Archive | August 2013


I am 4.  My young, beautiful mommy is my whole world.  I don’t like my baby brother she brought home from the hospital and I keep begging her to take him back!  I am told all of the time I am cute. I know this is true.  My daddy is my hero but I don’t see him very much and the stuff he drinks in those glass bottles tastes terrible!  It’s a bright day. Our windows in our home are up high by the ceiling & it’s cloudy out.  I’m playing inside.  My mommy calls me out to the living room.  We are rolling around on the floor, playing, laughing.  I’m laying on my back talking-talking-talking is so fun….
It gets dark.  Very dark.  I don’t like this kind of dark.  It’s hard to breathe.  Something big & soft is pressing down over my whole face.  I try to fight, my hands can’t move & my arms hurt.  I try to kick my legs. My mommy is laying on top of me & I can’t move. I can’t breathe. It’s getting hot. I try to cry.  Scream.  I can’t take in anymore air. 
There is a voice inside of my head, I know it’s me but it doesn’t sound like me.  She sounds a little older.  I always pretend it’s a big sister who lives in my head.  I hear my older-self say; “Relax.  It’s going to be OK.  Sshhhh.”
In my own voice -I can’t talk out loud because I can’t breathe- I hear my little girl voice ask “Am I going to go see God now?”  That was the 1st time I heard her voice.  I’ll find out that she’ll be with me my whole life.  She’s always behind & to the right of me but when she speaks to me she is cool & calm.  And she only speaks to me when things are at their worst.  “No. It’s not time for you to see God yet. You’ll be OK.”
I try to move my eyes to the right to see who’s talking to me but the pillow is so tight over my face that I can’t even move my eyeballs. “Stop fighting & she will let you breathe again.” I let my little body go limp. There wasn’t even anymore air coming out of me.  Just like that, the pillow fell off of my face.
I heard weird sounds.  It was me trying to breathe.  I was so scared but I couldn’t get up. My mommy was still laying on top of me.  I was too scared to look for the lady I heard.  I didn’t think I could push my mommy off of me but I finally did.
I ran. Ran as fast as I could to the kitchen.  I picked up the phone in the kitchen, put my finger in the hole by the “0” & spun it all the way around like I had been taught.  An older woman answered on the other line.  “Operator, how may I help you?”
“My mommy isn’t breathing.”  It scared me so much I gasped and jumped: Mommy’s hand reached out from behind me & pushed the buttons on the ugly, green phone making the operator go away.  Then her big hands took the receiver from me.
“That’s good.  You did that just like I taught you.”
All I remember after that is running back to my room but I didn’t like it in there.  What if that woman was in there?  So I went back out to the living room, but I didn’t want to be there with my mommy either.  So I sat in my favorite place.  The place I sat at nights when I can’t sleep.  In front of the aquariums, staring at all of the fish for hours.
30 years later……………..
I knocked on what used to be the back door to my rental.  My dogs running & barking like maniacs, acting even more crazy when they see it’s me.  I don’t know who’s more excited to see who.  It’s been a whole week & I’ve been so anxious for my weekend with them!  Don arrives & unlocks the backdoor.  He looks bigger & bigger everytime I see him.  I was hugging the girls & expecting for him to command me out but instead he turned & locked the back door.  It was dark, the flourescent light from the kitchen bleeding in shadow-over-shadow in the utility room.
“I want to talk to you.”
“Don, don’t.  We can’t be civil yet.  Just let me take the gir—-…”
One hand.  He was so strong.  I kept pushing out of my mind how strong he was because surely he’d never…. He had me around the throat with just one hand.  My oxygen was immediatly cut off.  I was caught off guard.  My pistol left at home.  Why was he squeezing harder?  I already couldn’t breathe. 
“No one is going to divroce me, ever again.”  His voice was an insane kind of calm.  He had made up his mind.  I wouldn’t open my eyes.  I didn’t want him to be the last image I ever saw.  I didn’t fight at his hand, I knew that was useless.  But wait, my pants felt so loose all of a sudden.  I felt down there; he had undone my pants completely, they were coming off. My hands flailed at whatever I could reach.  My wrist bumped the crotch of his sweatpants.
Oh dear Father in Heaven!  He was aroused by this!  I let my body go limp.  I was officially as humiliated as I could get.
My feet were numb…. why?  They weren’t numb, they were off of the ground.  He was lifting me up in the air.  I had gone just about as long as I figured I could stay conscious.  From behind me, off to the right I heard that woman’s voice again – the one I’ve heard a few times in my life when I was in so much trouble.
“Relax.  If you want to go, you can go.  Don’t fight him. Save your energy.”  Great, I thought!  Going to the pearly gates takes energy – I’m screwed!  She went on;  “Stop fighting.  It’ll be better if you relax.”
I let myself go completly limp.  Didn’t even stress about no breathing.  I thought of Linda Strait.  Then I heard my boy.  Instantly, I opened my eyes. Don’s tongue was squirming all over inside of my mouth – when did he start kissing me?  I had been lowered closer to the ground.
