Back From The Res With No Hunting License
Updated: Oct 3
Roscoe, my husband's five-year-old German-Wirehaired-Pointer just can't wait for October.
©Deb Trotter 2020
My husband, known in tight circles as "The Dog Walker," always has the most intriguing bird-hunting and dog related stories.
There was the time he forgot his shotgun in the Dakotas because he had to carry one of his dogs (the diabetic one) back to the car -- about two hours away. When he realized he'd left his gun, he had to go back to retrieve it. That was six hours gone on a coveted Fall afternoon, blessed with Cirrus clouds that seemed to stretch from one end of the earth to the other.
Then there was the time one of his prized hunting dogs, Petey, was killed after he ran in front of a combine harvester in the middle of a field. No one could make this stuff up. It was a sad mess of a day and a terrible loss of a sweet and loyal companion.
The Quest For A Hunting License
Recently, The Dog Walker traveled to an Indian reservation to find out when hunting season would begin and to hopefully acquire a hunting license. Every time he goes to the Res, he comes home with a funny story. Yesterday was no different.
The Dog Walker would prefer to call and speak with someone at the Res who's in charge of hunting, but he's seldom been able to connect to a real peson.
It's four hours from our house to the part of the res where he needed to go. At least it was a gorgeous first day of Fall, so even if he couldn't get a license it wasn't a full bust. You can't beat Fall in Wyoming and Montana, no matter where you go. It's just that gorgeous.
He so perfectly described walking in the tall grass of the Reservation that I imagined being there myself. I sense it's like entering a western style parfumerie -- rich with the smell of damp grass, black earth, fallen leaves, and a soft hint of game.
No Woman. Only Men.
The Res is huge, and with a few exceptions, the Native Americans he meets every year are new. (There are thousands of them there.) One of the few exceptions is an Indian woman, Susie, who, when he can find her, knows just about everything. She can find forms, issue licenses, call anyone on the phone, and offer specific suggestions. Wonderful woman! Unfortunately, yesterday was one of those days she wasn't around, so The Dog Walker had no choice but to search for someone -- anyone -- who might be capable of assisting him.
This meant men and men only. And he never knew which ones to approach. It's like a western guessing game of To Tell The Truth that was popular in the mid-fifties, the exception being that no one in particular claimed to be The One Who Knows All. This meant The Dog Walker had to shuffle from building to building, or bench to bench, trying to find Mr. Man.
As luck would have it, he discovered three Native American guys sitting on a bench who reluctantly admitted that they may be able to help him.
Three Indians. One White Man.
The Dog Walker moseyed over beside them and leaned against a wooden plank that substituted for a column.
"Good morning," he said, "would any of you be able to help me? I need to know when hunting season begins."
The three men nodded in unison.
"We just had a meeting about that yesterday," said the one with the cowboy hat. "Not 'til October first. You know, mainly because of Covid."
"Ah," said The Dog Walker, "I see. Has Covid been bad here?"
The three Indians observed each other a few seconds, then nodded.
"You could say that," said the one with the finely chilled face, as he leaned forward to get a better look at The Dog Walker.
The Dog Walker cleared his throat, glad that he'd worn a mask on the Res, "Um ... so no one will be hunting at all until October. I understand."
The men on the bench leaned against the wall and waited.
"So, what about a hunting license? Would I be able to obtain one of those from any of you?"
They all shook their heads simultaneously.
"Nope," said Cowboy Hat, "not 'til October first."
"Would it be possible to make an exception just this once? I live four hours from here."
Chiseled face frowned, "Nope. No exceptions."
"That's a shame," The Dog Walker said. "I've been coming here for the last fifteen years. You could say I'm pretty dedicated to this place."
The three men stared at him, then huddled together, whispering.
"Just a minute," Cowboy Hat said. He rose and opened the door of the building and ambled inside.
The Dog Walker watched Cowboy Hat through the window and waited. Patience was well practiced here on the Res. It was a way of life. It had taken him a few years to understand.
Ten minutes had passed before Cowboy Hat hung up the phone, came back outside, and sat down.
"Not possible," he said. "No early licenses. No exceptions."
The Dog Walker waited a few minutes.
He reckoned he'd give it one more try, "I don't suppose I could pre-date a check for October first," he said, "just so I wouldn't have to drive four hours again?. The place where I hunt here is only two hours away, so it surely would help not to have those four extra hours tacked onto what could otherwise be a good hunting day."
"Maybe. Maybe Not," said Cowboy Hat. Then he stood up and headed back to the door.
Apparently this man was higher up on the ladder than the other two, and he was more accommodating. Five minutes later he was back. He didn't take a seat this time. Just stood before The Dog Walker and said, "Nope."
"Well, you can't blame a guy for trying," The Dog Walker said. "Thank you anyway, Sir."
Cowboy hat sat back down and the three Indians leaned up against the wall once more and nodded. The one in the middle -- the one who never said a work or moved a muscle -- raised his hand in a half-hearted goodbye salute.
The Dog Walker waved, got back in his Jeep, and headed for home.
"At least it was a beautiful day," he said when he walked in the door.
"Did you get a license?" But I could tell by the look on his face he didn't.
"Nope," he said, "I"ll tell you at dinner. What's for dinner, anyway?"
"Not birds," I said, "Nope. Not birds. Looks like left-over stew."
He grinned and picked up the tv control, "I'm just in time for Norah O'Donnell," he said, "I'll bet even she doesn't know anything about hunting on the Res. But I do."