The old saying about Texas weather really is true. “If you don’t like it, wait a minute. “ Sometimes it just feels like if you’re not burning up, you are freezing to death. Just when you think you have things all figured out along comes one of those magic days. It may be in February or it may be in September. It is cool and bright, as pretty a day as ever there was. You can open up all the windows and feel and hear everything inside, just like outside. Vanna and I both love those days, just like the one last Friday evening.
Vanna was standing in front of the kitchen sink window cleaning up after supper. She was looking down the road and said “Hey D.R. here comes your brother’s truck.” She turned to look at me with a butter knife in hand and using it like a pointer said “No matter what he asks for, don’t lend him nothin’. I love your brother, but last time he borrowed your truck battery for just a couple of hours, you couldn’t drive your truck for two weeks.”
“Oh come on babe, you know he dropped it in the deep part of the lake and then he had to wait until payday to buy me a new one.”
By then my bro was walking up the back steps and Vanna said out the window “Come on in Jimbo.”
“Hey Vanna, hey D.R.”
“Hey Jimbo” we responded in unison.
“What are you guys up to?”
I said, “Well, we just finished up supper and boy was it good too! “ Vanna chimed in, “Yeah Jimbo, are you hungry? We have plenty of meatloaf left.”
I was quick to add “Really Jimbo, you need to get a plate. It is one of Vanna’s special meatloaves. The kind with fresh jalapeno pieces cut up and mixed in. She has a neat trick where she slathered on a thick layer of catsup at the end, cranks the oven up to broil and sort of scorches it on top. Delicious! There are some biscuits left too.”
“Wow, sounds pretty tempting, but no thank you. I just ate at the diner before coming over.”
“I was thinking about going out on the porch and lowering the fill-line on this here bottle of Jim Beam. You want to help me?” I was already putting ice in two glasses.
“Sure thing D.R. Do you have any Coke or 7-Up?”
“I have something even better. A flat Mountain Dew leftover from last time you were here.”
My bro has always been a bit strange that way. I like my bourbon plain with a lot of ice and I’ll add a few splashes of water to get the melting process started. But Jimbo has to have a mix and his preference is a Mountain Dew or Sprite with no fizz. He’ll pop a can open and leave in the frig just to let it go flat. Yuk. At least Dad raised one of us right!
I looked over at Vanna “How about you babe? Can I fix you something or get you a beer? It’s a really nice evening to be outside and we’ll have an awesome sunset in about a half-hour.”
“No thanks. I’m going to finish up here and watch the rest of my TV show. You boys go on out and I’ll join you in a bit.”
Out on the porch, we both just sat back for a minute and drank a few sips of our drinks. All was right in the world. Jimbo started the conversation “Say, I saw ol’ Carl Cordelle at the diner this evening.”
“Oh yeah, is he enjoying his new rifle?”
“Heck no, he gave it back to Buddy!” I was in mid-swallow and with a choke I said “What? You’re kidding?”
“No, apparently they really got into it. Buddy claims Carl cheated. The complaint was that according to the rules, the deer had to be obtained without any artificial means.”
H&L Hardware puts on a big buck contest every year with a rifle as the grand prize. Carl Cordelle has won it 3 years in a row now. H&L is THE sportsman’s hot spot and hang out around here. The store was first opened in the 1970’s by Eli Hardwick and Lester Daniels. I’m still not sure why they named it H&L instead of H&D. Anyway, old man Hardwick turned the operation over to his son Buddy in 2004. Buddy expanded the store and added guns and ammo and more fishing equipment. They also sold cold beer too, but when Buddy tried to expand the license to a full blown liquor license the state shut down all alcohol sales trying to figure out how a hardware store got a beer license in the first place. With the loss of the beer sales there was a drop in revenue, which is when Buddy started the annual big buck contest to generate more interest in the store.
Jimbo continued “Well it seems Carl was having a few beers (or more) at The Wet Spot and he just happened to mention that he used an attractant to lure in his big 12 point contest winner. Somehow the word got back to Buddy and the fight began. After some arguing and name calling Carl just gave the rifle back saying it was a piece of junk anyway. In my opinion, Buddy just had it out for Carl because he didn’t like it that the same guy won the contest 3 years in a row.”
Then, out of the blue, we heard Vanna inside the house say in a clear voice, with slow precisely pronounced words “Where-the-deer-and-the-antelope-play-video -games.” Jimbo, a little startled, crinkled up his face and looked over his shoulder at the opened window and said “Geez-us, what the heck is wrong with Vanna? What did she just say?”