My chesapeake, Duke was jumping all over Don’s back.  Snarling & barking, bareing all of his teeth.  He started in on the arm that held my throat.  But it was in stereo.  I rolled my eyes over to the right.  My Germen Wire Hair Pointer was all over Don as well.
She was screaming barking, bared teeth, jumping up on him, teeth going into his arm that was down my loose pants.  Duke was frustrated that his “warnings” weren’t being taken seriously & now he meant business.  He got down from Don’s backside & buried his head into the attacking man’s right ribs.  I felt my body drop to the ground like wet cement.  I leaned forward in modesty to cover any, exposed part of me & lost my balance, falling forward onto my hands & knees.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of my husband.  What now?  A 9mm between the eyes?  Sweet relief.
Don looked down at me in pure disgust.  He spun around, walking off, shaking his head.  He eyeballed something on the kitchen table… it was either his wallet or his pistol.  I was wrong; NOW I was as humiliated as I had ever been.  But now I just tried to catch my breath.
Coughing, trying to get up, coughing, now blood was being spit out of my mouth.  Katy pressed her nose against me & wouldn’t remove it.  Duke got down, underneath me & used his body to lift my torso.  It was just enough of an oomph that I was finally able to stand.  Straightning up brought instant pain to my head.  It felt like it was in a vice – and I couldn’t stop coughing.  Each dog pressed against my legs.  If I had been another person, I would’ve followed that man & put a bullet in him.
If I were any weaker, I wouldn’ve put the bullet in my own head.  Be free from this.  I was being pressed to the back door.  180lbs of dogs were physically herding me to the back door.  I came to my senses.  I unlocked the back door & the 3 of us ran as fast as I could, through the knee-high snow.  We ran & ran & ran… all the way to my new home where we all 3 ended up in a tiny bed, sleeping on top of each other all night.
These were MY dogs.  I don’t care WHERE they lived!
I said “goodnight” to the lady who has spoken to me from behind me, all these years.



Self Defense Against Myself

I was raised very Liberal.  Guns were bad.  Then I marry a former cop.  Guns are good.  I can shoot but I’m not used to carrying – lots of training.  I certainly had no clue about self defense.  (Ironically, that would come later).  So, my husband, partly thinking that he’s doing a good deed & partly he gets off on my misery…
…Do you remember the Peter O’Toole ‘Pink Panther’ movies?
OK, well, almost always when I’d come home the most exhausted, he’d hide in the house.  (Never in the fridge though).  So as I would come in & unload for the night, he’d jump out & attack me proving that I was unprepared & unable to defend myself.  Needless to say, I was going through a pretty big culture shock going from Seattle to Absaroke anyways & this did little to settle my nerves.
   Lack of sleep, less & less attentive…. more & more surprise attacks.
A)This means that I’ve developed a habit of checking the place out – with a firearm – until I feel it’s “clear.”
B)I finally put a stop to things.
He had, in my opinion, knowing his medical condition, stopped getting boners everytime he terrified me & so grew bored with the exercise.  His hearing, from his career of blowing up rock, was lousy anyway.  I waiting about 3wks after he’d stopped that crap.  Then, I came home from night shift 1 morning – he was waking up from sleeping his 1st day off of night shifts.  I heard him getting out of bed, by his stumble, I could tell he was exhausted.
   I stood, facing the kitchen sink.  For him to come into that area, he would make a right turn & be facing me-broadside.  He wasn’t pausing or tiptoeing.  He wasn’t going to be peeking around the corner at me.  I took a bottle of whiskey & poured a drink, got my (empty) pistol out.  This was either going to work or I was going to end up in the hospital.  Either way,  I wasn’t going to be sober.  I started chugging but kept facing the sink.
   Just as Don stumbled, absoluetly exhausted & not focused, he looked up to see me chugging booze at 8am, pointing a pistol right at his chest & in a second… SNAP!  I pulled the trigger on the empty chamber.
   He fell to the ground in fear!  Grabbed his chest & started screaming at me!  I finished my drink, put the glass away, put the pistol back in my pocket & stepped over his body as I walked off to the shower.
   For about 2 years I figured I was going to die because of that.  In grade school, whenever I got in a good one on the class bully, all his friends would chase me after school, hold me down & beat me up.  I was beat up for embarressing the school bully from 6th & all through 7th grade.  Why wouldn’t my own husband kill me?  The only time I didn’t care was when I was flat out drunk.

A True Story

It’s the Vietnam war.  One of our boys, stationed over there has fallen in love with a young woman from a family who was considered royalty before the regime decided otherwise.  He marries her & brings her home with him to the United States.  He is of prominently German descent & his family doesn’t exactly greet their new daughter in law with open arms.  But they go on to live a happy life, raising a family.  It’s the kind of story that made up this country.
