Sometimes I accompanied Uncle Jim, occupying the other side of the two-wheeled cart. We never had any definite object in view; we just went forth for adventure. The old horse jogged along very steadily, considering the fact that he was as likely to be put at cross country as a road. We humped up side by side in sociable silence, spying keenly for what we could see. A covey of quail disappearing in the brush caused us to pull up. We hunted them leisurely for a half hour and gathered in a dozen birds. Always we tried to sneak ducks, no matter how hopeless the situation might seem. Once I went on one hand and my knees through three inches of water for three hundred yards, stalking a flock of sprig loafing in an irrigation puddle. There was absolutely no cover; I was in plain sight; from a serious hunting standpoint the affair was quixotic, not to say imbecile. If I had been out with the Captain we should probably not have looked twice at those sprig. Nevertheless, as the general atmosphere of Uncle Jim’s expeditions was always one of adventure and forlorn hopes and try-it-anyway, I tried it on. Uncle Jim sat in the cart and chuckled. Every moment I expected the flock to take wing, but they lingered. Finally, when still sixty yards distant, the leaders rose. I cut loose with both barrels for general results. To my vast surprise three came down, one dead, the other two wing-tipped. The two latter led me a merry chase, wherein I managed to splatter the rest of myself. Then I returned in triumph to the cart. The forlorn hope had planted its banner on the walls of achievement. Uncle Jim laughed at me for my idiocy in crawling through water after such a fool chance. I laughed at Uncle Jim because I had three ducks. We drove on, and the warm sun dried me off.
In this manner we made some astonishing bags; astonishing not by their size, but by the manner of their accomplishment.
We were entirely open minded. Anything that came along interested us. We investigated all the holes in all the trees, in hopes of ’coons or honey or something or other. We drove gloriously through every patch of brush. Sometimes an unseen hummock would all but upset us; so we had to scramble hastily to windward to restore our equilibrium.
The country was gridironed with irrigation ditches. They were eight to ten feet deep, twenty or thirty feet wide, and with elevated, precipitous banks. One could cross them almost anywhere—except when they were brimful, of course. The banks were so steep that, once started, the vehicle had to go, but so short that it must soon reach bottom. On the other side the horse could attain the top by a rush; after which, having gained at least a front footing over the bank, he could draw the light vehicle by dead weight the rest of the distance. Naturally, the driver had to take the course at exactly right angles, or he capsized ingloriously.