Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “North Poudre”

On the Run

Yesterday I posted something called “Don’t Scare Easy.”  It was about the courage of the firefighters at the High Park Fire and people evacuated.  Today I am writing about creatures afraid of the fire.

My wife and I have not been required to evacuate from our home as have so many in Larimer County, Colorado.  We are near some areas that have been evacuated, however.

On Saturday, June 16th, we went into Fort Collins. When we returned home, we saw two large black dogs behind our house.  We do not have black dogs.  We had left our yellow Labs in their pen in the barn.  The black dogs were rummaging in a pile of wood.  My guess is that they were trying to get to some rabbits which live under the woodpile.  The dogs appeared hungry.  They looked up when we drove in and parked, and then resumed their task of hunting rabbits by digging, a method unlikely to bring success.

One of the dogs was a black Lab.  I think it had a collar.  The other dog was much larger and more furry.  I’d guess it was part Newfoundland.

My wife immediately called Larimer County Animal Control.  We suspected that the dogs belonged to someone who had been evacuated from the path of the fire.  She promptly received a return call from an officer who politely thanked us for trying to help the dogs, but candidly stated that no one was available to get them because their department was working to remove animals in the evacuation areas.  We were advised to be careful about approaching dogs on the loose that we did not know.

So I approached the dogs.  I crouched down in a non-threatening position and gently called them.  The lab stopped digging in the woodpile and came a few steps towards me.  The Newfoundland also paused, but then he warily left his task and trotted away, toward our barn.  His action caused the Lab to turn away from me to join his buddy.

In order to avoid a fight, my plan was to get our dogs out of their pen, into our car and up to our house so I could lure the stray dogs into the pen with food.  I would keep them in the pen until someone could come get them, either the owners or an officer from Animal Control.

One of the ways animals that have been separated from their owners in the fire can be reunited is that a photographer friend of ours went to the fairgrounds, where displaced animals have been brought, and took pictures of them.  Then owners searching for their pets can view the “inventory.”

My efforts to proceed with my good plan did not get very far.  The black dogs just kept going, traveling off our property and into a wooded area along the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.  They are on their own, trying to hunt and scavange.  I wish them well.

They are obviously not feral dogs.  They are somebody’s pets.  Their lives have been changed by and challenged by the fire.  I hope they will be reunited with whomever is missing them.  My heart goes out to them all.

Sharpshooter

My trophy wife, Sugar, was outside with the dogs while I watched Chisum.  As it turned out, viewing the John Wayne movie was a good way to prepare for my imminent deadly showdown.

I heard my wife’s alarming scream.  Then she called out to me, “Al, come out here.  Hurry!”  I moseyed up from the couch, ever obedient, ever vigilent.

I still did not know what she was frightened about.  (Girls can be overly dramatic and mysterious).  I empathetically inquired about what was troubling her.  Her response was not responsive to my question.  She uncalmly commanded, “Get a gun.”  Well, that was the main idea.  She was much more eloquent.

As an aside, in order to give some background to the scenario, I want you, gentle readers, to be informed that Sugar grew up in Texas.  Also, she is of Italian extraction.  You may combine your prejudiced stereotypes as you imagine  her emotional communication.

Further, Sugar’s desire that I bring a gun was not unrealistic.  I possess several firearms, including a pair of Colt .45s in a quickdraw holster, various rifles, and a couple shotguns.  They are part of the decor of our mountain cabin and readily available.  The NRA sends emails to me daily concerning unconstitutional threats to gun ownership.  I also am a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which sponsors cowboy shooting competitions.  My SASS alias is Big Bronc.  Her’s is Miss Sugar.  Clearly, it was not unreasonable for her to ask me to get a gun.

So I emerged from the front door unarmed.  Sometimes I opt for hand-to-hand combat.  I wanted to assess the enemy’s strength before selecting a weapon.  I try to make it a fair fight.  No sense wasting ammo.

“Who needs killin’?  It don’t make me no nevermind.”   I stated the obvious.  “Womenfolk got nothin’ to fear when Big Bronc is around.  I will fight to the death anyone that threatens you and them yeller dogs.”   This little gal surely knew she could count on me.

“Oh, Big Bronc, there is an evil rattlesnake down there.  Please protect me and our precious pets.  You are so brave and strong and handsome.”  Those were not her exact words, but I knew that was what she desired to tell me.

“Get the shotgun with the snakeshot shells!,” Miss Sugar daintily suggested.  “Shoot it from up here on the porch so you don’t git yerself kilt.  I ain’t in the mood to call no hearst.”  She doesn’t talk like that either, but it would sound more like an authenic western story if she would have.

So I went to the toolshed and got a shovel.  I know she wanted me to use a gun, but this particular shovel is a narrow type of spade known in these here parts as a “sharpshooter.”   It is a weapon with which I have beheaded unfortunate snakes in the past.  Yes, this was fixin’ to be a fight to the death.

Miss Texas noticed what I had selected.  “You dang fool!  That rattler is going to bite you.  They can strike further than that little shovel.”  I wish she didn’t talk like that.

So I walked over to the snake, carrying only the sharpshooter shovel.

It was coiled and shaking its rattles.  It was a mean one, poised to strike.

Women are no help at a time like this.  I didn’t need some girly girl weeping about me.  I can take care of myself.  Still, through it all, I could hear Sugar’s sweet voice.  “Watch out, you idiot.  He is going to strike.”  I supposed that she was addressing the snake, giving him one last chance to retreat.  That is certainly how I took it.

Members of the general public are not usually quick enough or coordinated enough or brave enough to attempt what I was about to do.  That mean old snake probably did not recognize who he was facing.  He probably thought I was a member of the general public.

Instead, he was dealin’ with Big Bronc, the toughest hombre north of the Pecos, or at least the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.

I met his steely glare.  He didn’t show any fear as he hissed and rattled, but I had a feelin’ that, deep inside his cold heart and reptile brain, he knew this showdown would be his last.

My calloused hand was ready for action.

“Say when.”  I confidently offered him that advantage as I smirked.  (I have found that smirking intimidates.)

The tension grew.  Then Old Snake Eye made his move.  It was the moment of truth.   Or consequences.  One of us would soon be dead as a doornail.  He had my vote.

A blood-curdling scream broke the tense silence.  (Sometimes smirking alone is not intimidating enough.  One has to be adaptable when engaged in a fight to the death.)  I should not have called it a scream.  It was more like a war-cry.  A manly war-cry.

Well, I’m here to tell you that with one lightning fast blow, I pinned that coiled snake to the ground.  The blade of the sharpshooter got it right behind its open-mouthed head.  I did not let up until I cut its head clean off. Sugar warned that the venom is still dangerous, even after it was beheaded.  Like I don’t know that.

I scooped the detached head into the shovel and proudly showed her the proof of my victory, waiting for her to praise my skill and courage.  She did not express her admiration in words, but I could see it in her eyes.

“Shucks, M’aam.  It weren’t nothing any old hero wouldn’t do.”

I could tell she longed to reward me with a kiss.  There was things I had to take care of first.  After disposing of my vanquished foe, I put my trusty sharpshooter back in the shed and quietly rode off into the sunset.

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