    More than 30 years later, our American hero dies suddenly & tragically.  Born a princess in another world, she is now a 2nd class widow alone in this world.  Then, one day, she gets a phone call.
   A familiar voice, a man from her past. Another American soldier she remembers from so long ago.  He had been enamoured with her & very much wanted to make her his own.  He was injured & transferred.  When he was well enough, he went back to her village.  Her family who wanted to keep their daughter’s future secure, mislead the courter, telling him their daughter “went to Canada to live.”  This man spent more than 20 years looking for his love, in Canada.
   Finally falling in love himself & having his own family – but not forgetting the true love from his youth – he hired a detective & found his sweet Kim.  He chose not to invade her life; he was at ease knowing where she was, that she had been happy & that she was a beautiful as the day he 1st laid eyes on her so long ago.
   Years later, as he was just starting to go through a divorce, he heard of Kim’s husbands’ death.  He waited  “a sufficient amount of mourning time” and finally got the nerve to call.  The second most-scared he’s ever been in his whole life.  They reconized each other’s voices right away.  There was electricity in the air… could they pick up from hence they left?  They arranged a rendevoux to find out.
   “Isn’t that the most outragous thing you’ve ever heard?!  The nerve of that asshole!  Who does he think he is, calling my mom like that!  I’ll kill him!”  Kim’s 2nd son was not taking the news of the reunion well, as neither were the other 2 sons.  I instructed them to calm down!
   “I think this is one of the most, romantic stories I’ve ever heard of in real life!  I can’t imagine anything sweeter to a couple who have come full-circle to be reunited again!  You guys should support whatever decision your mother makes.  It’s about her now.”  All 3 of the half-white, half-Vietmanese men stared down at their shoes, contemplating, as they do on a regular basis, the selfishness of their actions.
   “Geez.  I hadn’t thought of it like that.  Romance didn’t even enter my mind.”
   “Your mother is a healthy, beautiful, single woman who deserves as much happiness in this life as anyone else.  Now, I’m through discussing it!  Give her my heartfelt congradulations when you talk to her next.”
   The three Stooges shuffled off like a bunch of kids that were told that not only were they not going to get the afternoon off to swim but that they had a week’s worth of chores ahead of them!  
Had the story ended there, it would certainly have been the most romantic I’ve ever encountered.  However…. it had a bitter end that I choose not to think of.  Besides…. I’ve found an even MORE romantic, true story… but that’s for another time!  🙂 



angel lost her wings
“It isn’t that I want to die, I simply no longer care if I live.”
She wrapped her broken fingers around the bottle.
“What is the difference?”
She looked up towards Him just as the bottle consumed her hand,
“A lot.”
But she couldn’t make her eyes meet His.  She looked back lovingly at the liquid she lived for, the only substance she would let herself love. The sound of His voice made her shiver a warm shiver.
“Explain that to me.”
But she was pressing her soft, pink lips to the mouth of the bottle. A lover’s kiss was never more gentle.
All she could bring herself to say out loud, all she could believe that she wanted anymore, she whispered “Leave me…..”  It sounded less and less convincing every time she heard the words leave her crippled body.
He watched her broken bones slip into that bottle as smooth and delicate as the blackened bruises all over her body, all over her heart. And He cried,
“Please let me love you?”
But it was too late. Instead of her sucking out of that bottle, it sucked her in. She was gone.
And He cried.

You Can Never Tell

“You can never tell.”  My childhood theme song.  “You can never tell that we did this.” 
My cousin – or I had been told he was my cousin – was tucking his little penis back into his pajamas and tiptoeing off so as to not wake my father.  I hated the game.  I hated being touched where I was not ever supposed to let anyone except for the doctor touch me.
But robbie was my favorite cousin.  So cute. I loved his blue eyes and would do anything so he would look at me.
“The game goes like this, I make sure you’re a girl and you make sure I’m a boy.  But we can only do this after we go to bed.”
I wondered why penises were so soft?  At age 6 I had no idea what a vagina even was and I didn’t like him touching it.  But I did like the feel of the testicles.
Then one day, we were all playing in the “Game Room.”  Robbie took my hand and pulled me into the dark closet.  I didn’t like it when he shut the door.  The air tasted bad in here.  he put my hand in his pants and was trying to get his hand down mine. I didn’t like not being able to see.
Now I could hear jay and ricky outside the door. 
“I thought we only played this in bed.”
“I want to play now.”
The light hurt my eyes when jay threw open the door.  The look in his eyes, whole, conversations passed between us without uttering a sound. Our eyes barely locked before he was off running.  Then Robbie went running.  I was left alone, in a closet, with my pants messed up.  Had I known then what I knew now, I’d have never left the tiny room.
   Robbie was questioned by my parents – he convinced them that he had nothing to do with anything.  Taking off our clothes was my idea and he had never done anything like that before.
I am being accused of falsifying statements about the treatment my mother gave to me as a child.  I’m telling this story to my brother.
   “He isn’t the only “cousin” who molested me.”
