Here’s my Fence Post column for this month. Since the editor seems to have forgotten to add this column, you guys are getting the pre-release version! 😉
We heard a shot. That must be Devil trying to signal us! We headed in that direction. Dare called out to Devil, but received no answer. I got worried all over again. What if Devil hadn’t been signaling us, what if he’d been shooting at a predator? (My imagination tends to get a little out of hand sometimes.) And just when we were about to turn back, sure that we’d missed seeing him in the brush, we heard another shot! It came from a different direction! “Boy, he moves fast!” I thought to myself as we followed shots for the rest of the afternoon.
Long near evening, Dare asked, “What time is it?” I checked the GPS. It was a little after four o’clock. “Let’s head back to the truck. Maybe he’s there.” It sounded like a good plan to me.
We made it to a reservoir and met up with Sister (not her real name, of course), who was the sister-in-law to Devil’s permit partner, Cowgirl (nope, not her real name either). No, she hadn’t seen him, and after calling Cowgirl on the two-way radio, remembered that they’d seen a set of boot tracks on the trail headed towards the truck. Eureka! After helping Sister get the bunch of cows she was in charge of pushed out of the oak brush and headed in the direction of the reservoir, we took our leave and headed up the hill. I saw three different sets of Devil’s tracks: two were headed in the direction of the truck and one was headed away from it. So he had gone back to the truck! And sure enough, as soon as we were in sight of the truck, we saw the door open. “That’s a good sign.” Dare declared, urging his horse into a faster trot.
Then I saw Devil. What a relief! It was only there, in Devil’s presence, that Dare let on he’d been worried at all. After finally eating lunch, Devil said, “Well, I say today was a bust. Let’s go home.”
On the drive back to the house, Devil told his side of the story, saying that the bull had headed east, instead of towards the canyon bottom. And of course, Devil followed him. The whole time, Dare and I had been searching on the wrong side of the canyon! And come to find out, it had been Cowgirl who fired the first shot we’d heard. Coyotes had gone after her dogs and she was shooting at them. We’d thought it was Devil shooting, and Devil thought it had been Dare shooting and had been shooting in reply as he hurried in that direction. So we’d been going back and forth between each other all afternoon. It’s something of a miracle we never ran into anyone!
I teased Devil about getting lost. Stubbornly, he argued, “I wasn’t lost. I knew exactly where I was. We just got separated.” But that was the last time he got off his horse to chase anything. The second day was much more productive, I might add.
Cowgirl must have also been worried about Devil after Sister called her and told her he was missing, and Devil and I hadn’t even made it home before his cellphone rang. It was Cowgirl, wanting to know if he was alright. And the next day, she made him carry one of her two-way radios.
The moral of the story? If you get lost: stay in the same place so your party can find you. Or, don’t go chasing after bulls on foot; you should invest in a good dog to do that for you. Or, you could just give up and meet your employees at the canyon bottom, just like you said you would!