I’ve got a mule deer hangin’ on my wall from northern New Mexico, so I could relate to Rafael’s story.
He had joined two of his cousins for a deer hunting trip near Cuba, NM, where his uncle had a cabin. They arrived late and missed the first day because cousin Dee Dee was going through changes in her life. To be fair, Dee Dee was a good hunter, so her ditsy behavior was unexpected.
Rafael had agreed to guide, cook and pack. He was up at 5 a.m. getting the cook stove ready, the firewood gathered and making a racket. By 5:30, he could hear Dee Dee getting ready. A waft of something floral floated from her room. A sugary-sweet, lilac scent filled the cabin and made his coffee taste funny!
"What the heck are you doing?" he asked.
"Putting on lotion," she answered. "Women of a certain age need to protect their skin."
He knew she was recently divorced and maybe she was trying to be more desirable. That could explain her mood swings. He was understanding.
They left the cabin at 6:30 a.m. Rafael knew the better hunting areas, so he led. In his backpack, he stuck a bottle of water, a skinning knife, twine and trail mix for himself. The rest of his backpack carried her essentials: sugarless Gatorade, cookies, sardines, crackers, smoked oysters, aspirin, Alka-Seltzer, toothpaste, toothbrush, energy bars, peanut butter, hair brush, half a cantaloupe, matches, Steno, clean T-shirt and socks, binoculars, extra ammo, GPS, 2-way radio and TP. All this, in spite of the fact, he had casually reminded her they planned to be back to the cabin by Beer:30.
By 10 a.m., they had picked a blind along a well-traveled trail. In a short time, they heard a small herd of cows coming their way. They had been handled and were not spooked by the humans. Bringin’ up drag was a big, red-brown Beefmaster bull. He sniffed the air and cautiously walked toward our hunters. Dee Dee got itchy.
"Just don’t move," whispered Rafael, "Don’t be aggressive and he won’t hurt you."
They stood like Easter Island statues as Big Red walked up to Rafael and took a might whiff! Then he stepped to Dee Dee.
"Hold still," she heard Rafael say.
She froze in fear, her eyeballs about to pop out. Big Red stretched out his huge neck, ran out his big ol’ slobbery tongue and licked Dee Dee across the mouth!
Epilogue: The bull ran over Rafael trying to escape Dee Dee’s screaming! Rafael went down, smashing the cantaloupe in his backpack trying to escape! And Dee Dee hung her pant leg upside down on a barb wire fence trying to escape! Finally, they managed to escape a swarm of bees by dousing Dee Dee down with toothpaste and the sugarless Gatorade mix. It came off like stucco.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.