Hiho, Hiho, Poaching we will go

The setting is in 1970 on a flat mesa 8000 feet in the western Colorado mountains. A small white one-room school, trimmed in orange surrounded by a retired green forest service trailer house, a one-hole outhouse and a set of swings. This made up the site of my first teaching job. Although the four ranches were about, they could not be seen from the school during the day, nor their lights at night. The road was rarely travelled.

Late one night, really late, there was a knock on the door. I reached for my rifle. This was the second time in the last five nights where night trespassers caused me to reach for my gun.

The first night, really late, my wife screamed quietly, ” There’s someone on the roof!”. Sure enough, I could hear the scraping movement, maybe a belt buckle, maybe the brass eyelets of a boot, maybe the muffled scratching of a gun or knife across the roof.

I jumped out of bed, grabbed my Winchester and prepared to shoot at the intruder above us. Sue said that making a sieve out of the roof of the trailer might not be in our best interest. So me in my tighty-whities and Sue in a quite alluring pair of  gray long-johns crept along with rifle raised following the sounds from above. After a short while. he stopped just above the doorway to the trailer. We were trapped, afraid to go out. We settled down on our small couch, Sue closest to the door and me just behind her in a semi-fetal position holding the gun.

At sunrise I made my move. I charged out the door, stumbling down the stairs and turned to face the murderous, raping SOB.

Now how the porcupine got on the roof I may never know…

Now back to the late night knock. I knew it was not the porcupine, I had dispatched him four days ago.

“Hello the house.” said a strong manly voice. Who in the heck says ” Hello the house”? Daniel Boone?

“It’s Everett,” said Sue as she covered her long-johns with a bathrobe. Everett was one of the ranchers, a great guy and a good dad. He had a comic smirk when I opened the door with gun in hand.

“Hi Sue,” he said looking right by me. “We appreciate that you started fixing hot lunches for the kids,” They always brought cold lunches up to now, “I thought I could get you some meat for the lunches.”

“I will help you unload, ” as I stepped forward to the door thinking that there was a big box full of Safeway wrapped meats in his truck.

“No, we are going to get some venison tonight.”

“Oh.” My Baptist brain raced through all the verses of the bible for the exact scripture that expressly prohibited hunting deer on a dark night in Colorado.

As we quietly drove through his dry land wheat field showing only with a spotlight, I could see many deer, some moving gently away, others not so much. Everett saw the young buck of his choice and shot him.

Now with just a flashlight and a knife, Everett moved around to my side of the truck where the deer lay. I slipped out my door just in time to see the buck rise , bumping Everett, knocking him to the ground and running by me, shoving me into the pickup door slamming it. Everett took off  into the dark after the wounded deer with his flashlight and knife. I followed quickly for about three steps when I was jerked by the neck, feet flying high into the air. The truck door had trapped the hood of my hoodie, trapping me somewhere between standing and sitting, a place called choking. Looking back at this dilemma, it was kind of like a breach birth. After a bunch of kicking and squirming, my feet came out first with my head finally getting through the opening.

Everett was yelling for the truck. His voice seemed really loud in the blackness of night. That proved mild compared to the circus of me getting the truck to him. In the act of managing the truck, I accidentally hit the horn {twice}, activated the headlights and allowed the spotlight to search the sky like 20th Century Fox.

Just as I got the truck to Everett,  I saw headlights on the horizon. I bailed out the door flattening myself to the ground.I held on tight as each heartbeat seemingly tossing me in the air.

“What are you doing?”, asked Everett as he watched me cover myself the wheat stalks.

“Headlights!” I shouted. “Game warden!”.

“Those lights are way across the canyon, miles from here.”

“Oh.”

Later in the bright barn, Everett was hanging the deer meat to age. We would ground it into hamburger in a few days.

There was a scuffling sound at the big door, somebody was trying to get in. I knew it. The wardens had us. My life was over. I fled into a hay hole.

Ella, Everett’s wife, backed her way through the door with two cups of hot chocolate. “One of you two could have opened the door.” she said a bit perturbed. “Where’s Steve?” Ella looking around.

“Oh, he’s around here somewhere.”

With the coast clear, I started climbing out of my hay hole, But I could hear a snippet of their conversion.

“How did he do?”

“Well, I hope that he is a good teacher because he is a lousy poacher…”

 

 

 

 

 

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