  My brother tells me I have no right to use words like that.  “There is such a thing as childhood curiosity.”
   “Are you telling me that you don’t believe that I woke up with Duce in my bed?”
   “If he did, then you let him in there.  He’s not going to be stupid enough to do that with our dad in the house.  You need to stop making this stuff up.  You have the potential of ruining people’s lives.” 
   We’re throwing a party in the house on Boone St.  We’re not wearing our swim suits like normal parties but we’re all dressed nice.  My hair in braids. As usual, I get bored.  Too young to play with the adults, too old to play with my little brother.
Actually, I hated playing with him.
   I’m called in from playing in the yard with Oscar – only the best, kid dog that ever lived!  We’re all sitting down to eat.  The very tall, cute man points to my shoe and says,
   “Jodie I think you have something on your shoe there.”  I had stepped in dog crap and it was all over my pretty boots.
   My name.
   I’m in trouble.
   My mom is literally standing there just screaming at me.  How can I be so stupid?  Why did I always ruin her parties?
   When I grow up I will learn the phrase “could cut the air with a knife.”  I couldn’t move. Every time I did, I did it wrong and she screamed more.  The cute man just said,
   “Jesus Jodie, if I’d known it was going to cause that much trouble I wouldn’t have said anything.”
   I couldn’t look at him or anyone else.  I went upstairs and pretended to be sick so I didn’t have to come down and eat.
   My mother takes my braids and moves them around, dancing, singing, making me look silly.  It makes everyone in the room laugh except me.
   When Judith was a very young child, her grandmother dressed her up like Shirley Temple and took her to the bar where she hung out.  She had “Judy” stand on the jukebox and sing for everyone.  A pride and joy of the bar.  Judy hated every second of it.
   I tell my mom “I don’t like that, stop, and try to jerk away.”  I’m slapped for not being a “sport” and I start crying.  Everyone leaves the room.  My mom grabs me and shakes me.
   “You’re too embarrassed to play and joke around with your hair but you’ll pull down your pants for your cousin?”  The shaking and the spanking.  Always shaking and spankings when you made mom stop laughing.  I’m told to “get out of her sight.  She’s disgusted with me.”
   I’m in Spokane and seeing my “crazy aunt” for the 1st time in probably the better part of 3 decades.  She’s a mess and I’m sorry I met her.  I ask about ricky and robbie.  That’s when I’m told they weren’t my real cousins. Aunt betsy got pregnant in high school and went to mexico for an abortion which rendered her sterile.  She had multiple adoption attempts and multiple relationships where every child was taken away from her due to her physically abusing all of the children.
   She tells me; “I started getting better when I discovered that a huge part of my problem was that I lost 7 children before the age of 30.” 
   I had no, fucking clue what the hell she was talking about.
   “But getting back to the boys….” I got to hear about what a successful business ricky had started.  “But Robbie is divorced, living in L.A.  He has a restraining order, can’t be within 50 feet of his own child.”
   This neither surprises nor pleases me. 
   “He’s accused of sexually molesting his own son.  Isn’t that ridiculous?”
   “Well,” I said, picking up my drink and getting up to leave, “if he needs someone to testify for him, no one had ever best call me.”
   My aunt froze and that’s how I walked away from her.  If that’s the last I ever saw of her, I wouldn’t even think 2ce about it.

Just an Average Antelope Hunt

Other than maybe bear & definitely elk & sheep, antelope is some of the toughest hunting there is & is only getting harder.  This year I drew a tag in my 1st choice area; closest to my home, where all of my friend’s ranch’s are.  Only had to sign up for 1 Block Management area.  That kind of luck hardly EVER happens!!  Sunrise on opening day, I’m glad I read the weather report & put my lined pants on.  7:14am which meant we were out there driving around at shooting time; 6:44am.  Pitch dark & headlights EVERYWHERE!  Twenty-nine degrees with wind & snow.  It would warm up to the ’50’s that day, & by day’s end we’ll have been sweat-soaked, wet from mud & snow, & as perfectly wind blown as the sky was blue!  All of this traffic, yeah, I’m SURE the antelope don’t know anything is a-miss!!  I mean, this ranch is one, seriously, remote place… except for opening of the seasons.  Then you’re inundated with out-of-county license plates!  (Really ticks off the locals)!
   We pull up to a hill we’ve seen them hunker out of the wind before they go water in earlier weeks.  Get out, gear up, lock & load….of course, only Jodie gets caught up in the barbed wire fence!  (I’m the smallest, freakin’ person there)!  Ok.  Walk quietly.  Breathe quietly.  Talk quietly,  or, in my case, argue quietly!  Ever argue in whispers – to people who are all, hard of hearing – in 40mph winds?
   “Get DOWN!”
   “I AM down!”
   “I AM down!”
   “Get down MORE!”
   “I’m as down as YOU are!”
   “I’m   as  down  as   YOU   are!”
   “No you’re not!”
