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Kathleene S. Baker



The High Lonesome deer lease sprawls across the rolling hills of West Texas.  This is 5000 acres of untouched land that teems with wildlife, wildflowers, and unsurpassed nighttime skies of ebony, abundant with stars of shimmering silver.


It's a paradise made for the male species whether they are there to hunt, or for a few days of male bonding.  Some members are serious hunters, while others come to socialize in the wide-open spaces and enjoy nature at its finest.


The High Lonesome is so remote there is no TV, no phone service, not even a cell phone signal unless you drive miles into the high country, and even then there is no guarantee.


In the midst of all this beauty sits the shack.  Yes, it is home away from home with all the necessities.  Nonetheless, the name fits!  A total of 10 bunk beds line three walls; there is a small bath, and the remainder of space is kitchen and eating area.  The dining table is a large handcrafted picnic table.  Seating is an assortment of mismatched desk chairs that swivel and roll.  Most were purchased for a song at thrift shops, flea markets, or possibly pulled out of Dempsey dumpsters.  Gazing at the ceiling, one is in awe of the decorative, exposed insulation hanging in disarray.  It brings to mind the folds of a flag as it waves in a breeze.





When doe season is over, hunting ceases until fall.  Larry, and Joe (a.k.a. Locksmith) couldn't pass up one last trip, even though the weather forecast was horrid.  January in Texas can be as wretched as any part of the country.


The first evening they shared a stand named Motel 6.  Yes, these men name their deer stands!  (Oh, Motel 6 leaves entirely too much to one's imagination.)  There they sat listening to one another's teeth chatter and bones rattle as they shivered beneath layers of insulated clothing.  A number of wild hogs from the out-of-control population were removed, but they returned to the shack without a doe.  After thawing in hot showers, they opened the door to 20-degree temperatures, did half-gainers into their sleeping bags, and were snoring like buzz saws by 8:00 p.m.  They claim to have slept like babies with the pristine frigid air blowing a gale through their sleeping quarters, while ice crystals formed in their nasal passages.  Luckily, the local mountain lions didn't wander through the open door in the middle of the night.

Each morning would find them planted in a different deer stand; some stands being ground level, while others are perched in trees.  One can only envision tree houses for big boy to play in!  After sitting perfectly still for long periods of time, they would then moan and groan as they slowly crawled back into the Bubba Jeep, and returned to the shack for a hearty breakfast.  The evening routine is pretty much identical, with the added thrill of playing musical deer stands.  If the morning stand brought no luck, then a change would definitely be in order.  And, it seems all deer stands are not equal when it comes to comfort.  Some are not well built, with wind blowing through cracks and crevices, and chairs that could destroy the strongest of backs.  Others, such as ones built by Larry, are airtight and constructed to last a lifetime or two; all they lack is a commode in the corner.  Some stands are built for two occupants, while others are one-man stands.  Rotating from one stand to another seems to be how it's done in the Texas wilderness, by these great white hunters.


Two days into the trip weather conditions improved, although the hunting didn't.  Still, everyone enjoyed telling tall tales, eating enormous meals, playing poker, and simply doing inexplicable guy things.


The last evening Joe was dropped off at Jake's Valley deer stand, which sits 15 feet high in a tree.  Larry headed off to Boucher's Tripod.  An approximate time was set for Larry to return and pick up Joe.


When that time arrived, Larry pulled up to see Joe frantically waving his flashlight out the window of the stand and shouting, "I'm locked in and I've got to get out of here now!  Mother Nature is calling and I can't wait any longer! I didn't think you were ever gonna show up."


Larry could barely answer as he gazed upon Joe's panic-stricken face.  Through his laughter he yelled,  "Don't you see the white string by the door?  Just pull on it!  It really doesn't require a locksmith to get out of there!"


Joe spun around, spied the string, gave it a yank, and the door magically flew open.  "None of the other stands have locks like this, and I didn't see that stupid string. What idiot built this thing anyway?"  He was nearly airborne as he scrambled down the steps and sprinted to Bubba Jeep.  "Drive fast, Larry!  I'm not jokin."


Away they went, but within seconds Joe had broken into a cold sweat.  Larry was driving like a lunatic over the rocky terrain, and the old Bubba was clanging and banging like a bucket of nuts and bolts.  "Stop this thing right now  my time is up!"  Joe stammered.  He launched himself out of Bubba before they even came to a full stop.  The last thing Larry saw was Joe heading into some scrubby brush, while removing layer after layer of clothing.  His outer coat went one way, and within a few steps a lighter weight jacket was tossed the other direction; then a sweatshirt went soaring into the air and landed in some bushes.  As he vanished from sight, Larry could see him struggling with the straps on his overalls.


Once Larry regained control and dried his eyes, he realized Joe had one more problem.  He reached into the back of Bubba, grabbed a 5 pound coffee can, and followed the trail of clothing.  When he finally spotted the top of Joe's head, he hurled the can that direction and hollered, "You're probably gonna need this!"


The can whizzed by Joe's ear nearly scaring him to death in the dark underbrush, as well as almost making him lose his balance!  "Oh, son-of-a-gun, Larry!  Can't a man have a little privacy?  This is no time to be throwing stuff at me, and it darn near smacked me in the head.  What the! What, a coffee can?  Are you crazy or something?"


"Just relax and pipe down!  I keep a roll of toilet paper in that coffee can so I'm always prepared.  Figured you could use it about now," snickered Larry as tears ran down his cheeks yet again.


Finally they were headed back to the shack with Joe begging Larry not to tell the others about his lock dilemma.  He knew he'd never hear the end of it once he was exposed, and this group of fellas would be relentless.  After miles of bantering, begging, and plea-bargaining, Larry finally promised to keep his mouth shut.


All seemed to be going well once they rejoined the group at the shack.  The conversation drifted from one subject to another, and Joe was finally convinced that Larry truly was going to keep his word.  He breathed a huge sigh of relief as he entered the bathroom to shower.  He had just stepped under the soothing warm water when he heard a deafening explosion of laughter that would rattle the rafters.  He'd been had, and had bad!  Joe could hear the smart remarks through the paper-thin walls and wanted to simply vanish; but there wasn't even a window to use as an escape route.  In a matter of hours he'd gone from being locked in a deer stand, to being trapped in the john.    


At last report Joe and Larry, who happen to be brothers-in-law, were still on speaking terms.  Little more needs to be said, except the deer lease gang seems to have a passion for nicknames, and Joe returned home with a new one.  He's now known as The High Lonesome Locksmith!



Footnote:  This is a true story, although names have been changed to protect Locksmith from further embarrassment!


By: . . . Kathleene S. Baker







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