Oct 6 2009 12:26 pm

ode to wade

I begin with a red oak branch a bit bigger than my leg and hack off the bark.  I like red oak better than ash because it is stronger, heavier, and crushes bald eagles with alacrity.  Ash is fine for baseball, but this is eagle smashing.  Not exactly a delicate sport.  Ain’t no small ball.  Ain’t no manufacture of runs.  We’re killing dangerous birds here. 

Once the naked wood is exposed I rough up the shape of my eagle beater with the scrub plane and then the jack plane, carving off big slices with each stroke and releasing a fine, musty wood smell into the shop.  There are sixteen stuffed eagles in various real-life action poses hung on the wall, fourteen bald eagles and two golden eagles.  There are also a handful of hawks and owls that I’ve taken just for the sport of it.  I am no taxidermist, and because I prepared these lesser raptors myself, and because it’s no mean task making an eagle beater smashed eagle look natural, I keep most of them from the judging eyes of visitors hidden in a large cupboard outback.  One time the foxes got into them.  There were feathers everywhere.  What a mess.

The jack plane has done its job when the heavy oak limb is roughly four inches in diameter.  I saw the nearly completed eagle beater to length, approximately three and one half feet, and begin with the sandpaper.  I use only 40 grit because I don’t want the surface of my eagle beater too slick.  When I bring the mighty staff around in its glorious, whooshing arc and down upon the head of an unsuspecting, or in some cases rather aggressive, bird of prey, I should not want it to slip my grasp and fly uselessly into the woods leaving my sweet pink ass quite vulnerable to the counter, or in some cases continued, attack of that most vicious of feathered beasts. 

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