   I grab each man who stands, at the shortest, a foot taller than my 5’3″.  One-by-one I pull down on their vests until their heads are even with my own.
  “There! Now!  Where’s the herd?  Can you see them?  Can they see me?  I can’t even see over the weeds yet!”  Push them away.  It was voted that I would be in the front of this hunting pack on stalks.  Later, I was to find out that it wasn’t because I was the smallest but because no one wanted my loaded gun behind them! 
 Found a small herd, decent buck in the back.  We hunker down; walk all, hunched over, me actually holding onto a person in front of me because “we’re trying to look like a cow.”  Somehow, I forgot to practice this stance in my “get in shape” exercises… & my low back is making me PAY for it!   The sun & the wind are completely against us; bad deal.  Bad stalk.  Soon to be a lesson learned.  Pretty close to the horizon now, time to strap the rifle behind you & get on hands-and-knees, crawl in the snow, to as close to the top of the hillside as we can get.
   I’m always amazed at how farm land can look so flat.  Even the hilly stuff looks like smooth grass.  Welllllll it isn’t!  We are crawling on the 
sharpest, pointiest, broken up rock there is!  The snow numbed my knees for a short bit but the cutting sensation soon came 
through in all it’s glory.  I kept having to stop, rest, readjust my rifle… it’s getting annoying for those in the hunting party. Kind of like having to
wait for your kid sister who can’t keep up!
   Finally made it to as close to the top of a ridge, hiding behind these weeds that look huge out on the Prairie…. I’m told to hide my fat,
x-tra wide body behind them.  Ummmmmm these wouldn’t hide a crow!  You don’t think those critters down there can’t see me
behind this??  Anyways, I get into the prone position & try to take aim.  Shit.  Now I’m too low below the weeks and I can’t see them. Scootch closer.  Take aim. Still can’t see them.  Scootch closer.  Take aim.  Finally I get to the edge enough to barely peek over. Freakin’ whole herd is just STARING up at me!  Like…. totally inspecting me and everything!  I looked over at the others.  (they whispered)
   “You got too close to the edge.  You’re busted.  You’d better hurry.” 
Crap.  I take aim, didn’t feel good, squeezed the trigger.  Nothing.  Squeeze…. nothing.  I’m shaking the barrel all over.  I roll over, empty out the chamber, thinking I have a jam.  Reloaded – again nothing.  Repeated the act in futile.  For the 1st time in 10 years of hunting, I’d forgotten that the safety was on!  The guys stand up.  Herd had moved on.  (yeah…. everyone got a few laughs at my expense…) I learned my lesson. 
   Then we see 5 hunters walking the top of the ridge across from the draw I just scared the herd out of.  They are in good position with
the wind & sun & the scared herd is running right up to them.  I’m instructed to “get down” in the snow, hoping that the inevitable shooting will chase the herd back to us.  Wind at their backs, the herd runs blindly into the sun & only the sudden raise of 5 rifles makes them stop on the hillside.
    Watching….. not 1 falls.  Head matriarch turns sharply away from the hunters but keeps running up the hill.  She gets to the top, whole herd behind her, buck in the very back.  Typical.  Except that they stopped broadside in front of the hunters!  They can’t be 100 yards from them!  We watch.
BOOM! BOOM!     BOOM!  Every antelope in that herd turn & run away.  We’re staring breathlessly….. not a single animal faltered, jumped or even kicked.  They just followed their leader & were running.  BOOM! Dirt kicks up behind the buck, who is just running like a ballerina now.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t know what was worse; screwing up a shot because I jammed my safety or shooting 8 – 10 times into a herd that close & every hunter missing every shot?
   Back to the truck for more driving.  The day couldn’t have been more beautiful; blue skies, warm sun, wind was a bitch but then, she usually is.
   We saw, as is typical hunting, some amazing sites.  More hunters than antelope at times, it seemed.  We pulled up to 1 crossroads
& there, up on the top of a hill, was a buck antelope perfectly silhouetted in the sunrise.  Pan out and down and at that intersection were 5….
count them FIVE pickup trucks stopped, watching him!  We all laughed out loud.  Stupid bastards!  Poor baby!  That buck wasn’t going to MOVE until after dark!  Then he was going to run like the dickens!  Saw more stuff…. a poached doe shot in the butt (where the only good meat is on those animals) & tossed in a ditch.   Later on, a buck running around with his lower jaw shot off.  Realities of people thinking they can make long shots just because they have powerful scopes and/or people using calibers they have no experience using!
   Later, we get a stalk on another herd. The snow has melted off by now & the rocks are still sharp as hell.  Get to the top of a hill & there’s a gully down below we figure has a herd in it…. by the way the semi-circle of trucks are around it – basically facing us.  The familiar BOOM! BOOM!     BOOM!  Glass around and see a hunter standing next to his truck.  Not against it, or leaning on it or behind it.  Then he gets something out of the bed of his truck, and…BOOM!  Then he gets into his truck & drives off.  Just then, some does come running to the top, right in front of us.  I lean across the truck bed & get a secure hold.  I have her in my sights.  She’s going down.  In the standard, loud whisper, “I’m taking the fat doe on the far left…”  But I’m immediately, given directions.
