To kill a mocking rooster
(PART I - PART II)
WHEN we last met, I was standing on the deck outside my bedroom at 3 a.m. cradling a semiautomatic air rifle, attempting to dispatch a rooster who had been keeping me up for three nights -- mocking me, really -- to dispatch the creature with malice aforethought to that great KFC in the sky. But the wily bird slinked off into the night before my plan could be realized. And my wife was yelling at me to come inside, put the gun away and quit scaring the neighbors.
I did. Because although the feral fowl had outsmarted me, I had a plan. A simple plan to deal with this bird who had managed to dredge up my darkest animal instincts by three nights of sleep deprivation. Robbed of REM sleep (that type that apparently keeps you sane), I was prepared to do anything short of lobbing hand grenades onto the hillside to silence this terrorist poultry. (Mainly because I was short on hand grenades.)
Instead, I lobbed plastic bags filled with wild bird seed into a clearing on the hillside. And a day later, the plan worked. I finally saw my prey: a fighting cock seven hands high, about the size of a smallish pony. There he was in the open, snapping up the birdseed. I aimed my air rifle at him, my finger tightened on the trigger and ... and I couldn't pull it. In the common sense of daylight (after a restorative nap), to shoot him while he stood eating seeds I had put out seemed too much like, well, willful murder.
INSTEAD I went online and learned that the Hawaii Game Breeders Association, the outfit associated with raising fighting roosters (strictly for show, not combat, you understand) would deliver a trap to catch any wild (or escaped) fighting cocks or chickens on your property. I was a bit wary that such a service was available, but since I had chickened out, so to speak, on assassinating my tormentor, I had to do something.
My call was answered by Pat Rojas, who, with her husband, Joe, has caught literally thousands of wild chickens. They showed up a few days later, after I had gotten my bird into the habit of coming out of the brush to eat every day. Joe dragged the homemade wire trap up the hill. It was about the size of a reach-in freezer with an opening at one end that allowed the rooster to check in but not check out.
For two days the rooster and a flock of pigeons pecked up every bit of seed AROUND the cage but never went inside. Then, finally, the pigeons went in and started feasting on a pile of seeds in the cage. The rooster just sort of followed them in. The pigeons strolled back out through the opening when I showed up to investigate the situation, but the rooster found himself trapped. He looked at the little birds walking around outside the cage, apparently thinking, "What the ..."
Pat Rojas, a jolly, auntielike lady, showed up with Joe, and they took the cage and bird away. Just like that. No charge.
Joe said the rooster, who I had to admit, was handsome with brilliant red- and cream-colored feathers, looked to be an escaped fighting cock, not wild.
I felt good knowing that I hadn't shot the thing, mainly because Pat said there was a $1,000 fine for killing wild roosters.
"They consider it animal cruelty," Joe said with just a hint of what I took to be sarcasm in his voice.
It apparently isn't animal cruelty to turn captured wild roosters into dinner, which Pat assured me was this rooster's ultimate fate. They give all their captured chickens to relatives and friends who turn them into various entrees, she said.
So peace was restored to the hillside, and I could retire to my bed knowing my hands and heart were relatively blood free. That night I dreamed of adobo.
(If you have a wild-chicken problem, don't give in to the dark side, call Hawaii Game Breeders at 239-9611.)
(PART I - PART II)
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org