Roping…..

Roping… I’ve had the dubious honor of having a rope on several wild animals, including one bear, one adult Mtn. Lion, and one 6 point bull Elk. And I have pictures to prove the Elk and Lion. Actually, the elk incident is on a video cassette, and lasts about 15 minutes of anti-climax. The Lion is more interesting, but the pictures are in the form of one entire roll of 35mm slides. Never have I roped a deer. Actually, I did have a rope on one that had locked horns with another buck, which had died in the fracas, and I had to separate them myself. So the rope did help, and the deer was nearly exhausted. At the time, I did not realize how fortunate I was that that was the case.
This is a ‘guest post’ by an experienced roper who was not quite as fortunate as I, in having an exhausted deer to deal with. I hope you enjoy the story.

Why we shoot deer in the wild (A letter from someone who wants to remain anonymous, who ranches, writes well and actually tried this).
I had this idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.
I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up – 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope .., and then received an education. The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope. That deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer– no Chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined. The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.
A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.
I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder – a little trap I had set before hand…kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when ….. I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and slide off to then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head—almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.
The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.
It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.
Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp … I learned a long time ago that, when an animal -like a horse – strikes at you with their hooves and you can’t get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.
This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.
Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.
I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away. So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope……to sort of even the odds!!

All these events are true so help me God… An Educated Cowboy.

Rom. 8:35, 38-39 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday!”

Assumptions….Can Mean More Than a Little Embarassment.

Well, you never cease to be amazed, and you never cease to learn, if you keep you eyes open. If you live long enough, you may just learn that the things you held to be certain will sometimes prove false. Such is the case with wildlife. When you’re in school, you know it all. The professors have all the answers, and who are we to question. But, as you go into the real world, you learn that the wildlife has never read the books. They do as they please when they please, and man made limitations just don’t apply.

Take lions, for example. It’s been my conviction that lions were something you did not have to worry too much about unless you’re walking or hiking in rocky country. And even then, since cats are generally so spooky of people, they give humans a wide berth.

Last week’s horse trip made me rethink that premise a bit. I was Camping along a stream with my partner, the horses in their portable corrals. Nice night and perfect weather once the rain stopped. Thoughts turned to the morrow’s ride to above timberline to examine a trail that would be used the following week for a bighorn sheep count.

About 2:30 in the morning, I awoke to a strange sound… The horse was ‘whoofing’. Not the normal “Snort” they do when they are alarmed, and want to confront something. This was just a “Whoof Whoof.” I jumped up and turned the flashlight on her, as she ignored me and stared off into the woods. I followed his line of sight to a point about 30 feet from my tent. And, there was a full grown lion, a female from my experience, walking past the tent. Unconcerned. It stopped and looked at me as I shined the light at her, hopefully alarming her a bit, and causing some night blindness. But the cat kept walking, stopping about every five feet to examine me, unconcerned. I awoke my partner to be certain I was not hallucinating. Nope, she saw it too.

We watched it for about a minute, at very close range, as it angled up a hill behind the tent. As it went into the trees, I followed it on foot for a short ways, wondering if it might spook and run, but it never did. It just slowly kept walking, as I paced it. Into the timber it went. I went back to the tent, and watched upstream, since I knew that one of their favorite tricks is to circle something and come in from another angle to get a better look. Especially something with which they are unfamiliar. I expected it to approach from another angle, along the stream, but it did not show up again.

So, I guess one lesson is listen to your horse. The other lesson is don’t assume anything when it comes to wildlife… Oh, and sleep in your moccasins.

To what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?

“Life is a great adventure or it is nothing”
– Helen Keller

“Is there anything worse then being blind? Yes!
The most pathetic person in the whole world is
someone who has sight but has no vision.”
~ Helen Keller

If I knew the consequences of all my actions, I’d never experience any adventures!

Obstacles are those fearful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

More Bears

Bears can be a bit strange…a different kind of animal. I’ve handled a lot of different animals from Buffalo to Mtn. Lions. Up close and personal – had both species on the end of a lariat. Even had a bear on the end of a rope. Once. Now, I am the first to admit that I can not rope. I’ve caught a few calves now and then, and a few unbroke horses from on foot in a corral. But bears are just…different.

I had a call that a bear was up a power pole at the JV Ranch, and would not come down. So, I met the neighboring officer there, and sure enough, there was the little s..t, sitting in the pole. It was an old power pole, but quite alive, electrically. Over the years, folks had apparently added on to the place with barns and other outbuildings, and had taken power from the transformer directly to the buildings. Wires went every direction. The bear had climbed up the pole and was trying to negotiate the maze of wires. Sparks would occasionally jump, and the lights in the main house would go out, then back on. Made me wonder if the bear belonged to the IBEW. Probably not…so, he had to come down. How?

Well, I told Jim- ‘why don’t you just back the truck up to the pole, I’ll get in the back, and rope it?’ As I said, normally there’s not much chance of me catching anything with a rope, but this time..sure enough, first throw! Perfect header. The bear didn’t agree. That thing looked at me, and as I tightened the rope, he came straight down the pole as fast as his feet would carry him. I pounded on the top of the truck, yelling at Jim: “Go! Go!” The bear hit the ground running, and as we started off, it came straight toward us as fast as it would run. I don’t know what he thought he was going to do.. But he was determined.

