Here's a short article I wrote to submit to a varmint hunting magazine which didn't turn out the way I wanted, so I thought I'd post it here.
Can’t get out to your favorite shooting range due to this or that reason? Too hot/cold outdoors to pop varmints? No problem. Allow me a few minutes of your time and I’ll clue you in on a pastime that, while it can’t replace firearms hunting, can at least distract you from your inability to get your fix. Plus, you don’t even have to leave your home!
Practically every home in the United States is not only a shelter for humans but, somewhere in its nooks, crannies, or bowels, is also a haven for unwanted (as opposed to wanted?) insects. Sure, you can spray them, but you, dear varmint hunter, know that while insecticides may be efficient, they’re not quite as satisfying as personally squashing the little buggers. That’s where the following method of insect extermination comes into play that rids your home of pests AND gives you some quality hunting time.
Before I get to the specifics, I’ll tell you that I first was introduced to this sport back in 1971 by an acquaintance I made in 7th grade named Bernie. Where he learned it, I have no idea, and it’s really not important. What is important is that it works and it’s fun. (Wherever you are, Bernie, thanks.)
To participate in this sport, you won’t need any fancy equipment. Rangefinders, camo clothing, pet loads, etc. would be more of a hindrance than a help. Nope, the only things you’ll need are two 3.5” x .25” (size no. 64) rubber bands (see photo 1 above), and possibly a damp cloth.
By joining the two rubber bands together as shown (see photos 2 & 3 above), you will lend enough speed and accuracy to this simple device to make clean (relatively speaking--more on that later), humane kills. After a bit of practice, which I’ll outline next, you’ll be at least as deadly as DDT.
Okay, you have made your projectile, now what? Have you ever heard of point shooting? Look at photo 4 above and notice what’s missing when the rubber band is in firing position…sights! This may seem a big problem at first, but I can assure you that after a modicum of practice, you won’t even think about them anymore. Draw a one-inch black circle on a piece of paper, tape it to a wall about shoulder high, step back approximately 6 to 8 feet, and draw the rubber band to firing position. (Note: I strongly urge you to use some type of eye protection when doing this because a rubber band once slipped off of my fingertip and hit me in my aiming eye. OUCH!) Make as straight a plane as possible between your fingertip, aiming eye, and the target. Then, just open the finger and thumb of the hand holding the rear portion of the rubber band. Whack! You should have come pretty close to your aiming point. If not, keep repeating, making any needed minor adjustments, until you hit your target at least 7 out of 10 times. When you get to this point, you’re ready to stalk your prey. (By the way, although I am right-handed, with the rubber band I use my left hand to shoot from. You’ll need to figure out which hand works best for you.)
As any successful hunter knows, you’ve got to go to where the game is unless you want to come home empty handed. The same holds true for the sport of insect hunting (hereafter referred to as insecting). The most fertile hunting ground in my house, and I suspect many houses, is the basement. A basement is like an insect magnet, probably because it’s an easy means of ingress for the little critters. We finished our basement several years ago, but that didn’t stop the never-ending procession of water bugs (aka roly polys) and spiders. I’ve lost count of the number of spiders I have killed, both by shoe and rubber band, over the years, but it has to be many dozens. Find the place(s) in your home where you have been invaded, then get to work insecting.
Once your quarry has been located, use the skill you’ve practiced to obtain to dispatch it swiftly and efficiently. Aim for center mass as you draw your rubber band to full length (don’t forget that eye protection), and make as flat a plane as you can between your aiming eye, the tip of your finger, and your target. Get as close as you think you need to (but please, no closer than 4 feet…5 to 6 feet is much more sporting) and let ‘er fly. Great, one dead insect!
Here’s where that damp cloth comes into play, especially if you’ve just splattered the creature against the wall. Wipe off the residue immediately, otherwise you run the risk of staining the area. Believe me, if your wife sees the mess you made, she’s not going to be too happy, and you may find yourself repainting a room, which could dampen your enthusiasm for your new hobby. Be safe--wipe up your slop. Don’t forget to clean off your rubber band also.
If you miss, the insect, especially spiders, I have found, usually obligingly stick around for another try, particularly if they are ensconced in their webs. Flies are less amenable to giving you another chance, but they usually alight again somewhere nearby after a few seconds of agitated buzzing, affording the opportunity for redemption.
So, there you have it. A sport that offers a tiny bit of the excitement of hunting that’s likely no more than a few steps from any point in your house. Granted, it will never replace real hunting, but some days, it’ll do.