LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

The wake-up call came at 4:30. While Buck dressed and got his equipment together, I fixed him a cheese sandwich and wheat bun for breakfast with a glass of milk and then a zip-lock bag of trail mix and another cheese sandwich to go for his lunch. He left with Alan to hunt bear with Alan’s dogs around 6:15. I drank a Diet Coke, ate pretzels and logged on to the internet to catch up on mail, read newspapers, etc. Since I was online, Buck couldn’t reach me by phone, so he left a message on the hotel’s voice mail. It was about 8:30. He had shot a bear and was headed back to the motel. I jumped in the shower — surprised, but elated.

When we made plans to come to Dulce, I had researched the area and the Jicarilla tribe. They supposedly are basket-weaving artisans. The “cultural center” was small, run down looking and not very inviting. Had we stayed another full day or more I would have gone there anyway and to the combination hardware, grocery and dry goods store. The few examples of basketry I saw looked like 3.95 deals from Wal-Mart. That sounds terrible to write — looks bad on the page. The material they were woven from was bleached-out looking. Honestly, they looked machine-made. Perhaps I would have seen “the good stuff” if we had stayed another day or so.

Buck and Alan came to our room so that Buck could pay Ala, to share a Diet Coke and a cheese sandwich and to negotiate an additional bear hunt. I also put out some seedless red grapes and pretzels. Alan dug in with enthusiasm. I had eaten a cheese sandwich about an hour earlier, so stuck with a Diet Coke and a clump of grapes.

Alan asked Buck lots of questions about investing money. It came to light that Alan probably makes 60,000 or so a year, but has no bank account, no savings or investment, and has never paid federal incomes taxes. He has a 20-year-old son and two young boys, 5 and 9, plus an illegitimate 4 month old granddaughter.

From time to time the conversation would wander back to the subject of another bear hunt. It was almost the end of the spring bear season. The tribe had 3 tags left. Alan’s usual price is 2,000 plus 500 for the license to the tribe. Buck was willing to go again for 1,000 to Alan plus the 500 to the tribe. Alan was willing to discount, but wanted 1,500 for his fee. They eventually came to an agreement and for Buck’s original price, the hunt was on. Alan determined that his high school chum from the Game and Fish agency was willing to issue the permit on  a Saturday. Buck and Alan went over to the grocery to cash our personal check for $1,500 and then they continued on to pick up the permit. Buck returned and we rested, red, and played until 5, then fixed a drink to take to the restaurant. the restaurant had been closed most of the day to do food service receptions, etc. for the local high school graduating class. They had a buffet leftover and had only opened the restaurant for hotel guests. We did just fine, had some sliced turkey and roast beef with mashed potatoes. Buck went back to the room to finish getting ready for the next hunt, while I signed the check, and met him before Alan arrived. It doesn’t get dark in Dulce at this time of year until around 9, so the evening “stand” hunt (no dogs) is from about 6:30 – 9. Buck called in around 8. He had killed the other bear and was headed in. We shared a glass of sherry, read our books for a few minutes, and made some hotel reservations for the next few days. Our frequent flyer tickets were a June 2 booking, so we had several days to play.

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