So here we go, bounding off across the pasture, the bear running full out behind the truck, and me inside holding on to the end of the rope, my dog Rodie next to me watching the whole thing with ears straight up…. I told Jim to slow down, and let the bear catch up, just to see what he would do. Worst case, I could just let go of the rope and we could leave him.

The bear went right under the truck… “WHAT?”. Rope still around his neck, he gets it hung up in the axle. Great…now what??? He’s pulling and fighting the rope, and it’s not going anywhere. The bear is only about 120 lbs- he’s sure not going to move that truck. And that’s my rope!

There’s not much to hold a rope on the head of a bear, since it’s kind of wedge shaped, and it was able to finally pull out of it. By now the dog was involved, and I told the Rodie: “Get him!” and he did. The bear decided it was better to be somewhere else .. anywhere else. He headed north with, Rodie right behind him…healing him like he was a bull.

Another time, I trapped a bear that was getting into cabins. No issues with that, but normally when you take a bear somewhere in a trap, and you open the door, they come out like a cat coming out of a washing machine. This time, when I went to release him in his new environs, the bear didn’t want to leave. Standing on top of the trap, I opened the door…. the bear’s nose came out fist, then he slowly stepped out, like he was testing the waters. I looked down and said “Hi”. He went back in. I pounded on the top, and he walked out, then looked up at me. And sat down. I fired a couple of rounds from the pistol, into the ground, and he stood up, walked around the truck in a full circle. The more I yelled at him, the less interested he was in leaving. ‘This is weird’, I thought. He made several full circles around the truck, and sat down and looked at me. Ok, time for the big guns. I called Rodie out of the truck, and told him to take the bear. He did, bear followed by barking healer, over the hill they went. I gave them a few seconds and called the dog back. From over the hill, here comes Rodie…followed by the bear hot on his heals! That was a sight for a cartoon! I jumped in the truck, gave the command “Back” to the dog, and in the back he sailed… We drove a ways, then stopped to look back. The bear had gotten up on a large downed tree trunk, sat down, and was watching us go. As if to say “Thanks for the day’s entertainment!” Or maybe he was wondering why his friends were leaving him. Looking back, I half expected to see hiim waving.

Bears…..

It doesn’t matter how high you are on the food chain, once you inflict pain you FAIL AS A HORSEMAN.

If a horse never fights against you, he’ll never truly fight for you.

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium (1941) ch. 13
-Albert Einstein

PANTY HOSE AND BEAR PROBLEMS

Bears. Already the problems start, and it’s only April. Cant wait till July. Aggghhh. The phone started ringing tonight. Frantic and angry subdivision caretaker. Bear’s been in three cabins in 24 hours. Bears are not supposed to be problems this early in the year. Their digestive system has been shut down all winter, and when they wake up, it normally takes a few months of vegetation only diet before they start eating human type food, but this year, for some reason, things are early. That means problems are here early also.

Problem bears always make me think of a couple of notable bear incidents in which I have had the dubious honor of being involved over the past few years.

I was called to a bear problem about ten miles south of town – the bear had been raiding cabins for about a month, and was finally to the point of no return. So, I hooked up to the trap, and the normal things raced through my mind. “Ok, I need to get this set and notify nearby residences so I don’t catch a dog or a kid, by accident- or get someone hurt or worse. (They can be deadly). Need to get some bait, and run by the store and buy a pair of panty hose.” First stop was the local restaurant where my friend Shawn was working. I asked her about food scraps, and she said “sure, help yourself.” I went to the slop bucket in the kitchen and picked out the most delectable items: Half eaten pancakes, sausage, and doughnuts and a container of gravy. Should work fine. I told Shawn that I was going to get pantyhose next at the store. I put the food into the panty hose and tie it to the trigger. The bear will pull on the stocking and set the door, catching himself in the process. She said “Gee, mine are torn, why dont you just take them?” She went into the restroom, and promptly brought me out the pantyhose that she had been wearing. I said ‘Thanks”, and went to set the trap.

I set it, and did my thing with the people, then drove back toward town. I got maybe five miles down the road when the Sheriff’s Office dispatch called me on the radio, telling me I had a bear in the trap. Already? I turned around, and sure enough, I had caught the marauding mammal. I hooked onto the trailer, and while driving back to town, I passed the restaurant. “Why not”? I asked myself.

I wheeled in and told Shawn: “Shawn! (Excitedly), You would not believe what happened! I used your panty hose to set the trap, and I was not even back to the truck when down the hill came the bear at a run! I had to get out of the way! It almost bowled me over, ran headfirst into the trap, and “slam!”- the door dropped! I’ve never seen anything like it! And from inside all I heard was grunting and groaning. Shawn, can I have all your old panty hose? I ‘ll sell them to the guys around the state for bear bait!”

I guess it’s a good thing there were not many customers in the restaurant. I had to leave in a hurry anyway. I think she still blushes when I see her and we share a little smile that’s a reminder of our little secret.
Bears…. More stories to come!

“Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” – William Penn

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”
— Eric Hoffer

My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am.

Who could believe in evolution and hold a straight face?

SOME DAYS IT’S BETTER TO JUST STAY IN BED….