   “No! Wait!  Pick up your gun!  That’s (our friend) in that truck down there.  This must be his shot.  C’mon, get in the truck.”
   You’re kidding me, right?  “I’m on her!  I’m right there!  There’s no one else in my sights!  I’m here!”
   “No!  (friend’s) truck was there 1st… don’t mess up his shot.”  Dammit!  Empty  the gun – again.  Get back in the truck.
   Later on, grabbing a bite to eat at the house, said friend pulls up to the house.  I run out & look in the back of his p.u.  “How come I don’t see a damn goat in there?  I wasn’t allowed to shoot that fat doe because it was your shot!”
   No, it turns out he & his truck full of friends were just being entertained by the man who wouldn’t use a backrest & couldn’t hit his target.  Dinner break over – back in the truck.  We drove & drove & drove & hiked & hiked….. never got another shot the rest of the afternoon.  One family we visited on their ranch had 10 hunters unloading & taking off orange vests.  They had harvested 8 antelope that morning and were all heading into the mighty town of Molt for some dinner before she closed at 2:30.   We asked where “hunter #11 was?”
   “Oh! He got disgusted with his gun & drove in to Billings.  He’s at Cabela’s buying an $800 scope & having them mount it.  He’ll be back before shooting time ends.”  An addendum followed, “Of course, I don’t think it was the scope’s fautl!”  (Chorthols of laughter disappear out onto the prairie).
   Back at the house that evening, our crowd is all winding down.  Working the dogs who’ve been kenneled all day.  It’s about 40 min’s of shooting time left.  Everyone is phone calling each other to compare days.  (The next time someone comments on women gabbing on the phone….. hu-uh!!  Grown Ranchers & Farmers are the gabbiest I’ve EVER heard!  A bunch of old hens going on & on!  The only reason they finally get off of the phone is that they realize, hey, they’re kind of hungry!  Turns out that there was a wounded buck out there that wasn’t getting up, just looking around.  The better part of his whole leg had been blown off.  Location….. where that ass was shooting into the coolie we watched earlier!
   I begged & BEGGED someone to drive me out there – we had just enough time!?!  ‘No.  Coyotes would get him tonight.  It wasn’t pleasant but it was the way of nature.’  To die by the dog is the worst fate.  They eat you alive by starting with your anus & intestines.  One of the favorite ways Indians used to love to kill white women was to tie them to the ground, cut a slit in their abdomen, pull out a little intestines, then let the dogs do the rest that night.  Had to learn to not think of the wounded, it was as my friend said; it wasn’t pleasant but that’s the way it is.
   The next morning came awful, awful early.  I almost heard the ruckus & shuffling noises downstairs before the ceiling light in my room was snapped on – a most assured way to wake me!  That loud, deep, gravely voice from our host;  “I’m not your damn mother!  Get your ass up & make the
bed!  Eggs in 2 minutes!”
   I tried my hardest to apologize & thank him for the heads up but my morning alertness & instincts on being woken up so…. “gently,”
kicked in & what came out of my mouth was not unlike….. “mmmmfff!…what the.mmmff!…. shh…. get the fff…. fkgn egg bullsh….. OKAY!!”
Five minutes later, I was stuffing my sblister-ridden feet into my boots & scarfing down some eggs & freshly butchered pork sausage.  My low back was really biting me.  Walking, hunkered over like a cow might be out of the question today.  My thigh muscles were all, locked up.  Man, I’m a total wuss!  Guess my pre-hunting exercising didn’t amount to squat!  Then I went to move in my over-the-ankle boots & froze with pain.  Having not worn these in a while, where the tops are tightly laced around my lower shins, right abouve the ankels, was all bruised up!  Who gets bruises from their boots?!  How in the world was I going to walk around today??  I went & inspected my legs closer.  My knees were a joke!  It looked like someone took a sharpie & drew dots all over them in my sleep!
   My thighs were spotted with the nickle-sized, pointy-rock jabs – already turning blues & purples.  Lesson learned; I’m putting knee pads in my backpack when I get home!  Auugghhhh!  This was going to be agony.  But no one else was complaining about any pain so I couldn’t be a girl!  When I came back out to clear my breakfast plate… there was a stack of pancakes on it!
   Pancakes!!  I got nauseous just looking at them.  Everyone else was finishing up their stacks.  How in the Holy hell was I going to get out
of THIS??!?  Nothing makes me sicker, faster than the smell & taste of pancakes!! 
