Jake’s Ranger Danger

Daryl Gay | September 1, 2019

“She ain’t got no rang on her fanger…”

“Yeah, Jake, but…”

“Ah don’t thank she’s sweet on that there feller a’settin’ aside her, neither…”

“Yeah, but look…”

“He’s just a’grinnin’ and making words with everybody what walks by and ain’t payin’ her no tantion a’tall.”

“That’s his job…”

“She’s one a’ them straw-haired wimmens, too, and ‘pears to have all her teeth. You like straw-haired wimmen?”

I hated to do it. Truly. HATED to. But his voice was rising, there would be no way to keep him hidden much longer, and things were about to get out of hand.

And so, replete with remorse, I embarked upon the dirty deed: sliding my square-toe over his brogan’s leather laces, I crunched directly upon his big toe bunion.

And while it didn’t exactly shut him up, the crowd hurrying—suddenly—past the booth likely thought some vendor had seriously misblown a Sasquatch call. Several times.

If you were one of the thousands at our Ag-Pro Outdoor Blast hunting show in Duluth and are currently suffering from ringing ears, stampede bruises or recurring nightmares, my apologies. Console yourself with the satisfaction that Jake The Hermit’s bunion still throbs.

In the first place, I had no idea he was going to show up at all. (So what else is new?) But as always, just in case, I draped off the next-door cubbyhole with a big black curtain. 

If you were there, you know the spot exactly. Yep, between the Deer Wall, excellently maintained by my pal Scott Hodges, and the GON booth. And you may have surmised that the stack of 2-by-4 at Scott’s feet were part of the construction.


He’s the only one I can trust to help me keep Jake merely semi-crazed. Bunions and two-by’s are but a pair of the required tools, and between the two of us, we manage to keep him between the two of us. 

Problem was, the old hermit had been peeking, peering and leering  through a gap between two curtains. And his gaze came to rest upon the booth directly across the aisle…

Now, I don’t set these things up; those much further up the GON hierarchy decide which booth is going to be where. Then, too, Jake’s very existence is kept well hidden from my business compatriots, although when he’s sneaking around I DO rather weary of them telling me I smell like rotten onions…

But, really… come on now. DNR? LAW ENFORCEMENT?

Twenty FEET from where Jake was stashed?

All this is exactly what I was trying to splain—now he’s got me doing it—EXPLAIN, amidst  constant outbursts. 

Try to look at it this way: if Jake had a mind it would be one-track.What he saw was a rangless fanger. (Translated for humans as “no band upon second finger of left hand.”)

That’s what he saw. ALL that he saw. Excepting blonde hair.

My view was a little different.Uniform. FULL uniform. Including the following: 1. Badge. 1a. Gun. 1b. Handcuffs. (Now we’re getting somewhere!) But it was 1c that really got my hopes up.

It was a round canister of some sort on her department-issued belt. And I just had to know. So, with Hodges taking over Jake-watching detail, I went over to make her acquaintance. Jake, who knows I’ve never encountered a stranger, apparently thought I was going to pave his way and remained only semi-frantic.

Wading in, here’s my longstanding take on DNR personnel: some of the most capable, under appreciated and nicest folks you’ll deal with, year after year, unless you’re a lawbreaking idiot. If so, you’re on your own.

This one happened to be one of the nicer of the nice. (Even while eventually bursting my bubble over 1c.) She’s only six months into the job, and I hope to be seeing her at The Blast 20 years from now.

OK, so I knew about the badge and didn’t want Jake arrested. (Because I’d have to get him out!) The gun? Naw, ain’t no use to shoot him. Handcuffs? A definite thought…

But then there’s that 1c canister!

“Ma’am, does that happen to be bear spray?”

It may make me a mean person, but I’d pass up a Hawaiian vacation to see Jake get a well-deserved face-full of bear spray while tryin’ to paw a blonde DNR ranger!

Scott later said her smile wilted Jake right down to the floor as she replied, “No, we don’t have much trouble with bears.”

SHUCKS!!! And I had my hopes up SO high…

The Hermit was still in La-La Land, drooling all over his beard, when I went back behind the curtain.

“She cook? Trap? Like dawgs?”

Despite not wearing gloves, I grabbed his face and brought it within inches of mine, hoping his breath wouldn’t knock me back out into the walkway.

“Lissen, Jake. She’s not wearing a ring, but she is wearing a badge and a gun! She’s a game warden!”

If that didn’t get through to him, I knew there was no hope, because if there was one thing that could put a lotta pep into the old geezer’s step, “game warden” was it. 

But all he did was square his scrawny shoulders: “Ain’t got no man though; I’m a’fixin’ to tote her out of here…”

Well, it’s been a month now, and he’s finally over her. And the knot on his head is gone. Glad he never saw Hodges and that two-by coming… 

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