Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Father's Day Tribute--The Walking Hunters

Wendy Inman ca 1985
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 a 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 pried 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.

(Not actual vehicle...)
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.


Ann Ellison said...

What a wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it. He was a wise man.

Janice Seagraves said...

Clever father.