Clem Kardashem’s Rope-A-Dope Competition

Clem in rope-a-dope competition

As all dove hunters know, the opening morning of dove season has dove dodging lead from every fence row in the county. The remaining dove population has a Zoom meeting and then drastically changes their flight plan. Gone now are the days that doves fly from the field to the roost at a nice leisurely pace in a nice straight line. During the Zoom meeting, the vindictive doves agree to go into “rope-a-dope” mode for the rest of the season. That is to say, the moment they see a shotgun barrel rise to the sky, they bob, weave, and dodge flying lead the same way Muhammed Ali rope-a-doped George Foreman. It’s dang near impossible to hit a dove in rope-a-dope mode.

Several years ago, Clem Kardashem noticed that a bottle rocket zig zags through the air a lot like a dove after it’s in rope-a-dope mode. The redneck in him thought, if I can shoot a bottle rocket flying like Ali dodging Foreman, I can easily hit a dove in rope-a-dope mode. Since then, Clem spends the fourth of July grilling something, drinking something, and blowing up something. When the kids aren’t watching, Clem hides away a few bottle rockets to shoot at later. Over the years, it has become a tradition for Clem and Bart LeBeau to get ready for dove season with a, “friendly” rope-a-dope competition.

The competition consists of Clem and Bart taking turns lighting bottle rockets while the other shoots as it zigs zags through the sky. More times than not, Clem and Bart wager a box of shotgun shells. In Frogspit, Texas, it’s redneck law that a wager must be made when two or more rednecks get together with shotguns. With the cost of ammo this year, the bet was negotiated down to just three shotgun shells.

For the last several years, the rope-a-dope competition has ended in a tie. That is to say, no bottle rocket was harmed during the match. This year Clem was bound and determined to win those three shells, even if it meant a slight bending of the rules. As Bart prepared the bottle rocket for launch, Clem was ready with his hand-me-down shotgun fondly named Sears and Roebuck. The fuse was lit, T minus 10…and the rocket soared! Clem shouldered his weapon, closely following every move the rocket made with sometimes-reliable Sears and Roebuck. The rocket bobbed, weaved, and ducked, and then slowly sputtered to the ground. Once the missile hit the ground, Sears and Roebuck roared as Clem blasted three shots at the now grounded rocket, blowing it to smithereens.

Bart nearly jumped out of his overalls and screamed, “FOUL! You can’t shoot a rocket on the ground”. Clem hollered right back, “A skillet shot IS a legal shot”! Now a skillet shot is an act of shooting a dove after it has landed, practically guaranteeing you will have a dove in the skillet that night. A highly illegal and unethical practice, to say the least. Nevertheless, it is common practice in Frogspit. The ethical dilemma of missing a dove on the wing and facing the embarrassment of going home empty-handed or shooting a dove on the ground and proudly bringing home the bacon is not one Clem and Bart struggle with.

After an official rules challenge, both decided that, given ammo’s price, skillet shooting a bottle rocket was indeed a rule violation. Time will tell how they feel about that rule during dove season. With a successful challenge out of the way, Clem and Bart continued their game of rope-a-dope. After two cases of reloaded shotgun shells were blasted across the east Texas sky, another rope-a-dope competition came to an end. It was to the surprise of no one, that no other bottle rockets were harmed during the remaining competition. Tune in next year as Clem and Bart have decided it’s easier to shoot a bottle rocket zipping down the clothesline wire.

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