Punch Your Tag - Part 2
We continued to ride along. Soon a definite feeling came. “Punch your tag.” Steve seemed to be totally oblivious to the whole scene I was experiencing. It seemed so “unnecessary”. I thought, “You pray for guidance, for inspiration, now you have a ‘feeling’ you out to tag this buck, and it’s definitely been….well….definite, not vague. What are you going to do, argue or do it?”
I reigned up. “Steve,” I said. “I’m gonna take a minute here and punch my tag.” “What?” Steve said. “Yah, hold on a minute, I just feel I should. It’s what I’m supposed to do according to the Fish and Game and I got a feeling I should.” “OK,” Steve said, trusting in my feeling, and besides I was his “big” brother, although he was considerably bigger than me.
I got my knife out and cut out the month and day. I didn’t have a pen or pencil so I did what Dad taught me to do, I got a 30-30 cartridge out of my coat pocket and put the tag up against the side of the saddle so I had a hard surface to press against, and pressed the nose of the lead bullet against the tag and signed my name- the lead acting as a pencil. It worked well enough to see my name there. I took a piece of bailing twine out of my saddle back and tied the tag to the buck’s horn, making three or four wraps to make it very secure and tied off with a good square knot.
“There,” I thought, now I’m at peace. I mounted up again and we continued our leisurely journey down the trail. Nothing was bothering me now, and I was just enjoying being on my horse, riding with my good brother and bringing some good venison home, I was looking forward to those juicy steaks.
We traveled less than a 100 yards when we saw a rider coming around the bend of the trail toward us. We didn’t recognize him, nobody we knew, just another hunter. As we approached each other we turned our ponies off the trail to give the rider right of way—we nodded a friendly “Howdy” as we continued around him. He stopped his horse, motioning for us to stop as well. A little friendly chit chat I thought, probably wants a little friendly advice where to go- seein’ as how he could see we’d been successful.
What happened next was surprising to say the least. “Idaho Fish and Game,” he said as he opened his coat up a little and showed his badge. “Is that buck tagged?” I think my jaw dropped just a little.
“Yes sir, it is,” I replied. He rode up close to the pack horse and untied the tag, unrolled it to see if the date had been punched and the name had been signed.
“Clark Price,” he said as he looked at the signature closely, “Is that you?”
“May I see some I.D.?”
“Yes, sir.” I produced something that satisfied him, though I can’t remember what it was, probably my driver’s license I usually carried in my front right pocket.
He said, “I could barely read your name on the tag.”
“Signed it with a bullet,” I said, “No pen.”
“That’s OK,” he said, “long as I can read it.”
He wasn’t overly friendly that was for sure, a man on the prowl, but he did warm up a tad, once all was found to be in order. We talked a little about the hunting and where I got the buck, etc. Soon we parted company—he going up—we going down to camp.
“Whew,” that was a close one I thought. You could definitely tell he was lookin’ to make a citation if he could, and I for sure would have got one if I hadn’t obeyed that impression to stop and punch my tag. We were pretty quiet for a while till we knew he couldn’t hear us, then we got pretty talkative.
“Boy, it’s a good thing you tagged that buck,” Steve said. “Good thing you followed that feeling you had,” he continued.
“Yah man!” I said. “I just had a feelin’, the spirit was tryin’ to tell me, to help me, and I almost didn’t do it.” Wow, that was really something. “Obey the impressions,” I thought. “Obey the impressions.” How many times do we hear that in church? God is there, He’s real, I know He is and He cares about us, even to help us in the most “earthly” and ordinary aspects of our lives.
That was the “only” time I can ever remember that I met a game warden in the middle of nowhere, on horseback, prowlin’ around, and I sure didn’t think it would happen that day, but it sure did.