Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

I’d placed a big bet on the day, but Lady Luck turned cold before dawn. An alpine-start for sage grouse, then the waterfowl opener in the adjacent flyway, and maybe even filling a buddy’s goat tag along the way? Nope. That high-desert trifecta folded before two a.m.

It could have been worse, of course. I could have had whatever God-awful gut-sick the wife had, poor thing. Regardless, “Responsibly Domesticated Adult” was clearly the only hand to play.

But by two p.m., with the patient resting comfortably, the days-old rain flirting with an intermission, and my football team getting clubbed like a baby seal on national television, the right play was feeling a little claustrophobic for all concerned.

“I’m bored,” whined the kiddo.

The dog — who’d noted me loading the truck, shotgun and all, the night before — backed his raise with a hard stare.

Maybe, I thought, with a lucky draw or two, there might yet be a shadow of a chance. Time to make a move.

“Put on your outside clothes, pour your Mom a fresh Gatorade and tell her we’ll be back by dark,” I told the squirt.

I like to think I sounded decisive. I wasn’t. The odds — a house-sour six-year-old, considerable windshield time, gumbo-slicked two-tracks and ornery Fall weather on the continental divide — were not in our favor. But you can’t win if you don’t wager, so ….

The first twenty minutes in the elements were touch-and-go. We found our rhythm in the next mile or so. Then, just about the time that little legs started to flag, and the then distant shelter of the truck gained fresh appeal, we heard the first drumroll of wing beats.

“You sure made a good decision Dada,” he said an hour later as we crested the last ridge. “Know how I know?”

“No. How?”

“Three ways. Cause it got us unbored. And cause, two… um, cause, we got to get a BIG grouse. And, the most special way is cause Sibley got really, really, like… way into it. You know?”

“Yeah. I know.”

I know that we’d hit the trifecta after all.

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