“Pay her no mind she is just watching Wheel of Fortune, her favorite show. She must have solved a puzzle. She really is pretty good at it.”
“Wheel of what?”
“You know, that show where you spin a wheel then yell out letters and try to guess what the big board says. But never mind that, tell me all about this attractant stuff. What is it?”
Jimbo refocused and got back on tract as I poured a freshener from the bottle to the tops of our drinks. “There are many different brands of attractants and hunters can use them to make a buck come running when he gets a whiff. H&L has several store bought brands like Buck Bomb, Tink’s 69 and Deer Dander. All of ‘em are just doe pee in a bottle. Supposedly they get the pee from doe deer that are in easter.”
“Yeah, you know, hot and ready for love.”
Just then Vanna spoke up through the window again “He means in estrous.”
“Yeah, what she said. Anyway, Carl said he used a homemade formula that was made from all natural ingredients, no pee involved. Nothin’ artificial about it.”
“Well do attractants work and if so why don’t we use them?” I asked.
“I’ve tried just about all the store bought kind and as best I can tell, they’re a waste of money. All they do is stink up everything and I never had a buck come running in. Then again, ol’ Carl seems to be on to something with 3 wins in 3 years. Who knows?”
Vanna turned off the TV and came out to join us. The sunset was starting and all was right in the world.
After work on Monday, I stopped by The Wet Spot and ordered a beer. The bar had the usual evening crowd. Like any good bar, it felt cool and inviting with the sound of muted conversation and pool balls colliding. The juke box must have run out of coins because no cowboy music was playing. I looked down the bar and there was Carl Cordelle having a beer by himself. Just the fella I’ve been wanting to talk to and get the straight scoop about what happened between him and Buddy. The truth be told, what I was really after, was that big buck attractant recipe. So I walked on over.
“Hey Carl” I said.
“Well hello D.R. I haven’t seen you in a while. Sit down here and let me buy ya’ a beer.” I could tell Carl had already had a few.
“Thanks Carl, but I already have one” showing him my mug as I sat down. After exchanging a few pleasantries of how you been doing and what’s been going on, etcetera, I decided to just jump right in.
“Say Carl, what’s this I hear about you getting’ into a rhubarb with Buddy over the big buck contest?”
Carl looked at me kind of funny and said “Man word gets around fast. That so ‘n’ so Buddy accused me of cheating! He said I used an attractant to win the big buck contest the last few years. Ol’ big deal Buddy; what a joke. Have you ever noticed that the H&L grand prize gun is one that has been sitting around all year and no one has wanted to buy it? This year’s lemon was an H&R single shot combo gun with .22 LR barrel on top and .410 shotgun barrel on the bottom. Once in a while when I shot the .410, the gun would try to break open by itself! I took it to Smitty and he said it would cost more to fix it than the whole gun was worth. It was a piece of crap. Smitty’s words exactly, not mine! Rather than argue with Buddy I just gave it back and told him to put it where the sun don’t shine!”
I could tell Carl was getting a bit agitated from the discussion, probably made worse by the beer. Motioning with a revolving finger around mine and his glass he silently told Mitzy the bartender to bring another round. Mitzy nodded a silent acknowledgement in return.
With a bit of apprehension I said “Well, did you?”
“Did I what?” Carl said back with a confused look.
“Use an attractant.”
“Sure, I always do the opening morning of deer season, but it’s all natural and I make it myself, nothing artificial about it. Bobcat Bob sells the recipe. All the ingredients are natural and anyone with a 5 spot can buy the recipe.”
“Does it really work?” I asked being surprised at how forth coming Carl was with a few beers in him.
“Does it work?” Carl started to laugh. “Boy does it work! I tell you what, this year I opened the lid on the container of my mix and in 5 minutes I was looking at 6 giant bucks and trying to tell which was the biggest and best to shoot!” He gave a little smirk as he took a draw on his beer.
Things were going good with Carl so I got a little bolder “Say Carl, would you consider selling me some of your attractant for my own use?”
“Nope, after it is mixed it becomes useless in a few hours. I tried keeping it in the frig and I’ve tried keeping it in the freezer but no luck.”
“Well, would you mind giving me the recipe so I could make some?”
Suddenly Carl got sort of serious. He looked at me and said “You don’t know Bobcat Bob, do you?”
“Nope, I can’t say as I had the pleasure, although I’ve heard the name. Is he the guy that sells mice?”
“Yeah, that’s him. He sells mice and a lot of other stuff too!” Carl said with a big chuckle.
