I know a guy. Let’s call him Randy. The reason for the pseudonym will soon be apparent. You know Randy. He’s the guy who drives around in winter with a fishing rod locker atop his pickup because he thinks it looks cool or because he’s just lazy. Maybe both. He’s the guy who button-holes you at the Christmas party to tell you all about his year of fishing and hunting adventures—despite your glazing eyes. When he shuts up, his only reason is to take mental notes on the places you hunt and fish so he can go there too (if you’re dumb enough to tell him about those places). Yeah, Randy is that guy.
I know a guy. Let’s call him Dave. Dave is the real deal. He grew up doing it, the BB gun exploits, the .22 rifle gopher kills, the crayfish catching and boiling and eating. Dave is the most competent outdoorsman I know, the finest wingshot, a crack rifle-shot and the guy you want on your Walking Dead team.
Randy is the first guy you want to get eaten by the Dead, although the blatant bias of that statement is probably the result of what I am about to relay.
Dave is also one of the kindest and most generous souls I know. That’s his fault. I could probably use a bit of that altruism in my blood, but that is outside this tale.
At one point, Dave and Randy worked in the same office. Randy, being a relatively new hunter, but with all the appropriate gear and being new to town, convinced Dave to take him hunting. Dave said, sure, no problem. He also said this: the place I’m going to take you is a pretty special place. I’d ask that you never show it to anyone and never go there unless you go with me.
To most of us, that’s a pretty reasonable request. Especially to those of us who worked their asses off to find the place. Sure, it’s public land and maybe if you feel otherwise about so-called “secret spots,” then any place anyone has ever found is fair game because it belongs to all of us. You may genuinely feel this way about public land hunting. Most of us have the other code, however. Whereby a place that was found by someone other than you and shown to you out of the kindness of that person’s soul (and the expense of his boot soles), is held a state secret and in essence “belongs” to the discoverer. If you feel the other way—and to hell with the moral code—then you should probably stop reading.
Dave and I found the place Dave showed Randy. It’s a piece of chukar country way out in the desert in Wyoming. We found it before GPS and before mapping programs for your phone. We found it by calling the game warden, by looking at good old paper maps, and, most of all, by going. We went a lot of places that were blanks with no shots fired and lots of boot rubber burned. Then we found Giffy Butte. Giffy is a bastardized acronym of GFY (Go Fuck Yourself). Such potentially offensive material is only relayed once a stranger asks where you are hunting. Answer: Giffy Butte. You can punctuate that with: Motherfucker. That’s optional.
So Dave showed Randy Giffy Butte. Randy agreed to the stipulations. Then he went back again and again and again. Without Dave. With a whole passel of new friends from places like Jackson and Bozeman. Not that there’s anything wrong with those places, believe me. They are just full of people who love to hunt and fish and, as with the old shampoo commercial, they told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.
Then came this past winter. Life changes and moves on and reunions are as rare gems. We had an opportunity to reunite, a handful of us, on Giffy Butte. Dave and I had introduced a few people to the place over the years, all with the oath sworn to, but none (other than Randy), with the oath broken almost the minute it came out of the lips. This time, it was about just being there, with some good friends during tough times. One friend had a wife who was on the tail end of a long cancer battle that consumed everything from time itself to a precious soul. Another had just been diagnosed with an extended cancer battle ahead. We showed up as planned.
There, in the bar of the motel, was good old Randy, who had spent the last three days out on Giffy Butte. And freely admitted it. Randy had two friends with him. I thought he looked embarrassed for a moment, having been busted, yet again, in a spot that others had sweated to find. But then again, some are above shame.
I will say that we all resisted the urge to tell him to go fuck himself.