_Camp Robbers

Serves: 5



Every once in awhile we find ourselves in a predicament which good sense tells us never to reveal, yet it's so good it can't be kept a secret! Since the statute of limitations has since expired, it's now safe to put this story in print!

The name Perisoreus canadensis probably doesn't ring a bell with most folks unless they happen to be an ornithologist by trade. However, anyone who has spent time in the Rocky Mountains may know this critter by one of its common names, Gray Jay, Canada Jay, Oregon Jay, or 'Camp Robber.' This denizen of the backwoods looks like an overgrown chickadee. As the name implies, it's gray in color. (Take note - the shade of gray matches exactly the gray in my old uniform shirts!) Although this particular bird is known as a camp robber, that function is practiced by many other critters. Anyone who camps, myself included, from time to time receives all sorts of unwanted visitors. Bears, crows, dogs, chipmunks, mice…porcupines will all drop into camp uninvited to partake of whatever they can eat or carry off. Of all the critters who do camp robbing, the Gray Jay exhibits a little more personality than the others. I've seen them swoop down, perch on a limb and just survey the scene. If they don't get anything to eat it doesn't seem to upset them at all. But, so much for the feathered and four legged camp robbers.

Memorial Day Weekend traditionally marks the opening of the general fishing season in Idaho. While most of the general populace heads to the hills for some R & R, game wardens head to work leaving their families to spend the long weekend by themselves. As opening day approached in 1996, I was preparing to transfer to another patrol area. My boss, Brent Hyde, who by the way has since been promoted to Assistant Chief of Enforcement, sent out a memo with work assignments for the holiday weekend. It came as no surprise to see my name paired with Brent's. According to the memo we would patrol the area streams with most of the guys detailed to different lakes and reservoirs. (Take note - Brent was the ranking member of this patrol!)

I packed a cooler with some sandwich stuff and sodas (for myself) before I left for Emmett to pick up Brent Saturday morning. I asked Brent if he was taking a lunch, and he said, "No!" The 'cricks' were swollen with spring runoff and consequently we encountered few fishermen that morning. Knowing it to be the last time we would likely work together in the field, we cruised the back roads, reminisced, and just enjoyed being out on a beautiful spring day! Brent is older than me, but close enough we ended up in college together. Brent hired on four years ahead of me and at that time had been my supervisor for five years. (Take note - based on both age and work experience, Brent was the most SENIOR member of this patrol!)

As lunch approached Brent suggested I drive over to a small reservoir where Dan, Charlie, and Tom were working in plain clothes. Dan and Tom had spent the previous night camped above the lake and Charlie had joined them that morning. When we got in the area BRENT CALLED Tom on the radio and inquired about their lunch plans. Tom said they would head for camp once they finished making some contacts and for us to meet them there. Since Brent had previously assigned Tom to purchase 'camp groceries,' it was obvious to me Brent also planned to help them eat their grub. Tom made special mention that their camp was NOT where we normally camped. The only admission I will make is that I stopped the truck at a place that fit the description Tom gave us.

I gathered my lunch fixin's from my cooler and walked up to the camp with Brent. I offered to make him a sandwich but he declined saying he would see what Tom and Dan had. When we got to the camp it was obviously occupied by two people. There were two pair of shoes sitting next to the campfire, two sleeping bags in the blue tent Tom had described, and two lawn chairs. While I borrowed a knife to put mayo on my sandwich, Brent began rifling through the coolers. And as a supervisor Brent is always mindful of what his guys spend on groceries and gear. If my memory serves me correctly, Brent said something like, "I told those guys to go light on groceries, but they didn't have to go this light!" Brent munched a few cookies and chips while he made a peanut butter sandwich with what little they had left. While watching Brent polish off all the groceries in sight, an eerie feeling came over me. The more I looked around the camp, I began to see things that didn't fit. Something wasn't right!

Tom and Dan are good friends, but not so good that they would share a twin size air mattress. Or at least I didn't think so. I reported my concerns to my supervisor like any conscientious employee would do. Brent laughed and pointed to the two pair of shoes and said, "Look at the shoes. Dan has big feet and Tom has small ones. This is their camp." I want to go on record here by saying I didn't agree with him! When I saw two lanterns, I knew for sure we were in the wrong place, and that Brent was eating someone else's grub! (Take note - Dan and Tom come to my deer camp every year.) I pointed to the lanterns and told Brent, "I've borrowed Tom's lantern and Dan doesn't have one!" Brent wasn't laughing now when he asked, "Are you serious?" I didn't have yes out of my mouth when Brent began hotfooting it for the truck!

We quickly got in the truck and drove up the road about a quarter mile. Our worst fears were realized when Tom, Dan, and Charlie passed and waved for us to follow them. At this point Brent, between bouts of uncontrollable laughter, said it was my fault for stopping where I did. I, of course, pointed out that as the ranking senior more experienced officer he should have pointed out my mistake earlier! When we did get to the other officers' camp, Brent had to admit that both camps appeared similar. Tom, Dan and Charlie were perplexed as to why every time Brent and I looked at each other, we burst into maniacal laughter. Later that afternoon as we headed for home, a pickup was parked in the 'other' camp. For all we knew these two folks had bushel baskets full of fish, but we weren't about to stop and check them.

We swore each other to secrecy, but it only lasted about two weeks. Brent started by telling his brother and I told my roommate. The rest is history because I can't think of four people in the world who could or would keep a secret like this one! My guess is the couple in that camp will someday read this story and it will put their minds at ease to know how and why they came back to camp only to find they had been robbed!

Spiced with More Tall Tales - Fish and Fowl

This _Camp Robbers recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

More Recipes from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook:
_A Lasting Gift
_About The Cooks!
_About the Author
_As Close To Heaven As One Can Get
_Barbeque Texas Style
_Bread And Horse Wrecks
_Brother-In-Law Duck
_Camp Creations
_Camp Crock Pot
_Camp Kitchens
_Camp Robbers
_Campfire Cash
_Chicken ala S*#T
_Chili, The Controversy And The Recipes
_Common Sense And Cards
_Cookin' With Kraut
_Cooking From Cans - Menu For Day 16
_Culinary Bombs
_Don't Critize The Cook...
_Dry Camps
_Fanny Pack Snacks
_Game Meat
_Game Warden Dog
_Game Warden Scramble
_Garlic & Her Poor Cousin "Onion"
_Getting Bread In Camp
_Good Cooks / Bad Cooks!
_Good Humored Cook
_Hank's Spaghetti Sauce
_Hank, Jack And Me
_How To Cook A Coot
_Hungry Ridge Chicken
_Jerky And Smoked Fish
_Las Piedras
_Making Do
_Middle Fork Spareribs
_Modern Day Pilgrims
_No Name Creek Baked Beans
_Pitch In And Pitch Out
_Potatoes aka Taters, Spuds
_Redhot Rhubarb Upside Down Cake - The Story
_Religious Bedroll
_Roast Coot
_Rubs For Meat, Not Backs
_Shoestring Bull
_Something Soft For Dinner
_Sugar And Spice And Other Things Nice
_The Adventures of 'Two-Story Tom'
_Things I Don't Care To Eat
_Twas The Week Before Elk Season
_Two Reluctant Cooks
_Veggies For Camp
_Warden Stew
_Where Do You Buy Scratch

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