Barry Hill is a Game Warden in the western part of the state, and he tells some good stories. One of the best is the time he was asked to ride in a parade, in the neighboring town, called Shotgun. It was “Shotgun Days”. What does that mean? Don’t know…nobody knows. It’s just a weekend celebration that every small town has…celebrating the past, or the future….or just celebrating today, because the tourists are here, spending money. It happens every year, and part of the festivities is the parade down Main Street: Fire Department, High School band, old cars, clowns and tractors. This year, Barry dressed up in his uniform, polished the boots, and put on clean hat. He had a three year old colt that was coming along nicely, and was pretty clam, for the most part, except for a few quirks, but Barry thought he could handle the parade ok. So, Barry packed the old mule with old fish stocking cans, like you see in the movies. They are metal cans about 35 gallons in size, with a fish on the side. We use to pack fingerlings into the high country with these cans, and they look neat on the back of a mule, sticking up in the air on either side of the pack saddle. And him riding in full uniform…very original and inspiring.
But, some days it’s better to stay in bed. Barry knew he was in trouble when he got all saddled up, leading the mule on the colt, they put him in front of the band. ‘Not a good idea’, said the colt…but Barry was too proud to say anything. The horse went to dancing around, but Barry was able to keep things under control. Off they went down Main Street, waving to everybody. Quite a sight. Made the Department proud!
About half way through the parade route, the band blaring and drums banging, trumpets blaring and kids screaming, and horse a dancing… the rope from the pack mule got under the horse’s tail. This, of course, spooked the horse, who clamped down hard on it with his tail, and there was no freeing it from the saddle. The horse, not sure what was attacking him from behind, starts backing up fast. That brought the mule, tied to the other end of the rope, around to where he was facing the horse eye to eye. The horse backed up till it hit the curb, which stopped his motion. Barry spurred the horse forward. The horse took three steps, which put him face to face with the mule, and the fish cans on top banging together… ‘clang, clang, clang’. That, or course, put the fear back into the horse, who started backing again. This time, when he hit the curb behind him, he reared just a bit. Barry spurred him forward again…face to face with the mule, the fish cans and the noise, which caused him to back again, this time with a lot more energy and fear. People were getting excited, running and shouting, and a dog joined the fray by barking at the horse, which caused more fear in the animal’s eyes. The horse backed again in a fury, and this time he reared straight up. Barry said ‘I knew he was going over, so I stepped off.’ The momentum threw Barry back against the brick wall of a building. He said ‘Ya know, I watched the whole thing in slow motion… The horse went up and then back, back… And, ya know, that plate glass window must have bowed three feet before the horse fell into Dr. Sunday’s dentist’s office.’ Fall he did, cutting off his right ear on the glass. Barry went in and retrieved his horse, led him out the same way he went in, blood all over him, the horse, the carpet in the office, and everyone standing around. Barry tried to put the ear back on the horse but gave up, stuck it in his shirt pocket, and headed for the truck, horse and mule in tow, leaving a trail of blood and the barking dog.
They got to the horse trailer, which Barry had had to disconnect from the truck to fit into the parking spot. Barry tied the horse, and walked over to get the pickup, when the dog that had been harassing them for the entire time came running out from under the trailer, under the horse’s belly, and bit him in the back leg. That caused the horse to rear again, pulling back, and dislodged the trailer from it’s chocks. The trailer began to roll backwards down a gentle incline…and landed in the front grill of a Cadillac.

Barry got the pickup hooked to the trailer, horse and mule loaded, and headed for the vet’s. He left town heading east, drove about a mile, and ran out of gas.
IM not sure what he said on the radio when he called in the accident, but the report he wrote was a literary masterpiece. The one eared horse is still in use over at Shotgun, and the State paid for a remodel of a Dentist’s office. No more parades for officers, however.

Spotlighting Fun, Part 3

Another incident that has made the annals of Game Warden history is the night two officers were working in a sedan. IT was just a law enforcement patrol car – one of the late 70’s classic boats. They were watching for spotlights and sure enough, a pickup truck accommodated them. They blacked out, and pulled in behind the truck as it drove slowly along forest roads. The going got a bit hard on the car, but they were undaunted. Being Game Wardens and all, what’s a few rocks.

The road would up higher and higher, and got rougher and rougher, until the car was bottoming out on rocks. SO, John Horvat, an absolute monster of a man, who was sitting shotgun in the car, grabbed his 870 pump shotgun and exited the car, leaving Sly Conaker in the car. John walked along behind the truck for a while until it came to a creek crossing. When the truck bounced over large rocks in the creekbed, John hopped onto the bumper, and then into the bed of the truck. The two men in the cab continued looking for deer. This went on for about a mile, when, sure enough, the spotlight lit up a nice buck in the timber. The rifle came out of the passenger window, and the deer dropped with one shot.

The two men jumped out of the cab, and ran over to the deer, talking and laughing. One more shot finished it off, as the muzzle blast lit up the forest. The men each grabbed a back leg, and the ran back toward the truck, dragging the deer, mumbling something about getting out of there in a hurry, before the Game Warden has time to get a call and respond . They pulled the deer around the back of the vehicle, and dropped the tailgate, about the same time that Big John chambered a round in the shotgun. If you have ever heard a 12 gauge shell being chambered into an 870, it is a commanding and ominous sound that one never quite forgets. It has a way of causing the most hardened of men to say ‘yes sir’. .

