The dog-work didn't dazzle me, but we bagged a nice blue this weekend. Rocket, as an elder, took a bite out of the bird's lower unit. But with old dogs you expect a harder mouth. The weather was cool, a wonderful development. It feels like hunting season here in Wyoming. I'm making a stew tonight, using the whole bird to make a stock. I want to be one of those few high-test males to pass through the eye of the needle. But don't think everything is coming up roses. I think my transmission is about done on my truck.
I live in the West, which means I eek out a puny existence in a 7,000 square mile area of thistle, sage brush, and oil fields. It was nearly 95 degrees this weekend, the atmosphere eerily smoky. The cottonwoods were leaking a thin, sticky residue. I wanted to get Henry on some partridges and grouse. But any self-respecting gamebird would not live in this wasteland of barbwire, No Trespassing Signs, plastic baggies, pop cans, and disposable diapers. What I'm saying is that the West isn't what you think. I haven't met an adult this year who doesn't think Hillary Clinton killed several dozen people in her run-up the last year's election. The yuks out here recently got a huge kick out of the eclipse, but deny the science that told them it was going to happen. A woman in a 1998 Honda Civic chased me down because I failed to signal my turn into the Albertsons. She gave me the finger. She called me a racial slur, and I'm as white as Dean Martin.
A half hour into our "hunt", the dogs were beat, gasping for breath. They could only jog between slices of shade. We flushed thousands of grasshoppers, some tampons, broken glass, and burned tires. This was one of the walk-in areas the state likes to brag about. There was no water. I used both of my 32 ounce water bottles just to keep the dogs alive. Finally, I put them in the truck and drove to the Tongue River, where the interstate blasts over in a concrete memorial. The dogs swam for an hour while I listened to college football.I downed two Coors Lights for hydration only. A rancher came by and looked at me from his late model Chevy. My team, Virginia Tech, was struggling against a cream puff team. The rancher wrote down my license plate while I tried to understand why our coach always passes on second down. Finally, after staring at me for an uncomfortable moment, Roy Rogers drove off in a veil of dust and country music. Rocket, who is 80 year-old in human years, still seems a little goofy from the whole experiment. It's mid-September, yes, but it's not hunting season. At least I can say I was alone, more or less.
Not every hunting or fishing trip can be a great success. I get it. But this one almost cost me my old dog. I can see why whole generations of Americans now split their time between The Olive Garden and Buffalo Wild Wings. Or they binge watch television slop from their slave homes and try to sell it later as cultural literacy. It's not. But don't tell them I said so. I think our country needs some sort of unifying character to come down from the hills and cure us. Think John Denver. Think James Taylor.