Lynx to a Killing
by Brian G. Angevine
Randy Waters, Game Warden for the Trinidad, Colorado district crawled on his belly around the campsite in the dark. There had been reports of shots fired in the large parcel of land owned by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. He and Alonzo Gonzales, the manager of the land, decided to go check things out. It was nearly midnight when they spotted a campfire across the valley on the opposite ridge. The two men made their way across the valley, slowly, because of the brush and rough footing, and to maintain surprise. Now they hid in the brush near the campsite and listened to the men discussing all the elk they had killed and laughing about poaching the wild game. After listening for a while Waters decided to get on the opposite side of the camp to pinch the men between he and the land manager.
Now he was fully exposed on the open ground lying on his stomach. Suddenly one of the men stood by the campfire and looked straight at him. Waters froze and reached for his six-shooter, the only weapon available besides the shotgun he carried. Waters thought, now we’re in for it. After what seemed like an eternity the guy sat back down. Whew, that was close. Waters thought maybe the guy couldn’t see him because he was on the opposite side of the campfire.
Worming his way across the rough ground he crawled behind a clump of brush and relaxed a little. Gonzales was still where he had been but Waters had to go another thirty yards to get to the opposite side of the camp. Again the guy stood up by the campfire and said, “Guess I’ll go get the heart and liver out of that cow. You guys want any?”
With a sinking feeling Waters realized the poacher was heading right for him. Turning his head he noticed the bulk of a dead elk not ten feet away. It was so dark he hadn’t noticed it before. Looking back at the campsite he noticed the horses with bloody panniers tied nearby and wondered just how the two of them were going to arrest four poachers with a stack of rifles next to them and horses only a few feet away.
Now he had no choice. The guy would be stepping on him any second. Mustering up his courage and his biggest voice he jumped up and shouted, “Game warden! You’re under arrest!”
The guy jumped back and about shit his pants, but instead of putting his hands in the air he ran back to the campsite to grab a weapon. Waters fired a single shot from his pistol in the air and the guy stopped dead. Waters knew he shouldn’t shoot, but he felt he had little choice at this point. About that time Gonzales moved in from the other side with his shotgun at the ready and leveled it on the four poachers. That calmed things down in a hurry.
Waters herded the four men to one side and said, “Al, keep them covered while I round up these guns.” Randy kept his eyes on the men as he knelt to empty the rifles and pocketed the rounds. “Okay fellas, let’s have those side arms.” Reluctantly two of the guys wearing pistols hoisted them out of their holsters and laid them carefully on a rock. “Now, move on over there a few steps,” Waters directed using the barrel of his shotgun. Emptying the pistols he looked the guys over real good and figured that they were unarmed now. Wondering what to do next he said, “Okay, pick up those rifles and haul them back to the truck.”
“Bullshit! You want our guns you carry them yourself!” one guy said.
Waters glared at them but couldn’t figure out exactly what to do. He didn’t want to leave the guns out there, but it was obvious the four guys were not real scared of the two of them. “Listen Fremont,” he said to the one who had spoken. “Yeah I know you. It’s gettin’ late and we ain’t aimin’ to spend all night out here. So how about you pick up those guns.”
“No way man. Besides that we ain’t gonna leave our horses out here all night with nobody to take care of them. You gonna buy us new horses if they die?”