My Travels With Norm

My Travels With Norm

by Frederick J. Ruggio


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452072753
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 11/08/2010
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)

First Chapter

My Travels with Norm

A Collection of Short Stories
By Frederick J. Ruggio


Copyright © 2010 Frederick J. Ruggio
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4520-7275-3

Chapter One


It was the end of October. Small Game hunting season had just opened in our state. Norm and I were in our middle teens and driving! It sounds dangerous so far, doesn't it? I called Norm on the telephone Friday evening. (No cell phones in those days!). After talking for awhile, we decided to spend our time sensibly, and drive up to the Northwestern part of our state the next morning and go hunting. We had no definite plan! On second thought, we very rarely did! It was always a spur of the moment decision for us.

I was elected to drive that morning, since I owed a car. Norm was using his dad's Buick at the time and saving his money. I placed my gear in my car and left my home early in the morning to drive over to pick him up. It was a ten minute ride. As I drove into his driveway, I noticed it was exactly 4:30 a.m., the time we had agreed on. I also noticed a light was on in his kitchen. I knocked on the kitchen door. He answered and let me in, telling me to be quiet so I would not wake up his family. His dog was whimpering in the corner of the kitchen and I was hoping she would not bark, as she came over to have me pet her. She barked! Norm quieted her down. He was his usual cheerful self when he asked me. "Do you want some breakfast?"

I replied. "No thanks, I'm good. I had some cereal before I left home!"

He opened his refrigerator, took out some leftover cold codfish and a bottle of ginger ale, placed it on his table and sat down in a chair to eat it. I could only gape at him. I never tried to figure out his breakfast eating habits. After a few moments he finished eating, grabbed his hunting coat and his 16 Gauge Ithaca pump shotgun from a corner in the kitchen. Somehow he produced a box of shells, of the right gauge to match his gun. He then announced he was ready to go.

We got in my car, backed out of his driveway and drove north in silence. For some reason he was cheerful but not his usual talkative self. Maybe it was the codfish and ginger ale upsetting his stomach! I could only tell it was that, by the burping and growling sounds he was making.

After driving North for forty-five minutes we were in New Milford. Norm announced that he was hungry. I asked. "Why, you just had breakfast at home."

He replied, "It was only a snack!"

So, we stopped for a second breakfast, at a diner we often stopped at when we in the New Milford area. The waitress greeted us with a big smile. I guess we were either familiar faces to her, or her first customers of the day. We looked around. There was no one else in the diner at that time. Then, Norm proceeded to order eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. I could only wonder how he could eat all that food! I ordered the same!

We joked around with the waitress and finished our second breakfast of the day. Then, we asked the waitress, for two egg and bacon sandwiches on hard rolls, to go, and also asked her to fill our thermos bottles that we had brought along, with coffee, cream and sugar. This was to be our lunch! We paid our bill, left the diner, got back in the car and continued our journey.

By now, a bright orange colored sun had risen in the sky. We continued our drive north. I waited a few moments before I asked Norm.

"What is our plan, and where do you want to go?"

He answered me curtly. "I'll know when we get there!"

Maybe it was the second breakfast upsetting him again! I kept quiet and drove on. We soon passed a sign alongside the road telling us we were entering the town of Sharon. A few moments later he yelled at me to slow down.

"Turn off here! This looks good!"

I braked the car and turned off the main road, as instructed. I don't know why it looked good! We drove down a paved country road that turned into a gravel road, and then into a dirt road. We drove by a few non-descript farm houses and soon we were at the end of the road. Norm said.

"This is it!"

We stopped the car and got out. We put on our hunting coats, placed our egg on a hard roll lunches in the back pouch of our coats, took our shotguns out of the car and loaded them.

As we walked into the woods, we followed an old logging road forgotten by time. Leaves were falling off the trees as we continued on the overgrown road. Norm was leading the way. We walked and talked! We noticed a few songbirds and a few squirrels but none of the Grouse that we were interested in hunting. We reached a wooded hillside and Norm blurted out.

