A Dream Shot of Some Consequence

(A true story with Uncle Pahgre — October 27, 2015)

(Delta) It all seemed to make sense, at first. A friend of ours, who shall remain very nameless, was awakened from his early winter hibernation by a loud pounding on his back door. He threw on a robe and stumbled in the direction of the interruption. When he opened the door he saw two men in blaze orange, heads hung down, shuffling their feet, serious about gaining his immediate attention.

“We done shot your horse, mister,” said the first, “and we come to make reparations.
The second man held out a wad of cash that turned out to be one hundred dollars in the company of four more bills of like currency.

“Well, come in,” yawned my friend. “I guess that was the shot we heard earlier. This time of the year one gets used to guns going off all around. What the hell time is it anyway?”

“Bout eleven,” whispered the first looking around the kitchen in the direction of assorted snores from the hallway.

“You people hit the hay early round these parts, heh?” winked the second man who turned out to be from just outside Dallas.

“We’re up here from Texas hunting and despite what you may have heard we’re responsible, respectable and accountable.”

“Then what’s all this about a horse?” asked my friend.

“Well, you remember the part about responsibility?” offered the first hunter. “That only goes so far, I guess. We’ve been prowling these hills for two weeks and ain’t seen nothing of an elk, unless you count the scat. We were frustrated. We were tired and hungry and headed back to a motel down the road when, just as dusk pulled up her skivvies, we saw movement in the hay field just north of here.”

The first hunter went on.

Jeepin, San Juan Horseshoe, CO aJim here decided that it might be our last chance at glory so he took a chance. He sighted in and pulled the trigger. Blam! Then blam again. What a shot! Dropped that elk like a ton of greasy enchiladas on a Saturday night! Cow elk too, you know. No horns. And we each had a million-dollar tag right here in our pocket. Some shootin, Jim.”

The second man just smiled, still embarrassed but yet a little bit proud of his expertise with a rifle.

“We climbed your fence and snuck out to the kill which was dead as an armadillo after arm wrestling a semi on Highway 287. Then the problem emerged. It wasn’t a bull elk. No. It wasn’t a buck or doe, but neither was it a cow elk. It was your horse, mister.”

My friend just stared at the kitchen table.

“The old swayback. She was getting to be an old lady, too slow to ride much less dodge a bullet. Where is she now?”

The two men laid the five hundred dollars on the table and told him the mare was still laying in the spot where she dropped. He sighed.

“How am I going to get around reporting this to the authorities?” he asked.

“We hoped the five hundred would help you make that decision. It ain’t a bribe but it’s a far sight more than that old girl was worth alive. We realize that local cops would put our buts in a sling over this episode but I think you can see that out hearts, if not our brains, are in the right place.”

My friend yawned. He though to himself of a new tractor he needed. He thought of Christmas and his kids. He thought of the good it would do to turn these poor hayseeds into the pencil-pushing cops.

“You boys want a cup of coffee? I gotta think this out. Tell me again, what made you shoot what you thought was game on private property at dusk. Don’t you ever read the back of your hunting license. Cripe, at the cost of the thing I’d think you’d memorize every word just in case you lost it.”

The hunters went through their thinking process one more time dwelling on their fatigue and frustration. They apologized again saying that they wouldn’t blame my friend if he turned them in and pressed charges for trespassing and the whole cheroot.

“OK, but if I ever see you on my land again you’ll be the horsemeat,” he said “Now can you find your way back to your motel or should I drive you?”
They both laughed the laugh of men much relieved. They thanked him again and departed. He watched them as he pulled on his coveralls.

“I hope that backhoe starts. I didn’t plug her in and the weather’s turned cold.”
He stuffed the bills into his desk drawer, told his wife he had to check the cows and wandered into the night. He’d bury the mare before the rest of the family got savvy to what had occurred. He drove through the dark expecting a messy ordeal, then he saw the mound of flesh hugging the ground and approached.

“What the hell?” he barked standing over the kill. “It’s an elk. Those morons shot a cow elk and from the looks of things it was a perfect lung shot. I’ll be dipped!”

Thinking that the meat was still good he proceeded to dress out the elk there on the spot. The cold weather had kept it from going bad right away and the lung shot had insured that the meat wasn’t spoiled by adrenaline and trauma.

“Hell of a shot,” he smiled. “Hell of a shot.”

At dawn he woke up his oldest son who helped him cut up the elk and package it for the freezer. It would feed a lot of people a lot of nights this winter.

“Does this mean we won’t be going hunting, dad?” asked the son on the way to school later that morning.

“What makes you ask a question like that, son,” smiled our friend. “In fact I think we oughta stop by and look at that rifle down at the hardware store. It’s been fired a bit but they might let it go cheap if we flash them some cash, heh?”

“Whatever you say, dad.”

(Editor’s note: The San Juan Horseshoe in no way endorses withholding evidence from the law however until we can safely determine who the responsible parties might be we can tolerate temporary storage of such data. In closing, this paper likewise does not ignore good karma, frontier justice, divine intervention or just dumb luck. In short: We suggest that one never look a gift horse (or elk) in the mouth, a part of the anatomy that should remain shut on a host of occasions.)

Filed Under: Hard News


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