“D.R. you’re a good guy, so I’m going to tell you. Making the buck attractant just ain’t like you think. Bobcat Bob is a very ornery old cuss and you DON’T want to get on his bad side. Besides, for $5 and a drink he’ll give you the recipe and you guys will be buds for life. You’ll probably be getting one of the main ingredients from him anyway, so he would know if someone else gave you the recipe. Here’s what you need to do. Lend me your pen and I’ll draw you a map of how to get to his house. He lives just west of Baby Head with the turn off before you get to Cherokee. “
Carl grabbed a napkin and started to draw. As he drew he continued “First, be sure to go during daylight hours, with plenty of time before sundown. Go by the liquor store and buy a bottle of Woodford Reserve, which is Bob’s favorite. This is important. As soon as you see him mention that I sent you to ease his suspicious nature. Then show him the bottle and tell him you’d like to have a drink and discuss the buck lure recipe. Ol’ Bobcat Bob can be kind of scary crazy, but once he relaxes, he becomes a real pussy cat.” At that, Carl started laughing at his own joke. He handed my pen back and said “Nice pen.”
Around one o’clock the next day, I started out with a stop at Keggy’s Liquor Store. When I walked in Keggy was down on his knees moving some Chivas from the box to a vacancy on a lower shelf.
“Hello D.R. What will it be today, Jim Beam or J.T.S. Brown?”
“I need a bottle of Woody-ford”.
When Keggy heard that he almost fumbled a bottle of Chivas. “Do you mean Woodford Reserve?”
“Yep, that’s it.”
“It’s over there by the register where we keep the really premium bourbons.”
I walked over and found it right away. There were 3 sizes all in funny flat bottles, which served no practical purpose because they all were too big to fit in a back pocket.
“Geez-us Keggy, are these prices right? The smallest bottle here eats up my whole monthly liquor budget!”
“I tell you D.R., you are looking at some of the finest bourbons in the world on that shelf. Most bourbon aficionados and connoisseurs will agree, you can pay more but you can’t get much finer than Woodford Reserve. “
I picked up a .75L and carried it over to the register gripping it with both hands as if it was a bottle of nitro not to be overly disturbed. I hated to do it, but I pulled out a credit card to pay, knowing full well Vanna would go ballistic when she sees Keggy’s Liquors on the billing statement. For the price of that small bottle of Woodford I could have bought two 1.75L’s of Jim Beam AND a liter of JTS!
As I drove along I kept thinking about what Carl said. Go during day light hours; take some Woodford; mention Carl’s name right away; Bob is kind of scary crazy. Maybe I should have brought Jimbo with me?
My napkin map was well detailed and in about 45 minutes I found myself pulling up to Bobcat Bob’s. Like most places this far off the beaten path, the place was kind of a mess. A couple of broken down cars rusted orange, various tractor attachments with tall grass growing through them, boxes, crates, old appliances , etcetera strewn about. There were a number of structures including the main house, a barn, a shop, a lean-to, chicken coop and two ocean cargo containers. Several older model cars, trucks and tractors were parked near the house. There was a woman carrying a large hamper hanging laundry on the clothes line, but as soon as she saw my truck coming down the road, she set the hamper down right there, and rushed into the house.
I pulled up near the house and barely got out of my truck when a giant of a man came out of the house on to the front porch. He was tall and heavy set, but not fat. He had a very dark, black beard that was wavy, not bushy. He was bald with a prominent shaved head. It almost looked like his head was on upside down. What caught my eye the quickest though was the holster and pistol worn on a separate belt and slung kind of low, like a gunfighter.
With a stern, annoyed voice he said “Who the heck are you and what do you want?”
I noticed that he had the palm of his right hand loosely resting on the pistol butt as if he was resting his arm. I know I had that stunned look in my eyes and I wondered what was this place and why did I come here! Time for some of my usual fast talking, but none came out.
“Uh…Uh…My name is D.R. Carl sent me. I have bourbon” as I held the paper bag out towards him like a befuddled 5 year old.
Bobcat’s demeanor sort of dropped down a notch from stern to confused as he said “Carl? Oh, Carl Cordelle. I haven’t seen him in a while, but he always shows up near deer season. What ya’ got in the bag? “
“Woodford Reserve, sir” as I unveiled the bottle.
I could tell his danger level was really subsiding. At that, he stepped down off the porch and walked over with his hand out stretched. “Good to meet ya’ D.R. my name is Robert Cabot but most folks just call me Bobcat.
