On the ranch, little surprises pop up to start my mind spinning. It’s a good thing. It whets my appetite for creative mind wanderings.
Just this morning, I found an unspent bullet in my driveway. It was a .22 caliber Rimfire. Nothing special, really. But the more I thought about it, the more I began conjuring up ideas about how it got there.
You see, I live in a remote area of the Mojave Desert on what would be considered virgin soil. We were the first to build on this 10-acre spot. And it’s been 33 years, so I can’t image how an old Rimfire would just appear in my yard. It looked just as old as the ranch. The steel tip had eroded over a long time. The copper/metal mixed jacket showed no signs of wear, just exposure to the elements. In fact, the Rimfire Brand had been as popular as the Winchester .22 it had been built for since the 1860s.
I don’t own a .22 firearm, so that made me wonder even more.
The mind wanders… Could this have been a hunter’s round lost while scaring up some Chukar? We don’t have Gambel’s quail in our region, at least not very often. They tend to stay closer to town where water is easier to find. Our game birds here are the transplants from the early 1920s. Chukar were imported from the Middle East to enhance the hunting experience for foreign hunters and game breeders. The birds propagated. Sometimes much better than the native-born quail and partridge species that hunters expected to find.
The Chukars seem robust, healthy, and in Spring, bring in their youngsters in coveys of a dozen or so, mixed with last year fledglings and adult Aunties, who watch them closely. As with quail, there’s always the Kingpin male who stands guard on a prominent point: a boulder, a fence-post, a chair in the yard. If the covey is large, two kingpins will patrol.
This partridge has its native range in Asia, from Israel and Turkey through Afghanistan to India, along the inner ranges of the Western Himalayas to Nepal. The habitat in the native range is rocky, open hillsides with grass or scattered scrub or cultivation. In Israel and Jordan, it’s found at low altitudes, starting at 400 meters below sea level in the Dead Sea area, whereas in the more eastern areas it is mainly found at an altitude of 2000 to 4000 m except in Pakistan, where it occurs at 600 m. They are not found in areas of high humidity or rainfall.
In the US, it has been introduced widely as a game bird, and feral populations have become established in the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, High Desert areas of California, and Hawaii –even in other countries like Canada and New Zealand. Initial introductions into the US were from the first populations collected from Afghanistan and Nepal. (sited from Wikipedia)
So, if a hunter didn’t trek across my land over 30 years ago, just where would this little piece of ammo come from?
Two other possibilities come to mind: small bullets could easily be picked up in a tire tread. Snuggled in the tread and protected to a certain degree, it could travel quite a ways before falling into my yard. Could a .22 bullet travel that way without being rapped on a rock or hitting the pavement? Hhmmm…
The other idea could be caused by our necessity to drag our roads to keep the ruts and rocks under control. No one likes to travel a corduroy road. The ammo could have been dropped anywhere along a five-mile journey in our neighborhood where we could have moved dirt and debris right through to our yard. The bullet was a stowaway.
That seems the most logical scenario. So, until I come up with a better idea, that’s my story… and I’m sticking to it.