Lee Pitts: The trip
September 20, 2016
In their 28 years of being married it was the only thing they ever fought about. I'm referring of course to THE TRIP. Once a year Phil and three of his buddies would go on their annual hunting expedition. They had hunted for white wing dove in Texas, caribou in Canada and "dears" in Las Vegas. (No matter where they went the trip was always routed through Las Vegas). The key word here is "hunt," notice that I did not say "find".
Every year they went a different place and every year Phil's wife got raving mad about it. She was always complaining to Phil about the work she had to do while he was away and about the cost of the annual trek. She wouldn't really mind all the fuss, she said, if Phil would just come home with something to show for his efforts other than a $500 marker from the Tropicana Casino. After countless hunting trips that had not resulted in any food being placed on the table she was beginning to wonder.
Preparations for the annual trip usually began eleven months in advance and that's about when the nagging would begin. As with any vacation, the time spent in planning the trip was more fun than the actual vacation; applying for tags and out of state licenses and the much needed planning sessions for the trip with his hunting pals down at the Pastime Bar. These planning sessions really got the wife's goat. (Although Phil never did).
Phil looked forward to The Trip because it was the one week of the year that he could escape from the pressures of calving, feeding, and his wife. Although Phil loved his wife dearly, he needed an escape, a chance to fraternize with other men and a chance to speak. The last time he got a word in edgewise with his wife was when he said, "I do." Since then it had been nag, nag, nag. And always the subject was the same, The Trip, and the fact that Phil never brought home any game.
Bring 'Em Back Alive Phil was very excited about this year's expedition, an elk hunt near Show Low, Arizona (via Las Vegas of course). Phil left home with the words of his wife still ringing in his ears, "You better bring back an elk."
Phil was confident this year would be different because he'd bought a mule to lighten the load and they'd engaged the services of the best guide in Utah. Unfortunately they were in Arizona! And every time they got remotely close to any type of game the mule let out a bray that sent all wildlife indigenous to the area scurrying for the nearest wildlife preserve.
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After three days of traipsing around the mountains with three smelly guys and Phil's pack mule they had nothing to show for their efforts. And still the words rang in Phil's ears…"You better bring back an elk."
Finally on the last day of the hunt Phil spotted what looked like an elk, at least it was not wearing an orange vest and was not registered with the Hereford Association. All the members of his hunting party were accounted for so Phil naturally assumed it had to be an elk, and so he drew a bead on the "elk" and squeezed the trigger. The next sound he heard was his beloved pack mule letting out one final dying bray.
Phil was feeling a little dejected about missing his elk and killing his mule, and he was not looking forward to hearing about not bringing home any meat for another year. Then an idea struck him. He figured a mule carcass would look like an elk's when the hide was off.
Needless to say, the wife was ecstatic about Phil finally bringing home some meat. But over supper she finally asked Phil something that was more on her mind with each bite. 'Whatever happened to our pack mule?'
Phil stared at his wife with a glare that would have killed a coon. "We had to shoot it 'cause it wouldn't shut up."
Phil's wife thought about that for a moment and the only other words she muttered during the rest of the meal were, "This is the best darn elk I ever tasted."