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Monday, July 18, 2011

Bigfoot Huntin’ with the Grandkids

A couple of weeks back, while attending the grandkids’ (Alison – 8 and Gavin – 5; 26th and 22nd of May respectively) birthday party in McKinney, both of them were so excited about a movie they recently seen. I men real excited! They couldn’t stop talking about it. As best as I could tell the movie centered on a young girl that encountered Bigfoot in some way or another; I never really understood the actual connection. I just couldn’t get to the why-she-tried-to-catch-Bigfoot reasoning.

All the way to the farm where their party was taking place, all they could talk about was how they would go about capturing Bigfoot. Gavin’s imagination completely ran away from him; I mean completely. What stuck out to me most was that the bait just had to be peanut butter—nothing else would do.

Alison ask me on the way back from the party if they could try to catch Bigfoot in the park near my house the next time they came to visit. My response was: “Of course we can. I heard that he has been seen many times right in that area.”

Every phone call from that date forward contained a short discussion about our up-coming expedition.—tactics, provisions, safety equipment and who would perform which task. Still, catching Bigfoot was the entire desire—planning the adventure was supreme. When I talked to them early in the week, I reminded them to be sure to bring hunting clothes; ya know, stuff that would blend in. As you might expect their mother didn’t follow the plan. These kids stuck out like sore thumbs—no camouflage considerations taken into account whatsoever.

I really didn’t put much effort into the plan until they arrived on Wednesday afternoon and I saw just how excited they were about the expectation of capturing Bigfoot. I knew then I was in for some trouble if I didn’t do it up as right as possible. My plan prior to their arrival included only ropes, binoculars, a sturdy wagon (old, extremely loud and squeaky from their uncle’s childhood) and a half used jar of peanut butter. My boast that after capture, we would haul it back to the house, clean it up, lock away in PupLand and charge a nominal price to view just prolonged their excitement.

My other grandson, Dilin (19) called Wednesday afternoon and ask if he could come down Friday for a week’s stay. Of course this just added to my need to make the hunting event all that it could be.

Wednesday afternoon after arriving, I told the kids that Dilin was coming Friday and we should plan to conduct a dry run on Saturday morning with all our tools and equipment. This way we would be well prepared for a full scale daybreak hunt on Sunday morning.

I happened to mention that a hunt was gonna take place on Facebook and soon had responses like: “How fun...good luck on the hunt.” or “Good luck on the hunt—that’s a very important mission you are going on.. Love those grandkids---“ or “Don't forget the little men in white suits w butterfly nets.” I had backed myself into a corner that was gonna be impossible to escape from.

After the kids and I finished our Friday morning constitutional I updated my Facebook page with news of our planning trek in the park area I had selected for our loop snare location. I almost immediately received more responses like: “Creating memories...good for you. Let us know the ‘rest of the story.’” My ability to extract myself from the corner was getting narrower all the time.

Alison and Gavin kept asking what our chances were of catching Bigfoot. Not having any real answers of substance I volunteered that “Bigfoot has been determined to have a fancy for Popeye’s chicken and is seen at the Manchaca Popeye’s several times a week. He is also been known to be sighted walking down the pipeline right-of-way carrying a tub of Popeye’s chicken munching on a wing or a leg while paying absolutely zero attention to the other inhabitants of the park: kids on the play-scape, women and men with dogs on leash and people just there for the morning or afternoon.”

We waited on Dilin’s arrival Friday evening to take supper and resume our discussing and planning for the morn’s adventure.

There’s no way out. I’m in for it and I now realize that fact.

Early Saturday morning, we awoke and eventually gathered for breakfast. Time was getting away from us, but I paid no attention at the time—a mistake I would later pay for. We casually sat and discussed what we were to do and before we realized what was happening, Little Gus and Little Otis were performing their morning routine of it’s-time-to-walk-nothing-else-will-do. The decibel level reaches a rating that one will even take them for a walk just for the peace that it will return.

Patsy, my wife, has been on the sideline for the entire time and has now only begun to show any desire to be part of the troubles. I grant her the position of photo journalist. For this she is grateful and prepares for her participation. I give her, once again, a short tutorage on taking pictures with my camera—a device we have had now going on four years. Oh, she has used it many times but each requires the same tutelage for the required operation. She probably wanted to join us all along.

Off we went. Trooping down the road to the park. The pups out front followed by Alison; the disinterested teenager (DIT), Dilin, on the opposite sidewalk; our photo journalist working her way around the entire procession taking pictures here and then there and all of us trailed by Gavin pulling the loud and squeaky wagon with our provisions—including the all important peanut butter.

