Sitting at the table this past Thanksgiving, soaking up tryptophan and preparing for a shallow food coma, I told one of my sister’s favorite stories to my nieces and nephew who are finally getting almost old enough to hear some of my stories. This wasn’t the first time that it occurred to me that the bulk of the funnier stories of my life have never been written down. So, here is a personal fave that I will do my damndest to get on digital paper with my digital ink.
This story begins, not with me, but with the greatest salesman of all time. You see, back in the 90’s someone convinced a bunch of Texas land owners that Emus were going to be the next great herd animal. “Their meat will replace beef, and their oil will revolutionize medicine,” this guy probably said. Old “Bob” the rancher just looked at the goofy 6-foot tall flightless bird and thought, “hell, what’s the worst that can happen?”
The answer to that question is: Emus are mean as shit, “Bob”.
So fast forward 5 or so years, and old farmer “Bob” has long since just opened the pens and let the emus out because it’s easier than dealing with them. Old “Bob” eventually dies or sells his land and the failed Emu venture is forgotten. But the emus didn’t forget. Oh no, the emus just went feral.
Skip ahead another 15 years and whoever is using the land has either wrangled up or killed all the stupid emus. The only ones that are left are the meanest and smartest of the bunch. They are extremely territorial and react in a very negative manner to anything – human or animal, infringing on that territory. So whoever has taken over the land from old farmer “Bob” now has parts of their property they just don’t go to anymore. It’s emu country, and brother, them emus don’t take kindly to strangers or interlopers.
Of course, as fate would have it, I have a buddy who has just such a piece of property. As a man who has a truly unique situation like a 20-30 acre plot of land infested with giant, pissed off birds – the last thing you do is tell people about it.
Because you are an asshole.
The buddy in question and I had planned a trip to hunt some pigs on his property. I’d hunted pigs before, and I knew the inherent risks of doing so on foot, so I was armed to the teeth. Rifle, two pistols, and enough ammunition to stage a fairly successful coup in a third world country. We discussed a plan as we drove through the property. The property he knew very, very well that I’d never even been to before. We pulled up to a natural cut in the dense woods that ran for a couple of hundred yards toward a power line easement. The plan was that I was going to walk up this bare cut of land to the power lines, and then shoot any pigs that were grazing along the natural “highway” under the power lines. Easy enough.
I got out of the truck and started walking down the suspiciously quiet break in the foliage. It started off about as wide as a neighborhood street, and gradually narrowed to the width of a sidewalk. Suddenly something big and dark darted from a tree in front of me deeper into the woods. “What in the hell was that?” my brain screamed. I checked my rifle to make sure there was a round in the chamber, and took a few tentative steps. Another large shape darted in another direction to my right. I spun and drew my rifle up to my shoulder in one fluid motion… to find nothing but trees. When I turned back to the trail in front of me I was absolutely baffled to be staring at a 6-foot tall wingless bird. I knew what an emu was, but I’d never seen one up close, let alone outside of a pen at the state fair. I cocked my head like a dog hearing a weird noise for the first time and just stood there like a heavily armed idiot.
The emu just stood there, too. Looking at me like you might look at someone you just caught breaking into your house. So I just stared back like you’d look at a damn giant bird in the middle of the woods. That’s when the second one, the one that was standing 6 feet to my left the entire time, hit me like a laser-targeted missile.
I’m a big guy and this bird ran me flat over. Then all 3 were all on me, kicking the absolute shit out of me and not so much “pecking” me, as they were “trying to bash my skull in with their heads.” I looked like some kind of misguided emu teenager getting jumped into an emu gang. I’m here to tell you: if you’ve never had your ass kicked by 250-300 combined pounds of angry giant bird, you’ve never had your ass kicked properly. I somehow managed to get to my feet through the barrage of giant taloned feet, and actually managed to punch one of them right in his emu face. Once they saw that I wasn’t going to back down, they eventually scattered.
That’s when I heard the hysterical laughter from the truck.
The truck that was supposed to be driving away.
You see, in keeping true with being a man, my buddy knew exactly what was about to happen because it had happened to him. So he did what you’re supposed to do: stay and watch the show. I couldn’t even be mad at that.
On reflecting on the day’s events later that evening, I brought up a very interesting point: those emus attacked me EXACTLY like the raptors attacked the security guy in Jurassic Park. I mean down to the letter. One stood out in front to catch my attention, and the other attacked from the side, and then all 3 of them came in to try and eat my whole face off. My buddy thought about it, and agreed – that’s exactly what they had done. I then brought up the fact that I think dinosaurs evolved into birds, so their tactics made sense. Why wouldn’t a 6-foot tall bird fight like a 6-foot tall dinosaur?
So basically… If you think about it…
I punched a fucking dinosaur right in the face.