   “For someone who didn’t fill their tag yesterday, you sure are moving slow!”  It was commented to me.  How could I complain about 
this home-cooked meal when everyone was being so gracious?  I was raised to clear my plate & NEVER complain of the food, especially
food served you as a guest.  However, I was old enough to know what I knew & I knew if I ate those, I’d be vomiting soon enough.   So, I just went into survival mode: 
   I put about a 1/2 cup of butter on them & more syrup than I thought I could stand.  I took as big of pieces as I dared & shoved them so
far down my throat as far as I could as so I tasted them as little as possible.  Someone looked out the window.  “Headlights.  Looks like the damned
interstate out there!”  I got up & scraped the rest of my plate into the garbage while everyone was preoccupied with “their neighborhood being
overrun by out-of-county hunters.”  (I spotted 3 sets of headlights within a mile).  We geared up, loaded up & headed out.  There were magpies and turkey vultures and eagles and ospry and  – you name it – flying all OVER the place! Gut piles everywhere.   
   “Man!  Coyotes ate well last night.”
   With every bump on those dirt roads…. I could feel more & more pancake juices working their way up – not down.  Driving around and around
and around.  Then we stop on a hilltop.  Driver decided this is a good time to plug in his cell phone & see if he has messages?  I glassed out
my side…. “Hey, who’s property is that herd on?”
   Driver whipped out his binoculars…”Son of a bitch!  That’s MY ranch!!”  Bomb on back down, hurrying back ‘home.’  Hunkered over, holding the back of his vest to keep myself pulled in close so we looked like a cow… I found this position very natural to be in as I felt like I was about to hurl pancakes all
over the south end!  His mare got excited seeing us walking around out there & she trotted up to us.  You couldn’t have bought a better cover!  We just walked below her so it looked like an 8-legged horse out there!  Petty cool.  Then, just as my back was about to give out on me in this position, it was time to crawl again.  I gave thanks out loud that the ground was such soft dirt, wet & muddy from all the snow melt but felt so good to crawl on!   When we crossed the strips into the corn stubble, we all pulled out our thick gloves.  A lesson learned from the very 1 time I had to cross corn stubble on my hands & knees & went home with multiple, bloody, puncture wounds all over the palms of my hands!  Now we’re down on our bellies, stalking ….. a herd that, at some point, had run off over to where the truck was when we 1st spotted them!  And now 3, other trucks were barreling down on their position…. it wouldn’t last long.  The chase continues.  I was soaking wet & cooling off fast, which was delaying the inevitable with the pancakes doing flip-flops in my belly!
   A little later, we’ve parked by a big, weather vane to camo the truck and are going to try to stalk a herd we THINK might be on the backside of
this hill.  Earlier we saw a buck chasing off a smaller buck.  So we figured a herd was nearby.  We found the buck that had been chased off, he was nice but
my guide felt the one that was doing the chasing would be a lot more respectable.  Besides, this buck here was standing on land NO ONE
had permission to hunt.  Walk hunkered over, stop, s-l-o-w-l-y raise your head, peeking downhill, looking for a herd; see nothing, hunker back down, take a few, more steps, stop, s-l-o-w-l-y raise your head, peeking… see nothing, hunker back down… like a cat stalking a bird in tall grass…finally saw the whole hillside.  No herd.  Now…. it was time to give back allllll the pancakes I’d forced myself to eat.  Right then.  Right there.  All at once.  My belly cramped so hard – I’m laying on the ground, shivering from cramps, ready to eat a nearby cow pie to get the ‘pancake’ take out of my mouth,,,, my host, the chef is just staring at me.
   “So.  You don’t like my pancakes?”  I was too sick to care about being embarrassed.  I blurted out the 1st thing that came to my mind.
   “Pictures paint 1,000 words!”  By then, another of our troop had joined us and ‘the Hunter & a Gentleman’ helped me walk back to the truck.  I was even taken back to the ranch house and allowed to clean up.  Another lesson learned… I know better than to eat pancakes, no matter how rude it sounds, declining them.   Then, back to driving around to find another herd to stalk.  A sarcastic comment was made regarding my steadiness of my stomach; it was meant to be a joke.  It was very 1-sided.
   “As soon as we get out of this truck,” I told our chef, “I’m punching you in the nuts!”
   His face went stoic but he kept on searching for our prey.  “This truck has a looooooot of gas in it, I’ll think we’ll just drive around a while.”
   Soon after, perched up on a hillside, there are 3 does.  So far, they haven’t seen us but I didn’t bring my backpack with me this time (my steady rest).  There have been so many “nothing there’s” and now we find something.  I’m sitting curled up, trying to balance my rifle on my raised knee.  Between a stance I’m not familiar with & the 40mph winds that have been blowing for 2 days – I can’t hold the cross hairs still.  1/8″ is 6 feet difference.
   (whispering) “Those does don’t even see us.  Take one.”  Balance… balance… reposition.. “They’re lying down, you’re not going to get a better shot.”  Balance…. breathe…. reposition…
  “I can’t do it.  I’m not comfortable.”
   “It doesn’t get any easier than shooting a lying animal.  Hurry before they spot you.”
  “I need my backpack.”