The two men looked up into the business end of the 12 gauge, as John said “Good Shot, men.”

“Athenasius, the world is against you!”    “Then beware, for it’s Athenasius against the WORLD!”

 Courage is fear prayed for.

Spotlighting Fun, Part 2

As Im thinking about Spotlighting incidents that have happened to me, or other officers around me, a few stand out in my mind. Most are humorous and a bit frightening.  When working at night, most times alone, it behooves one to remember that you are dealing with people who have loaded weapons, who often have had a few beers or worse, and who are seldom alone.  The element of surprise is always to be reserved for the officer, but safety is paramount.  Espeically since you know your closest backup is maybe hours away, if they can find you at all.

I recall that the adjoining officer, Carey Crawdad (not his real name….did you guess?) was working a problem area: a pasture on the edge of a river bottom, which was a favorite for whitetail deer poachers. The kids from town would have a few beers, and go out to see if they could shoot something.

This night, Carey was working alone, watching the area. This was a secluded place, it was very early morning, and nothing had moved all night. He was ready to call it quits, when a truck appeared, moving along without lights, and sure enough, the occupants pulled up on a rise, shut off the engine, and started shining the fields. Carey knew that if he drove toward them, he would be seen. He was parked in a safe place, not far from the suspect vehicle, but what to do? He got out of his vehicle, and walked over to the truck, and stood behind it, to one side, hoping that the shooter would not swing the light in his direction.

The occupants were drinking their six-pack of Coors, with guns and spotlight in hand, in the dark, watching the river bottom for deer, or any other hapless creature that might venture out into killing range. Carey was contemplating what to do next, when suddenly the spotlight caught a set of eyes. A large Whitetail buck emerged from the willows, and was lit up by the lights. All eyes in the dark pickup were fixed on the deer. The window of the passenger side came down, and a rifle came out the open window. Carey thought to himself. “I’m just not going to let them shoot that deer.” So he reached out and grabbed the rifle from outside the vehicle, and yanked it out of the shooters hand!  The screams of terror sounded through the valley.

The story is still circulated in the bars and sporting goods stores in that town. Carey arrested the drunk shooters, and the deer bounded off unharmed.

 

 “Actually officer, if you factor in the earth’s rotation, we were all speeding.”

 

KC’s Revenge

I use my horses daily as part of my job. That can be great, and at times, it can be a challenge. For all of us: me, the horse, and the public. Sometimes people don’t know what to expect…and neither do I.

KC is a little paint mare who loves to work- she just loves to go..anywhere, any time. “Just point me, dad!” And she is so gorgeous that people just love to see us coming… Most people. Most people want a picture, and kids always say “Can I pet her?”

We were on the South Platte River contacting fishermen on a stretch of river that is prime trout fishing. It’s all fly and lure only, catch and release water, which means that the fish can only be caught with a fly or a lure, not with bait. And, all fish must be returned to the water alive, unharmed, and immediately. That means that the water is normally teeming with trout, and the grow big there. The “Fly and Lure Only”, “Catch and Release” regulations mean that only a certain type of fisherman frequent the area. Actually, two types. First there is the illegal type, who come to take advantage of the fishing, and go home with a large, illegally taken fish. But most are legal types, who enjoy catching a lot of fish, and releasing them unharmed. It’s not uncommon to hear of fishermen catching 100 large rainbows in a day.

This is a really nice ride, the river meanders through sandy soil, great for riding, and the bugs are not too bad up until about July. A leisurely 2-3 hour ride, good for everyone involved. Most of the time.

Last summer we picked a nice warm day to take the ride, and sure enough, the parking area was filled with Lexus’s, BMW’s, and even a Hummer. The folks who go in for this type of fishing, the self-proclaimed “Elite” fishing crowd, can afford the best. That includes fishing gear. I think some of these folks wear gear that’s worth more the all the vehicles I own. The fly rods alone sometimes go for more than $1000.00 Nice stuff, but I wouldn’t know the difference, personally. They all look the same to me. How do they look to a horse? KC knew, I guess.

As we completed our ride, we saw a couple of fishermen whom we had missed, heading back to their Porsche SUV in the lot, and they had walked through the gate as we approached. I rode KC to the fence, and they walked over and said hi, and ask me how old “he” is, meaning the mare. Sometimes I think KC understands and is actually offended at being called a ‘he’. Especially when I correct the gent, and he just shrugs it off like it’s not worth acknowledging. That really offends KC.

The guy was bragging about his fishing success, and the quality of his equipment, his skill, his vehicle, and anything else he could think of, as fishermen are known to do, thnking he was impressing the Game Warden. I was not impressed. Neither was KC. It got a bit old, in fact, since I hear the same story about 10,000 times a summer, and since I don’t partake of the sport, at least not at that level, I can only yawn with boredom, and wonder if maybe that is all some folks live for. KC is getting agitated at all this and the guy keeps waving his $1200 fishing rod in front of her nose. I ask him to please don’t let it hit the horse. He shrugs me off with arrogance, and keeps on talking and bragging. The rod keeps waving around the horse’s nose. I checked his license and get ready to hand it back to him, when KC just reaches down, and opens her mouth and bites the rod in two! Just like it was a piece of grass. Then chomps. And Chomps. And spits it out. The guy just stares at me, and then at the horse. What do you say at a time like that????

