Jake and the Bone Pile

Exploring Kansas Outdoors

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It seems these days I do a lot of reminiscing about hunting and trapping adventures I’ve had over the years. Today, as I sat watching our two small pups napping on the couch, and contemplated a recent request I’d had to trap some problem beavers, stories of dogs I have known and beavers I have caught came flooding back. One story from years ago happened during trapping season and involved an old dog my sister had that was quite entertaining, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Call it a problem, or call it an inconvenience, but a challenge for all of us hunters, fishermen and trappers who don’t live in the country or who don’t own land, is finding a place to unload carcasses and those “parts and pieces” remaining after cleaning fish and game. A friend recently told me that this summer someone had cleaned a mess of frogs and deposited the remains on the back corner of their property without permission; not good, and NO it wasn’t me! Anyway, that reminded me of this “incident” some years back, involving the above-mentioned dog.

My sister had an old dog named Jake, a stray as I remember it. Jake was old and a little crippled and was kind of the color of light brown gravy. Jake often seemed dumber than a bag of hammers, but he knew no strangers. He was big and stocky and when his tail got to waggin’ his whole back-end wagged. His back half would fling from side-to-side so violently I often expected something from back there to come loose and fly across the yard! He always greeted visitors with something in his mouth, wanting to play fetch; trouble was, that “something” was always a 2×4 or a tree limb about 4 feet long, and once his body got to waggin’ with his chosen tree limb or 2×4 in his mouth, he could easily take you out with a whack across the legs. Ole’ Jake’s obsession took him far and wide over the farm to find just the right object to carry around in his position as head greeter there.

Every livestock farm, like it or not has occasional casualties from sickness or cold weather. And every livestock farm has a “bone pile,” a spot somewhere in the “back 40” where carcasses can be dumped in a ravine or a briar patch as a way to discreetly dispose of them while Mother Nature and the coyotes compost them. The first year I trapped beavers here in Kansas, I learned to take advantage of the bone pile on my sister’s farm, which was several hundred yards from the buildings, as a convenient way to dispose of beaver carcasses after I had removed their pelts. I had traps nearby, so every time I caught a beaver, I’d just carry the carcass with me the following morning and deposit it on the pile when I was in the neighborhood; very convenient for me.

One particularly cold morning I got a call from my sister; she sounded a little miffed, but I could tell she was on the verge of laughter even as we spoke. It seems she looked out into the yard this cold frozen morning to find Jake playing with his usual large prize, but something looked odd about that day’s trophy, so curiosity sent her into the yard to see just what he had found this time. As she approached, Jake’s back end began to wag feverishly, thinking someone was coming to play fetch with him and his prize, and he spun around joyfully and greeted her with a frozen beaver carcass from the bone pile clenched proudly in his big yap!

Yup, dogs are the epitome of unconditional love and acceptance. One minute they can seem dumber than a box of rocks, the next minute they curl up beside you in your old recliner and become your most

loyal friend, despite the names you have just called them for performing certain hygiene functions in the middle of the dining room. Everyone of working age in our society today could also learn from a dog’s exuberance to work and / or to please its master. Mutts, you gotta; love em’! Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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