   “I… need…. backpack!”
  “We can’t leave.  We’re not going to get another opportunity like this.”
   Against everything I’ve learned, I didn’t feel right about the shot but I went ahead and took it.  Complete miss.  The does jumped to their feet and were looking up at me.  I rechambered, tried to take aim, couldn’t hold the cross hairs still but fired again anyway.  Complete miss & gone were the Prairie Ghosts like the ballerinas they are!  “I will never take another shot unless I have my pack & aim steady!!  You guys can shoot from any position, I cannot!”  Lesson learned.  Unload, back to the truck, off to yet another area.
   They tell me I looked really down but I didn’t feel it.  Actually I felt good knowing that my gut instinct was always correct & it’s unethical to make a shot you’re not sure of.  I wasn’t going to do it again.  But then the cell phone started ringing; neighbors started stopping us on the road;
   “Hey, we hear Jodie’s trying to get a doe.”
   “Hey, how’s Jodie feeling? We know where she can go look for her a doe.”
   “Did Jodie get her doe yet?  Does she want some help?”  For a bunch of old-timers who didn’t believe in new age technology… and for an area not being serviced by the Internet…. word sure did travel fast! 
   “What did you tell people?!”  I holler at the driver.  “I don’t need any damn help hunting!  I’m just making a lot of mistakes!  When did all these people KNOW about my day?!”
   Without making eye contact, my host answered “I called Jonesy & might’ve made a small comment… it’s no big deal.”  I heard regret in his voice but I was too upset now.
   “I’m not a kid!”  (Pouty, angry face)!
   “I know you’re not.”
   “I don’t need help hunting!”  (Add crossed arms to pouty, angry face)!
   “I know you don’t, you’re doing fine.”
   “SHUT UP!! NO I’M NOT!  QUIT PATRONIZING ME!!”  (Angry face turns to punching the driver repeatedly, in the arm)!
   Finally.  Silence.  Gee, isn’t hunting FUN?  Is this a migrain I’m feeling?  No, absolute hunger as my belly’s completely empty!  Not good for my mood!
   We’re stopped on the road by a neighbor and are politely visiting.  The sun’s out & it’s going to be much warmer than yesterday, even with the high winds.  I’m un-layering.  Neighbor hollors,
   “What’s this I hear about you missing a shot?  I thought you were the 1-shot wonder of the valley?!”  Daggers flew from my eyes but my little gossipy hen had already ducked & dodged them. 
   “Have a good conversation this morning, did you?”  I hissed.
   Neighbor, not trying very hard to stifle a laugh, glasses back up the road…
   “There are a couple of bucks… look like they may cross the road onto my ranch…..”
   Sure enough, those 2 boys went right onto this land, where we were being invited to hunt.  Bombed and bonced over, stopping behind a hill – counting on that they were still coming this way.  We FLEW out of the truck, loaded & took position.  Our host down on the ground, leaning against the truck tire.  Me, leaning my rifle across the hood of the truck.  It felt good – finally.  My 7MM-08 felt like an extension of my arm.  I was relaxed – well, probably could have been considered exhausted until the adrenaline rush amped me back up to ‘relaxed!’  As soon as the boys pranced around the hillside they saw 2 trucks & 3 people looking at them.
   They suddenly changed pace & slightly in direction, but that just made them perfect broadside.  Again, I cleared with my partner;
   “I’m taking the one on the right.”
   “Just go ahead & shoot 1st.  They’re so close I can take mine whenever.”  He was using a rifle much too large for something as small as an Antelope but was practicing carrying it for the upcoming Elk season.
   I held the cross hairs right where I wanted.  Just needed him to stop for a second.  Someone “bleated” & both of them froze.
   1 shot.  I reloaded & put the cross hairs back on him, as naturally as if I’d been doing it all my life.
   The noise, naturally startled him but then he immediately looked dazed, staggered, then fell.  He was down.  I still can’t watch the end.  I moved my scope over to my friend’s antelope that was proving to be a little tougher…
   He hadfired 2ce – at a MUCH closer range than my ‘less than 100 yards’ & that younger buck didn’t even get startled.  He just kept looking at his shooter like, “What?  What are you doing?” 
   Anger, frustration, very few words but the look in my friend’s face said it all.  He opened the cab & threw the rifle in there.  “Here”, I said, putting my safety on, “don’t get mad, use mine.”  Two more shots & the younger buck was down.  One theory is that all the jostling around, his scope got knocked off.  Disgust & frustration was all settled in and he was already talking about buying another rifle.  Time to gear up & go clean our animals.  Two more gut piles to litter the land.  My bucks horns measure 11″ and that is the smallest I’ve ever harvested.  Birds of prey fill the perfect, blue sky.  Sun felt amazing – if a person could get out of the wind.
   Home from the processors in Billings – it’s supper time. “What is there to eat?”
   “I have some fresh, Walleye I just caught last week.”
   “Sounds delicous.”  And it was!