On one of the last warm summer nights, four of us hung around the back row of the Midway Drive-in watching the same movie we saw the night before. Bob broke the boredom with a story about how Indians use to go night hunting for birds called snipes. It was simple. They built a bonfire. Some of them went into the woods to scare out snipes, while others danced around the fire carrying large bags and making loud war whoops. Scared from their nests, the birds fled toward the light of the fire but the war whoops scared them, so they flew into the bags to hide. The Indian pulled the bag shut and the bird was caught.
Bob ended his story saying, “I’ve done this and it works.”
“So have I”, said Lowell. “Let’s do it.”
We went into the woods behind the drive-in to collect firewood while Lowell ran off to the storeroom under the screen to find a bag. He came back with a big gunny sack just as we were getting the fire ready.
It was decided that Gary and I would get to catch the birds. Gary was a mildly retarded boy who lived in the trailer park next to our house, and loved to hang around the drive-in. I would hold the bag because snipes are large and can cause harm if the bag isn’t shut immediately after they enter. We didn’t want Gary to get hurt.
When the fire was blazing, the two seasoned hunters headed for the woods to scare snipes toward our fire. There was one last instruction. “Don’t make any noise until we are out of sight.”
As soon as they were gone Gary and I danced and jumped around the fire making the sounds we often heard in western movies. Our long shadows exaggerated our size. The firelight shined on the white paint of the back fence and the leaves of the trees beyond, as we strained our eyes in that direction for an incoming snipe.
Then we heard feet running towards us in the gravel. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” It was a parking attendant in white coveralls.
“We’re snipe hunting.” Gary said, and began explaining.
“You idiots! There’s no such thing as snipe hunting. Put that fire out and get out of here.”
A few people had gotten out of their cars to see what was going on. Some of them were laughing at us. I could also hear familiar laughter coming from the woods.