By Allen Hamrick
We got to the river about a mile up from the entry point of Buzzard’s Pass, set the boat on the water and loaded it up. We had already made arrangements with the local body disposal just in case we didn’t make it back. Once we were afloat, we started to second guess our harebrained scheme and tried to convince ourselves what a dumb idea it was, but it was too late. The water started gettin’ swifter and swifter until we were doin’ about 25 miles an hour. We tried using our paddles to get back, but the water jerked them out of our hands. Buck grabbed the oars and got control of the boat so we were goin’ strait again, hollerin’ “Come on boys, it’s all or nuthin!” We caught site of the Pass and were headed straight into the opening. Our nerves were tighter than banjo strings, and buzzards were starin’ at us like we were the next meal. It was up to Buck to get us through the rapids that looked more like a thrashin’ machine that would tear you to ribbons. Buck yelled, “ Grab the shotgun boys and cover me I’m goin’ in,” and he jumped over the side of the boat into the ragin’ water. Zeb grabbed up the shotgun as the buzzards started circling and following us. We thought Buck was gone but he grabbed the back of the boat and was steering with his legs. The rapids swallowed us up like a starvin’ man with a T-bone. The buzzards followed us in as the boat flung through the air flippin’ Buck up in like pancakes. Zeb took pot shots at the buzzards with the shotgun but mistook Buck for a buzzard and nearly parted his hair as he landed back in the boat.
I was screamin’, Zeb was shootin’ and Buck was swingin’ oars tryin’ to keep us upright. It was if the world was coming to an end in the few seconds that it lasted. By the time we made it to calmer waters, we lost the chum, bats, rope, plywood, and extra shells. We were roughed up, but we still had our lives, fishin’ poles, and now three holes in the bottom of the boat where Zeb blew holes in it. We made it through the rapids but was sinkin’ fast, so we paddled to the shore line to try and repair our boat. There we were smack in the middle of Buzzard’s Pass with a busted boat, no supplies and buzzards circling overhead.
We had about a mile and a half of walkin’ through some of the darkest and gloomiest waters on the river, but we was there to catch two legged cat fish and wasn’t goin’ home without some. Buck took the lead and scared most of the buzzards away with his intense stare as we inched our way out of the Pass, fishin’ as we went. We were gettin’ no hits and seein’ no fish so Buck decided to take matters into his own hands. He dove into the river grabbin’ catfish with his hands and throwin’ them on the bank. They were big; Zeb would wrastle them to the ground as I quickly checked for legs, but no luck. They was all just plain cats. We lost sight of Buck. He had been underwater for 20 minutes looking for catfish. We was ready leave but there was no leavin’ without Buck. We heard a loud yell from across the river and knew it was Buck though we couldn’t see him. We soon caught sight of him on the back of one of the biggest catfishes we had ever seen and they was comin’ in fast and straight at us. When they got to shallow water, the fish got on its back legs and took off runnin’ with Buck on its back barley holdin’ on with a bear hug. Me and Zeb gave chase but was no match for that big catfish’s. Maude and Lolie would give a lot for those legs in a fryin’ pan. Buck and the fish hit the water again, got to the other side and were back up and running. This time, however, the biggest buzzard we ever saw swooped down and grabbed Buck and the two legged cat and flew high into the tops of the trees beyond the dark clouds to its nest and starvin’ young’uns. Buck was a goner fer sure, we thought, but it was Buck Tater after all. It was then we saw something like lightnin’ from a hard storm. Buck broke through the clouds on the back of the giant buzzard all the while hollerin’ for us to get into the open. The buzzard grabbed me and Zeb in its claws and flew us completely out of Buzzard’s Pass, dropping us in Granny Izzle’s swamp. We asked Buck how he managed the buzzard ride. He replied, “Boys, I bartered with the buzzard. It seems the buzzards were looking for two legged catfish as much as we were, so after I stared her down she agreed to take the fish and fly us out of there.”
We hiked over the mountains and back home with little to show for our efforts – no boat, no gear, no fish, no pride with just a story that no one is goin’ to believe except us, and we are not to sure about it either. Those two legs are still out there; we recently saw Buck Tater on the back of one. We are goin’ back in next year after we get a better boat built and our gear back. The taste of catfish legs is just too much of a thought to stay away. Like Buck Tater said, “ Boys if catfish legs are good enough for buzzards, then there good enough for me,” and we agree. Keep a tight line!!! Lew.