Tuesday, October 11, 2005
A tale of two pigs
My boss and I are both hunters. Now when I say my boss, I mean the owner of the company I work for, not the guy who I bitch about frequently here.
So we're both hunters, but that's about where the similarities end.
I'm the type of hunter who gets together once a year with a few friends, drives four hours to an out of the way cabin somewhere deep in the woods of Appalachia, usually after Thanksgiving day. It is where myself and these friends would spend the better part of the week drinking copious amounts of beer, playing cards and telling huge lies about the deer that got away the last year. We might get some time out in the woods doing some actual hunting, but not much. It's more like a male ritual, an annual male bonding trip than an actual hunting expedition. I've been doing it since I was thirteen, and even now althought it's been several years since I've been out in the woods hunting, I still get that familiar itch about this time every year.
But it's usually a pretty low-budget affair. Chip in for the food and beer and you have a bunk for the week.
My boss on the other hand is a Hunter. The Fly-Into-The-Outback-Of-British-Columbia-And-Come-Out-With-A-Trophy-At-All-Costs Hunter...
My boss just came back from a four week African Safari... Showed me pictures and everything. Guides, gun bearers, the works. If the pictures had been in black and white, you could have easily imagined a safari from a hundred years ago at the height of the British rule in the Dark Continent. I've always dreamed of one day fishing for steelhead in Alaska, or taking a bull elk in Canada, but those would be once in a lifetime trips for me, if ever. This guys goes on these things six or seven times a year... Somehow I find that a little bit obscene.
So last night I get to the office and see the owner's vehicle parked in the lot. I let myself into the building and see him lovingly taking care of all his animals, dusting them and cleaning them. He does this about once a month. He has over nineteen full mounts... A full mount, for those of you who don't know, is the WHOLE animal, not just the head. And these aren't little guys either. His largest mount is a Kodiak Grizzly... And to give you some idea on how much a full mound costs, a standard whitetail deer head will run somewhere around $500 to $700 depending on the taxidermist. A full mount of a grizzly costs somewhere around in the general neighborhood of $30,000.
And that's not the total cost of the thing when you look deeper into it. There's airfare, lodgings, the hunting guide, the out of state licenses and sometimes customs fees... Thousands of dollars.
So he's got nineteen of these things just at the office, no telling what he's got at his house. There's several Rocky Mountain goats, Mule Deer, Elk, Bison... And Javalina.
He was cleaning the mount of a Javalina when I came in. A Javalina looks somewhat like a wild pig, but it's really a big rodent. It's naturally found in the American Southwest from New Mexico to California down into Mexico. When I was living in Arizona I saw them almost daily, and they were just what the were... A 80 pound rat. They are North America's largest rodent.
"Hey, nice looking Javalina."
"Thanks, got him on a hunting trip to Sonora, Mexico a few years back..."
Sort of a smallish Javalina, and I almost said so. In fact, I had hit one with my truck on my way to work one day a few years ago that was easily twice that size, but I kept my mouth shut. He was proud of it but it got me thinking.
Airfare to Mexico (First Class, round trip): $2000.00
Two weeks' accommodations at a four-star hunting lodge including guide: $5000.00
Licenses & fees: $1500.00 ~ $2000.00
Taxidermy and shipping of the mount: $12,000.00
Total cost: $21,000.00
Cost of the .45 round to end the animal's suffering: .32 cents
Self-serve car wash to get the blood off the front bumper: $1.50
Docked fifteen minutes on my time card for being late for work $4.50
Total cost: $6.32
But what would really have been priceless would have been the look on his face had I had the cojones to tell him about my Javalina...
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden