Posted by Skook on 26 June, 2011 at 12:00 pm. 36 comments already!


The Honesty of Yesterday

The outfitter told me I'd be taking out an older hunter, to be careful not to over do the hunting and to keep a close watch over him in case he needed to come in early. Whenever there was an unusual hunter, I was chosen to be his or her guide. I didn't mind, it was a compliment actually; however, rather than thinking of myself as special, I figured I was more likely to remember and follow instructions than the other guides.

There were a bunch of young hunters in their thirties and forties, they were dressed in the latest from the big outdoor shops and they were excited about going on the hunt. They already had several days worth of whiskers, to have “the look” out in the mountains. Personally, the whiskers drive me nuts, but if whiskers made their hunt more enjoyable, then grow some damn whiskers.

I saw an older guy with white hair standing all alone. He wasn't talking about killing Grizzlies and Elk, like the other hunters, he was just waiting silently for me, standing next to his gear. He was thin enough that he might need to run around in the shower to get wet, but he had that hardened look of a man who could take his share and give you back more than you wanted. “Are you Carl?” He shook his head yes. “I'm Skook, I'll get us some horses, do you need a special kind of horse?”

He looked me directly in the eye, with a cold blue eyed stare and said, “Young with a bit of life and not too wide in the back. Should be a sure footed mare that can move fast and smooth with rythym, without being scared of every little thing.”

Whoa now, that was a different request; I started to ask him if he was referring to a woman or a horse, but you can't count on everyone appreciating my sense of humor. Most men who know horses ride geldings, horses are much simpler without the huevos. There are a few mare men born every so often and they are a bit different from your average road apple; I knew all about this type of guy, both me and Barb Wire Johnny are Mare men. You see mares are the natural whole animal. Some are aggressive and mean, most are super aware of their surroundings and refuse to trifle with lesser human beings who lack the measure of horsemanship they require. Carl seemed to have the knowledge and skill of a mare man and I was going to give him what he asked for, if it didn't work out, I'd put him on a different horse, but I figured he could handle the filly I had picked out. He'd be plowing a furrow with his nose if he was overstating his abilities.

There was a four year old paint filly in the corral; I'd ridden her, she handled like an expensive sports car (not that I had ever driven one), but she had way too much gas for most riders.

She was worried and confused with the guides catching other horses and shooing her away when she came near. I threw a loop around her neck. She stopped and turned to look at the man (me) who had just caught her. I was in no hurry, I looked her in the eye for a few seconds and then looked at the ground for another 30 seconds. She became curious and stretched her nose out towards me to get a sniff from thirty feet away. She took a couple of tentative steps toward me. Without looking at her, I walked toward her and stopped about six feet away. She really had her curiosity aroused by now. I looked at the guys, as they asked me what the Hell I was doing. I replied with a grin and said my hunter wanted a horse with a bit of spirit, they looked at me like I was nuts. Nothing new about that, in their world anyone who communicated with a horse like me and Barbwire Johnny was a few points off center in the head. That's okay, horses for them were a struggle, for me and Johnnie it was often effortless or made to look that way.

I put a leather halter on the filly with the standard six foot lead shank. I stood directly in from of her about a foot away and looked her in the eye. I stepped into her and she stepped back; we were well on our way. I kept the lead rope draped over my finger like a slack rein and began to exaggerate the movement of my body to get her to respond. Two steps forward two steps back, she was moving with me and responding well. Her eyes were now trained on me and watching my every move. I walked toward her near (Left) side ribs just behind the shoulder she turned on the forehand and stepped over behind with the left hind foot crossing over in front of the right hind foot. Oh my, she moved like a ballerina naturally. I swapped sides and had her doing the same thing from the offside. Turning on the hind quarters is much easier and in twenty minutes she was loosened up and ready to be ridden. I led her through the corral with the lead shank draped over my index finger to show off to the guys. They stopped and watched me in silence. I halted in the middle of the corral and her pirouette on the hind quarters by following the lead of my finger with the slack lead shank.

We walked out of the corral and I asked Carl if he wanted me to saddle her, “Hell no, I'm not that old yet”, he replied. He put the saddle on without a pad to make sure it would fit well and then pulled it off and put a horse hair pad over a sheep skin. The technology for the best saddle pad ever made was thousands of years old I'd guess. You make it by saving the manes and tails of dead horses and weaving them into an un-symetrical pattern while they are wet. It takes the hair from five or six horses , but it is durable. has a great cushion, and provides ventilation to the back. They last for years. Carl handled the hair pad and the sheepskin without a second glance and I knew he was a horseman from the old traditions. I can just imagine the old Celtic horse tribes traveling Westward across Europe before the age of Julius Cesar used the same saddle pads.

I trusted him even more after watching him saddle her. I asked him if he used a hackamore, he turned to and said, “I'll ride her with a postage stamp and bailing twine if I have to.” I assumed that was an affirmative. I told him to ride around a few minutes while I loaded the pack horses and another saddle horse for me. He was already reining the horse and turning her gently both ways.

I had a feeling this was going to be a good hunt.

He and the mare liked each other and he seemed to be more interested in the mare than hunting. We rode into the remote camp about 2 pm and Carl helped me picket the horses and set up the wall tent. We had a bite to eat, beans, bacon, and potatoes with some ice cold tea. A nice Canadian meal. We would get in an hour's hunt at one of the moose licks before dark.

Carl told me that this was probably his last hunt and he mainly wanted a nice young bull for the freezer. He didn't want a baloney bull with a huge rack, a two year old or three year old would be just right. He had paid for a full supply of game tags, so we were bound to get something.

We sat in a tree stand I had built out of plywood about twenty feet up, between two poplar trees on a hill overlooking one of my favorite moose licks and our dark hairy friends started coming in, a few minutes later. A few of them were in the rut and they were ready to do a little fighting and bragging. Normally, I'd call like a young bull challenging everyone to a fight. The older bulls would often become enraged at this type of upstart trying to steal cows. The younger bulls were using the short higher pitched grunts and pushing against each other in a non-dangerous way to test their steel.

Eventually, an older bull stampeded into the lick. He was in a rage and was ready to commit mayhem. He charged a three year old so hard, the young moose was swept off his feet and piled up in the mud. The other young moose decided the sport was getting too rough and they scattered noiselessly into the trees. The show was pretty much over, it was too dark to see and the old bull had scared off all the young bulls.

Back at camp, Carl told me that tonight's hunt or show was more fun than he could have hoped for. You see, not every hunter needs to kill an animal to have a good hunt; some just want a good experience with the wildlife and with nature.

Carl told me of working on ranches in Texas and Oklahoma before the First World War and of volunteering for the war.

After serving in the trenches, he no longer wanted the outdoor life of a cowboy. He bought a truck and began to deliver supplies to the oil rigs. Eventually, he had a fleet of trucks and served a huge piece of the oil patch and made millions. Now his grandchildren were jockeying for position to inherit his wealth and he wasn't quite ready to give it up.

He told me he can feel the rage of the older bulls when the younger ones challenge them rather than paying respect. The young ones didn't look so big and mighty when they were piled up in the mud, bruised and bleeding, and looking for a quick exit.

He didn't talk about the war and the trenches, but I recognized the way he looked you in the eye when he spoke and that inability to show fear or indecision; as if he were to say, what do I have to be afraid of, I have already been in Hell. These intense guys who fear nothing intimidate a lot of people with their forthright and direct way of communicating, not that they are trying to scare people, it is just their way. I grew up around these men, so there direct way is natural for me; as a matter of fact, I prefer this look you in the eye honesty to the shifty never tell the truth darting looks of the average politician.

I began to realize what a treasure Carl represented. He had been one of the last of the cowboys who rode from job to job and stuck to an unwritten code of honesty and integrity.

