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Lost and found in the great outdoors

April 20, 2012 at 09:15 AM

The State Journal-Register

Fifty years ago, high school senior Mary Elizabeth Sloan of Mansfield, Texas, lost her class ring. She got it back last month when a local fourth grader saw something shiny on the ground and picked it up. Sloan’s initials were engraved on the ring. Two students scoured old high school yearbooks, matched up the initials and the ring was returned.

All of us have lost stuff that we hope someone will find and return to us. I’ve lost my favorite shooting gloves, sunglasses, key rings, the combination lock for my dog box and Buckwheat’s pocketknife — so far this year. All of the above are still missing. None of the items have been returned by a fourth grader.

Sometimes when we’re traipsing through the wild country, we come upon something someone didn’t intend to leave there. We pick it up, ask around, even post pictures of it in local establishments in hopes the owner will see that someone has found it.

We wouldn’t think of keeping a stranger’s wallet that we find while deer hunting. If he or she is hunting without permission, we might have them arrested for trespassing, but we wouldn’t keep the wallet.

I wonder if the arrowheads I find were lost, discarded, or if a hunter missed a shot and couldn’t find the arrow. Dad lost so many pocketknives that we should have been stockholders in the Case Knife Works.
Uncle Dick lost at least 100 pairs of fence pliers. I’ve walked up and down La Harpe Crick for decades and have never stumbled across a pocketknife or a pair of fence pliers. Nobody else has, either.

Many times, I’ve helped fellow hunters search for bird dogs or coon hounds that decided to go hunting on their own. While clear thinking is not at a premium when your dog is somewhere between here and the Illinois River, it is frequently true that if you go back to the starting point, the dog may come back looking for you — eventually. Eventually is the operative word.

My first lost dog adventure was with my cousin Rodney’s setter. Every time we went afield, we spent most of our precious hunting time hunting the dog.

As night fell on one fruitless dog hunt, Rodney decided to leave his brand-new hunting coat by the gate where we parked the truck. He thought the dog might return there, discover his master’s scent on the coat and hang around until someone came to fetch him home. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Twice a day, five days running, we checked the gate hole. The coat was there but the dog wasn’t.

The sixth day, the dog still wasn’t there, but the coat was gone. That night, the dog showed up at Rodney’s back door, smelling like a skunk, full of cockleburs and grinning from ear to floppy ear.

I think he traded the coat for a ride home.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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