Nature Red in Tooth,
Claw, and Bullet
Hunting and Human Presence in Nature
“AND THIS IS THE CLASSIC WESTERN RIFLE—THE WINCHESTER LEVERaction 30-30,” Earl said as he lifted the rifle from the rack of more than ten hunting pieces. “Over here is a Belgian-made 12-gauge shotgun, for wing shooting, and right next to it are the Tikka 'Whitetail Hunter,' 338 caliber, good for pronghorn antelope too, and a Ruger 17, perfect for varmints.”
“I assume by wing shooting you mean birds. 'Whitetail' are deer, and 'varmints'—what are varmints?” Janet asked, more from curiosity than real interest.
“Varmints are undesirable animals: crows, coyotes, prairie dogs, and the like. They don't do anybody any good. Because of their growing numbers and nuisance habits, whitetail deer will soon qualify, in my opinion,” Earl answered.
Janet turned and caught the eye of Alex, her fiancé, who was standing next to her on this tour of the ranch household. The two had flown out to this ranch near Kiowa in the high plains of eastern Colorado at the invitation of Miriam and Earl Gleason, Janet's aunt and uncle, for a family gathering and celebration of their upcoming marriage. The Gleasons ran a large ranch—two thousand acres and four hundred head of cattle, with a few sheep. It was an enchanting place, with rolling hills and meandering creeks lined with lush grass and majestic cottonwood trees. Except for the fact that