My neighbors think I’m weird, a sentiment shared by my family and most other people. That is a big problem with our society. Being different does not make you weird, just different, like most fishermen.


I will admit to having a small barrel of chicken blood in my basement for making catfish bait and yes, occasionally I bury a jar of chicken livers in the yard for a couple weeks of summer heat before a catfishing trip. Catfish love stinky baits and those rotten livers were not for those with weak stomachs or someone with even a mediocre sense of smell.


I am the only person in my neighborhood that catches frogs to live in my garage to be used as fishing bait or an occasional frog leg dinner.


Several hundred frogs really sound awesome all night, even though the neighbors complain that their gentle “Hrrrump” sounds make sleep impossible. I, too, have a cage of crickets for panfish and they make loud, cool noises. This may be why my wives left me.


Fortunately, I’m old and can’t hear the frogs or anything; my hearing was decimated by loud rock music, ex-wives yelling and shotguns at a young age. I can’t even hear the neighbors yelling obscenities and threats through my bedroom window at night and that really is a blessing.


The latest virus that shut down the world has brought out another dimension to my already lazy side. Going into a store offers the possibility of becoming deathly ill, making it impossible to buy worms at Walmart.


The recent spring weather made fishing part of my daily meditation ritual, spiritual cleansing or whatever my fourth wife called it. In short, I needed fishing worms suitable for fat bluegill and decided to catch my own bait.


I started by looking under rocks for worms, but the neighborhood women yelled at me to get out of their flower beds. So, I decided on another plan of action.


My neighbors always wondered how nightcrawlers got started in their yards. Truth is, I did it. You would be surprised how quickly a dozen nightcrawlers can reproduce into hundreds. Once manicured yards in my neighborhood have bald spots with worm holes, but that’s a small price to pay for free bait.


Besides, I catch the worms well after midnight when everyone is trying to sleep, unless the frogs are being mouthy. The neighbors were already angry from sleep deprivation, so it seemed best that they didn’t know I occasionally crawl all over their yards and flower beds in search of worms.


A recent midnight jaunt on hands and knees through a neighbor’s yard caused a world of trouble. The lady that owned said property, I think that is how the lawsuit read, is a portly thing with an annoying yapping little dog that the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz would love to cook and devour.


That evening started innocently enough as I stepped outside. The moon was behind plenty of cloud cover. Rain earlier in the evening made conditions perfect for catching a few nightcrawlers.


I had not checked the portly lady’s yard for a couple days and started my stalk with a strong flashlight beam that allowed me to study soaked grass where the bare spots were caused by worms, and they were out. I immediately found about a dozen, gently grabbed them with two fingers and held on until they released. My coffee can was filling fast and life was good, that is until I crawled around the northwest corner of her house.


My flashlight beam picked up a pink poodle bedroom slipper with a foot in it. The foot was attached to the portly neighbor lady that screamed bloody murder while falling backwards. Out of reflex I turned my light up to see her flop backwards on the ground.


Her pink nightgown that matched the poodle slippers flew up around her waist and I saw more than I ever wanted to, her underwear matched the slippers.


We both laid there a moment before I realized that she was making some kind of prehistoric-like noises from her throat, sort of a growl and some of the angriest sounds a human can make. Not sure what she said, but it was clear that I should get out of there in a hurry. I tried to stand up and was immediately brought back down by her surprisingly good right cross on my chin.


I screamed, “It’s me, your neighbor,” and she replied, “I know,” while connecting another swing, dropping me back on the ground while stars and little birds circled my head. She really connected with that one.


I decided to run and almost made it to my front door when a well-aimed can of nightcrawlers caught me in the back of the head, dropping me like a bad habit. The woman had incredibly good aim.


I understood the neighborhood had a special dinner for the lady and presented her with a plaque for taking out a nuisance of the neighborhood.


I was not invited.


– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at kieserkenneth@gmail.com.