Baxter Black: Mountaineer mentality

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Denny got a call from the farmer’s widow. She had 13 head of big steers that had been hibernating in her woods since the funeral a year ago.

Denny operated a hauling service in the neck of West Virginia. They did rip rap, lumber, heavy equipment and other inanimate objects.

Denny agreed to help the damsel in distress, but he didn’t have a stock truck, per se. Best he could find was a one-ton flat bed with a pipe-rail rack rigged out to haul ties to the recycling plant in Wheeling.

He conscripted his brother, Dee, and they headed out on their heroic mission. As they pulled up to the widow’s overgrown lane they just got a glimpse of several colorful bovine rumps and tails disappearing into the blackberry thicket and head-high horse weed.

Not having horses, the 25-acre lot might as well have been the King Ranch. It took our brothers five hours of running, walking, yelling, stalking and whispering to trick two of the 1,000-pound brindle steers into the rack on the flatbed.

They decided to go with the birds in the bush and take the short load. It was noon so they stopped in Moundsville for lunch.

As Dee was digging into his plate of ramps, a state trooper came in. He visited with them a few minutes and then said, “When you boys get ready to go, I’d be glad to call for some help to gather your steers back in the truck.”

“What!” exclaimed the brethren. They bolted for the door. The two steers were headed for the railroad tracks along the Ohio River. Their truck looked like a Demolition Derby refugee. The rack panel was flattened forward onto the cab, collapsing the roof and the windows. The running lights were skived off and the windshield smashed into the front seat.

The hood was mashed down on the 4-barrel carb and the special cowboy hat hood ornament was snapped off, replaced by a foul scurf of pucky.

To those of you who are thinking, “Man, these guys are helpless — no horse, no rope, no water trap, no loading chute,” you must put yourself into the Mountaineer Mentality.

“How do we immobilize them from a distance, since we have no hope of getting anywhere’s near to them?” Sifting their possible inspirational figures for a solution; i.e., Trevor Brazile, General Custer, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Ruger Girl, and Billy Graham, they settled on Davy Crockett.

Denny dissected his 30-06 from the shattered glass and gun rack and stealthily approached the two steers in a cedar thicket down by the tracks. Once at the edge of their flight zone, he harvested them humanely.

As for the rest of the herd, our haulers consulted with the widow, the troopers, the local packing house, the National Rifle Association and the food bank.

They agreed that it would be judicious, practical and humane to use the same method to harvest the remaining herd. Except, of course, without the destroyed truck, the state trooper and the railroad tracks.

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