Soon we arrive at the designated huntin’ grounds and eventually Gavin and the provisions make their way into our midst. I direct Gavin where I want him to stage the wagon and eventually we are ready to deploy our equipment.

To satisfy matters as best as possible, I deploy Gavin to his post in the tree and have him practice his alert call” “Ca – Caw-w-w, Ca – Caw-w-w.” He has it down; he must have practiced all night. Before walking away, Gavin ask me what he should do if Bigfoot comes after him. I responded with his question turned back on him: “What do you think you should do?”

Gavin, without loosing a breath came right back with: “I’ll smack him in the face.” his answer accented with a swift right cross. I nearly fell over as I stumbled over to the hide and tug area where Alison and I would position ourselves for the loop reduction phase of the capture. There I retrieved the mountain rope I had dug outta my duffle bag in the garage. I hadn’t had this out since I had last used it on Mount McKinley sometime back, maybe late 1972. As I strung it out, I had forgotten that it was 250 feet long and had to have Alison run off up the hill with one end so we could make sure it was kink-less; ya know there’s nothing worse than a kinky rope. Waiting on Ali to reach the top of the hill with her end, I noticed the danger associated with Gavin straddling the tree limb he was perched on and ask Dilin (the DIT) to position himself up there with Gavin to insure his safety. This he did immediately.

I tied a knot in my end of the really long rope and ask Ali to start back with her end. Upon her arrival we slid her end of the rope through my loop and started stretching out our BIG loop for our manual snare. I figured about twenty-five feet in diameter would do the trick—we didn’t want to take much of a chance with the stride of Bigfoot figuring he might be able to retrieve the peanut butter without being very near the jar. The rope being so far from the center of the capture area the need for camouflaging it was negated; this saved a lot of set-up time.

Now with the lookout in place and the loop deployed, it was time for Alison and I to discuss our loop retrieval and closure tactics (known throughout the Bigfoot hunting and capture world as the LRCT). We figured out the best positioning of the two of us in our hiding area and the exact method we would use in insuring the swift and efficient retrieval of the capture rope. With most everything worked out our final decision was to have my capture partner: (1) on my signal, (2) leap to their feet, (3) turn north, and (4) run as fast as they can while taking up as much slack as possible—get the picture?

Our biggest fear at this point was that Bigfoot would gain his feet and escape his bindings. We decided that the best recourse was for the DIT to leap from the tree at this juncture and swiftly begin wrapping tight loops of the capture rope around Bigfoot’s feet—holding him tight and immobile. DIT voted against this step but was solidly out voted by the other members of the capture team—outvoted as he was, he acquiesced to the plan.

Every thing was now in place and we then opened the jar of peanut butter and sat back to wait out our dry run simulation. Soon I realized that I was loosing attention with those of the shorter span—this could not be allowed to happen. It would mean total disaster.

Gavin seemed to be loosing attention despite our best efforts; even after being reminded that there was no whining (or crying) in baseball. Alison, having the best knowledge of what makes Gavin tick (or un-tick) suggested that she and he trade places. We move from behind our defilade spot and switch the two out at the lookout tree. Before you can say Bigfoot stinks, Gavin and I were back behind our log with both hands on the rope.

Realizing that we might drag on a little too long if we continue without action, I ask the photo journalist member of the team if she could possibly act as a stand-in for our prey. She reluctantly accepted and took position next to the peanut butter jar at ground zero.

Gavin and I started retrieving rope as fast as we could. Arriving at the point where I knew we need speed now more than stealth, I signaled Gavin to get up and run. He responded and off he went; north and then east (east not in the plan but his improvisation worked just the same). Before you can say: “We got fake-Bigfoot.” The loop was tight around the stand-ins ankles. While it went against our dry run rules, we decided that the DIT need not practice his leap and loop (L&L) technique. This quiet possibly could come back and haunt us tomorrow morning when we attempt a real capture but this is what we did.

While we retrieved and recoiled the capture rope we lost concentration on our tracking pups. Finally realizing what we were doing, I noticed the pups had found the jar of peanut butter and had consumed over half of it. This also just might put us in a bind for the Sunday morning capture attempt—we’ll have to just wait and see.

Some time later I downloaded the photo journalist pictures and posted a group of them on-line thereby soliciting comments like: “Looks like Bigfoot is in for it” and “ any sightings?”

