I had my eye to the rifle scope and was squeezing the trigger when a voice caused me to jump at the same time I fired. Disgusted, I turned to see Wrong Willie standing behind me.

“You made me miss.”

He grunted and adjusted his cap.

“I thought you were asleep again, like you always are in a deer stand.”

“Well, number one, I’m not in a deer stand, and I wasn’t asleep that day you’re talking about. I was just resting my eyes.”

“You were drooling.”

“Was not, and besides, there’s no way you would have known that because I was in my stand ten feet off the ground when you hollered.”

“I hollered twice before you answered.”

“We were deer hunting. Unlike you, I was trying to be quiet. But back to what I was saying, this is my back yard and I’m wide away.” I paused, gathering my thoughts because he’d derailed my original line of thinking. “Number two…”

Willie glanced down at his feet, then checked the grass close by.

“Where?”

“Not that kind of number two. I was making a second point that I’m sighting in a rifle.” I held up the .177 caliber pellet rifle as a visual aid.

“I thought you sighted it in last year.”

“I did, but it’s still off for some reason.”

“That’s because it’s a cheap scope.” Jerry Wayne joined us, plunking a cooler down beside our outdoor table, only feet from where I was using it as a bench rest. “I read the reviews of those pellet rifles, and they say the gun is great, but scope is crap.”

I hadn’t thought of that.

“You may be right. I have an old scope that was on my .22. I’ll go in and get it.”

By the time I returned, Wrong Willie had improvised a better shooting bench. He’d taken all the bean bags from our Corn Hole game and stacked them up on the table.

“I opened the umbrella so the sun wouldn’t flare in the scope.”

Jerry Wayne returned from my garage with tools and I changed the scope. Willie, not liking my backstop, lugged bags of mulch to a spot forty yards from the table where we worked. I liked that, because I planned to spread the mulch nearby and had been putting off carrying them myself.

Satisfied, Willie stepped back.

“You don’t plan to shoot any farther than that, do you?”

“No, just in the back yard. Rabbits and squirrels are wearing me out.” I pointed. “That’s my fall corn crop the grandkids planted, and a rabbit ate up half of one row.”

Willie stuck a small piece of masking tape on one bag and colored in a small circle.

“All right. Get after it.”

The pellet gun’s barrel has a muzzle break, so the crack of the shot is muffled. I positioned the barrel on the bean bags, making sure the suppressor was clear. Knowing the first shot would be way off, I put my eye to the new scope and squeezed the trigger.

Behind me, Willie peered through a pair of binoculars.

“About an inch and a half to the right.”

“Where’d you get my binoculars?” Jerry Wayne leaned forward. “I’ve been looking for those.”

Clearing his throat, Willie kept the glasses to his eyes.

“Uh, I borrowed them last deer season.”

“I’ve searched my house and truck over.”

“They’re right here.”

“Oh. Right.”

Reloaded. I unscrewed the caps off the adjustment screws and turned the top one about five clicks. Snugging the stock to my shoulder, I settled the crosshairs on the tape and was about to fire when the table vibrated.

A shrill shriek from his chair’s legs on the concrete patio filled the air as Jerry Wayne leaned over to better see the target. I sighed.

“Are you finished?”

“I just wanted to see better.”

Settling in again, I fired. This time the pellet impacted too far left and down. Willie called out the location and I adjusted the scope again. By the time I’d fired ten rounds into the bag of mulch, I was satisfied we were close.

“Look!” Jerry Wayne pointed. “There’s the rabbit.”

Willie found it in his glasses and called it for me.

“Forty-five yards distant, five yards to your left.”

I aimed just behind the point of the rabbit’s front shoulder and squeezed the trigger.

The bunny simply blinked.

“Try again. You missed by a mile.” Willie stood stock still. “He’s still there.”

“Where did it hit?”

“I saw the grass move just past. I think you shot over him.”

The cottontail moved closer to my corn. I fired again. A corn stalk quivered and fell over.

The rabbit fled.

“Target gone.” Willie lowered the binoculars. He sighed, seemingly pleased with something.“That went well, don’t you think?”

I frowned and before I could ask what he meant, Jerry Wayne rested his chin on a fist.

“Rev, your scope’s off.”

I studied the rifle, the duct tape on the mulch, my garden, and the boys.

“Thanks for the news.”

“You bet.” Jerry Wayne opened the cooler and Willie joined us at the table while we pondered the problem.

Willie straightened.

“I know the problem. Your trifocal glasses. Take ’em off and try again.”

I hit the target three out of three times, and we haven’t seen the rabbit since.

Reavis Z. Wortham is an award-winning outdoor writer with family ties to Lamar County. He is the author of “Hawke’s Fury.”

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