Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Great Arizona Moth Hunt

I'm beginning to change my tune on the whole concept of hunting. My general philosophy has always been that hunting animals, no matter how large, with a gun, is just the tiniest bit unfair, unless you figure out a way to arm the animals. If you want to head out into the woods and get into a fist-fight with a deer, that's fine. Bare-knuckles, even. But otherwise, hunting seems like a one-sided proposition.

Now before you dismiss me as a namby-pamby wuss who's never enjoyed the smell of burnt feathers and gunpowder and cordite, I have actually gone out shooting on a couple of occasions. At the previous 19 Minutes World Headquarters, I once produced a story about the phenomenon of 'sporting clays'. It involved going out on a wooded course, with 18 different traps -- sort of golfing with a shotgun. Each trap sent a clay disk scurrying through the underbrush in a way that was supposed to represent a different type of animal, provided the animal was small and disk-shaped. An hour later, I had hit exactly one disk. It took a while to produce the story, too, since I could no longer hear well enough to listen to the tape I'd gathered.

A few years later, I went out to the desert with my brother (a law enforcement-type with an undisclosed agency) and his service weapon, where we successfully shot up a target and a couch that some thoughtful litterbug had left. My shooting was sufficiently and frighteningly accurate enough that I decided I should stay the hell away from guns thereafter.

But I'm reconsidering.

A few days ago, my wife and I had dinner at the house of some friends. Jill and Mike have a daughter the same age as ours, but who goes to bed significantly earlier than our daughter. (Our child was born 11 months ago with an innate desire to watch Letterman.) So we were still at their place as they went to get their daughter to sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, sleep was at hand, but tenuously enough that everyone was speaking in hushed tones as my wife and I got ready to leave. It was at that moment that their dog, Kuma, decided she needed to come in from the deck. Mike opened the sliding glass door to let Kuma in -- only she was accompanied by a moth apparently from the Pterodactyl family. If the 'sporting clays' had been the size of this moth, I may have had a greater affinity for shotguns.

At this point, you're probably thinking: So what? So a moth flew in the house. Big deal. And you may well be right. But we were pretty sure the moth was big enough to carry off either of our children, so something had to be done.

And it was clear it would be up to Mike and I to do that something. Jill had already fixed him with the 'You let it in the house -- you get it out of the house' look. I recognized this look, because it's the same one that my wife would have hit me with had the moth gotten into our house.

Their house was a rough place for the moth hunt, however, since their living room has a roughly 20-foot ceiling. So rolling up the Land's End catalog wasn't going to work. To make things more exciting, the moth decided to alight just above a cutout in the wall -- a cutout located conveniently next to where the baby was sleeping.

The circumstances surrounding this assignment required some pretty specific weaponry. We considered our options. (Rubber band? Nah. Foam basketball? Nope.) With no bug spray on hand, we settled on a combination of Windex and Time magazine.

Mike tip-toed upstairs and positioned himself in the cutout directly underneath the moth. He let loose with a double-barreled blast of Windex. Direct hit. The moth took evasive action, but soon, the added shine -- or perhaps the added ammonia -- from the Windex caused it to spiral downward, like Snoopy's World War I flying ace after his Sopwith Camel is shot down by the Red Baron. A quick Wimbledon-like anti-aircraft swat with the magazine finished the job.

It crash-landed on the carpet, and I (in a reconnaissance mission) swooped in with the Time magazine. I dropped it on top of the moth, and commenced jumping up and down on it. After a couple of jumps, Mike suggested that perhaps they didn't need it to become a permanent addition to the carpet. So we peeled back the magazine, revealing our first good look at the moth. That first good look also revealed that the jumping-up-and-down technique barely stunned the giant moth, so we hastily threw Henry Luce's legendary weekly newsmagazine back atop the moth.

Adding some paper towels to the mix, the moth ended up in the trash, under the rationale that flushing it might unnecessarily result in a large mutated moth in the Flagstaff sewer system.

But the adrenaline rush of the giant moth hunt has me reconsidering the whole hunting concept. I can just imagine a stuffed giant moth hanging above our fireplace, should we ever have a fireplace.

But we probably wouldn't have used a shotgun in our friends' living room, anyway.

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

ha! Great essay.

I followed the link for the large mutated moth in the sewer system. Sadly, it didn't work. Methinks there's something the city doesn't want us to know.

Related to skeet shooting... There's a casino near Memphis called The Grand. The Grand had a grand idea to add a skeet shooting area to their grounds. I always thought this was a fabulous idea. Take someone's money. Give them free liquor. Give them a firearm.

Again, sounds like one of my family reunions.