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What's the difference between a ground hog and a woman's purse? To The Dumb Bunch, not much.

"I'm telling you he jumped the string and my arrow went right under him," The Ferret said as he sat down at our table at Gert's Gas and Grub. "I probably shouldn't have shot at him while he was looking right at me, but you guys know how smart Whiskers is and how hard it is to get any shot at him. I guess I'm going to have to get a faster bow or I'll never get that rascal."

"You've already got a brand new bow that's supposed to be so fast it shoots within two feet a second of melting your arrows," Slick said. "Besides, I don't believe for a second that Whiskers has the ability to jump the string on any bow at 15 yards. You must have punched your release or done some other dumb thing like you usually do whenever you shoot at a big game animal."

"Whiskers ain't big game," Bear Breath said. "He's a ground hog that's been living under Old Man Turner's barn for years. I will admit that Whiskers is the biggest ground hog I've ever seen, but I don't think he's what any self-respecting bowhunter would call big game."


"He's big game to The Ferret," Frog said. "The Ferret's been trying to get that critter ever since Old Man Turner told him if he stopped that varmint from undermining the foundation on his barn he wouldn't let anybody else deer hunt on his farm except The Ferret."

"I know what I saw," The Ferret said. "I couldn't believe it when that ornery old critter jumped about a foot straight up in the air and my arrow went right under him. I just wish there was some way I could prove it to you guys."

Right about then The Yup showed up and asked, "What's The Ferret all worked up about?"

"He muffed a shot at an old hog and he's trying to convince us it jumped the string on his new bow," I said.

"That's possible," The Yup said. "Some of those hogs are pretty quick. I remember when I was a kid, my dad took me out to a farm that a friend of his owned. The farmer was showing us all the hogs he had in this big pen. When he threw a couple of ears of corn in there those hogs charged over to where that corn was in a hurry."

"It was a ground hog The Ferret missed, not a hog you get bacon out of," Bear Breath said.

"I've got an idea," Knucklehead said. "Let's all go to Bear Breath's house. We'll give The Ferret a chance to prove himself there."

When we got to Bear Breath's place, we waited in our pickups until Bear Breath made sure his wife, Laser Lips, wasn't home. She had told Bear Breath a while back never to bring more than two members of The Dumb Bunch to her house at a time. Bear Breath came out of the house and told us Laser Lips left him a note saying she went shopping with her sister and she'd be back around six. That gave us all the time we needed.

"Here's what we're gonna do," Knucklehead said. "We'll get a piece of rope and tie it to something about the size of Whiskers. Then we'll throw the rope over a tree limb in Bear Breath's backyard. The Ferret can shoot at the fake Whiskers, and when whoever's holding the rope sees The Ferret's bow go off he can jerk on the rope. If he gets the fake Whiskers up out of the way before The Ferret's arrow gets there, we'll know The Ferret was right about old Whiskers jumping his string."

"Get some rope and something that looks like Whiskers out of your garage, Bear Breath," I said. "Then you can bring us out some cold drinks while the rest of us are putting your patio chairs in position to watch the show."

A few minutes later, Bear Breath came back out with some clothesline looped around his arm. He couldn't find anything in the garage to represent Whiskers, so he went to look inside his house.

When Bear Breath returned, he said, "I found one of Laser Lips' old purses she doesn't use anymore in the basement. This will be about the right size if we fill it up with something."

"You're going to have to fill it with something that will make it look realistic and will stop my arrow," The Ferret said. "I'm not going to mess up a $10 arrow just to give you morons a laugh. And it's going to need a head. I can't shoot at a headless ground hog. It wouldn't be ethical."

"Why don't you run down to the hardware store and buy a can of that expanding foam stuff that plumbers use?" Knucklehead said. "You can fill the purse with that. We'll try to find something to use for the head while you're gone."

I went with Bear Breath to the hardware store. When we got there, the clerk told us there were several kinds of expanding foam and he needed to know what we were going to use it for. Bear Breath told him he was going to fill up his wife's purse with it. The clerk said, "Man, what a great idea. I sure wish I had the nerve to do that to my wife. Her credit cards are out of control. That would sure teach her a lesson."

While we were gone, Slick had found an old brown croquet ball in Bear Breath's garage and duct-taped it on the purse for a head. It took a while for the foam to harden in the purse. Finally, everything was ready.

With whiskers hanging from the tree, Knucklehead held the rope tight. The Ferret was 15 yards away, ready for the shot, as the rest of us sat in our patio chairs, ready to bear false witness to whatever happened.

The Ferret drew his bow. Knucklehead tensed his muscles. The Ferret shot. That arrow was really moving when it skipped off the ground a foot to the right of the purse and disappeared into the weed field behind Bear Breath's house. Whiskers' head was the only thing hanging on the rope. The purse was still on the ground.

The audience screamed out that the results were inconclusive because the head came off the target when Knucklehead jerked on the rope. Besides, The Ferret had missed Whiskers anyway.

"Shoot again!" we all yelled in unison.

"I'm not shooting any more arrows until you put some eyes on that ground hog," The Ferret said. "It has to be looking right at me to make the conditions exactly the same as they were."

Bear Breath walked over and grabbed The Ferret's bow. "Rig that thing up right this time," he said. "I'll shoot it with The Ferret's bow so we can get this over

with before Laser Lips comes home and finds all of you here. If that happens, I'll be hanging from that tree."

This time the rope was secured to the purse itself instead of the head. Bear Breath drew back The Ferret's bow. Knucklehead tightened up the rope. Bear Breath tripped the release and loosed the arrow. Knucklehead jerked on the rope. Bear Breath's cell phone rang in his pocket. It was Laser Lips. She was calling Bear Breath to tell him she would be home in about five minutes with some takeout food for supper.

We were all sitting in Gert's a little later when Bear Breath walked in. He said, "Thanks you guys for hightailing out of there. You were only gone a couple of minutes before she got home."

"What did I miss?" Owlface asked. He had arrived at Gert's late and didn't know what was going on yet.

"Not much," Bear Breath said. "I just shot a hunting arrow through Laser Lips' purse a few minutes ago. That's all."

"Hey, Gert!" Owlface yelled. "Give Bear Breath anything he wants and put it on my check. I just heard about a miracle. Bear Breath shot an arrow through Laser Lips' purse and he's still alive."

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