_Hank, Jack And Me

Serves: 5



All three of us moved to Challis, Idaho, within a year or so of each other. Hank Ketchie worked for the US Forest Service as a forester and arrived in 1977. I moved to Challis as a rookie game warden in November, 1978. Jack, when he did work, worked for me, and moved there in February, 1979. Jack and I had been acquainted for only a short time and didn't know each other very well before we both moved to Challis. I met Hank within the first week or so and it didn't take us long to become friends. During our first conversation we realized we'd attended Utah State University at the same time. Though we hadn't met there, we did have friends in common from college days. Being stationed in a small central Idaho cow town as a resource manager or a game warden presents its own unique social obstacles. We weren't social outcasts but socially we were cast together!

That first fall of '78 went by in a blur. Trying to learn a new patrol area kept me going both night and day. Right after the first of the year the boss called me up and said to get my affairs in order 'cause I'd be spending five weeks at the police academy. Trust me, my social affairs were nonexistent which meant it didn't take me long to get ready and be gone. When I finished up in mid-February, I drove over to Wayan where I'd previously been stationed, before heading home to Challis. Jack had been staying with a friend of mine, Steve Somsen, since I'd left for Challis in November. He wasn't real glad to see me, but with a little persuasion loaded up and headed north with me. The first time I ever saw a horse smile was the next day when I unloaded Jack at my rented pasture in Challis. In Wayan the snow had been up almost to his belly while in Challis bare ground told Jack he'd indeed made a good move!

Besides being a forester, Hank was a horseman. Not a cowboy, but a horseman! He did a little horse trading, horse training, and shod horses to support his hunting and fishing habits. A couple of days after I got back with Jack, Hank came by to see him. Hank didn't look too long before he said, "Besides being ugly, what other bad habits does he have?" I told him of the ones I knew but also said there were probably others yet unknown, which would surface soon enough!

On several occasions I loaned Jack to Hank for various little chores like packing out an elk or two. In addition we made several rides together both for work and pleasure. It didn't take long to compile a pretty long list of Jack's faults. I don't know who had the most to learn, Jack or me! Any question I asked resulted in a common sense answer that came from experience and not from a book or magazine. Besides sharing his knowledge, Hank built a pair of pack boxes for me, doctored my stock when I was out of town, and showed me the lighter side of shoeing horses and mules. Like the time a two-year old filly getting shod for the first time got touchy and began wrestling Hank for control of a front foot. She won the match but when she set it down she ended up with her legs crossed. Hank didn't cuss or get upset, but simply said, "I like a lady who crosses her legs when she gets nervous!"

On the professional level Hank and I worked timber sales together. Hank looked at things from the silvicultural standpoint and I from a wildlife management perspective. On our days off we hunted, fished, and explored the Pahsimeroi Valley, Hank riding Dan or Spot and me on Jack. Whether sitting in a duck blind or the cab of a truck coming back from a horse trip we always found something to talk about. I was the first person who knew that Hank and his wife, Deb, were expecting. Likewise Hank called me first when he killed a bull elk with his bow, or when his dog, Rev, learned a new trick. But, Hank kept a secret from me along with others for nearly three years. He had cancer!

Towards the end, Rich Rodgers, Nick Zufelt, and I traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, to visit Hank. Hank could still get around a little and after the others said their goodbyes and left, he walked me to the elevator. As the door closed Hank said, "Jack has improved enough I'd put him in my string!" Hank said this with dry eyes, but mine were still running when I hit the ground floor. These many years later, two emotions come to mind when I think of Hank! For the short time we spent together I'll always be grateful, but I'll always be sad because of how short the time ultimately ended up being!

Spiced with More Tall Tales - Dedications

This _Hank, Jack And Me recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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_Good Cooks / Bad Cooks!
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