Looking at the bottle, Bobcat Bob’s eyes kind of lite up and he said “Any friend of Carl’s is a friend of mine. Occasionally he’ll send someone my way. Let’s go over there to my lab and find a couple of glasses.”
At that he put his arm around my shoulder and walked me over to the nearest out building. It was a friendly enough gesture, but I kind of felt like a lamb being lead to slaughter.
Once inside, the place looked more like a kitchen than a lab or shop. There were counter tops along 2 walls with cabinets and shelves above and below. There was a huge sink, stained brown, an old stove, a microwave and an ancient refrigerator making a noticeable hum. There were jars, bottles, pans, tools and all kinds of stuff spread around in a big mess. There were two old easy chairs with stuffing hanging out. I looked across the room and there was a cardboard sign listing various things and prices like a giant menu. Next to it was a large strange looking diagram.
Bobcat found 2 glasses and blew the dust out of them. He poured each of us half a glass full. He took a big gulp of the Woodford and sat back with a look of total relaxation and contentment. He let out a big sigh and smacked his lips.
I took my first drink of the bourbon and felt a complete surprise. Keggy wasn’t lying! Even without ice or water, that was the smoothest bourbon I have ever had! I was enjoying this new experience and I was starting to get more relaxed, that is, until what happened next.
The window above the sink was open and suddenly this huge bobcat jumped through the window knocking a pan full of silverware to the floor. In a silent, swift move, it went from counter to floor and with a hop ended up squatting square in front of me in my chair.
Bob said “D.R., meet Rosie. She wants you to pet her while I pick up the mess she just made.”
Now I’ve seen plenty of bobcats out in the woods, but I never had a live one practically in my lap. I always thought of them as just over grown house cats in size, but Rosie was huge! I reached out to pet her head which I noticed was much bigger than my hand. I could tell she really liked it, as she leaned forward and pressed her head into my hand harder with each stroke. What a beautiful animal! It was exciting and scary at the same time.
Then Bob spoke up “Ain’t she sweet. I think she really likes you, but D.R., I recommend that you don’t stop petting her until she wants you to stop. Just to be safe.”
Bob sat back down in his chair and poured more bourbon in our glasses and toasted. “Cheers!” he said then asked “What can I do for you D.R.?”
I was a little distracted as Rosie was pressing and twisting her head harder and harder into my open hand. She was making a sound that I guess is a bobcat’s equivalent to a purr. I gulped from my glass. When Bob toasted our drinks I noticed his arms for the first time. They were scarred up from many old scratches, especially around the wrists.
“Well, Carl has been telling me about your buck attractant. He says it really works, the recipe is simple and it is made from all natural ingredients. He also warned me that I should talk to you about its use.”
“The buck attractant is starting to become my most popular concoction. It is based on an ancient Indian formula that I greatly enhanced and improved scientifically. As you can see on the wall there I sell the formula for $5. For best results, you need to mix it just before going hunting. Important also is to use a plastic disposable container. The attractant is very powerful at first and the bucks go crazy! A couple of hours later, it still works fair, but it’s downhill from there as time goes on. Now if you keep it around for 9-1/2 hours it reverses and becomes a buck repellent. It will chase off every buck in the county, so you’re responsible for handling it properly. I suggest that after 5 or 6 hours you pour it on a roaring camp fire, throw in the container and then add some more wood on top to be sure. “
I had been drinking the Woodford, studying the strange drawing, listening as intently as possible and I hadn’t noticed, but I was slacking up some on my petting. Suddenly Rosie let out a loud, blood curdling hiss with bared teeth. She reversed ends and in one hop was on the counter and with one more hop, glided silently out the window. I was stunned. I took a long drink of bourbon holding the glass with both hands.
“Alright, I’m sold!”
As I leaned forward to get my wallet I noticed that I was slightly woozy. I pulled out a 5 and handed it to Bob. He reached over dropped it into a drawer and retrieved a 3×5 card that had the neatly hand written titled Buck Lure. I quickly looked it over. There were 5 ingredients and a sentence or two at the bottom on how to mix it. All the ingredients were simple stuff except for number 5.
In a surprised voice I said out loud “1 oz of fresh bobcat milk. Where am I supposed to get bobcat milk?”
Bob just smiled and said “I sell it. It’s $50 an ounce and guaranteed fresh.”
I was shocked and the bourbon had connected my brain directly to my mouth “WOW, 50 bucks! Why so much?”
“Well D.R., I take it you’ve never had to milk a bobcat.”