Me, I just said “have a nice day.” Did a rollback on the hindquarters, and trotted away.

“The whole thing is pretty funny if you pretend you don’t work for the outfit”

Sign on my office door:
“I can please only one person per day.
Today is not your day.
Tomorrow isn’t looking good either”

SPOTLIGHTING TRUTHS, PART 1

SPOTLIGHTING, PART 1

Working Spotlighters is always exciting…between long hours of extreme boredom, that is. It’s normally a matter of sitting for hours …………. waiting for a light to go flashing by, coming from someone’s spotlight. Many nights it never happens. Those are the nights you try to forget. It’s hard to keep your mind from playing tricks on you – making you see things that are not there. They say that law enforcement is 99% boredom, interspersed with 1% sheer terror. If that’s true, then this type of law enforcement is more so.

Of course, it’s always better if you have some help: either another officer spotting for you from some high point, or a plane watching from the air. But, most night’s you are alone. You and the dog.

And, once in a while, you actually see one! A light goes flashing through the meadow, or trees. You sit up straight, Eyes wide! Wow. You know that behind that light is a truck with men with guns, loaded and ready for green or blue eyes to be seen in the light. Then the gun comes out the window, and bang!  From that point, you have maybe two minutes to close in, make the stop and secure the scene, and make an arrest. Without getting shot in the process.

Once a light is located, all your senses come alive, and any thought of drifting off to la-la-land is gone. You reach to your hip to your pistol which you knew was there, and your hand then slides over to the trusty 870 pump 12 gauge in the rack! What a comforting feeling that is. My weapon of choice – 12 gauge slug! Nothing better then hearing the sound of a shell being racked into the chamber of an 870 to make a hesitant or rebellious soul stand to attention, say ‘sir’, and drop his weapon. Nothing more commanding or ominous.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the source of the light – since you first see where the beam lands. But soon it appears. You start the truck, call dispatch to let them know what’s going on, just in case. Hit the cutouts… Every game warden worth his salt has cutouts on the tail lights, for ‘silent running’: driving without lights, in order to not be seen. The cutouts kill the tail lights, so you can drive without lights, and the brake lights do not give you away. It’s fun to fall in behind a vehicle that’s driving along, spotlighting, and follow it from 25 feet, for miles sometimes, and know that you are not being seen. Sometimes, you’re so close that if they hit their brake lights, it reflects off your front bumper, and they might see that. I’ve known officers who cover their bumper and all the chrome on the front of their trucks with flat black paint…that’s why.

Fun stories abound at training classes, while talking with other guys and gals over a beer. “Did you hear about the time when two Officers were working a valley, both blacked out, and they ran into each other, head on?” True. Try expalining that one to the boss. Or the time Officer Johnson was stopped by a trooper….who just happened to be cruising along an elevated highway, late at night, and looked down to see his patrol car being paralleled by a cloud of dust…no vehicle – just a cloud of dust moving along next to him. I think dispatch still plays that tape at their training classes.

The excitmenet begins when you hit the lights and siren…or make the stop in some other way, like on foot. I’ll talk about that in the next post.

So, with that background, I will relate a couple of stories about spotlighting incidents in which I, or a close officer, was involved. Stay tuned for more….

Give God the reins and you’ll always be on the correct lead

Vegetarian” is the Indian word for “Bad Hunter”

Fun Incidents:

Working a check station, checking deer and elk hunters. We stopped a Blazer with two deer in the back behind the rear set. We were talking with the hunters, when I walked over and opened the body cavity of the field dressed bottom deer. Stuffed inside was a goose! I looked at the hunter who jumped back and said “Why, that goose-eating son of a bitch!”

I was working, as a trainee, with an officer in another part of the state, when we contacted a jeep load of hunters from Texas. They had killed an elk, and had it boned out, with only the meat in plastic bags. In our state, hunters must keep evidence of sex on the carcass, to insure that they kill the right sex animal. It’s common for someone to try and sneak out with a an illegal animal with no evidence of sex. That is a violation in itself but it’s much more serious if you can prove that it is the wrong sex, and thus have an illegal animal. In this case, the hunters had a bull tag on the meat. No evidence of sex = violation #1.
Violation #2: The officer with which I was working picked up the bag of meat, looking at the hunter. He felt it through the bag, then he opened it, and sniffed it, Staring at the hunter. He felt the texture…his stare intensifying. The hunter squirmed a bit. The officer took a pinch of meat, sniffed it, then put it in his mouth….and blurted: “You killed a cow!” The hunter bowed his head, and said “You’re right. I give up. I’ll go quietly.”

Word came from an anonymous caller that George had killed a deer the previous night.. On the way home, Officer Kyler saw George’s pickup parked in front of the local pub. In uniform, Kyler walked into the bar, and sat down next to George at the bar, and ordered coffee. He sat sipping the coffee, and turned to George, and said: “So George, I’ve been out all day counting my deer. I am short one. Any idea where I might find it?”
George: ‘Ok, ya, It’s in my garage”.

Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.  Neh 9:5-6

Fun Things to say to violators, cityits, and others

I know the handcuffs are tight. They are new. If you wear them for a while, they will loosen up.

Ok, run if you want to. You’ll just go to jail tired.

Have you ever thought of taking up golf?

New Mexico. You need to go to new Mexico. They have great fishing there.

Q “Does that dog work for the Division of Wildlife?”
A “Only on command.”

Q “When did they let you guys carry guns?”
A “In 1895, when the agency was formed.”

Q “Where are all the fish?” A “I’d get close to the water.”

Q From an ATV Rider: “There are no elk around here! Where are all the elk? I’ve been riding for 8 hours and have not seen a thing!”
A “Well sir, the hunters are not having any problems.”

Fun Stuff – bear call.

Hello. Officer Snort here. Can I help you?
I have a problem.
Yes?
I have a bear. It Belongs to you.
OK…
Come get it.
I beg your pardon?
Come and get your bear. It’s been hanging around for a week.
Why is it hanging around?
Probably hungry. You need to feed them.
We dont feed them.
Well, you should. It’s gotten my bird feeders every night. And tried to get into the house when I was baking a pie. It got the bag of dog food too.
You need to clean up your place.
Come and trap the bear! Take him somewhere else.
There is not somewhere else to take him. You need to clean up the trash and dog food, and he wont be a problem.
You come and do it.
What?
Come over and clean up the stuff. And get your bear. He’s here now.
What’s he doing?
Rolling in the trash.
You need to clean up your trash.
You come and haul it away.
We don’t do that.
Why not? When we lived in town, they came and hauled our trash. You come and take it away!

 

 

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken  Ps 62:5-6

 

Kids and Eagles!

Yesterday I was driving along the river near town, and saw a truck stopped, taking photos. I looked in that direction and saw a Bald Eagle sitting along the river bank, posing. Made me think about Eagles and Kids. The eagle he was photographing was one of two that have been wintering here for the past 5 years. I see them every winter. The year before they showed up, I got a call on a sick eagle upstream about 10 miles. Usually, those calls mean the eagle has eaten too much, and can not fly. That is very common. Give them a day and they take off just fine. Gluttons…but then, who can turn down a good dinner? I’m the same way, especially around Thanksgiving.

But this eagle was visibly sick. It could not stand on its own nor hold up its head. Normally, when handling eagles, one must take care not to get a talon in the arm or hand, or a beak in the eye. These birds are big, but not too bad to handle, compared to owls. Nothing is worse than an owl. (Whomever came with the old one-line response to the question: “Are you Serious?” : “Serious as a tree full of Owls” – knew what he was talking about.)

But this eagle was big- and sick. I think it was a female, due to its size. Females are larger than males. And this one was large. The wingspan was the same as the width of a queen size bed. How do I know that?

Well, I wrapped the bird in a blanket, tied its feet together with rope, picked it up and laid it in the pickup – it took up most of the back seat. Home it came, and immediately Lynette – the horse lady in the family, fell in love with it, and begged me to let her vet it until it either died or recovered. Since it was Friday, and I could not get the bird to the rehabber until at least Tuesday, it was either that or put it in a large box somewhere and wait for whatever would happen. She insisted on taking the bird to her bedroom to care for it. She consulted with the vet, and what she did in there with the bird is not known, but she spent hours with it. Not much change until Sunday night. In the middle of the night, there came some very strange sounds from the bedroom- and an excited call: “Dad, dad!” I ran in to find the Eagle had come undone from his shackles that kept its wings folded and his feet together, and was dancing around the room, hopping on and off the bed. Lynette was squealing gleefully “She’s alive, she’s alive!” The bird was sitting on the bed, wings outstretched, staring at me defiantly as I came through the door! Oh great…. now what? Bald Eagle in the bedroom. Live, angry, defiant, and capable killing machine bald eagle in the bedroom. In the BEDROOM???!!!!!!

Well, with the help of a blanket and a stocking over the eyes, we were able to subdue the creature. By that afternoon it was unmistakably obvious that the bird was recovered, and hungry. And still angry about it’s current condition. So, we took it out to the South Platte River and Lynette released it. We have a video of this monstrous bird flying out of her grasp, climbing, and making a circle then landing in a nearby tree. There it stayed for a short while, then flew up the river. We watched it for the rest of the winter. Since that winter, it, or what I assume to be the same bird, has returned to this stretch of river, with its mate. In fact, last year these birds stayed around until May. That is very interesting, since Eagles nest in the early spring, and we’ve never had Balds nesting this far north. Apparently, they did nest here, and I will watch for a third bird to show up this winter…the fruit of a successful nesting endeavor.

I did not stop and tell the tourist, who was taking pictures of the bird, the story behind the little secret that we shared with the bird, but I did call Lynette and tell her that Baldy was back.

“Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” – William Penn

Rejoice and seek the Lord today – for life is almost always too short!