War changes people. I have known several outdoorsmen who finished up their military careers saying they would never again go camping or hunting. Carl was one of those guys. He chose a good business and was successful and now he enjoyed living the life he left, as a vacation. One of the reasons he was successful was his direct and honest approach. Carl was used to winning, you could see that. Compromising a situation or giving up wasn't a part of his vocabulary.

A couple of days later, Carl shot a nice two year bull, it was a nice shot from about eighty yards. He said if it was alright with me, he would just watch my handiwork as I field dressed the moose and loaded it on three pack horses. I laughed and said of course. A two year old isn't that big and I can get it loaded fairly quick; besides, it was my job.

He said he had never packed horses and it was a pleasure to watch a man handle the ropes and lace on the quarters of moose on the pack horses.

We made it back to the base camp and he told me it was his last hunt and that the moose would last him the rest of his life. He thanked me, wished me well, and walked out of my life. Now this is a fairly uneventful hunting story except for the honesty that Carl portrayed. The direct and honest approach is almost never expected from our politicians; actually, we tend to like the ones who can lie the most convincingly. Carl and those like him are long gone- sadly it is for the best, for they would be terribly disappointed with the lack of honesty and integrity we tolerate from our politicians and from those in public life.

In a more modern world, we have President Obama telling us that increased drilling would have a marginal effect on the price of oil, but now that he is facing reelection, he releases a portion of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to decrease the price of oil. This is a case of getting caught up in your own lies and compromising our Strategic Petroleum Reserves for his personal political advantage.

Yet these are the same high prices that he promised during his campaign, the difference is that he intended for the price increases to be tax increases and not real price increases, thus the high fuel prices have no advantage for him.

A similar situation is his decision to bring troops home in a war that is far from over, but at a time that will be strategic for his reelection.

In his campaign to promote job growth, our NLRB is trying to shut down a billion dollar assembly line for Boeing in South Carolina and European builders are getting the contracts as a result of unknown implications of a government agency representing unions trying to shut down a private manufacturing facility built in a Right to Work State. Leaving the average American asking why we have a government agency protecting unions and why are we forcing Boeing to take its factory offshore so that union jobs will be “protected”.

Why do we have Democrats who preach of the need for more taxes and of how we are not paying enough to beat back these massive deficits. Yet we must contend with an administration of tax cheats. Multimillionaire John Kerry goes to great lengths to avoid paying taxes on his elitist yacht so atypical of the Socialist jargon that he and other millionaires ride to glory, but wait, the Marxists in Washington don't plan to be like everyone else they are Elites and they are supposed to lead a life of luxury that is above the law. These politicians that talk out of both sides of their mouth are legion within the Obama Administration Timothy Geithner, Charles Rangel, Tom Daschle, Hilda Solis all have their personal tax issues, while they tell us we are supposed to pay more and feel good about their willingness to spend our tax money in programs that will assure their political longevity.

While we have Marxists demanding more benefits to an ever growing army of those who feel they are entitled to the wealth of others, we have unscrupulous leaders who use these people to gain power and wealth. They promise to redistribute wealth, but not their wealth, heavens no, it is the wealth of others they pan to redistribute. In the tradition of every corrupt Marxist leader the world has ever known, they destroy wealth and prosperity by taking away from producers to give to the lazy and corrupt. Each month, the economy feels the lash of incompetence and corruption until the system begins to wither and die; until, there is no more wealth to steal and no more incentive to recreate wealth. This is the legacy of the Marxist and we see it about to reach the flash point in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland; unfortunately, with Obama at the helm of our ship of state we are only a short distance behind these failing Socialist states with leaders who are not leaders in any real sense of the word: they just know how to promise the world to those who don't produce, but eventually they run out of money and the riots begin.

Personally, I much prefer the honesty of Carl when he gets up close and looks at you straight in the eye, as if every sentence is to be carved in stone. That is the kind of man we need in Washington and the kind of man I like to take hunting.

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