12 The great white hunters
I occasionally get the urge to go out and kill something. So long as the something has fins or fur that's still considered (in some quarters) socially acceptable. Of course it's also okay to shoot people if the government orders you to. Really killing isn't much of an issue for me as a hunter one way or another, since it happens as a result of my actions so rarely. This story isn't about killing anything, but I thought we'd better clear some of the issues before proceeding further, in spite of having eliminated some of the potential suspense involved whenever there are guns involved in the story. No one dies.
For once I was glad Larry was along. He was, as usual, the instigator of the experience. I hadn't gone hunting in years, but when Larry showed up with his camo vest of many pockets and a fine new deer rifle, I could see the way the wind was blowing, and imagined myself downwind from a trophy elk. Deer are constantly grazing my garden, and if I could just get a shot off quietly without the town police getting irritated, I could fill my deer tag from my back patio. But as my wife points out, these are "our" deer, and it would be a bit like shooting a family member, so we drove several hours to go kill someone else's pet wildlife...
Larry had selected for us the heavily wooded area near Golftee Butte. While the woods are fairly flat around there, Golftee Butte rises up abruptly, remnant core of some misguided volcano no doubt, and resembles a golf tee as much as any 2000 meter basalt slab might, which is to say it's black instead of golf tee colored, and doesn't look at all plastic, and is a million times too large.
It was a pleasant fall day, which meant there was no snow to aid in tracking the wiley wild cows. So we found a spot with a good broad vantage at the base of the butte, and set about patiently waiting for elk to appear. In order to be invisible to the beasts, it is necessary to remain silent, which Larry and I find difficult to achieve. Although we can usually engage in sports activities with no more than an occasional "Help!" or "Call 911" passed between us, sitting for hours waiting for invisible deer with nothing but a large coffee thermos evoked the chat organ significantly. For instance Larry felt the spate of white buffalos born on one farm in Wisconsin had major significance, although when pressed he wasn't sure what it meant. I wasn't sure either, but shortly after discussing that topic our earflap caps were elevated by our hair as a white deer entered our field of view.
"Call me Ishmael," said Larry, "it's an albino deer!"
"First the white buffalo, now this," I said. "It must have some meaning."
"It means I could have an albino deer 8 point buck on my den wall," said Larry. "Or shall we both shoot at once for shares in the glory?"
"I don't understand you, Larry. One minute you're arguing for the spiritual significance of a white buffalo in Wisconsin, next you're talking wall trophy."
"What's to understand--I'm just recapitulating American phylogeny, if you want to get technical about it (without the ontogeny). Or, Kill Thing, Hang on Wall, if you prefer cave talk."
The deer seemed to understand cave talk, for he bolted before Larry had him in his sights. Larry would hear no talk after that except "Follow." So we wandered about in the woods for a while, never again seeing the wily critter, all of us blending in perfectly with the randomness of nature.
This would be a disappointing end to the story, if it weren't for what happened next. We started to hear a roaring in the air, like a jet passing over, only lower in tone and quieter. Then there was a tremendous sound, best rendered as, "SPLAT!." Snow was raining down on us in chunks. Fastest storm I'd ever seen. And one of the shortest, also. It deposited about 3 inches of grainy snow and then the air was clear, not a cloud in the sky.
We're used to weather in Idaho. It goes without saying that you wear your swimsuit under your long underwear, for the weather can be any number of things in one day. But even Larry agreed this was a bit unnatural as far as we could judge. Then we looked up toward the Butte, and were surprised to see a huge ball of snow stuck on the top. Where we'd been watching for deer, at the base, was covered in many feet of snow. The white deer had saved our lives!
"You know, Larry, I think that was an icy meteor from the heart of space," I said, with a touch of awe in my tone.
"It sure makes Golftee Butte look more like a golf tee," Larry pointed out, bringing the discussion back to earth.
"Who knows where this iceball has come from, how long it circled the sun till bonking into some stray asteroid or comet sent it on a rendezvous with destiny here with us..." I said, trying to reestablish a high tone to our reflection.
"I wonder what it tastes like," said Larry. "Probably chicken." He picked up a gob of the stuff, which was rapidly melting into goo.
:"No, Larry, stop! It might contain alien organisms that will take over your brain and make you take over the world."
"There's nothing that would make me do that," he said, and I knew, considering Larry, he was right.
"Not chicken," he said. "Vanilla. Yep, vanilla."
"You're telling me the first ice from outer space ever tasted by man tastes like vanilla?" I said.
"Yep, vanilla ice cream. The cheap stuff that comes in the plastic 5 quart bucket... But you know, this will probably put this place on the map even if it's not gourmet."
"Well, of course, Larry, there'll be scientists crawling all over the place."
"Naw, I just mean the name. I think they should rename it Ice Cream Cone Butte. The sides are even kind of like a waffle cone..."
We argued about it for a while, and meanwhile the goo continued to melt at a rapid pace, aided no doubt by most of it being frozen gases venting off in a hurry... By the time we decided who we should call to report it to, the ice was all gone, so we just went home with a couple more stories of the ones that got away...
|7. The Ravine Runner||8.
|11. The Secret Six||12.
|13. The Old School|
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