Gopher Enterprise

Gopher Enterprise
by Linda C Butler
Told by Steve Vance

When I was a wee lad of five, my Dad bought a small Winchester .BB cap rifle for Charlie, my six-year old brother, and myself.

The two of us became fearless hunters who brought home gophers, rabbits and partridge.  Actually, it was Charlie, my older brother, who did most of the shooting while I did most of the carrying.  I walked a distance behind him as he would be annoyed if I walked close to the game and disturbed his shot.  I picked up the gophers or whatever else he managed to shoot.

We did most of our hunting by night.  Flashlights had not been invented, but Dad allowed us to use his carbide head lamp.  It took about half an hour to light the lamp, but once it started to give off light, we ventured from the farmhouse to attract our quarry.

The local municipality paid a bounty to all school-aged children who turned in gopher tails.  At that time, Charlie attended school and could sell the tails.  I was too young to go to school, so I spent my entire day catching gophers.  Charlie and I became business partners and our first enterprise got underway.  I caught most of the gophers and Charlie sold the tails.

At the time, I thought that I was the smart one, as Charlie was stuck in the one-room schoolhouse, while I was free to roam and shoot gophers.  In addition to shooting, I trapped, snared and drowned them.

I used to think that I was putting one over on Charlie, but since then, I’ve come to realize that he was the smart fellow.  He received a cent apiece for each gopher tail and he re-invested the money in .bb caps, which cost twenty-five cents for a package of fifty caps.  I traded the tails to Charlie for .bb caps, which I used to shoot more gophers.  Since Charlie was paying half a cent per .bb cap, he was making one hundred percent profit, whereas I would be lucky to shoot forty gophers with fifty shots.  There was no way I was going to make any money, while Charlie could not lose.  It is no wonder he went on to make his fortune.

Finally our business enterprise came to an end.  I was sent to school and the gophers ran out but they had been happy days.

© Linda C Butler 2013


About Linda C Butler

I write pioneer stories from the Herb Lake Ghost Town. Please do not re-blog this material or re-publish without my permission.
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