Laugh Tracks in the Dust 6-29-09
June 29, 2009
Sometimes you can get into a big bind even when you have the best of intentions. Such was the case of a pair of budding teenage trappers a couple of decades ago.
The farm boys – cousins to be correct – decided they wanted to become modern-day Jim Bridgers and get rich selling furs and having adventures. So during a winter school vacation, they gathered up a bunch of traps and set out to set up a profitable trapline in the heart of farm country.
They started by asking permission from their farmer neighbors to set traps on their property. With few exceptions, they were granted permission. In fact, contrary to what would probably happen today, the boys were encouraged by their farmer friends. No one even contemplated calling in PETA or the Humane Society for a magic media moment to berate the boys for their industrious entrepreneurial attitude.
With all systems on go, the boys started setting the traps in likely places. One such likely place was an old ground-floor hay barn where they thought they had a perfect place to catch a raccoon. They had a conibear trap with them that they wanted to use in a special place. The hay barn was the place.
So they rearranged a few hay bales to make a little tunnel, then baited the conibear and left the premises full of anticipation of what furry riches awaited them in the morning.
The next day they started their round on the trap line and had modest success harvesting a few small furbearers when they reached the old hay barn. When they peeked into the hay tunnel with the conibear trap, a sight greeted them that put them aghast.
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They hadn’t caught a raccoon, but the friendly barn owner’s farm yard dog, and the trap had done its deadly deed.
“Now what?” the panicked boys thought. “If we confess and tell the farmer the truth, he’ll probably hit the roof and never let us on his place again.”
“If he finds his dog in the trap, who knows what he’ll do?”
They finally calmed down a bit and decided it had to look like an accident had happened. They came up with a brilliant idea. They got the dog out of the trap, and one of the boys backtracked out of the barn and carried the heavy dog almost a half-mile through the brush along a stream drainage until he reached a county road.
When no traffic was coming, he dropped the dog carcass into the middle of the road so it looked like road kill and then skedaddled back to his buddy waiting in the barn.
From there they made it to their own pickup truck and calmly left the scene of the tragedy in the opposite direction from the “road kill.”
Know one ever knew what happened that morning until years later when the boys felt it safe to “fess up.” The farmer never questioned the fate of his traffic-impaired dog. The boys got to keep trapping that winter, and they learned to be more careful with the placement of their conibear traps.
This is a ranch country story that I can’t vouch for as a truthful one. But it certainly could be true.
Two ranchers, who’d been friends for years and years, had an equally long history of practical joking each other.
They both summered herds of cow and calves along the same country road. One day one rancher wuz traveling down the road to check his cows and saw his buddy opening the wire gate to the pasture with his cows.
The second rancher left the gate open as he went over the hill to find his herd. That’s when the light went on in the head of his buddy for a good practical joke.
He checked the glove box of his flatbed pickup and sure enuf found a short chain and padlock he’s taken off the gate of one of his unstocked pastures.
So, he backed up to his friend’s open gate, closed the gate and padlocked it with his chain and lock. Then he drove off to check his own cows a mile or so up the road.
In a half-hour or so, he’d checked his cows and began his drive back toward his friend’s pasture. Before he got back to the padlocked gate, he wuz pleased to hear his cell phone ring.
He answered it and heard his buddy say “Get your ornery butt back here and unlock this gate, right now!”
A minute or so later, he pulled up to the padlocked gate and innocently said, “What’s the problem with your gate? Lose your key?”
“You know darn well I ain’t got a key to your padlock,” his friend grinned as he sat swinging his booted legs off the back of his pickup bed.
After a few more words of bantering, the key wuz produced and his buddy “released” from his own pasture.
“I won’t forget this,” his buddy promised as he drove off. “Paybacks are hell!”
And, they probably will be.
Enuf drivel from me this week. I’ll close with these words of Fourth of July wisdom from the late columnist Erma Bombeck: “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” Have a good 4th yourself.