Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The big, bad Black Hills bull elk

Wick's World


November 1, 2018

Monday morning; the one day in the week that I make a vow for myself. I call it deadline at high noon. Although I am unofficially retired, I have never allowed myself the freedom of being obligation free. Why, you might ask? Isn’t that the point of retirement? I reality, I save that for the other six days. Although I still have a couple of businesses, I pretty much keep them obligation free.

But I have always kept that one commitment. It’s to my column “Wick’s World”. You can count on one hand the number of times I have missed that deadline; well, maybe both hands. There is a good reason for this. The reason is called self-discipline. I need just a touch of discipline in my life which gives me the confidence, that when called upon to do the big things in life, Wick Fisher will be there.

One day a real good friend of mine called my wife and said, “Allen (her 58 year-old husband) died yesterday. Daniel (her son) found him face down while working in the attic.”

My wife turned to me with the bad news. Although our friend lived almost 700 miles away in the northern part of the Black Hills of South Dakota, I knew we had to go be with her.

“Pack your stuff”, I said. “Can you take off a few days?”

For something like this, we both knew the answer was an automatic yes. It was the same answer for us the time my best friend called me at 3 a.m.We both instantly knew it was bad news.

He mournfully forced the words “Wick, my brother Ed got killed.”

I hit him with a barrage of the five w’s; who, what, when, where, and why? He had fallen asleep at the wheel after a long night at a dart tournament, which he usually won. He went into the ditch a mile from home and hit a culvert. Many lives were changed in a flash faster than lightning. Those are the moments when making deadlines and commitments allows one to conquer the critical obligations we face in life.

Once again, it was “Pack your stuff” that I said to my wife. Within minutes we packed up the kids, the dogs and our clothes and we were on our way to Sioux Falls. That is what we do. The only discussion between my wife and I concerned sorting out the logistics.

This morning I had just sat down to meet the deadline facing me. I had to make a boring story about the student loan situation that faced my family. My wife and I both had student loan tales to tell, as did my three sons.

When the phone rang, I knew today’s storyline had changed. Caller ID told me my cousin Denny was on the other end of the line. Denny never calls just to shoot the breeze. When he calls, I always pick up. It was a good thing I did because indeed someone had died. Maybe that someone would be better described as something.

“Gary, did you get the picture”? Denny said.

I knew right away I had a tale of a tail. The tail belonged to a Black Hills bull moose elk. Its rack would be gracing my cousin’ living room.

“Denny, you hit the lottery!” I exclaimed.

He had indeed hit the lottery. He had entered the annual lottery that drew permits for elk hunting season. He not only got his first permit, he got his first elk, which is easier said than done. You can’t just drive around the Black Hills scouting for a wandering elk and have one appear in the scope of your rifle. But that is exactly what happened to Denny. He got his chance, had his shot, and didn’t waste it.

“Were you shaking or nervous”? I asked.

“Not at all,” Denny said. “I had a real good shot. But after he ran about fifty yards, I started shaking. I was real concerned that he died right away.”

Denny needn’t worry. When he walked the short distance into the woods, there lay his elk. No suffering. It was a clean kill and a good hunt that day.”

“Gary,” Denny said. “That was a big goal for me. I always wanted to get an elk before I died.”

I wondered if the elk wanted to get a Denny before he died.

“Wow, Denny, that’s great!” I exclaimed. “You can cross that one off your bucket list. Mervin was probably looking after you that day.”

Cousin Mervin “Pete” Peterson was our family’s big game trophy hunter. His number one priority was to keep the animal from suffering.

Well, I met my deadline, and you, my much-appreciated readers, never had to wade through the suffering tales of student loans. I will save that for next week.


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