It was a stone-still evening in early November; dry and cold, too, the kind of day when you can hear a deer’s footsteps from 200 yards. My attempt at slipping through the timber and squirrel hunting wasn’t going well. I might as well have been sneaking through a pool of cornflakes.
I was startled when I looked up and saw Ricky King sitting silently on his four-wheeler not 30 yards from me, a furrowed brow on his face and a near-limit of gray squirrels at his side.
“I’ve been listening to you coming for 30 minutes,” he said with a smile.
“You must be the only other guy in western Kentucky squirrel hunting over deer hunting right now,” I replied.
“I was having pretty good luck, too,” he said. “But I’ve got plenty of them here for a meal.”
I smiled, embarrassed for messing up his hunt, but intrigued by what he held in his hands. I’d met Ricky once before, but just briefly. I didn’t know him well. He’s 56 years old, polite and unassuming; the essence of a Southern country gentleman. We both hunted on the same farm, and through the farmer, I’d heard he was a rifle expert. Looking at his squirrel gun, a heavy-barreled CZ .17 Mach 2 with a 20-power scope, I believed it. My iron-sighted .22 suddenly seemed inadequate.