Standing alone scratching the ground, looking for food, and minding our own business. Not knowing that it will be the last peaceful moment of our life. Suddenly a stone streaked past our left ear, we don’t know where it came from but it alerted our fight or flight response and we dashed through the thickets searching for cover. Rocks and sticks hurl at us and we nimbly avoided them. They chased us but they’re no match for our lightning speed. Finally, we managed to find a resting place and an excellent hiding spot. They will never find us, or so we thought.
From the chickens point-of-view it seems so dramatic. But for us (me, dad, and cousin Job, with occasional help from my cousin Gab) it’s an exasperating, tiring, and wild 3 week chase. For weeks we waited, searched, threw stones, and hunted for a particular chicken, a golden feathered young rooster. In my defense, it was our first time hunting for chickens, that’s why it took so long. Besides, tracking a chicken the size of a chihuahua, in a grove full of dry leaves is not an easy task. There had been estimated 5 attempts to catch the rooster (we named him “Pandak” due to his small size). Why not set traps you ask? Simple, it’s more fun to chase a rooster around than sit down and wait. Now here is the account of the gripping and action-packed tale of the wild chicken chase (I think I exaggerated a bit).
Date: December 4, 2016, Sunday, 10:31 am Location: 161° south, 16°23′16″N 120°21′0″E
It was a fine pleasant day, the sun was shining, and two kids were asking their neighbor/relative for a chicken available to be hunted. What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, a chicken with a golden plume was available. We (me and Job) tried to catch him by tiring him out, but we only succeeded tiring ourselves. It’s evident that we needed professional help, so my Dad joined the team. Armed with sticks, rocks, and a slingshot, we tried to track him down, but even with Daddy’s help it was no use. And now he’s in another territory, inhabited by a pack of dogs. I can’t believe it, he managed to escape us. I had no idea that chickens can be THIS smart.
A week later, after waiting for Pandak to come back, we tried again. But this time something was different because we had a strategy. The strategy was that we surround the roosting site (where birds sleep) and block the entrance to the other territory. It worked out pretty well. But still, he escaped. Too bad. At least we came closer, because one time when we chased him he flew in Daddy’s direction (it was so close, that he could have grabbed the chicken!). And I threw a fairly large stone and it hit him in the wing, which impaired his ability to fly.
Another week had gone by and we haven’t caught the rooster yet. We were getting exhausted. The good thing is that there was another addition to the team: Gab. The more the merrier. As I was saying, having the advantage of number then we have the guarantee that we will pin him down right? RIGHT!? Think about it, there are 4 of us, not including our dog, and there’s only one of him. The positioning was perfect, and we got him trapped within the bamboos. One problem: there is no way of shooting him with all the bamboo around. We did a bit of shooing around and finally Daddy had a clear shot. And he hit him hard but not hard enough. The shot made him frantic, he thrashed around until he got loose. By that time my brain was racing. Should I throw my stick and loose the chance to hit him or should I hit him and loose the chance to throw the stick. Nevertheless, my decisions got the best of me and Pandak flew past me! It was a big lose. It can’t get worse. Or can it?
Christmas is arriving, you know what’s coming. We were about to give up and we thought somebody else already killed him. We were wrong. He appeared right there! Out in the open eating like nothing’s wrong or like no one’s trying to eat him. As soon as we saw him we went right into action. I think he knows what we were planning because by the time we were done discussing it he was gone. In a blink of an eye. He should do a magic show. Next time we saw him he was back in the dog territory, looking at us, mocking us that we can’t catch him, simply staring. Since he was to far to shoot and too many dogs to chase we rested for a while. As we were resting, we stealthily crept back to position. And as I expected, there he was mingling with other chickens. One wrong move and they’re all going to panic. They all panicked. From all the fiasco, we focused on our target, the center of attention. But, it’s all well expected by everyone. The other chickens and ragged terrain prevented us from coming near him and he escaped. The chicken prevailed, yet again! As 12 o’ clock drew nigh, it became more evident that there will be no roast chicken for Noche Buena. (sigh)
Merry Christmas! This day I have a strange intuition, a gut feeling, a strong conviction that we are going to GET him. Or was it just because I was hungry? Back to the topic. As soon as I woke up, I already saw him (we slept in our terrace the day after). It was my goal to catch him TODAY. This is getting more and more serious. It’s time for BUSINESS. I ate breakfast and formed the group. Then me and Job tried to look for him everywhere. December 25 is a good day as it turned out because the dogs were occupied by something. So we roamed freely in their territory praying that they won’t smell us. It turned out better than I expected, Beethoven (our dog) actually accompanied us! He even bit the Pandak on the leg and chased other dogs for us. Eventually, Beethoven got tired and left in the comfort of stairs. Our asset is gone, it was a major setback. On the upside, Pandak appeared yet again in the open. That was his worst choice to make in his short life. Then I ran, my heart pumped faster, adrenaline flowed throughout my body, legs pounded the ground, eyes on the chicken. He too ran. He flapped his wings to steady himself, he’s running as fast as his thin little feet and legs can carry him. Then I realized something, pursuing him was a foolish idea and an enervating one too. Weakened, the rooster searched for cover in another territory, thankfully not patrolled by dogs. We followed him in. It was full of cobwebs, and by the time we got out things were crawling all over us. So we went home, defeated, surrendering, giving up. But wait, there’s more. You think it’s over didn’t you? Well we were surprised the way things worked out too. On our way home, there was a commotion going on, and the noise came from our neighbor/relatives. Dogging the noise, we obeyed our ears, and LO AND BEHOLD! There he was, inside the duck cage (a trap works after all)! Looks like the tables have turned (maniacal laughter)! The panic-stricken rooster flapped his wings trying to desperately get out of the net, only failing in vain. As if sensing that he had no were to go he stopped dead
and surveyed his surrounding, giving us an opportunity to hit him. Daddy stretched the rubber of the slingshot, gripping the stone between a leather strap, sweat trickled down his face, pupils aiming for the head and he let go. The stone accelerated 59.5 miles per second hitting the rooster squarely in the head, sending the rooster toppling over and feeling lightheaded (get it?). Unconscious and sleeping, Pandak was grabbed by the neck and handed to me. We came home carrying the game by the neck. And for the first time Pandak wasn’t being a pain in the neck (get it?). Mom was right we will catch him. We chased the chicken like heroes, we caught him like legends.
As senseless as it seems, tailing a chicken for almost a month is full of lessons, so it won’t leave this space empty. First, it taught me that even what seems to be senseless is actually full of sense (how ironic)! Second, it taught me to NOT give up, to have perseverance, to keep doing it despite knowing that there will be small to no chance of achieving it. Third, I learned to be resourceful, using things in ingenious ways like using branches with leaves to block the chickens field of vision when it was trapped in the bamboos. Fourth, using wit to overcome challenges, to formulate plans in a clever way like blocking every exit and entrance so no one can get in or out. Fifth, I learned to have teamwork. To have full cooperation with teammates and leaders. Lastly, patience. To learn how to wait and not rush things out, think rationally before acting. After all the confusion, disorder, and chaos of catching that witty, thin, two-legged, golden feathered, mocking, speedy, and attractive rooster for a miserable, bothersome, arduous, strenuous and onerous week, I deserve a break. At least he tasted good.