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Me and Joe. (Campfire Tales).

What had started as a pleasant morning's hunt after mule deer had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. Joe and I had left home early so we could arrive at the jump-off spot long before daylight. Just as had we had done many times before, we planned to cross a small creek and then work our way through the canyon bottom and up into the trees.

This canyon was about two miles long with steep hillsides and a very small stream running down through the center. It had yielded both mule deer and elk for us in the past.

The weather started out perfectly as it had snowed during the night, but that snow had now turned to rain. The weather was wet with the temperature somewhere in the 30s. Since we would be walking, I did not think I would need heavy clothing to keep me warm. The apparel of the day was my normal Wranglers, and a down vest with my sixgun carried in a shoulder holster to keep it dry.

The rain had stopped before we left the pickup so I surmised we would be fine. What I had not counted on was the fact that walking through the brush would cause my jeans to be thoroughly soaked before we had gone very far. Adding to my original stupidity, I kept telling myself that I would be okay and the sun would be out when we got to the end of the canyon and I would warm up.

It did not happen that way and my body was quickly feeling the effects of what was akin to standing in ice water in the wintertime. Hypothermia was a real possibility.

By the time I had decided I better turn back, I was chilled to the bone, had the shakes, and could no longer handle it on my own. Thank the Lord I was not by myself but with Joe. Joe helped me back. He got my truck warmed up, got me stripped down and warmed up in the front seat of the pickup. Joe saved my life that day.

That's the way Joe is. He is always there when I need him. Sometimes, even when I don't, as on another hunt for deer using my mountain retreat 100 miles north as our base camp.

Unwelcome Visitor

Years before, I had hauled a 70 foot mobile home up to my property and covered it with a snow roof. Nothing fancy, but it was warm and dry with electricity and both a refrigerator and cookstove. Most comfortable after a hard days hunt.

This particular day we had come back for a late lunch and I had gone to the back door to gather some firewood from the pile behind our camp. Snow falling off the roof the year before had wiped out the back steps and I had not yet had time to replace them. I normally simply jumped out the back door, retrieved wood, set it inside, and then crawled back in.

I had already started my leap when I saw it! It was black, it was white, and it was furry, and I was about to land on top of it. I don't know how I accomplished it but I managed to somehow turn around in mid-air and come back in through the door, letting out a yell at the same time. Believe me Joe's reactions are every bit as good or better than mine. He was already running down the hallway with his Dan Wesson .357 Magnum drawn from its shoulder holster and held in the ready position with both hands and pointing straight up.

"Joe! Whatever You Do, Don't Shoot!"

I could see our hunting trip ending very quickly if that skunk did his thing. Joe did not shoot and neither did the skunk and we very gratefully stood by the back door and watched as he slowly walked on down through the brush. I was more than happy to leave him alone.

Value Of Good Friends And Wheelguns

Years ago, Joe and I had a special permit to spotlight varmints in the desert south of town. It was our practice on warm summer evenings to hit the area around midnight with spotlights, sixguns and single shots. Every night there were jackrabbits, and about every third night we would pick up a badger or coyote.

This particular night I shot a badger, then grabbed the flashlight and a Colt .38 Super, and headed out in the sagebrush to find it. It would be better to say he found me.

As I shined the light in his direction, he was coming at me with jaws snapping and those enormous front claws digging dirt. I had hit him too far back and he was not happy with me in the least. I tried to jack a round into the chamber of the .38 Super and was rewarded with a jam for my efforts. Joe's .357 barked and probably saved me from getting my legs injured by those teeth and claws. I learned my lesson and that .38 Super now wears a custom Wilson barrel that feeds every time.

Johnny On The Spot

Joe is the guy who takes all the pictures of me that appear in the pages of GUNS and American Handgunner as well as in my books. Joe is the guy that is always on the lookout for items that I can use, such as nearly a dozen lubricator/sizers purchased for practically nothing from various gun shows. Now I never change sizing dies. It is much simpler to loosen the two bolts and change machines instead.

Joe is the guy that sets up or puts everything together for me. I hate reading directions but he doesn't need 'em. Joe has a mechanical mind that can figure things out by simply looking at them. Joe is the guy that built the wooden fence around the back yard so I could keep my two malamutes in, and when they kept digging out under it, it was Joe that strung the electric wire to change their minds. Joe built the large doghouse to keep them dry and comfortable in bad weather. And most importantly, it was Joe checking on my house while I was travelling who prevented what could have been a disastrous fire.

When I was off in the mountains of Colorado 1,0000 miles from home it was Joe who rescued me again. This time I received word that my mother had died suddenly and totally unexpectedly. Joe took me to the nearest airport, and I knew that he would get my Bronco and all my guns home. He is a man I can trust with anything I own as well as my very life.

Hard Man To Give Back To

Joe never asks anything in return. The one time I found myself on the giving instead of the receiving end, Joe even managed to turn that around.

He fell on the ice one night and broke his ankle. Somehow he managed to drive his stick shift truck to my place so I could take him to the hospital. He spent his recuperative time at my house and instead of just sitting around watching television, he cast bullets by the thousands. In fact when he was laid off one winter he again spent his time hovering over the lead pot. I don't believe I will ever run out of cast bullets!

My wish for everyone is that they might enjoy the friendship of a good man like Joe. Unfortunately, there are not enough "Joes" to go around.
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Author:Taffin, John
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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