Some Culture, and a Thanks To Rodie

I thought I would share a poem I wrote about my dog, Rodie, who I had to put down last  November.  After 17 years with me day and night 24/7. slept and ate and rode with me every day. You never left my side except when I was on the motorcycle. Even for the few times I rode an ATV, you was there on the tank. Finally old age caught up with you….  Funny, I never noticed that the trigger weight on the Glock was 200 lbs before…

But, I do have this, and a few photos, and a lot of memories. Thanks, Rodie! you were a living example of God’s faithfulness to and love for, us!

Don’t Pet The Dog

He sits on the truck cute and cuddly.
From soft eyes his innocence drips.
His tail that’s a stump wags invitingly,
But don’t be fooled, that ain’t a smile on his lips.

Don’t pet the Dog
You’ll pull back a stump if you do.
Don’t think you’re his buddy,
It ain’t a bit funny,
You’re forewarned, Don’t threaten to sue.

He rolls over, and shows you his belly,
And he’ll bait you with those baby brown eyes,
He’ll whine and he’ll purr like a kitty,
But the stories you heard ain’t all lies.

‘Cause the pickup’s his pride and possession
Don’t think that it’s state property,
Be sure that he’s marked and he’s claimed it his own
It’s his castle, his sanctuary.

Don’t pet the dog.
You’ll pull back a stump if you do.
Don’t think you’re his buddy,
It ain’t a bit funny,
You’re forewarned don’t threaten to sue.

So just go on about your own business,
And pretend that he doesn’t exist.
Don’t act like a threat, an outlaw or worse
It’s a temptation you surely can’t risk
“The road is long, with many a winding turn”

Blogs and Black Goo

Ok, I cant say I haven’t been warned. Blogs!! Who was it told me to start a ‘Blog’? They said it would be fun! FUN! I told them no way, I knew about them things, and I was right. Blogs!! Whoever thought that they would be fun has never experienced one personally.

This afternoon I was tired of work…or what passes for work, and I thought I’d go check the cows. And the water. This time of year, the water get as scarce as the grass, and I really DO need to get them moved to new ground. Very soon. I took the stud out to ride the pasture, because…. just because. OH, he has not been ridden in a while, since he does not get to go where there are other horses we dont know. Being a stud and all, one has to be careful. But he is a good boy, and does real well around cows. I saddled him and watched the snow covered ground for fresh prints…a clue as to where I might find the cows. Nothing. No prints, no nothing. Ok. We rode through two pastures and around a good sized hill, and in the bottom I found water running. Good! That means they will not die of thirst. The ground was frozen and snow was patchy, but water was running just a little.

Out through the big meadow we went, watching for more water, when there they were – cows. Bedded down nice and quiet, but I knew that would not last. They don’t see horses too often, especially with a rider and a dog, and they know that normally means it’s time to be harassed. Not today, but they did not know that. They were spread out, but not far enough that they could not communicate with each other. Some were lying around chewing. Others were standing watching us – talking about something important, Im sure. I knew any minute they would break and run toward the back fence, and hopefully not through it. But no…they just stood there, and laid there and watched. And talked to each other. What were they saying? What were they thinking? ( I use that term loosely when it applies to cattle ).

I actually rode right past a couple that did not move. What??? Most of the bunch were on the far side of the creek, and I would have to get past them to head back toward the truck. It seemed that something was on their minds….but not much. They knew that I would have to cross the creek to get through the gate, where they were bunched up. Between them and us was what use to be an old pond that had grown in during the past few year’s drought,and was covered with grass pond vegetation. They watched… The ground was frozen solid, so I didn’t think a thing about it when the Stud started across toward the cows. They watched. Right in the middle of the old pond, the frozen ground we were walking on gave way and in we went – belly deep in the blog! Not just any blog, but this one was six feet deep in the blackest, smellyest, stickiest goo I’ve seen in a long while. Even the dog fell through. Great..I wasnt about to get off, and the horse sank down near to his belly, flailing around and trying to move forward. We looked like a Monster Truck Jamboree, flinging black goo 10 feet in the air with all four tires.

That is a scary feeling not knowing if the horse is going to get out with a broken leg or what. It sure scared him too. I turned his nose toward the closest clump of what looked like solid ground, and we paddled and flailed over and eventually he climbed out, none the worse for wear. I looked down at what use to be my nice new brown saddle, and it was totally covered in black goo! Everything was covered in the stuff, and there’s no brushing it off, since it sticks to EVERYTHING – especially warm fingers. Black slimy, stinky, goo from the blog! I got off and found it lodged in saddle bags, on my hat, in my pockets… and how did it get between my seat and the cantle? As I glanced to my right, my eye caught something on my right shoulder. A Black glob from the blog, the size of a tomato! Aggghhhhh!

Across the valley were the cows…laughing and talking to themselves. The miserable bovines had this planned the whole thing!!!!! “If we can just lure him into the blog, we got him!” Their laughter is still ringing in my ears. Blogs, Black goo, and bovines!! What an afternoon. Time to start the washing machine.

Remember, Snort says: Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Blessings all ova ya!
Till then keep your powder dry and keep ‘er pointed north

Mule Deer, and Blessings from God.

It’s quite an experience to be used by God to bless someone. Makes you glad to be alive. The thing is, most of the time, we’re not aware of what is going on. Sometimes we learn about it later, and sometimes not. But it’s best that way, because we have a tendency to start looking in the mirror…when in fact we’re really just the tool that the Lord uses to put himself on display.

