal. I would have to roam the jungles in in your country, that would be a real adventure. Bless you and yours my friend, Chaz

  8. Hey, can always count on you for a good “chuck”le every time I read one of them there stories of yours.
    Kind of reminds me of going to Grannie and PaPa’s farm in KY when I was a kid. All of us cousins running all over the place, never into the brambles or thorns, but we did get into the electric fence a few times! YIKES!
    God bless you, Chuck!
    Love your stories!

  9. Dear CSG, YES! We would play with the electric fences, always try to introduce some green neighbor kid by convincing him that it wouldn’t shock him. Yeah, I know, we were mean, but it was fun. Bless you, Chaz

  10. So great to hear about your childhood adventures Charlie. Truth we’ll told is even better then fiction and you sure can tell it.

  11. Herb, the thing that is real neat is the fact that our wonderful Heavenly Father turned it all to my advantage and then to your pleasure. Blessings on you and yours my friend, Chaz

  12. So many years ago, so many memories! Different times when as young boys we wanted to be cowboys or pirates or explorers in the jungle! I remember no greater joy than spending time with grown ups, listening to them tell stories, swear and whatever with the only rule being, ” Don’t tell your mother! ” It was like a secret club that let you in on what it was like to be a man and hunt, fish, swear, build things, fix stuff, spit, and do all the things men did. Jungle Jim and John Wayne and Randolph Scott, and Flash Gordon are no longer with us and I for one, miss them!

  13. Ahhh, but Richard, those heroes live on in our memories don’t they? And then we had that greatest of all gifts, the gift of reading able to transport us. We had Tarzan, White Fang, and so many others to guide us into fantasmagorical wonders and adventures that are still with us. Bless you pal, Chaz

  14. EJ, AINT IT THE TRUTH? Those men are long gone now and A rougher bunch is rarely seen but my dad knew his friends pretty well and a little boy kid was safe in their presence for the most part. I was to eventually learn that life can offer up a lot worse things in life then man talk, cold water and brambles! You take care now ya hear, Chaz

  15. Dear number two son, the thing to remember is the fact that you did learn your life lessons pretty darned good ’cause you most likely wouldn’t crawl back in that cage with a mouthful of sharp teeth waiting for you today! Love ya back, Your pappy

  16. Ah Chaz, you mentioned one of my favorites,Tarzan and don’t forget John Carter! If someone today read one of Edgar Rice Burroughs original stories, they would run screaming into the night and demand a book burning!

  17. Richard, ain’t it the truth? And I loved those original illustrations, I mean, do you remember the gorillas! Yes, people don’t have a clue what it is to write real adventure today. You take care pal, Your old friend, Chaz, Hawk Lassiter

  18. Dear Faith, it is Mr. Me myself. Life is sooo good! And the tales I tell are told with something akin to a zest for introducing others to a life full of adventure and life that is almost a thing of the past, whatever that means, Daddy Me


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