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John Smith Williams

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True Mates
By John Smith Williams
Thursday, December 18, 2003

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A Precautionary Tale. or A valuable Lesson Learened. Always treat firearms with respect

True Mates.

In Australia mate ship is a hallowed concept, the measure of a true mate is the fact that a mate, cobber or pal, will stick with you no matter what I have been fortunate enough to experience this type of mate. His name is also John so he became Johnny and I became big John amongst those other mates we knocked around with as lads Actually Johnny and I after leaving school went our separate ways and it is only in recent times we have linked up again. One thing we are still true mates. Even after fifty odd years.
Actually our friendship started when our families became neighbors around nineteen thirty eight Johnny was the person who accompanied me on my first day at the new school. We were in the same grade so it was natural for us to be together each day. It was great for me for I did not have a brother to knock around with and I recollect we became as close as brothers.
After a few years my parents moved to a nearby country area as caretakers for my cousins farm while I boarded during the week with my sister and her husband. They lived in the same home my parents occupied previously, so that left me and my mates situation unchanged. It also added a new dimension to our friendship, as now we went up to the farm together at weekends,
It was a great time for us as we could spent the weekend doing all manner of things such as, actually doing some farm work, going swimming or fishing in the creek, rabbi ting, doing many outdoor activities which we enjoyed.
Often we would go out on Saturday afternoons across the paddocks hunting rabbits. Johnny and I with Sammy our border Collie.
There were several watercourses on the property which were favorite rabbit breeding spot, Around small cliffs along the creek was another good hunting spot with many burrows along the cliff face. I could often reach into these burrows and pull rabbits out as along the cliff the burrows were not too deep. Our main remnant was a single shot, bolt action 22, Savage rifle. Over a period we shot quite a few rabbits with this.

On one such expedition we decided to take a rest, climbing into the lower branches of an old dead tree. Johnny was above me and slightly to my right, was several feet lower and had the rifle resting across my knee, pointing up towards him. After chatting for a while he said,” I’m looking straight down the barrel of that thing, if it went off it would kill me”. I answered, “ It's nowhere near you, it would miss you by a mile”.
After arguing for a few minutes back and forth, I squeezed the ttrigger. It seemed to be the loudest bang I had ever heard, Johnny's hat went flying and he fell out of the tree flat on his back, not movement I thought to myself, “ My God I've shot him.
Prior to this I was sure I had the safety catch on. Virtually falling out of the tree myself, I knelt beside him screaming his name. Not a movement. By this time I was really panicking.

I shook him, not knowing in my fright, what else to do. Suddenly he opened his eyes, it was the greatest feeling of relief I had ever experienced.. I said, “ Are you alright? Did I hit you?” He said, “ I don’t' think so, you bloody idiot, what did you do that for?”. I said, “ I thought the safety catch was on”. He said, “ Now you know it wasn’t'. Picking himself up slowly he went over to pick his hat up. Just through the top of it were two neat holes. He said,' you silly bugger you could have killed me”. I profusely apologized, again and again.
I said, “ You just lay there after falling out of the tree”. He said,”It winded me, I couldn’t move or speak. I thought you had shot me also”.

For both of us a very valuable lesson was taught that day. Never point a gun at anyone, whether loaded or not and secondly make sure the safety catch is on at all times except when you are prepared to shoot.

Needless to say I do not remember if we got any rabbits that day

John W 05/11/03

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Reviewed by Robyn Leeds 2/5/2004
A lovely story of mateship John! :D It brought back memories of my own hunting trips to Woodend, Victoria, where I shot many a rabbit. Oh to be a carefree youth again! ;D
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 12/18/2003
Good lesson to share. Good mates are hard to find! Wonderful write.

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