Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Walking Hunters

Again, a true story. I thought of it as I was preparing to step out on my own hunt on this long weekend. Perhaps when I return, I will be fortunate enough to share with you my wife's amazing ability to skillet fry quail. Add some fried potatoes and some homemade cream gravy, and we're talking about something worth writing home about. Without further adieu, I present to you my next offering.
The old Ranch House on an icy cold morning.
It was the best photo I could find.
The Walking Hunters
I grew up in the country in West Texas on a cattle ranch. Every fall, we were besieged by would-be hunters who wanted a free place to enjoy their sport. My father was constantly heading off trespassers who claimed to have permission from the owner to hunt. Well, my father was the only one who could grant permission, and seldom did he allow anyone access to the land.
One particular day, he was hounded by phone calls of people wanting to pay us a visit. To each person the answer was the same—no. Well, around 2 o'clock that afternoon, we came across a vehicle parked in the middle of our ranch road, about 2 miles from our house. My father fought his temper and decided that he should try a more diplomatic response in order to impress on the hunters the importance of integrity and honesty.

He pulled off their hubcaps and removed all the lug-nuts save one on each of the tires. With the lug-nuts gone, the vehicle couldn’t be driven anywhere, as the wheels would come off. He then wrote a note to the owner that said, “If you want your lug-nuts back, you can find them at the house.” He then drew a map where “X” marked the spot.

Three hours later, an angry and weary mob of four was making their way down the long dirt road to our home. My father was waiting for them on the porch—and in the shade—I might add. By the time the rag tag hunters walked all day hunting and then walked another two miles in the heat… well, they were nearly exhausted. They had worked themselves into a lather with anger and threats of what they would do to that “so in so, what stole our lugs.” They were so worn down by the time they reached us that most of the starch had been taken out of their shirts.

Oh, they were mad all right, but one look from my father told them all they needed to know—now’s not the time to start something.

He’d backed them into a corner and won the battle long before it ever began. If we had waited there by that vehicle in the pasture, then we were in for a show down. He taught me that patience and creative discipline could outsmart brawn and anger. Those men had to apologize to my father before he would return their lug-nuts. If they didn’t cooperate with him, then they faced a much longer 17 mile walk to the nearest town. The story got out about the walking hunters and we started getting fewer inquiries about hunting. It seems the master plan was indeed borne from a master.


Dave said...

I'm tempted to go buy a bunch of junker trucks and park them at random places around the ranch just to be annoy your dad. Just kidding Mr. Inman! I'd never do that; this post proves how wise you are.

Daniel said...

I am a few days behind on your blog so I just now read this story.

It's funny how when we do something wrong on purpose we often times do not feel that the price is worth paying and we get mad about it. That is the point though. We don't know what it will cost until after we have done what we shouldn't.

I like the way your father handled this. A valuable lesson. Thanks for sharing.

Alison said...

I'm really glad you put up a picture of the ranch house.

Travis said...

If I can find better one, I'll try and post them. The old ranch house was an awesome place. The yard alone covered as much as two full acres, and there was a garden attatched on the west side that was a minimum of 5 acres. Beautiful, tall mesquite trees stood guard over the house, and it had a wonderful porch, where we would sit in the evenings and drink coffee. An enourmous parking area larger than the yard was all that separated the barnyard from the house. Complete with a grain silo, the double door barn had a hay loft. We also built in a "cement pond", which was fed by the windmill. THe area surrounding the house's fenced yard was mowed twice a year, and it was probably 20 acreas and full of trees. THe house looked like a state park. I really miss it.

Oh, and down below the house, the Wildhorse Creek would flow during the rainy season. We had a magnificent picknick area at the waterfall.... Sigh. Maybe my next post will describe my boyhood days down at the creek. That was where I launched my brother in a wheelbarrow to see if he could make it over the waterfall.

Daniel said...

Now that sounds like a story that your brother would have a better version of!

Alison said...

Yep, we'd like to hear his side of it, Buster. By the way, thanks for the link to my blog.