"Let's walk over that steep hill and see what's on the other side."

I followed him! He had a habit of always wanting to see what was on the other side of a hill, or a mountain or anything else he could not see over.

He was right, more times that he was wrong. I guess that was pretty good odds! We climbed upward and reached the other side of the hill. We found a breathtaking sight, since we were then out of breath from climbing the hill. We were looking at the remains of what must have been an old farm house built long ago. There, down the hill in front of us, was a falling down wooden structure of an old homestead. Close to the house were stones piled high to make walls. They had been placed there by some farmer trying to eek out a living in this hardscrabble land.

In back of the dilapidated structure of a house was part of a shed, and an outhouse that had fallen over. In back of the outhouse was an overgrown apple orchard. We noticed there were apples hanging on the trees. We walked over to the orchard. Norm picked an apple off a tree and bit into it. He spit it out, and said it was sour. We walked on through the orchard, and immediately put up a Grouse. It flew low, to the left of where Norm was walking. He raised his Ithaca 16 gauge and shot once. The bird fluttered to the ground and he went over to pick it up. He admired the smooth brown feathers and the plumpness of the bird. He took out his knife and opened up its crop to find out it was eating apple buds. What a surprise in an apple orchard! He took out its innards then put the bird in the back pouch of his hunting jacket. Norm was pleased and excited when he said.

"This bird has been feasting on apple buds! Look at all the buds I took out of his crop!"

After that revelation, we walked on and soon another Grouse flushed up, out of the orchard. He raised his gun and shot that one also. The score was two for two! As soon as his bird dropped to the ground, another flushed out of the cover. It took me two shots to get that bird down. Our state limit was two a day per hunter. One more bird and our hunt would be finished.

We completed our walk through the old orchard without another flush. Then, we drifted into thick pine woods further back of the old farm property. Soon, we were looking at tall old pines that the loggers missed or did not bother with. Norm looked up into one of the trees and yelled out. "I see a raccoon way up in that tree!"

How he saw anything that high up in the tree, was beyond my imagination. I could not see more than twenty feet high in that tangle and mess of pine branches. He quickly put his shotgun to his shoulder and fired. "I think I got him!" he exclaimed.

"How do you know," I asked? "Nothing fell out of the tree but pine needles and branches."

Norm looked at me like I was nuts, and yelled out. "I'm telling you, I hit him. I'll go after him!"

Now, it was my turn to look at Norm, like he was nuts!

"How in the world are you going to go after him?"

He unloaded his shotgun, and laid it on the ground. "Climb the tree of course!"

Norm went over to the tree and jumped up, grabbed a low branch on the tree, hoisted himself up and started climbing. Branches were cracking and falling down toward me as he climbed and climbed. I soon lost sight of him! I judged he was now about forty feet up in the tree. I was hearing his progress by the sound of the branches breaking, and the debris from the tree falling from high above. I still could not see him! Then, I saw part of an orange hat, way, way up, peering over a branch. "I got him!" he yelled down to me.

As soon as he yelled, I saw an object fly out of the tree. I gasped. I thought it was Norm! Then, a raccoon hit the ground with a thud, near my feet. I jumped back. I looked at it! Sure enough, it was dead! By then, Norm had started climbing down out of the tree. When he was finally on the ground, he rushed over and grabbed the raccoon, lifted it up in triumph and admired his quarry.

In celebration, we decided to take a lunch break and ate the egg and bacon sandwiches we had bought earlier this morning. We washed it down with our now lukewarm coffee, poured from our thermos bottles, that we had our waitress fill at the diner during our breakfast stop. Then, Norm picked up his raccoon and we headed back to the car. He mentioned something about tying it to the front fender of the car, to display it, but I quickly discouraged that idea.

We drove south. Norm was happy as a lark all the way home. He smiled and laughed, as he verbally relived his climb up the tree. He said it over and over again. I was getting tired of hearing him!