I was working the tail end of deer season a while back. In the early morning, I met a father-son duo driving a White Chevy blazer. It was the son’s first hunting season, and the they were excited. Deer numbers were down then, and I knew it was going to be a hard hunt. I wished them well, and suggested a few places that they might try.

The day went by uneventfully, but just at dark, the Sheriff’s Office called regarding a hunter who had been caught by a landowner on private property, and was being held by the same landowner at gunpoint. Oh great, another small war to quench. I arrived, disarmed the landowner, and took the deer, the hunter’s gun, and anything else I could tie to the crime, or thought might be evidence at a trial.  But, the biggest problem is often what to do with the deer. You cant’ keep it for a trial and this was an open and shut case, so it was free to be donated. I photographed it, and put a seizure tag on it. After all the paper work was done, I returned his .30-30 to the landowner, sent him on his way, and released the hunter with a summons, and minus some personal possessions.   Now, the deer…..

It was the very last day of the season, and most hunters had gone home. I was thinking about how long it would take me to hang, and skin it, then find someone who might take it. And it was already about 10 pm. Going to be a long night.

At the state Hwy, I stopped at the stop sign, and my lights lit up the traffic passing by, heading back to town. I recognized a white Blazer, and pulled in behind it, lit it up with lights and siren, and they pulled over. The driver had his license out, and the son watched me with wide eyes. I told him that I stopped him because I had recognized him from that morning, and asked if he was interested in a 4 point buck deer. The youngster could only stare at me with wide eyes. Dad told me that they had been praying all day for a deer, but had seen few. At the end of the day, son was asking dad why God had not answered his prayers. Dad was encouraging his son to not give up, and God always had a plan, and He always hears our prayers when we trust him. They had all but given up, and were going back home empty-handed in the dark, when red and blue lights put fear and questions in their minds.. .

“Dad was right – he said keep praying. God always hears our prayers when we trust him”, said Jimmy, with tears running down his cheeks.  “And Thank you, too, sir.”

They went home that night with a renewed faith in God, and a deer for Thanksgiving dinner. I when home with a renewed faith in God and an anticipation of a good night sleep.

Is 55: 8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Buck Snort says: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday!”

Elk, and Fall Game Warden Fun

September and October! It’s always special time of year in the mountains. Cool evenings and warm days, grass turning. And the Aspens! Wow, not just the colors, but the smell! Wildlife loves it too. Everything seems to come alive with a burst of energy that will be required, to get them through the cold months ahead.

You can do things in the fall that you can’t do the rest of the year. Like interact with the Wildlife. Yesterday I stopped to ‘help’ a beaver, as he was dragging a branch across the Tarryall Road toward the river – winter food to be stashed underwater ’till later.  His tail was covered with ice- white in the headlights of the truck.

You can interact with elk…if you have the nerve. Elk are doing their rutting ritual: bugling and fighting and squeaking and snorting. Quite an experience. I like to go out at night, with a bright moon, and sit and listen. You can quietly walk down among them too, but THAT takes courage! It’s frightening, really. They are big animals and you’re out there with them fighting and yelling. No place to hide, if you are suddenly detected and challenged. I had a fellow police officer from town with me on one such occasion, and when we got close, and the elk were filling the night with their music, I turned and he was gone! No where to be seen. I couldn’t call to him, so I slowly made my way back to the truck and there he he was- in the truck. “No way!” was all he could say. “No way!”

One such occasion found me sitting in a grove of mature aspens, moon shining brightly. The archery season had ended and we were waiting for rifle to begin. I was in a 12,000 acre property that was closed to the public, awaiting ‘development’ as a Park. The elk were lucky enough to have it all to themselves. I was sitting against a large Aspen, bugling just to see who answered. In a few minutes I saw a movement in the trees. Was it…? No, just my imagination. I waited, and bugled again. There it was! It DID move! Something did…. What? It wasn’t an elk. Bear? Na…
It waited. I waited. One more quick cow call, and it moved again…angling toward me. When it stepped slowly into a flash of moonlight, I could make out an silhouette! No, couldn’t be…..

I felt, to make sure I had my pistol on my hip, rolled over on my stomach, slipped around behind the tree, and crawled back to my truck that was parked behind me about 30 yards, in the dark. I slipped behind the wheel, quietly took it out of gear, and rolled silently downhill very slowly. About 20 yards from the silhouette, I turned on my spotlight and lit up a man! Dressed in full camo, head to toe, almost invisible. He was carrying a crossbow! I had bugled in a HUNTER! Well, not a hunter, A poacher!

Later that night, in handcuffs, at the sheriff’s Office, he explained to me how he and a friend had decided to kill an elk on the State property, out of season, because they were sure they would never ever get caught. With the crossbow, a silent and deadly weapon, it was as easy as picking flowers.
.
We never did find his friend that night – but he was back at the cabin at first light. Both men appeared in court and paid their fines. I still see them around occasionally, and we have a good laugh. Or, at least I do. Theirs is more of a controlled grimace.

Ah, yes, fall colors. Brings out the best in man and animal alike.

Remember, Buck Snort says: “The shortest distance between two points is riding with a good friend”

My sister lost the breast stroke swimming competition…..learned
later that the other swimmers cheated – they used their arms!