A Gun by My Side: Everyday Life in East Texas
By Christy Turner
Having a gun by my side is an everyday occurrence living at our East Texas ranch. I don’t expect folks that live in the city that don’t have an investment in livestock to understand, but my 9 year old twin girls understand. They don’t think anything about it when they hear their momma shooting the shotgun at 2:00 am, protecting the chickens from a raccoon. When the alarm goes off at 6:00 am to get up and get ready for school they just ask me, as they are combing out their long hair and trying to wake up, Did you get that coon last night?You would think most kids would be terrified to hear gunshots going off right outside of their bedroom windows and especially when their father was out of town. But not these two country kids who have been around the entire operation their whole nine years on earth. They work just as hard as their father and I do taking care of our livestock, and they understand protecting our hard work and investments.
Coyotes are such a problem where we live 24/7. One of those mornings, as the kids and I were finishing up getting ready to leave for school and work, they came running back in the house screaming at me to get the gun. The girls were telling me that there were coyotes in the front yard trying to get our free range chickens. This is just several feet outside of our front door on a sunny summer morning. I grabbed my shotgun that I always have nearby and ran out of the front door. I guess the coyote got spooked and ran down the hill by the pond. So I turned around and ran back in the house to grab the 25.06. I ran back outside and in my dress and high heels that I was wearing for work that morning, I got down on one knee and steadied myself and shot the coyote in the pasture. My girls just gave me a high five and said, Good job, Momma!Saved the chickens again! Everything loves the taste of chicken, that is for sure. But these coyotes don’t just go after our chickens; during calving season they try to kill our newborn baby calves, too.
In East Texas, one of our biggest predators and one of the most destructive are the wild hogs. They are costing the ranchers and farmers a lot of money and time every year. They can destroy a planted field overnight. They are running the deer I once had coming into feeders on a regular basis away for good. I was just walking to my deer stand this December and I could hear the wild hogs fighting and screaming in the woods. They sounded like they were all around me and it started to get a little freaky. I had seen some movement in the woods to the left of me and I crouched down to get a better look. It was a huge boar pacing back and forth trying to get a better look at me. I hurried up my tree stand with my heart beating a million miles an hour. I never had a deer come within sight that afternoon but right before dark I had a big boar walk out in the open. I’m not sure if it was the same one I had seen on the way to the stand or not, but my 25.06 dropped him in his tracks. I would never walk through those woods without a gun by my side.