Last week I attended a Military Brats Gathering, hosted by Overseas Brats. A ‘gathering’ as opposed to a reunion in that reunions tend to focus on specific high schools. At the ‘gathering’ we had ‘kids’ from schools across the world. And it was a riot!
As we became comfortable with each other, the stories began to come out. I had all but forgotten this one, on hunting prairie dogs.
In 1956 – ’57 we were stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson. We lived off base for a while, then eventually moved on base. Just across the street was another row of houses, and behind them was the dessert. (The ‘Boneyard’ was also out there.) Anyway out int hat dessert were many prairie dog holes, and from time to time we could spot those little critters.
One day we (the guys I played with) decided to see if we could catch one. We knew that prairie dogs build dens with many entrances/exits. So we figured if we flooded one entrance, we could drive them out another. Good plan, or so it seemed.
In those days I had great little red wagon that could accommodate 2 garbage cans. So, we dumped the garbage out, filled the cans with water from the hose and headed out into the hunting grounds. I remember this was no easy chore for a 10-year old! It was hot as hell out there and pulling a wagon, loaded with 2 garbage cans of water through the dessert sand was challenging. But we were determined, and soon found a good hole.
What determines a ‘good prairie dog hole?’ Easy – the first one you come to after dragging a wagon loaded with 2 garbage cans full of water.
We then designated the water dumper and the other guys fanned out to the other surrounding den entrances. Those guys carried burlap sacks with them to catch the prairie dogs as they exited the den – or so went the plan.
I can’t tell you how much water I personally dumped down a prairie dog hole, but I can tell you it was a few wagon loads! Reflecting upon it, I am surprised there is not an oasis out there somewhere today, for all the water that I poured down that hole. Never did see any prairie dogs… but I can just imagine them standing somewhere near, saying to themselves, “Look at those dumb asses!”
Reflecting upon this experience today, I have no idea what I would have done with one, had we caught one. But I can tell you, we sure had fun with it all…. with just our imaginations, a wagon and a couple garbage cans.