I looked up to the sky, scanning for vultures or any signs overhead that could lead me to my prey. Nothing but the blistering sun. A typical day in the Arizona desert. Sand, cactus, and sharp bushes on the ground, blue sky above. A few lizards scattered from their warming rock as I crept forward, ever so slowly and ever so quietly. I heard something to my left. I squinted my eyes against the bright sun, trying to make something out off in the distance. Yep, there they were. I whole pack of them.
“Mark. Chris,” I excitedly whispered.
My two hunting partners saw where I was pointing and we all changed direction, fanning out–three across. Hunched down, hands gripping our weapons, licking our lips at the bounty not 80 meters in front of us. The Raven Spirit had guided us well. Thanks would be given after the kill. Our people were starving back at camp, but the massive amount of meat we were stalking could change all that. Game had been scarce this fall and winter. Months of famine had weakened me. My legs were weary from countless miles spent treading across the endless saguaro desert. But I thought of the elders back in camp, growing weaker every day as they approached their slow starvation into death. I thought of the young ones forced to go without their mother’s milk, their cheeks gaunt and their ribs poking through thin skin. A strength suddenly spread throughout my body and an electric energy awakened all of my senses. My thoughts focused. I took a deep breath in through my nostrils and released the dry air through my mouth. I was one with the earth, one with the game, and one with myself.
As we formed a half circle around the prey, I knew this was do or die. Our people, as well as us, wouldn’t last another week without meat. This was a matter of necessity, and there was no room for error. We had to be successful. I signaled for Mark to take the first shot. He gave a sullen nod and took aim. I saw a glimmer of fear in his eye as he focused on his target. He knew the necessity the situation called for. A single bead of sweat ran down his forehead and landed in the dust by his feet. He was crouched low, peering through some branches between him and his prey. Him and…his destiny. He took aim. Silence. POP. POP. POP!!
“Damn it!” he yelled.
He missed. He kept on firing as the quails scurried off. I ran after them and chucked a few rocks in front of them in some bushes to make them turn around and come back to us. It didn’t really work. Mark kept firing until the pistol ran out of BBs. Chris walked somewhat quickly over to him, but not really, with the zip-lock bag full of BBs and re-loaded the gun.
“My turn,” he said as he took the plastic gun from Mark (our next door neighbor).
Chris walked towards the quails, which had kind of scattered in different directions, but were making a pretty bad get-away effort. Maybe they knew we weren’t prepared to break a slow jog in our pursuit. Or maybe they knew that the BB gun we were shooting shot crooked. And that we also shot crooked. Chris missed all 8 shots the BB gun held, then it was my turn. But Chris was being a d bag and took an extra turn. By now the co2 cartridge was getting low and the BBs were practically falling out of the gun’s barrel onto the ground. We all swore as the birds got away once again. We were a couple blocks away from our culdesac, out in the bushes behind a golf course.
“You guys wanna go home and eat? I’m getting hungry.”
Mark called our landlord/roommate, John, and he came and picked us up in his limousine and drove us home.
It’s a rest week for Chris and I. I’m only riding about 15 hours, which leaves a lot of time for eating, resting and lying in the sun. And also a lot of time for earning Warrior Points and raising our Chi. And let me tell ‘yall, there’s not many things that can raise your Chi more than a couple bacon-wrapped, bird jalepeno poppers.
Preparing the feast. Over the course of about five hours, we caught two doves and a quail. Mark is on the left. Anthony, a friend of his came over to help make the bird meat jalapeno poppers. Ingredients: jalapenos, cream cheese, dove or quail breast, bacon.
Chris, vegetarian for five years of his life, earned 5 Warrior Points since he shot two of the birds. I earned zero since Mark got the other bird, which now puts the Warrior Competition between Chris and I at -2 to 33. He better start killing birds by the ton if he thinks he has any chance at all.