Ten Bucks In The Hand Is Worth One In The Bush
by Calendar Hacksaw
The Fence Post honchos had the good sense to promote me to "Outdoors Editor" for the opening of deer hunting season in Zone 9, and I had every intention of doing such a bang-up job that they would consider hiring me as a "Printer's Devil."
I deputized my good buddy Festus as my official photographer, and we set our sights on the job that had to be done; the story that cried out to be told. Festus doesn't own a camera, so he had plenty of free time on this assignment. We had been preparing for this adventure for quite awhile; the "preparation" part being pretty much limited to collecting Budweiser rebate coupons and looking for clean underwear.
On the eve of Opening Day, we ventured to the Department of Fish and Game Field Office to obtain our deer hunting press credentials. I explained to the civil servant why we were there, and he conferred momentarily with one of his associates. Apparently they shared a joke, too, cuz they laughed a little bit. Then they came over to where Festus and me was standing and asked if we had any money; say $10 each. Well, of course we did, so we gave them the money and they gave us two brown baseball caps that had foam rubber antlers on the tops and big brown eyes on each side. One fellow took a marking pen and wrote "PRESS" in big letters on the front of each cap, and we were all set. Festus decided to put his hat on backwards, which made him look stupid and unprofessional. Properly credentialed, we set out for the hunting grounds.
First stop was the Dinner Bell, where we enjoyed the Friday night Hacksaw Liver & Onions Special, and I bought a Team Penning Queen Contest raffle ticket from a young lady named "Janel." She doesn't know me, but win or lose she'll be the only Queen contestant who can say she sold a chance to Calendar. And if I win the drawing, I'll donate half the prize money to the Caliente Educational Foundation, and I hereby challenge all others to pledge the same or better.
Next stop was Jawbone Canyon Road, where we ran into Willie Nelson driving a mini-truck. Willie was kind enough to dismount and show us the .44 magnum he had strapped to the side of his thigh, stretching the entire length from hip to knee. We apologized for meeting him, and he invited us to come with him to do some poaching. That sounded interested, so we tagged along down to Kelso Valley where he stopped at a farm house, went inside, and came back out with two dozen fresh eggs. "What are you gonna do with those eggs, Willie?" I asked, confused. "Told ya; I'm gonna poach 'em," Willie said.
From there, we lumbered on over to Flushing Meadow, where a few encampments had been established. We approached three men huddled around a small fire, and tried to engage them in casual deer gossip. They didn't seem to want to talk to The Press, and we soon found out why: the youngest one was none other than Vince Gill, and the other two were his bodyguards. Well, we didn't ask if he was Vince Gill, and he certainly didn't tell us he was Vince Gill, but that doesn't change anything. My photographer, Festus, took a mental picture of Vince for later use.
All day Saturday and most of Sunday was just a blur as we watched Bronco-load after Blazer-load of dumb yokels commit just about every game law violation you could imagine. Gates, cables, and "Private Property - No Trespassing" signs were meaningless to these idiots in pursuit of their quarry. Illegal access to a legal buck seemed to be the order of the day, and old Festus and I were happy just to get out alive. Every time we poked our heads out from behind a tree or a rock, our press credentials drew enemy fire from the passenger seats of moving vehicles. It was obvious that these people were opposed to freedom of the press, and did not want their identities or unlawful acts reported in the Fence Post.
Monday morning, we returned to the Fish & Game office to surrender our credentials, and the staff seemed genuinely happy and surprised to see us again. But when the head clerk took one look at the holes in our hats, he frowned and shook his head. "Allowing government property to be destroyed," he decreed with an accusing tone. "That'll be another $10 each!"
We paid up reluctantly and headed for the door. But on the way out, Festus got one of the secretaries to give him fifty bucks for the mental picture of Vince Gill. She wanted it signed, so Festus thought real, real hard about Vince autographing it. That seemed to satisfy her. Festus isn't as stupid as many folks around here allow, and as a result we came out ten bucks ahead on what we'd paid for our credentials.
Ten bucks ahead. All in all, I'd say that's pretty good "buck" hunting. I think I'll spend it on some more raffle tickets.