Squirrel, raccoon, possum and rabbit were plentiful in the late 1960s. We hunted often during those early years, and Jerry Searson, Bill Neil and I hunted more than most. We were always hunting something, building something or planning something grand, which made our mothers nervous and our neighbors cautious.
Jerry skillfully persuaded us into many ventures of questionable conclusion. In fact, he usually announced them by exclaiming with his eyes widened and his voice elevated: "Hey, I've got a bright idea."
We were in our mid teens and we were always looking for ways to make a little money. Most of these grand schemes centered around outdoor pursuits, but they never produced much beyond the price of bait, bullets, shotgun shells or gas money.
Hunting proved the most lucrative, and we soon had customers eager for fresh game. At the time, .22 longs -- 100 to the box -- sold for 75 cents, which provided a good day's shooting. Using .22's was cheaper than shooting shotgun shells, but we did so mainly because marsh hens and ducks proved to be to much work.
Never miss a local story.
Trying to conserve gas and often not having a vehicle that ran, we hunted close to home. One of the most productive areas was along the river where the Port Royal Marina is now located. The large oaks provided possum, raccoon and plenty of the squirrels we needed to fill our quotas.
We received payment on delivery -- squirrels went for a dollar, possums $3 and raccoons paid $5. Everything went along fairly well, for a while.
It was about this same time we started dating and discovered things were now a bit more expensive.
Trying to muster enough money to provide some degree of enjoyment for Friday night proved to be a hardship. Our dates wanted more than a Cherry Coke from the Shack, a bag of popcorn from the Breeze Theatre on Bay Street, or a hot dog from the Highway 21 Drive-in. Along with Saturday trips to the beach, our expenses were adding up pretty quick.
We had other jobs, but it took all that and more to keep our cars running. Our hunting money was for fun and games, and we were running short on funds. Something had to change, so we hunted with more vigor and determination. After all, there was a lot at stake. Our more lucrative peers were waiting in the wings to move in the moment the slightest indication of failure presented itself.
Back in the woods, Jerry found a squirrel nest. Now, normally we gave our quarry a fighting chance, but we were growing desperate. Jerry shot into the nest and the largest raccoon we had ever seen came out growling. I shot and hit a leg, Bill hit the neck and the raccoon fell at our feet, still alive and plenty mad. The animal ran at Jerry, but having single shot rifles at the time left him little alternative. He grabbed the barrel and proceeded to beat the raccoon beyond recognition.
This was our only game for the day, but surely its size would bring more than the normal 5 dollars.
Mrs. Daise lived on Ribaut Road, the site now occupied by much of CVS. When we produced our prize, she exclaimed, "I asked for a raccoon; this ain't no raccoon. It looks more like a possum, but I don't rightly know what it is. What did you boys do to this animal?"
We felt bad at the time, but soon got relief for the error of our ways. We worked hard at the A&P, we bagged more groceries and stocked more shelves. All the while, we were saving up for the fishing season and already had a few customers.
With our newfound riches from the sale of fish, shrimp and crabs, our cars were running, the girls were smiling and all was right with the world.
That is, until the next "bright idea."