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  • Writer's pictureKira Jensen

Regulation

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

The lad on stage places the microphone under his chin as he unfolds a crinkled script.

“A big welcome to Harry Huntfield, the CEO and founder of WildPursuits & Co, today’s official sponsor and supplier of …” – he clears his throat – “the revolutionary WonderVests, two-way zip, more colors available online. Put your hands together for Harry, Kerfunklers!“

I clap along. The WonderVests have been huge for the world of competitive kerfunkle hunting. Last year they gave us fishing vests – fishing vests! A snuffler hunts best on beets. Couldn’t fit half a bulb in a fishing vest.

“As the third most streamed sport on WildQuest TV, bested only by fishing and wood chucking, kerfunkle hunting has never been more mainstream.”

No wonder, that. The sport is ruthless, and its people even more so. Takes a special kind of grit to spend hours, just you and your snuffler, perusing the forest bed, scanning for a glimpse of the porous domes, a whiff of the earthy aroma. I glance towards Larry Lurewell. His vest is a deep burgundy – must’ve pre-ordered it, the pompous boor, too good for the standard olive.

The emcee continues.

“We’ve come a long way since the dark days of hunting with anteaters and truffle hogs.” A dissatisfied murmur echoes through the crowd. Kerfunklers resent any association with truffle hunting, an entirely different discipline. “And thanks to the advances of genetic engineering and years of selective breeding, today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of introducing snufflers”

I look at George, Larry’s snuffler, and his matching, burgundy leash. He is, regrettably, a magnificent beast. A meter tall, his coarse brown coat tightly trimmed, he’s as regulation as they come. And that nozzle, so perfectly conical. Bet it sucks kerfunkle spores right up.

“On that note, I want to remind everyone that snufflers are the only kerfunkle hunting animal officially recognized by the National Kerfunkle Federation, and the use of other creatures such as puffets, tracers and – and I cannot stress this one enough – whifflers, is prohibited and will result in immediate disqualification. In addition to that, the NKF has introduced new rules this year. Firstly, due to the all-time high number of, um, unfortunate defecation incidents reported last season by the foraging association, all snufflers must be leashed at all times…”

The seller assured me even the most experienced Kerfunkler wouldn’t know him from a purebred, but I keep my Blubber close.

“We will be setting out in ten – happy hunting and, most importantly, stay compliant.”

I’ll stay compliant alright, I’ll stay compliant the day that knave Larry –

A hairy mass slams into my legs. George, having freed himself from his leash, is desperately trying to get to Blubber.

“That’s a violation!” I say. The animal retracts its nozzle, exposing the yellow tusks.

Larry reaches into his snack pocket in an attempt to bribe George, but halts, the beet still in his palm.

He examines Blubber suspiciously.

“That’s not your snuffler,” he says.

“Nonsense”

“I’ve known old Froglin for decades, and this isn’t him…” He shoves me aside. “...it’s a whiffler crossbreed!”

Whifflers were categorically outlawed ten years ago. They are better hunters, to be sure, incredibly competitive. They just get a little fixated, a tad too feisty, that’s all.

“Back on the bottle again, Lurewell?”

“He’s turning red for fuck’s sake! Judge!” I look down – brown-dyed sweat is dripping down Blubber’s back, red streaks showing through. Waterproof my ass.

“Piss off Lar, just keep your pediculus varmint in check.”

“You think I’ll let this slide? You bringing that bloodthirsty hybrid near our mild-tempered snufflers?”

“Oh that’s rich, Lar. 2008 Regionals, minute 237 of the hunt. George, the damn savage, bites Froglin’s tail. Poor thing goes into a frenzy, tramples the whole kerfunkle lot before I get a go at picking. Disqualified.”

“Please, I’ve seen Froglin use his own tail as a chew toy –”

“Larry…” His gaze follows my finger.

Over by the bleachers are George and Blubber, circling each other. George raises his tail, showcasing the intricate competition-day adornments.

“Get that mutt away from my snuffler!” Larry tries to pull the animals apart, but his snuffler’s tusks dig firmly into the ground. Encouraged, Blubber bats his lashes coquettishly and presents his own tail to George.

“They’re…they’re…”

“Holding tails, Lar. They’re holding tails.”

And when snufflers mate, they mate for life.


Written by Kira Jensen.

Cover photo by Sebastian Pociecha.


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