Alison checked back on Facebook and read the comments and decided that we needed to respond to the question: “ any sightings?” to which we posted: “He's been spotted at the Popeye's several time in the past few weeks and the word is that he travels down the pipeline right-a-way that we intend to trap him on tomorrow morning. It has been so hot that we don't know how long we will be able to wait him out.”

That brought additional comments such as: “love it !! :)” and “You have officially lost it!” and “What a hoot!! I know your grandkids love being with you.” Later added to the fray was: “And just what would it be like to be the grandchild of HH? Exciting to say the least. Cute kids and Pups too-their old man isn't bad either.”

Coincidentally as I peck this out, the Animal Planet just happens to be broadcasting “Finding Bigfoot” with footage highlighting some of Bigfoot’s close realities like the Skunk Ape in the Florida panhandle. All things taken into account; ya might think the Animal Planet would have taken my needs into consideration just a bit more than they have and televised these segments prior to our expeditions. One of these days the powers that be are gonna hire me to be part of these type telecasts. They really, really need somebody that stands there when those guys say something like: “Did you hear that?” or “Did you see that?” when they experience typical Bigfoot behavior. I could be the guy that responds: “No-o-o-o-o. I didn’t hear anything! There was nothing out there. You guys are crazy; c-r-a-z-y!” But No, they haven’t called—at least not yet.

Sunday morning Patsy woke me about 0630 and asks if I was still going to follow through with the hunt. “Of course,” I responded. “The kids are expecting to hunt Bigfoot this morning and I’m not agonna be the one to disappoint them.” We hurried up with the upstairs prep. I went into the kid’s room and awakened Alison who was bright eyed almost immediately. Now Gavin took just a bit longer—some thirty-seven seconds. I went back to wash my face and turned around and the kids were standing there fully dressed with shoes and socks on—an unusual situation to say the least. With kids attached to one hand and pups attached to the other I made my way down stairs to wake the DIT.

All gathered in the kitchen I told them straight off: “If we’re going huntin’, we need to be off right now—we’re burning daylight.” Everybody responded in the affirmative and as I gathered some provisions: treats for the pups and three baggies of Honey Nut Cheerios for whomever; the assemblage headed for the front door—having to wait just a bit for the DIT who wasn’t quiet as fast as the remaining others. I cut through the garage to insure we had the loud and squeaky wagon, the jar of peanut butter bait, the capture rope and the capture team laying-on towels—after all, we aren’t roughing it all that bad—those towels are important.

Looking over the troops as we moved toward the huntin’ grounds, I complimented the entire group on their stick-to-itiveness and courage for their undertaking—a real fine lookin’ group. We made it through two or three courses of “A-hunting we will go” on the way to the grounds of skill and treachery. Practiced as they were, it took hardly any time at all for the team to set up the capture loop and make the remainder of the camp ready. Before ya can say “We gotcha Bigfoot” we were in place and hunkered down ready for what came our way—large, small, hairy, stinky, whatever and the clock still having reached only 0630 hrs.

An hour later and still no Bigfoot, I decided to ask the DIT if he would kindly stand in for the capture ape. He responded in the affirmative and moved from the tree to ground zero and took up a submissive position awaiting the tightening loop. While this was taking place, I remembered to get the half full jar of peanut butter just in case we need it for future endeavors—like a skunk ape, a chupacabra, an abominable snowman, a yeti, or anything big, hairy and stinky.

Ali and I started retrieving rope and when I gave the signal, she took off like a dear—man can that kid run? The DIT was bound in the loop faster than you can say “gotcha Bigfoot.” Alison started back with the rope and all started braking camp for the return trip home. The DIT even volunteered to coil the 250 foot rope, a task I was not looking forward to at all.

We gathered at ground zero and discussed whether or not our efforts were worthwhile and ask and answered the question: Did we have a good time? Yes. I agreed and told the team that the best part of huntin’ and coming away without a trophy was that we didn’t have to clean it—whe-e-e-w, I am glad we didn’t have to clean a Bigfoot.

After reaching home, downloading the new pictures, posting them on-line and recounting our adventure the comments started to roll in:

- “I love how you are teaching your not need Toys-R-Us or Best-Buy to have fun!!”

- “Most is out of that crazy Hatfield Brain. No kidding aside, I agree you don't have to spend a fortune at the toy store for kids to have fun and to learn valuable life lessons.”

- “I think you caught lots of memories, and they last a lifetime...”

- “What fun! You are truly creative to have thought up such engaging entertainment for your grands!”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

1 comment:

  1. There's a memory those kids will take with them!