It’s that time of year when hawks like to hang around the highways and byways on the lookout for a little road kill or an unwary rodent to expose itself. Sometimes the hawks are so focused on a meal that they forget to watch for cars, a prime reason so many are injured or killed on the roads.
What I like to do is grab a camera and cruise some of the roads less traveled, hoping a hawk will hold still long enough for a photo. It doesn’t happen often. Usually, the mere act of slowing down is enough for the bird to take off and seek another perch. One can only assume they have been shot at so many times by all the Bubba’s out there, that their DNA kicks in and tells them to boogie the hell out of there.
Finding a lonely road to travel for hawks these days is a challenge. It seems that no matter how forlorn the side road looks, the minute you start down it, someone will be on your bumper in about oh, forty-seven seconds.
Driving slowly on a country lane draws suspicion from the locals. Once, back when I was driving my little Ford Bronco !!, I stopped for a shot of a meadowlark and was immediately approached by a man in a farm truck that wanted to know what the hell I was doing. The presence of a camera with a huge 600mm lens about the size of Moby Dick sticking out my window was lost on the gentleman.
“We been losing some cows lately,” he said.
I don’t know how many cows he thought I could cram in the back of the Bronco !!, but he clearly wasn’t taking any chances.
So there I was, a beautiful day, bored out of my mind, sitting at the computer, idly looking around with Google Earth, when I spot a road that looked promising. And it was only a few miles from my house! I ‘d passed the road many times, but assumed it led only to a couple of houses and stopped. Google said no. It kept on going for a good mile, maybe two, crossing Shell Creek and passing through a patch of woods, before dead ending at what looked to be a group of mobile homes and junkyard cars.
Double-wides and junkers at the end of a backwoods road sent red flags soaring. Scenes of meth labs and marijuana fields danced though my head. But back up the road, about a hundred yards, was a turnaround site. I made a mental note: an ‘ol boy might be prudent to stop and do a u-turn right about there.
I grab a camera, check the battery, the memory card, and halfway out the door when the Missus pipes up. “I want to go.” Hmm. I suppose she could dial 911 if things got ugly. “Get in the truck.”
Found the road, made the turn, a nice looking home appeared on the right. That was a good sign. Up ahead, another house, also nice looking, but the road narrowed to one lane. Not good. I never made it to the second house. The bumper of a monster red Chevy pickup appeared in my rearview mirror. Uh, oh. Due to the lack of a passing lane, I maneuvered crosswise in the driveway to the house, hoping the Chevy would pass me by. Didn’t happen. I swore I could hear some banjo music somewhere.
Directly across from me, a dark-skinned man, possibly Mexican, hit the button to lower his passenger side window. Reluctantly, I followed suit knowing full well it was my only shield against the immanent shotgun blast I knew was coming any second now.
“Can I help you with something?” the man yelled over the din of his diesel. He was not smiling.
“You’re blocking my driveway.”
I couldn’t see the AR-15, but I’m sure it was there. “Sir, I am so sorry. Is this a private road?
“It is. You can turn around up yonder by the creek.”
“I will do that,” I said.
Moral: Do not travel unknown back roads in rural Oklahoma. The hawks aren’t the only ones watching you.