When we arrived back at his house, we went into his kitchen where his mother was starting to prepare vegetables for their family dinner. She looked at both of us! Norm looked a bit ragged. His coat and pants were torn, his face dirty and his hands were scratched. But, he was holding his raccoon up in his hand and had a big smile on his face.

"Mom, look at this raccoon I shot!"

His mother was aghast. "Get that animal out of my kitchen!"

The family's Springer Spaniel started to bark and began to act wildly at the sight and smell of the animal.

Norm exclaimed. "No, we are going to have it for supper. It's a young one and should be pretty tender. I'll skin it and clean it up!"

His mother asked him if he was crazy. She looked at me and asked if I was crazy. She turned to the dog and said. "They are both crazy!" The dog agreed with his mistress.

Then, after some pleading by him, and an offer to help her in the kitchen, she relented. Norm's father was also a hunter and fisherman and had taught Norm and me how to hunt and fish. She was used to her husband and son coming home with all kinds of animals and fish, but never a raccoon. Norm and I went out to his backyard, where he skinned, cleaned and washed the animal. He finished this chore and brought the raccoon back into the kitchen. His mother began to argue again but Norm convinced her to cook it.

She decided she had better wash the raccoon again in the sink, with clean water. She took out a large cooking pot and put the animal into it along with water, beef broth and the vegetables she had previously cut up. She added some seasoning and placed the pot on the stove to cook.

Meantime, Norm and I went about our business of cleaning ourselves up in the backyard, where there was the water faucet and hose that he used to clean the raccoon. We were scrubbing ourselves off for quite awhile. Then, we heard a terrible scream from the house! We dropped the hose and ran around to the driveway. The kitchen door opened up. A pot with water, the raccoon, and all the cut-up vegetables flew out the door, to land on the driveway with a splash, and a clank. His mother was in the doorway, screaming at Norm, at me, at Norm's father, and at the dog, who was howling in the kitchen.

Norm and I went over to look at the pot lying on the driveway. The partially cooked raccoon and vegetables were spilled all over the ground. It smelled bad! Norm's mother saw us looking at the mess and yelled at both of us again. I believe I remember, she even said a lot of four letter words that I had never heard before. In fact, I had never heard her swearing before! The scene certainly broadened my vocabulary. She calmed down a bit and yelled out again.

"Don't you ever bring anything like that in this house again?" She slammed the door! The dog was still howling!

We left her alone for a few minutes, as she was still ranting and raving and the dog was howling even louder. We opened the door and meekly entered the kitchen. Norm and I were trying to console her. The kitchen stunk to high heaven! Matter-of-fact, the whole house stunk to high heaven! She continued to point at us in a threatening manner. She was yelling, ranting and raving about the two of us being the dumbest kids in the world. I happened to notice there was a little bit of foam dribbling from the left side of her mouth. The dog was going absolutely nuts and sided with her mistress, barking loudly at both of us.

That was the last time, either of us, ever shot or brought home a raccoon.

Chapter Two


They were the years of the Beatles or, better yet, Norm and I both drove around in Volkswagon Beetles. Do you remember buying a new car for $2,000 dollars? That's what a new Beetle cost in those days.

They were also the years of doing the twist with Chubby Checker's music, or better yet, getting our fishing lines twisted in the trees, as we cast our lures toward the shore, trying to outsmart a fish.

Here we were; two bright young high school guys. Well, maybe not so bright, who worked part-time jobs in the local A&P store to earn spending money, while trying to complete our high school education! We were two young guys who loved to go hunting and fishing more than we liked school, or our A&P jobs.

In those days, we didn't have much money between us, so we kept our hunting and fishing trips on a local level, within driving distance. To save money while working at the A&P, we ate at Uncle Milties, who ran a fast food store next to the A&P. He always had a special on burgers — 25 cents plus a penny more for the second burger. It was the cheapest price around and it took a long time, of eating many burgers, for Norm and me to find out that Uncle Miltie's specialty burger was made of horsemeat.

Norm and I liked to hunt squirrels, especially with a .22 rifle. It took patience and accurate shooting. We had both! One weekend, we happened to have a Saturday afternoon off at the same time from work, so we decided on the spur of the moment, to plan a late afternoon hunt for squirrels on a Trumbull farm we had permission to hunt.

We met at my house at 3 pm, since I lived closest to our destination. We drove to the farm, then onto a dirt road, and parked off to the side of a grassy meadow that bordered the oak woods that we were planning to hunt in. We were armed with our .22 rifles. Our plan was to take only head or neck shots on the squirrels, in order to preserve the small amount of meat on them, and to carefully watch the background we were shooting into. We had to make certain of our targets. We did not want our bullets to fly off in an unintended direction. When we got out of the car, I turned to Norm and reminded him. "Remember, only head and neck shots. That will be the norm."

Norm gave me a strange look. "Are you trying to be funny?"

I guess I had not thought of what I was saying before I spoke. I replied. "No Norm, I meant nothing by what I said."

We entered the woods and started to stalk quietly. Norm went off to the right and sat under a large oak tree. He motioned to me to walk up the path to my left and sit down quietly. I followed his instructions and found a likely spot where I had a clear view of the upper part of several trees. I kept quiet for 10 minutes. Then, when I heard a series of clicks, I quickly remembered that Norm had brought his squirrel call and was using it to attract the little rascals.

We had found, through our vast hunting experience, that when we entered the woods, no matter how quiet we were, the squirrels and birds quieted down. Then, if we stood real still, or sat quietly for ten minutes or so, the squirrels would be curious and peek out of the trees where we could get a shot at them.

As I sat still, with my back to an oak tree, I heard Norm shoot once. Then, there was a pause. Another shot rang out! I knew he was an excellent shot, a rare hunter with a natural shooting ability. I had no doubt he had two squirrels on the ground. While I was sitting, I had two good chances to take clean shots. I hit one squirrel in the neck as it moved around my side of the tree and missed another clean by a fraction of an inch, splattering bark off the tree branch it sat on.

Then, I heard footsteps in the leaves and saw Norm was walking slowly up the path toward where I was sitting. He was holding two squirrels in his left hand and smiling. I motioned to him and he walked over to me. He whispered. "I got two. I heard you shoot twice. How did you do?"

I told him. "I had one on the ground and missed another."

He said. "It's getting near dusk. Our limit is six each. Let's find another spot and see what we can do before dark. My squirrel call seems to work pretty well for us."


Excerpted from My Travels with Norm by Frederick J. Ruggio Copyright © 2010 by Frederick J. Ruggio . Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


How To Hunt & Cook Raccoon!....................1
Hunt Squirrels And Shoot A Grouse....................8
A & P Days....................11
Woodchuck Heaven....................18
Dope In A Boat....................22
Deer Hunting And Tree Pruning....................27
The Parson's Property....................31
Norm's Dad....................35
Thanksgiving Deer Hunt In New York....................39
Lost In The Woods....................44
The Weimaraner Affair....................51
Ghost Deer In New Hampshire....................57
Secret Grouse Cover! "Don't Tell Your Friends"....................61
Quail Hunting In Maryland....................65
Horses And Foxhounds....................76
Bear Hunting — "Do We Really Want To Do This?"....................82
Parking Lot Fiasco....................90
Can You Hunt Deer With Two Bullets?....................95
How Did I Get Talked Into This Hunt?....................103
A Summer Of Lakes & Ponds And Reflections....................110
Two Buck Limit....................117
Montana Here We Come!....................123
He Lives In The Woods!....................130
Deer Hunting In The Low Country....................134
The Redding Connection....................138
Fish And Clams, And Fish And Clams....................142
Two Duck Hunt Stories....................147
How To Pluck Pheasants....................151
A Tale Of Two Motors....................157
Monkey In The Backyard....................163
Tioga Pig Hunt....................166
Stripers On The Fly....................169
Rent A Dog....................173
Last Deer Hunt....................177

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